The executive producer of Turkey’s A9 television, which broadcasts from Istanbul, supports peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Jews. In a series of articles printed within the Jewish media, Sinem Tezyaper, a devout Muslim, outspokenly used Islamic arguments to claim that to support war and violence is inherently un-Islamic, that the Quran supports the Jewish right to live in the Land of Israel, and that various Hadiths and Quranic verses that radical Islamists have interpreted in an anti-semitic fashion are a perversion of what these Hadiths and Quranic verses are supposed to mean.

According to Tezyaper, “Muslims are not at war with the Jews.” She claims that the Quran holds the Jewish people in high esteem as a People of the Book. Muslims are permitted to eat Jewish food and to have relationships with Jews. She declared, “How would one eat the food of the person he claims to be cursed? That means that G-d creates some sort of closeness with Jews, and that he wants us to consider them as friends. If we are able to eat together, set tables together, how could Jews be Muslims’ foes? If G-d says one can […] eat with the People of the Book, this is the clearest proof that we can live together in a climate of peace and love.” Thus, “from an Islamic perspective, […] there can be no obstacle to living together and in harmony, and this is clear evidence that enable the formation of warm human relationships and tranquil togetherness between Jews and Muslims.”

Tezyaper furthermore declared that radical Islamists are wrong when they state that the Jews are a cursed people, for the “only ones who are cursed are certain people who have done wrong against G-d.” While she confesses that the Quran does compare the Jews who disobeyed the guidance of Moses and who didn’t keep Shabbat to apes, Tezyaper asserted that “these are not for all Jews, not for all time and certainly not hereditary punishment.” To reinforce this interpretation, she cited Quran 7:59, which states, “Of the people of Moses there is a section who guide and do justice in the light of truth.” She also claimed that Islam teaches that Jews who behave justly will also have a reward in the afterlife, just like Muslims who are righteous will.

In regards to the right of the Jews to live in the Land of Israel, Tezyaper proclaimed, “It is against any conscience and above all against the Quran to tell Jews to go somewhere else. Jews have been expelled from Spain, they have been slaughtered in Europe and there has been enormous intimidation against them in many places all over the world. So where do they have to go? These lands are places that their forefathers lived. The graves of their grandfathers are on these lands.” Furthermore, recognizing that Jews are the descendants of many prophets revered in Islam, she declared, “The descendants of the prophets also have the right to live in Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, etc. — wherever they would like to engage in business, science, technology and the arts. They should be able to travel in the lands where the prophet Abraham lived freely and securely. They should enjoy freedom of worship in the whole region.”

In fact, Tezyaper even recognizes the right of the Jewish people to pray on the Temple Mount, claiming that it is “heinous” and “cruel” to prevent Jews that seek to do so to pray at the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque, stating that there is nothing Islamic about denying non-Muslims the right to pray in Muslim shrines, since Turkey permits non-Muslim foreign tourists to pray in the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and other Islamic holy sites. Furthermore, she claimed, “it is confirmed by the Quran that Bnei Israel will be living in the Holy Land till the end of the world. God says; “And thereafter we said to the Children of Israel: ‘Dwell securely in the Promised Land.'” (Quran, 17:104) and the Prophet Moses says “O my people! Enter the holy land which Allah hath assigned unto you, and turn not back ignominiously…” (Quran 5: 21) Thus, it is against the Quran to tell Jews to leave these lands; any Muslim who does so is in contradiction to the very Word of G-d Himself.”

Additionally, Tezyaper believes that Islam only supports wars of self-defense, not wars of aggression, and she condemned Palestinian rocket attacks and suicide bombings. She cited Quran 2:190, which states, “Fight in the Way of G-d against those who fight you, but do not go beyond the limits. G-d does not love those who go beyond the limits.” Yet, even when Muslims wage wars of self-defense, Tezyaper claimed that Muslims have an Islamic obligation to fight humanely and not harm innocent people. She asserted, “For me there is nothing justifiable about bloodshed. I stand opposed to the warmongers who see war as a game, to those who benefit from war and I stand opposed to anyone who sheds blood. I don’t discriminate among those who spill blood for what reason; I find it all wrong, I oppose whoever seeks solutions through violence.” Tezyaper citing Quran 8:61 also claimed that Muslims under Islamic law are obliged to respect peace agreements if the other side wants peace with the Muslims. Indeed, she is a refreshing voice promoting toleration in a world where radical Islam is on the upswing.

By Rachel Avraham