Friday, May 29, 2009

Eurocentric intellectuals ignore Arab antisemitism

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.


Anonymous said...

While I have little truck with Elon's views on the Arab world's attitude towards Jews, I will say one thing in his favour. Some of his opinions have been seriously distorted to appear anti-Zionist when in fact they are not. Most egregiously, his book The Israelis about the prestate Zionist leaders is a sober account that allows the greatness of many of these figures to shine through. Yet it has been misrepresented as criticizing these men and women for their "blindness" on the Arab question.

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

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.

This view on the part of what you call "Eurocentric intellectuals" [I think it fits] was widely promoted in the UK and US by semi-official personalities, opinion-makers, and the like. Walt-Mearsheimer put this claim of Arab innocence into their notorious anti-Israel propaganda tract. They first say, disarmingly, that Jews were terribly treated in the West -true enough- but then exculpate the Arabs from any historical guilt, offense, or wrongdoing. They write that the "Palestinians" were "largely innocent" of any offense against Jews [what does that "largely" mean?]. This view is almost an official one, as Obama came close to saying it in his Cairo speech. Indeed, Condoleeza Rice reversed the historical relationship between Jews and Arabs in her remarks at the Annapolis conference and earlier. She tried to equate the Arabs' experience with that of Blacks in the American South who were slaves up to the end of the American civil war and then, after Emancipation, were denied many rights into the 1960s. This was a really very nasty distortion.

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

the case of Amos Elon shows how foolish and ignorant many so-called "intellectuals" can be. Of course nobody can know everything. But these pretentious "intellectuals" ought to have some modesty about expressing an opinion about subjects that they are ignorant about. I say the same about Amos Oz the novelist who also died recently, as I say about Amos Elon.

bataween said...

What, Eliyahu, did Amos Oz die?