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Emet m'Tsiyon

Sunday, March 25, 2007

How the Arabs Treated the Europeans before Israel Was Reborn

The Judeophobic paranoia of some people in the West gets the better of them from time to time, overcoming their reason, although it is hard to say that it overcomes their knowledge of history which is probably minuscule in any event. We are often told nowadays by politicians in Europe and the USA [Carter, Baker, etc] that the West's problems with Arabs derive from alleged EU or American support for Israel. But being ignorant as they are about history, and perhaps not caring at all to know the historical truth, knowing mainly whom they don't like and cultivating their own Judeophobia, they do not support their claim with any historical perspective. Indeed, the Barbary pirates of the North African coast regularly attacked European shipping in the Mediterranean, as well as the coasts of Italy, France, and Spain, as well as sailing as far as Cornwall in southwestern England, and Ireland, and even Iceland. They were seeking to capture slaves among the kufar [kaffirs = unbelievers; or harbis = enemies]. Cesar Famin pointed out in 1853 that this was not simple piracy but was religiously motivated, was part of jihad.

More recently, a British researcher has published the account of an English boy taken captive by the Barbary Pirates --also called Sally Rovers by the British-- hundreds of years ago, while Michael Oren has published his book on the history of United States relations with the Arab-Muslim world going back to the time of American independence more than 200 years ago [Power, Faith and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present, 2006. Oren's book supplies abundant details about the jihad piracy of the 18th and 19th centuries.]

Here is an account by a French Catholic author of the impact on France of this piracy:
From Tripoli to Mogador, the Barbary provinces of the Ottoman Empire lived in semi-independence, presenting an inhospitable coast to the Western Mediterranean, a dream haven for piracy. Every year, European fleets paid heavy tribute in goods and men to the Muslim corsairs. It is estimated that at the beginning of the 17th century, three thousand Frenchmen were held as slaves at Algiers and the same number at Marrakesh.
Meanwhile, we had been in diplomatic relations with Algiers since 1564, with Fez and Marrakesh since 1577, with Tunis starting from 1582. But our consuls in these different cities were practically without influence in dealing with the Turkish authorities, [who were] derelict in their duty, and our treaties made with them remained dead letters. Only piracy made the law. If politics was powerless to prevent enslavement, charity [by churchmen] was used to alleviate the fate of the slaves, even to ransom them. [Jean-Marie Sedes, pp 26-27; see data below]
De Tripoli a` Mogador, les provinces barbaresques de l'Empire ottoman vivaient dans une quasi-independance et presentaient, face a la Mediterranee occidentale, une cote inhospitaliere, repaire reve' pour la piraterie. Chaque annee, les flottes europeennes payaient un lourd tribut en marchandise et en hommes aux corsaires musulmans. On estimait au debut du XVIIe siecle, que trois mille Francais etaient retenus comme esclaves en Alger et autant a Marrakesh.
Nous etions cependant en relations diplomatiques avec Alger, des 1564, avec Fez et Marrakech depuis 1577, avec Tunis a partir de 1582. Mais nos consuls dans ces differentes villes etaient pratiquement sans influence aupres d'autorites turques defaillantes, et nos traites passes avec elles demeuraient lettres mortes. Seule, la piraterie faisait la loi. Si la politique etait impuissante a empecher l'esclavage, la charite s'employait a soulager le sort des esclaves, voire meme a les racheter. [Jean-Marie Sedes, Histoire des Missions francaises ("Que Sais-Je" Paris: PUF 1950), p 26-27, aussi pp 54-55]
NOTE that Barbary means North Africa, the region from Libya to Morocco of today, presumably named after the indigenous Berber people, whose remnants today are subject to Arab states.
Sally Rovers was a British name for the Barbary pirates, specifically referring to the port of Sale' on the Atlantic coast of Morocco. Morocco, by the way, was never part of the Ottoman Empire as the author, Sedes, mistakenly indicates. It was an independent kingdom with its own sultan and various local rulers. The rulers of the pirate ports --Tripoli, Tunis, Algiers, Marrakesh, etc.-- were Muslims, they were not necessarily Turks, although the word Turk used to be used to apply to Muslims generally. The Barbary Coast rulers could be Arabs, Berbers, Turks, or other Muslims.

Note also that France --as well as other European states-- did little to free their subjects enslaved by the pirates, although there was a flourishing business in arranging ransom for pirate captives whose families had the means to pay. The recent capture by Iran of British sailors fits the older pattern. Iran and Britain have been at peace and have diplomatic relations. So jailing them and not letting British diplomats in Iran meet with them is a violation of international law. Most likely, the Iranian government wants to bargain with them to alleviate or cancel the embargo voted by the Security Council. Yet, international law requires that states at peace allow diplomats to visit their prisoners who are citizens of the other state. The capture by Hamas and Hizbullah of Israeli soldiers and holding them incomunicado fits the pattern too, although Israel has been at war with these terrorist groups that do not formally or officially represent states [albeit both Hamas & Hizbullah are funded and guided by Iran].

International law requires states at war to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross [IRCR] to visit prisoners, bring them and take from them messages for their families, plus give them personal supplies [i.e., toothpaste]. Yet Hamas, which is part of the government of the "Palestinian Authority," and Hizbullah, which has been part of the Lebanese government, have not allowed the ICRC to visit the Israeli prisoners. Three Israeli prisoners [one of them a Muslim Arab himself] were captured by Hizbullah in 2000. They were killed in captivity, although later their bodies were returned to Israel in exchange for the release of hundreds of Hizbullah prisoners in Israel's hands. These violations of international law which victimized Israel do not seem to bother either the major Western powers [which finance the Hamas' "Palestinian Authority"] or the International Committee of the Red Cross itself, which just happened to have collaborated in the German Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union and the associated Holocaust.

Cesar Famin's explanation of Barbary piracy was insightful, although some later writers seem to lack his understanding of the phenomenon. Famin clearly saw it as an expression of jihad, of an unending Muslim war on the Dar al-Harb, those parts of the world not under Islamic rule.
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Coming: more on Jews in Jerusalem and Hebron, more on James Baker, peace follies, propaganda, etc.

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