Round 2 in the controversy over Righteous Muslims, the subject of a new booklet by the UK-based interfaith organisation, Faith Matters, highlighting the actions of individual Muslims who saved Jews during the Holocaust.
Last week on the weblog Harry’s Place I commended Faith Matters for highlighting the role of Righteous Muslims. However, I questioned whether the booklet could mislead by failing to spell out the proper context. Unlike the book by Robert Satloff which inspired it, the booklet fails to provide ‘balance’ to the saviours in the Arab and Muslim world by mentioning collaborators with Nazism. It says nothing about the elephant in the room – the ideological antisemitism pervading the Arab and Muslim world from the 1930s on. This antisemitic fundamentalism produced a pro-Nazi government in Iraq and led directly to the ethnic cleansing and dispossession of a million Jews from the Arab world. It sowed the seeds of Holocaust denial and virulent, if not universal, Arab and Muslim hostility and rejectionism towards Israel. This ideological legacy is still with us today.
Now Faith Matters founder Fiyaz Mughal has had his say on Harry’s Place:
The launch of the book produced postings on this site suggesting that the book did not describe those who had collaborated with the Nazis. As if the booklet in 32 pages was to take a critical approach to the complex arena of the role of all Muslims in the Holocaust and with postings even suggesting that the individuals could not be driven by Islam and their faith and that they did so because they just wanted to protect people. Increasingly, the dehumanisation of Muslims and the demonization of Islam is pervading its way into the minds of people who should know better.
There were even suggestions that Muslims should feel a collective guilt on the Holocaust, which was just plain wrong. The collective guilt was and should be felt within Europe where some governments did nothing during the Holocaust even though they knew that the extermination camps had been developed and a systematic plan to exterminate people had been triggered within the Nazi administration.
Furthermore, the much used example in postings on the Mufti of Jerusalem did not represent all Muslims and some of the postings continued to support a blanket assumption that all Muslims cannot be trusted due to the actions of the Mufti of Jerusalem. I would seriously questions the motives and the basis of these assumptions and statements and the actions of the Righteous Muslims are a clear counter to that.
Several articulate commenters have rebutted Mughal’s arguments:
“Never mind “collective guilt”, more like collective denial, at least in the UK. Denial coupled with the idea that if the Holocausthappened (which it did not or was hugely exaggerated to support the creation of modern Israel) then the Jews deserved it anyway.
“The courageous and decent individuals who saved Jews deserve massive credit for their individual actions but the commonality of Jew-hatred within Islam and Nazism are surely too extensive to deny and post-war anti-semitism and anti-Jewish conspiracy theory has found its most fertile ground in Muslim countries, with loud cheerleading from the Left in Western countries and communities. Much as the EU tries to deny it, most attacks on Jews in Europe are carried out by Muslims, as in Malmo:
“deeply shared histories between Muslims and Jews”: With a few brief exceptions, the relationship between Muslims and Jews was continually one of oppressor and oppressed, subjugating a persecuted and reviled Jewish minority with specific religious sanction and culminating in the expulsion of about a million Jews from Arab countries after 1948 and confiscation of their assets. Any very different version of such relations is wishful thinking (and I wish it wasn’t so as well).
“As Amie says, it’s dangerous to admit your family ever helped a Jew in most Islamic states today, so we have the hideous irony of the descendants of these brave people having to repudiate their deeds out of a desire for contemporary self-preservation.”
Nobody serious is essentializing Muslims and nobody says that there was a “genocidal intent of Muslims”. However the facts are to be respected there were many Albanians who joined the SS. And there was the prominent leader of Arabs in Palestine who collaborated with the Nazis.
“that Albania was the only Axis-occupied country with a larger Jewish population in 1945 than in 1939.” No there was also Bulgaria. But of course Bulgaria did not protect the Jews in those parts of Yugoslavia it occupied after 1941. So yes, everywhere in Europe there were decent people and of course also in Albania, Serbia, Croatia.”
And as I myself tried to argue, it is plain wrong to say that only a minority of Muslims supported the Nazis and to whitewash the role of the Mufti of Jerusalem, who was in a unique position of power and influence not only with the Nazis but with the Arab leadership. And while Arabs and Muslims continue to be in denial about their collaboration and support I don’t see how we can move on, in terms of reconciliation between Arabs and Muslims on the one hand, and Jews on the other.