Saturday, September 11, 2010

Christianity, Islam, and Anti-Semitism

I took the time (three hours) to copy all of these quotes for your benefit:

“Pope Gregory I (590-604), later known as Gregory the Great, began the tradition of protecting Jews. He issued a historic decree beginning with the words Sicut Judaeis (“As for the Jews”), which thereafter introduced all subsequent papal edicts defending the Jews. He affirmed that the Jews “should have no infringement of their reights…We forbid to vilify the Jews. We allow them to live as Romans and to have full authority over their possessions.” During his pontificate, Pope Gregory put these words into practice, forbidding forced conversions of Jews, intervening to protect Jews from violence, and insisting that Jewish religious rituals and practices be tolerated. In Naples, for example, where the local citizenry “had been exhorted to disturb the Jewish Sabbath service,” Gregory came to the defense of the Jews and “quieted down the militant spirits.” When the bishop of Palermo, “in an excessive act of religious zeal,” confiscated several synagogues, Jewish poor houses, and Jewish schools, Pope Gregory again “intervened and righted the wrongs.” When the Jews of Terracina, in Central Italy, complained “that Bishop Peter had seized their synagogue, ejecting them because their singing had been audible at a nearby church,” Gregory ordered that a synagogue elsewhere be given to them for worship services. The Jews of Italy and other countries frequently appealed to Pope Gregory for protection because of his reputation for benevolence and were greatly appreciative of his interventions on their behalf. Indeed, Gregory came to be admired in Jewish history as the first great papal friend of the Jews and was widely praised by medieval Jewish communal leaders and scholars. Judah Mosconi, an important fourteenth-century Jewish philosopher and scholar, praised Gregory as “a great sage and complete philosopher” who delved into Hebrew books “and loved Jews very much and made for them great deliverances [from harm] in his days.”
Gregory’s decree Sicut Judaeis gave its name to a second landmark papal edict, this one from Pope Calixtus II (1119-1124), who promised to defend European Jews from persecution by their Christian neighbors or at the hands of Crusaders. “Setting an iron precedent,” Calixtus promised Jews “the shield of our protection.” Calixtus II condemned physical attacks on the Jews, opposed their forced baptism, and forbade the destruction of their synagogues and cemeteries. These prohibitions were, as James Carroll has noted, a “strengthening” of those enunciated by Gregory “in recognition that, after the events of [the First Crusade in] 1096, the tradition of papal protection of the Jews had to be urgently reinforced.” Calixtus’s defense of the Jews, with its promise of continuing papal protection, was reissued at least twenty-two times by successive popes between the twelfth and fifteenth centures.” – Rabbi David Dalin, The Myth of Hitler’s Pope, p.19-20

“In 636 a Muslim army entered Palestine, and in 638 Jerusalem surrendered. Soon after his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the caliph ‘Umar wrote a letter of assurance to the city’s population:
This is the covenant given by God’s slave ‘Umar, commander of the believers, to the people of Jerusalem: He grants them security, to each person and his property: to their churches, their crosses, their sick and the healthy, to all people of their creed. We shall not station Muslim soldiers in their churches. We shall not destroy the churches nor impair any of their property or their crosses or anything which belongs to them. We shall not compel the people of Jerusalem to renounce their beliefs and we shall do them no harm.
Sounds humane and reasonable. However, the next sentence in this letter reads: “No Jew shall live among them in Jerusalem.
This seems a very odd prohibition, Arab sources claim that local Jews had welcomed and often aided the Muslim forces in Palestine. Some suppose that the prohibition was merely an extension of the Byzantine policy precluding Jews from Jerusalem…As for the Muslims continuing the ban, this was consistent with the Prohibition against Jews living anywhere in Arabia and with Muhammad’s persecutions of the Jews in Medina. In any event, a few years later the Muslim rulers dropped this prohibition and allowed Jews to move back into the city. This was at best a mixed blessing, since neither Christians nor Jews could live in Jerusalem—or anywhere else under Muslim rule—unless they accepted the subordinate role of dhimmi and were willing to live with the contempt and occasional persecution that that status entailed. “Almost generation after generation, Christian writers recorded acts of persecution and harassment, to the point of slaughter and destruction, suffered at the hands of the Muslim rulers.”” –Rodney Stark, God’s Battalions, p. 83-84

“Many critics of the Crusades would seem to suppose that after the Muslims had overrun a major portion of Christendom, they should have been ignored or forgiven; suggestions have been made about turning the other cheek. This outlook is certainly unrealistic and probably insincere. Not only had the Byzantines lost most of their empire; the enemy was at their gates. And the loss of Spain, Sicily, and southern Italy, as well as a host of Mediterranean islands, was bitterly resented in Europe. Hence, as British historian Derek Lomax (1933-1992) explained, “The popes, like most Christians, believed war against the Muslims to be justified partly because the latter had usurped by force lands which once belonged to Christians and partly because they abused the Christians over whom they ruled and such Christian lands as they could raid for slaves, plunder and the joys of destruction.” It was time to strike back.” –Rodney Stark, God’s Battalions, p. 32-33

“The Crusades were not unprovoked. Muslim efforts at conquest and colonization still continued in the eleventh century (and for centuries to come). Pilgrims did risk their lives to go to the Holy Land. The sacred sites of Christianity were not secure. And the Knights of Christendom were confident that they could put things right.” –God’s Battalions, p. 98

“The German Crusades and the Jewish Massacres
Historians often claim that the main body of Peter’s followers attacked Jews along the way to Constantinople. This is careless. As Frederic Duncalf (1881-1963) pointed out, Peter’s followers “do not seem to have been guilty of the persecution of the Jews which became so prevalent in the Rhine valley after their departure.” Several of these massacres were committed by two groups that were following in the wake of Peter’s expedition, but most of them were the work of German Knights who seem to have been involved with Peter.
Emicho of Leisingen was a minor Rhineland count who responded to the Pope’s call to crusade by assembling a small army of German Knights. Then, on May 3, 1096, two weeks after Peter’s group had set out for the Holy Land, Emicho led his troops in an attack on the Jewish population of Speyer (Spier). Some historians believe that Emicho’s attacks on the Jews were cynical, prompted primarily by greed, while others accept that he sincerely believed that all “enemies of Christ” should be converted or killed. In any event, warned of Emicho’s approach and intentions, the bishop of Speyer took the local Jews under his protection, and Emicho’s forces could lay their hands on only a dozen Jews who had somehow failed to heed the Bishop’s alarm. All twelve were killed. Then Emicho led his forces to Worms. Here, too, the bishop took the local Jews into his palace for protection. But this time Emicho would have none of that: his forces broke down the bishop’s gates and killed about five hundred Jews. The pattern was repeated the next week in Mainz. Here, too, the bishop attempted to shield the Jews but was attacked and forced to flee for his life. The same again in Cologne, and again in Metz. As the distinguished historian of anti-Semitism Leon Poliakov (1910-1997) summed up: “It is important to note that almost everywhere…bishops attempted, sometimes even at the peril of their own lives, to protect the Jews.” At this point a portion of Emicho’s forces broke away and set out to purge the Moselle Valley of Jews. Being careful only to attack towns without a resident bishop, they managed to kill several thousand Jews.
Meanwhile, two of Peter the Hermit’s followers, who had remained behind to organize stragglers, also attacked Jews. Volkmar overwhelmed the opposition of the local bishop and massacred Jews in Prague. Gottschalk led a murderous attack on the Jews of Ratisbon (Regensberg). The Pope “harshly condemned” all these attacks, “but there was little more he could do.” However, it turned out that there was a lot that the knights of Hungary could do. When Volkmar and his forces reached Hungary and began to pillage, they were wiped out by Hungarian knights. The same fate befell Gottshalk. And when Emicho and his forces reached Hungary they were denied passage, and when they tried to force their way through, they also were dispatched by Hungarian knights.
According to the revered historian of the Crusades Sir Steven Runciman (1903-2000), these defeats struck “most good Christians” as “punishments meted out from on high to the Murderers of Jews.” This is consistent with the efforts of local bishops to preserve the Jews, and with the fact that other armies gathered for the First Crusade did not molest Jews—with the possible exception of several hundred Jews who may have died in Jerusalem during the massacre subsequent to its fall to crusaders.”- God’s Battalions, 125-127

“While liberals attack traditionalist Catholics like Gibson, defame the memory of Pope Pius XII, and practice the virulent anti-Catholicism that, in Will Herberg’s phrase, is the anti-Semitism of liberal intellectuals, there is a real threat to Jews and indeed to Judeo-Christian civilization. “Right now,” Rabbi Lapin maintains, “the most serious peril threatening Jews, and indeed perhaps all of Western civilization, is Islamic fundamentalism. In this titanic twenty-first-century struggle that links Washington, D.C., with Jerusalem, our only steadfast allies have been Christians. In particular, those Christians who most ardently defend Israel, and most reliably denounce anti-Semitism, happen to be those Christians most fervently committed to their faith. Jewish interests are best served by fostering friendship with [these] Christians [rather] than cynically eroding them.”
In Pius XII’s time as well, the fundamental threats to Jews came not from devoted Christians—they were the prime rescuers of Jewish lives in the holocaust—but from anti-Catholic Nazis, atheistic Communists, and, as we’ll see, from Hitler’s mufti in Jerusalem.” The Myth of Hitler’s Pope, p. 124-125

“The undeniable historical fact remains, however, that it is in the Muslim, rather than the Christian, world that “the ancient and modern strands of anti-Semitism have been most successfully fused today, and from there the hatred of Jews receives its main propulsion outward,” as Gabriel Schoenfeld notes in his recent book The Return of Anti-Semitism. Numerous other Jewish scholars, intellectuals, and communal leaders agree. “The fact is,” asserts Abraham H. Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, “that virulent anti-Semitism is widespread throughout the Arab Middle East…Anti-Semitism is tolerated or openly endorsed by Arab governments, disseminated by the Arab media, taught in [Muslim] schools and universities, and preached in mosques. No segment of [Islamic] society is free of its taint.” Bernard Lewis, perhaps the twentieth century’s preeminent historian of Islam and the Middle East, writes that “classical anti-Semitism is an essential part of Arab intellectual life at the present time—almost as much as happened in Nazi Germany and considerably more than in late nineteenth-and early twentieth century France.”
The roots of Islamic anti-Semitism run deep—and they were invigorated by radical Islamic and Nazi collaboration during World War II. As Robert S. Wistrich of the Hebrew University, one of the world’s preeminent authorities on the history of anti-Semitism, has persuasively argued, the anti—Jewish legacy of Nazism “has proven to be especially potent” in the Arab-Islamic world, “where anti-Semitism is once again acquiring a potentially lethal charge.” Wistrich demonstrates that there is an anti-Jewish “culture of hatred that permeates books, magazines, newspapers, sermons, videocassettes, the Internet, television, and radio in the Arab Middle East that has not been seen since the heyday of Nazi Germany.” The same book and author, p. 127-128

“In the Arab world, the effects of Radical Islam’s wartime alliance with Hitler have been long-lasting. They are also in stark contrast to the experience of the Catholic Church in World War II. To put it bluntly, while Pope Pius XII was saving Jewish lives, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, was supporting Hitler’s Final Solution.” –The same book, p.131

“The Long Legacy of Muslim Anti-Semitic Literature
Hatred of the Jews is fanned in the Islamic world by the mass circulation of notoriously anti-Semitic publications, including the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Hitler’s viciously anti-Jewish autobiography Mein Kampf. The Protocols, an infamous forgery dating from Czarist Russia, purports to document a worldwide Jewish conspiracy “to rule the world through treachery, fraud, and secret violence.” Unfortunately, it is treated as authoritative scholarship in the Arab world. Egyptian president Gamal Abdul Nasser praised the book and recommended that it be widely read. Nasser told an interviewer from an Indian newspaper, “I will give you an English copy. It proves clearly, to quote from the Protocols, that “three hundred Zionists, each of whom knows all the others, govern the fate of the European continents and they elect their successors from their entourage.’” King Faisal of Saudi Arabia often gave copies of the Protocols to the guests of his regime. When he presented the Protocols, along with an anthology of anti-Semitic writings, to French journalists who accompanied French foreign minister Michel Jobert on his visit to Saudi Arabia in January of 1974, officials noted that it was among the king’s favorite books. Anwar Sadat, Muammar Qadafi of Libya, and, of course, Yasser Arafat, have enthuasiastically endorsed and promoted the Protocols as well. Spokesmen for the government of Iran, from the era of Ayatollah Khomeini to the present, have embraced the Protocols and often serialized the book in daily newspapers. Today, many Arabic translations fo the protocols are available, many published repeatedly by Egyptian government presses.
Hundreds of Arab periodicals regularly quote or summarize the Protocols, referencing them as the “authority” on the “perfidy of the Jews.” The Lebanese newspaper Al-Anwar reported that a recent edition of the book hit the top of its nonfiction bestseller list. As the great Middle East historian Bernard Lewis has pointed out, the Protocols “remain a staple not just of propaganda, but even of academic scholarship,” within the radical Islamic world.
Hitler’s Main Kampf, a favorite anti-Semitic publication of the grand mufti and his protégés, has similarly enjoyed a wide and appreciative radical Islamic audience in recent decades. Indeed, if the Protocols is the most popular anti-Semitic tract in the Arab world, Mein Kampf could be considered a close second. Hitler’s hate-filled and virulently anti-Jewish autobiography has been published in Arabic since 1963 and is a perennial bestseller in several Islamic countries. After the Six-Day War in 1967, Israeli soldiers discovered that many Egyptian prisoners carried small paperback editions of Mein Kampf, translated into Arabic by an official of the Arab Information Center in Cairo. The translator, who was known as el-Hadj, had been a leading official in the Nazi Propaganda ministry under the name Luis Heiden. Like his friend Hajj Amin al-Husseini, Heiden had fled to Egypt after World War II. He took this new name after converting to Islam. When Mein Kampf was republished by Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority in 2001, it achieved immediate bestseller status through the Arab world. While Mein Kampf continues to enjoy a wide and appreciative Arab audience, Schindler’s List, a film portraying the suffering of the Jews under Nazi rule, is banned in Arab countries.
The Arab media has also resurrected the blood libel that so many popes, medieval and modern categorically condemned and rejected. Since the early 1960s, the Arab media has routinely charged Jews with committing ritual murders. In 1962, the Egyptian ministry of education reissed Talmudic Sacrifices by Habib Faris, first published in 1890 in Cairo. In the introduction, the editor notes that the book constitutes “an explicit documentation of indictment, based upon clear-cut evidence that the Jewish people permitted the shedding of blood as religious duty enjoined in the Talmud.” On April 24, 1970, Yasser Arafat’s Fatah radio broadcast that “reports from the captured homeland tell that the Zionist enemy has begun to kidnap small children from the streets. Afterwards the occupying forces take the blood of the children and throw away their bodies. The inhabitants of Gaza have seen this with their own eyes.” And, as Abraham H. Foxman has pointed out, similar blood libel accusations continue to appear in the Arab media.
Some Arab political leaders, meanwhile, have thrown their weight behind the blood libel and charges of Jewish ritual murder. In August 1972, for example, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia reported in the Egyptian magazine al-Musawar that while he was in Paris “the police discovered five murdered children. Their blood had been drained and it turned out that some Jews had murdered them in order to take their blood and mix it with the bread that they eat on that [Passover] day.” The following year, in November 1973, Faisal stated that “it was necessary to understand the Jewish religious obligation to obtain non-Jewish blood in order to comprehend the [Jewish] crimes of Zionism.”
Similarly, in 1984, Syrian defense minister Mustafa Tlass published a book called the Matzah of Zion, in which he discussed the infamous Damascus Affair of 1840, in which the Jews of Damasucs, Syria, were falsely accused of ritual murder after a Capuchin friar and his Muslim servant had mysteriously disappeared. In the Matzah of Zion, Tlass claimed that the Jews of Damascus had indeed murdered the friar and his servant to use their blood to make the holiday matzah for Passover. In the book’s preface, Tlass warns: “The Jew can…kill you and take your blood in order to make his Zionist bread…I hope that I will have done my duty in presenting the practices of the enemy of our historic nation. Allah aid this project.” In 2001, an Egyptian producer announced that he was adapting Tlass’s book into a movie. “It will be,” he said, “the Arab answer to Schindler’s List.”
In the light of this continual use of the Koran, the blood libel, and the mass circulation of Mein Kampf by radical Muslim Arabs to incite hatred against the Jews, it is particularly irresponsible and outrageous for liberal papal critics like Goldhagen, Cornwell, Kertzer, and Carroll to blame the Catholic Church for anti-Semitism, to falsify the Church’s efforts to save Jews during the holocaust, and to ignore the fact that popes since the twelfth century have rejected the blood libel. It is not in the Catholic world that anti-Semitism thrives, or where religion is used to justify the Holocaust, or where the blood libel is promoted. It is in the radical Islamic world.
Anti-Semitic Arab leaders like Mahmood Abbas, Yasser Arafat’s chief deputy and designated successor, can go to the extent of denying the Holocaust even happened. From its inception, Holocaust denial has attracted widespread support in the Muslim Middle East. The government of Saudi Arabia, as Deborah Lipstadt has documented, paid for publication of a number of books accusing Jews of creating a myth of the Holocaust in order to win support for Israel. The Cyprus-based PLO publication El Istiglal trumpeted the Holocaust denial thesis under the headline “Burning of the Jews in the Nazi Chambers Is the Lie of the Twentieth Century.”
Mahmood Abbas is the author of a 1983 book titled The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and the Zionist Movement, which claims that the Nazis killed “only a few thousand” Jews, not six million, and that the Zionist movement “was a partner in the slaughter of the Jews” during the Third Reich. Abbas, who is considered a Palestinian “moderate” and was appointed by Arafat as the Palestinian Authority’s first prime minister in March 2003, has repeatedly refused to retract these claims. Indeed, shortly after this appointment as Arafat’s prime minister, Abbas reasserted his views in a May 28, 2003, interview with Journalists from the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot. And, as Kenneth R. Timmerman has documented, other Palestinian leaders have followed suit, espousing Abba’s line. Holocaust denial is regularly broadcast through the official Palestinian Authority media. It has become another standard radical Islamic calumny against the Jews.
Such anti-Semitic attitudes do not echo from the Vatican—and never have. As we have seen, the papacy of the Catholic Church has long philo-semitic tradition that goes back at least to the pontificate of Gregory the Great in the Sixth century. And, as I’ll show in the next chapter, during the pontificate of John Paul II, the contrast between Islamic and Catholic attitudes to the jews was as dramatic as ever.”—The same book, p.141-145

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