Why is there so much animosity between Jews and Arabs / Muslims?
First, it is important to note that not all Arabs are Muslims and not all Muslims or Jews hate one another. But there is, generally speaking, a long-standing animosity between Jews and Arabs. The reasons for this situation are complex and have a basis extending back to biblical times.
Both Jews and Muslims claim Abraham as the founder of their religion, albeit through different sons of Abraham. Jews claim a heritage through Abraham's son Isaac, born to him by his wife Sarah. Muslims claim a history through Abraham's son Ishmael, born to him by Sarah's servant Hagar. Sarah treated Hagar harshly at one point, and Hagar fled into the wilderness. An angel appeared to Hagar during this time, prophesying that her son Ismael would "live in hostility toward all his brothers" (Genesis 16:12 NIV).
Another, more recent reason for animosity between Jewish and Muslim people concerns the land called Israel or Palestine. Following World War II, Israel was given a portion of the land of Palestine as the modern nation of Israel. Many Muslim people revolted against this turn of events. Especially bitter has been the struggle over Jerusalem, considered the most sacred city to Jews and the third most sacred city to Muslims. Even today, an Islamic mosque sits upon the historic location of the Jewish temple and is a major point of contention.
Additional concerns also fuel tension between Jews and Muslims. For example, Israel exists as the first democratic government in the Middle East, surrounded by nations led by Sharia law or Islamic rule. Further, social concerns such as war and hunger, nuclear development, and control of oil and natural gas have caused difficulties. Another common concern is the perception among many Arab Muslims that Israel is a friend to Western nations that are not viewed favorably in the Islamic world. Finally, the radical elements in some Arab nations have used violence against Jews in ways that have precipitated military responses from Israel.
The Bible calls Christians to live as peacemakers (Matthew 5:9), and we are to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6). Further, Christians are to make disciples among the people of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20), regardless of their background. In Christ, racial and cultural distinctions become moot (Galatians 3:28). May the Lord bring true and lasting peace to the City of David.
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