In Recognizing Palestinian State, Spain Displays Historical Amnesia, Enables Islamic Terrorism

The U.S. needs to understand several things about this today.

By Raymond Ibrahim Published on June 13, 2024

Responding to Spain’s recent recognition of a Palestinian state, a few weeks ago Israel Foreign Affairs Minister Israel Katz tweeted:

If this ignorant, hate-filled individual [Spain’s deputy prime minister, Yolanda Díaz] wants to understand what radical Islam truly seeks, she should study the 700 years of Islamic rule in Al-Andalus — today’s Spain.

What could Katz be referring to? Indeed, if anything, the history of al-Andalus is often touted as an example of Muslim tolerance and coexistence with Jews and Christians.

Katz is referring to the actual — though habitually suppressed — history of Muslim-conquered Spain. To recap:

In 711 AD, hordes of North African Muslims (“Moors”) “godlessly invaded Spain to destroy it,” to quote from the Chronicle of 754. They did not pass “a place without reducing it, and getting possession of its wealth,” boasted al-Hakam, an early Muslim chronicler, “for Allah Almighty had struck with terror the hearts of the infidels.”

Such terrorism was intentionally cultivated in keeping with the Koran (e.g., 3:151, 8:12). In one instance, the invaders slaughtered, cooked, and ate or pretended to eat their Christian captives, prompting hysteria among the people “that the Muslims feed on human flesh,” and thereby “contributing in no small degree to increase the panic of the infidels,” wrote another Muslim chronicler.

Emboldened by their coreligionists’ initial victories — and reminiscent of what is happening today — swarms of Africans “crossed the sea on every vessel or bark they could lay hold of,” the Muslim chronicler wrote. They so overwhelmed the peninsula that “the Christians were obliged to shut themselves up in their castles and fortresses, and, quitting the flat country, betake themselves to their mountains.”

It’s important for the U.S. to understand history, because the fundamental nature of Islam has not changed over the centuries — and the Biden administration has for the last few years been importing radicals from all over the world and spreading them around the nation at taxpayer expense. As a result, we are now poised to suffer either a Moscow theater-style attack or our own Oct. 7 surprise.

Raping and Pillaging

One year after the Islamic invasion, the Muslims had, in the words of the Chronicle of 754, “ruined beautiful cities, burning them with fire; condemned lords and powerful men to the cross; and butchered youths and infants with the sword.” Several other early sources corroborate the devastation and persecution. The oldest account, the Tempore belli, tells of Muslims “sacking Christian temples [churches] and homes, burning the cities of those who resisted, and taking their young women as sexual slaves, all creating an indescribable terror.”

As usual, the plight of Christian women — “infidels” — under Muslim control was obscene.

From the very first jihadist landing onto Spain in 711, Tarek bin Ziyad had sought to further entice his men to war by citing the women they would find “awaiting your arrival, reclining on soft couches in the sumptuous palaces.” These European women were, moreover, “as beautiful as houris,” said the jihadist leader. (In Islam, houris are supernatural sex-slaves — “big-bosomed” and “wide-eyed” says the Koran [56:22, 78:33] — created for the express purpose of pleasuring Allah’s favorites in perpetuity.)

After subjugating and utterly plundering Spain of its wealth, in 715, Tarek and his overlord, Musa, traveled to Damascus to submit vast treasures in tribute — including 30,000 Spanish slaves — to Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid. He, according to al-Maqqari, was utterly delighted by “the resources of all the people of Spain,” especially “its riches and the beauty of its young girls.”

Thereafter, and because the “Umayyads particularly valued blond or red-haired Franc or Galician women as sexual slaves,” writes historian Dario Fernandez-Morera, “al-Andalus [Muslim-controlled Spain] became a center for the trade and distribution of slaves” (The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise, p. 159). Christian subjects were sometimes even required to make an annual tribute, “not of money, or horses, or arms, but of a hundred damsels (all to be distinguished for beauty) to ornament the harems” (Spain and Portugal, Mercer, p. 132).

Islamic Antisemitism

Nor, it should be added, was life for Jews under Muslim rule in Spain much better. It is true that, so long as they paid the jizya tribute, embraced second-class status, and served their Muslim overlords, Jews were tolerated — by medieval, not modern, standards. However, once the fire of Islam was kindled (which was often), they too were persecuted.

Anyone doubting this — and there are many who criticized Israel Katz for not appreciating that, “during the Muslim rule of Andalusia, the Jews lived in a period of great security” — should consult Dr. Andrew Bostom’s tome, The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism.

In an article devoted to debunking the persistent “Myth of Cordoban Ecumenism,” Bostom highlights several examples giving the lie to the supposed “golden age” Jews enjoyed under Muslim rule in Spain.

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Ibn Hazm (994–1064), a Muslim “poet” celebrated in the West for his supposedly “progressive” views, was, for Bostom, “a viciously anti-Semitic Muslim theologian whose inflammatory writings helped incite the massive pogrom against the Jews of Granada which killed 4,000, destroying the entire community in 1066.” Averroes — another Muslim celebrated as a philosopher in the West — also “rendered strong anti-infidel Sharia rulings and endorsed classical jihadism.” And al-Kinani (d. 901), a student of the Cordovan jurist Ibn Habib (d. 853) — “known as the scholar of Spain par excellence” — warned against “the Jew or Christian who is discovered trying to blend with the Muslims by not wearing the riqā [cloth patch bearing an emblem of an ape to identify the wearer as a Jew, or a pig for a Christian] or zunnār [belt].”

Confusing Cultures

Incidentally, these draconian attitudes were being articulated and expressed precisely during the so-called “golden age” of al-Andalus. From there, and with the arrival of two ISIS-like Muslim dynasties from North Africa — the Almoravids and Almohads — things got dramatically worse. Thus, “what Maimonides escaped in the 12th century — disguised as a Muslim — was nothing less than a full-blown Muslim Inquisition under the Muslim Almohads.” Bostom concludes:

The jihad depredations of the Almohads (1130–1232) wreaked enormous destruction on both the Jewish and Christian populations in Spain and North Africa. This devastation — massacre, captivity, and forced conversion — was described by the Jewish chronicler Abraham Ibn Daud and the poet Abraham Ibn Ezra. Suspicious of the sincerity of the Jewish converts to Islam, Muslim “inquisitors” (antedating their Christian Spanish counterparts by three centuries) removed the children from such families, placing them in the care of Muslim educators.


The simple and verifiable historical truth is that Moorish Spain was more often a land of turmoil than it was of tranquility. … Tolerance? Ask the Jews of Granada who were massacred in 1066, or the Christians who were deported by the Almoravids to Morocco in 1126…

Many of those criticizing Katz’s rendition of history also stressed that it was the Christians, not the Muslims, who were the truly diabolical persecutors and destroyers of “multicultural” Spain. This too overlooks the fact that Medieval Christian hostility for Jews was fiercely exacerbated by the European conflation of Jews with the chief enemy: Muslims. As Daniel Pipes, author of the just released Israel Victory: How Zionists Win Acceptance and Palestinians Get Liberated, wrote in his review of The Jew as Ally of the Muslim: Medieval Roots of Anti-Semitism (1986): “(1) Medieval Christians feared and hated Muslims. (2) Medieval Christians saw Jews as the allies of Muslims. (3) Therefore, medieval Christians feared and hated Jews. . . . This is a radical new approach” and “makes great sense; indeed, it adds a whole new dimension to our comprehension of the way Christian-Jewish relations developed.”

In short, yes, Spain should look to its own history with Islam for a better understanding of the international struggle against jihad, including its latest iteration against Israel. It also should look to its own present as Muslim migrants continue to “cross the sea on every vessel or bark they could lay hold of” — as the a Muslim chronicler wrote of their jihadist ancestors of old — and inundating Spanish territory, especially the Canary Islands, where they commit all the same sort of crimes, including murdering Christian clergymen, habitually destroying and desecrating churches, and, of course, engaging in gang rape.

Spain should look to those things — and so should we.


Raymond Ibrahim, author of Defenders of the West and Sword and Scimitar, is the Distinguished Senior Shillman Fellow at the Gatestone Institute and the Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

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