The Shavu`ot Massacre of Jews in Baghdad, 1941-- a French Historian Covers Up for the Arabs
The Arabs have a very big lobby among politicians, diplomats, businessmen, and --alas-- scholars who seek to explain away their every crime, if they cannot disregard it or twist it around in order to lay the guilt on someone else, particularly the Jews. We showed in a previous post that George Antonius, renowned as the first historian of modern Arab nationalism, explains away the Iraqi Arab crime of massacring the Assyrians  by admitting that the Arabs had done something wrong, but then casting the guilt on the Assyrians themselves. Antonius, by the way, was on the payroll, while writing his famous book, The Arab Awakening, of Charles R Crane, a super-rich American Judeophobe, admirer of Hitler, and associate of the Nazi collaborating Mufti of Jerusalem [appointed by the British], Haj Amin el-Husseini. Of course it was Antonius who had brought them together. Crane was the Crane of the King-Crane Commission.
Majid Khadduri, an Iraqi Arab historian, also softened the picture of the anti-Jewish massacre, the Farhud of 1941, as we have shown in earlier posts. Likewise, the British political agent, Freya Stark, softened it too, although much less than Khadduri did. On the other hand, Bernard Lewis commendably demonstrated the British government complicity in the massacre, implying that Anthony Eden [without naming him] bore major guilt for the event, which could have been easily curtailed by the intervention of British troops who were camped outside the city.
Today's post focusses on a French soi-disant expert on modern Middle Eastern history, a rabid hater of Israel, one Henry Laurens. Not to be outdone by France's British rivals, Laurens too presents a soft-focussed tableau of the Baghdad Farhud:
During that period of interregnum [after the Arab defeat, before British entry into the city], the population of the city [as if everyone] attacked the Jewish neighborhoods. The houses were looted and 179 dead Jews (men, women, and children) were counted (1st-2nd June 1941).
This massacre (farhud) was an unprecedented event in the history of Iraq [as if there had been no preceding slaughter of Armenians and Assyrians!] [Henry Laurens, La Question de la Palestine, v 2, (Paris 2002), Chap XI, v2, p 461]
"Durant cette période d'interrègne [après la défaite des Arabes, avant l'entrée des Britanniques a` Baghdad], la population de la ville [comme si tout le monde] attaque les quartiers juifs. Les maisons sont pillées et 179 morts juifs (hommes, femmes et enfants) seront recensés (1er-2 juin 1941)What compounds the problem of Laurens' softening of the massacre is that he lectures at the ultra-prestigious Collège de France in Paris. This is not a degree granting college. It's lectures are open to the public and it claims to present through these lectures "science in the making." It's a pretty sad commentary on "science in the making" if one of the lecturers doesn't know that Armenian and Assyrian massacres took place in Iraq in the twentieth century before the Farhud, not going back to the massacres of dhimmis in the Middle Ages. If someone wants a bright spot, Khadduri covered up the massacre in a worse way. But then Khadduri was an Arab.
"Ce massacre (farhud) est un fait sans précédent dans l'histoire de l'Irak" [comme s'il n'y avait pas de carnage précédent d'Arméniens ou d'Assyriens!] [Henry Laurens, La Question de la Palestine, v 2, (Paris 2002), Chap XI, v2, p 461]
Now, to touch a few more bases regarding that period in Iraq, George Antonius, who came to Israel in the early 1920s from Egypt as a British civil servant, was very proud of his British honorary title, the Commander of the British Empire [CBE]. Doesn't sound very anti-imperialist, does it?
Antonius too was in Iraq in that period and defended Rashid Ali al-Kilani to Freya Stark, as she reports [Dust in the Lion's Paw; pp 79-80].
Updating: Note that Laurens does not mention the British role in the Farhud. That indeed is very curious since the French are often quite delighted to find signs of British wrongdoing. As to the number that he gives, only 179 victims instead of the 600 cited by Elie Kedourie, we would expect an Arab apologist to minimize the number of Jewish victims. However, there is a Jewish writer on the events, Hayyim Cohen, who also --I believe-- gave the number 179 or 180. What is wrong on Laurens' part is that he does not mention the other number, 600, as if it did not exist. That's not comprehensive scholarship.
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Coming: the Mufti's role in the Baghdad massacre, ancient Hebrew-Aramaic inscriptions from Zo`ar, etc.