Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Remembering a mass Jewish exodus

Andrew Bostom, writing in Front Page Magazine, puts last Thursday's first ever congressional hearing on Jewish refugees from Arab countries in historical context:(with thanks Lily, Gavin)

(...) Although the Arab-Israeli conflict, combined with the end of French colonial rule in North Africa, may have served as catalysts for this mass exodus, these phenomena were antedated by a more powerful underlying dynamic set in motion during the century era of Western colonization. Historians Bat Ye’or and Norman Stillman have highlighted the profound political and psychosocial impact of the West’s penetration into the Islamic world through the 19th and 20th centuries, which undermined (at least temporarily, and in part) the prevailing system of dhimmitude:

Bat Ye’or: "They were no longer forbidden to have a position that might give them equality or superiority over a Muslim. They could revive their prohibited language, as well as their history and their culture. They were no longer dehumanized dhimmis, deprived of the right to speak, to defend themselves and to preserve their own history…The national liberation of a dhimmi people [i.e., the Jews of Israel] meant the abolition of the laws of dhimmitude…[in] their historical homeland."

Norman Stillman:…"the Jews and most native Christians…viewed it [European colonial governance] as a liberation from their traditional subordinate dhimmi status, which since the later Middle Ages [at least] had been rigorously imposed upon them. The Jews and Christians of the Muslim world were quick to see that increased European interference and penetration into the affairs of their region meant a weakening of the traditional Islamic norms of society and could only better their own position, which was one of religiously and legally defined inferiority."

Jewish and Christian dhimmi populations availed themselves eagerly of the modern educational programs provided by an array of Western religious and cultural representatives inundating the Middle East and North Africa. From the 1860s onward, the Alliance Israelite Universelle, for Jews, specifically, was the chief provider of modern education in the major cities and towns of most Arab countries. Concomitantly, French, rather than Arabic or Turkish, became the primary language of high culture for tens of thousands of Jews. The Alliance also instilled in its Jewish pupils an improved self-image, which fostered new expectations within them.Jews (and Christians, who benefited from missionary schools) took advantage of these educational opportunities, which produced cadres of westernized native non-Muslims who now had a distinct advantage over the largely uneducated Muslim masses, arousing the ire of the latter. The Western acculturation and economic success of the Jewish and Christian minorities, as well as their foreign ties, were deeply resented by the Muslim Arab majority."

Conspicuous overachievement by some Jews and Christians would contribute to their undoing in the twentieth century, as decolonization lead to the recrudescence of dhimmitude—an inevitable consequence when the aroused jihadist forces (whether traditional, or thinly veiled under the guise of “secular Arab nationalism”) helped end Western colonial rule. For Jews, traditional Islamic antisemitism accompanied this dhimmitude, intensified by a furious anti-Zionism, seamlessly interwoven with both Islamic and modern European antisemitism, especially Nazism. This predictable course of events was foreshadowed during the waning years of European colonialism when the policy of protecting non-Muslim minority rights was sacrificed in order to appease the restive majority Muslim populations.

The unleashing of this powerful tide through appeasing, or at least not offending the sensibilities of the Muslim majorities, eventually engulfed and destroyed the Jewish, and some of the Christian communities, in the Arab world.

Addressing the Political Committee of the U.N. General Assembly with regard to the proposed Partition Plan for Palestine (Resolution 181), on November 24, 1947, Egyptian delegate Heykal Pasha, a “well-known liberal” threatened:

"The United Nations…should not lose sight of the fact that the proposed solution might endanger a million Jews living in the Muslim countries. Partition of Palestine might create Antisemitism in those countries even more difficult to root out than the Antisemitism which the Allies tried to eradicate in Germany…If the United Nations decides to partition Palestine, it might be responsible for very grave disorders and for the massacre of the large number of Jews…A million Jews live in peace in Egypt [and the other Muslim states] and enjoy all rights of citizenship. They have no desire to emigrate to Palestine. However, if a Jewish state were established, nobody could prevent disorders. Riots would break out in Palestine, would spread through all the Arab states and might lead to a war between two races."

Five days later on November 29, 1947 the U.N. General Assembly adopted Resolution 181, known as the “Partition Plan.”

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