Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Jews 'reject' calls to go to Israel - says the BBC

Jacob Lellouche, owner of the last Kosher restaurant in Tunis

What's the story on the Jews of Tunisia? They are defiantly rejecting Israeli calls to leave, says the BBC. (Extended article here).

BBC reporter Wyre Davies says there used to be 300,000 Jews in Tunisia ( there were never more than 120,000, but oriental exaggeration is catchy). Numbers, however, came 'crashing' down with the creation of Israel. Those dastardly Zionists, spoiling centuries of interfaith coexistence.

In other words, the BBC neatly avoids any discussion of antisemitism. Could Tunisian Jews have left to escape their historic second-class and insecure status as 'dhimmis' under Muslim rule? And how do you explain the fact that not every Jew left for Israel? We are not about to find out from Wyre Davies.

Since the revolution, he tells us, Tunisians are 'expressing their beliefs' in an overwhelmingly Islamic country. Pray what beliefs may these be? 'Death to the Jews', screamed supporters of Hamas - the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza - at Tunis airport recently. But Rashid Ghannouchi of the Islamist Ennahda party (the Tunisian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood) reassures Wyre that Islam is a tolerant religion (although it was he who invited the Hamas leader to visit Tunisia, and his supporters who shouted anti-Jewish slogans). The government posts guards to protect synagogues. So that's all right then. Wyre is not in the mood to ask searching questions.

In contrast to news outlets like Tunisia Live, the BBC acts as a mouthpiece for the 'moderate' Islamists of Tunisia. Two dhimmi Jews are trotted out to give credence to the official line. Look, they even have a Kosher restaurant in Tunis. And a working synagogue. We are not afraid.

Just petrified.

See clip (extended article here)

A date in Tunis (Biased BBC)
Ynet news

Monday, January 30, 2012

Tunisians push to make Israel normalisation a crime

National Committee for Supporting Arab Resistance and Fighting Normalization and Zionism

Instead of transmitting messages of false comfort, the guys at Tunisia Live are doing a great job exposing antisemitism wherever it might be rearing its ugly head. Regrettably this is not the first time that we have had news of pressure in Tunisia against normalisation with Israel since the start of the 'Arab Spring' (via EoZ) :

The National Committee for Supporting Arab Resistance and Fighting Normalization and Zionism, is a post-revolution Tunisian association whose mission is to lobby the National Constituent Assembly to criminalize normalization with the State of Israel.

The association organized a rally on Sunday, January 29th at the Ibn Khaldoun Cultural Center in downtown Tunis. Almost 100 people attended.

“We want our new constitution to include an article outlawing all types of normalization with the Zionist terrorist entity,” announced Ahmed Kahlaoui, President of the National Committee for Supporting the Arab Resistance and Fighting Normalization and Zionism.

Kahlaoui expressed his discontent with Tunisian civil society for their disinterest in the Palestinian cause.

He blames the lack of interest on what he calls foreign funding coming from “Zionist bodies” attempting to divert Tunisians from paying more attention to normalization.

“But what can we expect from people receiving huge amounts of money from Zionist bodies disguised behind the masks of tolerance and democracy,” Kahlaoui declared.

Hatem Dkhil, is a high school teacher and an anti-Israel advocate. He accused the Ben Ali regime of cultural normalization with Israel.

Read article in full

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Different Mufti, same message

Haj Amin al-Husseini meets Hitler in November 1941

As the world marks Holocaust Memorial Day, Petra Marquart-Bigman in her Jerusalem Post blog can't help but recognise an eerie similarity in genocidal intent between the Palestinian Mufti and his 1940s predecessor, Haj Amin al-Husseini.

Sheik Muhammad Hussein, the mufti of Jerusalem, who is the Palestinian Authority's senior religious official, recently recited a traditional Islamic text urging Muslims to “fight and kill the Jews” during a ceremony celebrating the 47th anniversary of Fatah’s establishment, he unintentionally revealed how little the messages of Palestinian religious leaders have changed since the days of another Palestinian mufti by the name of Husseini.

This deplorable rhetorical continuity also serves as a timely reminder that words are usually spoken to inspire deeds. Palestinians, eagerly echoed by many of their world-wide supporters, like to claim that they had no part whatsoever in the Holocaust, and that they should indeed be seen as indirect victims of the Jews who fled Europe.

This “narrative,” which seems particularly popular among Germany’s progressive elites, requires that the historical record of Amin Al-Husseini – the predecessor of the current Palestinian mufti – is ignored. While both muftis call for killing the Jews, Husseini sought and seized the opportunity to contribute to the Nazi’s genocidal undertaking to kill as many Jews as possible.
In a review of a book by Klaus Gensicke about Husseini’s collaboration with the Nazis, John Rosenthal emphasized that the mufti did not only collaborate with the Nazis by contributing to propaganda activities aimed at Arab speakers and by organizing the Muslim SS division “Handzar” in Bosnia:

Indeed, perhaps the most shocking finding of Gensicke’s research concerns the repeated efforts of the mufti after 1943 to ensure that no European Jews should elude the camps [...] Thus, for example, Bulgarian plans to permit some 4,000 Jewish children and 500 adult companions to immigrate to Palestine provoked a letter from the mufti to the Bulgarian foreign minister, pleading for the operation to be stopped. In the letter, dated May 6, 1943, Husseini invoked a “Jewish danger for the whole world and especially for the countries where Jews live.” [...]

Inevitably, some people will be inclined to argue that Husseini was only defending the national interest of the Palestinian Arabs when he tried to prevent any Jewish emigration from Europe. But as Gensicke has shown, Husseini was convinced that there was a “Jewish danger for the whole world and especially for the countries where Jews live,” and in May 1943, he also expressed this view in a letter.

Soon after Husseini had written these words, Arab regimes proceeded to demonstrate that they shared this view. The Arab League drafted Nuremberg-style laws designed to disenfranchise and dispossess Jews, and Arab states began to encourage the ethnic cleansing of the ancient Jewish communities that had existed for millenia all over the Middle East. Hundreds of thousands of the Jews who had to flee from Arab countries found refuge in the fledgling Jewish state that the Arabs vowed, and tried, to wipe out.

Back then, the motives may have been rooted in Arab nationalism, but as the recent remarks by the Palestinian mufti illustrate, there is a long and – according to the mufti, “noble” – tradition of Jew-hatred in Islam that up to this day is regularly invoked to present the Arab and Palestinian refusal to accept the existence of Israel as a Jewish state as part of a fight against Jews that is an integral component of Muslim identity.

Nazi-like rhetoric about Jews is nowadays mostly expressed in Arabic and Farsi, and just like 70 years ago, there is widespread reluctance to confront this rhetoric and face the fact that it is meant as incitement to deadly deeds.

The Mufti and the US election, then and now (JTA News - with thanks Eliyahu)

Indian Jews on 'roots' trip to 'God's own country'

The Paradesi synagogue in Cochin, Kerala

Israeli Jews from the Indian province of Kerala have been on a 'roots' trip, reports the Indian medium NDTV. (In this article 'God's own country' is India, not Israel.)

Over five decades after they settled down in Israel, a group of Kerala-born jews are back in God's Own Country on a nostalgic trip.

The 20-member team, which included 16 women, who were at the Santhigiri Ashram near here yesterday, said the long-cherished journey to their birth place was a refreshing and inspiring experience.

Many of them were born at Kochi, which had a centuries old Jewish settlement and often cited as a shining example of Kerala religious harmony.

The forebears of the Cochin Jews had come as spice traders from West Asia and the local ruler gave them permission to build Synagogues for maintaining their faith and religious traditions. But most of the Jewish families shifted to Israel last century.

"Though we have made Israel our home, Kerala has always remained a nostalgia. Now we are here with a great sense of belonging," they said.

"Kerala is not just beautiful but a land pervading with peace and harmony," said Tobia Eliace, a teacher.

Some in the team could still speak Malayalam since they had studied upto 4th class in Kerala. One of them even sang the Indian National Anthem and a couple of lines of an old Malayalam film song.

They said it was with great difficulty that they could obtain visiting visa to come to India. "I feel it like a dream-come-true. How beautiful and calm is Kerala."

Read article in full

Friday, January 27, 2012

You can't beat Tbeet, the Iraqi Sabbath dish

There is a saying in my house: 'you can't beat Tbeet.' It's hard to serve up chicken and rice in a more appetising way. I can almost smell the aroma of cardamon and turmeric rising from the photograph. Excuse me, dear reader, while I hurry off to the kitchen. I'll leave it to Vered Guttman, food blogger at Haaretz, to resurrect her great aunt Toya's Tbeet recipe for you:

In her modest, shack-like home in southern Israel, my great aunt Toya served some of the best food I’ve ever tasted.

After my Iraqi grandmother, Rachel, passed away, her cousin Toya (Victoria) Levy took it upon herself to fill void in our hearts and in our bellies. One of her duties was to prepare tbeet for us on shabbat.

Tbeet is the Iraqi version of a Shabbat overnight stew. A chicken is stuffed with a mixture made of its inner parts, rice and spices, then covered with more rice, topped with hard boiled eggs and cooked overnight. The rice comes out moist and flavorful, the chicken so soft you can literally chew the bones.

The tradition of the Shabbat overnight stews grew from the desire to serve a hot meal on Shabbat, while keeping the Jewish law that prohibited lighting fire on the holy day. Women prepared the dish on Friday and baked it overnight, usually in a communal bakery, so it was ready at lunch time the next day when the men came back from synagogue.

Many people are familiar with the Ashkenazi (Eastern-European) Shabbat stew, the cholent, that is made of beans, potatoes and meat.

But Shabbat stews developed all over the Diaspora, and each community had its own version, using some of the local spices and ingredient that were available to them.

The Iraqi Jews had the tbeet; Yemenites had jachnoon and the kubaneh (both are basically breads that are baked all night and served with spicy tomato salsa); the North African communities had the d’fina, or skheena, a stew of meat, chickpeas, grains and spices; and the Sephardi Jews of Jerusalem had their own version of Shabbat stew, made with beans, meat and bread patties, called chamin.

Read post in full

This tragic day, 43 years ago

Memorial to the nine Jews hanged in Baghdad on 27 January 1969

January 27, marks the anniversary of one of the darkest chapters in the annals of Iraqi Jewry. On that day in 1969, nine Jews were hanged in Baghdad’s central square. Few of the Jews who lived through that terrible period will ever forget it, writes Lyn Julius in the Jerusalem Post magazine.

Over 40 years later, the community and its representatives are still trying to grapple with the consequences of that fateful day.

Following the defeat of Arab armies on all fronts by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War and the 1968 ‘war of attrition’, the 3,000 Jews who remained in Iraq following the mass migration of the 1950s were being singled out for vengeance by the Iraqi regime. Dozens of Jews had been arrested and imprisoned. The remainder were placed under virtual house arrest. One Jewish girl remembers that secret service men installed themselves in armchairs opposite her house in order to keep her family under 24-hour surveillance. The tension was such that she and her mother made a suicide pact.

Jewish bank accounts were frozen. Jews lost their jobs. Jewish students were not allowed to pursue their university studies. Foreign trade agencies were taken away from Jews and handed over to Muslims. Telephones were cut off. There was no escape: Jews had to carry special identity cards and could not obtain the necessary passports in order to leave the country. They were virtual hostages to the regime.

Antisemitism intensified with the rise to power of the Ba’ath party in 1968. Saddam Hussein was its deputy leader. Before long the regime had concocted a story of ‘Zionist espionage’. The stage was set for a show trial of unspeakable cruelty and cynicism. Of nine Jews falsely accused of being Zionist spies, four were under the legal age to face execution. No matter – the regime falsified their ages.

The late Max Sawdayee describes the scene on 27 January 1969 in his book All waiting to be hanged:

“Masses of people, red, excited, smiling, laughing, walking fast, running, jostling – all with one and only one goal: to reach as quickly as possible the square where the ‘traitors’ are hanged. We take the same streets we came from, and return home. Wife tells us that she has heard from neighbours that the ‘spies’ now hanged in the Liberation Square were actually executed at the central prison at about eleven o’clock last night. They were brought to the Liberation Square at about two in the morning after improvised scaffolds had been erected by prisoners mobilised from the central prison, and by soldiers. She has heard also that many people were already there at two in the morning watching the scene of preparations for the hanging.

“The poor ‘actors’ of the scene... are dressed in special, humiliating brown linen trousers and shirts, barefoot, with the hands of some of them (for some mysterious reason) dressed in special white gloves. All of them are labelled with large sheets of paper stating, first of all and in big letters, their religion, then in small letters the reasons why they are hanged.

“ The sight of the nine, their heads twisted and drooping, their bodies dangling from the gallows and swinging high in the air, with all these vengeful mobs, all excited, agitated, cheering, dancing, chanting, singing, cursing the dead, spitting and throwing stones on them, or jumping high to catch their feet or their toes – well, this sight is most humiliating and sad, and most unforgettable. It shakes one to the bones. It shakes even one’s faith in humanity.

“When we tune in to our car radio, the announcer is still howling madly. ‘Great people of Iraq! You great people of Baghdad and Basra! Today is a holy day for all of you! Today is your feast! The day of your joy and happiness! The day on which you have got rid of the first gang of despicable spies! Iraq, your beloved Iraq, has executed, has hanged, has settled the account with those traitors! You great people of Baghdad and Basra, get free, move, go to your Liberation Squares to see with your own eyes how the traitors are hanged!’ then he goes on to read the names of those ‘traitors’, perhaps for the third or the fourth time. “

Morris Abdulezer, an Iraqi Jew now living in Canada, describes the lead-up to the hangings:

These innocent men were tortured then put through a televised mockery of a military trial, which culminated in nine of them being publicly hanged, one acquitted and two others were sent to Basra to face another trial and then were hanged on August 25, 1969 in Basra.

“I can recall precisely how terrified and confused we were throughout the entire trial and, more precisely, the night of January 26 when the guilty verdict was announced by the military judge. We did not believe that the sentence of death by hanging would be carried out because the whole court process did not make sense, from the defendants who were not allowed to appoint their own lawyers, to the stories and accusations that were outrageous and full of lies, where the defendants were being asked to bear witness against each other.

“We waited in fear, praying and trusting in our Jewish faith and hoping for pressure to come at the last minute from the international community to end this mockery.”

But international pressure did not come - until it was too late.

The reign of terror continued. Iraq’s rulers promised that there would be further hangings. Every citizen was urged to inform against their Jewish neighbours. Scores of Jews disappeared. Linda Menuhin, now a columnist and peace activist in Israel, recalls that her own father was abducted on the eve of Yom Kippur on the way to the synagogue. He was never heard of again. “We don’t know what happened to my father exactly. Until today we have never said Kaddish for him.”

Maurice Shohet, president of the World Organisation of Jews from Iraq (WOJI), believes that the number of Jews who were executed in prison, abducted, or simply vanished without trace exceeds 50. After the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, a young Jewish jeweller, newly-wed to one of the few eligible Jewish women in Baghdad, was abducted in December 2005 and never found again.

The advent of ‘democracy’ in Iraq has left much unfinished business vis-a-vis the Jews. The vast majority of the 3,000 Jews still in Iraq at the time of the hangings had managed to escape, risking their lives, through the Kurdish mountains to Iran in the early 1970s. When the Americans arrived in 2003, there were some 30 Jews still in Baghdad. All but six have since died or fled, and anti-Jewish sentiment is running at such levels that Canon Andrew White, the vicar of Baghdad and ‘de facto’ protector of non-Muslim minorities, feels their lives are at risk as long as they remain in Iraq.

On 28 November 2008 WOJI wrote to the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki with a list of Jews who were kidnapped off the street, or arrested and disappeared in prison. The organisation asked for any information about them from the thousands of documents retrieved from Iraqi intelligence headquarters. No reply was ever received.

According to Maurice Shohet, WOJI has also written to the Iraqi government following Iraqi media reports that Hebrew inscriptions at Ezekiel’s tomb at al-Kifl and the shrine of Ezra the Scribe at al-Uzair were being removed by the Sh’ia Religious Endowment directorate, which reports to Al-Maliki’s office. None of these letters received answers either.

Another source of friction is the fate of the so-called Jewish archive. The US and Iraqi governments are embroiled in a tug-of-war over priceless documents, books and Torah scrolls seized from the Jewish community and shipped to Washington for restoration. The Iraqis want the archive back, claiming it is part of Iraq’s national heritage. Others argue that the archive should be returned to its rightful owners, the Jewish community, now mainly living in Israel.

To-date, no Jew is known to have received compensation for property seized under the Ba’ath regime in spite of a claims commission set up by the interim US administration in 2003.

In meetings with the Iraqi ambassador to Washington, Samir Sumaidie, members of the World Organisation of Jews from Iraq reminded him that the new Iraqi constitution was founded on a basis of non-discrimination.

“ We applaud the new constitution,” says Maurice Shohet of WOJI. "Our goals are to protect, preserve and promote Iraqi-Jewish heritage – including holy sites, shrines and cemeteries. We will continue to pursue our goals. First among them is to find out any information of the tens of Jews who disappeared in Iraq.”

The spectre of nine bodies swinging from the gallows in Baghdad’s central square on that dreadful January day still haunts Iraqi Jews. Until the corpses and the rest of the missing Jews are returned to their loved ones, the living will not achieve closure.

Read article in full (registration required)

Forty years since the Baghdad hangings

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Safeguard Christianity in the Middle East

A cross on Mount Lebanon

I may be mistaken, but I think we are seeing an awakening of western interest in the plight of Middle East minorities. Some people are even beginning to join the dots between the plight of Christians and that of Jews. The next challenge is to apply this new awareness of Arab and Muslim bigotry to an understanding of the rejection of Israel. Dexter van Zile in The Algemeiner covers a recent US conference on minority persecution (with thanks: JIMENA):

Walid Phares, an American scholar born in Lebanon who advises the U.S. Congress on issues related to terrorism, said Christians and other minorities have been the victims of violence for decades. “I lived through it in the 20th century. Now we’re all living it, trying to witness for it,” he said. “We have crossed the threshold of a new century and yet it’s still happening.”

Attendees of the conference heard testimony from Juliana Taimoorazy, founder of the Iraqi Christian relief council and Egyptian human rights activists Cynthia Farahat. Taimoorazy, who reported on the plight of Assyrians in Israq stated that since June 2004, churches in Iraq have been bombed more than 80 times. Sometimes, multiple churches would be bombed at the same time as part of a coordinated attack.

“Most of these attacks happened on Fridays, marking the day of Islamic prayer,” she said. Clergy have been routinely kidnapped and killed on a regular basis. Even children have been killed by Islamists, Taimoorazy reported.

“In October of 2006 – in the 21st century – a 14-year-old boy was crucified in Basra, in the center of the city,” she said.

Farahat reported that Copts are second-class citizens in their homeland

“But for me, as a woman and a Copt, I am a fourth-class citizen,” she said. “The first class citizen is the Egyptian Sunni Muslim male, the second class is the Sunni female. The third is the Christian male. The fourth is the Christian female. I’m a fourth-class Egyptian citizen with absolutely no legal rights.”

The plight of religious and ethnic minorities in Muslim and Arab majority countries in the Middle East has largely been ignored because of an obsession with the Arab-Israeli conflict, Phares said during his keynote address. Phares first witnessed this after immigrating to the U.S. from Lebanon in the 1990s.

“In the 1990s, if there as an incident in the West Bank, the son-in-law, the mom, the uncle of both sides would be interviewed and the psychologists would come in and talk about the deep roots of the conflict,” Phares said. “At the same time, two villages were burned in Egypt or the Kurds would be gassed. Zero [coverage] in the New York Times.”

Franck Salameh, assistant professor of Near Eastern Studies at Boston College, echoed Phares’ complaint.

“There’s clearly a prevailing hierarchy in the media’s treatment of Middle Eastern violence,” he said. “Some victims get airtime on prime time, all the time. Others simply don’t. Middle Eastern Christians are not a top priority. Those uncouth, cross-wearing primitives are not cause for curiosity. They are too Christian in a world plagued by political correctness, cultural relativism and a false conception of the Middle East as an Arab Muslim preserve.”

Documenting attacks on Near Eastern minorities is not fashionable, Salameh said, because it is viewed as being anti-Arab and anti-Muslim and part of a Western attempt to divide a cultural and linguistic monolith. If this thinking were applied to North America, no one would talk about the plight or fate of Native Americans because it would be regarded as subversive to the Anglo-European paradigm.

“Middle Eastern minorities, Christians and Jews, are the native Americans of the Middle East,” Salameh said. “The dominant Arab-Muslim culture is indeed the colonizing intruder culture here.”

Read article in full

The Copts face same fate as the Jews of Medina

Salafist Yassir al-Burhami

With thanks: Lily

Here's a chilling reminder of what lies in store for the Copts of Egypt, in the words of the Egyptian Salafi preacher Yassir Al-Burhami (via MEMRI). The Salafists are the doctrinaire Islamists who won around a quarter of the vote in the Egyptian elections.

Al-Burhami compares the Copts to the Jews of Medina whom Muhammed vanquished and exterminated after a temporary truce.

While Muslims are weak they are enjoined to bide their time until the opportune moment arrives for the mass slaughter of non-Muslims.

Here is a transcript of a clip from Egyptian TV, broadcast in December 2011:

Yassir Al-Burhami: Appointing infidels to positions of authority over Muslims is prohibited. Allah said: "Never will Allah grant the infidels a way [to triumph] over the Believers."

We are not afraid of losing the elections or of not getting votes. We are not trying to ingratiate ourselves before the people.

Can the Christians of Egypt be compared to the Jews of Al-Medina? The case of the Jews of Al-Medina is one example of the relations between the Muslims and the infidels. The Muslims can implement any form of conduct used by the Prophet Muhammad. When the Prophet Muhammad was still in Mecca, he dealt with the infidels in a certain way, and when the Muslims are weak, they should deal with the infidels this way. "Refrain from action, pray, and pay the zakkat."

In many infidel countries, such as occupied Palestine, we instruct Muslims to do just that. We are not telling the Muslims in Gaza to launch rockets every day, which would lead to the destruction of the entire country. We tell them to adhere to the truce.

When the Prophet Muhammad first arrived in Al-Medina, he signed a treaty with the Jews without forcing them to pay the jizya poll tax. This was necessary at the time, but when they breached the treaty, he fought them, and eventually, he imposed the jizya upon the People of the Book.

The Christians [of Egypt] can be dealt with like the Jews of Al-Medina. This is possible.

This article explains what happened to the Jews of Arabia in the 7th century, according to a Muslim source. There are no Jewish sources because the Jews of Arabia were exterminated, and dead people are not known to write history.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

No room for religious minorities in an Islamist Egypt

The traditional Hilula to the tomb of Rabbi Abu Hatseira was cancelled this year

The news that 75 percent of votes in the Egyptian parliamentary elections went to the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood should be setting off alarm bells in the democratic West: yesterday's chants, intolerant of non-Muslim minorities, have become today's policy - argues Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal center on Fox News.

Some see the results of proof that the democratic process is alive and well in the Arab world's largest nation. Indeed, former President Jimmy Carter declared he was "pleased" by the orderliness of the process; yet he and other international figures are devastatingly silent about Islamists’ moves to curb the liberties of religious minorities, starting with the Jews.

Witness the broad-based protest spearheaded by the Muslim Brotherhood that led the Foreign Ministry, on the day after the final election run-off to announce the cancellation of an annual religious pilgrimage to honor a saintly Jewish Scholar who died over 1,100 years ago.

Jews from North Africa have an age-old tradition (Hilula) of visiting the graves of the pious on the anniversary of their death. The Hilula combines prayers and songs. Each year hundreds of Jews, including Israelis, made a pilgrimage to a hilltop mausoleum Egyptian city Damanhour, to the Tomb of Rabbi Yaakov Abu Hatzeira, a renowned religious figure from Morocco, who fell ill and died there in 1880, enroute to the Holy Land.

Sometimes contemporary events, like Israel’s 2009 incursion into Gaza made such visits impossible. But as late as last year, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak allowed hundreds of Jewish pilgrims to visit the Abu Hatzeira’s Tomb, which is an official antiquity site protected by the government of Egypt.

Not this year.

According to, MENA, the state-run news agency reported that a number of political groups announced that they would form a human chain if necessary, to block any “Zionists” from reaching the mausoleum for the religious rite.

The groups signing on to the protest were led by Egypt's new power brokers-- the Muslim Brotherhood, the Freedom and JusticeParty, along with the Nasserist Trend, the April 6 Youth Movement, BloggersAgainst Abu Hasira and Mohamed ElBaradei's presidential campaign. The Hilula celebration, in the view of these groups “was unpopular, and unacceptable legally and politically.”

It is easy to see why a ‘Hilula’ taking place on an isolated hill in a small town would horrify so many Egyptians. After all, the celebration traditionally includes the consumption of dried fruit, butter and feteer, as the faithful sit alongside the mausoleum, cry, and the recitation of King David's Psalms.

Yesterday's intolerant chants have already become today's policy.

It is clear that the heroes of Tahrir Square and all the hopes that their struggle would lead their nation and the entire Middle East into a 21st century of change and freedom have been "democratically" defeated by fanatics seeking to drive their nation's value system back to the 12th century.

We got the message loud and clear: There is no room in the new Egypt for Jews, dead or alive.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

More about Arab Jews (updated)

Although this blog has already fleetingly referred to the article: Arab Jews: are they extinct? I was asked by blogger Elder of Ziyon if I would comment further on it. My comment has turned into an EoZ guest post:

Naava Mashiah’s article is doing the rounds of the Arab media, gaining prominence in Arab News. Much of what she writes is only partially true, and is designed to ingratiate herself with her Arab Muslim readership.

Is there such a creature as an Arab Jew? Even Naava’s own father says there is no such thing. We agree.

Very few Jews from Arab countries self-define as ‘Arab Jews’, unless they are far-leftists. The ‘Arab world’ is itself a modern false construct, defining identity by language and culture. It’s like saying that a Spaniard and a Peruvian are both bound by a ‘Hispanic’ identity. But whereas a Spaniard and a Peruvian might have the same ancestry, religious communities in the Middle East always kept apart from each other; there was limited social interaction and almost no intermarriage.

Moreover - If you scratch away at an ‘Arab’’s identity, you will often find that he or she is not Arab at all. The region is a kaleidoscope of sects, religions and ethnicities. There is no such thing as ‘Arab’ culture. The famous singer Farid al-Atrash was not Arab but Druze, and many of the stars of Egyptian 20th century cinema were Jews or Copts. The roots of 20th popular ‘Arab’ musical culture in Iraq - the Jewish al-Kuwaity brothers had a powerful influence – could be said to be Jewish.

When she tries to explain why Jews left Arab countries, Naava Mashiah assigns equal blame to Zionism and antisemitic propaganda. In fact antisemitism alienated Muslims from Jews. Miss Mashiah makes no mention of the 1941 Farhud pogrom, seven years before Israel was established, and the rise of pro-Nazi feeling in the 1930s. Zionist activity in Iraq was a response to the Farhud, not the other way around.

Miss Mashiah’s allegation that Israel ‘effaced’ the identity of Jews from Arab countries is a charge commonly levelled by radical leftists and anti-Zionists. It is true that in its zeal to create a new Israeli, the establishment disparaged ‘Arab culture’, in the same way as it did ‘Yiddish culture’. But whatever the situation in the 1950s – and there was real discrimination then – Mizrahi culture has come back with a vengeance in Israel today.

In the final paragraph, Miss Mashiah herself gives the reason for writing her article: ‘my interest in my Arab roots grew about 10 years ago when I established my business which focuses on economic cooperation between Israel and the Middle East.”

So now we know. Being an ‘Arab Jew’, and downplaying the impact of Arab antisemitism, is good for business.

Read post in full

Is it coz I iz black (or white) ?

Why it makes sense to be colour-blind when discussing 'colonialism' in the Middle East: AKUS, writing in CiFWatch, takes Comment is Free contributor Khalid Diab to task for his reflections on Arab and Israeli stereotypes.

His article included the following:

On a lighter note, she [Israeli student Rachael studying Islam] recalls that their group included a couple of fair-complexioned Palestinians, one of whom even had red hair. This apparently threw some of the Israelis who expected all Palestinians to look “Arab”.

The majority of Diab’s article deals with what he believes is Israelis’ surprise at the ability of Arabs to hack Israeli computer systems and stereotypical responses such as the surprise of a West Bank Arab IT professional at discovering that Israelis are human beings just like himself.

But the above reference to Rachael’s friends’ surprise at seeing “fair-complexioned Palestinians” seems to say more about Diab’s prejudices than those of Rachael and her friends.

One of the common charges leveled at Israel by those who wish to challenge its legitimacy is that it is peopled by European colonists (who should pack up and “go back to Poland, Germany America and everywhere else” as Helen Thomas notably recommended). That Diab selected the issue of Israeli attitudes to Arab “complexions” in contrast to Arab accomplishments but without a similar example from an Arab suggests that he has a frame of reference which is roughly this: Israelis are “light complexioned” and therefore are colonials, while Arabs are “ many complexioned” and therefore indigenous. Of course, it also implicitly implies that Israelis are (white) racists without any similar reference to Arab attitudes to “complexion”.

Diab even quotes an Israeli Arab woman from Nazareth who has absorbed the mantra of Jews as colonists:

“It’s not because [Jewish] Israelis don’t encounter Arabs. It’s just more comfortable for them to look down on us – it makes their colonial enterprise easier,” she contends. “If they acknowledge that we are similar, this will raise the uncomfortable question of why they don’t treat us as equals.” [emphasis added]

I would contend that the intifadas and the wedge-politics of Arab MKs and references to colonials with the implication that Jews do not belong in Israel (i.e. – which is really Arab Palestine) have had more to do with Jewish suspicions about their Arab fellow citizens than some imaginary “colonial enterprise”.

Of course, while many Israelis are “light-complexioned”, most are not. Even with the arrival of the Russian Jews in the 1980s the majority are descended from parents who fled from Arab countries in 1948-1951.

Jews who fled Iraq in 1951 register upon arrival in Israel.

To quote Diab, they “look Arab”. In addition, Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews frequently inter-marry so most Israelis are “dark-complexioned” to one degree or another. Diab seems to view Rachael and her friends as white, blue-eyed European colonials who expect their neighbors on the West Bank conform to a dark, brown-eyed Arab stereotype.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Azeris thwart terrorist attack on two rabbis

It's been hailed as one of the few Jewish communities in a Muslim state to be thriving - and its brand new synagogue is proof enough - but is the honeymoon for the Jews of Azerbaijan over? Haaretz reports:

Three men were detained last week after planning to attack two Israelis employed by a Jewish school in Baku, the Azerbaijan Ministry of National Security has revealed. Meanwhile, an Azeri commentator considered close to the republic's president has launched a scathing indictment of Iran.

The Azeri ministry said it had arrested a cell that planned to "kill public activists," before it became apparent that the intended victims were two Israeli Chabad emissaries, a rabbi and a teacher employed by the "Chabad Or Avner" Jewish school in Baku. The ministry said that the three men, named as Rasim Aliyev, Ali Huseynov and Balaqardash Dadashov, received smuggled arms and equipment from Iranian agents. The action was apparently planned as retaliation to the gunning down of Iranian nuclear scientists.

Baku, Azerbaijan - AP - 18.1.12

Waterfront in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Photo by: AP

"The Azeri security forces acted covertly without alerting us," said Rabbi Shneor Segal, one of the two targets. "It was published that they originally planned to attack 'people who look Jewish and hold foreign passports,' near the school, but when the school guards began suspecting them, they started monitoring the area where I live," he told Haaretz.

Segal added that the second target was Rabbi Mati Lewis.

Irani-Azeri relations, which were never rosy, recently deteriorated even further after Azeri Communication Minister Ali Abbasov accused Iran of carrying out a cyber attack against several offices in the country accused of "cooperation with Israel."

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Maoz not sacked after all for 'white tribe' remarks

Shlomo Maoz... his sacking is now in doubt

Shlomo Maoz was not sacked by investment firm Excellence-Nesuah, but only relieved of some of his duties, an official in the firm told the Knesset Monday. Maoz, a Sephardic Jew, aroused the firm's ire when he made a speech denouncing "white" Ashkenazi elites that he claimed wield unfair power in the country, Arutz Sheva reports.

Excellence-Nesuah's Deputy Director for Management, Moshe Barmak, told the Knesset's Finance Committee that Maoz was removed from the positions of chief economist and presenter, but continues to serve as director and funds manager.

The Finance Committee was scheduled to discuss the Maoz affair but did not do so because Maoz and Excellence-Nesuah's General Manager David Baruch both failed to show up for the session. Neither man explained why he did not come.

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Mizrahim are movin' on up

Bostom on understanding Islamic antisemitism

The onward march of the 'Islamist winter' (with thanks: Philippa C; Tony C)

In this Front Page magazine interview, Dr Andrew Bostom tells how 9/11 sparked his interest in Islamic antisemitism. He has since written several seminal works on the subject. It should be noted, however, that current Arab antisemitism demonises Jews in a way that good old-fashioned Islamic antisemitism did not.

In the wake of the farcically mislabeled “Arab Spring,” we are witnessing a swelling tide of Jew-hatred emanating from the triumphant Islamists throughout the Middle East who don’t even bother to conceal it. And why should they? Our own willfully blind and/or complicit media downplay it or ignore it altogether.

Some argue that what is mistaken for contemporary Islamic anti-Semitism is just a reaction to Israel’s “occupation” and “genocidal oppression” of the Palestinians. Or that it is not intrinsic to Islam but derives from the influence of Nazism. Or that it is a perversion of Islam on the part of a tiny minority of extremists. What are the true roots of Islamic Jew-hatred?

Andrew Bostom, M.D., M.S., has documented the answer. An Associate Professor of Medicine at Rhode Island Hospital, the major teaching affiliate of Brown University Medical School, he is the author of two essential, extraordinary, and meticulously documented works of scholarship, The Legacy of Jihad and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism, and of the upcoming Sharia versus Freedom (with a foreword by the incomparable Andrew C. McCarthy). He has published articles and commentary on Islam here on FrontPage and in the Washington Times, National Review Online, Revue Politique, American Thinker, and elsewhere in print and online.

This Tuesday in Los Angeles, Mr. Bostom will present “Understanding the Islam in Muslim Jew-Hatred.” See here for information about attending.

Mark Tapson: Dr. Bostom, what inspired you as a scholar to focus on Islam?

Andrew Bostom: It’s pretty straightforward. The stimulus was 9/11/2001. Until then I was simply a medical academic at Rhode Island Hospital (the major teaching hospital of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University), and an average citizen trying to keep abreast of world events. I am not particularly religious as a Jew though I certainly support the state of Israel. But I grew up in New York, living in Queens most of my life, and I went to medical school in Brooklyn. My wife and I still have family in New York City, so the day of 9/11/2001 itself was traumatic, trying to make sure everyone was OK. A colleague’s wife was in the second tower. She was very lucky, barely getting out before it collapsed.

On the way home I grabbed a book by Karen Armstrong about Islam. I was reading it and commenting to my wife that it just didn’t seem to jibe. (I learned later that Armstrong is a notorious apologist.) As I read it out loud my wife was just laughing. I didn’t find it particularly funny. Nor the news reports over the next days that were transparently apologetic. And I was alarmed at stories that appeared in the New York Times (and other New York area newspapers) about an Egyptian Imam who was preaching at a large Mosque in Manhattan, and spreading conspiracy theories about Jews leaving the World Trade Center in advance of the attacks, due to their “prior knowledge.”

So I started reading independently. A small book by Yossef Bodansky, a terrorism expert, discussed Islamic anti-semitism as a political instrument, and referenced the work of Bat Ye’or on the dhimmi. I got that book by Bat Ye’or, and everything else she has written in English—all her books, essays, and published lectures. I met Bat Ye’or after a correspondence with Daniel Pipes, and brought her to Brown University to give a guest lecture. She became a very close mentor, and introduced me to Ibn Warraq and that’s how things started. I had begun writing short essays within a year of 9/11. Ibn Warraq resided with us in 2003, for a time, and he encouraged me to consider a book project. I was increasingly interested in the Jihad and it was with Warraq’s support that I put that first book, The Legacy of Jihad, together.

MT: What do you say to the common defense that Islam preaches tolerance toward Christians and Jews – “the people of the book” – and that Jew-hatred is not inherent within it?

AB: Although often invoked, these apologetic canards are diametrically opposed to Islamic doctrine and the sad, if predictable historical realities this sacralized hatred has engendered.

What has always been the nature of the system of governance imposed upon indigenous non-Muslims conquered by Islam’s timeless, institutionalized jihad wars?

In his seminal The Laws of Islamic Governance, al-Mawardi (d. 1058) — a renowned jurist of Baghdad — examined the regulations pertaining to the lands and infidel populations subjugated by jihad. This is the origin of the system of dhimmitude. The native infidel “dhimmi” (which derives from both the word for “pact” and also “guilt” — guilty of religious errors) population had to recognize Islamic ownership of their land, submit to Islamic law, and accept payment of the Koranic poll tax (jizya, the tax paid in lieu of being slain) based on Koran 9:29. Al-Mawardi notes: “The enemy makes a payment in return for peace and reconciliation. … Reconciliation and security last as long as the payment is made. If the payment ceases, then the jihad resumes.” A treaty of reconciliation may be renewable, but must not exceed 10 years.

This same basic formulation was reiterated during a January 8, 1998, interview by Muslim Brotherhood “Spiritual Guide,” and immensely popular Al-Jazeera television personality Yusuf al-Qaradawi, confirming how jihad continues to regulate the relations between Muslims and non-Muslims to this day. The “contract of the jizya,” or “dhimma,” encompassed other obligatory and recommended obligations for the conquered non-Muslim “dhimmi” peoples. Collectively, these “obligations” formed the discriminatory system of dhimmitude imposed upon non-Muslims — Jews and Christians, as well as Zoroastrians, Hindus, and Buddhists — subjugated by jihad. Some of the more salient features of dhimmitude include:

– The prohibition of arms for the vanquished dhimmis

– The prohibition of church bells

– Restrictions concerning the building and restoration of churches, synagogues, and temples

It is important to note that these regulations and attitudes were institutionalized as permanent features of the sacred Islamic law, or Sharia. The writings of the much lionized Sufi theologian and jurist al-Ghazali (d. 1111) highlight how the institution of dhimmitude was simply a normative and prominent feature of the Sharia:

The dhimmi is obliged not to mention Allah or His Apostle. … Jews, Christians, and Majians must pay the jizya [poll tax on non-Muslims]. … On offering up the jizya, the dhimmi must hang his head while the official takes hold of his beard and hits [the dhimmi] on the protruberant bone beneath his ear [i.e., the mandible]. … They are not permitted to ostentatiously display their wine or church bells. … Their houses may not be higher than the Muslim’s, no matter how low that is. The dhimmi may not ride an elegant horse or mule; he may ride a donkey only if the saddle-work is of wood. He may not walk on the good part of the road. They [the dhimmis] have to wear [an identifying] patch [on their clothing], even women, and even in the [public] baths. … [Dhimmis] must hold their tongue.

The practical consequences of such a discriminatory system were summarized by the great historian of Muslim and non-Muslim (especially Jewish) relations during classical Islam, S.D. Goitein, in 1970 :

Taxation [by the Muslim government] was merciless, and a very large section of the population must have lived permanently at the starvation level. From many Geniza letters [a trove of Oriental Jewish correspondence etc., particularly from the Middle Ages, discovered in Egypt] one gets the impression that the poor were concerned more with getting money for the payment of their taxes than for food and clothing, for failure of payment usually induced cruel punishment. … The Muslim state was quite the opposite of the ideals … embedded in the constitution of the United States. An Islamic state was part of or coincided with dar al-Islam, the House of Islam. Its treasury was … the money of the Muslims. Christians and Jews were not citizens of the state, not even second class citizens. They were outsiders under the protection of the Muslim state, a status characterized by the term dhimma … They were also exposed to a great number of discriminatory and humiliating laws. … As it lies in the very nature of such restrictions, soon additional humiliations were added, and before the second century of Islam was out, a complete body of legislation in this matter was in existence. … In times and places in which they became too oppressive they lead to the dwindling or even complete extinction of the minorities.

Important scholars of Islamic Antisemitism — from Hartwig Hirschfeld in the mid-1880s, Georges Vajda in the late 1930s, S.D. Goitein in 1971, and Haggai Ben-Shammai in 1988 — have demonstrated, collectively, all of the following:

– Clear historical evidence of specific Islamic anti-semitism, from the Geniza record of the high Middle Ages — including the coinage of a unique Hebrew word to characterize such Muslim Jew hatred, sinuth — published in full by Goitein as of 1971

– The content of foundational Muslim sources detailing the sacralized rationale for Islam’s anti-Jewish bigotry, including Hartwig Hirschfeld’s mid-1880s essay series on Muhammad’s subjugation of the Jews of Medina, based upon the earliest pious Muslim biographies of Muhammad

– George Vajda’s elegant, comprehensive 1937 analysis focusing primarily on the hadith (the putative words and deeds of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, as recorded by his earliest pious Muslim companions)

– Haggai Ben-Shammai’s concise 1988 study of key examples of Jew-hatred in the Koran and Koranic exegesis

– Inequality between Muslims and non-Muslims with regard to taxes and penal law

– The refusal of dhimmi testimony by Muslim courts

– A requirement that Jews, Christians, and other non-Muslims, including Zoroastrians and Hindus, wear special clothes

– The overall humiliation and abasement of non-Muslims

It is important to note that these regulations and attitudes were institutionalized as permanent features of the sacred Islamic law, or Sharia.

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Avnery hasn't a clue about Jews from Arab lands

Surprise, surprise - that grand old man of the Left, Uri Avnery (pictured), has jumped on to the 'white-discrimination-against-Mizrahim' bandwagon, following the Shlomo Maoz 'scandal'. Why should we take Avnery seriously? Because he still has an international following. Many radical leftists are casualties of an inadequate Israeli schooling system. They simply haven't a clue about Jews from Arab countries and apply Marxist class stereotypes. We must redouble our efforts to educate 'leftists' as to the true history of Jews in Arab countries. My comments follow in italics.

Avnery: The Orientals have deep grudges against the Ashkenazim. They believe – not without justification – that they have been humiliated and discriminated against from their first day in the country, and still are, though quite a number of them have reached high economic and political positions. The other day, a top director of one of the foremost financial institutions caused a scandal when he accused the “Whites” (i.e. Ashkenazim) of dominating all the banks, the courts and the media. He was promptly fired, which caused another scandal.

The discrimination has been overstated and in many ways is a thing of the past. And one cannot generalise: As our commenter Sylvia says: Turkish, Iranian and Iraqi Jews have done very well - while Jews from North Africa are still struggling.

Avnery: The Likud came to power in 1977, dethroning Labour. With short interruptions, It has been in power ever since. Yet most Likud members still feel that the Ashkenazim rule Israel, leaving them far behind. Now, 34 years later, the dark wave of anti-democratic legislation pushed by Likud deputies is being justified by the slogan “We must start to rule!”

The scene reminds me of a building site surrounded by a wooden fence. The canny contractor has left some holes in the fence, so that curious passers-by can look in. In our society, all the other blocs feel like outsiders looking through the holes, full of envy for the Ashkenazi “elite” inside, who have all the good things. They hate everything they connect with this “elite”: the Supreme Court, the media, the human rights organizations, and especially the peace camp. All these are called “leftist”, a word curiously enough identified with the “elite”.

How has “peace” become associated with the dominant and domineering Ashkenazim?

That is one of the great tragedies of our country. Jews have lived for many centuries in the Muslim world. There they never experienced the terrible things committed in Europe by Christian anti-Semitism. Muslim-Jewish animosity started only a century ago, with the advent of Zionism, and for obvious reasons.

Ah, that Golden Age myth again. Avnery is blissfully ignorant of the history of Jews in Arab countries, where they lived in an atmosphere of 'cordial hatred' - as Professor Paul Fenton, a scholar of Moroccan-Jewish relations once put it. Avnery is at once ignorant of antisemitism in the Koran, and the long history of Jewish servitude, known as 'dhimmitude', under Muslim rule. (Somebody please tell him about pre-20th century massacres). Furthermore it is shocking that a German Jew whose family escaped the Nazis should be ignorant of the Nazi inspiration behind 20th century Arab Jew-hatred.

Avnery: When the Jews from Muslim countries started to arrive en masse in Israel, they were steeped in Arab culture. But here they were received by a society that held everything Arab in total contempt. Their Arab culture was “primitive”, while real culture was European. Furthermore, they were identified with the murderous Muslims. So, the immigrants were required to shed their own culture and traditions, their accent, their memories, their music. In order to show how thoroughly Israeli they had become, they also had to hate Arabs.

It is true that Israel did not at first appreciate Arabic culture, but Jews arriving from Arab countries were able to get state grants to do degrees in Arabic literature at the Hebrew University. They still continued to listen to Farid al-Atrash. Likewise the state did nothing to promote Yiddish culture. Leftists tend to overstate the cultural 'discrimination' that Jews from Arab lands experienced because they hate all elites, without recognising that they are part of them.

It is not true that all Jews from Arab countries were products of Arab culture. In fact many were fans of western culture. Those who were products of the Alliance Israelite system, spoke English and French. They could recite the poems of La Fontaine and Rudyard Kipling. They sang along to Edith Piaf.

Avnery: It is, of course, a world-wide phenomenon that in multinational countries the most downtrodden class of the dominant nation is also the most radical nationalist foe of the minority nations. Belonging to the superior nation is often the only source of pride left to them. The result is frequently virulent racism and xenophobia.

Avnery has got it precisely backwards. Many oriental Jews brought with them a pre-existing hatred of Arabs - the result of suffering and dispossession. It is this leftist inability to recognise or downplay Arab antisemitism which is actually raising roadblocks to peace.

Avnery: This is one of the reasons why the Orientals were attracted to the Likud, for whom the rejection of peace and the hatred of Arabs are supreme virtues.

Nonsense. Who signed a peace agreement with Egypt in 1979? Menahem Begin of the Likud.

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