Reconciliation-Hearted to Bostom: It’s really not a zero-sum

Andy Bostom has a response to my post on the Bostom-Künatzel debate. He has asked me to stick to substantive issues, which I agree is where we need to go in this discussion. I will, however, make a couple of asides about rhetoric [in brackets] since Andy’s tone has, on occasion, created unnecessary friction. Here are my responses.

Richard the Reconciliation-Hearted
April 6th, 2008 by Andrew Bostom

grail knight

Actually, I’m mostly known as Richard Artichokeheart.

Has Medievalist Richard Landes chosen his arguments all that wisely?

[Let me guess, that's a rhetorical question the answer to which is... no. :-) ]

Richard Landes, invoking understandably, his background as a Medievalist, with a special interest in millenarian movements — attempts a thoughtful “reconciliation” of what he attributes to be the positions of Matthias Kuntzel, and myself, vis a vis Islamic Antisemitism. But Landes’ discussion has two fundamental flaws.

[Normally, one first goes over the strengths of the argument before going for the weaknesses, but okay. Andy's a no-nonsense guy.]

First, Landes ignores (and likely does not appreciate) Kuntzel’s complete failure to understand the jihad,

[Although this is not purely a matter of substance, it is significant. I neither ignore, nor fail to appreciate the issue, nor do I think it appropriate to use terms like "complete failure to understand" (even if it's true, which I don't think it is).]

which lead Kuntzel to opine, remarkably (on p. 13 of his book “Jihad and Jew Hatred”),

    The [Muslim] Brotherhood’s most significant innovation was their concept of jihad as holy war, which significantly differed from other contemporary doctrines and, associated with that, the passionately pursued goal of dying a martyr’s death in the war with the unbeliever. Before the founding of the Brotherhood, Islamic currents of modern times had understood jihad (derived from a root signifying “effort”) as the individual striving for belief or the missionary task of disseminating Islam. Only when this missionary work was hindered were they allowed to use force to defend themselves against the unbelievers resistance. The starting point of Islamism is the new interpretation of jihad espoused with uncompromising militancy by Hassan al-Bana, the first to preach this kind of jihad in modern times.

There is simply no way to reconcile this statement with either classical Islamic doctrine — entirely consistent with Al-Banna’s views — or the tragic, but copious historical evidence of how jihad campaigns, in accord with this doctrine, were (and continue to be) conducted across, Asia, Africa, and Europe. I amass incontrovertible evidence of this living doctrine and history in the The Legacy of Jihad.

There are, in fact, several ways to reconcile these statements with the ample documentation of Bostom’s work. First, note that Küntzel refers to “Islamic currents in modern times.” Küntzel may, indeed, underestimate the importance of Jihad as holy war in Islamic tradition, and overstate the “innovation” of the Muslim Brotherhood when it comes specifically to Jihad, but that hardly means that the Muslim Brotherhood’s reformulation of Jihad doesn’t contain important new elements that included an anti-modern anti-Semitism typical of fascism and Nazism. It’s one thing to say Küntzel underestimates the vigor of an earlier Jihadi and anti-Semitic tradition in Islam, quite another to dismiss his argument that Hassan al Banna’s and the Mufti’s version had new elements that, even if they existed before (see below), took on new and ominous forms.


Moreover, in 1916, the great Dutch Orientalist Hurgronje noted the wide rank and file support among the Muslim masses for a restored Caliphate even at the very nadir of Islam’s political power. And here is an extract from an article that appeared in the Calcutta Guardian in 1924 which linked the Pan-Islamic Indian Khilafat (Caliphate) Movement to trends that developed, and intensified following the Russo-Turkish War of 1876-78, fifty years prior to the advent of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928, and completely independent of the latter:

    The Islamic World was aroused to the fact that the area of Islamic independence was steadily narrowing, and the Qur’anic theory that Islam should dominate over every other religion was giving way to the contrary system. It was felt that the only Muslim power which could deal with those of Europe as an equal was Turkey; and pan-Islamism everywhere inculcated the doctrine that Turkey should be strengthened and supported. The Sultan was urged to advance through Persia into India and make common cause with the Sudanese Mehdi, and restore Egypt to an Islamic Sovereign.

Note that the “Sudanese Mehdi” was an apocalyptic millennialist who kicked off his career in the year 1300 AH (1882 CE), part of the Mujadded traditions that sees a “renewer” at the turn of each century… which in 1400 (1979 CE) gave us Khoumeini’s takeover in Iran. I still think that this kind of Jihad represents a more traditional type that punctuates Islamic history from the beginning. (By the way, do you have any material on the Muhammad Ahmad’s attitude towards the Jews?) David Cook points out that, despite this hadith, most pre-modern Muslim apocalyptic literature has the Jews in a minor position in comparison with the Christians.

Second, Landes (like Kuntzel) adopts uncritically the notion that “real” Jew extermination is only plausible given the “shift” from what is termed “anti-Judaism,” to “redemptive” Antisemitism—the former phenomenon not even meriting the term “Antisemitism.”

This nomenclature—Anti-Judaism vs. Antisemitism—itself is quite strange, and ahistorical, in light of what our greatest historian of Muslim-Jewish relations during the high Middle Ages, S.D. Goitein, uncovered and described (over 35 years ago) from the Geniza documentary record. Goitein’s seminal analyses of the Geniza material employed the term Antisemitism, in his own words,

    …in order to differentiate animosity against Jews from the discrimination practiced by Islam against non-Muslims in general. Our scrutiny of the Geniza material has proved the existence of “Antisemitism” in the time and the area considered here…

    Goitein cites as concrete proof of his assertion that a unique strain of Islamic Antisemitism was extant at this time (i.e., up to a millennium ago) the fact that letters from the Cairo Geniza material,

    …have a special word for it and, most significantly, one not found in the Bible or in Talmudic literature (nor registered in any Hebrew dictionary), but one much used and obviously coined in the Geniza period. It is sin’ūth, “hatred”, a Jew-baiter being called sōnē, “a hater”.

Incidents of such Muslim Antisemitism— Jew hatred—documented by Goitein in the Geniza come from northern Syria (Salamiyya and al-Mar‘arra), Morocco (Fez), and Egypt (Alexandria), with references to the latter being particularly frequent. But this oddly selective nomenclature belies a more fundamental ignorance of Islamic doctrine and facts on the ground history—including within historical Palestine itself—that render Landes’ construct dubious, at best.

The distinction between anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism is not my invention (although I have redefined it somewhat), but a fairly common distinction used by medievalists. Gavin Langmuir defined it in terms of the difference between hatred of Jews based on “traditional” complaints (they killed Jesus; they are mean, loathsome and contemptable creatures, their religion is false and superstitious), and fantastic complaints (they are in league with the devil; they have supernatural powers and are involved in a conspiracy to destroy Christendom).

It’s the supernatural phantasms the produce the really violent paranoias, and lead to still more vicious attacks. In my own work, I have preferred to place the emphasis on the paranoia, and the impact of this sense of apocalyptic urgency in activating — weaponizing — that hatred. Nothing you cite from Goitein contradicts this distinction.

Muslim eschatology—ignored altogether by the Medievalist Landes—

[Why do you feel you have to formulate your points this way — making negative assumptions and then attacking as if they were true? You do the same thing with Küntzel. It’s both uncalled for and gratuitously belligerent.]

as depicted in the hadith, highlights the Jews’ supreme hostility to Islam. Jews are described as adherents of the Dajjâl — the Muslim equivalent of the Anti-Christ — or according to another tradition, the Dajjâl is himself Jewish. At his appearance, other traditions maintain that the Dajjâl will be accompanied by 70,000 Jews from Isfahan wrapped in their robes, and armed with polished sabers, their heads covered with a sort of veil. When the Dajjâl is defeated, his Jewish companions will be slaughtered— everything will deliver them up except for the so-called gharkad tree. According to a canonical hadith—repeated in the 1988 Hamas Charter (in section 7)—if a Jew seeks refuge under a tree or a stone, these objects will be able to speak to tell a Muslim: “There is a Jew behind me; come and kill him!” Another hadith variant, which takes place in Jerusalem, has Isa (the Muslim Jesus) leading the Arabs in a rout of the Dajjâl and his company of 70,000 armed Jews. And the notion of jihad “ransom” extends even into Islamic eschatology—on the day of resurrection the vanquished Jews will be consigned to Hellfire, and this will expiate Muslims who have sinned, sparing them from this fate.

I’m fully aware of this hadith, have cited it numerous times. But as both Küntzel and David Cook have noted, this hadith was redeployed in modern times, among others by Haj Amin al Husseini, and , and taken on a new and more intense meaning. I’m sure you’ll correct me if I’m wrong, but my impression is that under current conditions, the hadith has passed from the killing of the 70,000 Jews from Isfahan to full fledged genocide (as in the Hamas Charter).

Actually, a history of the use of this hadith is probably a really valuable way of exploring your disagreement with Küntzel: what impact did exposure to Western, and specifically Nazi, ideology have on its deployment and interpretation with Islam. Would you agree that it would be hard to locate too many — any? — periods in Muslim history when this hadith had the immense popularity it does today?

On this subject, let me urge readers to consult Timothy Furnish’s important site MahdiWatch.

But it is the Jews stubborn malevolence, as described in Georges Vajda’s seminal analysis of the Jew hating motifs in the hadith, that is their defining worldly characteristic:

    Jews are represented in the darkest colors [i.e., in the hadith]. Convinced by the clear testimony of their books that Mohammed was the true prophet, they refused to convert, out of envy, jealousy and national particularism, even out of private interest. They have falsified their sacred books and do not apply the laws of God; nevertheless, they pursued Mohammed with their raillery and their oaths, and harassed him with questions, an enterprise that turned to their own confusion and merely corroborated the authenticity of the supernatural science of the prophet. From words they moved to action: sorcery, poisoning, assassination held no scruples for them.

Vajda concludes that these archetypes, in turn, justify Muslim animus towards the Jews, and the admonition to at best, “subject [the Jews] to Muslim domination”, as dhimmis, treated “with contempt,” under certain “humiliating arrangements.”

This fits the definition of anti-Judaism quite nicely. Note that the conclusion to the assertion of all these disagreeable traits (all of which have similar or worse elements in Christian anti-Judaism), lead to the conclusion, “rule over them and humiliate them.” This is not the paranoid, weaponized, genocidal hatred I described as anti-Semitism.

The rise of Jewish nationalism—Zionism—posed a predictable, if completely unacceptable challenge to the Islamic order—jihad-imposed chronic dhimmitude for Jews—of apocalyptic magnitude. As Bat Ye’or has explained,

    …because divine will dooms Jews to wandering and misery, the Jewish state appears to Muslims as an unbearable affront and a sin against Allah. Therefore it must be destroyed by Jihad.

This is very much the argument that I have made as well [and which Bostom willfully ignores! :-) ]. It’s not that anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism are not related; it’s that under certain conditions, the former mutates into the latter. One of the conditions is when the Jews cease to accept (or are perceived as ceasing to accept) their position of disgraced inferior. Then they both challenge the social hierarchy, and undermine the “faith” of the majoritarian religion (Christians or Muslims) in their supersessionist ideology. Langmuir makes much of the emergence in the later Middle Ages of anti-Semitism in the context of crises of Christian faith (Eucharist controversies).

Thus the advent of Zionism is particularly worrisome to those Muslims who, looking at the overwhelming military and technological superiority of the Christian and secular West, found in Zionism the unkindest cut of all. As the ancient Greeks noted, it’s one thing to be defeated by a worthy enemy, but to be defeated by a people who ought to be slaves, is unbearable humilitiation. I note that Hassan al Banna’s movement did not make much headway until the riots of 1936-9 in Palestine, which he not only supported but raised volunteers for. At that point membership more than tripled (I can’t find this reference right now).

In any case, the overall point is: when Jews don’t stay in their assigned subservient place, they provoke violent reactions. What should interest all of us, is what those occasions are, and how the reactions take shape. Küntzel says that when it got activated in the early 20th century and subsequently, this new round of anti-Semitism borrowed material from the Nazis, including the international plot of the Elders of Zion, to give this reaction a peculiar and even more disturbing direction. Why that can’t be integrated into a larger history of both anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism, is beyond me.

Historian Saul S. Friedman, also citing the emergence of Zionism (as an ideology anathema to the Islamic system of dhimmitude for Jews), concluded that this modern movement, and the creation of the Jewish State of Israel has, not surprisingly, unleashed a torrent of annihilationist Islamic antisemitism, “the brew of thirteen centuries of intolerance”:

Since 1896, the development of modern, political Zionism has placed new tension on, and even destroyed, the traditional master-serf relationship that existed between Arab and Jew in the Middle East. An Arab world that could not tolerate the presence of a single, “arrogant” Jewish vizier in its history was now confronted by a modern state staffed with self-confident Jewish ministers.

This is exactly the Islamic context in which the widespread, “resurgent” use of Jew annihilationist apocalyptic motifs — exemplified by the Hamas charter, and the utterances, most recently by Hamas cleric Wael al-Zarad — would be an anticipated, even commonplace occurrence.

If I understand you, then, we need not make any recourse to the Nazi connection to explain annihilationist anti-Semitism. Perhaps. But I see two problems: 1) the extermination would normally be aimed at the offending group — widely understood (collective punishment being a standard principle in Islamic dealings with Dhimmi); and 2) the evidence for the eager adaptation of European themes remains part of the historical record, and certainly bears close attention. What you explain is why Islam was so receptive to the Nazi material. As for the argument for Islamic anti-Semitism being a sufficient explanation, it’s hard to say since modern times are the first in the history of Islam when the Jews rebelled against their status on any significant scale.

But Landes also ignores the catastrophic impact of the more “mundane” application of Islam’s doctrinal principles towards Jews (and other dhimmis) independent of Islamic eschatology, per se.

[Given that you know how closely I've followed your arguments about the Armenian case (mentioned below), you might have phrased this point more delicately. E.g.: "What does Landes have to say about...?" It shows a minimal respect for your interlocutor, rather than assuming, and asking your reader to assume that he's either an ignoramus, or deliberately suppressing evidence.]

In my forthcoming The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism, I have elaborated on how the tragic mass killings for “breaching” the dhimma which afflicted the Christian minorities of the Ottoman Empire (Serbs, Greeks, Bulgarians, and Armenians) throughout the 19th century, culminating in the jihad genocide of the Armenians during World War I (and documented, by historian Vahakn Dadrian [pp. 403ff] to have inspired Hitler to express the notion of predictable impunity with regard to future genocides), were nearly replicated in historical Palestine, but for the advance of the British army.

During World War I in Palestine, between 1915 and 1917, the New York Times published a series of reports on Ottoman-inspired and local Arab Muslim assisted antisemitic persecution which affected Jerusalem, and the other major Jewish population centers. For example, by the end of January, 1915, 7000 Palestinian Jewish refugees—men, women, and children—had fled to British-controlled Alexandria, Egypt. Three New York Times accounts from January/February, 1915 provide these details of the earlier period:

[For those who wish to read this extremely interesting evidence, see Bostom’s original post.]

Let me demonstrate, in conclusion the serious flaws in Landes’ overall construct by posing a basic hypothetical question:

Can Landes posit what would have happened, say in late 1922—the Muslim Brothers were not formed until 1928; the Nazis do not come to power until 1933—with regard to Islamic jihad and Islamic Jew hatred, specifically, if the British had created some rump state Jewish homeland, actually governed by Jews, and rapidly departed, bearing in mind both the fate of other dhimmi nationalisms in the 19th and early 20th centuries (Serb, Greek, Bulgarian, Armenian), and the special place occupied by dhimmi Jews in Islamic eschatology?

Yes. They would have been slaughtered, possibly to the last man, woman and child. That’s not the issue, it seems to me. Slaughtering upstart dhimmis is, as you’ve pointed out, a longstanding Muslim practice, in some senses, the logical extension of killing apostates. And in some cases — the Armenian stands out — that can lead to genocide.

But the idea that Jewry world-wide must be wiped out, the global paranoia that sees a global conflict that must be resolved by the most extreme — final — solutions, the combination of virulence and scope… these are matters about which Matthias Küntzel has much to say, and you do service neither to your own scholarship, nor to the cause of awakening a Western audience to a world that it has immense difficulty imagining.

The general points here are:

1) Küntzel and Bostom take positions that are not mutually exclusive. Stating them that way, as does Bsotom too often, not only obscures the issues but obstructs the discussion. The past history of Muslim Jihad and Judeophobia should not drown out some important material about the connection between the Nazis and anti-modern Muslims (whether Islamists or not). Andy, if you want to make a contribution, don’t say, “these people ignore my material” and pile on your examples. Address their evidence and give your interpretation. People reading your critique of Küntzel should have a good sense of what his material says, and how you read it.

2) The reconciliation of the two positions in a positive-sum manner is not a mere Levi Eshkol moment (the joke about him was, “Coffee or tea?” “Both.”), but an opportunity to explore and deepen our understanding of the issue. I think we need to know more about both what Bostom and Küntzel have to say. I’ve tried here to contribute to that discussion.

30 Responses to Reconciliation-Hearted to Bostom: It’s really not a zero-sum

  1. [...] at the end of his rambling riposte, does Richard Landes concede my main point (posed in a question to him: “…what would have happened, say in late [...]

  2. Phil says:

    I, for one, didn’t think your reply was either “rambling” or a “riposte.”

  3. RL says:

    me neither. it’s not a good idea to mix ego with scholarship. clouds judgment. alas. the subject is important.

  4. oao says:

    1. while i don’t think your arguments are rambling or a riposte, substantively i am with bostom.

    the distinction you make is valid conceptualy, but in practical and political terms is a difference without a distinction in the conspiracy world of the arabs. it is not clear to me what such a distinction achieves. otoh I do see the risk mentioned by another here of infering from kuntzel’s position that islamic jew hatred is a european influence — a mistake that even bernard lewis makes. iow, we can academically discuss this difference, but that’s about it.

    2. I do not see a combative/belligerent style (short of insults and foul language) as a problem as long as it accompanies serious substance. e.g. “seems ignorant of…” is OK; “an idiot” is not. but that’s because i have a belligerent/combative style myself and i don’t care if i get it back.

    as to real insults, i refer to them as an indicator of losing the substantive argument.

  5. oao says:

    however, when i encounter real ignorants and idiots, I call a spade a spade.

  6. Eliyahu says:

    first about jihad, Joseph Schumpeter wrote about “Arab Imperialism” in a section of that name in his book Imperialism. So he saw the Arab conquests as a form of imperialism, involving domination, humiliation, tribute [=pecuniary exploitation], etc. He was aware of course of the religious aspect. Now these conquests were jihad wars, of course. I can’t remember whether or not Schumpeter used the word jihad. Probably did. I have excerpted most of his section on “Arab Imperialism” in five or six posts on my blog, http://ziontruth-dot-blogspot-dot-com

    Oao [fp, it's not fair to change your monicker on us. I know what fp stands for, but oao is beyond me] rightly points to Bernard Lewis’ mistaken account of Islamic judeophobia as a product of 19th century contacts between Western missionaries/diplomats/merchants, etc. and the Middle Eastern Christian communities from whom Judeophobia was passed on to the Muslims. He argues that in his book, Semites and Anti-Semites. The claim may be true of specific forms of bigoted belief, like the blood in matsoh libel.

    But Lewis is an inveterate Turkophile/Ottomanophile. Yet, sometimes he let’s his guard down and says truths that he usually strives not to say. In his book The Middle East and the West, he writes that the Turks/Muslims resented the Greek invasion of Anatolia through the port of Smyrna [now Izmir] in 1920. This was because, he writes, the Greeks were always inferiors in Ottoman society and to be defeated or invaded by these inferiors [Lewis does not use the word dhimmi here, as I recall] was much more humiliating to them than to be defeated/invaded by mighty Western empires that controlled most of the world. Now, as I recall, Lewis goes on to say that the Arabs likewise resented the Jewish reconquest, that is, the independence of the State of Israel, for similar reasons.

    On the whole though, Lewis has done much to obfuscate this issue. It’s a shame for he could easily have made it all clear many years ago.

  7. Eliyahu says:

    Now to Bostom and comments on his argument.
    1– Ataturk abolished the caliphate in 1924. So there could not have been a movement to restore it in 1916. As Bostom notes, the restoration movement was big in India as the khilafat movement. If I am not mistaken, Gandhi opportunistically supported the khilafat movement in order to get the Indian Muslims behind him. If that was his aim, it didn’t work since they demanded “pakistan” and the British gave it to them, instead of their joining India.

    2- yes, the Jews in Israel could have suffered the fate of the Armenians. Prof A S Yahuda wrote his concern about massacres of Jews in Israel to Oscar Straus in New York, who –Yahuda believed– could use his influence with the German govt, already allied with the Ottoman empire at the start of the war. Aaron Aaronsohn knew much about the Armenian massacres since his sister, Sarah, had reported to him and other Jews in Israel about what she had seen on the train going from Constantinople back to Israel [they lived in Zikhron Ya`aqov, near Haifa]. Fear of massacres extended to Jews motivated Aaronsohn to set up the pro-British spy group, the Nili. I have heard that the whole Jewish population of Tel Aviv was expelled from the city in 1915 or 1916 without food or shelter. Also, about a third of the Jews in the country were deported to Egypt –rather than fleeing, as Bostom has it– quite legally since they were subjects of Russia or other states allied against the Central Powers. Jabotinsky considered the fear of massacres as suffered by the Armenians in his famous article, Aktivizm [Copenhagen 1915]. He believed that Jewish influence in the Central Powers’ capitals, Vienna, Berlin, and Budapest, could ward off that threat. Nordau too was concerned. See link:
    http://ziontruth -dot- blogspot -dot- com/2006/12/professor-bigers-turkophilic-fantasies.html

    3- There is a long-standing trend in British and US academic study of Islam, the Arabs in particular, to whitewash any ugly features or blemishes, that includes Arab Judeophobia, whether seen as modern or as going back to early Islam. This trend was promoted by Toynbee in the UK from his bastion at the royal inst. of int’l affairs and by Prof Philip Ireland in the US in the 1930s, and even more so by Prof William R Polk in the 50s and 60s. Polk was big at whitewashing Muslim/Arab Judeophobia. In the early 1960s, Polk became the Middle Eastern specialist on the STate Department’s Policy Planning committee. This pro-Arab, pro-Muslim line was also pushed fairly consistently by the Middle East Journal, the first American journal specializing in the ME. Today, the position of Prof Polk and the oil industry-funded MEJ is the usual position of what is called the Left. That all goes to show just how phoney the Left is. It is mainly a manipulated body of public opinion. So many profs too are ignoramuses about Islam, brainwashed by their own prejudices and ignorance. To be sure, the Bolsheviks came out with a pro-Muslim manifesto as early as 1917, after the German empire had helped Lenin come to Petrograd in the sealed train.
    –see posts on my blog about Prof Polk and about the Bolshevik manifesto.

  8. oao says:

    eliyahu,

    what is interesting in lewis’ position is that it is an explicit counter-evidence for e. said’s argument: lewis bends over backwards to do the opposite of what said claims orientalists do. except lewis is talking about turks, which don’t have the problems of the arabs, which is what said was trying to stop the study of.

    there is a reason why islam/jihad was invented by arabs: their culture. the tribal culture is critical to understanding both the arabs and islam — see the review of saltzman’s book on this blog. he is doing exactly what said did not want done and it makes a lot of the arab-israeli conflict and why the west and israel are doomed to loose very clear.

    nazism, fascism, anti-semitism etc. were just things that the arabs were receptive to given their culture and the religion that very culture invented.

  9. Eliyahu says:

    oao, of course Lewis’ soft approach is counter-evidence to sa`id’s mendacious arguments in his books on “orientalism” and “covering islam” [title??]. But Prof William Polk is much worse, although Polk could be a competent historian when he wanted to. In the early 1960s, Polk became a member of the State Dept Policy Planning Committee for the Middle East. Just goes to show how influential that pro-Islamic, pro-Arab school of indoctrination was way back in the 50s before Said did his whining. You’ve probably read articles from the 1940s and 1950s in the Middle East Journal. If not, do so and see how the first US journal devoted to the Middle East was pro-Arab way back [it was also funded by the oil industry].

  10. oao says:

    western foreign ministries often go native because the task bestowed on them is to develop good relations with other countries and that is more often than not translated into appeasement, particularly when facing a blood-thirsty, treacherous culture like arab islam.

    foreign ministries like talking, engaging, process. apply this to the arabs and see what you get.

  11. Sophia says:

    There was a disturbing subtext advanced in the previous discussion on Kuntzel/Bostom on this site – to wit – blaming the Nazis was akin to blaming the West (for the troubles in the M.E., jihad etc).

    I didn’t say much about this at the time but I will say it now: if the Nazis are in any way emblematic of the West, of Western culture or Western civilization, then it is definitely time to turn the lights off.

    Unfortunately, this subtext illuminates a real problem with the disrespect for Kuntzel’s narrative, and that is a truly ugly attempt to shirk responsibility for the Holocaust and other evils spawned by the West, and to deflect them onto the East.

    I am not a person who hates America or the West in any regard – far from it. Though I’ll plead guilty to being more than a little bit of an Orientalist – hopefully in the GOOD sense of the word – because as a Jew I’m rooted there and as a student I’ve found endless beauty in Eastern accomplishments – the best of Western civilization cannot be denied. I wouldn’t want to live under any other system than a Western democracy and thank my stars every day for the America that made my own life possible, and gave sanctuary to my poor and persecuted grandparents.

    And, I’ve argued here that imperialism was hardly a Western phenomenon only, and remain puzzled that human rights activists seem blind to abuses unless they’re committed by the West (especially Israel), and don’t understand why Israel alone should be seen as merely a “colonialist/imperialist” phenomenon – let alone an “empire” – when in fact people move and “settle” or “colonize” and create new homes for ourselves all the time – as naturally as we breathe. And what people in all of history has been more in need of sanctuary?

    But that doesn’t change the fact that the worst of the West is horrible, a betrayal of our own ideals; and it’s brought the world to the edge of extinction: unrestrained industrial expansion at the expense of the poor, of the 3rd world, and of the planet itself; the creation of both fascism and communism; industrialized and even atomic warfare.

    So, I agree with RL that both Bostom and Kuntzel have a point. But Kuntzel I think has MORE of a point. The Nazis (and other modern Western antisemites) were profoundly wicked and perverse and beyond that, had the means to effect a horrible crime.

    WWII was not a necessity by any means – the worst of the Depression and the economic hardships and humiliation imposed on Germany after WWI had already been beaten and the future could have been one of peaceful, progressive prosperity, enlightenment, investigation into the arts and sciences – ie, the path of what we’d like to think of as true Western Civilization. Instead, the Nazis walked the path of darkness and their crimes resonate today. We see the Hitler salute emulated by soldiers of Hezbollah and Naziesque rants against the Jews animate Hamas; both cite the Protocols – the war of extermination never ended. Worst of all we see ghastly antisemitic cartoons in British papers like the Guardian – and far too many think nothing of them.

    Similarly there was no need for Britain to betray the Jews simply to protect oil investments and the over-extended imperial supply lines. There was no need for capitalists to blame the Jews for the Bolshevik Revolution, no need for Communists to blame Jews for capitalism; no need to blame Dreyfuss, no need – no need. But it all happened and millions were enslaved, dispossessed and murdered and a civilization was utterly destroyed. And this poison spread to the east – it irrefutably spread. You read its echoes in modern “progressive” and “liberation” literature; it’s all over the web.

    So: I have to ask this question: what is the point of blaming Islam or the East for judenhass, when sadly, it’s pretty obviously a universal phenomenon? Isn’t this ultimately going to result in a polarization, a climate of hatred and blame, likely to create even greater tragedies?

    We should be trying to build bridges between the ancient world and the modern, between Jews and Muslims, of course with Christians and others everywhere. We need to bridge the gap between Israel – nation and people – and the rest of the Middle East and between the West in general and the East in general – although as I’ve already argued the overlaps are already substantial (and that is a good thing! It doesn’t represent a “collapse of the West” unless we betray our core values! So let’s examine what those are!)

    We also need to look at tragedies like the Armenian genocide in light of the British war on the Turks. Let’s read some letters from the front – from Turks under fire by Britain – people utterly bewildered and dying like flies in a war they never sought.

    We really need to look at that war objectively, and at subsequent events that shaped the modern Middle East – because the consequences just won’t disappear.

  12. oao says:

    But Kuntzel I think has MORE of a point. The Nazis (and other modern Western antisemites) were profoundly wicked and perverse and beyond that, had the means to effect a horrible crime.

    I am not clear who here claime were not profoundly wicked???? And why you think that this is the point that kuntzel was trying to make.

    i can objectively tell you that BOTH the nazis and the jihadis are wicked. that’s not the point of dispute between bostom and kuntzel.

  13. Eliyahu says:

    4-9-2008
    On Bostom and comments on his argument.
    1– Ataturk abolished the caliphate in 1924. So there could not have been a movement to restore it in 1916. As Bostom notes, the restoration movement was big in India and known as the khilafat movement. If I am not mistaken, Gandhi opportunistically supported the khilafat movement in order to get the Indian Muslims behind him. If that was his aim, it didn’t work since they demanded “pakistan” and the British gave it to them, instead of their joining India.

    2- yes, the Jews in Israel could have suffered the fate of the Armenians. Prof A S Yahuda wrote his concern about massacres of Jews in Israel to Oscar Straus in New York, who –Yahuda believed– could use his influence with the German govt, already allied with the Ottoman empire at the start of the war. Aaron Aaronsohn knew much about the Armenian massacres since his sister, Sarah, had reported to him and other Jews in Israel about what she had seen on the train going from Constantinople back to Israel [they lived in Zikhron Ya`aqov, near Haifa]. Fear of massacres extended to Jews motivated Aaronsohn to set up the pro-British spy group, the Nili. I have heard that the whole Jewish population of Tel Aviv was expelled from the city in 1915 or 1916 without food or shelter. Also, about a third of the Jews in the country were deported to Egypt –rather than fleeing, as Bostom has it– quite legally since they were subjects of Russia or other states allied against the Central Powers. Jabotinsky considered the fear of massacres as suffered by the Armenians in his famous article, Aktivizm [Copenhagen 1915]. He believed that Jewish influence in the Central Powers’ capitals, Vienna, Berlin, and Budapest, could ward off that threat. Nordau too was concerned. See link:
    ziontruth -dot- blogspot -dot- com/2006/12/professor-bigers-turkophilic-fantasies -dot- html

    3- There is a long-standing trend in British and US academic study of Islam, the Arabs in particular, to whitewash any ugly features or blemishes, that includes Arab Judeophobia, whether seen as modern or as going back to early Islam. This trend was promoted by Toynbee in the UK from his bastion at the royal inst. of int’l affairs and by Prof Philip Ireland in the US in the 1930s, and even more so by Prof William R Polk in the 50s and 60s. Polk was big at whitewashing Muslim/Arab Judeophobia. In the early 1960s, Polk became the Middle Eastern specialist on the State Department’s Policy Planning committee. This pro-Arab, pro-Muslim line was also pushed fairly consistently by the Middle East Journal, the first American journal specializing in the ME. Today, the position of Prof Polk and the oil industry-funded MEJ is the usual position of what is called the Left. That all goes to show just how phoney the Left is. It is mainly a manipulated body of public opinion. So many profs too are ignoramuses about Islam, brainwashed by their own prejudices and ignorance. To be sure, the Bolsheviks came out with a pro-Muslim manifesto as early as 1917, after the German empire had helped Lenin come to Petrograd in the sealed train.
    –see posts on my blog about Prof Polk and about the Bolshevik manifesto.

  14. Cynic says:

    unrestrained industrial expansion
    Only because there was a market for the stuff produced.
    Maybe you should be blaming Jenner et al for all those medical advances which helped the population of the world “explode” thus providing markets for all those industrialised products.
    at the expense of the poor, ??
    How about blaming the politicians for the plight of the poor by feeding them all sorts of ideologies to make up for them not assuming the responsibilities that life and reality on planet Earth demand?
    Mugabe is doing a fat cat job down south.
    The Europeans have helped kill of millions of Africans because the EU objects to GM food staples.
    So now we owe him cause his father was a drunkard and his mother a junkie?

    If only the feral world out there knew about having representatives in Congress they would be waiting at the kitchen door to be fed free from droughts and floods; maybe the Lions in Southern Africa would be protesting at the tuberculosis they are contracting from the buffalo meat they are consuming.

    We should be trying to build bridges between the ancient world and the modern, between Jews and Muslims,

    So what has been going on for the past 60 years? Failure to recognise, or admit, that one side is playing a “zero sum game” has brought nothing positive.
    Try and understand what Bostom and Kuntzel are saying. It doesn’t matter if it started 1400 years ago 80 years ago; what does matter is what will be if we don’t change our stance.

  15. oao says:

    attaboy, cynic.

    the bridges is precisely what the islamists fight violently to prevent.

    and what you have responded to is exactly the stance that needs to change, or we’re doomed.

  16. Diane says:

    Please excuse the naive question, but I’m no serious Orientalist. I have never properly understood the Armenian Genocide (there seem to be a lot of unstated premises, and competing “narratives”). The “recieved opinion” on this in the liberal West, to my untrained eye, seems to be that the Turks deliberately rounded up the Armenians because the war with Russia was going badly and Ottoman Armenians were seen (rightly or wrongly?) as Russian sympathizers who potentially could be traitors, spies and subversives. At no time have I heard any mainstream Western source suggest that there was a jihadi undercurrent to the belligerence against Armenians. The meteoric rise and staying power of Ataturk’s fiercely secularist regime would seem to contradict any theory that Ottoman Turks of the time were a deeply observant people.

    Can someone shed a little light?

  17. oao says:

    don’t know much about the armenian genocide either, and listening to bernard lewis the turks have always been moderates. but my sense is that he’s off on this.

    ataturk had to impose secularism very harshly and the fact that to this day it is the army that is supposed to protect secularism says something.

    furthermore, you can see that despite all that islam is reasserting itself in quite radical/jihadist ways. the current politicians in power were at one time islamists but realized that it will be much easier to reintroduce islam gradually, bit by bit, than by revolution, so that’s what they are doing now.

    the point is that wherever islam is present there is always the risk of radicalization and the moderates usually are either afraid to go against it, or feel theologically weak, or sympathize.

    that’s what it looks like it’s happening now in turkey, but the process is in its infancy.

  18. oao says:

    from what i gather, the ottoman actions were due to their circumstances in WW1, claiming the armenians were a security problem. but it’s clear there was some religious dimension to it. whether it can be regarded as jihad i dk.

  19. Stu says:

    Beware, a couple of us have caught Bostom erasing comments from his website, neither of which were profane, irrelevant, and certainly not as nasty in tone as his own posts. One commenter actually had a pretty good–and even tempered–counter to Bostom’s assertion that Landes had conceded his central argument. My comment was not (too) nasty, but it was full of condescension! Apparently there is a bit of an ego thing here…

  20. Sophia says:

    The Wikipedia article (ok ok) is not bad on this. It did occur during and just after WWI. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians were killed or died from exposure and starvation.

    There were massacres, deportations, forced marches over mountains to the Syrian desert – this began in 1915, against the backdrop of war. I’ve seen programs and read about this and it was terrible; the Turkish people also suffered dreadfully under the onslaught and losses on both sides of the war – Ottoman and Allied – were appalling. In one battle, in May, 1915, the Turks lost 10,000 men – it was so bad a truce was declared just to bury the dead who lay in no-man’s land.

    There was also the “Year of the Sword” in which hundreds of thousands of Assyrians were killed – actually this period, between 1915-1918, can be seen as a broad attack on Christian minorities within the Ottoman Empire. (This was in marked contrast to the centuries previous, in which Muslims, Christians and Jews had all lived in the Ottoman world. Was it the stress of war, the decay of the Empire, paranoia – fear of betrayal from within – what drove these awful paroxysms? I don’t think anybody really knows – can anybody, rationally, explain the Nazis or the Soviet atrocities?)

    Greeks were also attacked and subsequently, during the Greco-Turkish war 1919-1923, Greece invaded Turkey. This backfired of course, resulting in The Great Catastrophe of 1922-3, in which the Greek cities in Asia Minor were burned and Greek speakers expelled from Turkish territory, and there was a similar expulsion of Muslims from Greece. This was the first great population transfer of the 20th century. I believe some 2 million people were involved, rendered homeless, stateless, uprooted from their communities and expelled.

    Needless to say this involved communities centuries or even millenia in age, similar to the Jewish communities which became depopulated throughout the Arab world after 1948.

    The British, I think, inspired the Greek attack on Turkey, promising territorial gains at the expense of the Ottoman Empire. The Greek War of Independence earlier, in the 19th century, had also been supported by Britain and may have led to subsequent distrust of Christians in general, within the teetering Ottoman Empire; this is just a guess on my part.

    There had also been wars with Russia and this did in fact play directly into the Armenian situation:

    http://www.ppu.org.uk/genocide/g_armenia.html

    The Turkish perspective on the Armenian massacres leans toward fears that the Armenians were a threat, during the context of the British attacks and also, the previous wars with Russia. Their feeling seems to be that no intentional genocide, deliberate murder of a people, was the goal – but rather this was a tragic result of war and fears of internal revolt. According to the linked article they were trying to expel the Armenians and they died as a result, but the article also quotes a German as saying the Turkish government was carrying out a deliberate extermination.

    Just today I saw an article in Ha’aretz; the Turks have cautioned the Knesset about debating this issue, as it’s such a sore point in Turkey it could even affect Turkish relations with Israel.

    The decline of the Ottoman Empire had seen, I think, a deterioration of values as well as internal stability – and this finally resulted in the horrors during the WWI era and shortly thereafter. Maybe it prefigured what happened later in Germany.

    However, it can be argued that the massacres represented a trend, emblematic of intolerance in opposition to the view of the Islamic world as one where “people of the book” were protected and safe. Stories of Jews hungry, destitute and under attack exist alongside the history of prosperous Jews in Baghdad. The situation of the Copts in Egypt, the besieged Jews of Yemen – the remaining handful have had to seek government protection and their houses have just been destroyed – and the sectarian violence in Lebanon and Iraq as well as the ongoing hatred of Israel, all argue against a generally tolerant atmosphere.

    Or perhaps, the truth lies in the gray areas – that violence and hatred of minorities or “the other” is cyclical, as it has been in the West, and depends on external circumstances – poverty, war, hunger and fear.

  21. Eliyahu says:

    Sophia, I’m reading Yves Ternon’s book Les Armeniens. If you read French, this is a very useful book on the subject. He makes clear that major massacres of Armenians started in the 2nd half of the 19th century. Think of Sultan Abdul-Hamid in this connection.

    Now, I have no doubt that the traditional attitude toward dhimmis underlay the genocide, in that the Armenians were seen as “uppity” dhimmis. I believe that so-called “secular nationalist” Turks, which is how the Committee for Union & Progress, governing the empire from 1908 till about 1918 or 1919, is described, viewed Armenians consciously or unconsciously as uppity dhimmis. To be sure, at least one Armenian historian, Raymond Kevorkian plays down the religious aspect and stresses the nationalist, in this case Pan-Turanism. However, I don’t buy this as I told Kevorkian when I heard him lecture in Paris in February 2007.

    The dhimmi status [dhimma] is brought about by jihad and is maintained by jihad against dhimmi rebels. And the punishment for dhimmi rebels is massacre or forced conversion. Indeed, some Armenians, mainly women and children I believe, were allowed to convert in order to escape the massacres. However, to get back to Sophia’s question, it seems from Ternon and other authorities that the genocide was planned and executed by the Committee of Union & Progress [called The Young Turks], with the intention of wiping out the Armenians being formulated before WW One. And the effort during WW One was systematic. Whatever our hapless Knesset may decide, I think that Zionists and Israelis should take the testimony of Sarah Aaronsohn very seriously. Records of her testimony are found, I believe, mainly in her brother Aaron’s writings, in French and Hebrew. Sarah A indicates that the massacres were systematic and planned.

    Now, about Ataturk’s “secularism.” In the early 1920s, he was called “ghazi.” This means that he was a hero of Muslim jihad against non-believers. It was only in 1924 –I believe– that he came out of the closet as a secular nationalist. But I have no doubt that many prejudices common among “secularists” and “leftists” against Jews have their roots in medieval and other Christian teachings. This applies to the ferocious bigotry against Jews in PRE-hitler Germany. Look back at Luther through Kant, Hegel, Fichte, etc. to Marx and other Marxists, to German nationalists, etc. The same principle applies I believe to the Muslim world. [on Ataturk being called "ghazi" see: Albert Avakian, "Pouvoir et Islam en Turquie..." Revue d'Histoire de la deuxieme guerre mondiale et des conflits contamporains, no. 137, Janvier 1985.]

    on the Greeks, the Allied or Entente powers encouraged the Greeks to send troops to Anatolia in about 1920. This was a decision of the Supreme Allied Command [exact title?]. Getting territory populated by ethnic Greeks in Anatolia was part of their promises to the Greeks to get them into WW I. The Greeks were winning against the Turks when the Supreme Allied Command told them to STOP fighting and sit on a difficult to defend cease fire line. [parenthetically, this sounds like how the UN has treated Israel over the years]. By 1922, Ataturk, the Ghazi, had reorganized the Turkish nationalist forces, rearmed and trained them. They were then able to defeat the Greeks, driving some 3 or 4 million ethnic Greeks out Anatolia, and massacring surviving Armenians in Smyrna [now Izmir]. See Hemingway’s book In Our Time on how this expulsion was carried out.
    After this expulsion, Nansen, the Norwegian, persuaded Ataturk to allow the Greeks to expel Muslims from Thrace in Europe, west of Constantinople. In return, the Greeks would accept the expulsion of the many more Greek expellees. For his promotion of population transfer Nansen won the Nobel peace Prize. The fact that well informed people like Sophia know little about these events demonstrates not only the low level of history teaching in the USA but also the trend toward whitewashing Muslim peoples and their persecutions of non-Muslims in the school systems and universities, etc.

  22. Cynic says:

    Eliyahu,

    It’s not only in the States that history is not taught, but all over the Western World.
    In Israel I was astounded when people in their late twenties/ early thirties looked bewildered when I mentioned “sharia”. They did not know what I was talking about. Hopefully they are just a minority but there you are.
    When I studied history some 50+ years ago there was also a politically correct approach and a lot of stuff pertinent to the behaviour of the “Allied” powers was carefully sifted in the text books used in school.
    If I remember correctly Lord Russel’s books on the Nazis and Japanese atrocities were not welcomed by the governments of the time.

  23. Eliyahu says:

    cynic,
    many non-Muslim govts have a policy of making the Muslims look good in their press, media, schools, universities, etc. oao brought up edward sa`id. His claim that Islam had a bad press was a big lie. Consider how the genocide in the southern Sudan has been pretty much –although not entirely– covered up over the years. Nor did the usual hypocritical NGOs that constantly defame Israel have much to say about the Sudan. How many demos were there in London over the years against the mass murder in southern Sudan [Darfur is western sudan]?? The Sudanese genocidists are allies of Hamas and Fatah, but nobody makes the connection. The genocide in southern Sudan started with independence in 1956 and went on off and on till a recent truce –which may be soon violated. In all that time, who and how often were there demos against the Sudanese genocide, especially in London where the pro-Nazi “progressives” want to boycott Israel???

    Edward Sa`id’s book, Orientalism, was promoted –in my opinion– by Establishment media in the United States, and by universities. So the promotion of sa`id’s book was “counter-evidence” to his own argument. Now, with the triumph of Sa`idism in the academy, the historical record is even more battered and abused, like any battered wife.

    James Russell, who teaches Armenian studies at Harvard, argues that the the word “Armenian” does not appear in Sa`id’s book/s/. Yet the many critical reviews of his book/s/ failed to mention this omission, he says. Russell believes that discussing the Armenians would have effectively blown up Sa`id’s claims about innocent, innocuous Islam being unfairly smeared in the West. I am not sure that Russell is right, but surely discussing the Armenian genocide, a protracted phenomenon beginning in the 19th century, as well as the Greek expulsions from Anatolia, the oppression of Jews in Yemen, the practical serfdom of Jews in 19th century rural Morocco, the ethnic cleansing of 100s of 1,000s of Hindus from Kashmir by the “freedom fighters” in recent years, all that would tend to discredit the influence of Sa`idism, if you can get anybody to listen.

  24. diane says:

    Eliyahu and Sophia

    Thanks for your insightful and extremely detailed comments. The consensus seems to be that the reasons for the Armenian genocide are still pretty hazily understood. I would argue that the roots (economic, political, social, religous) of Stalinist purges and Nazi genocide are far better understood, though by no means completely clear).

    Some further mysteries:

    - why do modern Turks care so much about supressing this history? It would be so easy to say, as the Germans have, “we regret what our great-grandfathers did,” and call it a day. Is it the $$ of reparation they fear? I strongly doubt that it’s about Muslim honor-shame. This is a NATO member state!

    - why do modern Western democracies (France, US Congress, Israel) feel the need to make edicts and take a principled stand now – in 2008 – on an Armenian disaster that took place a century ago? What’s in it for them/us? Armenia is not a world power. Turkeky’s a hugely important strategic allie. There’s no oil involved. There are more recent genocides we could be focusing on. Why even go there?

    - I disagree, in concept, with the claim that Islam is somehow intrinsically more prone to radicalization than other faiths. I don’t think history supports this if you consider the Christian bloodbaths of the last 1000 years. (Christian on Christian, Christian on Jewish, Christian on Muslim, Christian on heathen…)

    - Eliyahu, you make an emotionally attractive argument re: the West’s deliberate suppression of anti-Islam publicity – it certainly feels that way when you look at the pervasive anti-Israel bias of media, liberal politicians, academe and international agencies – but does this conclusion not depend on a vast conspiracy theory? Again, historically what has the West – leaving aside the last 30 years of fashionably multicultural Saidism – had to gain by this activity?

  25. oao says:

    a conspiracy theory means people getting together and coordinating their objectives and behavior. the whitewashing of islamic history and behavior does not necessitate this. it is done because of similarity of perceptions, cowardice, greed, bastardized leftist dogma, anti-semitism, etc.

    the turks may be objecting to genocide terminology because there may be implications from that (compensations, judicial, etc.). but it should also raise the possibility that this in itself attests to the strength of islam in turkish society and, therefore, to dhimmis who dare to accuse turkey of anything.

    to figure out why western states have picked up the genocide issue now requires an analysis of how exactly the issue developed politically. I would not be surprised that elements who don’t want turkey in europe contributed to it.

    as a militant atheist i won’t defend any religion on its not being prone to radicalization in certain circumstances. but it’s not just radicalization that characterizes islam, but also its roots in arab culture. and an analysis of that culture shows very clearly its inherent propensity for violence and fear of modernity. Here’s two items that convey it quite well:

    Culture and Conflict in the Middle East
    http://astore.amazon.com/harvard-20/detail/1591025877

    The dangers of freedom
    http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/1734.htm

  26. Eliyahu says:

    Diane, I don’t believe that “the West” is a single monolithic entity, certainly not politically. But I think that whitewashing Islam and supporting Muslim states against their non-Muslim subject peoples began in Britain about a century ago, before WW I. Marjory Housepian [The Smyrna Affair] points to a major change in the overt British view of Islam in the West, especially towards the subject peoples, the dhimmis. She points to a change in position of Arnold Toynbee in particular. During WW I, Toynbee, who was a kind of official or house historian for the UK govt, wrote/compiled a black book/white book[?] of the Armenian massacres, while they were going on. After the war, however, while Greek forces were in Anatolia, and Turkish/Muslim/ nationalists were mopping up remaining Armenians, Toynbee wrote a book called something like “The Western Question in Turkey.” This book was an apology for the Ottoman empire and/or for Turkish nationalism. The book was written by the same man who had earlier written about the Armenian genocide, when it was useful for the UK govt to give people reasons to fight the Central Powers [including the Ottoman empire]. When the war was over, the British were reminded of the oil resources in the Middle East. And for that reason, if not for others too, they wanted friendly relations with Muslim peoples and ruling classes. The British administration in Israel [= "palestine mandate"] was also undermining its own commitment to the Jewish National Home decided on at San Remo [1920] and confirmed by the League of Nations [1922]. Here again the British supported Muslims against non-Muslims, in this case against the Jews. Meanwhile, in India, it seems that the British encouraged Muslim separatist demands against the call for one India by the Indian National Congress. Later, in 1956, Britain gave the Sudan independence as a unitary state, effectively placing the non-Muslim, non-Arab population of the south at the mercy of the Muslim, arabized rulers in Khartoum in the north, the descendants of the slave raiders/traders.

    In short, British motives for being pro-Muslim may have been varied. They may have included access to and control of oil. But they may also have included some much more unsavory motives that one finds it hard to acknowledge. Of course, the policymakers and executioners were usually careful to clothe their policies and actions in some lofty sounding principles and platitudes, blah blah. So that many decent folk in the UK were not and are not really aware of what their own govt’s policy really is or was.

    Ironically, in late 1917, shortly after their putsch in the Russian empire, the Bolsheviks issued a pro-Muslim manifesto [Appeal to the Muslim Toilers of Russia and the East]. This manifesto placed the rights of Muslim peoples over those of non-Muslim peoples and religions, specifically telling the Armenians to wait before making demands for self-determination. In short, in practice, objectively, this stance aligned the Bolsheviks with the British Empire’s pro-Muslim and pro-Arab nationalist policy of the post-WW I period.

  27. Eliyahu says:

    toynbee was especially significant because he became the top “researcher” at the royal institute for international affairs. At the RIIA as his base, he continued the pro-Muslim, pro-Arab line which goes on till this day. For oao’s information, this is more counter-evidence against edward said.

    I have a post on the bolshevik pro-Muslim manifesto on my blog but I do not link because of the problems arising from linking.

  28. Stu says:

    This is a comment I posted on Bostom’s blog which Bostom quickly removed, along with others that irked him, presumably for the challenge they posed to his argument/ego.

    One of them, posted by “Sam”, was much tamer than my letter below, but it fairly clearly showed a flaw in Bostom’s reasoning. Sam argued that Landes had not conceded Bostom’s main point. He claimed that by cutting Landes’ quote short, he misleads the readers, who would otherwise understand the difference between killing all the Jews in a particular area and destroying all the world’s Jews, no matter where they are.

    My comment focused solely on Bostom’s unnecessary nastiness which, ironically, reaches its zenith when Landes calls attention to it. I’m reminded of a far more extreme, but similar construct: the Muslim riots “protesting” Danish cartoons portraying Islam as violent. Here is my deleted comment:

    Dear Andrew,

    “obnoxious condescension”?
    “data-poor, stock in trade casuistry”?
    “howler”?

    Tut tut tut. Did your mother teach you such manners? It seems to me that Landes’ “obnoxious condescension” was in fact a failed attempt to make things a little more civil. Are your above words a failed attempt to prove his condescension ill-founded?

    Allow a little more condescension from someone who appreciates your work. You and Landes are essentially on the same side in a much bigger and much more important fight against the misled mainstream. He is right; however correct you may or may not be, your tone is unnecessarily provocative and divisive in an already small community of thinkers. Perhaps more importantly, if wielded in the broader academic community, your tone would “confirm” for the mainstream that thinkers of your ilk deserve to be marginalized. We don’t need that, do we?

    Ciao,
    Stu

  29. Diane says:

    Eliyahu,

    Your notes on Toynbee are interesting. This period coincides with the idealization of indigenous peoples in general — from the Ramona myth of California to the Tahitian paintings of Gaughin to the Lawrence of Arabia movement. I would think this is no coincidence. European Romanticism is the root of many of the 20th century’s problems – the godlike Byronic hero who is above bourgeois values, the idea of inborn (class- and race-based) virtue and racial purity, the eugenics theories that grew out of Darwin’s work, Nietsche’s superman. Then again, you see how the colonialist English viewed natives in India — there doesn’t seem to be a comparable idealization of the native going on there.

    Yet businessmen and statesmen are not poets. Surely with experience, reality sank in and self-interest dictated that the West tell itself the painful truths about the East’s backwardness and barbarism. Joseph Conrad nailed it. So did Rudyard Kipling.

    Ultimately, it requires abandoning the practice of reason and science to look steadily at the East and make endless excuses, whitewashing events to suit some heroic narrative. This is why I mention conspiracy theory. One almost needs to posit some such thing in order to account for the Toynbees of the world, who blinded themselves to what was before their eyes.

  30. Eliyahu says:

    Diane, I think that Toynbee and psychological warfare experts in the British govt worked to create a romantic mystique of Arabs, of Muslims, and, more recently, of “palestinians,” merely a section of the Arabs according to the PLO charter, in fact, a people that never existed in history, only appearing in the 1960s.

    Whereas the PLO charter and arafat’s speeches in Arabic stressed pan-Arab nationalism, rather than a “palestinian” identity as a primary focus, the Western and Communist media came to focus on “palestinian” identity as if it were separate from pan-Arab identity. So much of the problem has been with the Western media. Hence, I do encourage people to learn Arabic in order to learn what the Arabs themselves say among themselves. But if learning Arabic, it’s best to take seriously the warnings of Dr Louis Harfouche about the tendentious, pro-Arab nationalist character of much Arabic language teaching in the USA.

    My view is that British psywar experts conceived of and worked out and elaborated “palestinian” identity and its now alleged “ancient history,” not Arabs. In other words, neither the Arabs themselves nor the palestinian Arabs in particular invented “palestinian” identity. Rather, this was the work of British experts. Of course, this is a hard thing to prove and would require a lot of research.

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