Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tarek Fatah - The Jew is Not My Enemy

Tarek Fatah’s book The Jew is Not My Enemy is subtitled “Unveiling the Myths that Fuel Muslim Anti-Semitism.” It is a short but compelling read that delves into a problem that plagues both Jews and Muslims.

Fatah sets out to explode that myth that anti-Semitism is an integral part of Islam. Instead, he demonstrates that it has most recently been used as a political tool to focus attention on the Jews and on Israel rather than the problems and issues that Muslim nations face.

Fatah traces the historical roots of the Muslim-Jewish relationship. A self- described Muslim Indian himself, born in Pakistan, Fatah highlights the general absence of anti-Semitism throughout India and Pakistan until relatively recently. Early in the book, he focuses on the utter shock of the murderous attack on the Lubavitch Jewish Center in Mumbai, India in November 2008. He refers to this horrific attack by Pakistani terrorists as one of the only anti-Semitic attacks in the history of this region. Why would people living in a country like Pakistan, who have so little interaction with Jews in their lives, purposely and specifically set out to murder Jews? This question is what Tarek Fatah explores throughout the book.

Fatah traces the spread of anti-Semitism in the Muslim world since 1869, focusing in particular on the role of Sayyid Qutb, the well-known author of a thirty volume commentary on the Quran. Qutb also wrote an essay entitled “Ma’rakutuna ma’a al Yahud” (“Our Fight Against the Jews”), According to Fatah, Qutb’s work has been used by Saudi Arabia and Al Qaeda, among others, to spread ultra-conservative Islam and spread the idea that the Jews are the eternal enemy of Muslims. This view has taken hold in many parts of the Muslim world and has developed into the underpinning for modern terrorist ideology.

Fatah discusses the historical role of the Grand Mufti Haj Amin Al-Husseini in meeting with Hitler and supporting Nazism. He points out some of the little known stories of Muslims who fought against the Nazis and saved or sheltered Jews during the Holocaust. Fatah himself is well aware that Muslims would have been next on the list after Jews. It seems clear to him that the idea of Muslim leaders, such as Ahmadinejad advocating Holocaust denial is not only outrageous but it also runs against many tenets of Islam itself. Fatah discusses the powerful effect of his own journey to Poland to visit the camps.

Tackling the issue of Israel, Fatah is less convincing, though his sincerity is clear. Advocating a two state solution, even one which Israel unilaterally sets up by withdrawing from territory, Fatah nevertheless has no delusions that Israel will have a responsive peace partner. While he condemns the ostracization and demonization of Israel, and calls for the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, there is a naiveté to his suggestion that leaving the West Bank, with or without a full peace treaty, will create a sea change in Muslim opinion towards Israel and will lead to peace and acceptance of Israel by its neighbours.

Fatah faces even tougher challenges over his next few chapters in examining anti-Semitism in the Qur’an, attributed historical references to Muhammad’s anti-Jewish sentiment and in particular, the massacre of Jews at Banu Qurayza. Challenging the historical veracity of some of these accounts, Fatah also calls for a re-examination of many Hadit verses which have historically been cited to bolster anti-Semitic views. Here, the call by Fatah is for a significant reform of Islam through the reinterpretation or outright disregard of many Hadit versus.

In his final chapter, Fatah issues a clarion call towards his fellow Muslims:

“We Muslims need to reflect on our predicament. We need to understand that our hatred of the Jew or the West is an admission of our own sense of failure. We need to recognize that blaming the other for our dismal contribution to contemporary civilization is a sedative, not the cure for the disease that afflicts us all. To join the nations and peoples of this world, as brothers and sisters of a common humanity, we need to wean ourselves from our addiction to victimhood and hate.”

It is easy to imagine that if Tarek Fatah represented the majority of world Muslim sentiment, Israel could reach many bilateral peace deals and the world would be a much safer and much more tolerant place. This is in fact similar to the suggestions of Israeli leaders and politicians such as Natan Sharansky, Benjamin Netanyahu and even Avigdor Lieberman who have called for a reformation in Muslim thought and governance as a precursor to real peace. Recent events across the Middle East, from Libya to Egypt and from Syria to Iran have left little doubt that it is the scourge of poverty, inequality, and incompetent, authoritarian governance that are the really significant problems for Muslim countries in the Middle East, not the existence of Israel or worldwide Jewry.

Hopefully, over time, Fatah’s book will spread as widely as Qutb’s throughout the Muslim world and an ideology of peace and tolerance will replace the currently rampant mindsets of violence, anti-Semitism and hatred of the West.

1 comment:

  1. Background on
    Arab Palestine Nazism:

    * March 1933, the mufti is already rushing to the German consul to offer the Nazis support.

    * 'Falastin', April 4, 1933, expressed appreciation for Nazi leader Adolf Hitler vs Arab Palestinian leaders. 

    * 'Falastin', May 1933, calls Hitler "noble", justifies his persecution of the Jews.

     * El Karmel, [Karmil] May 14, 1933 : "Will an Arab Hitler appear among us to awaken, unite and lead us to lead us to fight and defend our rights?" 

     * [Ad Difa'a] Al-Difa had glorified Nazis, published translated excerpts from Hitler's Mein Kampf's book. al-Shanti, called on Arab youth (in an article from June 1, 1934) to "learn from Hitler's actions and imitate them."

    * March 15, 1935, The Templars' 'Die Warte des Tempels' wrote: many Arabs see Hitler as the most important man of the 20th century and almost every Arab knows his name. Fascism and National Socialism with its anti-Jewish attitude are accepted positively by many Arabs. 

     * May-June 1935, Arabs in Haifa found Nazi club 'Red Moon.' In May: As Arab delegates returned from Haifa Arab youth conference - Swastika drawn on train beneath it, inscription: 'Germany above all,' In Arabic.

    * June 25, 1935, Al Difa'a reported that "uniformed and Nazified" Arab youth troops are being formed in Palestine.' 

     * 'Falastin'', January 5, 1936: "It is very easy to explain our youth's sympathy for the fascist idea."

    * 1936-8: "Nazi flags and pictures of Hitler were prominently displayed in store windows. Booklets explaining Nazi methods of forcing Jews from the Reich were distributed freely... The shout of 'Heil Hitler' became a catchword which rang insolently over all Palestine." (Ziff, 'The Rape of Palestine', 1938). 

    * 1936-9, Hilda Wilson, a teacher at Birzeit throughout the revolt, noted that most of her students were pro-Nazi and approved of Hitler.

     * NYT May 1937, 'All' of Palestine celebrated Muhamnad's birthday with flying Nazi swastika and pictures of Hitler. 

     * 1937, Walter Doehle, German consul in Jerusalem: "Palestinian Arabs in all social strata have great sympathies for the new Germany and its Führer…" 

     * Awni Abd al-Hadi (Istiqlal & AHC) in Jan 1937 to Nazi magazine : 'Arabs Like Nazis.' 

    * 'Falastin', Sep 1938, reacting to Hitler's speech, describes dictatorship as against [sic] Jewish so-called control.

    * In 1938, some 100 Arabs, including from Palestine, represented in Nuremberg.

     * Journalist John Gunther in 1939: "The greatest contemporary Arab hero is — Adolf Hitler." 

     * Ahmad Shukeiri's testimony in his (1969) book that they (all) sympathized with the Nazis referring to (1940-1). 

     * Sakakini's Feb. 1941 poll - 88% of Arab-Palestine favoring the Axis. 

     * Dr. Zaid Hamzeh (was 9 yrs old in 1941): "We Arabs supported Hitler during WWII because he hated the Jews," recalled in a 2019 interview.

    * Per Edward Said, pro-Nazi Mufti al-Huseini represented (1946) the consensus of Palestine Arabs. The Mufti worked with the Nazis 1941-1945: Rachid Ali coup and Farhud pogrom; hate radio; SS Muslim units; Barid al-Sharq; Jul-1943 Krakow Antisemitism Conf.; preventing children from being rescued to Palestine; concentration camps visits; Atlas Op., etc.

     * CIA August 1942 report: "majority of the Arabs in Palestine Palestinian Arabs are fiercely 'anti-Jewish'… the radicals, who form a majority, see in the approach of Rommel an ideal opportunity to murder all Jews their seize their property." 

    * In 1942, reaction of most Arabs in Palestine upon hearing the fate of the Jews in Europe, was: 'open joy.'

     * Dec 21, 1942 letter, representatives of the Reich and the NSDAP in Palestine described the Arabs' hope for a great Arab state: "Arabs in Palestine were waiting for Hitler to come to Palestine and expel all the Jews."