Tuesday, November 10, 2009


B'nai Brith Canada came out with a full-page ad in the
National Post yesterday, reproduced above. Obviously deluded by their own propaganda, some of the Usual Suspects appear to think that this will give offence to the Left, the imagined allies of Islamism.

Obviously I don't speak for "the Left"--no one does, alas--but the ad admittedly irritates me. Not because I don't think radical Islam is a threat, which it has clearly proven itself to be. But for two other reasons, one tactical and one historical.

From a tactical point of view, this expensive notice reminds me of one I saw years ago on a hoarding somewhere, during the Pinochet days: "Let's stop fascism in Chile." Full stop. No meeting announced, just a sentiment. Where does this sort of thing go? Not much further, I think, than a nodding head followed by a change of topic (unless, of course, you happened to be a Pinochet fan, in which case you would shake your head instead).

B'nai Brith is surely not foolish enough to believe that Canadians are truly unaware of the consequences that flow from an extremist theocratic movement like al-Qaeda, one given full rein thanks in great part to wealthy benefactors from Saudi Arabia (which happens to be, inconveniently enough, a US ally). The question, as always, is what to do about it.

Do we show more tolerance in civil society, or less? Do we emphasize security over liberty? Do we nuke Iran, or engage with it? Do the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan weaken or strengthen the hand of the Islamists?

We're still in the midst of that longstanding debate. I fail to see how this one-pager adds a single thing to it. B'nai Brith doesn't actually propose anything. Does al-Qaeda still seem so exotic that it needs to be equated to Nazism to register as a danger? Is it helpful to tell Canadians to wake up, and leave matters thus?

I question that. But, perhaps more importantly, the distortions of history here are nothing short of egregious.

The ad conflates the well-known pro-Hitler sentiments and activities of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in the days of the Third Reich with the current Islamist movement. This is no accident--all part of the hasbara* game. But it ignores the fact that, although Amin al-Husseini was undoubtedly an anti-Semite by word and by deed, he was no less interested in driving out the British, who at the time ruled over the Palestine Mandate. The strategic nature of his alliance with Hitler, then, was not confined to anti-Semitism by any means.

The current Islamists are not Nazis, but violent mediaeval theocrats of a type familiar to students of the Crusades. Once, long ago, it was crazed and militant Christians, now it's crazed and militant Islamists, but in both cases religion was front and centre. Victory in battle, followed by conversion, not extermination, was and remains the aim.

With respect to Christianity, here is Shylock's famous speech in The Merchant of Venice

I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, heal'd by the same means, warm'd and cool'd by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, do we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.
[The Merchant Of Venice
, Act 3, scene 1, 58–68]

This is too often taken as evidence that Shakespeare surpassed his time, and was here pleading ahistorically for universal tolerance. Not at all. The speech concentrates entirely on the mortal flesh, with the all-important issue of the soul left untouched, a glaring omission likely not lost upon his Elizabethan audience. The speech for them would have been just another instance of stereotypically sly Jewish behaviour, with Shylock whining for sympathy while disingenuously avoiding the obvious thing that sets him apart: his rejection of Christ. And that is underscored by the ending of the play, in which Shylock is not killed or imprisoned--but forcibly converted to Christianity.

Militant Islamists in 2009 foresee a time when all of humanity will be Muslim. The aim is not to kill the kuffar, but, once again, to convert them, or, if they are Abrahamic People of the Book, to rule over them if conversion is rejected. I offer as evidence the Hamas Charter.

This document, which makes depressing reading indeed, is imbued with Islamic doctrine, and includes a few references to well-out-of-date Western anti-Semitic canards. (The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is mentioned, and the Jews are blamed for the French Revolution, Communism, both World Wars, the drug trade and alcoholism. Their dangerous Zionist sabotage machines are denounced as well--the Lions Club and Rotary International.) But the key element is summed up here: "It is necessary to instill in the minds of the Muslim generations that the Palestinian problem is a religious problem, and should be dealt with on this basis." [Article 15]

Hamas calls, not for racial extermination of the Jews, but for submission and dhimmitude under a new Caliphate:

Under the wing of Islam, it is possible for the followers of the three religions - Islam, Christianity and Judaism - to coexist in peace and quiet with each other. Peace and quiet would not be possible except under the wing of Islam. Past and present history are the best witness to that. [Article 31]

And when it comes to Nazis, Hamas can call people mean names too:

The Zionist Nazi activities against our people will not last for long. [Article 31]

Finally, as always, submission to Allah is the aim:

The Islamic Resistance Movement adopts Islam as its way of life. Islam is its creed and religion. Whoever takes Islam as his way of life, be it an organization, a grouping, a country or any other body, the Islamic Resistance Movement considers itself as their soldiers and nothing more. [Article 36]

Surely it is trite to observe that the Nazis were not religious, that they foresaw no time when they would live in peace and quiet with the Jews, and that their anti-Semitism was based upon more modern, if equally nugatory, notions of "race" and "blood." If one wants an example of "real" Nazism in the Middle East, the secular Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party, with its quasi-swastikas and its anthem sung to the tune of Deutschland über Alles, would be a closer fit.

Now it is true that, whether you die at the hands of a fanatical Nazi or a fanatical Islamist, you're just as dead. And dhimmitude, while not a new Holocaust, is an unsatisfactory alternative to our rightly-prized notions of equality, citizenship and human rights. But the B'nai Brith advertisement seems to do very little to confront the dangers, other than to apply a popular demonizing epithet to a movement that is already unpopular, and has already managed to do a pretty good job of demonizing itself.

Are we wiser for it? Does it move things along? Is it helpful to re-write history in such a tendentious manner?

Comments, as always, are welcome.

*Which, depending upon your point of view, is either "explaining the facts" or, alternatively, a fairly formidable on-going Israeli propaganda campaign.


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