Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The return of the Hebrew to his land

A recent posting in the excellent Blog "Point of No Return" dedicated to the forgotten Jewish refugees of Arab lands and preserving the memory of the near-extinct Jewish communities, has drawn my attention to a brilliant 1978 publication of four articles written in 1977 by Bat Ye'or*. A Jewish refugee from Egypt herself, she has been a prolific writer and has a beautiful florid style.

I'll post only a short excerpt here, but when you have some time, I commend you to the full 25-page publication.

...the expression "dhimmi" designated the indigenous non-Arab and non-Muslim people - Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians (Persians) - whose territories came under Arab-Muslim domination. ...these peoples - in theory if not always in practice - were protected from pillage, slavery, exile and massacre by the specific conditions of an agreed ...Covenant of Umar...

A tax (the kharaj) was levied on lands left to the ...dhimmis...

Each male dhimmi ...had to pay a poll-tax (the gizya) ...

The dhimmis also paid double the taxes of Muslims. In addition ransoms (avanies) were frequently extorted ...

It was forbidden for the dhimmi on pain of death:

  • to carry or posses weapons,
  • to raise a hand against a Muslim, even against an aggressor...
  • to ally himself with the enemies of the Arabs,
  • to criticise Islam, the Prophet or Angles,
  • to convert to any religion other than Islam...
  • to be linked by marriage or concubinage to a Muslim woman,
  • to hold a position of authority over a Muslim,

The dhimmis were obliged:

  • to live seperated...
  • to have lower houses...
  • to practice their religion secretly ...
  • to wear clothes distinguished ...by shape ...[and] specific colours for Jews, Christians and Samaritans...

...This brief summary provides only an outline ..In exchange for these obligations ...the dhimmis ...[were] tolerated... This tolerance was not final. It could be abrogated in two ways: ...exile ...[or] individual or collective reprisals [for infractions] ...ending in pillage or massacre.

...the world today is full of dhimmis: for the system which produces them ...is still at work. ...the victims of ...international terrorism - banishing by death whomsoever blasphemes against Arabism - are also dhimmis. Worse, there is even a dhimmi state: Israel, existing yet denied.

The system of values which produced the dhimmi today decrees that to harass, assassinate, or mutilate the Israeli population and its sympathisers ...is legal and commendable. ...Racialsim, imperialism, colonialism are the hateful cloth of contempt and derision thrown on the State of Israel in order to disarm and ostracise a country, whose population, largely comprised of dhimmi refugees from Arab lands ...struggles for survival.

...Bethar, where once stood the fortress of the courageous Bar Kochba, the last stronghold of ancient Hebrew resistance. The stones testify in silence, for the earth cannot lie ...as in an open book ...A square tower ...typical Hebrew architecture of the first Temple period ...Over there a wall and tower built by Herod...Here on the 9th of Ab in the year 135 the Hebrew resistance was annihilated by the Roman army.

...Michael Meshorer, chief curator of archeology at the Israel Museum...:

"...Between the years 70AD and the Arab invasion and occupation in 640, these hills were dotted with Hebrew towns and villages where an intense national, religious and cultural life prospered....

...The Arab occupation scarcely modified the Hebrew place names, and the Jewish inhabitants, now considered as dhimmis, remained on their land. It was only later ...colonisation gradually wiped out the indigenous population ...a progressive Arabisation of the soil."

...nowhere else is the tragedy of history so poignant as in Shomron-Sebastia in Samaria. Nowhere else is the devastation so sinister as in the ruins of this ancient capital of the northern Kingdom of Israel, founded about 880BC ...There are the fortifications and palaces of Omri, Ahab, Jezebel, the granaries of Jeroboam II (787-749). Herod built here an avenue bordered with columns. A theatre, a stadium, a city wall with gates and towers testify to the solid, elegant, Hebrew architecture of this period.

Today Shomron-Sebastia is nothing more than a miserable village where 1300 Arabs camp among the ruins. The church built by the Crusaders, in which lie the ancient tombs attributed to the Hebrew prophets Elisha and Obadiah, has become their mosque. ...Foreigners to this past, the present inhabitants ignore it and cover their misery in the ruins. These columns, these sculptured stones are merely used as material for repairing their poor hovels. Human distress and the cataclysms of history are brought together here to make of Shomron-Sebastia the symbol of the greatness and extermination of a people...

...This is the simple explanation of the historical anomaly of a Samaria without Samaritans and a Judaea without Jews...

...Up until 1948, Jewish inhabitants were massacred or expelled and the right to reside was prohibited them until 1967. The Arabisation of the region resulted in a judenrein Arab province...

...Yet since 1967, these peaceful villagers, with unperturbed consciences, who justified their Arab rights established by the martyrdom of the banished or annihilated native peoples, are now experiencing a nightmare. The Hebrew, exiled in the wake of successive waves of occupation and its sequels ...now returns ...no longer as a dhimmi ...but as a ...free man...

...Thus the Hebrew returns...with care he searches among the ruins and brings to light thousand-year-old documents bearing Hebrew inscriptions ...monuments and coins... The Hebrew ...reaches out to the soil which yields up its history...

The present Arab populations are faced with a choice: acceptance of peaceful coexistence and a relationship of equality...; or a continuance of the traditional Jihad in massacring, exiling or dominating the legitimate heir in a renewed effort of total Arabisation...

*"Bat Ye'or" (בת יאור‎, meaning "daughter of the Nile") is a pseudonym of Gisèle Littman, née Orebi, an Egyptian-born British scholar. She was born in Cairo, Egypt from a middle class Jewish family, but she and her parents were forced to leave Egypt in 1957 after the Suez War, arriving in London as stateless refugees. Beginning in 1958 she attended the Institute of Archaeology at University College, London and in 1959 became a British citizen by marriage. She moved to Switzerland in 1960 to continue her studies at the University of Geneva.

She described her experiences in the following manner:

"I had witnessed the destruction, in a few short years, of a vibrant Jewish community living in Egypt for over 2,600 years and which had existed from the time of Jeremiah the Prophet. I saw the disintegration and flight of families, dispossessed and humiliated, the destruction of their synagogues, the bombing of the Jewish quarters and the terrorizing of a peaceful population. I have personally experienced the hardships of exile, the misery of statelessness − and I wanted to get to the root cause of all this. I wanted to understand why the Jews from Arab countries, nearly a million, had shared my experience."

Post a Comment