The new dhimmitude

Dhimmitude, the subordinate status of Jews and Christians under Muslim domination, has existed since the beginning of Islam. Today, under the influence of global jihad, it is becoming a world-wide reality. According to historian Bat Ye’or in a disturbing article at NRO, the response of dhimmis to Muslims in the modern world takes three forms: active resistance (the usual response to which is massacre, such as in Armenia in the early 20th century and Indonesia today); passive resistance (she points out that groups attempting passive resistance, such as Egyptian Christians, are being cruelly abandoned by Western Christians); and collaboration. Collaboration takes a civilizational form and a theological form. The civilizational form is seen in the growing alliance between the European Union and the Arab countries, accompanied by the invention of an “idyllic Islamic-Christian past that upholds the political construction of a future Eurabia.” The theological form, which she calls Liberationist Palestinian Theology, involves the recognition by collaborationist Christians of a Christianity rooted in Islam rather than Judaism, thus denying Christianity’s Jewish matrix. As Bat Ye’or writes, “This would place Palestine, and not Israel, at the origin of Christianity, making Israelis usurpers of the Islamic-Christian Palestinian homeland.”

Reading Bat Ye’or’s article, I now understand better what American Conservative editor Scott McConnell was doing when he approvingly quoted a Christian minister who described Mary the mother of Jesus as a “poor Palestinian woman.” Consciously or unconsciously, McConnell was invoking the Revisionist Palestinian Theology which is aimed at removing Israel from its central place in the Christian world view, as a preparation for removing Israel from the world.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 18, 2003 01:22 PM | Send


Scott McConnell: “From church may have come the spark of another realization: that the Palestinians, many of whom are Christian, are people deserving of dignity and rights. In one of the first Christmas services I attended, the minister alluded to Jesus’ mother Mary as “a poor Palestinian woman.” For a new congregant who had spent the previous decade in circles where the word “Palestinian” was rarely uttered without a sneer implying a congenital predilection for murder and mayhem, the phrase about Mary rattled around the mind for a while.”

I cannot be so critical on Scott McConnell for saying that as Mr. Auster has been. He expresses what he thinks about the situation quite clearly in the next paragraph: “Washington’s commitment to Israel’s existence is a given—a logical and moral goal. But support for Israel’s suppression of the Palestinians, whose lands the Israeli Right covets, does nothing but generate hatred for the United States. In the aftermath of 9/11, some neoconservatives (and others who are simply gullible) have touted the line that the United States is hated “because of its freedom.” This slogan fit for small children contradicts what virtually any American with business, diplomatic, or military experience in the Middle East will say.”

McConnell’s position here is too strong to dismiss simply as “Revisionist Palestinian Theology”—although I am absolutely certain that such a phenomenon exists and is a strong and evil force in the debate.

Posted by: Thrasymachus on September 18, 2003 2:19 PM

The world attempts to make traditionalists face a false choice: either join the ancient enemy against the modern enemy, or join the modern enemy against the ancient. If you do the former we’ll call you a paleo, and if you do the latter we’ll call you a neocon.

I may end up standing in a very small group, but for my part I won’t be joining forces with either the ancient enemy or the modern one. Either course is suicide.

Posted by: Matt on September 18, 2003 2:28 PM

I strongly suspect that any endorsing of “Revisionist Palestinian Theology” McConnell may have been doing was unconscious, if even that. The motives of the Christian minister he quoted may have been less innocent. Still, the Romans who were the ultimate rulers of Israel at the time of our Lord called the province Mary lived in Palestine; to them she would have been just that: a Palestinian woman. It is, however, a very curious phrase for a Christian cleric, presumably aware of what the people in the Gospel story were, to use.

Much of the success of dhimmitude Yeor writes of is more testament to the weakness of Christianity in its former lands than to the strength of Islam. Western European (and American) governments truckling to demanding Moslem immigrants is a spectacle one could only observe in countries that have lost their Christian faith. The silence from those same countries about the persecution of the Copts, natives of Egypt for millennia before any Moslem brandished a scimitar there, and about the way Moslems throughout the lands they rule are driving out native Christians is another sign of the same fatal weakness.

As it stands now, Moslems are winning this religious struggle because so few Christians - and Jews, in their much smaller numbers - even see that they are in a religious struggle and, ultimately, will not have the luxury of saying that religion just isn’t all that important to them. The people with convictions are likely to prevail, even if their convictions are wrong. HRS

Posted by: Howard Sutherland on September 18, 2003 2:30 PM

Mary and Joseph were from the southern part of Palestine, Judaea, which was ruled by Roman prefects during the childhood of Jesus. The northern part of Palestine, where Jesus was raised, was Galilee, and was ruled by Herod’s son Antipas. Although the term Palestine was used by Greek writers as far back as Herodotus in a general sense to describe the area, it was not until the emperor Vespasian’s suppression of the Jewish revolt in 70 that the Romans ruled the whole area as a province called Palestine. So it is very unlikely that Mary would have been called a Palestinian, and most likely that she would have been considered, first and foremost, as a Jew.

Bat Ye-or’s article puts McConnell’s comment that many of the Palestinians are Christian in a new light. It depends upon what you mean by Christian, but Marcion has been considered a heretic since the second century.

Posted by: Agricola on September 18, 2003 3:11 PM

I think that there is a little historical confusion here.
Roman Occupied Israel was called “Iudea” by the Romans from 63BCE to 135CE. The term “Palestine” was introduced by the Romans as part of their campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Jews following the Bar Kokhba revolt of 132-136.
Jerusalem was essentially leveled and renamed Aeolia Capitolina (sp?). Jews were barred from the city. Israel/Iudea was renamed “Syria Palestinia”
The actual Philistines had been destroyed in the 8th century. This was simply an attempt to end political aspirations of the Jews.
The Israeli and Palestinian christians of today (at least the Orthodox ones) are decended from the Hellenized Syrians and Romans who colonized Judea under Roman and Byzantine rule. However as late as 617, Jews were still a plurality and were able to temporarily retake Judea with the help of the Samaritans during the final Persian-Byzantine war.

Posted by: Ron on September 18, 2003 3:17 PM

There are some interesting points being made here about the fact that the area in question was known by the Romans as Palestine; I did not know what Ron tells us, that they didn’t call it that until the 2nd century as an attempt to dispossess the Jews. But I still think the comments are somewhat missing the main point. Informing people about the historical name of the land was _not_ the minister’s intent when he called the most famous Jewish woman in the world a “poor Palestinian woman,” and it was not the meaning that the phrase had for McConnell. The meaning it had for him was to displace the Jews symbolically from that land and put the “Palestinians” in their place as the rightful objects of our solicitude.

In my view, any rights that the Palestinian Arabs may have had in that land have been abrogated by their own savage behavior. The Israelis cannot live next to people who intend their destruction nor should they be expected to live next to them. McConnell wrote that article several years into the terror intifada of 2000-2003, when there was no room left for any illusions about the nature of the Palestinians. Yet he was stiil in the mindset of imagining them as innocent victims.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on September 18, 2003 4:01 PM

I agree with Mr. Auster. The pretexts are unimportant and, frankly, the private intentions of the individual speakers are unimportant; the weltanschauung is everything.

Posted by: Matt on September 18, 2003 4:10 PM

The historical name was not the main point, I agree. But I think that Mr. Auster’s interpretation is still not correct. It is not necessary to impute evil motives to McConnell here. The meaning is what McConnell said the meaning was: “the Palestinians, many of whom are Christian, are people deserving of dignity and rights.” It is hard to remain a Christian and deny that. It is a fact that many, if not the majority really are innocent victims. They are victims primarily of the tyranny of their leaders, but they are also victims of Israel’s actions—some justified, others unjustified.

Posted by: Thrasymachus on September 18, 2003 4:24 PM

I’d like Agricola to expand on his mention of Marcion in the context of Palestinian Christians. Are alot of them Marcionites?

Posted by: Paul Cella on September 18, 2003 4:34 PM

Re Thrasy’s comment, if all McConnell had meant was that the Palestinians have dignity and rights, then WHY would he couch that supposedly well-meant idea in terms of such a gross (and obviously anti-Jewish) re-writing of history?.

When an Afro-centrist says “Socrates was black, Beethoven was black,” he’s not just making an historical comment (leaving aside the truth or falsity of that comment); and he’s not just seeking to include blacks in Western culture; rather, he is seeking to do to Europeans what he falsely accuses Europeans of having done to Africans: to steal their identity, culture and achievements and claim them for themselves. Calling Mary a “poor Palestinian woman” has a similar kind of ideological intent.

Similarly, when Jesse Jackson called Mary single homeless woman, he was obviously seeking to appropriate the Bible for his own political purposes. What is it so hard to see that McConnell was engaged in a similar attempt?

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on September 18, 2003 4:36 PM

I see what Mr. Auster is saying. That was simply not how I read the minister’s words, however. I viewed the word Palestinian there to refer to the area, not the race. If the minister is of the normal variety, he is probably convinced that race does not exist. To me, the statement was a simple expression that all of the people in “Palestine” are the same in at least one fundamental way: they are human beings. And I am reasonably sure that is how McConnell understood it from his other words on the subject.

Posted by: Thrasymachus on September 18, 2003 4:46 PM

I apologize for occasionally making further changes in my comments after I post them, since people may start to respond to a comment, and then find that it has been changed. I will try not to do that in the future.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on September 18, 2003 4:46 PM

Mr. Auster,

Of course you can change your comments; it’s your forum. Can the rest of us do the same? There are some embarrassing typos in some of mine.

I think this thread has become tangled in analyzing what McConnell was thinking when he quoted some minister. What we should be thinking about is why dhimmitude is so powerful in the Dar el-Islam and why some of us Westerners are willing to cater to it, in a cultural sense at least, out here in the Dar al-Harb. HRS

Posted by: Howard Sutherland on September 18, 2003 5:14 PM

It’s not possible for commenters to change their comments. However, I occasionally change or edit a comment at the commenter’s request. If you have really messed up a comment and want it changed, you could re-write the comment and e-mail it to me, and I will then put the new text in place of the old. But that can only be for rare, fairly drastic problems.

Re this thread, the focus on McConnell is my fault, since I threw in that zinger at him at the end of the article. The real issue of course is Bat Yeor’s frightening thesis that Europe is adopting a stance of dhimmitude. Maybe we should return to that.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on September 18, 2003 5:27 PM

I am less concerned with McConnell’s personal spiritual culpability than I am with the objective contribution his remark makes to the zeitgeist. Mr. Auster is right about the effects of the remark, so who really cares what McConnell _intended_?

Posted by: Matt on September 18, 2003 5:29 PM

Matt wrote:

“I am less concerned with McConnell’s personal spiritual culpability than I am with the objective contribution his remark makes to the zeitgeist. Mr. Auster is right about the effects of the remark, so who really cares what McConnell _intended_?”

This is a important distinction, which we should all remember. There is a natural tendency to focus on the personal intentions of an individual rather than on the larger meaning and effect of what he is saying.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on September 18, 2003 5:50 PM

I apologize for the error—Ron is correct. I mixed up my first and second Jewish wars, which is particularly foolish since Vespasian issued a very famous coin with the reverse “IUDAEA CAPTA” after his victory:

Marcion was the second century prophet who taught that the God of the Old Testament was an evil God whom Christ had vanquished on the cross. His Bible contained no OT books and fewer NT ones, as well. If Palestinian Christians follow the Marcionite doctrines that Bat Yeor’s article describes, then I don’t think most Christians would consider them orthodox.

Posted by: Agricola on September 18, 2003 6:27 PM

Public discussion of the muslim concept of dhimmitude is welcome. Most people in the West are completely uninformed about the nature of Islam and assume that it must somehow be similar to Christianity or Judaism. Islam reduces the non-believer to a below-human status. It calls for outright extermination of atheists and apostates, and only tolerates the continued existence of “people of the book,” i.e., Christians and Jews, in a subordinate status, stripped of most civil rights (to the extent that civil rights can be said to exist at all under sharia), and subject to punitive special levies. This highly conditional toleration is subject to revocation at any time. Isn’t the idea of peaceful coexistence with those who take this seriously simply impossible?

Posted by: thucydides on September 18, 2003 7:17 PM

I finally recall where I saw a good discussion of dhimmitude just recently. “Whitewashing Radical Islam” on Frontpage:

Posted by: Thrasymachus on September 18, 2003 7:42 PM

“Isn’t the idea of peaceful coexistence with those who take this seriously simply impossible?”

Yes. That’s why Bush’s “war on terror” is so inadequate. Islam is only acceptable when it has no power to affect the Dar al-Harb, i.e., the rest of the world. Therefore victory in the “war on terror” must aim, not at “democratizing” Islam or “bringing it into the modern world,” but of demoralizing it and returning it to the quiescent state it was in prior to, say, 1979.

Does anyone else have a different strategy to suggest? The anti-war paleocons, just like anti-war liberals, tend to downplay the danger of Islam because they don’t want us to have to fight anyone beyond our borders. But that’s just escapism, not a serious policy. It would only allow the world-wide power of Islam to grow. We must recognize that we are back in the situation that the West faced between the 7th and the 17th centuries, having to defend ourselves from an alien civilization that represents our own destruction.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on September 18, 2003 7:58 PM

I would add that the West is in far worse shape than in either the 7th or 17th centuries. The cancer of liberalism was not eating it away from within as it is now. Europe is basically a hollow shell while the ruling class of the newer nations (US, Australia, Canada) is utterly blind to the reality of Islam. The Chinese and the wreck that remains of Russia seem to have some clue. Russia, with its shrinking population is in no shape to offer serious resistance. China seems to view Islam as a problem only in regional terms. Most Israelis are aware of the threat but the disease of liberalism is entrenched there as well. If the Muslims are smart, they’ll simply bide their time and let demographics and liberal poison do their work. They’ll be alble to take over continental Europe without having to fire a shot within a half century - all through legitimate democratic means.

Posted by: Carl on September 18, 2003 10:48 PM

The liberal wager is that the Muslims will adopt liberalism before liberalism is extinguished. Then the liberal conscience, which is what liberals prize most, will survive. The extinction of the Western nations—the betrayal of Alfred, Charles Martel, and Don John—does not disturb them.

Posted by: Bill on September 19, 2003 1:21 AM

Carl’s statement is the most chilling I’ve heard yet.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on September 19, 2003 1:49 AM

I think the Bill’s theory of the liberal gambit is true as far as the thoughts of Western liberals are concerned. The Blairites, Bushites, and other Tranzis may very well believe their own progaganda that once sufficient numbers of Muslims are exposed to all of the benefits of ‘La Dolce Vita’ under the ever-watchful managerial state, Islam will go the way of Christianity. It will become a watered-down parody of itself, just another personal affectation like a favorite rock star or automobile. From what I’ve read about the European scene - where the Muslim immigrant population is now into its third and fourth generation - the very opposite is taking place. Al-Quaida and similar hard-core Islamists who reject liberalism are the true voice of the non-native Islamic population.

The Muslim invaders will happily accept the benefits of preferential treatment and welfare from the Tranzis in the short term because they are well aware that the Euro-elites and those who elect them to power year after year aren’t even reproducing at replacement levels. They also know that what passes for Christianity in Europe is a perverse joke and offers no serious challenge spiritually. The liberals’ gambit has failed. Islam is far more resistant than they imagined. Liberalism’a innate hubris blinds its adherents to the possibility that the noble savages they have invited into their home might actually take the opportunity to sieze it.

Posted by: Carl on September 19, 2003 5:06 AM

The escapism of anti-war paleocons to which Mr. Auster adverts seems to be related to a kind of utopian anarchism. We can recover our ideal liberty if we can just undo the federal empire and retrieve the supremacy of the states. But the Founders knew the states needed to unite in a strong federal government to protect themselves from external enemies.

They could not foresee that the people would so blind themselves to external enemies that the federal government would welcome enemies into the country.

The “innate hubris” of liberalism reveals liberalism as another variety of the revolt against God. Those of you who are upset with the Republican party for neglecting self-evident truths, please don’t just preach to the choir here but agitate with your local officials. Most important, get active in your local GOP organization and let the party hacks know you are not going away. Steering the Republican party to a truer path is just about our only hope.

I would agree with the antiwar view to the extent that our goal should be to eliminate sources of terrorist activity against ourselves and our active allies, not against the whole world. Only to the extent necessary to protect ourselves should we fight a global war. But now that the whole planet has shrunk to the size of Texas in, say, 1836, our self-defense readily becomes a global campaign.

Posted by: Bill on September 19, 2003 8:21 AM

I believe Mr. Auster’s prescription for our taking action to show the futility of radical Islam and shock the Muslim world back into passivity is the right one. It is especially important to prevent thug states such as Saddam’s was from surreptitious trafficing in terrorism as a means of bolstering popularity among the Arab masses who are prone to ressentiment, sensing the failure of their civilization and the collapse of all their dreams that have fallen apart over the last century. That said, I believe we can deal with this successfully, and that Islamicism will prove to be a sort of death rattle of the fundamental Muslim faith while the Middle East is eventually, for better or worse, swept by modernism.

Posted by: thucydides on September 19, 2003 9:48 AM

By the way, Bat Ye’or is an Egyptian Jew whose family was expelled from Egypt under very trying conditions several decades ago when she was a student. I believe she is now a Swiss citizen. Her Hebrew name, Bat Ye’or, means Daughter of the Nile.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on September 19, 2003 10:46 AM

I recall reading a recent David Duke radio speech where, after first asserting “I am a Christian,” he went on to boldly assert that Mohammedanism is closer to Christianity than Judaism.

His reasoning was simple: the Koran recognizes Jesus’ virgin birth, and at least reveres Him as a prophet, (even though it denies His Divine Sonship and Deity, and denies that He was even crucified much less resurrected,) and states that He ascended into heaven.

The root of the difference though involves the fact that God told Abraham, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called.” The Arabs, identifying themselves as the descendents of Ishmael, make Ishmael out to be a prophet and essentially proclaim a ‘replacement theology’ that now makes THEM the chosen people instead of the Jews. It may not be stated as explicitly as this, but that is where it ends up.

Judaism and Christianity are both based on Isaac, and then Jacob, and then all of Jacob’s descendents, being the chosen, through whom would come the Messiah. The difference between this theology and that of Mohammedanism cannot be reconciled. And it explains in some measure the stranglehold that Mohammedanism has over the Arabs, appealing as it does to racial and ethnic pride.

Posted by: Joel on September 22, 2003 4:15 PM
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