Amos Elon in his younger days (Photo: Jerry Bauer)
"The Arabs bore no responsibility for the centuries-long suffering of Jews in Europe.Whatever their subsequent follies and outrages might be, the punishment of the Arabs for the sins of Europe must burden the conscience of Israelis for a long time to come."
These words belong to the Israeli writer and journalist Amos Elon who died earler this week. Press obituaries all over the world have been quoting them as if Elon said something brave and revolutionary.
One must not speak ill of the dead, but Elon's statement simply isn't true.
Today Jews around the world celebrate Shavuoth. Exactly 68 ago, a terrible pogrom broke out in Baghdad over the festival's two days. After two days of rioting, looting and destruction, 180 Jews were dead, thousands injured, homes and shops had been looted and thousands of pounds' worth of damage done. This pogrom had nothing to do with Zionism. It happened eight years before Israel was established.
The pogrom, known as the Farhoud, was the Iraqi Jews' Kristallnacht. It followed a pro-Nazi coup in May 1941 instigated by the Mufti of Jerusalem.
Let's call a spade a spade: there was widespread sympathy in the Arab world for the Nazis and the Mufti of Jerusalem was a steadfast ally of Hitler.
Following the unsuccessful pro-Nazi coup which he organised in Iraq, explained in detail here, Haj Amin el Husseini arrived in Europe and was officially received by Adolf Hitler on 28 November 1941 in Berlin.
From his office the Mufti organized radio propaganda on behalf of Nazi Germany; espionage and fifth column activities in Muslim regions of Europe and the Middle East; the formation of Muslim Waffen SS and Wehrmacht units in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Western Macedonia, North Africa, and Nazi-occupied areas of the Soviet Union; and set up schools and training centers for Muslim imams and mullahs who would accompany the Muslim SS and Wehrmacht units. He would spend the remainder of the war organizing and rallying Muslims in support of Nazi Germany.
The Muslim Brotherhood (Gaza branch: Hamas) founded in Egypt in the early 30s was directly inspired by Nazism, and instigated anti-Jewish riots.
Arab complicity with Nazism is just for starters; there were the centuries of humiliation, sporadic violence and forced conversions which Jews suffered in the Muslim world.
The late Amos Elon is sadly typical of a number of Eurocentric intellectuals in Israel who are frankly ignorant or misinfomed about Jewish history in the Arab world. This was never the idyll of coexistence they believe it to be.