The Fashion Trend Is & Was to Cover Up Islamic Judeophobia
The Petro-Diplomatic Complex has long promoted a benign, innocuous vision of the Arabs in history, of Islam in history, and of Arab-Islamic treatment of Jewish subjects in the Muslim state. This falsification of history goes back as far as Muhammad's persecution and massacre of Jews in Medina and Khaybar at the very origins of Islam. I have shown in an earlier post that Prof William R Polk, a capable scholar when he wants to be, made such falsifications back in the 1950s. An embellished or edulcorated view of Arab Islam and its treatment of Jews in particular is found in many books, such as Friends in Palestine by Christina Jones , an account of Quaker [Society of Friends] mssions in Israel. The case of Polk is significant because he wore another, much more influential hat in his career. Besides university teaching, he became a member of the State Dept Policy Planning Committee in charge of the Middle East. Jones' book is significant because it influenced the very politically influential Quaker religious community, many of whom have held high posts in the US foreign policy Establishment [State Dept, CIA, etc], and often serving in the Middle East. The undeservedly famous Arnold Toynbee of the Royal Institute for International Affairs [an imperialist, dare we say?] and Carl Brockelmann, the German historian of Islam, have both been guilty of whitewashing Islam and Arab history.
In his recent compilation of scholarly studies and Muslim sources on Muslim Judeophobia, Andrew Bostom has rightly complained of how the whole historical picture of Muslim & Arab/Muslim oppression of Jews has been distorted in recent journalism and supposed historical works. Shmuel Trigano points to this specific problem in his review of Bostom's very important book. Trigano points to the problem not only in the United States or in the UK, which I believe sets the pattern for the USA in this field, but in France and even Israel where the so-called "leftist" academics become enraged over efforts to write truthful history. Trigano, by the way, comes from a family that left Algeria, a country where Jews had been very much oppressed throughout history, as Jews were throughout the Arab-Muslim lands since the Arab-Muslim Conquests of the seventh century.
Trigano writes of Bostom's book [I am not happy with the translation and may modify some parts]:
I have deliberately employed the notion of “historical-philosophy” to characterize this editorial act. In effect, a strange (and understandable) phenomenon, both ideological and scientific has been produced in the domain of the history of Antisemitism in the lands of Islam: this history is quite simply eluded or ignored in the name of what an Israeli historian of Sephardic Judaism once defined to me as a “consensus among the community of historians:” the thesis of “Judeo-Arabic symbiosis.”Hence, it is no wonder that an anti-Israel body of public opinion has developed in Western countries, and even in Israel among the "left." People whose basic beliefs or knowledge about Arab-Israeli affairs, Jewish-Arab relations, are so inaccurate, so much based on prejudice, cannot produce reasonable opinions.
Rare have been the historians who have ventured down this road that would have merited them (still today) the disapproval of their colleagues. Thus some great Orientalists have resolutely neglected or minimized, if not erased, this history, and have been followed by their disciples, creating a veritable false historical truth, attested to by academia, to the point that any contestation of this dominant story finds itself censured or stigmatized, taxed with being “unscientific”. Here I mention only the Israeli and American historians interested in Jewish history, but there are also straightforward Orientalists.
The ideological motivations of both are varied. Critiques of colonialism pretend that the colonized were innocent of any fault over an eternity – but that is not the only reason. The contempt of the history and memory of the Sephardic world has played its part, in a game of seesaw between Christian antisemitism and the Holocaust, stigmatizing one in order to exalt the other, by a pre-set contrast. Some of those involved were not blameless, in this constant seesaw between Zionism and colonial guilt. Thus the “neo-Sephardic” extreme Left in Israel has invented a marvelous Arab past in order to better strike out at Zionism.
This book precisely by its massive length and accumulation of documents and theses – a veritable encyclopedia – permits attributing “ideological motivations” to this historiographic current, which are even inscribed in academic forums. The thesis of Judeo-Arabic or Judeo-Islamic symbiosis simply does not resist this avalanche of proofs that contradict it. Here we have massive historical evidence that has rediscovered its contemporary character with the unfurling antisemitic wave that has been shaking the Arab-Islamic world for several years – which is in fact very well documented (but in French). Between these two periods, in effect, lies another history altogether: the colonial period was in fact for Jews the experience of a very great freedom and of astronomic social progress.
This is why I called historical philosophical the turning point this book represents. It modifies our whole perspective on the issue, even more than it re-writes the history, this historiography of what remains to be done and what it opens up. One will no longer be able to invoke scattered and forgotten authors to contest the dogma on the subject, but be able to refer people to this book. Then will begin the real work of writing the history of antisemitism in Islamic lands,...
[a review of Bosrom's book, The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism, published in French in Controverse Sommaire, 9 Novembre 2008]