Tag: Dhimmitude

Hamas dystopia ‘would prevent Jewish brain drain’

Assuming that ‘victory is nigh’, a  Hamas conference in Gaza  planning for a dystopian future for Israel ‘s Jews has received surprisingly little press coverage. The new order after Israel ceases to exist will be that of ‘sharia’ law – Jews  who are not killed or expelled would revert to submissive dhimmi status. It is interesting, though, that Hamas feels it would need to retain Jewish professionals to help it run its state. This conforms with the age-old tradition of exploiting dhimmi non-Muslims for their useful skills. Analysis by MEMRI (with thanks: Lily):

Hamas leader Yahya al-Sinwar: preparing for the ‘liberation of Palestine’ (Photo: AP)

The September 30, 2021 “Promise of the Hereafter[1] – Post-Liberation Palestine” conference, sponsored by Hamas leader in Gaza Yahyah Al-Sinwar and attended by senior officials from Hamas and other Palestinian factions, discussed preparations for the future administration of the state of Palestine following its “liberation” from Israel after the latter “disappears.”

The conference published a concluding statement listing “ideas and methods of operation [to be implemented] during the liberation of Palestine” after Israel ceases to exist. This list included, inter alia, a call for drafting a document of independence that will be “a direct continuation of the Pact of ‘Umar Bin Al-Khattab” concerning Byzantine Jerusalem’s surrender to the Muslim conquerors which took place apparently in 638; a definition of the leadership of the state until elections are held; recommendations for engagement with the international community and the neighboring states; a call for preparing in advance appropriate legislation for the transition to the new regime; a call for establishing apparatuses to ensure the continuation of economic activity once the Israeli shekel is no longer in use and to preserve the resources that previously belonged to Israel; and a call for compiling a guide for resettling the Palestinian refugees who wish to return to Palestine.

The conference also recommended that rules be drawn up for dealing with “Jews” in the country, including defining which of them will be killed or subjected to legal prosecution and which will be allowed to leave or to remain and be integrated into the new state. It also called for preventing a brain drain of Jewish professionals, and for the retention of “educated Jews and experts in the areas of medicine, engineering, technology, and civilian and military industry… [who] should not be allowed to leave.” Additionally, it recommended obtaining lists of “the agents of the occupation in Palestine, in the region, and [throughout] the world, and… the names of the recruiters, Jewish and non-Jewish, in the country and abroad” in order to “purge Palestine and the Arab and Islamic homeland of this hypocrite scum.”

The conference was organized by the Promise of the Hereafter Institute, which was established in 2014; the institute called it “a conference that looks to the future.” Dr. Issam Adwan, chairman of the conference’s preparatory committee and former head of Hamas’s department of refugee affairs, said that the conference’s recommendations would be presented to the Hamas leadership, which also funded the event.[2] The recommendations were also included in the strategies that the Promise of the Hereafter Institute had been drawing up since its establishment to address the phase following the liberation of Palestine.[3]

In his statements for the conference, which were delivered by Hamas political bureau member Kamal Abu Aoun, Hamas leader Al-Sinwar stressed that “we are sponsoring this conference because it is in line with our assessment that victory is nigh” and that “the full liberation of Palestine from the sea to the river” is “the heart of Hamas’s strategic vision.”

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When will the ‘happy dhimmi’ myth be discredited?

Today, any connection with slavery, however tenuous, is enough to make historical figures into non-persons. It’s time to treat the subjugation of Jews in Arab lands with the same seriousness. Lyn Julius writes in JNS News:

Yemenite Jews,dhimmis under Sharia law, being airlifted to Israel in 1949

Although anticipated with trepidation, the United Nations’ Durban IV commemoration, titled “Reparations, racial justice and equality for people of African descent,” seems to have turned out to have been a damp squib.

But it might not be long before another excuse for an anti-Israel hatefest presents itself. The propaganda strategy behind the Durban conference—to paint one nation (and one nation alone) as racist—remains alive and well on campus and in the media.

We could begin to fight back by making the argument that the treatment meted out to Jews and blacks was uncannily similar, according to a recently published book, Poisoning the Wells, edited by the Institute for the Study of Global Anti-Semitism and Policy (ISGAP). 

Startling parallels between Jews in Muslim lands and blacks in the American South are revealed in a chapter called “Happy Dhimmis, Happy Darkeys: Myths past and present,” by Eunice G. Pollack and Stephen H. Norwood.

According to Pollack and Norwood, Arab leaders and their Western supporters have spread the myth of “perfect harmony” and “mutual respect between Arabs and Jews” in the 14 centuries of “coexistence” before the establishment of the State of Israel. The “paradise” was shattered by the invasion of the foreign ideology of political Zionism, a movement supposedly fashioned by European Jews, with no relevance to Jews living in Muslim lands.

In practice, however, Jews in Muslim lands were treated little better than black slaves in the cotton plantations of the deep South, claim Pollack and Norwood. Both groups were seen as cowardly and obsequious.

Jews were dhimmis under the eighth-century Pact of Omar. Although permitted to practice their religion, they were not generally allowed to defend themselves. Indeed, they had to pay protection money in the form of a head tax.

Black slaves were deemed unqualified for military service. When Confederate soldiers encountered black Union Army soldiers during the Civil War, they viewed them with disgust; atrocities followed. The alleged behavior of a Jewish soldier in French uniform set off a pogrom by Algerian Muslims in Constantine in 1834.

In Arab countries generally, Jews occupied the last rung on the social pecking order.

Pollack and Norwood believe that the Koran set the template for Islam’s treatment of the “treacherous and cursed” Jews after they spurned Muhammad’s revelation. The Jewish tribes suffered a brutal defeat that involved beheading, rape, pillage and the sale of women as slaves. Both Jews and blacks have been victims of ritual lynchings.

Dhimmis had to submit to restrictions and humiliations. Raids into the Jewish quarters in North Africa resulted in frequent loss of life, as well as pillage and rape. Jews were beaten up on the false pretexts of blasphemy or drunkenness. The assailants, drawn from all ranks of society, were rarely punished. Under Shi’a Islam, “unclean” Jews could be punished if rainwater splashed from them onto Muslims.

But the Western supporters of these myths—the dhimmi-deniers—downplay inconvenient facts. They argue that attacks only took place “once in a while” or when the Jews stepped out of line (and were thus themselves to blame), and that the attacks were directed solely at Jews’ property.

The myth of  “peaceful coexistence” inspired by the golden age of medieval Muslim Spain originated in the 19th century and was believed by many in the West, including Jews. The historian Heinrich Graetz wrote that life under Islam was far better for Jews than under Christianity. The young Benjamin Disraeli claimed, “The children of Ishmael rewarded children of Israel with equal rights and privileges with themselves.”

In reality, even when the dhimmi rules were abrogated in 1856, rights had to be purchased. The Ottomans exhibited the “toleration of indifference when suitably paid to do so,” to quote the philo-Semitic clergyman James Parkes.

Colonial rule is considered by Western supporters of the myth to have disrupted this happy relationship. In practice, the colonial powers “liberated” non-Muslim minorities from their dhimmi status and granted them better education and security.

Israel became tarred with the brush of imperialism after the Suez Crisis in 1956 when Israel joined forces with Britain and France to invade Egypt. Further politicization followed when Israel became an “occupying” power after the Six-Day War in 1967. Beginning in the 1950s, Western intellectuals were so bewitched by Third Worldism that when Tunisian-Jewish writer Albert Memmi moved to France, he was astonished to have been almost congratulated by left-wingers for having been born in a country where racism did not exist.

Dhimmi-denial was mirrored in the attitudes of white Southerners who thought of themselves as upholding Christian values and even “high civilization.” After losing the cause of slavery in the American Civil War, they went to considerable lengths to praise slavery’s “benevolent features.” The master-slave relationship, they said, was amicable: “The only bonds were those of tender understanding, trust and loyalty.”

Pollack and Norwood argue that the “happy darkey” myth provided Southerners with a foundation to justify their “lost cause,” just as Arabs use the “happy dhimmi” to challenge Israel’s legitimacy.

Nowadays, as statues associated with slavery are being torn down, and any connection with slavery, however tenuous, is enough to make historical figures into non-persons, the “happy darkey” myth is thoroughly discredited.

How much longer will we have to wait until the “happy dhimmi” myth is consigned to the dustbin of history?

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Musings on maids, dhimmis and Jews

Historians battle over nature of Jewish-Muslim relations

The historian Georges Bensoussan has hit back against accusations of ‘essentialism’ and writing a ‘lachrymose’ version of relations between Jews and Muslims in the Arab world.

Georges Bensoussan: hitting back

The accusations came from Lucette Valensi, herself a historian, speaking at the opening session of a recent conference in Paris. 

She singled out Georges Bensoussan, David Littman and Paul Fenton for criticism  and attempted to distinguish between legitimate historians and ‘jobbing’ historians. Littman and Fenton were the authors of the ‘excellent’ (according to Bensoussan)  Exile from the Maghreb, a compilation of  documents detailing antisemitic abuses suffered in 19th century Morocco.

Bensoussan himself was acquitted in a case against incitement to racial hatred in 2017. Given a right-of-reply by Akadem, the ‘Jewish digitial campus’, Bensoussan claimed that ‘essentialist’ was another term for ‘racist’, without the legal implications. It was simply an attempt to shut him down.

Pointing to the introduction to his major work, Juifs en pays arabes: le grand déracinement, published in 2012 (See English version here), Bensoussan had clearly written that a lachrymose version was as inappropriate as an idealisation of the past, vaunting a golden age, as promoted by the Wissenchaft historians of 19th century Germany. Nonetheless, his book was based  not on police reports but hard archival evidence that Jews had suffered grave abuses at the hands of Muslims.

There was not one memory of the the Jewish past in North Africa, there were several layers of memory, depending on social class. Cultural attitudes were not static but evolved over time.

In turn, Bensoussan accused Valensi of speaking for a privileged ‘comprador’ merchant elite, representing less than one percent  of the Jewish population. The great mass of Jews lived in the oppressive city mellahs.  Bensoussan remarked that the conference featured an appearance by royal adviser André Azoulay, who was pushing the agenda of the king of Morocco. Valensi could be said to have a political agenda herself, being associated with a project to establish a Jewish museum  supported by the Tunisian ministry of Tourism.

Bensoussan contrasted Lucette Valensi’s take on history with that of fellow-Tunisian, Albert Memmi, who grew up in the poor Tunis hara, or  Jewish quarter. Bensoussan quoted Memmi’s words, written in 1975: ‘ The much vaunted idyllic life of the Jews in Arab lands is a myth! The truth, since I am obliged to return to it, is that from the outset we were a minority in a hostile environment; as such, we underwent all the fears, the agonies, and the constant sense of frailty of the underdog.”

The Akadem interview by Antoine Mercier with Georges Bensoussan on Facebook has garnered over ten thousand views,  and comments mostly favourable to Bensoussan.

See Akadem interview with Georges Bensoussan (French)

More about Georges Bensoussan


Progressives should support Jewish victims of Arab colonalism

One of the most persistent slurs against Israel among progressives is that it is a ‘settler colonial state’. The truth is that the only empire has been Arab and Muslim, and Israel is an example of ‘decolonisation’ . James Sinkinson pens this punchy piece in JNS News:

James Sinkinson: who are the real colonists?

Ironically, Jews are the only people in history since the brutal Arab conquest, occupation and colonization of the region who have risen up to reclaim their land. This has been considered an affront to Islam, and it is no coincidence that Hebrew, the indigenous language of the Jewish people, and Zionism, the national movement to return the people to their land, were violently repressed and banned in Arab countries.

There’s no doubt who is the colonizer and who the colonized. There is only one empire in this conflict, and it is not Jewish, a people who have never conquered any territory on the planet not their own, as opposed to the Arab world, which currently encompasses 5,070,419 square miles of land mass.

Rather than condemning Israel, progressives in the West who recoil at “settler colonial projects” should embrace the Jewish state as an example of decolonization—indigenous return and restored sovereignty. If they were honest, they would stand by the side of tiny Israel—with a population of nine million, surrounded by hundreds of millions who seek its destruction and its return to the huge Arab empire.

Just ask the Jews of the Middle East and North Africa who lived under Arab repression, discrimination and constant fear of violence for almost 13 centuries—who have finally returned home and make up the majority of the Jewish citizens of the State of Israel. Their recent history and experience of Arab imperialism, conquest and oppression reflects a sad, violent tale of Arab Muslim privilege. These Jews truly understand colonialism and what it is like to live under its yoke.

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The Spanish Golden Age: myth or reality?

The debate rages on: did Jews experience a Golden Age in al-Andalus, in medieval Islamic Spain? Professor Mark R. Cohen of Princeton wrote an interesting prologue to the Encyclopedia of Jewish- Muslim relations published in 2014, admitting that it was to a certain extent a myth.

This image of a Jew playing a game with a Muslim is often used to illustrate the Golden Age of al-Andalus.

It is true, he writes, that Jews were immersed in Arabic-Islamic culture  – language, poetry, science, medicine, philosophy. True, Jews became powerful advisers to Muslim rulers. True, Jews were not generally  confined to certain occupations as they were in Europe, and the idea of usury did not have the same stigma.

The Jewish intellectuals in 19th century Germany, alienated by the rise of antisemitism and unfulfilled promises of emancipation, idealised the situation of medieval Jews. They tended to ignore the Jews’ legal inferiority, or dhimmi status. Yet the ‘lachrymose’ version of this history exaggerates the negative. The myth of the Golden Age, Cohen argues, contains a very large kernel of truth.

Yet, for over 100 years, Muslim fundamentalists, in the shape of the Amohads and Almoravid Berbers, compelled Jews to choose between conversion to Islam or death. Cohen argues that Jews could always ‘pretend’ to convert, as Maimonides did – so this was a mitigating factor. But he could not deny that Christianity was wiped out altogether in North Africa and the Jewish population dwindled dramatically.

It has also been argued that pogroms against Jews were unnecessary when Jews were already cowed and submissive. On the other hand, Cohen argues that the dhimmi rules were often breached in Muslim Spain. What he does not say is that while rulers were ready to breach those rules in order to promote useful and talented Jews to positions of power and influence, the masses did not take kindly to Jews behaving above their station – hence, for example,  the massacre of 3,000 Jews in 1066 when the mob was outraged at the actions of the ‘haughty’ Vizir Joseph Ibn Naghrela.

Cohen argues that persecution of Jews could not have been as bad as in Christendom. The proof was that they did not chronicle their persecution as Jews did in Europe. But the essence of being a ‘dhimmi’ was surely NOT to harp on these episodes of persecution in order not to antagonise their rulers.


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