Thursday, December 15, 2005

Liberal sees the light - but only a chink

Following President Ahmadinejad's antics of holocaust denial and avowed antisemitism, the good news is that Jonathan Freedland, a liberal Jewish journalist and regular columnist in the Guardian, has begun to understand how rampant Muslim antisemitism really is.

"Well, now I'm done with the charitable explanations. A man who refuses to believe the historic truth is capable of anything. This is not an Arabic cable TV station or an obscure Egyptian newspaper. This is a head of government, the leader of a nation of 70 million - a country that aspires to lead the Muslim world. And, lest we forget, Iran has nuclear ambitions. So now it's not paranoid to worry about a president with annihilationist dreams - it's smart."

The bad news is that he blames the West for infecting the Muslim world with the virus of antisemitism, as if Islam had an unblemished record of tolerance.

This represents a menace to Jews, of course, but also a tragedy for Muslims. Theirs is a tradition that historically valued learning, and when an ignoramus like Ahmadinejad denies the overwhelming weight of historical evidence he makes a mockery of that tradition. In a period Jews still look back on as a golden age, Muslims were the people of scholarship, of science, of tolerance and coexistence - a contrast with the Crusader barbarians. Yet now many lap up the myths and lies that were once fed to the peasants of Europe, lies which endured through to the last century - and which led all the way to Treblinka.

(Pardon me? A tradition that historically valued learning? And still refuses to educate their own women?)

Freedland ignores any judeophobia in the Koran. Does he know that Muhammed massacred the Jews of Medina and virtually wiped them out from the Arabian peninsula?

He fails to explain how Yemen, which was never controlled by a western power, maintained the Jews in a state of 'dhimmi' misery and degradation, subject to periodic massacre and conversion, until the community was airlifted to Israel in 1950.

He fails to see the ties between Arab nationalism and Nazism and the part played by the Grand Mufi of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, in inciting the Arabs against the Jews. Some 1,000 Jews were massacred in Arab countries in the 15 years BEFORE the establishment of Israel.

He evokes the 'Andalusian golden age' which the great historian Bernard Lewis himself says was a myth propagated by Jewish historians to discredit western antisemites.

Has Freedland seen the light? Well, just a chink. But until Muslims cease to be treated as victims and their antisemitism blamed on anyone but themselves, we cannot make progress.

No comments: