Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Say "Hello" to Scott Smith

Michael L.

One of the great things about commenting upon the Arab-Israel conflict is that often people comment back and sometimes those people have some very interesting things to say.

In that regard I would recommend my readership to the comments of Scott Smith beneath my piece for the Elder entitled, The Erasure and Confiscation of Jewish History.

Scott has a number of interesting criticisms and questions, but for the moment I want to take just one.

He writes:
there were instances in history in which Islam was highly repressive of the Jews and there were few if any instances in which Islam accorded American like freedom to its Jews, by the low standards of pre-enlightenment Christendom, pre-modern Islam was usually an improvement.
This idea has been prominent in the historiography for a long time, although I am uncertain of the truth of it.  I am not an historian of the Middle East, but what most historians of the Middle East would agree upon is Scott's central assertion.  The Jews generally had it better in the Middle Ages under Islam than under European Christianity.

What I worry about, however, is that this truth - if it is, indeed, true - will be used to white-wash the fact that for 1,300 years the Jews of the Middle East lived as second and third-class non-citizens under the boot of Arab-Muslim imperialism.  Upon freeing ourselves from the system of subservience known in Arabic as dhimmitude in the twentieth-centuryvia the movement for Jewish Liberation (Zionism), the Arab world launched a war against the Jews of the Middle East that continues to this day.

I would ask Scott to consider this quote from Efraim Karsh (Head of the Middle East and Mediterranean Studies Programme, King's College, London) in his Palestine Betrayed:
At the time of the Muslim occupation of Palestine in the seventh century, the country's Jewish population ranged in the hundreds of thousands at the very least; by the 1880s, Palestine's Jewish community had been reduced to about 24,000, or some 5 percent of the total population. 
(Efraim Karsh, Palestine Betrayed, Yale University Press, 2010, pg. 8)
Just how is it that if the numbers of Jews living in the Land of Israel at the time of the Muslim conquests was in the hundreds of thousands, why were there only around 24,000 by the 19th century?

Just what transpired over the course of 12 centuries that might account for the almost never-remarked upon brutal decimation of the Jewish population of the region?

Depending upon the conclusions that we draw from this question, we might consider incorporating those conclusions into our understanding of the long Arab-Muslim conflict against the Jews in the Middle East.

The truth of the matter is that the Jews in that part of the world were nearly wiped out between the arrival of Muhammad's armies and the rise of the Movement for Jewish Liberation, otherwise known as Zionism, in the nineteenth-century.

So, yes, I have clearly drawn my conclusions.


  1. Hey Trudy,

    you know who I miss?


    I miss him for a number of reasons, but one of the reasons that I do so is because when he was front paging articles, so were you.

  2. I have something in process, I hope.

  3. btw, just to be clear, I never asserted that the creation of Israel was the sole cause to the nearly 100% complete ethnic cleansing of all Jews from the Arab and Muslim world.

    I assume that is a miscommunication because I simply never said anything like that.