Hugh Fitzgerald On Muslim Antisemitism

Two Jewish Men

Two Jewish Men

MUSLIM ANTISEMITISM DID NOT grow "uniquely Muslim roots" over the past three decades (as was recently suggested by an idiot mainstreamer). Muslim antisemitism was always there, within Islam. It was not virulent, because the Jews were weak, despised, and unlike the Christians, had no possible strong outside powers that could pressure Muslims in order to protect their co-religionists within Dar al-Islam. But then the Jews re-established their ancient Jewish commonwealth, despite Arab terrorism that started early against Jews settling on land they had bought (Joseph Trumpeldor at Tel Hai). That Arab terrorism continued throughout the 1920s (a decade that begins with murderous mobs killing Jews in Jerusalem in 1920, and then massacring every last Jew Hebron in 1929) and then through the 1930s, especially during the so-called Arab Revolt.

During that revolt, the Mandatory Authority officials in Jerusalem expelled Captain Orde Wingate for the crime of having taught Jewish settlers how to defend themselves. Meanwhile, Arab terrorism continued. Then there was the attack on the nascent state of Israel by seven Arab armies, and the period of terrorism by Egyptian fedayin (and by Jordanians too, until terrorism from Jordan was ended by a retaliatory raid led by Colonel Ariel Sharon and his Unit 101).

It is the refusal of the Jews of Israel to surrender, to relapse into the status that they deserve—according to the Shari'a—of dhimmis, living on Muslim sufferance, according to Muslim dictates, in a state of permanent humiliation and degradation and physical insecurity, that in the twisted worldview of Muslims becomes a constant, gnawing source of anguish for them, of their humiliation, their degradation, their physical insecurity.

And because of this, the texts pertaining to Jews, and the anti-Jewish animus that always was to be found in Islam, and that resulted in the mistreatment of Jews that has been so well-documented, and the texts and tenets that explain the 1350-year mistreatment of Jews, an antisemitism different in its promptings from that found in Western Christendom, was revived with special fervor. That mistreatment of Jews was not unique; Christians, too, were mistreated as dhimmis (unless one takes the ahistorical view that the dhimmi condition was benign, that as "protected peoples" dhimmis had a good thing going), but there was a special animus, with textual authority in support, toward Jews.

They were always regarded, however, as weak, and no threat. And indeed, they had their uses, for example as doctors (the Padishahlar or Ottoman Sultans, for example, always relied on Jewish doctors). But this should not be confused with the condition of the Jewish community, one which the scholar S. E. Goitein described as far worse than he had realized, over many decades of close study, until he finally spent years studying the contents of the Cairo Geniza, which led him to reconsider his underestimate of the burden on the Jews of, for example, the Jizyah, the poll-tax for dhimmis specified in Qur’an 9.29.

Of course the mistreatment of non-People of the Book, such as Hindus and Buddhists, was more atrocious than that endured by Jews. Possibly some may find consolation in that fact. But then, all kinds of people try to make all kinds of mental salti mortali to convince themselves that antisemitism in the Islamic world is an import, and not native. That view, of course, requires that one ignore a mountain of evidence, of the kind collected by Georges Vajda—whose work Bernard Lewis includes in both his notes and his bibliography but, one can only assume from his misleading treatment of Jews under Islam, did not read, or did not comprehend, or did not wish to comprehend.

Did Lewis read Vajda? Did he read Vajda's translation of Al-Magili? What did he get out of Vajda? Or out of many others who wrote on the Jews under Islam?

It is true that the Mufti of Jerusalem was anti-Jewish and found much to his liking the views of Adolf Hitler. But his views preceded those of Hitler, and came from another source: the Qur'an, the Hadith, the Sira. One of the reasons all the Arabs favored the Nazis is that the Nazi antisemitism echoed, or provided a variant on, familiar and welcome hatreds. Lewis and this new report come perilously close to maintaining, and Lewis certainly gives the impression to many, that Islam "borrowed" European antisemitism because it had no homegrown variety. But it did, and the borrowings were not essential.

Does anyone think that the Saudi textbook remarks on the Jews are due to the Nazis or the antisemitism displayed, at different levels in different places and times, of Western Christendom? Or that what Ahmadinejad thinks of Jews, and the need to wipe Israel out, comes from Hitler and not entirely from another source closer to home?

Read it all.

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