Sarkozy Of Arabia
by Gerald A. Honigman
France's Nicolas Sarkozy was recently quoted in the French magazine, Le Canard Enchaine, as saying that the very idea of a Jewish State is silly. Sarkozy has admitted to some Jewish ancestry in the past--not that means much, as you shall see below.
The French President was responding to Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu stating that Arabs would have to accept Israel's basic Jewish identity. Sarkozy continued, " it would be like saying that this table is Catholic."
Not long ago, a French diplomat referred to Israel as "that shitty little country"...this from the nation whose own Vichy government aided the Nazis in rounding up their fellow Jewish citizens in World War II and sending them off to be made into lampshades and soap. I won't make any other such comments about this for the love of my French daughter-in-law and peace in the family. Yet, think about this a bit in light of Nick's mocking the need of a separate "Jewish" nation to exist.
Before moving ahead, let's take some important steps backwards to better understand at least some of what's really transpiring here.
Napoleon Bonaparte goes down in history with a mixed record. One of the truly great things he did, however, was to emancipate the Jews and release them from the mandatory ghetto in the early 19th century. Prior to this, let's just say that things were quite a bit different.
The very word ghetto was born out of the Jewish experience in the West. The counterpart to it for Jews in the Muslim East was the mellah.
The Church Fathers had long debated about what should be done with alleged G_d-killing, Children of the Devil, Wandering Jews in their midst. Some, like St. John Chrysostom, wanted them dead for fear of their polluting (Judaizing) influences and such among Christians. In his own homilies, "they were fit for slaughter."
Others, like St. Augustine, wanted Jews kept alive--but in a lowly state--so that when looked upon, the results of their "deicide" would be obvious to all with eyes to see. The latter folks helped give rise to such things as the ghetto.
Gheto, in Italian, meant iron foundry--the quarter of the city which was the filthiest, unhealthiest, most lowly place to live...just perfect for G_d-killing, perfidious Jews. And for centuries that's where they were forced to reside throughout Western Europe. Eastern Europe had its own nasty stories to tell along these lines.
The French Revolution and Napoleon changed much of this.
Napoleon wanted to assimilate all peoples, of various ethnic and religious backgrounds, in order to turn everyone solely into great, pure Frenchmen instead. He personally took charge of the Jewish issue--and was met with resistance for years over this. Centuries of Church-indoctrinated hatred could not be made to vanish overnight.
To many Jews--the models of the perpetual strangers in someone else's lands--this was a dream come true...especially those seeking to become part of a greater whole in the supposed age of Enlightenment.
Outside of the Orthodox Jewish community (which was mostly not interested), the problems of assimilation seemed more-than-bearable to such folks. Indeed, many willingly seized the chance to integrate as much as possible into the greater society.
In this freer milieu, conversions to the major identifiable religion of the state--Christianity--ironically increased ( to speed up the unifying assimilation process), the Reform movement in Judaism was born, and emancipated Jews from all over sought to turn themselves from Jews (Judeans--people from the land of Judah/Judea ) into Frenchmen, Germans, Italians, and so forth of the Jewish faith instead. The goal was to erase all aspects of their Jewish identity--other than (often just nominal) religious beliefs--which might make them appear different from all other citizens of the nation.
Enter the Dreyfus Affair...
Captain Alfred Dreyfus was from one of such assimilated families wanting to make sure that the earlier days of the negative Jewish experience would never return.
The Dreyfus Affair requires another article all by itself, so I will refrain from trying to do it justice here. It's certainly worth the time it takes to do a search of it on the Internet. Folks have it so easy these days to avoid ignorance.You can try here for starters http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreyfus_affair.
The bottom line was that, despite the Jews' attempt at assimilation, and despite his innocence, Captain Dreyfus--in perhaps the allegedly most enlightened of nations in the Enlightenment-- still remained a dirty, "G_d-killing" Jew anyway to much of the French educated elite as well as the rabble in the street.
When another shocked, assimilated Jew saw this while covering the story for a newspaper from abroad, it would affect him so much that he would subsequently write Der Judenstat (The Jewish State). Theodore Herzl thus became the father of modern political Zionism. As if to make the point even further, Nazis would later laugh as German Jewish World War I veterans showed them their metals before being tossed into the ovens.
Nicholas Sarkozy's ignorant and/or demeaning comments must thus be seen in this light--even though, with just a smidgeon of Jewish "Blood" (yet enough to have gotten him sent to Auschwitz), his own complete dismissal of Jewish identity outside the realm of religion becomes even more understandable if not excusable.
Thus, for the sake of Nick and the other shitty little, silly Sarkozys of the world, let me lay out the facts regarding the "Jewish" issue (sorry, but their own disrespect for my millennially-oppressed people and their tiny, resurrected nation demands a response in kind.
Way back on July 3, 2003, the highly respected Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) translated an interview with Ahmed Qurei', a.k.a. Abu Alaa, a former successor to Arafat and now one of the latter-day Fatah Arafatians in Mahamoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority. Among other things, he was asked about the Arabs' problem with having the word "Jewish" placed in front of the words "State of Israel" at summits leading up to the Roadmap. Here was his response:
"What is the meaning of a Jewish state? Do we say...Sunni state...Shi'ite state... Christian state? These are definitions that will bring... turmoil." Mahmoud Abbas and others have repeatedly made similar statements--so Sarkozy's above comments are likely carefully calculated and much appreciated in Arab oil potentate circles.
Like Sarkozy's Catholic table analogy and other insinuations, it's not unusual to hear critics of Israel, even some academics, proclaim, "If Jews can have a state, then why not Catholics, or Protestants, or Hindus, etc.?" a la Alaa. It is a favorite piece of anti-Israel ammunition.
Given this, let's now really begin.
Think about this a minute: Someone from England is English, from Poland is Polish, from Sweden is Swedish, from Ireland is Irish, etc. and so forth.
While there are indeed other ways of describing nationality or ethnicity (i.e., Sarkozy is French, Barzani is a Kurd, and we speak of Chinese, Iranian, American, Arab, Israeli, and other peoples), the addition of the suffix "-ish" denotes this as well. Indeed, that's how Webster's Collegiate Dictionary primarily defines it.
So what's Abu Alaa's, Mahmoud Abbas's, and President Sarkozy's' problem here?
It's no minor issue, after all, but involves the very acceptance of a state for Jews.
If Abu Alaa and Mahmoud Abbas are supposedly "moderates"--to whom Israel is expected to make huge and dangerous concessions to-- then they must be confronted on this. And for folks like the French President…well, he ought to keep his silly little, Arab-derriere-kissing mouth shut unless he has something intelligent to say.
You see, what's going on here is really very, very simple.
As I've pointed out before, if Arabs and their assorted cheerleading squads admit that the Jews are a nation or a people, it makes rejection of their national movement -- Zionism -- more difficult to defend; i.e., how could one demand some two dozen states for Arabs while denying Jews their lone, minuscule one?
Well, they could--as they do with Berbers, Kurds, and everyone else living on what Arabs claim to be "purely Arab land."
I don't, for example, hear Sarkozy demanding the birth of Kurdistan for one of the region's 35 million truly stateless people. But it makes the selling of the argument to reasonable minds that much more difficult.
So, despite the fears of the assimilationists and the attitudes of the anti-Semites, here's the deal….
The word "Jew" comes from the name Judah, originally the Hebrew tribe named after one of Jacob's sons and later Judah/Judaea as the land was known in the times of the southern kingdom and the Greeks and Romans.
Judean equals "Jew"--yes, a people, not a religion.
And long before there was a France or any of the almost two dozen "Arab" nations which now exist, the Jewish people and nation were creating monuments of the spirit and social justice that would have vast impacts on civilization to this very day.
When Rome suppressed the first major revolt of the Jews for their freedom and independence after 70 CE, it issued thousands of "Judaea Capta" coins that can be seen in museums all over the world today. Judea was the land, Judaeans/Jews were the people of that land. Open to the front cover of my book to see a Judea Capta coin http://q4j-middle-east.com. Was that coin named after a religion or a conquered people and their nation? If you know the answer, please share it with Sarkozy--he evidently doesn't.
Now here's the somewhat confusing part--but still easily understandable to those who give it just a little further thought.
That particular people (the Jews) also had a peculiar set of religious beliefs.They worshipped a totally spiritual G_d whom no man could see and who demanded that man live by a strong moral code. The Roman historians--Tacitus, Dio Cassius, etc.--living at that time were amused and spoke of this in their writings. They also had lots more to say about the Jews as a distinct people. We'll return to Tacitus a bit later on.
While Abraham and the Hebrew patriarchs lived centuries earlier, Jews emerged as a people/nation after the experience at Sinai, some twelve hundred years or so before Jesus. They came to inhabit a distinct land, had their own culture, their own language (Hebrew), history --and, again, their own distinct set of religious beliefs. Given this, such statements as those coming out of Sarkozy's mouth are comical. Since he brought the analogy up, is there a "Catholic" language--apart from the Latin ironically used by the Church--the lingo of the historical Jesus's executioners and conquerors of his land and people?
The Amarna Letters, an amazing archaeological treasure from ancient Egypt, show repeated correspondence between Pharaoh and surrounding Hittite, Hurrian, Babylonian, Canaanite, Assyrian and other kingdoms.
Guess what comes out, among other things, in the correspondence? Complaints about invasions by the Habiru and 'Apiru…very likely, the Hebrews. While there is some debate over details, the letters date back to just around the time scholars have dated the Biblical conquests of Joshua and the Hebrew people.
Jumping a thousand years or so ahead again to Roman times, check out just this one favorite brief quote from the many pages the contemporary Roman historian, Tacitus, devoted to the Jews:
It inflamed (the emperor)Vespasian's ire that the Jews were the only nation which had not submitted…Titus was appointed by his father to complete the subjugation of Judaea... he commanded three legions in Judaea itself...To these he added the twelfth from Syria and the third and twenty-second from Alexandria...amongst his allies were a band of Arabs, formidable in themselves and harboring towards the Jews the bitter animosity usually subsisting between neighboring nations (The Works of Tacitus, Volume II, Book V)...
Now, do you think Tacitus was talking about the Jews' "religious affiliation" or their identity as a people? We don't have to ask; Tacitus tells us. Are you listening, Abu Alaa, Mahmoud Abbas, President Sarkozy, and so forth? Look at the quote above again for your answer.
While it's true that one may join one's destiny to the peoplehood/nationhood of Israel via religious conversion to the faith of that people, faith itself, while a part of the picture, is still just that--one part of the much bigger picture. So, Ruth the Moabitess became a convert when she told Naomi in the Hebrew Bible, "Whither thou goest I shall go, your people shall be my people, your G_d, my G_d."
Note, please, that even here--to the likely dismay of Sarkozy and other "Silly Jewish State/Catholic table," like-minded commentators--in the religious writings of the Jews, peoplehood is mentioned before religion. Perhaps a coincidence, but probably not.
After the fall of Judea to Rome, Jews were repeatedly humiliated, massacred, demonized, and so forth throughout subsequent centuries--culminating in the Holocaust. So, as we reviewed above, as soon as Napoleon released them from the mandatory ghettos and granted them citizen rights, many tried to redefine themselves so that the peoplehood aspect of their identity would not cause them future problems.
Yet again, as we also discussed earlier, that frequently didn't work either.
"Kanes" or their counterparts were tossed into the same ovens as Cohens, and recall that the modern political Zionist movement gained its momentum because Alfred Dreyfus, "the Frenchman of Jewish faith," was still seen by his fellow Frenchmen, including enlightened ones, as simply another dirty, G_d-killing Jew.
Now, I find this all more than a bit ironic when Arabs such as Abu Alaa, Mahmoud Abbas, and their supporters such as Sarkozy bring this identity issue up. As usual, they rely on the innocent ignorance of most others on such matters.
Consider, for example, how you identify an "Arab."
Because of their widespread conquests and forced Arabization--still going on in places like North Africa, where the once-majority Amazigh ("Berber") people's language and culture have largely been outlawed; in the Sudan, where millions of Blacks have been killed, enslaved, maimed, etc.; the gassings, massacres and such in Syrian and Iraqi Kurdistan; and so forth--the definition of "Arab" has come down to language spoken, paternal (so to claim the children of those conquered as their own) ancestry, and/or one's own actual or willingly adopted identity as such. Not exactly precise.
Why does the French President not see fit to comment on any of this?
Why is a Jewish State "silly" but calling North Africa part of the Arabs' self-proclaimed "purely Arab patrimony" not a disgraceful, cowardly, outright lie? Scores of millions of intimidated, brutalized, and subjugated Copts, "Berbers," black Africans, and other non-Arab peoples live in those allegedly "purely Arab" lands.
As just one additional point to make on this subject, take a close look at the pictures the next time you see "Arabs" on television, in magazine articles or wherever.
Frequently, you'll see some alleged "Arabs" of obvious Black African ancestry--many born of slave mothers and grandmothers. Black slaves are still arriving into Arab lands via the Sudan and elsewhere. Yet these are the same folks who speak of "Zionist racism" and who have been able to sell this message to much of the rest of the world.
Duplicitous hypocrites, while belittling Jews and mocking one of the oldest historical nation's and people's on Earth their very right to even exist ("silly, shitty little Jewish state," etc.), folks like Sarkozy & Co. make no purity of blood, genes, and/or nation demands for the Arabs' own collective self-definition (even though there are ethnically pure Arabs). Why is that? I have some ideas.
Given this, and the eagerness to demean Jewish identity, why does the Arab's rah rah crew not question such things as the true character of the so-called "Arab" League-- especially since those allegedly "purely Arab" states have scores of millions of non-Arab peoples who pre-date the Arabs themselves living in them.
Lastly, as surely the French President must know (among other things, his country ran the show in Muslim North Africa for decades), Islam is the official religion of virtually all of the almost two dozen "Arab" states that exist so far. Check out their constitutions and such. And they let it be known in those same documents that the states are "Arab" as well--despite the blurriness of what that term means and the presence of often millions of native non-Arabs in those lands.
Just recently, hundreds of native, non-Arab, Egyptian Copts have been wounded or massacred for daring to protest their churches being burned down, and a key Kurdish leader in Syria was assassinated. There are at least ten million Copts and thirty-five million Kurds living in a region Arabs call just their own--and enabled to do so by folks like the French President.That previous sentence, by the way, explains the Arab-Israeli conflict in a nutshell. About half of Israel's Jews are from refugee familes originating in Arab/Muslim lands--millions of more non-Arabs resident in allegedly purely Arab patrimony.
Regardless of all of the above, nothing stops Arabs and those like France's Sarkozy from engaging in duplicitous actions and raising such issues of identity with the sole, microscopic state of the Jews.
Netanyahu is most definitely correct on this point...If Arabs refuse to recognize Israel as the official State of the Jewish people, then there must be no recognition of a second--not first--state for Arabs in "Palestine." Since 1922, Jordan has indeed sat on almost 80% of the original 1920 Mandate's territory.
The reality, of course, is that this identity issue is just part of the Arabs' perpetual campaign to deny Jews their one, sole state and to delegitimize Israel. Nonetheless, it is still pathetically regretful that the leader of an important Western nation such as France sees fit to add fuel to the fire and jump on the rejectionist Arab bandwagon.