Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Gharqad trees and other Arab conspiracy theories

You are probably familiar with the Islamic hadith, quoted in the Hamas charter:

The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharqad tree would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.

The Muhtawayat website is meant to be a reference site for Arabic readers where questions can be answered authoritatively. As there has been a lot of interest in Jews in Arabic media for the past couple of weeks, the site tackled the question, "Why does the Gharqad tree protect the Jews?"

Note how the question pre-supposes the magical properties of the gharqad tree as fact.

It is a purely Islamic legend, but that doesn't stop Muslims from assuming its truth. The article even says,
The Gharqad tree has cultural and religious importance for Jews, as in Jewish culture it is believed that the Gharqad tree represents a symbol of protection and shelter, and therefore they respect and preserve it as part of their cultural and religious heritage....
This article, and plenty of others, as well as videos, state as fact that Israeli Jews have planted thousands of gharqad trees because we believe they protect us. 

It says that Yediot Aharonot reported in 2014 that Israel was planting gharqads as a temporary measure  to protect a rail line that was exposed to rocket fire. (Israel did indeed plant trees, but no one said they were gharqads. )

In fact, no one quite knows what kind of tree it is (most people think it is the boxthorn.) 

The thing is, this absurd legend is accepted as truth in the Muslim world. Even though the "proof" that Jews plant gharqads is not from Jewish sources but from Islamic sources, not one Muslim bothers to ask a Jew to verify the story about what Jews believe. (Just as Muslims believe that Jews worshipped Ezra the Scribe as the son of god, something against every tenet of Judaism, because the Quran says so.) 

And these kinds of lies are the backbone of Arab and Muslim beliefs about Israel and Jews. Palestinians swear today that an Israeli airstrike hit the Al Ahli hospital, killing 500. They are 100% certain that Israel is waging genocide - even though, according to their own fictional  numbers, fewer people have died than bombs dropped, a pretty inefficient genocide. They are absolutely convinced that the Temples never existed and Jews have never found any proof for them. They have written books "proving" that. 

Any evidence that disprove the lies are themselves automatically assumed to be manufactured and forged by Jews.  The world is one big conspiracy theory.  The side that actually cares about accuracy is accused of being the liars; the side that actually is the victim of a campaign of attempted genocide is accused of genocide when defending themselves. 

It's easy to laugh about the gharqad tree myth. But it is not so easy to laugh when you realize that myths like that are considered absolute truth by tens of millions, or hundreds of millions, of people. Fighting lies with truth sounds good in theory, but when you are dealing with people who are emotionally invested in the lies, one cannot win.

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