Archive for January, 2012

Islamo-Judaic Relations : politically correct mythology – 1

Posted on January 27, 2012. Filed under: Islam, Islamic propaganda, Israel, Palestine |

History of Islamo-Judaic Relations

Some propose that what the Islamist loss to European Colonial powers did was to bring back the worst of Islamism that had been suppressed during the march of time. As Islam conquered new areas, it is claimed to have lost most of its unsavory practices in order to retain the conquests and a moderation was underway. This moderation is in turn claimed to have got defeated along with loss of political power and the so-called reversal is really a reaction to this defeat.

I also thought so for a long time. Then I realized that a lot of the representations of “moderation” or “compromises” were actually a selection of narratives under the British and German fight over how to represent Islam. The British colonial planners hated the Ottomans and upped the Arabs. The Germans took up nosing around with the Ottomans and took up upping them. In the process, and especially post WWI – the contrarian researchers like Margoulis (the noted linguist and not another scholar currently active in a similar domain) are carefully allowed to slip out of the “public” academics.

Delving down, none of the horrors seemed to have decreases in any manner over the centuries. We find narratives being written down in the 13th to the 17th century that show no decrease at all. Suddenly in the era of European colonial success we begin to find selective “whitewashing” (simply not bringing forward the “horrible”) in the versions meant for public consumption. There are open acknowledgments from the European translators of Islamic texts that they find it impossible for their “tastes” to translate faithfully all the atrocities mentioned. Just like in India, the non-translation and editing out of the more “horrible” stuff creates the impression that the “horror” went down as time passed.

Preliminary considerations as to land-rights or occupation rights

Arabs choose a certain time-frame – that is the post Islamic conquest of Syria and Palestine – to push for dissolution of the Israeli state, or as it comes out in many of the narratives of aspirations by the major Islamist organizations supporting the current Palestinian self-determination movement – to put Jews back to their “original state under Islam”. These Arabs or Islamists fail to consider the previous time frame when the Jews were independent of Islamic subjugation, or Arab rule. But if selectivity of time-frame is used as justification, the opposite view that before the Arab conquest, Arabs were not present on Jewish lands and that they had simply come from Arabia to colonize, or that the Arabs lost out to Kurds and Turks afterwards, and it was the Ottoman Turks who ruled the area before 20th century and not the Arabs – must also be considered.

Now whether all Arabs have their original homeland in southern peninsula or not – is an interesting issue, and one can simply try raising this issue with any Arab one happens to know. The Yemenis still have some historical claims of culture [perhaps linked to Sabataens], but generally the coastal Arabs seem to have had a long-standing reputation of being pirates according to other cultures in the region- as claimed in Graeco-Roman records, and therefore their habitat and continuity of that “spirit of adventure” have been continuously studied [right up to the British period when British warships were used to “finish” off the piracy in the Gulf from “leading” Muslim tribes]. I would say most academics would still agree that the modern Arabs have been living in the peninsula for a long long time and they were usually not allowed to expand outside that perimeter by the other strong empires or historical powers. Even the

Jews were found to be useful as labour and skilled labour in later times [Egyptian historians like Zahi Hawas refuse to accept that slavery was widespread or that slave labour was the foundation of the Pharaonic economy, and therefore the presence of Jews as labour force in the Nile delta could only mean as paid skilled labour]- but Arabs are not mentioned except as harvesters or transporters of myrrh, and more of a nuisance (there are some critical Egyptian references to the Bedu).  So their cultural presence in Palestine is not provable before the Islamic Arab conquest.

The first narrative claims of exile/enforced migration was when Babylonians took part of them – mostly the elite – to Babylon. But there were sufficient numbers left behind because this gave rise to sectarian difference later on between those who had been allowed to stay behind and those who later on returned. Moreover Cyrus allowed those Babylonian Jews who wanted to, to return. Neither the internal difference nor the question of return would have arisen if the Jews had all been “cleaned up”! From there it did not go straight to Roman rule. It went through the Greek imperialism and then they had the Macabean uprising leading to an independent principality. Romans destroyed the temple built by Herod but complete expulsion of all Jews is hard to prove. Byzantines did not expel Jews in any significant numbers, and in fact Jews were persecuted by the Spanish Goths at the time of the first Arab raids on Spain – on suspicion of being collaborators of the Byzantines.

In the Persian(Parthian)-Byzantine conflict, a portion of the Jews did
side with the Byzantines. Did it lead to expulsion? Byzantium actually won in the end (Heraclius). It is sometimes claimed that the population dwindled under “taxation” thereby avoiding the discussion on any possible role of islamic states/regimes/armies. But why should taxation decrease population? Islamists, including the Hamas claimed that Jews had always been protected under Islam.

Okay, so those who could not  pay the taxes converted? Migrated out? If out-migration happened because of “taxation” then this is an acknowledgment that Jews were subjected to discriminatory taxation beyond their means – by the Muslims. For otherwise, all populations should have decreased under taxation and not just the Jews.

The Christian versus Islamic role debate

Christians are blamed for Jew-cide. Crusaders are definitely reported to have killed Jews. They are also reported to have killed Muslims, and even Christians. So this cannot be seen as part of war and general war-culture of those times? Such excuses are only applicable if they excuse Islamic war-“crimes” of historical periods?

For the sake of argument let us assume that Crusaders expelled all Jews and that  “kind” Muslims let them return [Which is not true but more of that later]. So the Jews were returning already from the time after the Crusades? And their “return” increased? In spite of constant protests and demands that Jews should not be allowed to settle? But then it is already being acknowledged that Jews were there for the previous five hundred years from 1948 since the fall of the Crusader kingdoms.

How can one “kick” a “nation” or whole community out repeatedly? Unless some were definitely not kicked out? Or why allow some one to “return” if they did not have a “homeland” to return to? The lead up to 1948 involved the antics of the so-called Grand Mufti of the region, the various conflicts and open declarations of intent to expel the Jews, agitating to stop Jewish immigration from the Muslim side. We even know that the Brits actually gave in to this Islamist demand and tried to restrict Jewish inflow. At that stage, Jews were buying land – they were not simply squatting or occupying land. The Grand Mufti, his political hobnobbing with both the Nazis and his appointment by the care-taker British authorities [over ana above more moderate Islamists and specific hints now available from old records as to how he might have been encouraged by some British officials to make it look tough for the Jews] is another lurid side of this story that is often not told and explored as to what effect it might have had on the fledgling Jewish state hopefuls.

Now if I see a hostile community who have openly declared intent to finish me off, if they get half a chance, I will treat the members of that community with suspicion, and every sign of hostile preparation as a preparation to wipe me out. I would definitely try to restrict the possibility. A common legalese on behalf of the Palestinians goes as follows:

I owned land, kicked out for whatever reason, house is sold on to numerous people over the years, after 80 years, I decide to come back(because of my personal circumstances) and say I used to live there, get out of my property. Is that fair to the guy who bought the house to be kicked out after many years and confined to one small room out of the house?

Apart from historical untruths as to how legally these properties were
“bought”, the legal argument itself is fallacious. Jews were in continuous
occupation of the land, maybe their numbers dwindled, and they lost out state power. “Kicked out for whatever reasons” is a highly callous attitude.

Those reasons are all-important. Who kicked whom for what. Those who
try to avoid the reasons do so because they perhaps have some thing to hide. In the case of “kicking Jews” – the Islamic reason is out and out ideological, racial and genocidic. The Islamic narratives themselves are absolutely honest about which Muslims kicked “Jews” for what motivation? The Badr wars, the genocide of Banu Quraizah, the battle of Khyber. It is not Judaic claim- it is all there in the most respected texts of Islam. From the legal viewpoint, suppose we say that the occupants were “kicked out” and new residents bought them from the “possessors”. Now if the initial act of “kicking out” was illegal then the subsequent occupation was illegal.

If you buy stolen goods or “illegally occupied” property/object then your rights are not legally acceptable. At least not in most modern legal thinking (only in Islamic thinking there is a justification for that in the context of property/women obtained through jihad/ghazwa and Islamic jurisprudential basis for this starts in Al Baqara of Quran and explicitly mentioned in the Hidaya).

continued in part 2

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