Month: October 2012

How the Left was hoodwinked about Israel

The anti-semitism spread in the 1920s by the Mufti of Jerusalem (seen here with Adolph Hitler) and his Muslim Brotherhood sympathisers has never left the Arab world

Two cheers for Colin Shindler  in the New York Times, who calls out the anti-Zionist ‘red-green’ alliance between the Left and Islamists on its antisemitism masquerading as anti-Zionism. But the spillover of anti-Zionism into anti-semitism goes back to the 1920s, the rise of the Mufti of Jerusalem and the foundation of the Muslim Brotherhood, argues Lyn Julius in the Times of Israel. And rather than a colonial-settler state, Israel represents the national liberation of the region’s dhimmi Jews, exploited and colonised for 14 centuries by Muslim conquerors.   

There was a time when the Left could
simultaneously support Israel and the fight for Algerian independence.
Not any more. So what has changed?

Part of the answer lies in a rich and thoughtful New York Times
article, “The European Left and its trouble with the Jews” by Colin
Shindler, emeritus professor at the School for Asian and African Studies
(SOAS) in London. Professor Shindler has made a specialism of studying
the Left, and in particular, its attitude to Israel. (…)

There is much worth reading in Shindler’s
article, but some aspects I disagree with. Firstly, the point at which
anti-Zionism spilled over into anti-semitism dates back, not to the rise
of Hezbollah, but to the 1920s, when the Palestinian Mufti of
Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, instigated riots in Palestine.
Secondly, Arab supporters of accommodation with Jewish
self-determination were sidelined not 10, nor even 20 years ago, but in
the first half of the 20th century. The real schism between Arab
moderates and extremists took place as the Mufti consolidated his hold
over his rivals in Palestine. Later, he was to exert influence on Arab
leaders to the point when ridding Palestine of the Jews became a
pan-Arab cause.

The Mufti ensured that Jew-hatred was not limited to Palestine: he incited anti-semitism in Iraq, culminating in the 1941 Farhud pogrom
in which some 180 Jews were murdered. The Mufti kept in close touch
with Hassan al-Banna, who founded the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928, and
whose supporters attacked Egyptian Jews and Copts from the 1930s. This fact alone should have woken the Left up to the reactionary nature of Nazi-inspired Islamism.

Nazi-style anti-Jewish hatred was imported from Europe to become the central plank
of Muslim Brotherhood philosophy. Such anti-Jewish hatred never fell
into disrepute, because, after World War ll, the Allies failed to
discredit the Arab-Nazi alliance by trying the Mufti as a war criminal.
Today, the hatred of Jews among Arabs is a hundred times worse.

With Islamist parties in the ascendant
following the Arab Spring, their brand of anti-Jewish hatred, drawing
also on Koranic sources of anti-semitism such as Mohammed’s defeat of
the Jewish tribes at the battle of Khaybar,
has once again turned the conflict with Israel into a religious war. In
spite of a ‘rebranding’ of the Palestinian cause in the 1960s as a
dispute over rival claims to the same land, the heart of the conflict
has always been ideological – Arab and Muslim rejection and ostracism of
the Jewish state – and not a struggle over acreage or settlements.

The second trope favoured by the Left – that
Israel is a colonial-settler state – is one that even Jews don’t bother
to refute. They should. Yes, Ashkenazi Jews came from Europe to settle
in Israel, but the Jews, unique among ancient peoples, have, through the
centuries, maintained their separate ethnic identity, religious, cultural
and linguistic Middle Eastern roots, and links with their ancestral
homeland.

And how do the fifty percent of Israel’s Jews –
the Sephardi/Mizrahi Jews who were forced by Arab anti-semitism to
relocate to Israel – fit into the colonial-settler paradigm?

They don’t. Indigenous Jews of the Middle East, whose presence pre-dated Islam by 1,000 years, can plausibly argue that it is they who were colonised by Muslim conquerors, exploited as vassal/chattels (dhimmis)
with limited security and rights. Jews deserve national liberation
from Arab/Muslim rule as much as Algeria deserved independence from
French colonialism in 1962, and as much as other native peoples of the
region – Kurds, Berbers, Maronites. The question of land ‘stolen’ from
the Palestinians pales into insignificance compared to the mass
dispossession of almost a million Jews in Arab lands.

It is a distortion eagerly espoused by the
Left – and Colin Shindler, regrettably, believes it – that historic
Islam has often been benevolent toward Jews compared to Christianity.
According to the eminent historian Bernard Lewis, this was a 19th
century myth spread by Jews themselves. “When it was good it was good.
When it was bad it was awful”, is how Professor Paul Fenton describes the horrors and humiliations which could afflict the ‘dhimmi’ Jews under Muslim rule. 

Read article in full

Tunisian plot in Zarzis to kidnap Jews is foiled

 With thanks: Kouichi

An army truck has been stationed protecting the entrance to the Zarzis Jewish quarter since the plot was foiled. The synagogue is 30 metres behind  (with thanks: Kouichi)

A terrorist plot to kidnap and ransom Jews in the Tunisian resort of Zarzis and encourage the remaining Jews to leave the country has been foiled. The ring has been broken up and its members arrested and sent for trial in Tunis.

According to Tunisian news sources, a Salafist (hardline Islamist) police officer masterminded the plot. The officer was a member of a special security unit set up by the previous Ben Ali regime to protect the Jews. The policeman borrowed money from the bank to finance the operation and recruit young Tunisians to his plan.

Zarzis is a town in southwestern Tunisia not far from the island of Djerba where 1, 500 Jews still live. The plan was to kidnap the Jews on a Friday evening when they were having their seaside walk. The police officer had bought firearms and a car registered in Libya, and rented other vehicles.

UPI article (Arabic – with thanks: Lily) 

JTA report 

Reuters 

Ynet News

On this day, a pogrom in Shiraz

 Bazaar in Shiraz (Wikipedia)

 Plus ca change in the Muslim world: a rumour that the Jews have desecrated the Koran, or ritually murdered a gentile spreads like wildfire and ends in tragedy. Rather than quell the disturbance, the authorities connive with the mob to loot Jewish property. On this day, 30 October, 102  years ago, it was the turn of the Jews of Shiraz to suffer.  Haaretz reports:

On October 30, 1910, 12 members of the Jewish community of Shiraz,
Iran, were killed and the city’s Jewish quarter plundered, as angry mobs
responded to an accusation that Jews had ritually murdered a Muslim
girl.

Records of a Jewish presence in Shiraz, a large city in southern Persia, go back to the 10th century, and in the 12th century the traveler Benjamin of Tudela reported a community of some 10,000. By the 20th
century, that number was far smaller, and many Jews had converted to
Islam or carried out their faith in secret because of persecution.
Pogroms were not unusual, and the events of October 30 were not unique.

The pogrom of that day followed rumors of Jewish desecration of a
Koran. Despite the efforts of a representative of the French
human-rights organization (actually a schools network founded on human rights principles – ed) Alliance Israelite Universelle in Shiraz to
alleviate tensions, the situation worsened when the body of Muslim girl
was reported to have been found near the Jewish cemetery. (The Alliance
representative later reported that the decayed remains found turned out
to belong to a Jewish girl who had died some time before.)

An angry mob gathered, and rather than being dispersed by government
troops, was actually led by them in surrounding and then attacking the
Jewish quarter. Over the course of the following hours, every home in
the quarter was looted, and everything with valuable belonging to the
quarter’s residents was stolen.

Although most of the Jews escaped, among
those who remained or tried to defend themselves, a dozen were killed
and more than 50 wounded. According to the first-hand account filed the
next day by the Alliance representative, “the 5,000 to 6,000 people
comprising the Shiraz community now possess nothing in the world but the
few tatters they were wearing when their quarter was invaded.”

Read article in full

Egyptians seize Jewish documents (update)

 In Cairo’s Jewish quarter

 Update: there are inconsistencies in the story since it first broke in the Egyptian press on 18 October. The French -Jewish woman was said to have been arrested, and the press photo showed many small bags, such as a woman might carry. An Al-Ahram article of 28 October said the French-Jewish lady had escaped: they seized large suitcases. Only two top Egyptian officials close to the Mubarak regime have been arrested to-date. The Lebanese businessman mentioned below is non-Jewish.

Levana Zamir of the Association of Jews from Egypt in Israel comments:

This is good news, because those 1,7 million documents belonging to the
Jews from Egypt are the best proof that we left behind millions of our
assets.

Since all those documents belong to us, and since there are
no Jews left in Egypt – except for one man in Alexandria and one woman
in Cairo – all this must be transmitted to one of the three Associations
of Jews from Egypt: in the USA (HSJE), in Paris (Nebi Daniel) or in Israel.


Point of No Return has already mentioned the story about two tonnes of Jewish documents confiscated in Cairo ( Elder of Ziyon found a report in the Egyptian press). At the time, we said the story was probably leaked to deter any Jew contemplating a freelance operation to demand restitution, a prospect terrifying to Egypt now that Israel has launched an official campaign for refugee rights. According to this report in the Times of Israel, it now seems a means of embarrassing  members of the Mubarak regime, two of whom have been arrested – and accounts for why President Morsi is closely following the case.  (With thanks: Lily)

“Egyptian authorities confiscated some 1.7
million documents reportedly proving Jewish ownership of land and assets
in Cairo. The documents were reportedly about to be shipped out of the
country to Israel, in what the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram is calling “the
most dangerous case of security breach in history.”

“The documents were found in 13 large cases,
ready to be transported to Jordan and from there to Israel, Egyptian
media reported Sunday.

“Elaph, a Saudi-owned news site, reported that
Egyptian police received notice that the packages were being held at a
shipping company in the Nasser City district of Cairo. Upon arriving at
the scene, police found over 1.7 million documents dating back to the
19th century, dealing with Jewish ownership of assets in Cairo. The
documents, according to the security source speaking to the Saudi site,
weighed over two tons.

“Preliminary investigations have revealed that
the documents were supposed to be used in an Israeli lawsuit involving
Jewish property lost in Egypt’s 1952 revolution, the site reported.
According to Elaph, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is personally
following the case, which it said affects Egypt’s national security.

“The documents were reportedly stolen on
December 16, 2011, from a Cairo research institution, the Institut
d’Égypte, during public riots that erupted following president Hosni
Mubarak’s ouster.

According to Al-Ahram, an unnamed senior
member of former Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP) was involved
in the efforts at smuggling the documents out of the country, in the
service of a French-Jewish woman. Another man implicated by Al-Ahram is a
Jewish Lebanese businessman named Robert Khalil Sarsaq, who also holds
other nationalities. Elaph’s source claimed that the two are suspected
of having ties with the Mossad.

“The source noted that some of the documents,
containing Jewish ownership deeds for banks, companies and real estate,
date back to 1863. The documents are now being held by Egypt’s general
prosecution.”

Read article in full 

Jewish Chronicle report 

The Jerusalem Post : Danny Ayalon denies  the story: “we have all the documentation we need.”

Egyptian diplomat : ‘Jews had never lived in Egypt’

The Jews of Egypt  bear the brunt of double denial: Denial by Egyptians who are convinced that Jews never lived in Egypt; and the other by archeologists like Israel Finkelstein, who maintains that the First Exodus under Pharaoh might not ever have happened.

The first form of denial is the more pernicious because there are still Jews alive who were born and bred in Egypt, such as the psychoanalyst and writer Tobie Nathan (pictured).

In the October 2012 issue of Information juive, Nathan recalls meeting an Egyptian diplomat  in Tel Aviv, a friendly and educated man, by all accounts.

” I don’t want to accuse him, but he sincerely believed that there had never been Jews in Egypt,” Nathan says. “When I told him that not only was I one, but my family had been settled there for centuries, perhaps longer, he replied: “if you were there, it wasn’t as Egyptians”. He could not conceive that Egyptians of the Jewish faith had actually existed.” Nathan blames ignorance – 60 years, in fact of relentless propaganda.

The Jews of Egypt, erased from the country almost to a man – only a few elderly ladies in old age homes remain – relived the myth of the Exodus. Some archaeologists deny that the First Exodus  had ever taken place. The Second Exodus was really the one and only, and people like Nathan the only ones to have experienced it.

Maimonides once wrote: A Jew is permitted to live anywhere in the world, except for Egypt. Bizarrely, he did not practise what he preached, ending up in Fostat, old Cairo. Every year at the Passover seder, Nathan experienced the paradox, as a child, of celebrating leaving Egypt, while still being there. What were we doing in Egypt?And now that we have left, why do Jews have only one wish – to go back there?

Once Nathan himself had left and suffered the tribulations of exile, he too felt that ‘nostalgia’. “A king who hadn’t known Joseph – he called himself Nasser – had chased us out having robbed us first (Exodus 1-8). ”

Read article in full (French)

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This website is dedicated to preserving the memory of the near-extinct Jewish communities, of the Middle East and North Africa, documenting the stories of the Jewish refugees and their current struggle for recognition and restitution.

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Jewish Refugees from Arab and Muslim Countries

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