Gilbert Achcar responds to Matthias Küntzel and Colin Meade

Matthias Küntzel and Colin Meade reviewed Gilbert Achcar’s book, The Arabs and the Holocaust, here.

Gilbert Achcar has now responded as follows:

Follow this link for Achcar’s response in full, in a PDF file

PRO-ZIONIST ZEALOTS AND INTELLECTUAL DISHONESTY:

A REPLY TO KÜNTZEL AND MEADE

 By Gilbert Achcar

Since I have been courteously invited to respond, I will oblige, but only succinctly as I do not have time for a 20-page reply, which is what it would have taken, had I addressed every single distortion and misrepresentation in what is definitely the most dishonest discussion of my book, The Arabs and the Holocaust, that I have read to this day.

I won’t here discuss the substance of the two authors’ comments as they are so often vile that no person who has read my book or knows my positions could in good faith take their slanders for true, such as when my two critics write: “Achcar criticises Arab antisemitism not because it

Gilbert Achcar

envisages the murder of Jews and renders the Middle East conflict insoluble, but because it impedes the necessary struggle against Israel.” (p. 6). I will here content myself with examining only one example of their method, leaving it to interested readers to refer to the book itself and check all the quotes produced by my two critics—generally out of context, thus distorting my meaning, even when they seem to quote approvingly at the start of their essay.

They write about me:

“When standard academic practices fail him, Achcar resorts to other means, selecting and underlining whatever supports his prejudices and leaving out or dismissing the importance of everything else. A random examination of his use of quotations has brought to light several significant distortions.”

It is their review and this accusation itself that are entirely based on the above-described “other means.” As for standard academic practices, they could not “fail” my two critics since such practices seem to be totally alien to them…

Follow this link for Achcar’s response in full, in a PDF file

 

26 Responses to “Gilbert Achcar responds to Matthias Küntzel and Colin Meade”

  1. conchovor Says:

    Writes Achcar in a 2010 interview

    ‘A: “On the Arab side I feel no sympathy whatsoever for what the mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, did during World War II. I also think Holocaust denial in the Arab world is wrong, misleading and damaging to the Arab and Palestinian cause. But on the Israeli side, how can you criticize Holocaust denial in the Arab world when Israel denies the Palestinian nakba?
    “I am not comparing the expulsion of 1948 and the Holocaust. The Holocaust was genocide and therefore it was a much greater tragedy than the suffering of the Palestinians since 1948. But the Arabs and the Palestinians did not commit the Holocaust, whereas Israel stands behind the nakba. Israeli historians have proven it. Yet still, Israel continues denying its historic responsibility for this drama. Former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni protested to the Secretary General of the UN over the use of the word Nakba, which in Arabic means “disaster.” It is like protesting that Israel uses the word shoah.’

    But Achcar admits the intention of the Palestnian Arab leadership towards Palestinians was something approaching genocide. How can he criticise Palestinian Jews for making jolly sure that didn’t happen?

    That wish for genocide on Palestinian Jews was an extension of the Holocaust, albeit in intention, if not practice. Palestinian Jews committed acts of ethnic cleansing, but the same was threatened against them, or worse. Arabs did not commit the Holocaust, but they did bar the way for 10s or 100s of 1000s to find refuge. European Jews never threatened Europeans the way Palestinian and other Arab Mulims and Christians threatened Palestinian and other Jews.

    Further, there is a deeper history, a history of centuries of Palestinian (and other ) Christian and Islamic apartheid against Jews, an exclusion and subjugation, a discrimination carried on to this day, when Lebanese Jews are defined as de facto ‘Israeli’ by law. Achcar has to pretend that none of this history exists, that it never happened. That Jews were historically regarded as people exiled and dispossessed as a punishment for their rejection of Jesus and the prophets, and were accordingly discriminated against, even in Islam.

    It is a form of Arab, Islamic apartheid denial, and a denial that it facilated or enabled the full-blown antisemitism that grew up in the 20th century, for reasons sometimes to do with Zionism, and sometimes not.

  2. conchovor Says:

    That Jews were NOT historically regarded as people exiled and dispossessed as a punishment for their rejection of Jesus and the prophets, and were accordingly discriminated against, even in Islam.

  3. conchovor Says:

    A more obvious, and more honest, explanation for Arab Holocaust denial, is it is related to the amount of sympathy that Nazi policies towards Jews did inspire, with a twofold possible response: either to celebrate Nazi actions; or, when embarrassed by doing so, denying they ever took place. Ghada Karmi makes the same claim about ‘Zionists': they either deny the Nakbah or justify it.

    Arab Muslims (and some Christians) sympathised with the Nazis because the Nazi view of the Jews chimed with their own. Those views both came from a common root, after all: the view that Jews are a people dispossessed, alien, in the sense of originally dispossessed, and accursed, for their sins. The Nazi view simply broke the Augustinian limit on lethal physical persecution, and classified them as ‘alien’ in the sense of ‘non-human’ and exiled them from this world. But Arab Muslims could take it as far as identifying Arab Jews as de facto Israelis, since their traditions were that Jews were originally dispossessed thence in the first place, and effectively expelling them again.

    Christian and Islamic anti-Judaism, whence their respective antisemitic varieties, were not altogether different species, after all. The latter was not so bad or extreme as the former. But it likewise contained the seeds to grow into something a great deal worse.

  4. Benjamin H. Says:

    I’m not much of a scholar on Holocaust denial (or indeed, anything else), and haven’t read Ahcar’s book. But I believe I can take an issue with one portion of the rebuttal:

    “The denial in the Arab world today comes mainly from ignorance. However, you have to distinguish it from Holocaust denial in the West, which is a pathological phenomenon. In the West, these people are mentally ill, complete anti-Semites. In the Arab world, the denial that exists among certain strains of public opinion, who are still in the minority, comes from rage and frustration over the escalation of Israeli violence, along with the increased use of the Holocaust. It began with the invasion of Lebanon in 1982.”

    Why should we make the distinction? Something as convoluted and disgusting as genocide denial or historical negativism, should never be written off, for any reason. If someone was to deny, say, the Nabka, would you excuse someone who denied it due to the fact that a not-insubstantial part of the Arab/Islamic world is antisemitic? How about if a Turkish person were to deny the injustices that Turkey has done to the Kurdish people, because of the PKK attacks?

    The only way I can see that is Ahcar excusing Arab anti-Semites for their bigotry, which infantilizes them and makes it seem like antisemitism would vanish if Israel were to stop its abuses, or cease to exist. Needless to say, as someone who has family that Ahcar has compared to radioactive waste, I take offense to that train of thought.

    As an aside, I take offense at you calling Western Shoah deniers ‘mentally ill'; I’ve met several mentally ill people myself, and none of them are twisted enough to deny the Holocaust. By comparing the mentally ill to Shoah deniers, you’ve managed to offend yet another group who I am related to.

    PS Perhaps if you would have had more space to rebutting the original review, instead of disparing Kuntzel’s book, you would have had more space to come up with a more convincing reply, instead of one that mostly consists of a interview you had.

  5. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Methinks the scholar doth protest too much.

    As far as I can tell, he is far ruder about his critics than they are about his book. Which is telling. It’s much more effective if one disagrees far more in sorrow (& pity) at their inability to “get” it. To repeat myself, that Achar doesn’t is telling.

  6. Frank Young Says:

    I find the view that Arab culture was not pro-Nazi or even anti-Semitic insulting.

    My sister in law’s family came from Egypt where they had lived for hundreds of years. Her father who worded as a common Bank clerk (teller) was arrested in 1956 and tortured. They weren’t Zionists and wanted to stay in Egypt. After the arrest though they fled the country. Like many others, they lost their property but saved their lives.

    This occurred during the glory days of Nasser’s rule and to claim that he was not anti-Semitic is like saying that Stalin was not antisemitic. his alone makes me suspect that his “rebuttal” is politically motivated.

    Here is a more nuanced view of Egypt from a former Egyptian Jew who lives and teaches in NY City:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704171004576148792439214136.html

    Achcar’s vicious attack on Matthias Küntzel tells me that he is incapable of arguing his points rationally.

  7. conchovor Says:

    Achcar’s statement: there’s a lot more Holocaust denial than there was 30 or 40 years ago (said in 2010) is one of the bleedin’ obvious. Up til 1970, it was more likely to find open Nazi and Holocaust +approbators+. Holocaust denial is a ‘sophisticated’ western revisionist refinement that could only appear strongly with distance. But like the earlier version, has found fertile ground.

  8. conchovor Says:

    ‘ Holocaust denial is a ‘sophisticated’ western revisionist refinement that could only appear strongly with distance’

    And when, of course, western scrutiny makes the earlier version embarrassing. If the Holocaust never happened, one’s earlier approval meant nothing, approving a ‘Zionist’ phantom.

  9. conchovor Says:

    What I wonder is whether Achcar uses the trick of only discussing Holocaust denial, without discussing the Holocaust and Nazi approval that preceded it, thereby ‘proving’ that Holocaust sympathy/denial is a comparatively recent phenomenon.

    Similarly, there could be another trick, namely equating sympathy with the Nazis with Holocaust sympathy/denial, and therefore also ‘proving’ it is a comparatively recent phenomenon. Arab sympathy for Hitler likely preceded knowing in detail what he aimed for the Jews, other than that it is bad.

    Why not simply call the book, ‘The Arabs and the Nazis’ or, more to the point, ‘The Arabs and Antisemitism’. Achcar seems to choose his frames of reference as will effect damage limitation for his polemical agenda, as much as possible.

    The other thing is that, in psychoanalysis, ‘denial’ is usually seen as denial of something within the subject, not external to him e.g. it is neo-Nazis and Nazi sympathisers who tend to be Holocaust deniers in the West. Holocaust denial is then seen as denial of some internal factor, in this case the fairly well documented Arab sympathy for Hitler and his policies towards the Jews, including in Gamal Abdel Nasser. Achcar completely changes or reverses that principle in his chosen case.

    He prefers to see the denial as of some extrinsic factor i.e. Zionism and Israel. That does seem the easy way out, and not really a satisfactory or even wholly honest answer.

  10. Jacob.Arnon Says:

    In a review article on a number of books on Iran Abbas Milani has some insight into the debate on the influence of some Western antidemocratic ideas such as antisemitism in that country:

    “Desperate Dictatorship” by Abbas Milani

    http://www.tnr.com/print/article/world/magazine/94952/khomeini-iran-islam

    Unlike Gilbert Achcar he does indeed know that antisemitism is an important ideology in the Clerical regime’s arsenal of weapons in its fight against modernity and democracy:
    Here in his description of a new scholarly book on the roots of Iranian intellectual ideas he says:
    “MIRSEPASSI breaks new ground when he looks into the roots of the paranoid anti-Semitic and anti-Western rants made popular in the discourse and demeanor of Ahmadinejad. In the 1960s and 1970s, he explains, there emerged in Iran a “radical chic” reminiscent of Tom Wolfe’s scathing portrait of New York’s Maoist millionaires. In Iran, they trafficked in ideas borrowed from Fanon and Heidegger, Sartre and Césaire, to demand a “return to the authentic.” Some began to develop a romantic attachment to “the spiritual East” as opposed to the alienating, materialistic West. Dariush Shayegan, whose ideas are discussed at some length by Mirsepassi, was a cultural adviser to Queen Farah. Another key adviser to the Queen, and a rector of one of Iran’s most important universities, mentioned only once in passing in Mirsepassi’s book, was Seyyed Hossein Nasr. In those years, he developed a sophisticated theory that dismissed Western rationalism and science and advocated a return to a theocentric world of Islam. The confusion—what Shayegan himself would later describe as the schizophrenia—of the Shah modernizing frantically on a Western and Westernizing model, and his Queen supporting intellectuals who constantly disparaged and dismissed the West, opened a philosophical gap. Into that gap walked Khomeini and the many secular intellectuals who paved the way for his ascent.”

    The review article is worth reading in full, especially the last part which deal with intellectual ideologies.

  11. conchovor Says:

    Just read this response of Achcar to Jeff Herff’s review:

    “Herf attributes to me the “assumption that Zionism and anti-Semitism are equally repugnant forms of racism.” I explicitly criticized the equation Zionism=racism (p. 290), distinguishing between varieties of Zionism and asserting that it is “indisputable that eastern European Zionism emerged in reaction to an unbearable form of racist oppression that, ultimately, defined the Jews as a race and culminated in the Nazi genocide.” Of statist Zionism, I wrote that it has a twofold nature: “On the one hand, it is a form of [anti-Gentile] racism born of a defensive reaction… as morally excusable as the reactive racism of blacks to white racism. On the other hand, statist Zionism, once it created a Judenstaat in Palestine as ‘a portion of the rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilisation as opposed to barbarism’—in the words of its founder, Theodor Herzl—became, ipso facto, a fundamentally racist colonial movement comparable to the European forms of colonialism with which it had identified.”

    http://www.tnr.com/book/review/arabs

    This was Herf’s review: http://www.tnr.com/book/review/not-in-moderation

    This Herf’s response to Achcar’s response (the first link): http://www.tnr.com/book/review/arabs-and-the-holocaust-part-3

    It seems to be Achcar’s style to focus on one point (in Herff’s case, his imputing to Achcar that Zionism and antisemitism were +equally+ racist rather than merely +both+ racist. Pretty weak).

  12. conchovor Says:

    More accurately Achcar focuses on two points, not just one.

  13. conchovor Says:

    Briefly, Herf writes in his final response:

    For Gilbert Achcar to write that the “Nazi-Islamist wartime collaboration” is “a figment of Herf’s and his co-thinkers’ imagination” is yet further evidence of the dismissal of evidence that mars his own work. It is also a bizarre neglect of evidence of enthusiasm for Nazism by Islamist ideologues in addition to Husseini that Achcar presents in his own book.

    http://www.tnr.com/book/review/arabs-and-the-holocaust-part-3

    That is exactly what I thought. Further, there is no connection in Achcar between that Islamist Nazi sympathy and later Arab, Islamic Holocaust denial. They are completely unrelated. HIs criticism of Kuntzel for his lack of Arabic is absurd. Kuntzel is labouring in German archives. Something Achcar clearly shows no interest in, despite it being obviously pertinent to a study of Nazi-Arab relations.

  14. Ben Tzur Says:

    Achcar maintains that Arabic use of Holocaust denial is merely to serve their anti-Zionist agenda, and is ignorant of the facts anyway, so it is not to be compared to Holocaust denial in the West which is indeed racist and designed to promote antisemitic genocidal hate. Antisemitic genocidal hate is not what the Arab rejection of the Jewish state is about, he says.

    Let us draw a decent veil over Iran’s Ahmadinejab, Hezbollah’s Nasrullah, and Hamas and its Charter. But we cannot avoid making mention that Mahmud Abbas, the titular leader of the P.A. and of Fatah, and the murderously antisemitic Arafat’s replacement, wrote his doctoral dissertation specifically to justify and promote Holocaust denial. According to Achcar, then, we absolutely must forgive Abbas because he is merely anti-Zionist, not really antisemitic nor genocidally inclined, and he must be excused for his ignorance of the facts anyway. His Ph.D. research at Moscow University does not count. There are many who might agree with that, but in any case all must accept that Abbas is the living refutation of Achcar. Or, if Achcar can bring himself to admit that Abbas knows exactly what he is saying and is as responsible for it as the next neo-Nazi is, then it would follow that for Achcar Abbas must not be taken as a representative Palestinian, let alone a representative Arab. It is apparently a mere coincidence that Abbas has been chosen to head the Palestinian Authority which also promotes ethnic cleansing of Jews from his ideal “Palestine” state, and justifies on-going terrorism against Jewish civilians, men, women, and children, even naming public squares after those mass murderers. In another mere coincidence, Abbas’s P.A. wishes to establish a racist Jewish free “Palestinian Arab” state while defending the legitimacy of an explicitly racist “Right of Return” of all descendants of Palestinian “refugees,” to the furtherest generation, not to his own proposed “Palestine” but to the State of Israel. This “Return” would destroy the Jewish state (probably immediately in a genocidal bloodbath, but certainly eventually through demographic changes), as Abbas well knows, while he nevertheless criticises as racist and criminal the peaceable and non-racist “Right of Return” of Jews of all races to the State of Israel.

    The mind-spinning prevarications and dodges bogle the brain. How could any decent person take this man seriously?

  15. Ed Says:

    This is enjoyable stuff. Let me remind you of what Achcar has pointed out in his reply, singling out just one element of the review:

    1) The authors wrongly gave the impression that a quotation came from his book on the Holocaust, when in fact it came from an interview

    2) This might be a case of careless sourcing in itself; but the interview was also wrongly attributed to the US publication Socialist Worker, when in fact their website had merely republished an English translation of an interview with Israel’s best-selling Hebrew-language daily, from which the quotation comes. This begins to look like deliberate massaging of the facts, to conceal the fact that Achcar was willing and able to engage with a broad Israeli audience.

    3) Most importantly, the meaning of Achcar’s words were falsified by taking them out of context; two separate sentences were run together so that it would appear as if Achcar was saying something he did not say.

    As the last post rightly says – albeit in the wrong context – “The mind-spinning prevarications and dodges boggle the brain” …

    I know this is all par for the course when someone dares to criticise Israel, but amusing all the same.

    • conchovor Says:

      ‘ the interview was also wrongly attributed’

      No, you’re confused. It was correctly attributed. They said whence they got it. They didn’t have or know the primary source. That is not an incorrect attributing of a source. It is just the correct attribution of something to, it turns out, a secondary source. Which may well be marked down by a professor, but isn’t in and of itself incorrect. One sometimes cannot find the primary source for something, so a secondary will have to do.

    • Ben Tzur Says:

      There is nothing wrong with my context. On the presence of antisemitism in Islamic teachings about Jews, from the Qur’an onwards to the modern period, see the authoritative and massive anthology of Muslim sources, including 460 pages of extensive extracts from the Qur’an, the Hadith and Sira literature, later jurists and theologians, leading Muslim scholars and other religious authorities, etc., in Andrew Bostom, ed., The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: From Sacred Texts to Solemn History (2008). This nearly 800-page book, in small print in large two-column pages, also includes 150 pages of articles by leading Western academic specialists on Islamic history relating to various analytical and historical aspects of Islamic antisemitism past and present, including detailed accounts of specific events and periods, with documents and eyewitness accounts added. For a briefer and easier-reading entry to the subject, equally scholarly, objective and authoritative, see Mohammed, Allah, and the Jews: The Foundational Doctrine; The Islamic Trilogy, Volume 5 (2006), put out by the Center for the Study of Political Islam (CSPI). Relevant texts from the Qur’an, the Hadith, and the Sira are presented with brief but sophisticated and knowledgeable commentary, chapter by chapter. They are sufficient to make it clear that the problem of antisemitism runs deep and is not merely a modern development. This is now accepted by most scholars of the history of antisemitism, e.g., by Robert Wistrich, A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad (2010), who also recognizes that the influence from the Nazis (and from 19th century Christian sources in the Middle East) has indeed sharpened and politicized this traditional antisemitism into a virulent ideology today in the Muslim world. Also see his Hitler’s Apocalypse: Jews and the Nazi Legacy (1985). Achcar has no leg to stand on.

      • Ben Tzur Says:

        I should add that Matthias Kuentzel’s works documenting the Nazi propaganda efforts with, and major influence on, the Arab world and Muslim views is of the first level of importance. His use of German governmental archives opens up a source category not previously mined to the same degree and not readily accessible to scholars elsewhere. It proves his contentions that Nazi antisemitism had a huge impact on the Arab world, along with other elements of racist ideology (which shaped both Islamist and secular anti-democratic movements, the latter ranging from the Palestinian nationalist movement led by Haji Amin el-Husayni and his nephew and disciple Yasser Arafat to the Egyptian nationalist movements under Nasser and Sadat, and the Ba’athist parties that took over Syria and Iraq, etc.). Also very important are the confirmatory researches of Klaus Gensicke, The Mufti of Jerusalem and the Nazis (just translated into English this year), and Klaus-Michael Mallmann and Martin Cueppers, Nazi Palestine (2009), and Halbmond und Hakenkreuz (2007).

        But the ready reception of Nazi antisemitism in the Arab world is not explained by German efforts alone. It was chiefly due to three things: its resonance with traditional Muslim antisemitism (as Bostom’s book and others show — see my previous post), the political struggle over Jewish autonomy and immigration in Ottoman and British Mandate Palestine, and what could be called “primitive nationalism,” the first struggles to articulate common political identities that were arising out of anti-Western and pro-authoritarian tendencies within the Arab world.

        The primitive nationalist element was and remains crucial, in my opinion. Wherever there have been deeply divided societies filled with glorification of violence, internecine bloodshed and conflicting group identities that are just beginning to forge a new unified identity together as a nation, we find the same dynamic down through history: since these groups are unable to agree on shared constructive positives and a common love, they coalesce like mobs do around destructive negatives and a manufactured common hate of a conveniently small internal, defenseless, and/or external threatening “evil other” that lies outside them all (usually the small different minority within the society is said to be a fifth column for the external evil other). This is the sort of situation that we find in the first European nation to try to create a common national identity, England, back in the 12th century. Only a generation or so after the Norman conquest, the whole country, otherwise desperately riven by different Christian cultures and peoples, was galvanized by the “ritual murder” accusation that arose in Norwich in 1146 against the Jews. It was alleged that Jewish elders met in secret international conclave every year to plot where they would enact a crucifixion of a Christian child so as to eat its flesh and drink its blood, and that year they had met in Spain (England’s alleged national enemy) and chosen England to be their symbolic victim, in Norwich. The child became a “holy blissful martyr” and its shrine a place of national pilgrimage, as Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales credulously relate. Eventually, after repeated persecutions and accusations of this sort, the Jews were expelled from England in 1290, so as to create a unified Christian nation.

        The next land to struggle to national identity, France, went through the same antisemitic convulsions in the 13th century, before expelling their Jews altogether. Spain, the third land in Europe to seek a national unity between its bitterly warring states, also used antisemitism and expulsion to the same effect in the 14th and 15th centuries. Germany, splintered into innumerable militaristic principalities and kingdoms, was the last major central European land to unify politically in 1870: desperately struggling against anarchy even two generations later, it produced the Nazis and the Holocaust. The Soviet Union tried to use antisemitism in the same way to unify its very splintered and fractious populations, and only Stalin’s death in 1953 prevented a similar ending to the Jewish community there. The authoritarian, splintered and violent Arab world is still struggling to find some political sort of unifying passion, and again, in these divided societies, antisemitic hate is the easiest political refuge.

        (Outside the Western world, similar uses have been made of the Ibo people in creating a common Nigerian identity, of Chinese people in forging a new Indonesian nation, of Indian people in Kenya and elsewhere, and of White Rhodesians in creating a new Zimbabwe. Many other examples could be given.)

        • Ben Tzur Says:

          The French version of the “primitive nationalist” pattern occurred in the 14th century, I should have written.

  16. conchovor Says:

    [1) The authors wrongly gave the impression that a quotation came from his book on the Holocaust, when in fact it came from an interview]

    An interview which +was+ cited in that +very same+ footnote, just carelessly. There should have been two separate footnotes.

    [2) This might be a case of careless sourcing in itself; but the interview was also wrongly]

    No. +Correctly+ attributed.

    [attributed to the US publication Socialist Worker, when in fact their website had merely]

    What do you mean +merely+? It was a translation of the interview? What’s wrong with that?

    [republished an English translation of an interview with Israel’s best-selling Hebrew-language daily, from which the quotation comes.]

    So? It was the English translation they cited, whose translation’s accuracy Achcar doesn’t contest.

    [This begins to look like deliberate massaging of the facts,]

    Rubbish. They merely used a single footnote for two successive sources, which can be confusing. They first cited the book, for an earlier quotation; then the interview for the next. But it wasn’t clear. I have that problem all the time: should I footnote quotations or matters following in close succession individually; or in a group, so that practically every other word in a sentence is footnoted, which can be a little, or very, crowded.

    [ to conceal the fact that Achcar was willing and able to engage with a broad Israeli audience.}

    Oh, cobblers. A pile of delusional wank.

    [3) Most importantly, the meaning of Achcar’s words were falsified by taking them out of context; two separate sentences were run together so that it would appear as if Achcar was saying something he did not say.]

    a) it is common practice to contract or edit a long passage in quotation, especially to draw out a theme with which it begins and ends. It is done all the time in academic writing. K/M’s reading of the passage +is+ the natural one. It does read as though Achcar thinks Holocaust denial began in 1982. That +is+ the natural, simple reading of the passage. That is what it implies. On a simple reading, that is what it +means+.

    Now, to do Achcar justice, later in the inteview, he does say that there is more Holocaust denial than there was 30-40 years ago, which implies it goes back at least to 1970. Frankly, I think K/M erred on that score. They should have said that strictly contradicts what Achcar says earlier.

    But their contraction of the passage does +not+ change its fundamental meaning. Achcar is just upset about it.

  17. conchovor Says:

    Frankly, I think it possible that Holocaust denial is a relatively new phenomenon in the Arab, Islamic world. It is the bastard child of Holocaust/Nazi approval, and doubtless another import from Europe, as was the former. I suspect it becomes more common with more western scrutiny of Arab discourse, as the less politically acceptable memes are dispensed with.

    Achcar says the Lebanon war was the catalyst of that change, from Nazi approval to Nazi denial. Frankly I think it has more to do with Nazi/Holocaust/Hitler approval having been so incontestably widespread in the Arab, Islamic world, that simply denying it altogether was much easier than actually confronting it.

  18. conchovor Says:

    The phenomenon mirrors that of the neo-Nazi and neo-Fascist right in Europe. An ‘evolution’ which simply denies altogether the crimes or misdemenours of the past. Anti-Jewish and anti-Israel hatred is pretty widespread in Egypt, for instance. But is there any memory of how Egyptian Jews were mistreated? It is either ignored, or justified.

    As Ghada Karmi says, Zionists have only two choices about the Nakbah: deny or justify it. Well, the same for Arab, Islamic Jew hatred.

  19. conchovor Says:

    Achcar’s style is to find one (usually pretty mild) flaw in the writing of his opponent, and then say, en effait, And if I can find that, obviously I can find many more. That’s just a foretaste of what I can do, so you’d better back off, if you know what’s good for you.

    It’s a bluff, like frog swelling himself to twice his size. He just hopes his authority and reputation will deter his opponent from taking up the challenge. I dare say with his students, acolytes and fawning fans it works.

  20. conchovor Says:

    It seems to me that Achcar’s work in some ways professes to address the issue of Arab, Islamic antisemitism. But ends up effectively mitigating it to insignificance by saying that, in the end, the Arabs weren’t responsible for the Holocaust (in Europe, any way), as though the two phenomena were mutually exclusive. And, anyway, the ‘Zionists’ were fundamentally responsible for the former.

    Imagine if anyone said that about the Nazis, that some other group was fundamentally responsible for their actions against others. HIs absolving Nasser of antisemitism, despite his kicking out all Egyptian Jews, is amazing, frankly.

    The fact that the Arabs in general did not effect the Holocaust in Europe does not alter the fact of widespread Arab, Islamic antisemitism, and the consequence for Arab, culturally Islamic Jews (nor address how many more Jews could have come to Palestine, and lived, than remaining in Europe, where they died).

  21. Absolute Observer Says:

    “I know this is all par for the course when someone dares to criticise Israel, ”

    Yes, you’re right. Zionists are so manipulative whenever anyone “dares to criticise” Israel.
    Indeed, I can’t think of one writer/thinker/author who does not adopt such underhand means.
    They really can never be trusted. Terrible dishonest and disreputable people who pollute the arenas of honest debate.

  22. Comment is not free Says:

    Nice one Ed,
    Take one or two observations of misquote and then extend it to all critics of Israel.- how so very “brave” of you.


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