Buruma denies our time's resemblance to the 1930s
Buruma dropped an op ed at HaArets a few days ago. Richard Landes at Augean Stables did a well-deserved fisking job on it. I commented too and here is my comment, somewhat more polished and furnished with several references:
The kindest thing to say about Buruma is that he is in denial. In fact, his strong insinuation that concern about a future Holocaust is paranoid or stupid [I, Buruma, am too smart for that!!] is very offensive.
the term “Islamofascism” was not coined for nothing. It invites us to see a big part of the Islamic world as a natural extension of Nazism. Saddam Hussein, who was hardly an Islamist, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is, are often described as natural successors to Adolf Hitler. And European weakness, not to mention the “treason” of its liberal scribes, paving the way to an Islamist conquest of Europe (”Eurabia”) is seen as a ghastly echo of the appeasement of the Nazi threat.
. . . Revolutionary Islamism is undoubtedly dangerous and bloody. Yet analogies with the Third Reich, although highly effective as a way to denounce people with whose views one disagrees, are usually false. No Islamist armies are about to march into Europe - indeed, most victims of Revolutionary Islamism live in the Middle East, not in EuropeIt seems to me that even a prof of “human rights” ought to know more than a superficial smattering of history. The Ba’ath Party of Saddam Hussein and of the Assads, still ruling in Syria, was founded in conscious imitation of Nazi and fascist ideology. Even as hopeless a Bolshevikoid Islam-lover as Eric Rouleau admitted that. We also have the personal testimony of Sami al-Jundi, one of the Ba`ath founders. "We were racialists. We were fascinated by Nazism, reading its books and the sources of its thought. . ." [See quote in Norman Stillman, The Jews of Arab Lands in Modern Times, Philadelphia, 1991, p 106]. To be ignorant of all this is to be truly defective in knowledge of modern history. Richard Landes asserts that Stalin, not Hitler, was Saddam’s hero. There’s no problem here if we can set aside the silly left-right dichotomy of ideologies, the so-called “political spectrum.” Hitler too admired Stalin. Further, during the Nazi-Soviet Pact, the Soviet paper, Izvestya, declared that Nazi ideology was “a matter of taste” [November 9, 1939]. Moreover, Soviet Communists & Nazis joined in declaring a “struggle for peace” mere weeks after their joint invasion of Poland. So much for the distinction between Nazism & Communism. But buruma apparently has not studied that crucial and revealing period of almost two years of the Nazi-Soviet pact [August 1939 to June 1941]. His noxious essay seems to imply that somehow “Communism” or “leftism” is different from Nazism & fascism. He reminds me of the Commies of that time in the West who loudly proclaimed that Nazism was NOT a danger. Rather the danger was Anglo-French or Anglo-French-American imperialism. Recall that Commies in the French parliament opposed French rearmament in the 9/1939-5/1940 period.
Omitting another major historical fact, relevant to the fears of intelligent, sensitive and loyal Jews, is the Arab collaboration with the Nazis and in the Holocaust [read works by and about Sadat & Haj Amin el-Husseini, here and here]. Buruma’s omission of this issue makes him into an ignoramus. One might defend him by saying that this subject has not gotten and does not get the attention it deserves. But Buruma presumes to be omniscient enough to dismiss the fears that he attributes to “neocons,”
Still, Islamist rhetoric, adopted by Ahmedinejad among others, is deliberately designed to stir up memories of the Shoah. So perhaps the existential fear of some Western intellectuals is easier to explain than their remarkable, sometimes fawning trust in the U.S. government to save the world by force. . .
The explanation of this mysterious trust may lie elsewhere. Many neocons emerged from a leftist past, in which a belief in revolution from above was commonplace: “people’s democracies” yesterday, “liberal democracies” today.Be that as it may, the "Neocon" label is a straw man that Buruma employs in order to avoid admitting that any knowledgeable, intelligent Jew should have these fears. This does not mean that it is wise to trust the US Govt or any other major power to save the world from IslamoNazis, Islamofascists, or a potential Holocaust. But that still leaves us with the problem of Islamic fanaticism, which repeats many of the Nazis' arguments, especially against Jews. Consider the Hamas Charter, which endorses the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" --both a plagiarism & a forgery-- and the widely reported remarks of Ahmadinejad.
Buruma makes a fool of himself by another argument, which I have encountered from others. The tyranny of Saddam or Ahmadinajad is laughable and of no importance since they are “weak.” But if Ahmadinajad gets the bomb then he’ll be strong. What asininity!!!
Ahmadinejad, his nasty rhetoric notwithstanding, does not have a fraction of Hitler’s power.This “weakness” argument was not habitually used in defense of Franco in Spain, or Salazar or the Rumanian Iron Guard, or of Mussolini. And surely it could have been used to favor Mussolini since he had trouble conquering Ethiopia [a conquest supported by Saudi Arabia].
It turned out that Hitler’s Germany was not as strong as the US-USSR-UK-French coalition. Nor did he have the A-bomb, as RL points out. Were we supposed to feel sorry for his relative weakness???
By the way, in the late 1920s to 1941, Communists often portrayed Germany as the victim of Anglo-French imperialism. The French CP echoed Hitler’s own revindications of his territorial claims, although there was zig-zagging during the 1930s.
See link here.
Another curiosity in Buruma’s tract is that he accuses “neocons” of “sometimes fawning trust” in US power to save Jews and the world. Not so many years ago, post-Zionists and anti-Zionists were accusing Israelis and Zionists outside Israel of wanting to go it alone, of believing that “the whole world is against us,” of defying the peace loving international community, of harboring suspicions of the USA, of the UK, France, the Vatican, and the USSR. And this drivel too was published in HaArets. What those who belabored Israel for suspicion of the world powers’ goodness and those –like Buruma– who accuse Israel of trusting in American power have in common is that both belittled the Arab threat. As if Israel only faced an Arab threat.
Now, let’s take a “leftist” tangent and recall Lenin’s definition of imperialism. According to him, it was finance capital, essentially. But don’t Arab powers possess huge amounts of capital nowadays? Don’t Arab sheiks and princes own much stock in Western capitalist corporations and much real estate in Western lands? So portraying the Arabs as weak from the angle of capital possession is simply false today. Hasn’t buruma noticed??
This essay is contemptible. That’s what is to be expected from HaArets.
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Coming: More on James Baker & US policy, Milka Levy-Rubin on population transfer upon the Arab Conquest, Jews in Jerusalem & Hebron, propaganda, peace follies, etc.