In the war against Iran, the IDF Spokesperson sides with jihadists

The IDF Spokesperson to the Arabic media publishes a video quoting a medieval Muslim scholar who has inspired jihadists from Bin Laden to ISIS.

By Yossef Rapoport

IDF Spokesman to the Arabic media, Avichai Adraee. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
IDF Spokesman to the Arabic media, Avichai Adraee. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The latest video published by Avichai Adraee, the IDF Spokesperson for the Arabic media, shows the major quoting the writings of medieval Sunni Muslim scholar Ibn Taimiyyah, in an attempt to expose the “danger” that Shia pose to the Muslim community. According to Adraee, Ibn Taimiyyah’s warnings from the 14th century were only a previous incarnation of the current Iranian threat.

The video is entirely dedicated to portraying the Shia as “infidels” in Sunni Islam. Adraee opens with a verse from the Qur’an before quoting from the “scholars and religious experts who clearly and openly warned you (the Sunni) of the Shia danger of the Iranian regime.” Adraee first quotes Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahab, the father of the strict, puritanical interpretation of Islam that dominates Saudi Arabia, according to which Shia are “more harmful to Islam than Jews and Christians.”

Adraee relies on the writings of “Sheikh al-Islam Ibi Taimiyyah” in his book “Manhaj al-Sunna” (The Way of the Sunni), which Ibn Taimiyyah wrote to debunk Shia theology. Ibn Taimiyyah, says Adraee, warned the Sunnis of the danger Shiism poses.

The fact that Adraee relies on these writings puts him squarely alongside the best of the jihadists. Take issue number 14 of “Dabiq,” the propaganda magazine put out by Islamic State. An article titled “Lessons from the War against the Mongols” also quotes Ibn Taimiyyah in order to attack Muslims, including Shia groups, that avoid the duty of jihad. If they were true believers, they would be protecting Muslim land from the infidels.

The first jihadist to quote Ibn Taimiyyah at length was Muhammad Abd al-Salam Faraj, who headed the group that assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981. According to Faraj, Ibn Taimiyyah believed in rising up against any leader who did not fully implement Sharia. Sadat’s assassination, then, was necessary as jihad, according to Ibn Taimiyyah, is the most important duty of every Muslim.

Thus Adraee truly is in good company, along with various Salafi groups that incite against Shia, Jews, and the West. Saudi religious scholars who preach hatred of Shiites do so by comparing them to Jews. Just as the latter distort the Torah, says Ibn Taimiyyah, the Shia distort the Qur’an.

This is not the first time that Adraee has expressed his affection for Islam’s most conservative movements. During the Great Return March, he said that women who participate in political marches go against the values of the religion, since they are supposed to stay at home. This time, Adraee went even further.

With Adraee’s video, Israel not only joins the Sunni axis, it aligns itself with the anti-Shiite incitement of violent Sunni jihadist groups — from Bin Laden to ISIS. In Great Britain, Adraee’s video would have rewarded him with a visit by the security services for incitement and belonging to a terrorist group.

More than anything, however, Adraee’s video must serve as a reminder that Israel’s regime of occupation and siege is based not only on wickedness and hatred, but also stupidity, arrogance, and ignorance.

Dr. Yossef Rapoport teaches Islamic history at Queen Mary University of London, and is the editor of Ibn Taymiyya and his Times, which was recently translated into Arabic. This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.