"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Jews in Muslim Lands and the Creation of Israel: "They did not wish to be dhimmis any more. Finally they had a choice."

Some more notes from In Ishmael's House: A History of the Jews in Muslim Lands by Martin Gilbert.  Now we're getting into the section on World War II, the creation of the State of Israel and the aftermath of that.

So we've seen Muslims and Jews actually got along quite well at times.  In those instances as long as the Jews kept their respectful stance as dhimmis, most often problems did not exist. After a time, however, this all changed and problems happened in places where Jews had thrived for years such as Iraq.  One former Iraqi administrator, Abraham Elkabir, "later reflected - while living in Israel - on what went wrong" between Muslims and Jews.  "He traced Muslim hostility to three factors:

1.  "the Palestine issue"
2.  "the Mufti of Jerusalem's campaign in Iraq identifying Jews and Zionists"
3.   "the 'anti-Semitic tendencies' of the British officials and other Westerners in Iraq"  (pg. 193)

Chapters 12 and 13 also mention Nazi Germany influencing Arab hatred towards the Jews.  This despite the fact Hitler's social ladder put Arabs only one step above Jews.  Wisely Hitler had this illustration deleted from the Arabic printing of his book Mein Kampf since he wanted Arab help.


Observation: Part of the problem with Zionism is that it was in conflict with rising Arabism. So was this all a soured competition between nationalities?

COMPARE this thought ...

"The Muslim world, inspired by Arab nationalism but inflamed by Jewish nationalism, still considered Palestine as an Arab country and part of the Muslim patrimony, in which Jews could live only as a subject people." (pg. 201)

with this one:

"The imminent prospect of a National Home had given the Jews a sense of pride and a hope for a secure future. Jews would no longer have to put up with being second-class citizens, but that was how the Muslims among whom they lived considered them:  the eternal, born dhimmis, subject to one form or another of the Covenant of Omar." (pg. 205)

So was the problem that Islamic faith said Jews were God-ordained to a certain role that Jews no longer were willing to play?


I found this fact very interesting and wondered how I should weigh it in considering the whole Palestine/Israel issue.

"Between 1922 and 1939 more Arabs had entered Palestine than Jews. These were Muslim immigrants including many illegals, from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Iraq, Iran and Syria - as well as from Transjordan, Sudan and Saudi Arabia. These immigrants were drawn to Palestine by its opportunities for work and its growing prosperity - opportunities and prosperity often created by the Jews there. In 1948 many of these Arab immigrants were to be included in the statistics of 'Palestinian' Arab refugees."  (pg. 175)

So much for all the Palestinians living on ancestral lands for centuries, huh?  I'm sure many had, but not these 20,000+ who came only in the twentieth century from other Arab lands.


The Partition problem also caused conflict in Egypt where the Muslim Brotherhood "called for the reintroduction of the dhimmi laws, which had been repealed by Egypt's Mohammad Ali dynasty a century earlier, allowing both Egyptian society and Egyptian Jewry to flourish."  (pg. 213)

Several times Arab suspicion of the Jewish communities giving money to Zionist organizations was noted. It seemed most Arab countries at this time simply wanted to make sure their Jewish populations didn't support the creation of a Jewish state and they wanted the Jews to renounce Zionism, declare their loyalty to their countries (whether Iraq or Morocco or Libya) and definitely not financially support any Jewish agencies which might work to relocate Jews to Palestine.  This reminds me of today in the United States where many Muslim "charities" are under suspicion for supporting what the United States deems as terrorist organizations.  If you want to support the Palestinians by giving to any charity with ties to Hamas or Hezbollah, forget it. 

And people here often want Muslims to show their loyalty to the United States. It seems some are suspicious of Muslim ties to that mysterious worldwide ummah.


The last chapter I finished was about Iraq from 1948 to1952.  One Jewish man put the reason why his family left, "because of 'hostility at a popular level to the new State of Israel' - not due to any official Iraqi discrimination or expulsion.'"  (pg. 243) It's as if the Arab people hated Israel so much that they took out their frustrations on the local Jewish populations which caused most of them to flee.  The author noted by the end of 1951, over 113,500 Jews had left Iraq legally while 6,000 remained.  When Jews left Iraq they had to surrender all but a small amount of money so a few Jews decided to stay.

What I find ironic to consider is
that European Jews discriminated against and hurt so much by the Holocaust and preceding years (and years) understandably wanted to flee Europe for the newly created Israel where they felt safe.  Most Arabs throughout the region hated this new creation so they took out their wrath on the Jewish people in their countries. Which, in turn, made those Jews want to leave.  So many Arab countries let them leave -- for Israel!  Which to me makes little sense. If you are wanting to destroy this newly-created entity, why bolster it with more people?  Especially Jewish people who seem to have an innate ability to thrive wherever God puts them?

I think I see more clearly why many Palestinians feel abandoned by other Arabs and why they are cynical of Arab nations truly wanting to aid them. If anything, Palestine and Palestinians have been used as a rallying point for some Muslims who are trying to unite a fragmented ummah. But has real effort taken place to do anything? Or is it mostly talk?  Arabs have often blamed their dictatorial leaders so we'll have to see if this Arab Spring - and new leaders coming to power - makes any difference for the Palestinian refugees.

All that said, it does not change the fact that I detest how Israel treats the Palestinians. I find it very shameful that people who have suffered so much over the centuries could, in turn, show they can be just as evil now that they are in superior positions. One would hope the human population would learn lessons from history, but that seems too difficult.

Thoughts? Corrections?  Please share!

(see the two previous posts for more information on this book)


Suroor said...

I have opinions on this but:

1. I'm not good in politics and am not even interested very much.
2. I don't think dialogue EVER helps and no matter how much we talk about it the other will NEVER agree.
3. I'm against Israeli occupation of Palestine just as much I'm against the exile of Jews from Arabia. But I also think that those ancient Jews and Palestinians of today are not completely blame free.
4. Didn't Palestinians sell their land to the Israelis?

Lat said...

I once read a book that said that European Jews actually prefered to go to the US or England,who presumably didn't want them there.I think I've read a few other articles with that effect.Not everyone thought and believed in settling in Isreal.Perhaps they did so because they didn't have a choice.If your fellow citizens look down upon you,making life difficult,then what can one do right?

The creation of Isreal,as the land for the Jews,does imply that now Jews have a land and so why stay here,in an Arab landand so the Arabs' justify their action that way? If we have a land for the Hindus,a land for the Confuscians,a land for the Buddhists,what will happen to integration,cohesiveness and beauty of diversity etc? that's what I noticed early on in my reading of Isreal and it's beginnings.I also understand the persecution the Jews had to undergo all thru' the lands they lived but is that the main reason for creating a nation for their race? Can this be a catalyst for any persecuted group to use to justify their actions?

The statistics of the 1922 and 1939 is interesting but these immigrants would have dual citizenship won't they? It sounds a little complicated.

Suroor said...

"f we have a land for the Hindus,a land for the Confuscians,a land for the Buddhists,what will happen to integration,cohesiveness and beauty of diversity etc?"

I totally agree with you, Lat! This is why many Indians (both Muslim and non-Muslim) didn't like the idea of the creation of Pakistan.

I was thinking about this yesterday and it occurred to me that in very ancient times religion was seen as nationalism. We have different labels now but maybe to ancient people religious beliefs - especially the new monotheistic beliefs - were the same as nationalistic feelings. Thus a nation meant an ummah meant a separate people who wanted a separate land. I feel sometimes like polytheistic faiths are more tolerant of others maybe because they are accepting of so many different types of gods?

Lat said...

"..polytheistic faiths are more tolerant of others maybe because they are accepting of so many different types of gods?"

That's what I think too.Some Hindus don't mind going to church,Muslim shrines or visiting mosques or a Muslim holy man and even to Chinese temples.To them all is the same.But of course as Hindus they are inclined to worship their gods more.They are definitely more tolerant than others.So far I've never heard my friends say that salvation lies in their faith alone.That speaks volume to me.

I think equating religion with nationalistic tendencies is highly possible as uniting separate groups as one,either as a common race or religion.When these both come to be pitted against one another,race wins.But natioanlism,as in fellow countrymen,can be greater.

When a SG Chinese saw how rude an immigrant Chinese(from China) was to a Malay man,mocking him,he immediately told him off and put it up in his blog,to tell immigrants whoever they are to respect local culture.I was so proud of his actions.A case where a Singaporean stood up for another.

Susanne said...

Suroor, interesting list (4 points)! I enjoy hearing your opinions. Sadly it does seem dialogue doesn't help a great deal in this situation although I wonder if ordinary people did the conversing if it would help. The leaders don't seem to get very far. :-/

About point 4...yes, I think some did and even Arabs in other places who owned land there. But then when they saw more Jews were settling in Palestine, the Arabs didn't want to lose their majority status. I do think the Zionists often did awful thing. I blame people from both sides really. Most were probably innocent, but instigators on both sides fanned the flames.

But I could be wrong.

Susanne said...

Lat, you ask a lot of interesting questions!

I think other nations were in consideration for a Jewish homeland..true. I've even heard Argentina, but I believe many Zionists had their hearts set on their ancient homeland because although it had been hundreds of years, the Jews passed along their desire "next year in Jerusalem" to their children from generation to generation. I remember Akbar Ahmed made note of that in his book. He said,

"Through discussion and dialogue with my Jewish friends, I have learned about Jewish history and culture and how these shape Jewish identity -- the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the trauma of the Diaspora, and the tragedy of the Holocaust, which remains a dark and troubling cloud over the history of all humankind. I also learned of the deep attachment that Jews feel toward the city of Jerusalem and the land of Israel, which is more than just a country to the Jewish people. It is an expression of their religious and cultural identity. Becoming friends with Jews allowed me to view the Israeli narrative from their perspective. In this way, while they saw and hopefully understood my Muslim narrative, I tried to understand theirs." (pg. 395)

I suppose the Jews have a deep attachment to Jerusalem much like Muslims have deep attachments to Mecca and Medina. The thing about the US and Argentina, is they have no Jerusalem. But, you're right...many Jews have been perfectly happy and seem to thrive in other nations. The Jews in America seem very well-adjusted here!

"The creation of Isreal,as the land for the Jews,does imply that now Jews have a land and so why stay here,in an Arab landand so the Arabs' justify their action that way?"

Yes, maybe so. Perhaps it was a Jewish hijrah and honestly after reading the Arab reaction to Jews living among them, I don't blame them for leaving! Plus that whole thing about having a choice to NOT be dhimmis makes a lot of sense to me. What American would choose to be a second-class citizen if she did not have to be? Probably not many because a lot of people love freedom. I imagine Muslim thinking is similar for many.

I think the Jews did feel they needed a secure homeland. They'd been dispersed among nations for centuries. They had gone through some good times, yes, but almost always they were still second-class citizens. After the awfulness of Holocaust which was like the straw that broke the camel's back, they decided enough was enough. Plus it was a time in history of growing nationalism according to Zachary Karabel's book that I read last year. Europe was becoming nationalistic and also this book mentioned Arabism. So I think Zionism as a nationalistic movement contributed towards that desire for the new state of Israel. Many of the leading Zionists in Europe were secular and thought the OT was fables. So it's not that all of them were Bible literalists though they used the Bible to their advantage in appealing to people when it suited their purposes.

That said, I totally agree about diversity. I'd be sad to live in a nation with all the very same people. It's too bad everyone was not given first-class status, equal rights regardless of religion or race or ethnicity to avoid people wanting to live in their own little same worlds.

I don't know about the dual citizenship thing. Honestly I have to take his word for some of this and I realize there are two sides (sometimes more) to a story. This was just the first time I'd really read the Jewish side and I found it of interest.

Thanks for your good observations and questions!

Susanne said...

Suroor, good thoughts about religion = nationalism of old. I've heard this as well and that's why they would talk of the Christian army fighting the pagan one or whatever. People identified themselves by religion rather than being, say, German or American or Pakistani as we would today. It's hard for me to think in those terms because I believe becoming a Christian is something you "become" by choice. Not something you *are* upon birth. That's why I have difficulty with Christian Crusaders because they were not Christ-like at all! But it seems the other understanding may be the more prevalent view throughout history. Still that doesn't make it right. If Christian means "little Christ" or "Christ like" and you don't act like Christ, you can say it all you want, but you are NOT Christian in the true sense of the word! Thus why I feel we need to move away from these labels...they are often inaccurate.

Thank you both for your feedback! Enjoyed it!

Anonymous said...

"All that said, it does not change the fact that I detest how Israel treats the Palestinians. I find it very shameful that people who have suffered so much over the centuries could, in turn, show they can be just as evil now that they are in superior positions. One would hope the human population would learn lessons from history, but that seems too difficult."

Your statement is an unfair conclusion by comparing Palestinians and Israeli. There have been horrible things done by Palestinians towards Israeli and their own people. These horrific acts of terror are done by those muslims and Palestinians who have been indoctrinated by their political and religious propagnda. In the conflict, there have been unjust treatment on both sides. Bearing in mind that Israel is still at war with neighbouring countries who seek to destroy Israel. Applying the situation to any other part of the world, you would see similar things happening. The Americans and the British and many others are as "evil and unjust" as the Israeli and the Palestinians. opinion is formulated by biased media reporting and lies from Islamic propaganda.
Check this video (less than 5 minutes):

The muslim man who speaks in this video has been reported in an Israeli newspaper:

When you have time try to visit the Middle East Media Research Institute and Arabs for Israel on the Internet to re-evaluate your point of view.

By the way, I am a Chinese who just found your site. Many interesting articles to read. Thanks.

Susanne said...

Hello Anonymous,

Welcome and thanks for your feedback. I appreciate your sharing your thoughts on this post and the situation between the Israelis and Palestinians.

I agree that the US and many others are unjust, too. Good point. Thanks for the reminder.

Hope you are well and for introducing yourself. Feel free to comment as often as you like on anything that takes your attention.

If you ever want to share more about yourself, I'm all ears. :)