24 June 2010

"As the Arabs see the Jews"

A link to this speech was posted on Reddit last week.  The text is from an essay written in 1947 - near the very beginnings of the never-ending Israeli-Palestinian disputes.  Here's part of the background:
This fascinating essay, written by King Hussein’s grandfather King Abdullah, appeared in the United States six months before the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. In the article, King Abdullah disputes the mistaken view that Arab opposition to Zionism (and later the state of Israel) is because of longstanding religious or ethnic hatred. He notes that Jews and Muslims enjoyed a long history of peaceful coexistence in the Middle East, and that Jews have historically suffered far more at the hands of Christian Europe...
And here are some excerpts from the text:
No people on earth have been less "anti-Semitic" than the Arabs. The persecution of the Jews has been confined almost entirely to the Christian nations of the West. Jews, themselves, will admit that never since the Great Dispersion did Jews develop so freely and reach such importance as in Spain when it was an Arab possession. With very minor exceptions, Jews have lived for many centuries in the Middle East, in complete peace and friendliness with their Arab neighbours.

Damascus, Baghdad, Beirut and other Arab centres have always contained large and prosperous Jewish colonies. Until the Zionist invasion of Palestine began, these Jews received the most generous treatment—far, far better than in Christian Europe. Now, unhappily, for the first time in history, these Jews are beginning to feel the effects of Arab resistance to the Zionist assault. Most of them are as anxious as Arabs to stop it. Most of these Jews who have found happy homes among us resent, as we do, the coming of these strangers...

Italians might claim England, which the Romans held so long. England might claim France, "homeland" of the conquering Normans. And the French Normans might claim Norway, where their ancestors originated. And incidentally, we Arabs might claim Spain, which we held for 700 years.

Many Mexicans might claim Spain, "homeland" of their forefathers. They might even claim Texas, which was Mexican until 100 years ago. And suppose the American Indians claimed the "homeland" of which they were the sole, native, and ancient occupants until only some 450 years ago!

I am not being facetious. All these claims are just as valid—or just as fantastic—as the Jewish "historic connection" with Palestine. Most are more valid...

Let me underline several facts. The unimaginable persecution of the Jews was not done by the Arabs: it was done by a Christian nation in the West. The war which ruined Europe and made it almost impossible for these Jews to rehabilitate themselves was fought by the Christian nations of the West. The rich and empty portions of the earth belong, not to the Arabs, but to the Christian nations of the West.

And yet, to ease their consciences, these Christian nations of the West are asking Palestine—a poor and tiny Moslem country of the East—to accept the entire burden. "We have hurt these people terribly," cries the West to the East. "Won’t you please take care of them for us?"

We find neither logic nor justice in this. Are we therefore "cruel and heartless nationalists"?

I will be entirely frank with you. There is one thing the Arab world simply cannot understand. Of all the nations of the earth, America is most insistent that something be done for these suffering Jews of Europe. This feeling does credit to the humanity for which America is famous, and to that glorious inscription on your Statue of Liberty.

And yet this same America—the richest, greatest, most powerful nation the world has ever known—refuses to accept more than a token handful of these same Jews herself!

I hope you will not think I am being bitter about this. I have tried hard to understand that mysterious paradox, and I confess I cannot. Nor can any other Arab.
The full essay is at the link.  Remember, this was written in 1947.  The Reddit discussion thread is here.


  1. No thanks for the hate literature. The Jewish people have held dominion over the area now known as Israel since at least 1350 B.C.E. This link you posted is propaganda.

    1. Israel became a nation in 1312 B.C.E., two thousand years before the rise of Islam
    2. Arab refugees in Israel began identifying themselves as part of a Palestinian people in 1967, two decades after the establishment of the establishment of the modern state of Israel
    3. Since the Jewish conquest in 1272 B.C.E. the Jews have had dominion over the land for one thousand years with a continuous presence in the land for the past 3,300 years.
    4. The only Arab dominion since the conquest in 635 C.E. lasted no more than 22 years.
    5. Jerusalem is mentioned over 700 times in Tanach, the Jewish Holy Scriptures. Jerusalem is not mentioned once in the Koran.
    6. King David founded the city of Jerusalem. Mohammed never came to Jerusalem.
    7. Jews pray facing Jerusalem. Muslims pray with their backs to Jerusalem.
    8. In 1948 the Arab refugees were encouraged to leave Israel by Arab leaders promising to purge the land of Jews. Sixty-eight per cent left without ever seeing an Israeli soldier.
    9. The Jewish refugees were forced to flee from Arab lands due to Arab brutality, persecution and pogroms.
    10. The number of Arab refugees who left Israel in 1948 is estimated to be around 630,300. The number of Jewish refugees from Arab lands is estimated to be the same.
    11. Arab refugees were INTENTIONALLY not absorbed or integrated into the Arab lands to which they fled, despite the vast Arab territory. Out of the 100,000,000 refugees since World War II, theirs is the only refugee group in the world that has never been absorbed or integrated into their own peoples’ lands. Jewish refugees were completely absorbed into Israel, a country no larger than the state of New Jersey.
    12. The Arabs are represented by eight separate nations, not including the Palestinians. There is only one Jewish nation. The Arab nations initiated all five wars and lost. Israel has defended itself each time and won.
    13. The PLO’s Hamas charter still calls for the destruction of the state of Israel. Israel has given the Palestinians most of the West Bank land, autonomy under the Palestinian Authority, and has supplied them with weapons.
    14. Under Jordanian rule, Jewish holy sites were desecrated and the Jews were denied access to places of worship. Under Israeli rule, all Muslim and Christian sites have been preserved and made accessible to people of all faiths.
    15. Of the 175 Security Council resolutions passes before 1990, 97 were directed against Israel.
    16. Of the 690 General Assembly resolutions passed before 1990, 429 were directed against Israel.
    17. The U.N. was silent while 58 Jerusalem synagogues were destroyed by the Jordanians.
    18. The U.N. was silent while the Jordanians enforced an apartheid-like policy of preventing Jews from visiting the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.

  2. There is one falsehood that many hold, including (too) many Jews and Israelis which is that Zionism is a consequence of the Holocaust.

    The first Zionist Congress took was held in 1897.


  3. BLG,

    You call the essay "propaganda", then post your own propaganda (Yes. Look up the definition of the word).

    You call it "hate literature". What makes it hate literature and yours not?

    How is the point about Native Americans invalid? Or did you not bother to actually read the post?

    You also, in your propaganda, bring in many issues that arose after the writing of the essay in 1947. How is that relevant to a discussion of this essay?

    In fact, it's hard for me to see how your comment relates to the original post, except as an excuse to put forward your propaganda.

    Why should I, or anyone else, give any credence to what you say? No, I'm not claiming that you lied. I'm claiming that you have done nothing to warrant any consideration in the conversation.

  4. I am *very* surprised to find this on this site. The most risible claim is that there was not long standing religious or ethnic hatred against Jews by Arabs. One of the first acts of a politically and militarily ascendent Mohammed was to deport the Jews (who would not accept the Prophet) and confiscate their property.

    Jews did enjoy peace and stability from say 900 to 1200 AD under a prosperous and expanding Islamic empire. Maimonides and the Jewish "Golden Age" in Spain would be a good example. Sadly, it is also an example of how the second-class, non-muslim citizens of this empire lived at the mercy of political and religious convenience. When the Almohads ascended in Spain the forcibly converted Christians and Jews to Islams slaughtering those that resisted or refused.

    The Ottoman's were content to let Jews live as second class citizens. This was not free of sporadic pogroms against Jewish communities.

    During Hitler's rise and after the 1935 Nuremburg racial laws went into effect he received much support from middle eastern leaders. The Mufti of Jerusalem (not an unimportant figure of the time) was an ardent supporter of Hitler. Even the yellow badge to designate Jews was a creation of the Caliph of Baghdad, Caliph al-Mutawakkil. The 1940's also saw serious anti Jewish pogroms in many Middle Eastern countries causing most Jews to flee Iraq, Syria, Lebanon., etc.

    The type of literature in this post is meant to delegitimize Israel by blaming the current hateful and anti-semitic behavior of Israel's neighbors on the founding of the state of Israel. This is a laughable proposition.

    As a final point the idea that The US absorbed only a handful of Jewish refugees (whether from the Middle East or Europe) is just demonstrably false.

  5. There are also MILLIONS of jews living happily in the United States. I only say that to address the point that was made in the essay regarding America not accepting them herself.

  6. I guess I need to point out that I posted this with the title "As the Arabs see the Jews", not "As TYWKIWDBI sees the Middle East."

    I thought it was a carefully considered opinion by a knowledgeable Arab presented in a public forum in an era before the situation became clouded by the 1948 war and several more decades of violence and mutual disrespect.

    Don't be suprised that I posted it here; I post all kinds of stuff. I totally don't expect everyone to agree with everything; I don't agree with everything I post. I am willing to post stuff that ticks some people off just in order to stimulate thought by readers.

    Wait till you see (or preferably skip over) the burning man coming up.... (if the link isn't dead yet)

  7. I definitely figured that was the case. The title might be more apt "As at least One Arab Sees the Jews" assuming it was not written with the idea of propaganda in mind, which is not ruled out by the date as the treatment of Jews the world over was of concern long before 1948.


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