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Jews And Muslims: It’s Complicated (III)

Algeria_Jewish_Quarter

Original Guest post by Mehdi

Read part I and II in this series

The revolutions that swept across Europe: the French revolution, the Napoleonic wars and the 1830-1848 revolutions had a tremendous effect on the lives of people in the Muslim majority world:

  • Economically: as the industrial revolution radically changed world economics, increasing the importance of industry and manufacturing, it also reduced the importance of economic centers such as China, India and the Ottoman empire. Increased effectiveness in navy and train freight transportation fed the needs of the new European industrial elite, particularly hungry for natural resources.
  • Militarily: European powers acquired military experience and technology during their wars that gave them a decisive edge over potential opponents elsewhere in the world. This would prove decisive when they conquered nations and carved out their colonial empires, in the process destroying any resistance.
  • Politically and strategically: the wave of revolutions radically changed European politics and the structure of political systems. It also resulted in rivalries and competition that drove them to radicalizing their modern imperialist projects, which started to impact the rest of the world.

These changes are all well-known (documented by the late British historian Eric Hobsbawm), but most historical analysis focuses less on an important aspect: the impact of enlightenment ideas and modernity, especially on Arab minorities, including Arab Jews.

As explained in the last article, Jews (and Christians) lived under the Dhimma status, which provided a framework for protection and collective rights. The major paradigm shift was about the term “collective,” as this new era of modernity advanced the role of the individual and the importance of his/her rights.

Arab minorities were gradually exposed to these ideas, often via. European imperialist powers whose motives were less than noble. The imperialist powers carried out “divide and conquer” policies, using missionaries, trade delegations, military expeditions and specific legal arrangements known as capitulations.

European powers also declared themselves the protectors of so-called repressed minorities, such as the Druze or Maronite in Lebanon; a cynical move which sought to manipulate groups in order to increase their influence.

While the Enlightenment ideas were clearly instrumentalized for ulterior motives,  they were still attractive to minorities who aspired to a better status than second class citizenship. It should be noted however that there was also great tumult when changes were put into place, many minorities did not desire change to the status quo.

The decline of the Ottoman empire and other Muslim states led to a situation where they were incapable of addressing new challenges brought by modernity, they could not re-invent a legal system that worked for centuries but required adjustments or reforms in a new context. There were attempts to do so but they did not stir massive support, and were inaudible in the context of European aggressions.

European colonial powers also enacted laws and decrees that were clear “divide and conquer” measures, such as the Crémieux decree in Algeria (named after Jewish French politician Adolphe Crémieux), which allowed for native Jews to become French citizens while Muslim Arabs and Berbers were excluded and remained under the second-class ‘indigenous’ status outlined in the “Code de l’Indigénat.”

CremieuxThere were many other examples, (such as the French promotion of Berber separatism in Algeria and Morocco to no avail), and while the previous example is specific to Algeria, it shows the impact of colonialism on coexistence between Algerian Jews and Muslims.  As their lifestyles changed, they started naming their children differently (moving from typical Arabic Jewish names such as Mardochee or Haim to French names such as Raymond, Maurice or Marcel), living in different neighborhoods and studying under different educational systems (if they ever went to school at all, since the indigenous populations were globally excluded from any education).

The Impact of European Anti-Semitism

Historically, while some limited collaborations existed, the lives of European and Arab Jews was quite different. It is impossible to list all of these differences, but it is important to highlight that the condition of European Jews, and the persecutions they were subjected to (pogroms in Eastern Europe, discrimination in central Europe, Anti-Semitic public campaigns such as the Dreyfus affair in France) ended up impacting the Muslim world.

The history of Anti-Semitism is complex, and should be differentiated depending on the European countries and regions, but their concrete effects resulted in European Jews debating the best ways of addressing them, choosing between different strategies:

  • Assimilation: many European Jews believed in their capacity to be accepted by succeeding in public life, whether economically, politically (e.g. Benjamin Disraeli), or by simply supporting the emancipating ideals of enlightenment or modernity. Many prominent Jews chose a more radical approach by being involved in anarchist or communist revolutionary movements. It is interesting to note that several examples of Jewish success stories resulted in backlashes and more Anti-Semitic delirium (as a side note, contemporary racist rants in the USA after the election of President Obama or in Europe against Muslim or Black ministers parallel this delirium).
  • Emigration: chosen mostly by Eastern European Jews, especially after several waves of pogroms. The preferred destination was usually the USA, until restrictions were applied through the 1924 immigration act.
  • Zionism: promoting a separate Jewish homeland. The movement was initiated by Theodor Herzl after the Dreyfus affair convinced him that Jews had no future in Europe.
  • Bundism: mostly based in Eastern Europe, promoting national-cultural autonomy but clearly in conflict with Zionism. Bundism depicted Zionism as an escapist doctrine, stating it served the agenda of Anti-Semites who wanted Jews out of Europe. Bundists defended Jewish communities in Eastern Europe until WW2. Famous Polish hero Marek Hedelman was one of its main figures, refusing to leave Poland and was also a prominent critic of Israeli policies until his passing. The Nazi holocaust, terror policies and repression ended up destroying the Bund movement.

BundThese directions are not a comprehensive outlook and strategies were not as clear cut, but this shows the different strategies that Jews had when facing European Anti-Semitism. The objective of this article is not to qualify which strategy is the best, nor to draw any political equivalence between such approaches. I am myself extremely opposed to Zionism but my criticism is not the topic of this article, the intent is to examine what happened and the resulting consequences.

Overall, the majority of European Jews either chose assimilation or immigration to the USA until 1924. The rise of Nazism in Germany and anti-immigration laws in the US aimed at European Jews changed the situation drastically and made the Zionist project an alternative in the 1930s and after WW2.

The Zionist movement started organizing departures of European Jews towards Palestine for settlement. The Balfour declaration provided the movement with political cover for departures, leaving the British in a situation where they had to balance their promises toward Zionist leaders with the promises of independence they made to Arab leaders. The British never established a clear strategy in the face of the arrival of Jewish settlers which led to more tensions and increased conflict such as the 1929 Hebron massacre.

While they were incapable of addressing the demands of both communities, the actions of the British strengthened the Zionist movement at the expense of Palestinian society and its leadership. For instance when they militarily crushed the 1936-39 Palestinian intifada and also simultaneously trained Zionist settlers, including many future Israeli army leaders within their ranks, such as Moshe Dayan. The events in the 1920s-30s gradually led the Zionist movement to become stronger, more militarized and tempted to implement an expulsion of the Arab population.

Intifada-36The outcome of the 1947-49 war was made predictable by the combined: crushing of the 1936-39 Palestinian insurgency (leaving the Palestinians with most of their political leadership either dead, in prison or in exile, crushed militarily, and with hardly any organized militia), the acquired military experience and weaponry by Jewish Hagganah and Irgun movements (during the Intifada and WW2), and the moral outrage following the horrific WW2 holocaust, which drew sympathy to the Zionist cause from the European and American public.

Joseph Stalin provided unexpected support to the Zionists first by allowing several tens of thousands of Polish Jews to emigrate to Palestine, including trained soldiers who had participated in resistance movements during the war, and by providing an important weapon shipment via. Czechoslovakia that David Ben Gurion later acknowledged to be decisive.

Ironically Joseph Stalin provided this decisive support to Zionists while conducting anti-Semitic campaigns in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

On the field, despite the intervention of Arab armies, the Hagana/Irgun and other militias outnumbered them, most estimates range between about 60,000 troops on the Israeli side versus less than 30,000 on the Arab side. The only army that was a potential threat to the Zionist militias was the Jordanian Arab legion, which never entered the battle due to a secret agreement between Golda Meir and King Abdallah, where the latter agreed to stay away from the conflict while being allowed to annex the West bank.

The war itself is subject to a lot of controversies, regarding the different strategies undertaken by the belligerents, the factors that led to the Israeli victory and the intentionality behind the mass expulsion of the Palestinians. The narrative of an Israeli “David” fighting heroically for its survival against superior Arab “Goliath” armies and winning against the odds has been the mainstream story for decades on the Israeli and Western side.

This view has started to erode since the 1980’s with the emergence of Israel’s “new historians”, the picture is now more nuanced, showing that the odds for an Israeli victory were even, if not overwhelmingly in its favor.

Nearly 80% of the Palestinian population living within the new state of Israel were expelled in what is known as the Nakba, most of them became refugees even before David Ben Gurion declared independence. (As often is the case in such tragedies, estimates are subject to speculation, the official figure is 711,000 Palestinians while 10,000 Jews were forced to evacuate their homes from Arab dominated parts of former Mandatory Palestine).

This was clearly shown and documented by the generation of “new historians,” who accessed the Israeli archives in the 1980s, confirming that the Palestinians were forced out massively and violently. There is a debate among the historians as to whether the expulsion was planned in advance (Benny Morris claims that it wasn’t whereas other historians such as Avi Shlaim or Illan Pappé conclude the opposite), but they all confirm that Palestinians were forced to leave their home. After the war, they would never be given any possibility to return to their lands, despite Israel signing UN resolution 194 that allowed such a return.

nakba

The irony is that Zionism, which presented itself as a liberation movement for Jews, became a colonization and expansionist movement for Arabs. That dilemma is still there, especially after the 1967 six-day war which saw the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, Sinai, and Golan heights (an occupation that still goes on except for the Sinai peninsula).

While the narratives continue to be debated, two points are indisputable:

  • The 1947-49 war resulted in the Nakba and saw the beginning of the Palestinian tragedy: causing moral outrage for Arabs and Muslims and a state of constant tensions and wars with the state of Israel, which presents itself as the representatives of Jews around the world.
  • Arab Jews were left in an uncomfortable situation, not clear whether to join the new state or stay in their countries.

The next and final article in this series will cover the separation between Arab Jews and Muslims, its reasons and effects and what we can and must do now.

 

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  • Friend of Bosnia

    Yes, a pragmatic and humane one. Faith is for the people, not the other way round, that’s what they all should know.

  • Friend of Bosnia

    Oh yes. thank yu for your kind reply. I really look forward to the fourth part, I would very much like to save them.
    As it is I have been lucky, but many others haven’t.
    We must be wary of our enemies but at the same time not become like them.
    Now the longer a war goes the more dehumanized and beastly all sides become, that’s why we should never wish for war. Because it’s easy to start a war but very sifficult to end it.
    Yet if one is forced to fight, one must fight to the last consequence. If one is attacked he has all the right in the world to defend himself and to render the attacker harmless.
    I do however consider any attempt by the Bosnian Serb side to separate and/or to join Serbia proper a hostile act, an act of war. if they only so much as try then the Munich, er, Dayton Armistice is null and void, my side need no longer abide by it and then it must be total war and it will not end until one side is totally and utterly defeated, and may God help us, we will need His help most desperately. But we must always be aware that it’s not His job to fill in the tactical details; that’s up to us.
    And should it be that the enemy is stronger then we must solemnly pledge that every man, woman and child will, before they are killed, take down at least two enemies. Or better ten. That they will have to fight house for house, street for street, village for village, town for town, and it will cost them dearly. If the Serbs ever try to conquer BiH they must be made to know beforehand that in this case not one single Serb family will be without grief for loved ones killed.
    As I have said vbefore, there is a way to work things out peacewfully and I do hope that’s what will come about, but it means their admitting that in 1992-95 they were the aggressor, it means apologizing for said aggression, it means handing back the conquered territories, it means a solemn and binding pledge never again to destabilize BiH by military or political means. These are the conditions sine qua non for the whole Western Balkans to move forward to stability and prosperity. It’s either that or go straight back to the Dark Ages (and as everybody knows, in BiH the Dark Ages are not so far off, indeed in many aspects it is still the Dark Ages. And that certainly is not the Muslims’ fault.)

  • Mehdi

    First of all, there are no plans for any book, just some articles that i’m glad to see people enjoy 🙂
    There are many points you raise in your comments that make sense to me, and I can barely imagine the tragedies you have been through, so pardon me if my words can’t sometimes appear as naïve, and the conditions on how and when to forgive and move on are complex.
    But the key point for me is that I think that hatred and evil are pretty much part of human beings, but so are mercy and forgiveness, when in Bosnia I was impressed by people’s willingness to build a better life and make sure the horrors of the past never happen again. In some sense many Europeans did the same after WW2, the cambonians, etc. That is the optimistic part, people’s capacity to build something better.
    But there is a negative and pessimistic dimension to be considered too, history shows how hatred and dehumanization can quickly get out of control, I saw a series of documentaries recently about the holocaust, how the nazis established a climate of hatred and humiliation, where persecution and humiliation of Jews became ordinary, they became the typical scapegoats, until the war (especially in Poland and after the invasion of the soviet union) created the conditions that led to holocaust. You are right when you point out the conditions of the end of the 1980s and how violence was all over the air in former Yugoslavia, where even football darby could end into a riot or battle.
    I can’t provide a perfect checklist of how to address all of that but I do think that fighting any form of bigotry is essential, I just go mad when I hear Islamophobic comments, anti-Roma hysteria, Antisemitic delirium, takfir anti-Shia propaganda and vice versa, in fact any type of racism, all of these types of attitudes deeply hurt me. Most crimes (without even getting to genocides) start by dehumanization and the generalization of hatred, this is what we should fight, not that we have a huge power doing that but we should all do our best.

  • Friend of Bosnia

    I’m glad to hear that. Looking forward to your book.
    It is all so unfortunate. You see, German Jews and non-Jewish Germans had so much in common before Nazism. Bosniaks and non-Muslim inhabitants of BiH share a language and a culture. Arabs and (Arab) Jews share so many cultural traits. As examples, see the synagogues in Toledo, built by Almohad craftsmen; see the CIty Museum of Sarajevo: the Svrzo House (Muslim) and the Despic House (Orthodox); the traditional dress; the folk song repertory which is so similar on both sides of the Drina (many Serbian folk songs are Bosnian in origin; and vice versa too); the classical music of North Africa which has Muslim and Jewish inspirations. Yes, for most of the time, Muslims and Jews got along with each other quite well. During WW II in the former Yugoslavia and in Albania, Bosniaks and Albanians stood by their Jewish friends and did not betray them to the Nazis.
    What can be done? I can’t of course know the future but going by the historical precedent of the crusader states of the Middle Ages I think that Israel will celebrate its 100th anniversary but not its 200th. By that I’m not suggesting that at some point in the far future the Muslims can, will or must throw the Jews into the sea. I can’t say what the outcome will be. I can only hope for the best. If Germans and French have learned to live in peace and mutual respect, if there is a cautious rapprochement between Greek and Turks, such a rapprochemenht can surely take place also between Palestinians and Israelis, or Serbs and Bosniaks. But it is essentially important that the aggressor admits his aggression and unclenches his fist. How else could there be dialogue and rapprochement? And sadly, I don’t see that anywhere, be it in Palestine, the Balkans and elsewhere. Instead I hear only ever more war-like rhetoric, thinly veiled or open threats, and that horrible, smug, supremacist, self-serving, xenophobic, racist, bigot, fascist, Thilo Sarrazin/Henryk Broder/Dobrica Cosic/Pam Geller/Ayaan Hirsi Ali and all-other-such-subjects style genocidal hate speech which they dub “criticism of Islam”.
    Or the pretense that, say, immigrants to Germany only come to take advantage of social benefits when indeed all people whom I have met in North Africa and discussed with them the idea of coming to Germany or Great Britain say that they intend to work hard and apply themselves so they can provide for their families (the problem is that wages in, say, Morocco or Algeria, even for specialists, are so miserably low as to make an existence in conditions of dignity impossible), and yet all the unwashed, ignorant populace who are fed that xenophobic tripe every day through the mass media swallow it hook, line and sinker. Just read the comment sections on any news web site when it’s about Islam and Muslims and their discrimination. It just nauseates me, what ignorance and malevolence come together. The unwashed lazy-thinking public are just ignorant, but those who think up and formulate the xenophobic anti-Muslim ideas are just MALEVOLENT AND EVIL. And the media just want to capitalize on horrible hate speech about Muslims and will print anything no matter how outlandish or improbable it be, just as long as it sells. Both of those can’t be good people and indeed it is my conviction that they should never walk this Earth. That they deserve a swift, painful and hideous death so they will no loger be a danger to innocent lives.
    And I will be candid in telling you why. Because in 1991, before the genocidal anti-Bosniak crusade began for the nth time, there was exactly that kind of anti-Muslim hate speech in all Serb media “they breed like rabbits, they want to take over, their religion orders them to kill all unbelievers”, you know, all that, and in view of what happened in BiH 1941-45 and then 1992-95 (and will again in 50 years, mark my words) then of course I get the notion that the only way to take such ideas out of the heads that harbor them is to put one or more hollow-point .44 Magnum bullets through said heads. Because the ones are too stupid and pigheaded to make them reconsider, and the others are just evil and malevolent and think they can make a handsome profit with such ideas. In both cases not even if one talked to them with angels’ tongues they will never let go of these ideas.
    History has shown that. The only language they understand is that of violence, of lead and steel. And also, in view of what they did in 1992-95 and that it was them who started it all – they can only accuse us of being there, that is what really bothers them – I’m not willing to, I can’t and I won’t get over it, I will not let bygones be bygones, to my last breath, and I make the solemn promise that I won’t let my children and grandchildren get over it either.
    It’s all very well to say that one must look to the future – BUT ONLY if and when the issues of the past have been resolved. If they have come to slaughter us like sheep in the past it can’t be excluded that they won’t try it again. Unless we get their earnest commitment not to do that, ever.
    If not, in order for my children and grandchildren not to be slaughtered like sheep I will have to teach them to be wolves.
    Let us become the wolves our enemies accuse us of being anyway. In this world, evil outweighs good. There wll be violence until Judgment Day. If the only means to survive is by being the most violent ones around then so be it. If we win and when we win, then, and ONLY then can we afford to be generous to our vanquished foe, while at the same time taking all steps to make sure they will never again be able to threaten us. Sorry, but this is how it is.
    That’s what General MacArthur told the Japanese in September 1945. That is what Winston Churchill said: “In war – determination; in defeat – spite; in victory – generosity; in peace – good will”.
    And not only that. Did not our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) act in exactly that way when he defeated the Meccans? He could have had them all slaughtered but he did not do that. Yet he HAD to defeat them in battle in order to make them listen. There is no other way, given man’s violent and sinful nature. His awareness of the need to do good but at the same time his inclination to do evil. To always seek simple and plausible but false solutions to complex problems.
    I don’t want war but it is a necessity. I would never go out and attack anyone, no matter how much I am against their ideas and convictions, no matter how much I hate and despise them, no matter how much I covet and envy them their wealth if I don’t have it. But if they step over the line, just one toe, just one millimeter, even if by chance, then I’m willing to shoot first and ask questions later.
    “Si vis pacem para bellum” – If you want peace, prepare for war. That is an immutable truth.
    That is what I think the Bosniaks must teach their children from the moment they can talk. “We can and we are willing to coexist and live in peace, in mutual respect, with our neighbors and co-citizens who have a different faith from ours and who call themselves Serbs and Croats. But only as long as they accord us exactly the same degree of respect, no less, they demand for themselves. If they step over the line, our response must be swift, firm, determined, just, and final. They must never be given a chance to regret it if they step over the line. Not after what has happened here in 1992-95”.
    As for my brothers and sisters in Germany, Great Britain and the rest of Europe: as long as you have the same citizens’ rights, follow the law and behave modestly and respectfully. But as soon as a Nazi lynch mob or person comes your way, be prepared to beat them back. Do not let them set fire to your houses while you sleep, learn martial arts so nobody can stab you to death over a park bench dispute. And if one state or the EU as a whole, ever implements Nazi-like discriminatory laws and declares you the enemy within, be prepared to go down heroically, like the inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto in 1944. Like them, your physical existence may be terminated but like them, your memory will live on forever. And you will be in Dzennet. And in the end that is what counts.
    “Fiat iustitia et pereat mundus.” – Let there be justice even if the world perish. That too is an immutable truth. Our children must learn and live by these immutable truths from the moment they can walk and talk. Or else the Putins, Milosevics, Hitlers, Stalins, Assads, Karimovs, Al Bagdadis and all other such despicable elements, tyrants, Neros, Attilas, Gengis Khans, Pol Pots will triumph. Do we want that? Surely not!
    I mean look at it, look at the way they are handling things in Greece, that must and will in the end bring about the Grexit, they all say nobody wants that but that is exctly what they’ll get.
    Look at the pogromists in Burma, look at the zionists in Palestine, the Serb and Russian ultranationalists, they all see themselves as God-fearing, law-abiding people yet they are more than willing to turn living people into corpses and then to forget all about it.
    Putin doing to Ukraine what Milosevic did to BiH, how are they behaving differently from the madman who intentionally crashed that plane with 150 people aboard into a mountain? Not a bit, I tell you. I mean, his motives were just as selfish.
    As long as the particular interests of the small but powerful minority that wields power prevail over common sense and the interests of the majority (“the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one”), the world will stumble from one catastrophe to the next; hunger, injustice, evil, destruction (not just of cultural assets but what’s much more important, the natural resources which are the basis of all life on this planet) will prevail, innocent lives will be lost needlessly, the beautiful things that raise Man over beast, that give him dignity and humanity, the basis of all life on Earth, will be lost, wasted, pilfered, destroyed.
    That’s what I’m all about, that is my conclusion, and I have arrived at it by calmly considering, weighing and pondering all the facts and circumstances and double-checking my results. But since human interaction this world is more often than not based on unreasonableness, and in order to make it easier to understand, indeed unmistakably clear for all, I must pretend to be the raving madman, to be dangerous.
    (Whew, that was a bundle, again. Thank you for bearing with me through all this. What do you think? I don’t claim to have the absolute truth; nevertheless I think I got it right, didn’t I? Anyway, I don’t feel smug about it. It’s a very ugly truth, and it saddens me to no end.)

  • Mehdi

    Thanks a lot. And yes I did enjoy the documentary, it did serve as an inspiration.

  • Friend of Bosnia

    Dear Mehdi,
    I finally want to comment on the subject of your series of articles, and I can only say, I concur with Sodium. I wish you all the best success if you bring them out as a book, and I’d love to order it beforehand.
    I’m reminded of a four-part documentary that was on the German-French TV channel arte, “Jews and Muslims – so close. And yet so far!” (Juden und Muslime – So nah. Und doch so fern!; try http://www.arte.de)
    It is so – even in the best families there is strife and trouble.

  • Friend of Bosnia

    Orwell gave it the name “Doublethink” but it’s not like he invented it.

  • Friend of Bosnia

    Of course you didn’t. I would never expect anything of that sort of you.
    Many however, do just that. It’s them I’m addressing. Because I’ve been ridiculed, heckled, insulted, offended by such unworthy people (not you, that is) too often. I expected them to do that again in their replies to me, so I just wanted to put a stop to their aggression beforehand.
    I was referring to your saying that it takes two sides to listen, engage and coexist. That is very true.
    It also applies to the case of BiH. Because it would not be right if at some time the Bosniaks show the Bosnian Serbs the same degree of callousness, cold-heartedness and cruelty they were subject to in 1992-95.
    However, how can that be avoided? Look at the world and what’s happeing right now. Has it gotten any better since WW II? Has anything in Bosnia gotten better (except that they’re not shooting or raping anyone at the moment?) and will the Bosnian Serbs ever realize that they have been deceived by the ultranationalist chimaera? That they can’t just get rid of the Bosniaks (and vice versa) but that they can’t just keep the ethnically cleansed part of the country that was awarsedd to them on a silver platter at Dayton, (exactly as the Sudetenland was awarded to Hitler on a silver platter at Munich, and we all know a fat lot of good it did), that the ethnic cleansing in BiH must be undone (as much as it can anyway)? I don’t think so.
    I mean, if the powers that be had botched up the outcome of the Algerian War of Independence the same way as they did in BiH, then we would until today have Algérie Francaise, at least north of the Atlas mountains. Emptied of most of its Muslim inhabitants (the ones who refuse to serve as slaves to the French massahs that is), with the “pieds noirs” just strutting around the place and behaving like the Southron plantation owners and slavers of before 1865; and free Algeria would be as impoverished as Burkina Faso. The two million Algerians killed by the French during their colonial rule would have died in vain. Can’t have that.
    If the situation in BiH continues as it is today, we will not only have another Palestine, in the heart of Europe, but it will be as impoverished and miserable as Haiti is. In fact te gaza Strip is that already, does anybody want anorher one? Can’t have that either. I mean it’s just like Greece but ten or 100 times worse. It breaks my heart to see that every day, and not the slightest improvement in sight. Of course I would prefer any move forward to happen in a peaceful way, but if the other side refuses to unclench their fist, I see no point in trying to shake hands with them. If they unclench their fist, then I’m all for shaking their hand. But if they refuse? “You have to shake the hand you can’t cut off”,the Arab saying goes. But vice versa it’s also true. And the more they persist in justifying their evil deed and defending the outcome of said evil deed the less sympathy I can feel for them. Indeed my feelings for them are developing into, yes, I will admit it candidly, hate, visceral, unforgiving, burning, deadly hate, and I intend to pass on that hate to my children and commit them to keep the memory of the expoliated homeland alive among future generations. Why? Because it can only function as a unified country, or it will become a second Gaza Strip. There is no alternative. And because, what was the point of defeating Hitler if Milosevic is allowed to triumph from the grave, and Karadzic from behind bars. And Putin from the Kremlin? The Serbs can never be trusted. Like the Russians. The Russians can never be trusted. Never. Never. Never. Just look at what they have done and will eventually do again to the Crimean Tatars. Not like Stalin did but more like the Argentinian generals did. But the outcome will be the same. Scores of living human beings turned into corpses and dumped into mass graves or disappeared, just for being what they are. And Crimean Tatar children forcefully adopted into Russian ultranationalist families and growing up as ultranationalist and unbelieving Russians. Like the children of Argentinian leftists taken away from their mothers (who were murdered) and growing up as children of the militarists. I’m 100% convinced that it will be so. We shall see it. Mark my words. remember them when it happens. Russian people may, like the Serbs, be kind and good, friendly, generous, honest and God-fearing people at heart. But Russian and Serbian politics have ALWAYS, and I do mean, always, from the times of Ivan IV until this very day, continuously and without any exception whatsoever, been characterized by extreme cruelty, inhumanity, callousness, cold-heartedness, lack of empathy, of morals, of honesty, of righteousness, of respect, you name it, and support for all regimes which are similar like Assad’s.
    So you see, in Moscow and in Belgrade (in Ar Raqqa too, for sure) THERE’S all that I HATE about mankind, all that is evil about mankind I see embodied in them. THERE is the oppresor, and I see people as myself as the oppresed. And I do wish there really was somebody as the “Avenger of the oprressed”. But that’s something every single one who doesn’t want to be opressed, have to do by ourselves, as much as we can. And I can only always express my disdain and hate for the oppressors, for those who believe might makes right, as long as they have it, and who cry wolf when they lose it.
    So yes, dialog and discussion is necessary if we don’t want to see the world turned into a slaughterhouse.
    But it can only succeed if the side which committed aggression in 1992 admits that it committed aggression and tried to commit genocide, and abandons all such policies. If dialog will not just serve to consolidate their evil gains, in other words, just be unconditional surrender, as Munich, Yalta and Dayton were. If they abandon the notion that might makes right.
    But if they continue to deny that they are the aggressor and the genocidal, if they continue to believe that might makes right, any further discussion is pointless. Then they must be given the wrong end of the stick, get their own medicine applied to them, to the last consequence. That’s what I wanted to say.

    As for those who ascribe the Bosniaks the same degree of guilt in starting and waging the war, who deny the Serb anti-Bosniak genocide, those who say the Serb aggression on the Bosniak people was justified, and that partition of the country is necessary, or even its eventual dissolution is inevitable,
    I have only the great notion and desire to jump at their throats. And since they hate and despise such people as me, then I hate and despise them too, and could not care less for their well-being, physical integrity or continued existence. I see no point in caring for someone who wants to see me dead, or at least on my knees, a refugee, if not a corpse.
    I know some moderators resent such a point of view and don’t want to see it published but in my view that’s only denial of what’s just human nature, and I deem such denial to be “political correctness”; and to me that’s hypocrisy.
    Please note that I do not accuse you of hypocrisy; I know you’re not a hypocrite. But the Serb and Russian ultranationalists certainly are hypocrites. They deny the Kosovo Albanians the same thing they claim for the Bosnian Serbs. They deny the Ukrainians and the Baltic countries what they claim for themselves, freedom and the right to act as they see best. They deny the Syrian people the right to live in freedom from oppression and destruction. They believe that might makes right but cry wolf when it’s them who find themselvs at the wrong end of the stick. They babble about fascist putschists in Kiev, and who are those “fascists” who join up as volunteers to defend their freedom, so they won’t have to live under the Russian heel? Many are just teenagers, schoolchildren. Some fascists. Whenever I hear the Ukrainians smeared as “fascists”, and the Bosniaks as “Islamists” I can fly into a black rage. I actually feel my stomach curdle and my blood boil. And then I wish death and damnatio memoriae on those who utter such poison and onto their sons and grandsons as well for good measure.
    And I think that Serbia, like Japan was after 1945, should be stripped of all its military conquests but that’s another matter and does not really belong here. But I HAD to say it. I just HAD to say all of the above. I do believe it’s right. Sorry for any bad feelings I might have caused you.

    And another thought I’d like to add: For centuries, millennia even, the Jews were oppressed. Then with the Nakba the sheep turned into wolves. And nobody objected. It is high time the Bosniaks and the Ukrainians turned from sheep into wolves too. I don’t like the notion, I’m a pacifist at heart, but if the alternative is that either I have their blood on my hands or they have my blood on their hands then I PREFER TO BE THE WOLF ANYTIME. I have never believed in turning the other cheek, indeed I found the notion to be silly and even offensive, even when I was a Christian.

  • Mehdi

    Where did I deny anything or even mention Bosnia?

  • Friend of Bosnia

    OK, OK, but I cannot agree with genocide denial. That’s one thing that is just not up for debate. When one party of the war committed crimes with an obvious genocidal intent, that is, forceful removal (i.e. ethnic cleansing), extermination, totally or in part, of a people, destruction of their cultural heritage, appropriation of their children and all those things were done by the non-Muslims in BiH to the Muslims – there can be no debate on whether the Bosnian War was or was not genocide against the Bosniaks. It was. 100%! Since 1804 the Serb leadership has had the intention, exactly like the Catholic and Habsburg Kings of Spain had toward the Spanish Muslims during the 15th to 17th centuries, to rid the country of its Muslim inhabitants first by converting them to Christianity by force, then by expelling them, and killing many of them in the bargain. Exactly the same and that cannot be denied.
    lso, Serbia attacked BiH and had it all planned beforehand. All of it. Period. I can’t accept any debate on these two points. What happened on various instances during the war, whether the Bosniaks committed war crimes or not, that’s something else, after all the Allies too committed war crimes during WW II yet there can be no doubt that the Axis was the aggressor, had genocidal intent and did commit genocide.
    However the claim that the Bosniaks killed 3000 Serbs around Srebrenica is utterly false. It’s a clumsy attempt of the Serb ultranationalists to whitewash their side, a bit like Hitler’s saying on Sept. 1st 1939, “since 5:45 we shoot back.”
    Also, anything the IS is doing now is no justification and certainly no exoneration for Srebrenica or the rape camps. And smearing the Bosniaks as IS, that’s beyond decency. Yet, in the last 20 years I have again and again met with such, ah, people who do just that, and I can only say that I feel nothing but deadly hate for them. Even the most hideous and painful death would be too good for them. Damnatio memoriae is the only apropriate thing for them.

  • Friend of Bosnia

    How right you are, as always;
    and also in our own neck of the woods…

  • Mehdi

    A very kind commment from you again Sodium, thanks a lot, I’m glad you enjoyed this, there should still be a last article in this series, I hope you enjoy it too.
    I would only caveat the phrasing on “the ugly and apparent and current enmity between Arabs and Jews”, as I think history shows it wasn’t that black and white, and was even a quite positive relation, indeed the present is much more negative, will get back to that anyway.
    All the best.

  • Dear Mehdi,
    I finally managed reading all three essays and read all the comments that were published on the forum of the first essay. I will refrain from giving the articles and the efforts involved in writing them the high marks they deserve lest cheapen them. One commenter used the word, ” awesome ” and I would leave it at that.
    Beside what has impressed me most, beside the content of the essays were the debates that followed, especially between you and bobbert. Both of you have excelled in maintaining mature and truly constructive exchange of views till the very end. Just for that alone, each one of you deserves not one vote in favor, but 10 votes. If that’s allowed, I would have delightfully done so, with no hesitation whatsoever.
    As to just the comments made, I was most impressed by Raynardine’s. It is refreshing to know that a Jewish life was saved by an Arab, considering the ugly and apparent and current enmity between Arabs and Jews. When two enemies place their human connection before and above everything else, including ethnicity and religion, there will be hope, however small, for the human species to make amends.
    All your essays deserve to be collected together in a thoughtful book. Please think of that.
    As always, I wish you the best of all best(s),
    Sodium ..

  • Mehdi

    In Algerian it was mostly the “code de l’indigénat” that ruled whoever wasn’t considered as french (quite a lot of people in the end), it’s quite a headache to understand its specifics, but it was mostly a disguise for seggregation, forced labour and land appropriation
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indig%C3%A9nat

  • George Carty

    Weren’t Algerian Muslims also offered French citizenship if they dumped Sharia for the Code Napoléon? (IIRC there were almost no takers though…)

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