Wednesday, November 12, 2008

On Islamic antisemitism

If you go over to Harry's Place you might still be in time to join the discussion following Mikey's guest post.

Mikey argues essentially that before it was infiltrated by Christian antisemitism, Muslim antisemitism was not specifically anti-Jewish, but anti-dhimmi, and that Jews under Islam may have had it better than Christians, and in any event were treated better than in Christian Europe.


Anonymous said...

According to Conor Cruise O'Brien in his excellent book, The Siege, Jews DID have it better under Islam than under Christianity. However, it must be emphasized that this was only true WHILE EUROPEAN COUNTRIES WERE STILL CHRISTIAN. After the Enlightenment, after European nations (I'm thinking primarily of Britain and France) became secular and emancipated their Jews (Napoleon emancipated French Jews, for example), the Jews living under Islam were less well off than their European counterparts because they still lived under dhimmi conditions. After Britain and France colonized North Africa and the Middle East, the Jews of those lands became emancipated, thanks to the colonial secular European administrations. This, of course, then led to resentment on the part of the Muslims because the tables were now turned on them. An Egyptian historian at the time expressed his shock and dismay at seeing the Jews wearing fine clothes and acting as if they were the equals of Muslims, which he described as an inversion "of divine law." Muslim anger towards the Jews therefore predated Zionism and certainly predated the state of Israel.

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

Victor, the article on oppression of Jews in Muslim lands, by Elliott A Green, excerpted in an earlier post [which I have read in full], discusses these issues. It is clear, according to Prof Moshe Sharon, born in Iraq by the way, and to others, that Jews were at the bottom of the social barrel in Islamic society. Sharon ascribes this to early Muslim history, the resistance to Muhammad of Jews in Medina, and to Muslim religious teachings.

Maimonides, our great philosopher, wrote in his Letter to Yemen [Iggeret Teyman] that Jews were worst off in Arab-Muslim lands. Your distinction between Europe before and after the French revolution is a perceptive one, however, I believe.