There has been a couple of articles over the past several months in Haaretz, the Israeli secular left wing daily that try to confront the issue of co-existence with the Palestinians and of course the larger Islamic world from the point of view of two old Zionist lions who grew up in pre-nationhood and have seen much: Historian Benny Morris and ex-deputy mayor of Jerusalem Meron Benvenisti who could be contexted within the framework of the establishment beginning with Mapai and Ben Gurion. Morris has effectively thrown in the towel after a career of documenting Israeli atrocities, miscues, and outright gratuitous violence that Independence, the Six Day War and the subsequent antifadas evoked. The bottom line message is they want the yids all gone, not red line or green line but the shore line of bobbing jewish heads as shark bait. The Arabs are not serious about peace, never were and its delusional to believe otherwise.
Benvenisti is what can be called a neo-Buberian, Martin Buber inflected with realism in which his thesis is that the two state solution will never work since both sides are intrinsically connected to the land of Israel. No one will be happy with two states and we have to go back to the bi-national formula. In fact, Benvenisti asserts that the demographic concerns of the Jewish identity and a Hebrew state are totally unfounded. Within the article there is a sense of betrayal of the whole Zionist project, that is, the heavy lifting and statehood carried out by the founding white Russian Jews backed by Western Jewish aid has been appropriated by whining cry baby Arab jews and Ethipians and other non white Jews who have no interest or who cannot or are unwilling to be assimilated into the dominant Zionist ideology. In a sense too, Benvensiti is also raising a white flag.
If we go back a thousand years to the time of Maimonides, it my help frame today’s debate and the morass of very divided opinions of Islam and Arabs in the West, particularly the divide among conservative and liberal frameworks of both acceptance, appeasal, orientalism and racism and the larger concerns of a viable social fabric, absorption and national security. Certainly, Maimonides did not have to deal with secular commercial culture, pop culture, Socialism, and mass communication, but it is still instructive to understand and add nuance to what in security parlance are “known unknowns.” Much like historian Benzion Netanyahu’s Revisionist history, it is not clear that Europe of 1939 is the Europe of today, and whether by extension the writings of Doug Saunders that engage the reader in a compelling argument for Islamic immigration are truly reflective or unconsciously profit motivated to serve and support Canada’s massive bureaucratic structure.
(see link at end)…He notes the depth of Muslim hatred for the Jews, but he also remarks on the Jewish tendency to denial, a feature that he insists will hasten their destruction:
Remember, my co-religionists, that on account of the vast number of our sins, God has hurled us in the midst of this people, the Arabs, who have persecuted us severely, and passed baneful and discriminatory legislation against us, as Scripture has forewarned us, ‘Our enemies themselves shall judge us’ (Deuteronomy 32:31). Never did a nation molest, degrade, debase and hate us as much as they …. Although we were dishonored by them beyond human endurance, and had to put with their fabrications, yet we behaved like him who is depicted by the inspired writer, “But I am as a deaf man, I hear not, and I am as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth.” (Psalms 38:14). Similarly our sages instructed us to bear the prevarications and preposterousness of Ishmael in silence. They found a cryptic allusion for this attitude in the names of his sons “Mishma, Dumah, and Massa” (Genesis 25:14), which was interpreted to mean, “Listen, be silent, and endure.” (Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, ad locum). We have acquiesced, both old and young, to inure ourselves to humiliation, as Isaiah instructed us “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair.” (50:6). All this notwithstanding, we do not escape this continued maltreatment which well nigh crushes us. No matter how much we suffer and elect to remain at peace with them, they stir up strife and sedition, as David predicted, “I am all peace, but when I speak, they are for war.” (Psalms 120:7). If, therefore, we start trouble and claim power from them absurdly and preposterously we certainly give ourselves up to destruction.”
During the last fifteen years, certain Western scholars have tried to argue that, first, Islamic antisemitism, that is hatred of Jews, is only a recent phenomenon learnt from the Nazis during and after the 1940s, and, second, that Jews lived safely under Muslim rule for centuries, especially during the Golden Age of Muslim Spain. Both assertions are unsupported by the evidence. Islam 1, that is, the Islam of the texts, as found in the Koran, and Hadith (the sayings and deeds of the Prophet and his Companions) and in the Sira (the biography of Muhammad, which obviously overlaps with the Hadith), and Islam 2, that is the Islam developed or elaborated from those texts early on by the Koranic commentators and jurisconsults, and then set in stone more than a millennium ago, and even Islam
in the sense of Islamic Civilization, that is, what Muslims actually did historically, have all been deeply antisemitic. That is, all have been anti-Infidel so that Christians too are regarded with disdain and contempt and hatred, but the Jews have been served, or been seen to have merited, a special animus.
ISLAM 1. Koran, Muhammad, Hadith, and Sunna.
Muhammad set the example for antisemitism. The oldest extant biography of Muhammad, that by Ibn Ishaq as transmitted by Ibn Hisham, is replete with the Prophet’s evident hatred of Jews. He had individual Jews assassinated if he felt that they had somehow insulted or disobeyed him. When Muhammad gave the command “Kill any Jew that falls into your power,” one of his followers, Ibn Mas’ud, assassinated Ibn Sunayna, a Jewish merchant. Other followers of Muhammad were happy to obey similar orders from their leader: “Our attack upon God’s enemy cast terror among the Jews, and there was no Jew in Medina who did not fear for his life.” Other Jews killed included Sallam ibn Abu’l-Huqayq, Ka‘b b.al-Ashraf, and al-Yusayr. The Jewish tribe Banu Qurayza, consisting of between 600-800 men, were exterminated, while the Jewish tribe of Banu’l-Nadir were attacked, and all who remained alive banished.
Here are two additional examples of Muhammad’s attitude to Jews; first from Ibn Sa‘d’s sira:
Then occurred the “sariyyah” [raid] of Salim Ibn Umayr al-Amri against Abu Afak, the Jew, in [the month of] Shawwal in the beginning of the twentieth month from the hijrah [immigration from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD], of the Apostle of Allah. Abu Afak, was from Banu Amr Ibn Awf, and was an old man who had attained the age of one hundred and twenty years. He was a Jew, and used to instigate the people against the Apostle of Allah, and composed (satirical) verses [about Muhammad].
“Salim Ibn Umayr who was one of the great weepers and who had participated in Badr, said, “I take a vow that I shall either kill Abu Afak or die before him. He waited for an opportunity until a hot night came, and Abu Afak slept in an open place. Salim Ibn Umayr knew it, so he placed the sword on his liver and pressed it till it reached his bed. The enemy of Allah screamed and the people who were his followers, rushed to him, took him to his house and interred him.
The second example comes from al-Bukhari’s canonical hadith collection:
Bani An-Nadir and Bani Quraiza fought, so the Prophet (Muhammad) exiled Bani An-Nadir and allowed Bani Quraiza to remain at their places. He then killed their men and distributed their women, children and property among the Muslims, but some of them came to the Prophet and he granted them safety, and they embraced Islam. He exiled all the Jews from Medina. They were the Jews of Bani Qainuqa’, the tribe of ‘Abdullah bin Salam and the Jews of Bani Haritha and all the other Jews of Medina.
Muhammad’s intolerance of other religions is well-attested: “ …I was told that the last injunction the apostle [Muhammad] gave [before his death] was in his words ‘ Let not two religions be left in the Arabian peninsula’;” or as Abu Dawoud put it: “The Apostle of Allah said,“I will certainly expel the Jews and the Christians from Arabia.”
After September 11, 2001, many Muslims and apologists of Islam glibly came out with the following Koranic quote to show that Islam and the Koran disapproved of violence and killing: Sura V.32: “Whoever killed a human being shall be looked upon as though he had killed all mankind.” Unfortunately, these wonderful sounding words, which come from a pre-existing Jewish text [Mishnah, IV Division], are being quoted out of context. For the very next verse offers quite a different meaning from that of V:32. Here is V:33:
That was why We laid it down for the Israelites that whoever killed a human being , except as a punishment for murder or other villainy in the land , shall be looked upon as though he had killed all mankind; and that whoever saved a human life shall be regarded as though he had saved all mankind. Our apostles brought them veritable proofs: yet it was not long before many of them committed great evils in the land. Those that make war against God and His apostle and spread disorder shall be put to death or crucified or have their hands and feet cut off on alternate sides, or be banished from the country.
The supposedly noble sentiments of the first verse, taken from a Jewish source, are entirely undercut by the second verse, which has become a murderous menacing by Muhammad of the Jews. Far from abjuring violence, these verses aggressively insist that any who oppose the Prophet will be killed, or crucified, mutilated and banished.
As for the intolerance against Jews and Christians, and their inferior status as dhimmis we have IX verses 29–35:
Fight against such of those to whom the Scriptures were given as believe neither in God nor the Last Day, who do not forbid what God and His apostle have forbidden , and do not embrace the true faith, until they pay tribute out of hand and are utterly subdued.
The Jews say Ezra is the son of God, while the Christians say the Messiah is the son of God .Such are their assertions, by which they imitate the infidels of old. God confound them! How perverse they are!
They make of their clerics and their monks, and of the Messiah, the son of Mary, Lords besides God; though they were ordered to serve one God only. There is no god but Him .Exalted be He above those whom they deify besides Him!….
It is He who has sent forth His apostle with guidance and the true Faith to make it triumphant over all religions, however much the idolaters may dislike it
O you who believe! Lo! many of the Jewish rabbis and the Christian monks devour the wealth of mankind wantonly and debar men from the way of Allah; they who hoard up gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah, unto them give tidings of painful doom ….
The moral of all the above is clear: Islam is the only true religion, Jews and Christians are devious, and money-grubbing, who are not to be trusted, and even have to pay a tax in the most humiliating way: Koran:
II.61: Wretchedness and baseness were stamped upon them [that is, the Jews], and they were visited with wrath from Allah. That was because they disbelieved in Allah’s revelations and slew the prophets wrongfully. That was for their disobedience and transgression.
IV.44-46: Have you not seen those who have received a portion of the Scripture? They purchase error, and they want you to go astray from the path. But Allah knows best who your enemies are, and it is sufficient to have Allah as a friend. It is sufficient to have Allah as a helper. Some of the Jews pervert words from their meanings, and say, ‘We hear and we disobey,’ and ‘Hear without hearing,’ and ‘Heed us!’ twisting with their tongues and slandering religion. If they had said, ‘We have heard and obey,’ or ‘Hear and observe us’ it would have been better for them and more upright. But Allah had cursed them for their disbelief, so they believe not, except for a few.
IV.160-161: And for the evildoing of the Jews, We have forbidden them some good things that were previously permitted them, and because of their barring many from Allah’s way. And for their taking usury which was prohibited for them, and because of their consuming people’s wealth under false pretense. We have prepared for the unbelievers among them a painful punishment.
ISLAM 2. Koranic Commentators.
Baydawi [died c.1316], in Anwaar al-Tanziil wa-Asraar al-Ta’wiil, provided this gloss on Koran II:61:
…“humiliation and wretchedness” covered them like a dome, or stuck to them like wet clay to a wall—a metaphor for their denial of the bounty. The Jews are mostly humiliated and wretched either of their own accord, or out of coercion of the fear of having their jizya doubled….Either they became deserving of His wrath [or]…the affliction of “humiliation and wretchedness” and the deserving wrath which preceded this.
Ibn Kathir [died 1373], emphasized the Jews’ eternal humiliation in accord with Koran II:61:
This ayah indicates that the Children of Israel were plagued with humiliation, and this will continue, meaning it will never cease. They will continue to suffer humiliation at the hands of all who interact with them, along with the disgrace that they feel inwardly.
ISLAM 3. Islamic Civilization.
Here are examples of the persecution of Jews in Islamic lands: the massacre of more than 6000 Jews in Fez (Morocco) in 1033; of the hundreds of Jews killed between 1010 and 1013 near Cordoba, and other parts of Muslim Spain; of the massacre of the entire Jewish community of roughly 4000 in Granada during the Muslim riots of 1066. Referring to the latter massacre, Robert Wistrich writes: “This was a disaster, as serious as that which overtook the Rhineland Jews thirty years later during the First Crusade, yet it has rarely received much scholarly attention.” Wistrich continues:
In Kairouan [Tunisia] the Jews were persecuted and forced to leave in 1016, returning later only to be expelled again. In Tunis in 1145 they were forced to convert or to leave, and during the following decade there were fierce anti-Jewish persecutions throughout the country. A similar pattern of events occurred in Morocco after the massacre of Jews in Marrakesh in 1232. Indeed, in the Islamic world from Spain to the Arabian peninsula the looting and killing of Jews, along with punitive taxation, confinement to ghettos, the enforced wearing of distinguishing marks on clothes (an innovation in which Islam preceded medieval Christendom), and other humiliations were rife.
Fouad Ajami in his review of Sen’s book spoke of “the culture of conviviencia,” what others have called the Golden Age of Tolerance in Spain before it was destroyed by the intolerance of the Almohads. Unfortunately, “The Golden Age” also turns out to be a myth, invented, ironically, by the Jews themselves. The myth may well have originated as early as the twelfth century, when Abraham Ibn Daud in his Sefer ha-Qabbalah contrasted an idealised period of tolerance of the salons of Toledo in contrast to the contemporary barbarism of the Berber dynasty. But the myth took a firm grip on the imagination of the Jews in the nineteenth century thanks to the bibliographer Moritz Steinschneider and historian Heinrich Graetz, and perhaps the influence of Benjamin Disraeli’s novel Coningsby, published in 1844. Here is a passage from the latter novel giving a romantic picture of Muslim Spain,
..that fair and unrivaled civilization in which the children of Ishmael rewarded the children of Israel with equal rights and privileges with themselves. During these halcyon centuries, it is difficult to distinguish the followers of Moses from the votary of Mohammed. Both alike built palaces, gardens and fountains; filled equally the highest offices of state, competed in an extensive and enlightened commerce, rivaled each other in renowned universities.
Ever since the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Western intellectuals, from Pierre Bayle to Voltaire and Montesquieu, had used the putative tolerance of Islam with which to belabor Christianity and her relative intolerance. Against a background of a rise in the pseudo-scientific racism of the nineteenth century, Jane Gerber has observed that Jewish historians looked to Islam “…for support, seeking real or imagined allies and models of tolerance in the East. The cult of a powerful, dazzling and brilliant Andalusia in the midst of an ignorant and intolerant Europe formed an important component in these contemporary intellectual currents.” But Gerber concludes her sober assessment of the Golden Age Myth with these reflections,
The aristocratic bearing of a select class of courtiers and poets, however, should not blind us to the reality that this tightly knit circle of leaders and aspirants to power was neither the whole of Spanish Jewish history nor of Spanish Jewish society. Their gilded moments of the tenth and eleventh century are but a brief chapter in a longer saga. No doubt, Ibn Daud’s polemic provided consolation and inspiration to a crisis-ridden twelfth century elite, just as the golden age imagery could comfort dejected exiles after 1492. It suited the needs of nineteenth century advocates of Jewish emancipation in Europe or the twentieth century contestants in the ongoing debate over Palestine….The history of the Jews in Muslim lands, especially Muslim Spain, needs to be studied on its own terms, without myth or countermyth.
And that is exactly what Andrew Bostom has done, provide a history of the Jews in Muslim lands, without myth. Bostom provides the necessary corrective to the idealized portraits of the golden age or the absolute tolerance of Ottoman Turkey. Patiently and methodically, he shows the real situation of Jews against a background of the institution of dhimmitude, which relentlessly persecuted all non-Muslims and reduced their lives to a misery, lives which were further punctuated with massacres and pogroms, all grimly recorded by him. Bostom also takes into account the discoveries of the Cairo Geniza, which forced even the great historian Shlomo Dov Goitein (d. 1985) to revise his ideas about the situation of Jews in Islamic lands. While the West has recognized her own shameful part in the slave trade, and antisemitic persecution, and has taken steps to make amends where possible, the Islamic lands remain in constant denial. Until Islamic countries acknowledge the realities of anti-Jewish persecution in their history, there is no hope of combating the continuing hatred of Jews in modern times, from Morocco to Indonesia. Read More:http://www.newenglishreview.org/print.cfm?pg=custpage&frm=6628&sec_id=6628