PBS and Bernard Lewis blame Muslim anti-Semitism on Christianity

What I saw of the PBS program on anti-Semitism last night—perhaps a third of it before I got so disgusted I turned it off—was even worse than what I had anticipated the other day.

Here was the set-up. Narrator Judy Woodruff’s very first mention of Christian and Jewish status under Islam was that “in Islam, Christians and Jews, as the People of the Book, were protected.” I kid you not. They were “protected.” Isn’t that a lovely way to describe the systematically humiliated and debased status of the dhimmi peoples under Islamic law? Then the “world’s most distinguished Islam scholar” Bernard Lewis, who was the first talking head to appear and who dominated the first part of the program, said that, yes, under Islam there was “inequality”—that’s it, dhimmitude is mere “inequality”!—but this inequality was not anti-Semitism. Why? Because it was not Christian anti-Semitism. The program then went superficially through the history of Muslim anti-Semitism, but at every step of the way they would compare it to the “real,” Christian anti-Semitism, and say, well, it’s not like that, it’s not officially organized, it’s not a core part of the religion, it doesn’t officially demonize the Jews, it doesn’t call them killers of God, so it’s not really anti-Semitism. Only Christian anti-Semitism (which is presented in the most lurid aspect, as a monolithic horror, unchanged over the centuries) and then Nazi anti-Semitism are real anti-Semitism. Further, it was this European anti-Semitism that was exported to the Arab world via colonialism, the same European colonialism that planted Israel in the Mideast, and set off modern Arab resentment of Jews.

So, in this program that is ostensibly about the resurgence of anti-Semitism among Muslims, the real villains are: Christianity; Nazism; colonialism; and the state of Israel. The total Arab rejection of Israel, meaning the active or passive intent to wipe Israel off the map, along with the totality of vile and murderous Jew-hatred throughout the Muslim countries, is treated as a reasonable response to colonialism.

Sound familiar? It’s the standard leftist view of the world. And Bernard Lewis (or “Canard” Lewis as a reader suggests he be called from now on) was the predominant talking head from the start, followed by such enemies of Israel as Tony Judt and Rashid Khalid. This was Lewis’s thesis they were advancing, at least the part about there being no anti-Semitism in Islam, that it’s completely a European export.

Can you imagine how Lewis’s ideas affect the prospects for Israel’s survival? He prevents people from seeing what’s in front of their eyes, namely the Muslim exterminationist Jew hatred that is in direct continuity from the Jew demonization that was central to Islam from the start, and that is explicitly stated by Muslims today, even in their official documents, such as the Hamas charter.

This program is up there with “Guns, Germs, and Steel” as a sickening work of anti-Western propaganda.

I have come to the conclusion that Bernard Lewis is not just a vain, deluded man. He is a bad man. Yet he continues as the intellectual god of the conservatives.

* * *

While the program describes Muslim treatment of Jews as mere “discrimination” and “inequality,” i.e., as garden variety prejudice which is nothing compared to the “real,” Christian anti-Semitism, the reality, completely untouched by the program, is that the Koran places an eternal curse on the Jews because of their rejection of Muhammad:

And humiliation and wretchedness were stamped upon [the Jews] and they were visited with wrath from Allah. That was because they disbelieved in Allah’s revelations and slew the prophets wrongfully. That was for their disobedience and transgression.

Ignominy shall be their portion wheresoever they are found save where they grasp a rope from Allah and a rope from men. They have incurred anger from their Lord, and wretchedness is laid upon them. That is because they used to disbelieve the revelations of Allah, and slew the prophets wrongfully. That is because they were rebellious and used to transgress. (Koran 2:61 and 3:112, Pickthall translation).

The program also interviewed a young Saudi girl who said the Jews are “apes and pigs.” In the original interview, according to MEMRI, she was then asked where she had learned that, and she said, “The Koran.” That question and that answer were edited out of the broadcast program.

Also, to get a proper perspective the question of Christian anti-Semitism versus Islamic anti-Semitism, please read “Dissecting the lie that Christianity was more oppressive than Islam.”

Also read this recent reply to the idea that the Old Testament is just as violent as the Koran. As I show, the belief that that is true is sufficient by itself to cripple the West’s ability to defend itself from Islam, and so ensure our destruction. Lewis’s idea is of the same type: the belief that Islamic anti-Semitism really comes from Europe whitewashes Islam, makes Europeans feel guilty, and ensures continued European surrender to Islam.

* * *

Here is a letter sent by Jerome Gordon to the program’s producers, which has been forwarded to me:

Andrew Goldberg
Executive Producer
Two Cats Production

Re: Your latest production: “Antisemitism in the 21st Century: The Resurgence”

Before I begin my comments about tonight’s PBS viewing of your most recent documentary, I had viewed and found your prior one on The Armenian Genocide of great moment and truthfulness.

I just finished watching the production of “Antisemitism in the 21st Century; the Resurgence.”

I was to put it kindly appalled by what I saw and heard from the alleged expert talking heads in this production exclusively by you-at least that’s what the credits said.

I’m appalled because the leitmotif is that the victims-meaning Jews and by implication Israelis did it to themselves and that Christians ‘infected” the Arab Muslim world with its own abhorrent form of antisemitism.

There is nothing about fundamentalist Koranic Jew Hatred, except in some of the MEMRI film clips of Friday sermons of which there are precious few.

Rashid Khalidi of Columbia-I happen to be a Columbia alum- frequent appearance in this documentary is patently controversial given his notorious mantra that Israeli occupation and possession of ‘their lands’ and oppression created the current dilemma and that Arab Muslim antisemitism will end with the alleged ‘quick’ resolution of the Israeli Palestinian ‘conflict.’

Bernard Lewis, I find especially troubling in perpetrating the patent ‘myth’ that Islam was ‘infected’ by European antisemitism and that “dhimmitude’ simply degraded and made unequal Jews and Christians. There is nothing in his interview and in the rest of your documentary about the slaughter, razzias, slaving and pogroms perpetrated against Jews, in this instant case, Christians and other unbelievers, as well, from the establishment of Islam by Allah’s ‘messenger’ Muhammad down to the current day.

Reza Aslan’s comments tend to support Lewis’s vastly misleading thesis-some would call it a ‘canard’ about Christian Europe infecting the Arab Muslim world with Jew Hatred and denomination. Clearly, Aslan hasn’t re-read his Koran recently.

I also found Tony Judt’s appearance a furtherance of the disingenuousness of this production. Professor Judt is a notorious critic of the State of Israel as a failed ‘Zionist” and proponent of a bi-national state along with his Palestinian National Council “friend,” Professor Khalidi.

The same goes for David Ignatius of the Washington Post who ‘me toos’ the Judt Khalidi line by pointing to the ‘settlements’ as emblematic of the ‘bad things’ that Israel has done to foster ‘ill will and hate’ among Arab Muslims.

I found segments by David Harris of the American Jewish committee, Minister Natan Sharansky, Dina Porat and Yigal Carmon ‘weak” in view of the intercuts of MEMRI and interview footage with Palestinian, Egyptian, Palestinian, Iranian and Syrian ‘experts’ who simply parrot Arab Muslim propaganda vis a vis the Protocols of the Elders of Zion segments.

One wonders if they even saw a director’s cut of this documentary before final edit or knew who was to be included in the interview segments.

The last segment on problems of Islamic hatred of Jews in Europe I found superficial, at best—see my comments below. You could have at least interviewed Michel Gurfinkiel, Nidra Poller, Bruce Bawer, David Pryce Jones and Melanie Philips.

I didn’t see one scholar of note on Muslim Antisemitism interviewed. Here I refer to Professors Robert Wistrich and Raphael Israeli of Hebrew University, Dr. Charles Small of Yale University, Dr. Andrew G. Bostom of Brown University, Dr. Richard L. Rubenstein, best selling authors Robert Spencer, Brigitte Gabriel and former Muslims Nonie Darwish among Walid Shoebat and Ibn Warraq, among others.

Jerome B. Gordon

- end of initial entry -

Derek C. writes:

While I disagree with the sort of law that makes it possible, it is worth noting that Bernard Lewis was deemed a “holocaust denier” by the French court for saying that the Armenian massacres of World War I were not genocide, but merely the brutal byproduct of war—a patent falsehood if ever there was one. The same dishonesty exhibited by Lewis is, of course, present in other Western Islamophiles, like Karen Armstrong, John Esposito, and Juan Cole. They all tend to pooh-pooh the idea of Islamic oppression by following the same predictable formula: first, cite the Islamic “Golden Age,” second, point to Christian atrocities, and, third, say anything bad in Islam is really the fault of the West. Of course, they never cite the troubling Koranic verses you quote, for there’s simply no means of rationalizing these words away. Worse, they are contained in a book that is held to be divine and unchanging, in a book viewed by Muslims in about the same way Christians view Jesus Christ, another fact these “scholars” elide whenever possible.

Paul Cella writes:

As I wrote last week, the proper comparison, for the sake of our liberals, is between the dhimma and Jim Crow: both were systematic designs of subjugation and humiliation. To say that under Islam, Christians and Jews were protected, is like saying that under Jim Crow, blacks were protected. The dhimma is Islam’s “peculiar institution.” I think the argument might carry some weight with our liberals.

Andrew E. writes:

Paul Cella writes:

“To say that under Islam, Christians and Jews were protected, is like saying that under Jim Crow, blacks were protected. The dhimma is Islam’s “peculiar institution.” I think the argument might carry some weight with our liberals.”

As a frequent visitor to VFR I’m aware of Mr. Cella’s usually very astute observations but I believe he is falsely equating an aspect of two diametrically opposed civilizations. The difference between Jim Crow and the Islamic institution of dhimmitude is that the latter is based on a lie and the former is not. The relationship between the white man and the black man in the post Civil War South was based on the physiological truth that all races do not have the same civilizational capabilities. It was certainly a delicate balance that no doubt had its abuses but it was based in racial truth. As Carleton Putnam showed very elegantly in his book Race and Reason, published in 1960 I believe, segregation allowed each race to maintain its integrity as a race, while allowing blacks to enjoy all the benefits of living in a white society. Indeed, as Putnam argued, the black race as a race, advanced further and faster in the South during the hundred years after the Civil War than the black race had ever previously done anywhere else or at any other time in human history.

Dhimmis were never guaranteed rights like those in the U.S. Constitution and the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments. Their status as “protected” peoples was subject to the whims of the ruling Muslim authorities. The difference is night and day.

Far from silencing liberals, equating Jim Crow with Islamic dhimmitude will only allow them to say that we’re no different.

LA replies:

To make an analogy between two things is not is to equate them. I think Mr. Cella would probably agree that dhimmitude is worse than Jim Crow. Rather, he was making an analogy between them based on the fact that Jim Crow was a legal, systematized system of subordination, organized for the benefit of the ruling group, something that is horrifying to liberals, and so is dhimmitude, and therefore comparing dhimmitude to Jim Crow would dispel the propaganda that dhimmitude was a form of “protection.” Mr. E’s main disagreement with Mr. Cella is that he thinks Jim Crow was moral and beneficial, to blacks as well as to whites, and Mr. Cella apparently doesn’t.

My own position on Jim Crow is laid out in my article, “How the 1964 Civil Rights Act made racial group entitlements inevitable.” In trying to figure a way that we could have avoided the ruinous consequences of the Civil Rights Act, I said that we should have outlawed Jim Crow, which legally required racial segregation, while we left undisturbed the right of association of individuals and businesses.

Andrew E. replies:

I see how I may have overstated the case. I guess the key distinction that I needed to make is the difference between Jim Crow specifically, and the relationship between white and black in the South generally. Jim Crow was not the totality of this relationship whereas dhimmitude always means to be a complete formulation of the relationship between Muslim and non-Muslim. Should it have been legal to deny blacks the right to vote (among other things)? No. Was it moral, no. And the system was ultimately unsustainable. But it doesn’t hold that integration was a necessary part of removing Jim Crow. Again, I must refer everyone to Putnam’s book Race and Reason.

So with that clarification I still think it’s counterproductive to analogize Jim Crow with dhimmitude even if the analogy is valid for the simple reason that any liberal will take the analogy not as an analogy but as an equation of the two.

But I still don’t think the analogy is valid because dhimmitude was constructed specifically to be an all-encompassing institution while on the other hand there was much more to the post Civil War South than Jim Crow.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 09, 2007 08:50 AM | Send

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