Antisemitism and Alternative History

Prof. Moshe Sharon
By Prof. Moshe Sharon
Hatred of Judaism and the Jews is an intellectual creation. Its sound foundations were laid in ancient times by historians, writers, poets, philosophers and artists long before Christianity added to it the theological dimension. Since then it has had the most lasting effects, and has been the one permanent feature that has accompanied the Jews throughout their history. Born in Hellenistic Egypt, intellectual anti-Semitism has two main features, which go hand in hand; one is the invention of an alternative (or counter) history for the Jews; the other describing them as inferior human beings, filthy, bearers of disease and haters of humanity and of the gods.

Alternative history declares the historical records of its target people as false, and presents its own version as the truth. Since its creation by the anti-Semites in Egypt in the 3rd century BCE, the practice has continued to this very day. It has passed through some major stations on its way, such as the writings of some of the Church Fathers, a number Moslem historians an theologians in the middle ages, Voltaire’s (1694-1778) essay on the Jews in the Dictionaire Philosophique, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Hitler’s Mein Kampf, until it became commonplace in Arab text books, multitudes of internet sites, and numerous publications denying the Holocaust.

The denial of the Holocaust is the the latest and most arrogant example of alternative history, the essence of anti-Semitism in modern times. The Holocaust deniers know the truth, for there is hardly a case in history that is more documented than the Holocaust. Nevertheless they are out to absolve the Nazis, and blame the victims, presenting the extermination of 6,000.000 Jews as a Jewish conspiracy. Mahmud ‘Abbas (nom de guerre: “Abu Mazen”), the current Palestinian darling is one of them. In 1982 he received a PhD from Lumumba University in Moscow for his thesis on the “Secret Relations between the Nazis and Zionism,” which included all the elements of Holocaust denial (a criminal offence in many Western contries for which people are sent to prison).

The first known alternative history for the Jews was written in Alexandria by the Egyptian priest Manetho (French: Manéthon). who felt the need to supply his Greek readers with a reply to the Biblical story of the Exodus, with the explicit aim of denigrating the Jews. According to Manetho’s alternative history, the Jews were a group of 80,000 lepers who rebelled, took over Egypt and ruling it for more than a decade they spread death and horror in the country. Their leader was Osarseph, a priest from Heliopolis. After thirteen years in exile the Egyptian King, returned to Egypt, killed most of them and drove the rest out of the country, pursuing them to the borders of Syria.

Manetho’s story was designed to negate everything positive about the Jews. The Jews described Joseph as a wise governor who saved Egypt from disaster, and Menetho replied by making him an apostate Egyptian priest of Osiris (hence his name Osarseph) who ruined Egypt. The Jews regarded themselves as a people, Manetho decscribed them as horrifying mob of lepers. The Jews claimed that God had brought them out of Egypt, Manetho asserted that they had been expelled.

Manetho’s “history” and the abundance of horror stories about the Jews, spread by his copiers and successors, are characterised by a mixture of hate and fear. Later, Moslem classical historians also created their own versions of Jewish alternative history. But unlike their predecessors, their attitude to the Jews was that of hate resulting from contempt rather than hate based on fear. However, once the Moslems had become acquainted with European anti-Semitism, they embraced the Western description of the Jew as the embodiment of pure evil, and Judaism as a bloodthirsty religion whose followers planned to subdue the world with the help of Satan. Thus the hatred felt by the Moslems towards the Jews now comprised both fear and contempt.

The blood libel, the unholy gruesome lie of Christian Europe against the Jews, assumed immediate prominence in Islamic anti-Semitic thought and practice.

The first blood libel case under Islamic rule in modern times was the “Damascus Affair.” In 1840, the Jews of Damascus were accused of the ritual murder of a Capuchin friar. Far from immediately opposing the false accusation, Ratti Menton, the French consul in Damascus gave it credibility. Supported by the French government, he himself conducted the “investigation” of the case together with the Moslem Governor. The entire Jewish community was held to ransom, and its leaders were arrested, and some tortured to death, before a general outcry in the world put an end to the affair. Ratti Menton, however, was never convinced of the innocence of the Jews.

The attribute of ritual murder to the Jews became a very popular subject among Moslem intellectuals, and the main topic of anti-Semite Moslem propaganda. The Damascus Affair never died. To this very day it is presented as a proof of ritual murder in the Jewish religion. Mustafa Tlas the Syrian minister of war wrote his PhD on the subject and published it in a book called: The Unleavened Bread of Zion. In this popular book, which by 2002 had sold 8 editions, he described the Damascus Affair in great detail with a single aim, to prove its evidence of the Jewish practice of ritual murder. Ratti Menton is his proof for the truth of the information.

Arab readers now constitute an enthusiatic market for anti-Semitic literature whether written originally in Arabic or translated from other languages. Among the latter The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a crude, primitive anti-Semitic Russian forgery and Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf are best sellers, and compulsory reading for the military. The infamous book of Canon August Rohling Der Talmudjude is the modern Moslem historian’s bible. In the early 1880s Rohling, a professor in the Imperial University of Prague, published a worthless anti-Semitic book, which he claimed to be based on the Talmud, adapted from earlier publications of the same kind. In 1885 European scholars exposed Rohling as a fake, liar and ignoramus. As a result he was obliged to resign his university post. Moslem writers do not let such minor facts confuse them. For them Rohling, the Protocols, Hitler, Tlas, Abu Mazen and similar writings constitute the authentic library on the Jews and Judaism. Other sources fall under the headline of “Jewish (Zionist) conspiracy.”

Having enthusiastically adopted the accusation of the Jews of ritual murder as an absolute truth, the imagination of the Muslim writers became particularly creative. They widened the scope of the victims from Christian to Palestinian and other children, and added the cakes of Purim to Passover unleavened bread.

The establishment of the State of Israel and the repeated defeats of the Arab armies while intensifying the Moslem’s mythological fear of the Jews, needed an immediate plausible, face saving explanation. This was readily provided by the Protocols and Mein kampf that exposed the Jewish conspiracy to control the world. The information in these books confirms their fears and explained their shortcomings. They do not feel alone any more, they belong to the large body of global victims, exposed to the danger posed to humanity by international Jewry, the enemies of God..

Like European anti-Semitic literature there is very little variety in its Moslem counterpart. Hundreds of books repeat the same slogans, and cartoonists, directly influenced by the Nazi cartoons (only more primitive), repeat the same drawings of the ugly, inhuman, vicious Jew. Out of the vast literature the following examples chosen at random will suffice.

Anis Mansur, an Egyptian author and close adviser of Egyptian presidents, describing the treacherous “Jewish Character” shamelessly supplied details about their usage of human blood for the Passover matza giving the impression that he was relying on Jewish sources:
“The famous Jewish historian Josephus was the first to have revealed to the whole world that the Jews need the blood of other people to make matzot for their holidays. The Jews usually do not butcher the person. They only pierce the skull and then the heart, and drink the blood of the head and the heart together; then they discard the corpse anywhere.”

Josephus said exactly the opposite deffending Judaism against the Greek anti-Semites. But Mansur knows that his audience is thirsty for his words the authority of which nobody questions.

During the Second World War, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, supported by other Muslim leaders, cooperated with the Nazis, and went to Berlin to serve their propaganda machine and prepared a military force to take part in the Nazi “Final Solution” for the Jews. Muslim anti-Semites turn these facts upside down. The comparison of the Jews to the Nazis has become a main trend of the Islamic alternative history, the major topic in talkshows, a key item of anti-Israeli propaganda and a frequent subject of the crude Arab cartoon. In the book O, Moslems the Jews are Coming Muhammad ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Mansur charges that the Jews are no different from the Nazis, ascribing horrendous atrocities to them: the slaughter of babies, the stabbing of pregnant women, the torture and rape of non-Jewish women and so on.

In 1985 King Fahd of Saudi Arabia published the following observations and memoirs about Israel and the Jews in the popular weekly aI-Musawwar:
“Israel has had malicious intentions since ancient times. Its objective is the destruction of all other religions. It is proven from history that they are the ones who ignited the Crusades at the time of Saladin so that war would lead to the weakening of both Moslems and Christians. They regard other religions as lower than their own, and other peoples as inferior to their level. And on the subject of vengeance – they have a certain day on which they mix the blood of non-Jews into their bread and eat it. It happened two years ago, while I was in Paris on a visit, that 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 ate on this day. This shows you the extent of their hatred and malice towards non-Jewish peoples.”

In another there is a discussion about the “Jewish custom of slaughtering children that goes back to the usage of children’s blood by the Jewish magicians in the past, and the “extraction of the blood of non-Jewish children for the unleavened bread (fatir) of the Passover.” He also asserts that the Jews “poison the water wells, and counterfeit the currency” two common accusations against the Jews in Europe throughout the ages.

Dr. ‘Abd al-Halim Mahmud, the rector of the famous al-Azhar University, wrote in his book Holy War and Victory:
“The Jews have laid down a programme for the destruction of humanity, through subverting religion and ethics. They have already begun to implement the programme with their money, their control of the mass media and their propaganda. They have falsified knowledge, violated standards of literary truth and unscrupulously sought to break down and destroy humanity.”

Dr. Salah ‘Abd al-Fattah al-Khalidi, in his book The Jewish Personality on the basis of the Koran, concludes that “the Jews are liars, corrupt, envious, cunning, fraudulent, treacherous, stupid, despicable, cowards, miser; they break agreements and treaties, and cause injustice in the world…” Who can negate such scholarship?

Even Christian medieval anti-Semitic literature, as severe as it was, did not match the viciousness of Arab-Islamic anti-Semitic literature and the alternative history for the Jews based on it . The huge Arab anti-Semitic literature, fills a demand and answers a necessity. It depicts the Jews as a demonic entity and therefore makes their extermination legitimate. As such, modern Islamic anti-Semitism is ideologically even worst than that of the Nazis.