Muslim anti-Semitism: Myth and Reality

The new issue of the quarterly Critical Muslim is out. The theme is Fear and Loathing. It has my review essay on Gilbert Achcar’s great book Arabs and the Holocaust: The Arab-Israeli War of Narratives. Here are a few excerpts:

The treatment of Jews who have remained in the Muslim world is no better or worse than that of any other minority. Since the founding of Israel their numbers have dwindled. Except for countries like Iran, where a substantial Jewish population still remains, few in the Muslim world ever encounter a Jew. Most know Jews only through scripture or news reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. All Jews as a result have been cast unwittingly as adversaries by a conflict with which most of them have no connection, which many even oppose.

There is no point denying that anti-Semitism exists in the Muslim world today and that Holocaust denial is not uncommon. This is deplorable. But the anti-Semitism of the Muslim world is an epiphenomenon of a political conflict; it doesn’t have social roots. ‘It is functional and political, not social,’ says Yehoshafat Harkabi, the leading Israeli scholar and former head of the military intelligence, no friend of the Arabs. For most Muslims, anti-Semitism is a function of ignorance and unfamiliarity; it is also an abstract means of participation in a conflict where Jews have been cast as the oppressor by virtue of a state which adorns its instruments of war with Jewish religious symbols.  In this respect it is quite different from European anti-Semitism; it does not involve any actual contact with a Jew. It is also different in so far as it comes from a position of weakness, whereas European anti-Semitism was born of strength and directed against a vulnerable minority. It is comparable less to the racism of the Ku Klux Klan than to the reaction of the Black Panthers. Both kinds of hatred were totalizing, but only the former existed without a stimulus. Harkabi again:
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The truth of Syrian opposition is lost in the media’s narrative of hate

As conspiracy theorists of the left and right muddy the waters with lies and half-truths, as they continue their exclusive focus on the peripheral with utter disregard for the actual, the voices of the Syrians themselves are drowned out. Jadaliyya deserves credit for giving space to these voices and shedding light on the human dimension of the conflict. Amal Hanano is the most compelling of these voices. Here’s from ‘One Year of Hope‘. (I’m borrowing the above title from my good friend Phil Weiss).

The enemy was not one man or even his regime. As questionable motives emerged regionally and internationally, it became very clear that there were no real friends of Syria. As we fought each other, we fought a world that insisted on telling us who we were. Suddenly, everyone was an expert on Syria. Opportunistic pundits sucked the Syrian narrative like leeches, dispensing complex conspiracies, warning of the regional and global political interests at stake while belittling the people’s struggle. Opportunism seeped into the Syrian opposition as well: they splintered into rivaling groups, each betraying the other to prove itself worthy of the Syrian street’s loyalty but in the end, their divisiveness rendered the groups unworthy and incapable of defending those blood-soaked streets. The truth of Syria was lost somewhere in the middle of an axis between east and west, right and left, Sunnis and minorities, along fault lines we had never asked to define us, but they did.

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Palestinian Authority police brutality against anti-Mofaz protests

Special Report: Palestinian Grassroots Anti-apartheid Wall Campaign

For two consecutive days, EU and US-trained Palestinian Authority (PA) police and un-uniformed thugs attack Palestinians protesting against the invitation of Israeli war criminal Shaul Mofaz to Ramallah.

Saturday 30th June started as a protest against the invitation of Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas extended to former Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Chief-of-Staff and former Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz. Following massive opposition to the visit, from the independent Palestinian youth movements, as well as from political parties across the board , the PA postponed the visit. Mofaz was Chief-of-Staff of the IOF from 1998 until 2003, and then Israeli Defence Minister from 2003 until 2006, making him directly responsible for Israeli war crimes during the Second Intifada and the during the 2006 war against Lebanon. Under his command, the IOF carried out numerous atrocities, such as the massacre in Jenin refugee camp in 2002 and the murder of thousands of Palestinian civilians, including hundreds of children.

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Systematic torture in Syria

There is never an excuse for torture. Torture on all sides must be condemned. But  there is a big difference between a regime carrying out torture as policy and the individual acts of revenge-taking by a guerrilla army which has both its disciplined and undisciplined, even criminal, elements.

Gerald Tan: A new report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that Syrian intelligence agencies are running torture centers across the country where detainees are beaten with batons and cables, burned with acid, sexually assaulted, and their fingernails torn out.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Story of the Wiping Out of the Indigenous People of a Land Formerly Known as Falastin

Dear Red Hot Chili Peppers,

It’s me again. After 11 letters from all around the world, a petition with over 6400 signatories that just keeps growing, and a couple groups on Facebook [1,2], it seems like you’re determined to go through the motions of a performance in apartheid Israel. Sure enough, after a long silence from you, we’re seeing the standard Shuki Weiss promotional video, reassuring fans that past cancellations won’t repeat, and that the world still in fact loves Israel. I can reiterate what was written in other letters and statements, but I much rather just respond to one thing you said in the video, which burns with irony: “We love playing for people. Children, middle aged, and old people. So come one come all.”

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/44799712 w=400&h=300]

So here goes, the 12th letter asking the Red Hot Chili Peppers to heed the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against the apartheid military regime of Israel.

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