Archive for April, 2012

Islamo-Judaic Relations : politically correct mythology – 5: late-Medieval to the modern.

Posted on April 7, 2012. Filed under: Arab, Christians, diaspora, Egypt, exile, Gaza, Historians with political agenda, History, Islam, Islamic propaganda, Israel, Jew, Jihad, Muslims, Ottoman, Palestine, religion, Syria, terrorism, Turkey, UK |

Maimonides (1135-1204), was a famous Jewish philosopher and author who fled Spain from a murderous Muslim persecution and took up the job of a physician to Saladin. However over time his experiences come out in his “Letter to Yemen” [1]

“[as punishment] God has hurled us into the midst of this people, the Arabs, who have persecuted us severely, and passed baneful and discriminatory legislation against us… Never did a nation molest, degrade, debase, and hate us as much as they.”

Maimonides had correspondence with Jews over a large area (yes, including India), and was therefore in a position to compare.

The 9th century Muslim writer al-Jahiz (an Arab settled in Baghdad) wrote: “…the hearts of the Muslims are hardened toward the Jews but inclined toward the Christians.”[2] He pointed out that “in his time the Christians were both socially and economically better off than the Jews.”[3] He explained this by the political resistance of the Jews of Medina to Muhammad.

In this contemporary chronicle from Baghdad by Obadyah the Proselyte, in 1100 C.E.: [7: …the Caliph of Baghdad, al—Muqtadi [1075—1094], had given power to his vizier, Abu Shuja… [who] imposed that each male Jew should wear a yellow badge on his headgear. This was one distinctive sign on the head and the other was on the neck— a piece of lead of the weight of a silver dinar hanging round the neck of every Jew and inscribed with the word dhimmi to signify that the Jew had to pay poll—tax. Jews also had to wear girdles round their wastes. Abu Shuja further imposed two signs on Jewish women. They had to wear a black and a red shoe, and each woman had to have a small brass bell on her neck or shoe, which would tinkle and thus announce the separation of Jewish from Gentile [Muslim] women. He assigned cruel Muslim men to spy upon Jewish women, in order to oppress them with all kinds of curses, humiliation, and spite. The Gentile population used to mock all the Jews, and the mob and their children used to beat up the Jews in all the streets of Baghdad…When a Jew died, who had not paid up the poll—tax [jizya] to the full and was in debt for a small or large amount, the Gentiles did not permit burial until the poll—tax was paid. If the deceased left nothing of value, the Gentiles demanded that other Jews should, with their own money, meet the debt owed by the deceased in poll—tax; otherwise they [threatened] they would burn the body.”

Bernard Lewis refers to attempts at reform in the 19th century Ottoman empire by quoting a Turk “… whereas in former times, in the Ottoman state, the communities were ranked, with the Muslims first, then the Greeks [Greek Orthodox], then the Armenians, then the Jews, now all of them were put on the same level. Some Greeks objected to this, saying: “The government has put us together with the Jews. We were content with the supremacy of Islam.”[4] Most likely this refers to the reform decrees that resulted out of the power struggle between Muhammad Ali of Egypt and the Ottomans.

The British envoy, Dr John Bowring was in Lebanon and Syria in the 1830s, and he writes:

The Mussulmans. . . deeply deplore the loss of that sort of superiority which they all & individually exercised over and against the other sects. . . a Mussulman. . . believes and maintains that a Christian — and still more a Jew — is an inferior being to himself.[5] […] The condition of the Jews forms, perhaps, an exception [to the general improvement of non-Muslims] and cannot be said to have improved comparatively with that of the other Sects[6]

Towards the end of Mameluk rule (from the Mongol withdrawal in 1260 to the Ottoman conquest in 1517), a Franciscan monk named Francesco Suriano lived in the monastery in Jerusalem for about a quarter of a century. He served as Custos Terrae Sanctae or Guardian of the Holy Land for his order for some time and therefore the highest ranking Catholic official there, charged by the pope with overseeing Roman Catholic interests in the Christian holy places and Church affairs in the country. He writes about the Jews in Jerusalem:

“I wish you to know how these dogs of Jews are trampled upon, beaten and ill-treated, as they deserve, by every infidel nation, and this is the just decree of God. They live in this country in such subjection that words cannot describe it. . . there in Jerusalem, where they committed the sin for which they are dispersed throughout the world [i.e., the Crucifixion], they are by God more punished and afflicted than in any other part of the world. And over a long time I have witnessed that . . . No infidel [= Muslim] would touch with his hand a Jew lest he be contaminated but when they wish to beat them, they take off their shoes with which they strike them on the mustaches; the greatest wrong and insult to a man is to call him a Jew. And it is a right notable thing that the Moslems do not accept a Jew into their creed unless he first become a Christian. . . And if they were not subsidized by the Jews of Christendom, the Jews who live in Judea would die like dogs of hunger.”[7]

The Ottoman Empire needed the Jewish expertise in various fields including finances so initially after conquest they brought in some of the more outstanding into service. This was vehemently opposed by the local muslims. Therefore, “The Jewish community… paid the jizya at rates somewhat higher than the [Greek] Orthodox.”[8] Now, even under and after such “great” patronage by the Ottomans, Chateaubriand, (a famous French author), visited Jerusalem in 1806, and later wrote:

Special target of all contempt [i.e., of both Muslims and Christians], they lower their heads without complaint; they suffer all insults without demanding justice; they let themselves be crushed by blows… Penetrate the dwellings of these people, you will find them in frightful poverty…

Nothing can prevent them from turning their gaze towards Zion. When one sees the Jews dispersed throughout the world,… one is probably surprised, but, to be struck by supernatural astonishment, it is necessary to find them in Jerusalem.. . to see these legitimate owners of Judea, slaves and strangers in their own land. One must see them under all oppressions, awaiting a king who is to redeem them.[9]

Neophytos was a Greek Orthodox monk belonging to the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher, which governed Orthodox church affairs in Jerusalem. Around 1834, Neophytos writes:

“As we are on the question of repairs, we must say something about the Jewish Synagogue. One year ago only, seeing the liberal dispositions of Mehemet Ali Pasha [Muhammad Ali] and Ibrahim Pasha [his son, general, and deputy], they dared to speak about their Synagogue. They asked that their House of Prayer, being in a ruinous condition and in danger of falling in, might be repaired. So, those who did not even dare to change a tile on the roof of the Synagogue at one time, now received a permit and a decree to build.”[10]

Felix Bovet, a Swiss Protestant minister who visited Jerusalem in 1858, writes “the Jews are still, to this day, the most miserable part of the population of the Holy City.”[11] Bovet quotes a French convert to Islam, who wrote: “the Jerusalem Jew only half lives, scarcely daring to breathe.”[12]

References
1. Maimonides, “Epistle to Yemen,” in David Hartman, ed., Crisis and Leadership: Epistles of Maimonides (tr. A Halkin; Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society 1985), p 126.

2. Quoted in Bernard Lewis, The Jews of Islam (Princeton 1984), pp 59-60.

3. Words of Moshe Sharon, op. cit., p 94; also see Carlo Panella, Il ‘Complotto Ebraico’ — L’antisemitismo islamico da Maometto a Bin Laden (Torino: Lindau 2005), p 89

4. Bernard Lewis, What Went Wrong? (London: Orion House 2002), p 104.

5. Quoted in William R Polk, The Opening of South Lebanon, 1788-1840 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press 1963), p 138. Other 19th century Western observers noted the same Arab-Muslim Judeophobia, as quoted by Saul S Friedman, Land of Dust (Washington, DC: University Press of America 1982), p 136.

6. William R Polk, The Opening of South Lebanon, 1788-1840 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press 1963), p 138.

7. Francesco Suriano, Treatise on the Holy Land (Jerusalem: Franciscan Press, 1949) [in original: Trattato di Terra Santa e dell’Oriente], pp 101-02. For a scholarly view of the Jews in Jerusalem in the late Mamluk period, when Suriano lived there, see Avraham David in “The Mamluk Period” in Israel: People, Land, State (Avigdor Shinan, ed.: Jerusalem: Yad Izhak Ben Zvi, 2005).

8. Amnon Cohen, “On the Realities of the Millet System: Jerusalem in the 16th century,” in B Braude and B Lewis, Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Empire (New York: Holmes & Meier 1982), p 14.

9. Chateaubriand, Itinéraire de Paris à Jérusalem (Paris: Juilliard 1964), pp 426-427.

10. Neophytos, Extracts from Annals of Palestine 1821-1841 (Jerusalem, Ariel Publishing House, 1979; compiled by Eli Schiller), p 78. Originally published in Journal of the Palestine Oriental Society, vol. XVIII (1938; tr S N Spyridon).

11. Felix Bovet, Egypt, Palestine, and Phoenicia (Eng. trans; London: 1872), p 180

12. Ibid., p 181.

Discussion

The more one studies the history of Islamic repression on the Jews, the more one comes up with the stark reality that in many many ways, the Islamic treatment simply picked up and intensified the iconoclastic violence and genocidic tendencies latent within the Churches of east. In many many ways, the appearance of the Islamics provided a tool and a hope in the eastern churches to actually achieve what they had so far failed to do – the complete elimination of the Jews as a physical reality.

From this started a whole lot of processes :

(1) realizing that the Jews will remain strongly resistant to conversion in spite of certain disgruntled Jews switching allegiance and acting against their own origin community (not surprising for Hindus of India!). As long as the Jews remained adamant to conversion, Jews are a problem to the two other claimants of the sole rights to the Abrahamic legacy (which in turn in its proselytizing/converting form is a most effective tool for imperialism).

(2) try and blame all atrocities , or even invent genocide/exile/enslavement on a grand scale and assign it to “Romans” (not the Church primarily)

(3) suppress all references to non-genocidic/encouraging behaviour from “Roman” authorities

(4) when instigating “Roman” authorities as much as possible to eliminate the Jews was not achieving this goal, the Islamists were a “Godsend”. This is shown in the active collaboration of the Eastern Churches leadership with the Islamists and Jihadists to eliminate and repress Jews to an extent they could only rant about but not actually implement under “Roman” rule. The combined effort achieves the target to a much greater degree than ever achieved before in the pre-Islamic period.

(5) jihadis use this eagerness in Church leadership to intensify their dhimma policy – which is not toleration as represented by Islamists and their non-Muslim apologists, neither is it a purely “social discrimination” non-physical-violence non-Jihad thing. It is a double edged sword, by first enforcing a one-sided set of extremely harsh and almost impossible to meet conditions on the Jews, and then systematically and regularly claim that the “covenants” of the dhimma had been broken so jihad was now applicable to the captive population of dhimmis.

(6) gradually Jihadis tighten the noose on Levantine non-Muslims, especially Christians who are increasingly subjected to forced conversions, genocide and enslavement once the Islamists gain a foothold with their leaders’ initial weaknesses, and this in turn makes the Christian leadership more and more eager to please the Islamists. They start suppressing evidence of Jihadi violence on Christians (unfortunately even the most enlightened so-called paragons of tolerance Ottoman behaviour in this regard is also historically documented) and increase their collaboration in persecution of Jews in the hope of achieving their aims of cleansing of the land of the Jews.

(7) this leads to the western churches being ideologically cornered since eastern churches have to justify their collaboration with the Islamics on the “original sin” or so called responsibility of “deicide”. This concept of collective responsibility was taken to its extreme both by the christians as well as the muslim leadership, but finds its perfection under Islamic leadership of christianity. So the major “expulsions” and “genocides” have to be put at the door of the Roman empire BEFORE the acceptance of Christianity as a Roman imperial religion.

“Sado-masochism” – the almost sexual enjoyment of giving and receiving intense pain (mental as well as physical)- is perhaps a key to understand this modern (and not so modern) Christian reaction against the Jews which intensified under Islamic leadership over the greater part of Christian leadership’s mindset. Its intensity and naked expression in Jihadi Islam is simply the next stage of development from Christian attitudes towards the origin – perhaps a generalization of father-son antagonistic dynamic so insightfully discovered by a man of Jewish origins, Sigmund Freud. The Judaic being the father, and Christianity the elder born, and Islam the younger, with the sons having a raging sibling rivalry, a shared hatred of the father who stands between them and the mother – the legacy of the Abrahamic.

Now why should it find expression in some Indians who were born as Hindus? Perhaps the same mindset that led to a few Jewish converts into Islam or Christianity – an unconscious attraction for the possibilities of gratifying their sado-masochastic tendencies!

Each of the points (1)-(7) can be supported with documented sources. I have already mentioned once on the modern thinking in a large part “professional historians” on the so-called “greater role” of Romans in the “diaspora”. Apparently many like the one I mentioned have argued for the whole thing being a “myth”(!!) and that there was really no traumatic dispersal at the scales of hundreds of thousands or millions under the Romans [ there are detailed arguments about the 1.1 million being absurd based on actual estimates of food production, archaeological reconstructions of living conditions and settlement estimates, etc.] – according to these “experts”.

Maybe the pro-Islamics of all colours should unite against these very Jewish profs and academics as being part of a Zionist conspiracy with overt pro-Palestinian sympathies but actually undermining the whole Islamist cause!! Denying the key-pivot of Roman role in Diaspora combined with source narrative claims from Islamists themselves about atrocities and genocide perpetrated by Muslims on the Jews is problematic for the Islamist-line of Palestinian “movement”.

Part 4

To be continued.

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