1948 in Modern Imagination: Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism

I wrote the following email in response to a friend who sent me an article (by Alain Epp Weaver) arguing that much of Christian critique of Israel is not antisemitic: http://divinity.uchicago.edu/martycenter/publications/sightings/archive_2005/0818.shtml


This is interesting.  The events of 1948, however, are far more complex than the author indicates.  Arab nations not only rejected Israel’s statehood, but also rejected the U.N. partition plan that would have offered Palestinian Arabs almost half of what is now Israel.  Arabs preferred to destroy Israel and kill all Jews, even though Jews had lived in then Palestine for two millennia.  In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, there were many areas with Jewish majorities. In 1948, Arab nations encouraged Arabs in Palestine to leave their homes so that they could create a crisis that would lead to the destruction of Israel.  The Israeli military was implicated in some expulsions, but Arabs nations took an even greater interest in seeing the Arab residents of Palestine expelled.  In general, Arabs simply did not like Jews and wanted them out.  The Mufti of Jerusalem had even sided with Hitler and the Nazis.  If the Germans had ever taken charge of the Middle East, you can imagine what Arabs would have done to resident Jews.  The bottom line:  in 1948 Israeli Jews wanted to make accommodation with their Arab neighbors, but the Arabs despised Jews and (later in the words of  Gamal Abdul-Nasser and Yasser Arafat) preferred to drive them into the sea.

If you want to know how large numbers of Arabs view Jews, take a look at these attachments, especially the video clips from an Egyptian state television soap opera (2002) that depict the Protocols of Zion (the notorious, forged anti-Semitic document) and even the more ancient blood libels against Jews–these clips are among the most chilling and disgusting I’ve ever seen.  And this is not fringe, but mainstream Arab and Muslim opinion in the Middle East.  See my August 9 post in this blog on these documents: http://mysticscholar.org/2005/08/09/antisemitism-in-the-middle-east/

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DR. LAURENCE H. KANT (LARRY KANT), MYSTIC SCHOLAR: Engaged Mysticism and Scholarship in the Pursuit of Wisdom; Discovering meaning in every issue and facet of life; Integrating scholarship, spirituality, mysticism, poetry, community, economics, and politics seamlessly. Historian of Religion: Ph.D., Yale University, 1993 (Department of Religious Studies); Exchange Scholar, Harvard University, Rabbinics, 1983-84; M.A., 1982, Yale, 1982 (Department of Religious Studies); M.T.S., Harvard Divinity School, 1981; B.A., Classics (Greek and Latin), Tufts University, 1978; Wayland High School (Wayland, MA), 1974. Served on the faculty of Cornell University (Ithaca, NY), York University (Toronto), and Lexington Theological Seminary (Lexington, KY). Works in many languages: Ancient Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, English, French, Italian, German, Modern Greek (some Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish). Holder of numerous honors and awards, including The Rome Prize in Classics (Prix de Rome) and Fellow of the American Academy of Rome.

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