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The Advent of Hitler in India

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Hitler is considered a heinous historical by most of humanity, but in the last few years India has been witness to the advent in his popularity.

Dr. Navras Jaat Aafreedi, an Assistant Professor at the Department of History & Civilization in Gautam Buddha University in India, is a scholar of the history of the Jewish communities in India. Last month he concluded a lecture tour to Israel, during which he gave a lecture titled “The Rise of Hitler’s Popularity in India” at Tel Aviv University. He notes that “India is the only country in the world where Jews have lived with their non-Jewish neighbours in complete harmony for more than two millennia. Jews are India’s smallest religious minority and Muslims its biggest, and the two have produced beautiful examples of amity, unlike anywhere else in the world.”

Hiltler has rapidly gained popularity in India in recent years. This phenomenon is a paradox because of the absence of Anti-Semitism in India. Yet, though the country has never known anti-Semitism, sales of Hiltler’s Mein Kampf have risen over 15% in the last decade. The name “Aryan” is becoming a popular first name in India, and “Hitler” is the name of the protagonist in many a Bollywood production.

Dr. Aafreedi offered a few explanations. Unlike the modern-day neo-Nazis who idealize Hitler for his racism and persecution of the Jews, Indians who respect Hitler do so out of misinformation. He believes that this rise in Hitler’s popularity is not a result of anti-Semitism: “It can be ascribed to the absence of Jewish Studies in India, where Islamic Studies are available at almost all major Indian universities. The level of ignorance among Indians about Jews is hysterical and the state has been unwilling to introduce Jewish Studies in India, whereas in the neighboring country China, Jewish Studies are available at ten of its universities.” He explains that Indians are largely ignorant of the Holocaust, and such individuals “tend to see it as a justified collateral damage for the greater good of Germany, influenced as they are by the way Hitler is often projected as a hero by the Hindu right wing,”

He observes that “Most of the Indians do not even know about the Jews, let alone the Holocaust. Among the section of the Indian population that is aware of the Holocaust, there are many who have fallen into the trap of the Holocaust deniers and have started either doubting it as a whole or just its scale.” As part of this misinformation, many Indians believe that the Axis powers of World War II were partially responsible for India’s independence from the British in 1947. It is believed that Hitler’s battle with the Allies forced Britain to focus their resources in Europe. Britain was unable to control a territory as large as India, leaving room for an Indian independence movement. Subhas Chandra Rose, a key figure of the Indian independence movement, collaborated with Axis powers to raise an army to fight the British.

Another reason is the younger generation’s great desire for strong leadership. Dr. Aafreedi thinks they do not have good examples.

Dr. Aafreedi believes that the key to combating this situation is the dissemination of facts. “I promote Jewish Studies in India, the study of Jewish history, culture and religion. It is just not possible to understand the two most widely practiced religions, Christianity and Islam, without a study of Judaism, oldest of the three Semitic monotheistic religions. It is important for any nation to appreciate and recognize the contributions made to it by its religious minorities. If this does not happen, the society becomes intolerant towards minorities, which has grave consequences not just for the minorities but also for the majority community. In India, Jews happen to be the smallest religious minority and the Muslims, the biggest. As a result of their small numbers, most of the Indians know them only through secondary sources, which are mostly unreliable, and not as a result of any direct contact with them. Ignorance gives birth to stereotypes and misconceptions, and hatred thrives on falsehood. Hence, it becomes very important to promote Jewish Studies in India. If this is not done, we would neglect one-sixth of mankind.”

Hitler’s Mein Kampf is available in almost all Indian languages, but the only book on the Holocaust in India’s national language, Hindi, is an FAQ about the Holocaust published by Yad Vashem. Dr. Aafreedi has worked and continues to work in spreading accurate information about Judaism and the Holocaust in India. He has organized cross-cultural and international student dialogues at the University of Lucknow. There he also invited Jewish authors and filmmakers to speak about their works and brought a number of Muslim intellectuals to speak out against anti-Semitism. “I believe that if awareness is created through the spread of information,” he says, “it can help in eliminating many misconceptions that people have.”

Apartheid: The Big Lie

Monday, May 21st, 2012

The time is now long overdue to recognize that Adolf Hitler’s contribution to political wisdom — the Big Lie – has reappeared in the Palestinian narrative of the state of Israel as an “apartheid state.” “[T]he broad masses of a nation,” Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf, “will more readily fall victim to the big lie than to the small lie.” The constant repetition of the Big Lie, he explained, made it acceptable, especially when it could be manipulated to appear to have a certain credibility. The world is all too familiar with the success of Hitler’s Big Lie narrative that the Jews were internationally powerful, responsible for World War I – and, in his view – for most of the problems of the world. This new Big Lie about Israel being an “apartheid state” that has been trumpeted by the Palestinian narrative of Middle Eastern history and politics has, in recent years, been accepted not only been accepted by “the broad masses,” but also by more educated and supposedly politically sophisticated individuals in the media, the churches, and academia.

The official definition of the crime of “apartheid” was first formulated in the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on November 30, 1973. The definition was “inhumane acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group…over another racial group…and systematically oppressing them.” A later version of the definition was included in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, of July 17, 1998 which came into force in July 2002. The definition became inhumane acts concerning an identifiable group on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious grounds “committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.”

The change in legal terminology is important for political reasons. Israelis and Palestinians can be considered as “identifiable groups” and therefore the provisions of international law in the 1973 Convention and the 1998 Statute can be applied to them, thus opening the opportunity for a legal charge of the crime of apartheid against Israel.

Yet this legal issue has little to do with the real life political attempt to bring the charge against Israel. That action began in the 1970s when the Soviet Union, for its own political purposes, organized a coalition with Arab states and other willing countries in what was then considered the group of “non-aligned” countries of the world. The greatest success of the coalition was to obtain an overwhelming majority, 72-35-32, for the infamous UN General Assembly Resolution 3379 of November 10, 1975 which defined Zionism as a form of racism and racial discrimination, and years later repealed only after great efforts by American diplomats, including, finally, the future US Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton.

Similar declarations followed. The most forthright was the Declaration of the first Durban conference (The UN World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance) in September 2001 that “We declare Israel as a racist, Apartheid state in which Israel’s brand of Apartheid as a crime against humanity has been characterized by separation and segregation, dispassion, restricted land access, denationalization, ‘bantustanization’ and inhumane acts.” Since then an “Israel Apartheid Week” has become an annual event on many college campuses in the United States and elsewhere.

The declaration of Durban 1, which reads as an indictment, was certainly applicable to the old, unlamented South Africa where blacks were indeed segregated in many ways by legal and other restrictions, and were treated as inferior human beings; but it has no application to the state and society of Israel. Within the state of Israel, Israeli Arabs, 20% of the population, have: equal political and social rights as Jews; full citizenship members of the Israeli Parliament – called the Knesset; a seat on the Supreme Court; diplomatic representation at the most senior levels; a free press in Arabic, which is – along with Hebrew – an official language; the capacity to move freely; equal opportunity to enter universities, to be employed, and to enter freely into marital relations with fellow Arabs or with Jews. If Jews and Arabs do live in different areas of the country it is not through a state-imposed segregation, enforced by legal means, but by choice. There are no segregated roads, as there are in Saudi Arabia, and there are no segregated schools, housing, drinking fountains, buses or any officially imposed limits whatsoever. Discrimination does not exist on the basis of race, religion, or sex; and all groups have legal protection of the law. Unlike Muslim countries, Israel has no state religion, but rather contains some 15 recognized religions. Israel, unlike the old South Africa, is a multiracial society.

Mixed Jewish Reaction To French Vote; Trepidation Over Greek Election Results

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Jewish reaction was mixed to the election of the Socialist Party’s Francois Hollande as the president of France while Jewish leaders in Greece expressed concern and disappointment after the fascist Golden Dawn party was poised to enter the Greek parliament for the first time.

The European Jewish Congress congratulated Hollande, who was elected Sunday over Nicolas Sarkozy with 51.7 percent of the vote to 48.3 percent for the incumbent.

“Our recent meeting with Mr. Hollande was very constructive and touched on many areas of concern to the Jewish community,” EJC President Moshe Kantor said in a statement.

“I believe we have a sympathetic ear in the new French leadership and we look forward to continuing this relationship with the new president.”

Richard Prasquier, president of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewry, told reporters Monday in New York that he was concerned that Hollande’s election would lead to a rise in the anti-Israel left.

“We know that some of the parties who are supposed to be partners of the coalition in favor of Francois Hollande are not friends of Israel. The part they will play we will see,” he said.

More than 92 percent of French nationals who voted in Sunday’s election at the French Embassy in Tel Aviv cast their ballot for Sarkozy, the center-left candidate, according to reports.

Israeli President Shimon Peres congratulated Hollande on his victory.

“On behalf of the Israeli nation, it is a pleasure for me to send my sincere congratulations on your election to the post of President of France. I am confident that under your leadership, the French people will look to the future with hope, security and a spirit of unity.”

Hollande became the first Socialist president of France in nearly two decades. Sarkozy, of the Union for a Popular Movement party, was considered the favored choice among French Jews.

Sarkozy, the ninth European leader to be ousted since the start of the continent’s debt crisis, conceded shortly after the polls closed, wishing his successor luck in handling difficult times in France and in Europe.

“Francois Hollande is the president of the republic; he must be respected,” Sarkozy said in a concession speech shortly after the polls closed.

Meanwhile, in Greece, Golden Dawn received nearly 7 percent of the vote as Greeks punished the mainstream parties they blame for the country’s financial crisis and accepting harsh European austerity measures.

“It is very disappointing that in a country like Greece, where so many were killed fighting the Germans, that a neo-Nazi party is now in parliament,” David Saltiel, president of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, told JTA.

It was a major victory for Golden Dawn, whose flag closely resembles the Nazi swastika. In the 2009 elections, the party garnered just 0.29 percent of the vote. In Greece, a party needs more than 3 percent of the vote to make it into parliament.

According to the final results published Monday evening, Golden Dawn had 6.97 percent, which would give the party 21 seats in the 300-member parliament.

But with no party getting more than 20 percent, there are fears that the major parties will be unable to cobble together a coalition. The biggest party, the conservative New Democracy (18.85 percent), had three days to form a government. The runner-up Coalition of the Radical Left (16.78 percent) would get the next chance. If both fail, fresh elections will be called.

Saltiel said Golden Dawn entering the parliament was of “very great concern because they are extreme right,” but he expressed his hope that the party may now moderate its positions.

“We are looking at how the situation will be in parliament and what their positions will be,” he said.

Speaking to a news conference on Sunday, Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos warned Greece’s enemies inside and outside the country that they should be “very afraid.”

“We are coming,” said Michaloliakos, one of the party’s only nationally known leaders. He came to prominence when he won a seat on the Athens City Council in 2010 and celebrated by giving the Nazi salute at the first City Hall meeting.

The party had campaigned on an anti-austerity, anti-immigrant platform, preying on the fears of ordinary Greeks who have seen their neighborhoods overrun by the nearly 1 million immigrants who have flooded the country from Asia and Africa hoping to use it as a gateway to the European Union.

During the elections, young party supporters with shaved heads and wearing black shirts with the Golden Dawn symbol set up vigilante groups to protect Greeks from immigrants. They have been blamed for several attacks on foreigners; the party denies the charges.

The party’s election platform included plans to landmine Greece’s borders, immediately arrest and expel illegal immigrants, and set up special labor camps for legal immigrants who commit crimes.

Its manifesto does not specifically mention the country’s small Jewish community, saying only that the party would tolerate religious freedom “except in cases that affect national interest and undermine Hellenism.”

The Moral Disgrace Of America’s Aristocracy

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

This year, Holocaust Remembrance Day is the anniversary of two starkly contrasting events of April 19, 1943 – the first day of the gallant but doomed Warsaw Ghetto uprising and of the ignominious Anglo-American Bermuda Conference on the Refugee Problem, which State Department diplomats organized to deflect pressure to rescue Jews from the Nazi death machine.

Most of the Jewish fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto perished but the American diplomats went on to comfortable, if not highly successful, careers – and to largely avoid the wrath of historical judgment.

One might ask, given all of the articles and books written about the American response to the Holocaust, hasn’t the diplomats’ role been thoroughly examined? Remarkably, the answer is no, not because their conduct has been ignored but rather because it has been submerged in the American collective guilt approach that underpins many historical assessments.

Consider the State Department’s treatment in arguably the most influential book on the subject of the past twenty-five years, The Abandonment of the Jews, by David Wyman, an exhaustive scholarly study of the American response. The 29-page summation chapter titled “Responsibility” (“America’s response to the Holocaust was the result of action and inaction on the part of many people”) devotes less than a page to the State Department, while three full pages are spent on the wartime rivalries of American Jewish groups. The book also contends that “direct proof of anti-Semitism in the department is limited” and that “plain bureaucratic inefficiency” was one explanation for the State Department’s behavior.

These highly educated, patrician diplomats, in fact, rank among the worst villains in American history. They were part of a now all-but-vanished American aristocracy that existed outside the experience or even awareness of most of their fellow Americans.

Sheltered in a hermetically sealed aristocratic archipelago, many went from elite northeast boarding schools to Ivy League educations to diplomatic postings. Imbued with an intoxicating sense of Anglo-Saxon exceptionalism, anti-Semitic (sometimes virulently), and mindlessly conformist (at the Groton School, many of whose graduates went to the State Department, nonconformists were waterboarded by fellow students with the approval of the headmaster), they had a heartless indifference to the sufferings of human beings from different ancestries, religions, or economic classes.

In 1940, the head of the Division of European Affairs was Jay Pierrepont Moffat. As a young diplomat in Warsaw shortly after the end of World War I, Moffat had watched desperate refugees flee oncoming Soviet armies: “they sounded like so many cackling geese and generally behaved in a manner that made us pray like the pharisee, ‘Lord, I thank Thee that I am not as other men.’ ”

His successor, Ray Atherton, arranged for an anti-Semitic French Nazi collaborationist to become a governor-general in liberated North Africa (where he continued to oppress Jews).

Loy Henderson, who worked in the State Department on East European issues in the 1940s, blamed “international Jewry” for support of the Soviet Union and, after a visit to New York City, commented of the inhabitants jostling him in the street that “They seemed to have little in common with me.”

William Phillips, an undersecretary of state, in the 1930s described Atlantic City as “infested with Jews.”

William Bullitt, an ambassador to the Soviet Union during FDR’s first term, called an official in the Soviet Foreign Ministry a “wretched little kike.”

Breckinridge Long, a wartime assistant secretary of state, regarded Mein Kampf as “eloquent in opposition to Jewry and Jews as exponents of Communism and chaos.”

They were lethally efficient bureaucratic operators. In 1942, when the first cable reports of Nazi Germany’s genocidal scheme reached the State Department from its legation in Switzerland – “in Fuhrer’s headquarters plan under consideration all Jews at one blow exterminated” – the Division of European Affairs suppressed the information (even from American Jews). Then, in early 1943, when informed by the legation that 6,000 Jews were being killed each day at a single location in Poland, the division’s head, Ray Atherton, and three colleagues instructed the legation “in the future we suggest that you do not accept reports submitted to you” from the legation’s Jewish sources about the exterminations.

Several months later, the division blocked a proposal, endorsed by FDR, to rescue 70,000 Romanian Jews on the ground that these Jews were “enemy aliens” since Romania was a German ally, and that, even if the rescue succeeded, there were no “other areas” to put the Jews.

Finally, at the Bermuda Conference, a “facade for inaction,” as a British delegate admitted years later, Breckenridge Long forbade any proposals that would solely benefit Jews and blocked any meaningful rescue initiatives.

Christian lawyers in the Treasury Department discovered the State Department’s cover-up and battled to save the Romanian rescue plan. Outraged, they considered the diplomats an underground “movement to let the Jews be killed,” “vicious men,” “accomplices of Hitler,” and “war criminals in every sense of the term.” Few historians have rendered such a judgment.

It’s My Opinion: Out Of The Clear Blue Sky

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Several weeks ago an 18-foot chunk from the wing of a cargo plane broke off and fell out of the clear blue sky. The plane had been flying overhead en route to the nearby Miami International Airport. The debris crashed in a mall parking lot. Miraculously, there were no casualties.

 

There was no way to anticipate the perilous ride of the plane that flew over Miami. There are, however, many times that danger could be averted if only individuals would only open their eyes and choose to see.

 

The Jews of Europe originally minimized the menace of Adolf Hitler, yemach shemo. Many thought that he was just another bigmouth Jew hater. Who could take the ranting of this little mustachioed housepainter seriously?

 

Many in the worldwide community view Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as more bluster than serious threat. His outrageous tirades are seen as hackneyed outbursts. How could a guy in such funky little jackets be seen as a real threat?

 

Adolf Hitler was forthright in his plans to annihilate the Jews. He wrote about it in his book, Mein Kampf. For the most part, European Jewry thought Hitler was just another case of a blowhard anti-Semite.

 

Ahmadinejad is up front in his plans to wipe Israel off the face of the map. He has declared his scheme openly.

 

Six million Jews died before the world woke up. The Nazi threat was real. It was vocal, and yet, sadly, very few saw it coming.

 

The Iranian threat is genuine, and yet, when and if a major incident happens, it will be as if the action came out of the clear blue sky. Perhaps it is time that the worldwide Jewish community believes the words of its enemies and takes their threats seriously.

Anti-Semitism at Frankfurt Book Fair

Wednesday, January 5th, 2005

Months after the Frankfurt Book Fair was accused of displaying anti-Semitic Arab literature, organizers of the world’s most glamorous publishing event are still bitter about the allegations. Fair organizers insist they only displayed the Arab literature as a function of their commitment to global literary diversity.

However, critics, principally from the Paris office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, remain adamant that the Book Fair’s anti-Semitic offerings revived shades of Germany’s Nazi past, and was just another example of Europe’s growing tolerance of anti-Semitism.

As the de rigueur international publishing extravaganza, the Frankfurt Book Fair, held last October, annually attracts more than 6,700 exhibitors and nearly 300,000 in the book industry.

Each year, the Fair selects one country or geographic region as the “Guest of Honor,” elevating that nation’s or region’s literature to a world-class showcase. Any selected nation is offered a supreme opportunity to achieve new attention, sales, distribution and translations of its most popular published works. Past honorees have included Latin America, India and Russia. Last year, the honored guest was not a nation or region, but the 22-member Arab League, which spans two continents. (The Arab League’s geographical status was dubbed the “Arab World.”)

The honor marked the first time the Fair had invited an international political organization to stand in for a nation or geographic region. Part and parcel of honoree status was the showcasing of the bestselling books of the Arab world. Those encompass great poetry, Nobel-winning novels, and a library of scientific books. It also includes a whole range of bestselling anti-Semitica, the Arabic version of Mein Kampf and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, as well as a collection of Holocaust denial and Jewish conspiracy books that circulate within the Arab world as legitimate bestsellers.

While the extensive retailing of anti-Jewish and pro-Nazi volumes is a fact of the Arab book scene, selling or even displaying Mein Kampf, the Protocols or anti-Semitica in Germany is a bias crime. Organizers perplexed over this challenge for months and took pains to make sure that none of the prominent but taboo Arab tomes reached the Fair.

“Anyone who tries to displays such books as Mein Kampf or the Protocols of the Elders of Zion will have that book confiscated and their rights at the Fair revoked,” warned Holger Ehling, the Fair’s vice president of communications, during an interview days before the event.

In that vein, the Fair’s two-page English-language contract with the Arab League featured on its second page a special clause aimed at prohibiting any anti-Jewish propaganda or agitation. Ehling explained that the prohibition against “anti-Semitic propaganda is part of the contract and completely understood by the Arab League.”

Attempts by Fair management to acquire an advance bibliography of the books Arab publishers would bring to Frankfurt failed. Hence, thousands of unvetted Arabic titles were displayed at the five-day event.

Shimon Samuels, director of the Wiesenthal Paris office, tested the Arab World’s compliancewith the anti-Semitic rule and came away astonished. “I looked at the many Arabic books,” recalled Samuels, who as a former Jerusalemite can muddle in Arabic. “Instead of reading the text, book by book, I just looked for the cover graphics: caricatures of menacing or blood-dripping Jewish figures, menorahs, and so forth. Then I paid more attention to the Arabic text within.”

Samuels easily identified a trove of sinister Jewish images gracing book covers. He stated that these included three books at the Egyptian exhibit calling for the destruction of Israel. One of those three, asserted Samuels, “was a volume announcing the extinction of the Jewish state in the year 2021 as the Divine Word of the Holy Koran… accompanied by a CD-ROM for schools.”

Numerous volumes claimed to authenticate the Jewish conspiracy, or Jewish control of the United States, according to Samuels. The Syrian exhibit marketed at least two books on “the Jewish role in the 9/11 destruction of the World Trade Center,” asserted Samuels.

To document his finds, Samuels verified the content of the books with the proud booksellers, took snapshots of the volumes within the book exhibit or stall, and then brought local reporters by to see the books for themselves.

On October 6, opening day of the Fair, Samuels sent a letter to the Book Fair management, identifying the offending volumes and charging “several of these texts would be actionable under German law and are a stain on the image of the Frankfurt Book Fair.” In his letter, Samuels insisted that the Fair “publicly condemn this abuse of your good will, remove these texts and examine the shelves of all exhibitors for further such examples of incitement. A book fair must celebrate the values of tolerance and not allow itself to endorse a cult of racism and hatred.”

The Wiesenthal Center’s complaints and the identified books were referred to the public prosecutor, who quickly declared the texts were not in breach of German laws against hate literature. Fair management then loudly condemned as unjustified the protests of Samuels and Jewish and Zionist groups that published the photos on the Internet.

Little more was heard of the scandal because the Fair disbanded a few days later. But the sting of being branded soft on anti-Semitic literature has not lessened among many Frankfurt book fair executives. Months after the confrontation, the Fair organizer behind the Arab World project, Peter Ripken, director of the Society for the Promotion of African, Asian and Latin American Literature, remained bitter and defiant.

Asked if the objectionable materials constituted hate literature, Ripken replied, “I would say ‘yes’. But hate is something everyone should know about. You are missing the point. You may not like it [such books]. But there were more than 300,000 books available. If you single out seven or eight books, you would be fixating on only one issue.”

Ripken added that he was bothered not by the Arab literature at the Fair but “by repeated false accusations of anti-Semitism.” He continued, “Please define anti-Semitism. The Fair was attended by 270,000 to 300,000. So who is in a position to say that it was five percent or ten percent anti-Semitic – this is nonsense. The question is not whether there was anti-Semitism, but whether anti-Semitism was the key issue at the Fair.”

Other Fair executives were equally agitated after the event, some sending cross-Atlantic e-mails denouncing Zionist and Arab groups for trying to hijack the event for political purposes. Ironically, neither Fair officials nor Jewish groups were surprised. Both sides expected the Arab World exhibit to feature heavy doses of anti-Semitica, subtle and explicit. Such materials are a driving force within the Arab publishing industry.

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and works of Holocaust denial remain at the top of Arab publishing interests. At one point, the Protocols was a bestseller on the West Bank, and it was a major theme of a 41-part Egyptian TV series. Now, the notorious forger has risen to academic levels with the recent “scholarly work” by two professors from Cairo’s al-Azhar University, who claim to authenticate the Protocols based on Talmudic verses. A 10th edition of one version of the Protocols was just published in Cairo.

Lebanese publishers regularly reprint Mein Kampf, generally with striking poses of Hitler on the cover, for distribution throughout the West Bank and Arab Mideast. Beyond the well-known Protocols and Mein Kampf, an entire booklist of popular anti-Jewish titles resonate with the Arab book-buying community. The covers are often illustrated with Jewish stars or caricatures that are either dripping in blood, infused with snakes, or sporting spider legs or octopus tentacles enveloping the globe.

The Arab exposition at the Frankfurt Book Fair, organizers admitted, was the first time an honoree would not be able to display all of its most popular titles. Pre-event efforts by Fair organizers to portray Arab publishing as a noble, long-overlooked tradition worthy of special honoree status seemed exaggerated and historically conflated with the Arab world’s non-published literary efforts.

But independent non-governmental publishing itself did not reach most of the Arab world until the early 20th century. Its contentious arrival coincided with the violent rise of Arab nationalism, the imposition of colonial petro-imperialism by the British and French, and the subsequent emergence of repressive Arab regimes often bent on revolution, group hatred, and political tyranny, even as they waged ethnic and territorial war.

Consequently, non-fiction and political publishing in the Arab world has often been an instrument of repression, hate and genocide, rather than a free, inspiring and laudable movement. The Arab Publisher Association, which coordinated the Frankfurt Book Fair’s Arab World exposition for the Arab League, is well aware of publishing’s recent and rocky history in Arab lands.

“Publishing is a relatively new, budding enterprise in the Arab World,” Arab Publisher Association chairman Ibrahim El-Moallem told a Frankfurt press conference prior to the Fair opening. He added, “Much more needs to be done regarding the critical issue of freedom of expression and thus freedom of publishing. Some Arab governments still impose censorship on books and ban the distribution of others, particularly those discussing so called ‘sensitive’ political and religious issues.”

Currently, some 85 percent of all Arab publishing revenues come from children’s books or textbooks, according to the Arab Publishers Association. For many years, few “general works” were published in the Arab world. These circulated mainly to Arab intellectuals, and they rarely exceeded sales of 10,000 copies throughout the 22-nation Arab world.

But general Arab publishing has experienced a recent explosion. Today, more than a thousand publishers are active within the Arab world. More than 20 book fairs are held throughout the Arab capitals. New technologies, in part fostered by the rapid expansion of satellite TV, the Internet, and a new Arab internationalism, are fueling that growth. However, anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist conspiracies form an important segment of this emerging general book buying market.

Prior to the convention, the Fair’s Ehling insisted that Ibrahim El-Moallem of the Arab Publishers Association was the man to ensure that the anti-Jewish and Holocaust denial titles of the Arab world were not brought to the Fair. Ehling praised El-Moallem, chairman of Cairo-based Dar al Sharouk, the largest publisher in the Arab world, for his leadership “in bridging” the gap between the West and the Arab countries.

El-Moallem declined to answer questions about Arab publishing and the Frankfurt display, claiming he did not speak English well enough to express himself. Ironically, some of these refusals were sent by El-Moallem in e-mails written in perfect English. Indeed, Ehling confirmed that El-Moallem not only speaks the language but has even addressed German press conferences n eloquent English.

“I cannot explain why he does not want to talk,” stated Ehling.

Just prior to the Fair, however, El-Moallem was finally contacted in Egypt on his cell phone. He explained, “We don’t believe in a culture clash or civilization clash involving the Arabs. We [Arab publishers] have open minds. We are trying to be part of the international publishing movement. I can say that the Arab Publishers Association is now totally independent of any government.”

He added, “Frankfurt is the beginning of a new movement for the Arab publishers.”

Ehling insisted that El-Moallem, as the best and brightest of Arab publishing, would police his members for anti-Semitica or Holocaust denial at the Fair. Ehling added that he personally – and the Fair as an institution – unequivocally condemned any author, publisher or distributor of Holocaust denial. That easy-to-assert condemnation soon proved to be embarrassing.

Roger Garaudy, a French convert to Islam, stands as a hero of Holocaust denial. In 1998, a French court found him guilty of Holocaust denial and “racial defamation,” fining him $40,000 for his 1995 book The Founding Myths of Israeli Politics. That book declared that during the Holocaust, Jews were not killed in gas chambers. The author of some 20 books, Garaudy is a leading voice of Holocaust denial.

Who publishes Roger Garaudy in the Arab world?

El-Moallem confirmed in an interview with some discomfort, “Yes, I have published three or four of his books,” and hastened to add, “but they are out of print.” Only last year, though, El-Moallem’s Dar al Sharouk released the third edition of Garaudy’s recent book The Trial of Israeli Zionism. El-Moallem’s brother, Adel El-Moallem, translated the work. El-Moallem said Adel owns another major publishing house, Sharouk International, which also publishes Garaudy.

Asked about Garaudy’s books denying the existence of gas chambers, El-Moallem replied that Garaudy’s works “are not Holocaust denial, they are Holocaust discussion.” Asked if he personally endorsed Garaudy’s view that Nazis did not use gas chambers, El-Moallem replied, “I just don’t know. I’m not a specialist in this subject.”

Despite several attempts, El-Moallem declined to confirm that the Nazis used gas chambers, repeating: “It’s a debate.”

Notwithstanding the revelations about Garaudy’s works, Ehling, prior to the Fair, reiterated his certainty that of the thousands of Arabic titles to be brought to Frankfurt, none would involve anti-Semitica or Holocaust denial.

But wishful thinking by Fair organizers could not undo the race hatred that has become a staple of Arab publishing. The disappointment will not be forgotten soon.

“The Frankfurt Book Fair fits into the pattern we have seen in recent months,” asserted Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, “in which we hear lip service to world Jewry, but at the same time there are those in Germany reaching out to terrorist organizations and Jewish hatred.”

Edwin Black is the award-winning author of the New York Times bestseller “IBM and the Holocaust.” His just-released Pulitzer-nominated book is “Banking on Baghdad, Inside Iraq’s 7,000-Year History of War, Profit, and Conflict” (Wiley), which chronicles 7,000 years of Iraqi history.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/anti-semitism-at-frankfurt-book-fair/2005/01/05/

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