The Litmus Test…
by Gerald A. Honigman
To my Jewish brothers
To my Arab brothers
so that we can all
be free men at last
In honor of Holocaust Memorial Day, National Public Radio had a program focusing on Israel’s nominating a deceased man from Tunisia, Khaled Abdulwahab, as its first Arab Righteous Gentile…one of the non-Jews who risked their own lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.
It was a great program and interviewed family members from both sides…a Tunisian Jewess and her new friend and Arab counterpart.
Having given NPR its due, this all begs the question…
Why the silence over all the years about the other side of this story?
Hajj Amin al-Husseini--the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in the era of World War II--was Hitler’s great friend and ally. Among other things, he personally recruited the Bosnian Muslim Hanjar (Saber) Division of the Waffen SS. And there were not a few other examples of Arab/Muslim collaboration with Nazis as well.
The normal Arab response has often been that in their war against the Jews, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. And, “After all,“ Jew hatred and the Holocaust were a “Western” problem.
Nice try…and the often all-too-willingly gullible--like NPR--buy into it.
Were politics involved in the Arab decisions to join the Nazis?
For Arabs, politics mixed with religion are always involved.
During the very same NPR program, the subject of Darfur came up…another genocide against another people.
Yet--surprise (not)--while the hero of the Holocaust ‘s identity, Arab, was highlighted (while ignoring Arab collaboration with the Nazis), no mention was given to the identity of the perpetrators of the decades old massacres, rapes, expulsions, enslavement, etc. and so forth of some two million black African Sudanese…Arabs.
A little comparison, please.
Imagine the unimaginable…Jews raiding Arab villages and doing the above to millions of Arab civilians posing no threat, harboring no terrorists, or committing no aggression against them.
Would the world have stood by for decades and not stopped this? Would the identity of the perpetrators have been ignored or, at best, placed in the umpteenth paragraph of the news article where it could be very likely missed altogether? Would it have taken NPR decades to do a program about this? Do I even need to ask these questions?
You see, there is, unfortunately, a good analogy here.
Arabs opposed the rebirth of Israel because of religio-politcal reasons. But religion and politics are virtually always intimately intertwined in Islam.
Once a land is conquered in the name of Islam, it can never revert back to its non-Islamic identity--the age-old Dar ul-Islam vs. the Dar al-Harb thing.
The rebirth of Israel--half of whose Jews who are descendants of refugees from Arab/Muslim lands--was thus opposed on religious grounds.
But the other, political side of this coin is that upon the collapse of the Ottoman Turkish Empire (which ruled most of the region for over four centuries), Arabs declared the whole area to be purely Arab patrimony. And woe unto those who didn’t play ball.
Scores of millions of non-Arabs were caught up in this racist Arab game…including fellow non-Arab Muslims.
That’s what Darfur is about today, Arab genocide against black African fellow Muslims. But you would have never known this listening to that NPR program discussing Darfur while praising Abdulwahab. Decades earlier, the main Arab targets in the Sudan were non-Muslim blacks in the south whose crime was wanting freedom from the oppression of the Arab north.
A similar story can be told about Arab actions and attitudes towards Kurds, Assyrians, Copts, Berbers, and so forth…massacres, gassings, subjugation, outlawing of native cultures and languages, etc. and so forth. As I frequently point out, how dare others demand a sliver of the justice Arabs so forcefully demand for themselves.
Now, please revisit the opening quote at the very beginning of this article..
It is the beginning of Professor Albert Memmi’s book, Jews And Arabs.
Memmi--like the Jewish family saved by Khaled Abdulwahab--is a Tunisian Jew.
Despite having actively fought for independence against the French, Memmi and the vast majority of Tunisia's Jews felt unable to stay upon the creation of the new Muslim state. Most went to Israel or France and became part of the other side of the refugee coin--created after the attack by a half dozen Arab nations on a miniscule, resurrected Israel in 1948--no one ever talks about.
As for the Arab line--too often repeated by the ignorant abroad--that Jewish suffering was solely a Western Christian problem, “so why should Arabs be ‘victimized’ for it?,” please listen to how Memmi, the Tunisian Jew who fought for Tunisian independence and whose ancestors very likely predated the Arab conquest of Berber Tunisia, answers this…
“…The truth is that we lived in the Arab countries amidst fear and humiliation. I will not take the time here to recite another litany, that of the massacres that preceded (Memmi’s own emphasis) Zionism, but I can make it available to you whenever you wish. The truth is that these young Jews from the Arab countries were Zionists before Auschwitz. The State of Israel is not the result of Auschwitz but of the Jewish condition everywhere, including the Arab countries.”
Now, NPR travels the world to conduct interviews for its programs. Too often those interviews are slanted against Israel.
Memmi has been a world famous academic and author for decades--and, by the way, very much a “left-winger” as well. Should be right up NPR’s alley, don’t ya think?
The litmus test for fairness and objectivity when it comes to the study of any conflict should be whether the same lenses of moral scrutiny are used when critiquing the parties involved.
So, to answer my own question about that proposed NPR Memmi interview…
Don’t hold your breath.