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
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
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.