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Brothers stabbed man for speaking Arabic during family walk in Brooklyn

NYC Crime Scene

People are Arab, not “Arabic,” a language, which if spoken in the wrong place these days, can lead to assault with a deadly weapon.


Via Daily News:

Two brothers stabbed a man in his stomach for speaking Arabic as he walked with his wife and 5-year-old son in Brooklyn, authorities said Thursday.

Erick Pastuizaca, 18, and Manuel Pastuizaca, 19, allegedly stabbed the 41-year-old man as he walked on 41st St. near Sunset Park around 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 16, according to a complaint filed in Brooklyn Criminal Court.

“I’m going to stab you because you’re Arabic and deserve it,” Manuel allegedly said.

The man survived and the brothers face charges including assault as a hate crime.

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    • Friend of Bosnia

      Many of the so-called self-styled “Islam critics” post messages so dripping of bloodthirsty hate, blind rage, bigotry, fascism, racism, inhumanity, genocide, falsehood, outright lies that I can only ask myself why does God allow such people to live. I would love to see to it that such people suffer exactly the same degree and quantity of cruelty they so callously vest on others. I think such people will, given the chance, go out and kill, maim, rape and rob people who happen to be Muslims. It’s such people who committed the worst atrocities during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Sure, many were Serb soldiers or policemen, but many more were just ordinary law-abiding and God-fearing folks who behaved like mad dogs towards their Bosniak nbeighbors and friends as soon as they got the message that the Muslims were “dangerous enemies” and that the Serbs could do to them anything they wanted. So. I’m very wary about people who espouse a war-like and aggressive rhetoric against Muslims, and who hold all Muslims collectively guilty of all evil currently going on in the world. Also those who say that Islam is essentially evil. Because they mean that all Muslims are essentially evil. To me they are all potential genocidals and mass murderers. The world would be better off without them. And I can’t trust the state institutions to protect me. I mean if they can’t protect me from ordinary criminals. And history has shown more thzan once that the state itself and its institutions can become criminal as well.

    • Friend of Bosnia

      Yes, either way I lose. I get killed or sent to jail. So far I have been lucky; people here in my neighborhood are all right. What worries me is when I go somewhere else. My wife wears Hijab, not because I have ordered her but because she was raised that way. I have told her that it’s her decision. The way things have become I’m actually glad that my daughter is very secular and I hope she will stay that way. I can only hope my luck will not run out. People should learn not to hate what they don’t understand. Muslims are not more or less evil than other people. Also, the Wahhabi inspired islamist fanatics and the xenophobic genocidals and fascists are truly two sides of the same coin. To those who say that the European rightists don’t commit suicide bombings I say the methods are different but the idea is the same: to suppress what does not fit into their views. But it is pointless to discuss with those disgusting half-idiots (please note that I’m not referring to you; you discuss things reasonably.)

    • Captain Scorpio

      Not suggesting that at all. I hope neither ever happens. Just that the reason people may feel free to hurt you is the same reason you face the likelihood of injustice from the state; it’s all part of the same machine. I’m not ssaying you shouldn’t arm yourself, just noting that our society puts you in a place where it is very difficult to win, so whatever you do, do so with care and caution. I wish you luck.

    • Friend of Bosnia

      1. I was only asking. 2. So I must allow myself to be stabbed to death before anybody will do anything for me? Too bad I’m not 210 cm tall and 1 m across the shoulders; too bad I don’t have an elite soldier’s training and thus the ability to disable a potential attacker with my bare hands. 3. I don’t trust justice. Judges and prosecutors are always only concerned about the perpetrator, not the victim. It’s zeitgeist that priority is to reintegrate the perpetrator into society, no matter how futile this is, how evil he is. Who has ever become a victim of a violent attack, be it for robbery or out of political motives, is left to fend for himself. Should anybody do me, my wife or my daughter irreversible physical harm then I want to do the same to him. Because no money could compensate me, besides I’d never get any money from my attacker. Because even if there was a judicial order to compensate me, then they suddenly don’t have any.

      Justice is for the state, not for the victims of violence. Sure, it is necessary to enforce certain norms without which people just couldn’t live together, but it invariably fails to help the victims of violence. On the contrary if I act in legitimate self-defense they’d rather do me in for murder.

      I don’t ever want to find myself in that poor man’s place; or of that poor woman who had a beer mug smashed in her face just for speaking her maternal language. People who do such things deserve at least the trashing of a lifetime, or to be kicked in the butt so hard they’ll never forget it. Not like today, allowed to get away with murder.

    • Captain Scorpio

      I would only caution you to bear in mind what police (and others) will assume if they arrive and see you with a gun. I’m sorry you’re left with such choices.

    • Jekyll

      then please don’t

    • jini man

      Pure Hate Crime. Lock the loser brothers for life.

  • JuiceZak

    This sounds so hilarious

Pamela Geller Captures Latest Stealth Jihad in Progress

Screenshot 2015-10-23 at 10.05.28 PM

Photo by Junaid Ahmed, National Geographic

by Ilisha

It’s happening in Los Angeles.

It’s happening in Washington, D.C.

It’s happening in Moscow, New York City, Paris, Rome, Milan, London, Budapest and beyond.

It’s happening everywhere, and Pamela Geller has the photographic evidence to prove it.

What is this worldwide atrocity that has Ms. Geller convinced Islamic Sharia is poised to take over Western cities, all across the globe?

Friday prayers.

That’s right. Muslims are gathering for congregational prayers in public spaces all over the world. Right out in the open. Stealth jihad is hiding in plain sight.

If there’s one thing Geller dislikes more than Muslims praying in public spaces, it’s Muslims building mosques–especially “mega mosques” that would presumably be large enough to accommodate congregational prayers.

Park51 Entrance Photo by Ilisha, 2013

Park51 Entrance Photo by Ilisha, 2013

Last month Geller and her friends all across the looniverse celebrated their belated victory over the “Ground Zero Mosque.” Though it was neither at ground zero nor a mosque, a heated national debate erupted with some help from Geller and her fellow outrage peddlers in 2009. By late summer of 2010, after a series of media appearances and protests, polls showed a majority of the American public opposed the plan for a 15-story community center with a prayer space called Park51. 

Despite opposition, the city approved the project. For a few years, Park51 was open to the public in the original space, but the grand plans that has sparked the controversy never materialized. Last month, Sharif El-Gamal, the chairman and CEO of Soho Properties, announced a new plan to turn the property into a 70-story residental tower offering luxury condos. 

In a post with the tag “Ground Zero Mega Mosque: Takbir!,” Geller celebrated victory:

We did it! We the people. President Obama pushed for it, then-Mayor of NYC Michael Bloomberg supported it, the media actively campaigned for it — the elites in their increasingly fragile ivory towers stumped for the mosque.

But the people stood up and fought it and won.

Hey Obama, YES. WE. CAN. – Pamela Geller

It’s difficult to see how anti-Muslim agitators can take credit for this development. El-Gamal decided to build condos instead of the cultural center not because of pressure from Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, and their ilk, but to take advantage of New York City’s luxury condo boom.

Nevertheless, it is a “victory” in the sense the “Ground Zero Mosque” was scrapped. One down, hundreds more to go.

In another recent article, Geller decries the “Obama Justice Department” suing an Illinois town for denying a rezoning application. If the application is approved, it will allow an existing office building to be converted into a what Geller describes as an “Islamic temple.” A move which she views, somehow, as a triumph of Islamic law over American law, as well as a step in the wrong direction:

…Obama’s lawless administration is imposing the Shariah nationwide, allowing the rampant construction of rabats and jihad recruitment centers at a time when we should be monitoring the mosques and restricting construction of Muslim Brotherhood beachheads and Islamic State madrassas. – Pamela Geller

Apparenlty Muslims shouldn’t pray outside in public spaces, and Muslims shouldn’t build mosques to pray inside either. Maybe it’s just me, but that doesn’t seem like a reasonable stance.

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    • Friend of Bosnia

      Of course they don’t. Some are just gormless. Many are plainly evil. Their hearts are stone cold and theor souls are black. A total waste of time trying to reason with such evil fools.

    • Reynardine

      Keep talking like that, and Neptune will get you. It is actually the five-tine fork that is used to fling manure.

    • Reynardine

      And his promotion of sax and violets.

    • Jekyll

      Pansy nevertheless.

    • Reynardine

      Pamelannibal Lector?

    • Jekyll

      For the record, I am hella glad pansy Rauf wasn’t allowed to built his tuti fruti cultural center. Hella Glad.

    • HSkol

      Where on earth is the Amazing Randi when we so desperately need him? Oh, wait, he’s a debunker. Never mind.

    • Just_Stopping_By

      Cute. But I was thinking of a Geller – spoonbending connection. Maybe someone is psychic enough to figure it out.

    • Reynardine


    • Marinater

      Never argue with a fool they say..

    • The greenmantle

      A trident would suit her more I suspect Sir David

    • Just_Stopping_By

      Hamela Geller, maybe? Eats with bent spoons.

  • Tanveer Wan Khanobi

    I wouldn’t rule it out

Cardinal says liberals and Islamists are ‘Beasts of Apocalypse’

Screenshot 2015-10-23 at 6.52.35 PM

This story seems to have received surprisingly scant mainstream media coverage. Via Yahoo! news:

Cardinal says liberals and Islamists are ‘Beasts of Apocalypse’

Vatican City (AFP) – A top African cardinal has described the threat posed by Islamic extremism and western liberal culture as the twin “Beasts of the Apocalypse” comparable to Nazism and communism.

In an intervention at an ongoing synod of bishops on the future of Catholic teaching on the family, Guinean cardinal Robert Sarah reportedly described Islamist militants and western thinking on abortion and homosexuality as sharing “the same demonic origin”.

“Theological discernment allows to see in our times two unexpected threats — almost like the Beasts of the Apocalypse — from two opposite positions: on one side the idolatry of western freedom, on the other religious fanaticism,” said the cardinal, who is one of the leaders of the Church’s conservative wing.

“What Nazism-fascism and communism were to the 20th century, western ideologies on homosexuality and abortion and Islamic fanaticism are to today,” the cardinal said in comments made last week in the closed-doors synod and published Tuesday by several Italian media outlets.

Sarah reportedly said the secular western world’s way of thinking threatened to destroy the family through “quickie divorces, abortion, homosexual unions: look at gender theory, Femen (a feminist group known for topless protests), the LBGT lobby.

“On the other side, there is the pseudo-family of an ideological Islam which legitimises polygamy, sexual slavery, child marriage: look at Al-Qaeda, IS, Boko Haram.

“Certain keys allow us to discern the same demonic origin of these two movements: they both advocate a universal and totalitarian law, they’re both violently intolerant, destroyers of families and the Church, and openly anti-Christian.”

The African cardinal’s outburst follows reports earlier this week that another conservative cleric had described “a whiff of Satan” permeating the synod, which has been beset by mutual allegations of plotting as the battle between conservatives and progressives has intensified.

Sarah, who holds the equivalent of a ministerial post at the Vatican, was one of the cardinals who sent Pope Francis a private letter last week complaining that the synod’s procedures had been rigged in favour of liberals who support reform of the Church’s approach on homosexuality and divorce.

He has also been a prominent opponent of any dilution of Catholic doctrine which means a believer who gets divorced and then remarried in a civil ceremony is effectively excluded from the Church by being denied the right to take communion and confess their sins.

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    • Reynardine

      Cardinals are pretty sober birds, but both robins and cedar waxwings like getting clobbered on fermented fruit.

  • The greenmantle

    allegorical = so open to interpretation it could mean anything

Joe Kaufman Attacks Muslim Law Enforcement Officers

Joe Kaufman

Joe Kaufman

Original guest article

By Wilfredo Amr Ruiz

The defeated Republican congressional candidate and eulogist of the late terrorist Rabbi Meir Kahane, Joe Kaufman, keeps doubling down on his attacks against anything Muslim. Most recently, he has accused Broward County Sheriff, Scott Israel, of being disloyal to his oath for swearing in a recognized Muslim leader, Nezar Hamze, as his deputy. Kaufman probably doesn’t know that Hamze, who is also the Regional Operations Director for CAIR Florida, was first appointed as a cadet by Israel’s predecessor, Sheriff Al Lamberti.

After winning his election in 2013, Israel decided to swear in Deputy Hamze as a member of his team. Israel’s decision undoubtedly strengthened his team even more as it shows the Sheriff’s commitment to keep and strengthen one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse Law Enforcement agencies in the whole nation.

Because I am a resident of Broward County and I personally know both individuals, I can be nothing but proud to count on both Sheriff Israel and his Deputy, Nezar Hamze, to safeguard my community, my neighborhood, and my family. They are both God-fearing men in uniform and that I respect and honor.

I know that Joe Kaufman is losing sleep at night, knowing that an honorable American Muslim is actually serving and protecting the citizens in Broward County. Joe Kaufman represents the antithesis of the American way of life I stood for as a U.S. Naval Officer.  In that capacity, I fully understood the true meaning of holding true to our Oath; a similar oath as those taken by other men in uniform such as Sheriff Israel and Deputy Hamze.

Joe Kaufman definitely does not know the meaning of such an oath because, in every political aspiration he has run for, our wise electorate have denied his bigotry to walk up the stairs of our Capitol House. I am certain that the South Florida community will never forget Kaufman’s discourses filled with xenophobia and hatred and will consistently keep him very far away from any public office.

Mr. Kaufman, learn this once and for all: hatred and xenophobia are passé; nobody likes it and nobody likes you!


Attorney Wilfredo Amr Ruiz is also a Muslim Chaplain and Political Analyst on the Middle East and Muslim World. For the past seven years he has been a regular columnist at El Nuevo Día newspaper in Puerto Rico and is also a columnist for El Diario de NY . He is also a writer for WebIslam and a guest columnist for various others publications. Ruiz is regularly interviewed and consulted at national and international media outlets on diverse issues on politics of the Middle East and the Muslim World, Islam and Christian-Muslim relations.

In 1997 he performed Hajj, the Islamic major pilgrimage to Mecca. He founded the Puerto Rico and Connecticut chapters of The American Muslim Association of North America (AMANA), and acts as legal advisor to the Council on American Islamic Relations of South Florida.

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    • mindy1

      I wish the sheriff and deputy luck in their endeavors. As for jaufmwn, stop making things worse

    • JS

      I sort of remember this guy… another irrelevant Islamophobe who wants to milk the cash cow…

An Alternative Path To Peace In War


Original Guest Post

By Razainc

The failure of carrot and stick incentives

Since the advent of game theory, academics in political science and economics, along with policymakers and politicians have been and continue to be driven by an oversimplified view which holds individuals in a rational actor paradigm. Implying that, based on Rational Choice Theory (self explanatory), people do a cost-benefit analysis to maximize personal advantages when making a decision. An example of this is Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) a concept developed primarily by John Von Neumann.

This view, though useful when dealing with large bureaucratic organizations (which tend to use rational approaches when making decisions) breaks down when dealing with committed individuals or groups. In other words, people committed to a cause.

Recent evidence from cognitive science and neurology suggests that another agent of decision-making is driven by transcendental ideals, which can be called “sacred values,” meaning the values that are core to a person’s identity, emotions, their sense of religious identity, these values vary depending on the individuals and societies.

Take for example the prisoner’s dilemma which says the most logical thing for two prisoners who are accomplices in a crime, is to tell on each other and sell each other out rather than cooperate. When the prisoner’s dilemma was tested with actual prisoners it showed them diverging from theoretical predictions with most prisoners choosing the non rational choice.

With the election victory of Netanyahu and his use of race baiting, as well as his comments reiterating denying the Palestinians a state, the belief has emerged that any settlement is dead and that the world is witnessing a new nadir in the occupation.

However, this dour state of affairs doesn’t have to be destiny, there is new evidence suggesting a path to peace can start with a simple acknowledgment of wrongs and a sincere apology.

Sacred Values

So what are sacred values and why should they be recognized when dealing with conflicts like the Israeli occupation of Palestine?

Sacred Values override utilitarian (cost benefit) forms of reasoning in humans, and they lead to action (sometimes violent) when a person feels such values are under attack. People will be ready to defend them at all costs. Under these circumstances, no material incentive will change a person’s mind or at least trigger what may appear as rational behavior. Actually, it would have the opposite effect and backfire. In other words, everyone does not have a price or more accurately, a material price.

Scott Atran, a French and American anthropologist, said in my interview with him:

“Our behavioral and fMRI research in the lab and in conflict hotspots around the world indicate that SVs (sacred values) are cognitively processed as deontic rules (I have a moral obligation to do such and such regardless of the risks or rewards, costs or consequences) that drive actions independent, or all out of proportion, to likely, rationally expected outcomes.”

Conflicts with sacred values also are different from other group conflicts like in gangs where there is camaraderie but not commitment to a sacred cause, Atran in my interview continues.

“Gangs, like some combat groups, sometimes have strong links of camaraderie, but unlike committed combat groups (Special Forces, revolutionaries and insurgents) generally do not have commitment to a sacred cause. Commitment to comrades alone (brotherhoods/sisters in arms) can produce costly sacrifices, including fighting and dying beyond one’s own narrow self-interest at the moment, but there is strong empirical evidence that without commitment to a sacred moral cause such a group can be readily defeated by another with strong commitment to a sacred cause. Gangs and criminal organizations can do fairly well against police and armed forces motivated by typical reward structures, such as pay and promotion. But gangs as well as regular armies and police will generally lose against morally committed forces with up to an order of magnitude less firepower and manpower”

An Israel-Palestine relations experiment by Atran showed that more material incentives, like money, in the form of economic aid is offered can be counter productive in peace negotiations. Another study by Atran on Iran  also shows that sacred values can also be non-traditional like accruing nuclear power. This study showed that negative material incentives like sanctions can also have a similar effect and backfire.

In the experiment three offers were made: 1) the standard peace deal without a material incentive added, 2.) a peace offer plus a material incentive in the form of economic aid, 3.) A peace deal with no material incentive but the other side would recognize their values.  For Israelis it was the right for Israel to exist and why they came to Israel and for Palestinians it was recognition of the Nakba and the dispossession and suffering of the Palestinians accompanied by an apology. When economic aid was offered to Israeli settlers to give up land support for violence rose. When economic aid was offered to Palestinian refugees and Hamas supporters to give up the right of return support for violence likewise went up.

According to Atran’s studies something as simple as recognizing the other side’s Sacred Values would be much more beneficial and impactful. Such a recognition can come in the form of an apology (from Israelis) for Palestinian suffering resulting from the historical injustice of the Nakba, or the recognition of the right of Israel to exist (by Palestinians parties like Hamas). Neither of these actions holds any material value, they are only symbolic.

Atran describing his research in NYTimes op-ed How Words Could End a War states:

“All those surveyed responded to the same set of deals. First they would be given a straight-up offer in which each side would make difficult concessions in exchange for peace; next they were given a scenario in which their side was granted an additional material incentive; and last came a proposal in which the other side agreed to a symbolic sacrifice of one of its sacred values.”

“Indeed, across the political spectrum, almost everyone we surveyed rejected the initial solutions we offered — ideas that are accepted as common sense among most Westerners, like simply trading land for peace or accepting shared sovereignty over Jerusalem …  in general the greater the monetary incentive involved in the deal, the greater the disgust from respondents. Israelis and Palestinians alike often reacted as though we had asked them to sell their children. This strongly implies that using the standard approaches of “business-like negotiations” favored by Western diplomats will only backfire…. Many Westerners seem to ignore these clearly expressed “irrational” preferences, because in a sensible world they ought not to exist … Diplomats hope that peace and concrete progress on material and quality-of-life matters (electricity, water, agriculture, the economy and so on) will eventually make people forget the more heartfelt issues. ”

“Palestinian hard-liners were more willing to consider recognizing the right of Israel to exist if the Israelis simply offered an official apology for Palestinian suffering in the 1948 war. Similarly, Israeli respondents said they could live with a partition of Jerusalem and borders very close to those that existed before the 1967 war if Hamas and the other major Palestinian groups explicitly recognized Israel’s right to exist.” says Atran.

This study suggests that such symbolic gestures are likely to encourage support for peace. It doesn’t change their perception as to whether peace is more likely but it makes them more likely to support peace. The problem is getting people to make such symbolic concessions and this should be the challenge for our governments moving forward, as well as having an honest broker which western governments haven’t been. Ultimately what concessions, if any, Palestinians and Israelis make is up to them and should not be determined by us.

Other Alternatives

Another way we can get groups that are in conflict to stop fighting is to unite against a common enemy like another group that threatens both parties. Sacred values have applications to all types of other forms of conflict resolution, including current tensions between Iran and Western nations (or the fight against ISIS). Or even tensions between Israel and Iran who actually used to be quite friendly even during Khomeini regime (a common fore, the USSR, played a role in this until relations between Iran and Russia became less tense and more friendly).

Wouldn’t it to better to make people unite against abstract enemies, such as ending poverty? An example which seems on its face would be better than finding a third party for us to go to war with or would it be better to resolve conflicts with our current enemies?

The problem as Atran points out in my interview, is “For some, a ‘war on poverty’ or for the environment can be a sacred cause, but unless it generates the level of commitment and sacrifice, including fighting and dying if necessary, such causes cannot compete against those that do elicit such sacrifice.”

The actions of most governments and policy makers  seem to still be using outdated models that treat people as solely selfish rational actors who care primarily about themselves first. But we are presented with an alternative choice that recognizes peoples values, and can help us end conflicts in a much more cost effective way. Let us take the path where we recognize each others humanity and values and work towards a common good.

This article was edited with input from Mehdi

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    • 786 I disagree. I will be the first to criticize unethical behavior on the part of the Israeli state, and the first to point out that Israel is not synonymous with Jewry any more than Saudi Arabia is synonymous with the Ummah. BUT I also believe in Israel’s right, as a currently-existing national group, to continue its existence. I may not agree that that existence ought to continue in the same fashion, with the same policies, or even with the same borders, as is currently the case. But the fact remains that the people are there and the vast majority of the inhabitants had nothing directly to do with the initial colonization. There is nothing that can be done to “relocate” them without massive violations of all ethical and religious norms. Nor should they be relocated en masse. Individual families or even settlements, most definitely. But one can relocate portions of the Israeli population without thereby completely eliminating the state of Israel.

      The same goes for Palestine; the people are there and there is nothing that can be done to relocate them. Nor should they be relocated or otherwise uprooted, unless it be to occupy some portion of the lands from which they were previously ejected.

      Positing that either one does in fact not have the right to continue existing is ethically indefensible.

      The enshrining of the nakba as something whose very acknowledgment has a sacred character is no more reasonable than the veneration of Israel’s right to exist. It’s not less reasonable, but it’s not inherently superior either.

      I most certainly do not wholeheartedly support or advocate the fashion in which the current state of Israel came into being. But I can say that about a very large number of countries, France and England among them. Not to mention my homeland, the United States. Like these countries, Israel’s existence is predicated on a very large number of factors; pretending that the *only* factors were dispossession and murder is as much of a caricature as pretending that Palestinian foreign policy is composed solely of terrorist attacks. It reduces a massively complex picture to a two-dimensional one that can be manipulated for ideological traction.

      I support the BDS campaign overall; but it’s not going to cause the cessation of Israel’s existence. Nor do I believe for a second that a diplomatic solution is inherently impossible.

      And now I get my kevlar gear since I foresee the half-literate and the insane will hallucinate that I wrote that I support Israeli violence or the dispossession of Palestinians or some other nonsense.

    • Razainc_aka_BigBoss

      One thing I would add is although the rhetoric may be similar on both side the the power difference is one sided. Israel holds the power to enact their rhetoric while Palestinian rhetoric is more in response to Israel.

      But some of these issues would be resolved if western government (especially U.S and Canada) stopped giving Israel immunity for it’s actions. Making it harder for Israel to do whatever it liked.

    • el turco

      An even smarter approach is creatively reorienting “sacred values”

      But Froman believes that one major factor behind the failure of the peace process is that it ignored or did not pay enough attention to the religious dimension. “[Sheikh] Ahmed Yassin used to say to me: ‘I and you, Hakham [Rabbi] Froman, can make peace in five minutes, because both of us are religious’.”

      The very idea that an Orthodox rabbi and an Islamist sheikh would engage in dialogue, let alone believe that they can resolve a conflict that has defied everyone else for decades, is likely to confound both Palestinians and Israelis alike.

      “Religion is like nuclear energy: you can use it to destroy or to kill. You can also use it for peaceful purposes,” the rabbi observes. “The Dome of the Rock or the Temple Mount can be a reason to quarrel or a reason to make peace.”

How Marianne Made A Fool Of Itself


Original guest post

By Mehdi

On the week of May 22nd, French weekly newspaper Marianne issued a sensationalist cover on “The accomplices of Islamists,” showing a red carpet being laid to the typical cliché of a dangerous Islamist (wearing a turban, qamis, and a beard).

The issue included 24 pages of articles on people and organizations who are accused of handing over the French republic to the “Islamists.” Included are a mix of profiles described either as accomplices (including a very scary account of an imam in Toulouse, radical political activists such as “Parti des indigènes de la république”), others branded as useful idiots (to quote Lenin’s characterization of social democrats), or cowards refusing to stand up to the Islamist danger (especially targeted are locally elected politicians who choose to accommodate demands coming from “Islamists”).

There is a lot that can be discussed about the issue (we will come to that later), but one article in particular resulted in Marianne receiving an unexpected and hilarious backlash especially on social media. Marianne attacked “Beur Fm,” a radio station dedicated to the “Beurs” (one of the ways North Africans are referred to in France), for its talk show “Les Zinformés.” Marianne accused it of providing audience to extremists, insulting Charlie Hebdo (calling them rats), inviting controversial figures such as “les indigènes de la république,” focusing too much on Israel-Palestine by inviting anti-Zionist figures and implying an analogy between the French joining the war in Syria and the ones joining the IDF when it committed bloodshed and atrocities in Gaza.

As soon as the article was published, a massive campaign ran on Twitter with the hashtag #PensecommeMarianne (think like Marianne), a few samples:

Translation: I cook a tajine does that make me an Islamist?

Translation: If you listen to Radio-shalom you are a zionist, if you listen to beurfm you are an islamist.

Translation: Marianne can’t be found this week at your newspaper stand but around here.

Translation: ISIS has just set the BeurFM flag in Palmyre…

Translation: BeurFM presenting its team for the upcoming season.

Translation: Djihad FM continues on BeurFM , join us for some fun this morning!!

Translation: Talk show host Yassine Belattar just arrived for his interview at France 5 and had some trouble parking his car.

Translation: The team of « les zinformés » going home after the show.

The response went viral, it was ranked fifth in France on Twitter. Following that, BeurFm decided to organize a special show called “Djihad FM,” branding themselves as a special show with a prize trip to Syria for the lucky winner.

The choice of mocking Marianne was very successful. The team also had a chance to respond back to Marianne by being invited to TV shows.

But some serious response still had to be done, and it came from media expert Julien Salingue, a regular guest of “Les zinformés,” also known for his sharp analysis on media (on a sidenote he also is an expert of the Palestine-Israel, he recently published a solid book on the Oslo process and its effect on the lives of Palestinians). Julien Salingue delivered a two piece deconstruction of the Marianne work, it can be found in French here and here. The main points of the criticism from Salingue are:

  • Marianne, traditionally left-wing, is now embracing themes coming from the extreme right wing, especially newspaper “Valeurs actuelles,” which is known for its anti-immigration and Islam obsession. They even hired a former journalist from that paper (Wladimir De Gmeline) who contributed to the recent issue
  • Marianne attacks radio station BeurFM while partnering with RMC, a radio station that was regularly summoned by the authorities for hosting several shows that where racist, misogynous and in which many degrading terms were uttered. One particular example is their mocking in vulgar terms Nafissatou Diallo after the famous sex scandal involving Dominique Strauss Kahn.
  • In 24 pages, Marianne never gives a proper definition of Islamism, keeping a vague definition and just focusing on attacking persons and organizations. In another article, there is an analogy made between Islamism and… Judaism and Catholicism…which shows that the issue is maybe not only about Islamism but also about Islam from Marianne’s perspective.
  • Marianne pretended to bring in new revelations, but Salingue’s study showed that it was mostly copy-paste work, from all the references and quotes from different people, only 7% at best were new ones (providing a table of the references and names), whereas all other quotes came from previous articles borrowed from other newspapers, reusing old material. Besides, the quotes were all leaning in the same direction, no opposing view was ever considered.
  • An article in the issue tried to imply that the French state was befriending the Gulf states to the point of cowardly letting Islamism set the rules, for instance being too afraid to call ISIS “Islamic state” out of fear. In one part the article the state would have even pressed AFP (the French equivalent of Reuters) to avoid using the “Islamic state” term, Salingue showed that a quote from an AFP statement was deliberately cut out of context. The main reason why AFP refrained from the state was due to the fact that it was an inaccurate definition.
  • Another article in the issue tried to prove that the French educational ministry evades the problem of an increase in “radical Islam” at high schools, linking it to Anti-Semitism. Salingue showed again based on the original text that the Marianne article included a manipulation of quotes on the nature of incidents at high schools, overly dramatizing or simplifying the issues documented.

Marianne tried to respond to Julien Salingue’s analysis but mostly evaded the topic and showed the depth of its lack of credibility with orthographic (spelling) mistakes.

Following Salingue’s analysis, another article from another website was check and mate for Marianne as it simply analyzed several programs from “Les zinformés” and reached the following conclusion after listening to 12 hours of the show’s programs:

  • Terrorism is clearly regularly condemned during the show
  • Antisemitism is clearly regularly condemned during the show
  • There are insults during the show, mostly against politicians or journalists
  • Islamophobia is an important topic and is regularly debated
  • Israeli policies are an important topic and is regularly debated
  • There were several stormy debates about the «Je suis Charlie» slogan and the national unity that followed the January attacks

In brief, as Buzzfeed concluded, there are many opinionated debates held at « Les zinformés », one may agree with them or not but nothing to prove any complicity between BeurFM and any scary so-called “Islamists.”

Unfortunately, there seem to have been some threats against Marianne, which have to be condemned (as BeurFM did), but this media frenzy shows that humor and serious analysis work are a much better way of making points while fighting bigotry, sensationalism, or simply Islamophobia. A lesson worth remembering.

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    • Tanveer Wan Khanobi

      Holy crap, I never noticed the arrow sticking out of his nipple.

    • Mehdi

      thanks reynardine

    • Reynardine

      I had one of those quit when I followed him back.

    • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

      Ha! Wow…I never thought one of my comments would conjure up an image from 300, let alone on the Spartan side. LOL

      I do understand the point by those concerned, whose views I take seriously and appreciate. More and more these days however I’m tired of the idea of being so pedantic or pressurized and tip toeing because someone already has a suspect view of you.

    • Reynardine

      This is last month’s,because this month’s isn’t visible yet. But good wishes for Ramadan.

    • HerrSkolly

      The only way to truly block someone is to make your account private. I had done that on a previous account, in part because DeportAmericanIslamists is a creeper – and further yet because a neo-Nazi creeper had followed me. Some of these folks do take screen shots – Google for yourself, you may find screen shots of your posts. I did, and sure enough, my words were on boards I’d never visited. Oh, well. I decided to remain public on my new account. These people know where to find me anyhow.

  • Tanveer Wan Khanobi

    I don’t really know why, but this image immediately came to mind after reading your comment

Phoenix: “OH NO, Shariah Is Coming!” Cry Protesters Without A Cause


Top: “Peaceful protesters” Bottom: “Rioters”

Original guest article

By Hakeem Muhammad

Of the numerous protests that have been taking place across America the most notable has been the Black Lives Matter movement, which originated as a response to the systemic police brutality directed towards Black Americans. Of course, this serious social issue was completely ignored in a recent protest outside of a mosque in Phoenix, Arizona; wearing shirts that stated, “F*ck Islam,” armed protesters gathered outside the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix.

In the manifesto of the protest, the organizers stated, “Our enemy, that we are taking a stance against, is the precepts of sharia law and all it entails.” The protests in Phoenix included a contest in which participants drew derogatory and inflammatory pictures of the Prophet Muhammad. During a CNN interview with host Anderson Cooper, the protest organizer, Jon Ritzheimmer stated that he was motivated by not wanting to live in fear for his life, and that his children deserved a future.

​Yet what was the source of this man’s fear? Was he worried that police officers would mistake his children for criminals and shoot them? Was he concerned about living in a ghetto created by a history of racist housing policies? Or was he worried about being pulled over while driving because of his skin color? No, racial profiling and being pulled over without probable cause were not the source of his fear; he was concerned about the spread of “Sharia law” from Muslims, and believed it was time to take a stand against Islam and Muslims.

​Who should really be afraid—Blacks, who are still battling the continued legacy of racist laws (Black code and Jim Crow laws), which cause tangible problems in many areas of their lives and threaten their safety, or a protestor who is worried about Sharia being instated? The man was protesting something that hadn’t even happened!

​It has become common in Islamophobic discourse for individuals to express fear over the possibility of Sharia being imposed upon them, as if it is some sort of imminent existential threat to the so-called “free, enlightened world.” Yet history shows that African Muslim slaves—many of whom were scholars of Islamic law—were the ones harmed by dangerous laws (which were Eurocentric).

​In her book, “Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas,” Sylviane A. Diouf notes that enslaved African Muslims entered into “a White Christian world determined to wipe out any trace of ‘paganism’ or ‘Muhammadanism.’” At the time, corporal punishment was a possible consequence of the open expression of the Islamic faith, resulting in Muslims keeping their faith as secretive as possible.

Diouf concludes, “All the conditions were thus present for a rapid disappearance of Islam in America, or even for its non-emergence.” Due to the strong persecution of Islam, its African adherents were robbed of the ability to pass their faith on to their descendants.

​Despite this, African Muslims attempted to preserve the core tenets of their faith. The first texts produced in America on Islamic law were created by an enslaved African, Bilali Muhammad, in Sapelo Island, Georgia. The Bilali document simply informed other enslaved Muslims of their various religious duties, such as purifying themselves before prayer, how and when to pray, and when to fast. Bilali Muhammad never had a hidden agenda to impose Sharia, not even when he fought in the War of 1812 on America’s side against the UK.

​The narrative of the slave Omar ibn Said recounts the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade. He was forced to obey a cruel master, who punished him harshly for open expressions of his Islamic faith, including merely kneeling to pray. This persecution led to a newspaper boasting that a “Mohammedan” had converted to Christianity; yet contemporary research suggests that his conversion to Christianity was merely a survival strategy.

Later, when Omar ibn Said was much older, he wrote that he had largely forgotten his native tongue, as well as how to write Arabic in a grammatically correct manner, which was most likely due to lack of use. A fundamental part of his heritage had been robbed from him due to the imposition of Eurocentric law, which prevented him from using his own language and freely worshiping as he chose.

​It is ironic that, having such a history as the foundation of the United States, descendants of those who created such a cruel social system are now expressing fear regarding the possibility of Muslims imposing Sharia. Enslaved African Muslims had Eurocentric law violently imposed upon them, and have never imposed Sharia law upon non-Muslims.

The Global Imposition of Eurocentric Law

​Continuing with the theme of laws being imposed on peoples, take another actual instance of imposition: post-Enlightenment France actually colonized a Muslim society in Senegal while massacring local Islamic scholars. The French passed laws forbidding Muslims from making Hajj, which is a fundamental tenet of the faith. Contradicting the modern perceptions of Muslims as “violent terrorists,” the Senegalese Islamic scholar Ahmadou Bamba urged Muslims to engage in a pacifist struggle that included fasting and praying. Yet this was threatening enough to the French that they exiled Ahmadou Bamba. Today, he has over 3 million followers, far surpassing the devotees of various violent movements in the Muslim world.

​As with other law systems, Sharia is open to atrocious misuse and abuse as has been manifested in its application by modern extremist groups. Islamophobes associate Sharia with the Taliban, although their ranks consist of war refugees who are largely uneducated in Islamic law.

Women’s Rights

​Rather than denying women the right to an education, in Sokoto (a pre-Colonial West African society), a female scholar of Islamic law named Nana Asmau initiated a mass-education campaign for women. She cited Aisha bint Abu Bakr, the wife of Prophet Muhammad, as an influence. Nana Asmau was a scholar of Islamic law and issued fatwas, such as one that declared the usage of tobacco as Haram (forbidden).

​Historian Jean Boyd declares that within Sokoto, “To deny women equal opportunity to develop their God-given talents was to challenge God’s will.” Nana Asmau is lauded even by non-Muslim African feminists, and is considered to be the precursor of modern feminism in Africa—even though she was a Muslim woman with an Islamic worldview.

​How did this society in which women had freedom to pursue knowledge end? By the colonialism of the British Empire, which imposed Eurocentric laws upon the indigenous people. While Islamic law in West Africa permitted women to have property rights, the British Empire’s law denied women this right, despite supposedly being a more “advanced” society!

A Big Distraction

​Throughout West Africa, Muslims were ruthlessly subjugated by a variety of repressive Eurocentric laws that forbade them from openly practicing their faith. In America, enslaved Africans had even stricter laws—they were denied the right to read or write, and as the women were considered property, the slave masters were free to rape them at will without penalty—and were systemically prohibited from passing Islamic teachings to their descendants.

​After slavery was abolished, Black code laws and the subsequent Jim Crow laws solidified White Americans’ place at the top of the social hierarchy. Even now, the legacy of years of discrimination remains. This is demonstrated by the fact that Black Americans are more likely to be victims of police brutality and racial profiling, and are more likely to live in impoverished neighborhoods.

​Protesters who have the time to organize themselves and protest outside of a mosque to express a fear about a foolish belief that Sharia is going to take away their rights need to learn about the very real problems of the world, including the systemic, structural racism that exist as a legacy of Jim Crow laws.

​These White men who protested about something that has not happened and enjoy White privilege have no idea what it’s like to be discriminated against based on race. Perhaps this supposed fear of Sharia is really a big distraction to prevent people from addressing the real serious issues: the legacy of Black code Jim Crow laws, which are interfering with citizens’ lives even today.

About the Author: Hakeem Muhammad is a 20-year old African-American Muslim who currently studies political science at West Georgia University. God willing, in the future he plans to study Islamic theology and be a positive force for social change. You can find him at his website and on twitter at @hakeemtheroots.

Sources for further reading:

-Bilali Muhammad: Muslim Jurisprudist in Antebellum Georgia,

-Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas, by Sylviane A. Diouf, award-winning historian.

-A Muslim American Slave: The Life of Omar Ibn Said(Wisconsin Studies in Autobiography)

-Five Classic Muslim Slave Narratives by Muhammad A Al-Ahari

-Law as a Eurocentric Enterprise by Kenneth B. Nunn

-One Woman’s Jihad, Nana Asma, by Jean Boyd.

-Boyd, Jean (Editor); Mack, Beverly (Editor). African Historical Sources, Volume 9: Collected Works of Nana Asma’u: Daughter of Usman Dan Fodiyo, (1793-1864). East Lansing, MI, USA: Michigan State University Press, 1997. p 282

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    • Nur

      I bought a bag of shrimp flavored crisps with my hate money, and because I didn’t have any change, I shared the crisps with the person that gave me the money.

    • Jekyll

      Her crapy samosas were probably awful anyway. Her childhood melodrama with Adanan is also probably sloppy.

    • Jekyll

      Libtards and secular priests offering their “leadership” to solve problems. I would have to double check Bajwa, since I really don’t think he would something like this. Of course not surprised to see Rabia the penguin and whimpering probably lying Taherra Ahmed. As Sana Saaed wrote “it’s a nice coy group of generally SOUTH ASIANS giving their Zionist appeasing solution to Pl” (pharaprasing)

    • The greenmantle

      People come back ? I thought it a one way ticket ?

      Sir David

    • Mehdi

      OK, I need to leave and we reached limits on where to agree or disagree, just some last points: – Takfir is not just silly, it leads to violence – Dialogue for me is not a warm fuzzy chat over tea and scones, it’s more ambitious than that – Islam is indeed a religion and I didn’t say otherwise, when I mentioned culture it was about other influences (e.g. andalusian or berber or others). But when you say there is no point if you toss prescription, does it mean that people should be forced to adopt these prescriptons? Some people don’t want that and shouldn’t be forced, no compulsion. Take care.

  • Mehdi

    I’ll try to keep my response short, I think we know where our agreements are and disagreements.

    I expressed myself wrongly maybe on the points on equalities or public transport, but these appear as European concepts when you live in North Africa and I just meant that in some cases these were positive things that are worth considering.

    Regarding divorce, the excessive examples you raise are indeed not appealing to me, I’m just not sure of what we can do about them. And indeed I’m against Eltahawy’s recent book.

    I know you didn’t mean to impose views on people in the Muslim world, my point was that your opinions are based on the frustration you feel in your US context and applying it to these countries doesn’t always work. It’s like people here telling Muslim girls that they shouldn’t wear hijabs because it’s forced upon women in Iran or Afghanistan, not only is that a different context, but in the end it’s about what these women want to do, nothing more nothing less.

    Regarding Tunisia, I had dinner with some Tunisian Jewish friends some time ago, and we talked about food and when they mentioned tunisian food I responsed that I didn’t know it existed

Jews And Muslims: It’s Complicated (IV)


“Tinghir” where Muslim-Jewish coexistence flourished for many years.

Original guest post

By Mehdi

Read Part I, II and III in this series

The separation

After the creation of Israel, Arab populations were overwhelmingly opposed to any appeasement with the state, especially in the context of the massive eviction of two thirds of the Palestinian population (a proper ethnic cleansing as stated by Israeli historian Illan Pappe).

Many Arab Jews were also radically Anti-Zionist, such as the prominent political activist Henri Curiel. Curiel formed an important network to support the struggle of several liberation movements, including the Algerian FLN during the war of independence against the French. A recent documentary on Egyptian Jews mentions his unheeded warnings to Gamal Abdel-Nasser regarding the 1956 French-British-Israeli aggression. His murder in 1978 remains unresolved, though recent revelations suggest that he was the victim of a former French-Algeria nostalgic.

Other Anti-Zionist personalities included individuals such as Abraham Serfaty and Chehata Haroun, who refused to leave Egypt and had the following written on his grave:

“Every human being has several identities. I am a human being. I am Egyptian when Egyptians are suffering, I am black when blacks are suffering, I am Jewish when Jews are suffering and I am a Palestinian when Palestinians are suffering.”

Most Arab countries witnessed riots and unrest following the combination of the birth of Israel and the Nakba. These riots took place in a context of existing unrest, as most Arab countries were fighting for their independence. In Morocco, for instance, several riots targeted Jews after the 1948 events, but other riots and violent attacks also targeted French settlers during the same period.

While there were several dimensions to violence in Arab countries at the time, these events were still frightening to many Arab Jews who started thinking of leaving their countries. Israel also deployed several means to either convince or simply push Arab Jews to emigration; the law of return was enacted partly for that sake.

In Arab states, the Israeli Mossad deployed many operations, from financial arrangements, propaganda, to covert operations that included deliberate sabotage.

In parallel, the rise of Arab nationalist discourse pushing for independence, and strongly opposed to any Western imperialist interference did not build an inclusive discourse for minorities (whether Jewish, Armenian, Greek, or others), despite the initial efforts of leaders such as Habib Bourguiba in Tunisia, or King Mohammed 5 in Morocco.

Jews-Morocco The growing tensions within Arab countries, during the independence struggle (as in Algeria), or against Israel (as in the 1956 Suez aggression by Israel, France, and the UK against Egypt) put Jews in an uncomfortable situation, sometimes used as scapegoats, and sometimes pressed to loudly proclaim their allegiance and loyalty. The distance between Jews and their compatriots grew larger and many started to leave, either towards Israel or Western countries.

  • In Morocco, from 1948 until the country’s independence in 1956, Israel’s interest was not great and the French colonial authorities turned a blind eye. After the 1956 independence, King Mohamed 5 wanted to maintain Jewish presence in the country (he had taken several stands to protect Moroccan Jews against Vichy laws during WW2), and refused any type of cooperation with Israeli authorities; departures were then mostly clandestine. After his death in 1961, King Hassan 2 cooperated with the Mossad to push Moroccan Jews to expatriate, this was part of a large deal involving security arrangements, sales of weapons and exchange of intelligence labelled Operation Arche and confirmed by figures such as historian Yigal Bin-Nun. No expelling of Jews happened and many Moroccan Jews chose to go live in Canada and France, but the consequence is that the majority of the 300,000 Jews who lived in Morocco when the country became independent are now gone.
  • In Egypt, there were episodes of riots and violence against Jews, but the Lavon affair showed that the Israeli secret services also deliberately conducted sabotage operations (and not only in Egypt) to scare people into leaving. The attitude of the Egyptian authorities was mostly repressive (in a context where Nasser and the free officers had just reached power and were eager to demonstrate a strong stance towards British imperialism, before the 1956 Suez aggression). Minorities such as Greeks, Armenians, or Jews were targeted and smeared as Trojan horses for imperialism and Zionism and gradually became scapegoats and targets of aggressive rhetoric. These stances scared Egyptian Jews who felt they would not be sufficiently protected, and convinced most of them that they would be better off leaving.
  • In Iraq and Syria there had been episodes of violence during WW2, such as the horrible 1941 Baghdad pogrom (which happened in the context of a British intervention to topple the Iraqi government). In 1951, the Iraqi Government established a law that made the advocating of Zionism or belonging to a Zionist organization a crime and ordered the expulsion of Jews who refused to sign a statement of anti-Zionism, the implementation of such a law in an arbitrary dictatorial regime made it easy to target anyone and put Iraqi Jews under pressure. The combination of Mossad covert operations and incendiary nationalist discourse and violence (not only directed at Jews but also towards Shiites, Christians and other minorities) led most Jews to leave their country.
  • Countries like Algeria and Tunisia saw most Jews choosing to go live in France. The effects of the growing social divide resulting from the Crémieux decree in Algeria, the atmosphere of the fratricidal independence warfare made the situation dangerous for any person assumed as linked to French colonialism. It also forced most Muslim “harki” collaborationists to flee the country (while several others were massacred after being abandoned by the French army). Overall, the Jews’ departure in both these countries is part of the general emigration that took place at independence and not really the result of specific Anti-Jewish campaigns. On the other hand, the 1963 Algerian nationality code stated that a pre-condition for citizenship was having Muslim paternal fathers and grandfathers; Jews had to undergo a special process to request citizenship. Such a measure was not only insulting for the many Jews who had fought for independence, it sent a signal to most Jews that they had little to no room in the future of the country and convinced them to emigrate.
  • In Iran, while some emigration took place, many Jews still live there even after the 1979 revolution, they have the possibility to travel every year to visit their relatives in Israel, usually via. Turkey, with both Israeli and Iranian authorities choosing to turn a blind eye.

These examples do not offer a comprehensive outlook of Jewish emigrations from Arab and Middle Eastern countries (the Wikipedia page on this topic offers good context) but they give some perspective. Unlike in Palestine in 1948, there never was any organized campaign to expel Arab Jews, the failure of Arab nationalists in particular and state leaders in general is that they didn’t convince them to stay and failed to give them confidence about their place in the new nations.

The claims that Arab Jews were massively expelled has to be looked at as Israeli counter-propaganda to establish a moral equivalent with the fate of Palestinians in 1948.

Still, the sad fact is that by the end the 1960s, the overwhelming majority of Arab Jews had left their country, either moving to Israel or to Western countries such as the USA, Canada and France. They were now separated from their Muslim compatriots, which meant a loss to most Arab countries, whose diversity was an immense source of cultural wealth, and whose national narrative had now shifted to a chauvinistic narrow discourse.

On the other hand, Arab Jews did not receive a particularly great welcome in Israel, where they underwent significant discrimination by the Israeli authorities, mirroring a Western-Oriental divide between Israelis, where the establishment (symbolized by Askhenazi Europeans) discriminated against Arab-speaking immigrants.

The discrimination they suffered is still a bad memory for many “Oriental Jews” who created protest movements such as the Israeli Black Panthers and have overwhelmingly voted against the Labor party since. Wounds have begun to heal with the increasing integration of Arab Jews into Israeli society.

MizrahiThe 1967 war and the crushing of Arab armies by the Israeli offensive went one stage further in widening the gap and the nature of the conflict. On the Israeli side, it gave a morale boost to the religious right and helped them pressure the government to allow and fund massive settlement building in the occupied territories, thus increasing their political importance in the Israeli social-political landscape.

On the Arab side, the 1967 defeat was a massive blow to the Arab nationalist movement, which had many flaws, was authoritarian, but was still trying to build some form of Arab autonomy while trying to provide room for minorities. The defeat gave way to the rise of Muslim conservative and fundamentalist movements, whose discourse provided little to no room for minorities, especially Jews. In both cases, the results were disastrous for whoever favored coexistence.

Beside the increased divide, there was also the emergence of Anti-Semitism, often borrowed from Western Anti-Semitism. This discourse is punctuated by invitations and publicity for: holocaust deniers such as Roger Garaudy and Robert Faurrisson in Lebanon and Iran, successful sales of purely Anti-Semitic propaganda such as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion or even Mein Kampf in Lebanon and Egypt, conspiracy theories about 9/11 being a Jewish plot, several shameful talk shows or TV series such as the Egyptian “Horseless rider” (the plot stars a virtual horseman who slays the “Zionist dragon” and denounces a “Jewish conspiracy against Palestine” inspired by the Protocols of the Elders of Zion).

In Western societies there has also been a limited but real rise in Anti-Semitism among some Muslim communities. In the UK, it was acknowledged and condemned by Mehdi Hasan, and this tendency also exists in other European countries, as shown in the recent violent events in Sarcelles, following summer protests against the war on Gaza, the kosher market attack in Paris, or the attack on a synagogue in Copenhagen.

The scale of these events is subject to manipulation (Islamophobes tend to exaggerate their scale while a tendency for denial exists on the other end of the spectrum), but in any case they represent a very worrisome trend and regression. The increase in Anti-Semitism should be fought and condemned, as it was by prominent critics of Israeli policies, such as Lebanese writer Elias Khoury, or Beirut based reporter Robert Fisk, and the late Edward Said, whose words remain as relevant as ever.

Why do we expect the world to believe our sufferings as Arabs if we cannot recognize the sufferings of others, even of our oppressors, and we cannot deal with facts that trouble simplistic ideas of the sort propagated by bien-pensants intellectuals who refuse to see the relationship between the holocaust and Israel. Again, let me repeat that I cannot accept the idea that the holocaust excuses Zionism for what it has done to Palestinians: far from it. I say exactly the opposite, that by recognizing the holocaust for the genocidal madness that it was, we can then demand from Israelis and Jews the right to link the holocaust to Zionist injustices towards the Palestinian, link and criticise the link for its hypocrisy and flawed moral logic.

But to support the efforts of Roger Garaudy and his holocaust-denying friends in the name of “freedom of opinion” is a silly ruse that discredits us more than we already are discredited in the world’s eyes for our incompetence, our failure to fight a decent battle, our radical misunderstanding of history and the world we live in. Why don’t we fight harder for freedom of opinions in our own societies, a freedom, no one needs to be told, that scarcely exists?

When I mentioned the holocaust in an article I wrote last November, I received more stupid vilification than I ever thought possible; one famous intellectual even accused me of trying to gain a certificate of good behaviour from the Zionist lobby. Of course, I support Garaudy’s right to say what he pleases and I oppose the wretched loi Gayssot under which he was prosecuted and condemned). But I also think that what he says is trivial and irresponsible, and when we endorse it, it allies us necessarily with Le Pen and all the retrograde right-wing fascist elements in French society.

No, our battle is for democracy and equal rights, for a secular commonwealth or state in which all the members are equal citizens, in which the concept underlying our goal is a secular notion of citizenship and belonging, not some mythological essence or an idea that derives its authority from the remote past, whether that past is Christian, Jewish or Muslim. As I said, the genius of Arab civilization at its height in, say, Andalusia was its multicultural, multi-religious and multi-ethnic diversity. That is the ideal that should be moving our efforts now, in the wake of an embalmed, and dead Oslo, and an equally dead rejectionism. The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life, as the Bible says.

As a mirror effect, Islamophobia has also risen to the point of becoming common among political parties in many Western countries and in Israel. It has been promoted by many organizations, including several Zionist pro-Israeli support groups, who fully embrace the concept of the so-called “war on terror.”

Loonwatch has done thorough work debunking these Islamophobic campaigns, there is no need to list them. Nevertheless, the striking aspect is how organizations with different agendas and objectives, such as US and European pro-Israeli support groups, neoconservative intellectuals, European extreme right wing parties, and some personalities coming from the left wing all stand side by side on an ideological anti-Muslim crusade.

Historically, the horrors of the holocaust have positioned many Jewish intellectuals and political organizations at the forefront of Anti-racist and other universal struggles (such as the protection of Bosnian Muslims during the horrific ethnic cleansing and massacres in the 1990s). This history makes it sad to notice that several Jewish mainstream organizations (such as the French CRIF) have either kept silent if not actually supported Islamophobic campaigns.

In 2002, after Jean Marie Le Pen reached the second round of the French presidential election, the president of the CRIF (representative body for Jewish organizations in France) declared that this was a signal for Muslims to keep quiet, completely forgetting about the Anti-Semitic dimension of Le Pen’s party. In perspective, mirroring Anti-Semitic regression among Muslims, a regressive Islamophobic trend has also emerged among Jews, as many prominent intellectuals and organizations are so blinded by their unconditional support for any Israeli policy that they openly befriend populist parties that have a heavy Anti-Semitic past. One illustrative example of this paradox is when Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman received a delegation of extreme right wing parties in 2010, including personalities such as Geert Wilders, Belgian Philippe Dewinter, Swedish Kent Ekeroth, or representatives from the Danish people’s party.

It remains the case that contemporary politics in Israel and the Arab world are dominated by movements that are either not interested in promoting multi-faith coexistence (if they are not actively fighting it). This is the case for most Arab regimes, and both nationalist and Muslim conservative movements.

The outlook is similarly ugly for the Zionist spectrum, now strongly leaning to the right (if not the extreme right), where racist discourse has become mainstream. Discourse in favor of coexistence with the Israeli Arab minority and Palestinians in the occupied territories is largely only promoted by what is termed the “extreme left wing” and some prominent figures such as former Knesset chairman Avraham Burg, veteran peace activist Uri Avnery, journalists such as Amira Hass or Gideon Levy, and other pacifists.

For Muslims and Jews who had coexisted for years, the resulting situation and tensions we see today are purely depressing; this leaves the question of what to do.

What now?

As shown above, separation between Muslims and Jews in the Muslim world is now a fact and will be difficult to reverse. The wounds of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and the post-9/11 atmosphere has created suspicion and distance. The relationship is not completely broken but a lot of work has to be done in order to fix things.

As explained in the introduction of this article series, my view of history is driven by my personal background and my family’s positive experiences. Obviously, my narrative is quite subjective. I am sure that many people will disagree, either with the overall perspective, or with some specific details, what I hope most people will agree with me is about the urgency of inventing new forms of coexistence.

While Jewish/Muslim relations are not monolithic, and are driven by local considerations, many points need to be highlighted. First of all, coexistence should be reinvented, the terms of coexistence that existed a few centuries ago are not applicable to the modern world; Jews and Muslims both expect equality. Coexistence will happen in different places from the past, while it existed mostly in Arab and Muslim lands before, it is now more likely to happen in Western countries and in Israel/Palestine, as these are the places where significant Jewish/Muslim communities tend to live side by side (for instance in France, the United States, Israel/Palestine, the United Kingdom or Netherlands).

Building a new model of coexistence also goes hand in hand with a common fight against bigotry. Jewish and Muslim anti-racist organizations should help each other more when Anti-Semitism or Islamophobia emerges, this already occurs, but it has to happen systematically. The sight of Jews supporting Islamophobia or Muslims supporting Anti-Semitism is a pure disgrace and at odds with history, this has to be fought fiercely.

Common Jewish/Muslim initiatives, whether involving history seminars, arts, sports, or any concrete project should be encouraged, people (especially the youth) should be given more opportunities to meet and talk. Bigotry and hostility towards others are less likely when they have a face, a name, and when they can be related to with an anecdote or joke. Creating sustainable relations between people is what helps solve problems.

Most of all, no long term solution can be considered if it does not include a fair and sustainable solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, a solution that addresses the plight and suffering of the Palestinians, whether the ones in the occupied territories, in Israel, or the refugees, and addresses their political rights to self-determination and independence.

Such solutions should also provide assurance to Jews that they can live safely and in peace with their neighbors. Arab Jews who want to live in Arab countries should also be given the opportunity to do so. Whether a solution involves a single state or a two-state solution is a different matter (the prospect of a two-state solution is more unlikely than ever).

Despite the legitimate criticism that can be made of Palestinian organizations such as Hamas, the Israeli government’s attitude, its unrestrained usage of violence and its settlement policy are the main hurdles.

The recent horror of the Gaza massacre shows that this is not an even fight, just as peace was achieved in South Africa by addressing the suffering of the victims of apartheid, the focus should be about protecting the Palestinians and guaranteeing their rights. If this doesn’t change, no good can be expected, and things will keep going downhill for Jewish-Muslim relationships.

Prospects look dark for now, intellectuals who identify themselves as “Liberal Zionists” need to face the political and ideological contradictions that they have been evading regarding the peace framework that they want to establish, and their vision about how to guarantee Palestinians’ rights and end their suffering. As peace activist Uri Avnery had once put it in 2008:

… Something like this is now happening to the Revisionists themselves. They ask for three things: a Jewish State, a state that encompasses all of historic Palestine and a democratic state. That is too much even for God. So a Revisionist must choose two of the three: a Jewish and democratic state in only a part of the country, a Jewish state in all the country that will not be democratic, or a democratic state in all the country that will not be Jewish. This dilemma has not changed over the last 41 years.

6 years later, the dilemma is still as relevant as ever, but the first option (a Jewish and democratic state in one part of the country) which would guarantee two states is less likely, the points raised by Avnery still require an answer and cannot be evaded any longer.

Beside the Israeli-Palestinian front, more effort should be put on teaching common Jewish/Muslim history. In his book “Defeating Hitler”, former Knesset chairman Avraham Burg had suggested the Israeli education system to focus more on positive experiences such as Andalusia, to show children that Jewish history is not only made of tragedies.

Similarly, in Muslim countries, especially the ones that have a strong Jewish history, children should learn more about the multi-faith and multi-cultural dimension of their past. This does not mean that the negative moments and periods (explained above) should be evaded, quite the contrary, tensions begin and grow in the shadows when such topics are avoided.

These suggestions may sound naïve and insufficient to some, especially in light of the never ending tragedy unfolding in the holy land, but they are a positive, practical first step; it would be unforgivable not to try .


To conclude this overview, I would like to come back to two people who symbolize better than anyone else the profound sense of coexistence and tolerance.

The first person is named Yacout and appears in Kamal Hachkar’s movie “Tinghir Jerusalem” mentioned in the beginning of this article. This Jewish Amazigh lady was born in Kelaat Mgouna in south east of Morocco and grew in Casablanca, dressed like any Moroccan woman, she emigrated to Israel and made an unplanned but magnificent appearance in the movie. Speaking with emotion about her fond memories of her childhood in Morocco (sending virtual kisses whenever mentioning Muslims) and how well she remembers her Muslim neighbors (apologies, video is in Arabic/Hebrew with French subtitles), and simply expresses her despair about why land is subject to such hatred.

The second person is called Lahcen, a Moroccan Muslim Berber not far away from Tarudant in the south, who, in the 1950s made a promise to his Jewish friend, Moshe, on the point of emigrating to Israel. From then on, he would look after Moshe’s family’s graves, regularly buying paint to maintain Jewish scriptures and made a point of sticking to his promise.

Lahcen These two wonderful people unfortunately passed away in 2014, they are anonymous people who witnessed the devastating effects that history can have on people’s lives. They weren’t prominent intellectuals or scholars who could speak at length about history, but they both had their own simple words, and humble way of practicing tolerance and the best of what our civilizations have produced.

Now that this generation is slowly leaving the stage, the challenge we face is to keep their message alive and reinvent it in the context of our time. In other words, the challenge is to renew and reinvent peace/shalom/salam.

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    • Mehdi

      Most of your points are accurate but I think that there is little to demonstrate massive popularity of fascism, it’s mostly anti-colonialism, and in many cases it didn’t lead to real collaboration. Comparatively, Ukrain provided much more support for instance to SS units or to nazis as a whole, or take south east Asia and how the Japanese were originally received. But in the end, very interesting argument. And btw, even if I’m proud of Moroccan troops’ achievements during WW2 (one of my best childhood memories was hearing a Moroccan veteran telling me his WW2 memories while fishing in the south), Algerians also deserve also credit for their achievements there. Another story, Mbarek El Bekkay, Morocco’s first post-independence prime minister lost his leg fighting german troops in France in 1940 and spent several months as a war prisoner. There are so many such stories.

    • Mehdi

      You make a lot of points, some I agree with and some less, but your views are well articulated. I just want to respond on nazi propaganda and Hussaini. There is no denying that there were some Arab nationalists who were attracted by fascism and even considered allying with the nazis during WW2, that has to be looked at from 2 angles: 1) This tendency was universal and not specific to the Arab world then, whether in Western or Eastern Europe, South East Asia, Latin America, etc. Fascim was a strong political current and was also seen as an alternative in colonized nations through the wrong but usual discourse of “My enemy’s enemy is my friend”. In general that was as far as it went for most Arab nationalists, they just considered allying or discussing with the Germans (as several Asians did the same with the Japanese only to realize they were no better). In some sense, even a Zionist movement such as Lehi considered discussing with the nazis: 2) In general, the overwhelming majority of Arab movements were on the side of the allies by a huge margin. I will come back below to Husseini but the only Muslim pro-nazi units he built up operated in Yugoslavia and were involved in local fighting, their impact was marginal, comparatively, north African fighters provided a massive figthing force for the French and played a key role in Italy (especially the Monte Cassino battle), during the liberation of southern France or when crossing the Rhine. The only country where there was a strong political movement leaning towards nazism was Iraq and that didn’t last long during WW2. Al Hussaini is a good example but his role is much more a contemporary tool used to establish some form of Arab involvement in the holocaust than a leader with a key role. What did he accomplish during WW2? His role was minor during the 1936-39 intifada, he seeked support form Hitler, who used him for propaganda reasons, but apart from creating some SS units in Yugoslavia, he had no active role nor any results to claim credit for, he was a minor pathetic opportunistic self-proclaimed leader and is being given a strong role, mostly for pro-israeli contemporary political purposes. As Gilbert Achcar points out “the entry on the mufti in the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, published in association with Yad Vashem (the Holocaust remembrance authority), is much longer than those on Himmler, Goebbels or Eichmann, and only a little shorter than that on Hitler”. Yes, longer than Himmler, Goebbels, or Eichmann… More details here: Thanks for your comment, lots of interesting points in any case.

    • Mehdi

      Thanks a lot…

    • The greenmantle

      Gufo yourself !

      Sir David

    • The greenmantle

      Nurse ! Nurse! He is off his meds again come quickly .

      Sir David

    • Mehdi

      Of course I knew it was a joke. As for what is right or wrong, does it really matter if madeeh or madih? In the end it’s just a transcription from Arabic.. In morocco we tend to say mad’h.

    • You sound like taking my silly joke about paying me rewards seriously. I do hope that I am wrong in this assumption. Which is more correct Madih or Madeeh ? and Tafsir or Tafseer ? I really do not know. Will appreciate your help. .

    • Mehdi

      I never thought I would afford madih in my life, I need to be careful now to fall into some form of complacency or vanity… Thanks anyway

    • I wonder which is more correct to write the word ” Madih ” in English, as you have used it as ” Madih ” or as Madeeh ” ? The same question about the word ” Tafsir ” or ” Tafseer ” ? Which is more correct? Madih or Madeeh reminds me of what Abu-Altaiyeb Al-Mutanabi, one of the greatest Arab poets, had done in poetry to Kafour, the ruler who once ruled Egypt: when he has good relationship with Kafour, he made great Madih or Madeeh about Kafour. But when his relationship with Kafour had deteriorated he made great poetry, but really horrible ” Higa’a,” meaning: ” Condemnation ” in a real nasty manner I refrain from translating it in public. Moreover, some of the poets, in Baghdad during the Abbaside’s splendid era, used to make Madih or Madeeh to the rulers for rewards in Dinars. Well, I have made Madih to you free of any obligation for rewards–Just joking, Mehdi.

  • Mehdi

    Dear mister Sodium, Same kindness, since you’re an amateur of Arab poetry, I will call this a form of “madih”

Jews And Muslims: It’s Complicated (III)


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.


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

Jews and Muslims: It’s Complicated (II)


Original Guest Post by Mehdi

See part I in this series: Jews and Muslims: Its Complicated

The history of the relationship between Islam and Judaism cannot be done justice in this short series, not least because the topic is massive and has also been subjected to falsifications and manipulations by agenda driven commenters.

In my research on the topic I have come across a few interesting contributions of collective work that I highly recommend, such as the recent work led by respected historian Benjamin Stora and the late Abdelwahhab Meddeb.

That being said, the following points are clearly established:

  • Judaism’s presence in the Arabian peninsula before the birth of Islam was strongly established. Many tribes/clans were Jewish, established in locations such as Yathrib (the future Medina) or Khaybar, and had strong socio-political and commercial relations with other tribes.
  • Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was strongly influenced by his encounters with Jews and Christians before and after the beginning of his prophecy. As the Islamic doctrine was gradually established, not only did he insist on the direct continuity of his message from Judaism and Christianity, there were also many gestures towards Judaism not only in spiritual terms but also through rites like: fasting (especially before Ramadan was established), prayers (towards Jerusalem in the beginning), dietary rules about pork meat, etc.
  • The relationship between Jewish tribes (there wasn’t a single Jewish community) and the early Muslim community was driven by a complex mix of: theological proximity (as they had common practices, prayed to the same God, referred to the same Prophets), rivalry (theological differences, the fact that prophet Muhammad pbuh was not seen as a prophet by most Jews, and his growing successes made him and his emerging Ummah grow more confident and autonomous), as well as political alliances and political conflicts that resulted in moments of cooperation but also conflicts such as the fate of the Banu Qurayza or the battle of Khaybar.

When reading the Quran, hadith, and any historical document that sheds light on such events, it is important to have these aforementioned elements in mind. Many commentators tend to generalize about Muslim-Jewish relationships and completely toss aside the context behind events. Context was and has always been key when understanding the conditions that lead to proximity or conflict.

After the death of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the first Muslim conquests and expansion, a set of rules were codified and documented to establish the status of Christians and Jews living under Islamic law (herein enters the debate over the pact of Umar and whether it was a historical forgery).

These rules, which were not canonical from an Islamic perspective, impacted several aspects of Christians and Jews’ collective rights which were protected in exchange for allegiance, payment of Jizya tax, and acceptance of a ban on carrying weapons (except when recruited for military service, which would exempt them from the Jizya tax).

Rebellions or attempts to resist the conquest were repressed (as for al Kahina, whose fate is not clear, she is assumed to have died either fighting the Arab conquerors or by committing suicide, her children would later cooperate with them), which was consistent with war doctrines at the time.

Though the Dhimma status prohibited them from carrying weapons, many historical accounts show that Jews participated in military conquests. Jewish Berbers were directly involved in the conquest of Andalusia or during battles such as in Poitiers which shows that the concept of “Muslim conquests” is slightly simplistic. Besides, many stipulations of the Dhimma laws were not always executed or monitored completely, there were pragmatic usages depending on the time, place and general circumstance.

The Dhimma status, now subject to a lot of vilification by Islamophobes, while not ideal was advanced during its time (for instance compared to the Christian perpetual servitude). It represented a drastic improvement for Jews living in Wisigoth Spain. Dhimma status guaranteed protection and collective rights to communities though it was often subject to the goodwill of local rulers.


Ibn Nagrela

When times were good it opened the door to many prominent Jews to hold important positions, such as Hasdai Ibn Shaprut or Samuel Ibn Naghrela. Not only did Ibn Naghrela contribute to the revival of Hebrew poetry, he was also a respected military commander who liked to call himself “The David of my times” while leading a Muslim army for the Taifa kingdom of Granada. His son Joseph Ibn Naghrela would succeed to his father’s position as Vizier of Granada before being murdered during the Granada massacre. At times, the status of dhimma also meant that prominent intellectuals such as Moses Maimonides expressed public views and stirred controversies.

Nevertheless, that coexistence also had its low periods, such as the Granada massacre that happened after the Almoravids arrived in Andalusia, or the persecution of Maimonides himself by the Almohads, which pushed him to exile (first to Morocco and then to Egypt).

These episodes should be researched and analyzed, they underline that relations between Jews and Muslims were not some mythological utopia. Jews lived as second class citizens and suffered massacres during unstable times (in Granada as mentioned or Fez in 1033). Such instances were however less violent than the sectarian conflicts that were setting Europe ablaze during the Middle Ages: massacres committed by crusaders after the siege of Maa’rra (with instances of cannibalism) or the pillaging of Jerusalem.

Violent episodes such as those mentioned remain exceptions and not the general rule. Recent polemics and historical studies on these topics (such as Bernard Lewis’) are more often dictated by contemporary agendas than by historical research. This is a recurring problem, as historical events are hijacked by Islamophobes on the one hand and apologists on the other, then manipulated for contemporary political purposes.

I borrow this quote from the comprehensive article written by Danios on the topic. Israeli historian Nissim Rejwan addresses the situation under Ottoman rule, and sums matters well in his book “Israel’s Place in the Middle East: A Pluralistic Perspective”:

Under Ottoman Islam, which by the beginning of the sixteenth century dominated Syria [including Palestine] and Eygpt, the conditions under which the Jews were permitted to live contrasted so strikingly with those imposed on their coreligionists in various parts of Christendom that the fifteenth century witnessed a large influx of European Jews into the [Ottoman] Sultan’s dominions. During the first half of that century, persecutions had occurred in Bohemia, Austria, and Poland, and, at about this time, two German rabbis who sought and secured refuge in the Ottoman Empire wrote a letter to their community extolling the beauties and advantages of their new home.

But it was the measures taken against the Jews in Spain, culminating in their expulsion in 1492, that gave the greatest momentum to this migration. The Jews who chose to settle in various parts of the [Ottoman] empire found their surroundings rather congenial, and they, in turn contributed greatly to the flowering of Ottoman civilization…Marranos, who in Christian Spain had embraced Christianity to escape persecution and death, abandoned their disguise and returned to Judaism. Istanbul soon came to harbor the largest Jewish community in the whole of Europe, while Salonika became a predominantly Jewish city. The degree of the Jews’ integration into the life of Ottoman Islam was such, indeed, that two notable non-Jewish students of modern Islam found that there has been, in their words, “something sympathetic to the Jewish nature in the culture of Islam,” since “from the rise of the Caliphate till the abolition of the ghettos in Europe the most flourishing centers of Jewish life were to be found in Muslim countries: in Iraq during the Abbassid period, in Spain throughout the period of Moorish domination, and thereafter in the Ottoman Empire.”

…At the turn of the eighteenth century, the Jewish community in Jerusalem experienced a growth in numbers at an inordinate rate…According to a recent study by Tudor Parfitt, however, the startling increase in Jewish immigration to Jerusalem in the nineteenth century took place “not because the attraction of Jerusalem as the holy city grew, but because political and other factors made such immigration increasingly possible.”

…In nineteenth-century Palestine, he adds, such tolerance was “a consistent part of the relationship between the Ottoman authorities and the Jews.” He quotes European travelers as remarking on “the perfect religious freedom” that prevailed…One of these travelers, J. Wilson, is quoted as saying that “entire freedom of worship…is now accorded to [the Jews] and they are left to manage their own internal affairs without interference from any other quarter.” …

By way of conclusion, a word of caution is in order…It must be pointed out that the picture has not been uniformly so rosy and that instances of religious intolerance toward and discriminatory treatment of Jews under Islam are by no means difficult to find. This point is of special relevance at a time in which, following a reawakening of interest in the history of Arab-Jewish relations among Jewish writers and intellectuals, certain interested circles have been trying to… Judeo-Arabic tradition or symbiosis by digging up scattered pieces of evidence to show that Islam is essentially intolerant…and that Muslims’ contempt for Jews was even greater and more deep-seated than that manifested by Christians…

Such caricatures of the history of Jews under Islam continue to be disseminated by scholars as well as by interested publicists and ideologues. Indeed, all discussion of relations between Jews and Muslims…is beset by the most burning emotions and by highly charged sensitivities. In their eagerness to repudiate the generally accepted version of these relations (a version which, it is worthwhile pointing out, originates not in Muslim books of history but with Jewish historians and Orientalists in nineteenth-century Europe), certain partisan students of the Middle East conflict today seem to go out of their way to show that, far from being the record of harmonious coexistence it is often claimed to be, the story of Jewish-Muslim relations since the time of Muhammad was “a sorry array of conquest, massacre, subjection, spoilation in goods and women and children, contempt, expulsion–[and] even the yellow badge…”

…[But] by the standards then prevailing–and they are plainly the only ones by which a historian is entitled to pass judgment–Spanish Islamic tolerance was no myth but a reality of which present-day Muslim Arabs are fully justified in reminding their contemporaries…Tolerance, then, is a highly relative concept, and the only sensible way of gauging the extent of tolerance in a given society or culture in a given age is to compare it with that prevailing in other societies and cultures in the same period…

The only plausible conclusion one could draw from the whole debate is that, while Jewish life in Muslim Spain–and under Islam generally–was not exactly the idyllic paradise some would want us to believe, it was far from the veritable hell that was the Jews’ consistent lot under Christendom.

In general, Jews and Muslims shared a similar fate, together they were the target of horrible massacres during the crusades, and were both victims of the Spanish Reconquista. As a result of the massacres and expulsions (which today would be described as genocide/ethnic cleansing), most Spanish Jews chose to seek protection and flee to North Africa or lands under the rule of the Ottoman empire.

The cooperation between both Jews and Muslims in North Africa, Andalusia, the Middle East and Balkans has created a civilizational legacy that still lives on today in fields such as science, philosophy literature, music, etc. It contributed to the effervescence of ideas that provided a framework for the European renaissance.


Sabbatai Zevi

To be clear, Jews lived under the rule of Muslim empires and monarchies, which were subject to the appreciation of local rules, and had to respect those laws. The fate of messianic figures such as Sabbathai Zevi and his millenarian movement in 1666 (proclaiming himself as a messiah, expanding his movement before publicly ending it and undergoing a forced conversion to Islam) shows that there was a lot of room for expression but that there were red lines.

Religious freedom was prevalent but involved restrictions (such as non-Muslims being prevented from entering the Cave of the Patriarchs). That was a time where there was no sense of secularism, and little consideration for democracy or individual human rights. It was a time when rights were addressed for communities and less so for individuals. This is what makes any comparison with today’s political systems and world order problematic. On the other hand comparisons with political systems that existed at the same time show that the condition of Jews in the “Muslim world” was still far better than in many European lands.

Things started to change as the era of revolutions and imperialism gradually brought Muslim majority lands under the sphere of European domination. At the same time competing modernities brought new challenges and changed the rules of the game for minorities in these lands. In the next installment in the series I will discuss the great shifts caused by foreign interference, the many responses and interactions with various modes of modernity and the affect this had on Jewish-Muslim relations.

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  • el turco

    I wasn’t expecting your response in a comment thread, these were just thoughts for your consideration in the future articles

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