At various times, Jews in Muslim lands were able to live in relative peace and thrive culturally and economically. The position of the Jews was never secure, however, and changes in the political or social climate would often lead to persecution, violence and death. Jews were generally viewed with contempt by their Muslim neighbors; peaceful coexistence between the two groups involved the subordination and degradation of the Jews.
The JVL lists examples of violence against Jews over the centuries and to the present day:
The situation of Jews in Arab lands reached a low point in the 19th century. Jews in most of North Africa (including Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Morocco) were forced to live in ghettos. In Morocco, which contained the largest Jewish community in the Islamic Diaspora, Jews were made to walk barefoot or wear shoes of straw when outside the ghetto. Even Muslim children participated in the degradation of Jews, by throwing stones at them or harassing them in other ways. The frequency of anti-Jewish violence increased, and many Jews were executed on charges of apostasy. Ritual murder accusations against the Jews became commonplace in the Ottoman Empire.
This is before a mass exodus of Jews from Arab lands as a result of the violent Arab reaction to the birth of Israel in 1948. If, as Al Aswany suggests, it is possible to distinguish between Jews and Zionism, the reaction of his fellow Arabs who forced their Jewish populations out is concrete evidence that the Arab world was incapable of making such a distinction.
All of the evidence points to Al Aswany’s musings on anti-Semitism to be nonsensical.
3. Support for Boycotting Israel
In October 2010, the NY Times’ own Arts section published the following:
Alaa Al Aswany, the best-selling Arabic-language novelist, has objected to the translation of one of his novels into Hebrew as protest of normalized relations between Israel and Arab nations, Agence France-Presse reported.
Al Aswany told the AFP:
My position has not changed regarding normalisation with Israel. I reject it completely.
Referring to Al Aswany’s conspiracy theories, Eric Trager states:
In the United States, this kind of circular, paranoid reasoning is standard fare on fringe blogs. It is not, alternatively, the sort of analysis that lands someone a regular column in one of the nation’s leading papers.
Indeed, why then has the New York Times decided to honor Alaa Al Aswany with his own column? Are all of the paper’s new international columnists equally extreme?
HonestReporting’s CEO Joe Hyams comments:
The New York Times has, in the past, given a platform to the genocidal extremism of the Hamas leadership. While Alaa Al Aswany may not be a terrorist, it is a disturbing sign of the Times’ direction that someone who espouses such fringe conspiracy theories is granted a paid position and a platform to promote these views. The Times should seriously rethink its position.
You can ask why the paper has hired an anti-Israel conspiracy theorist by sending an email to Margaret Sullivan, the New York Times public editor – firstname.lastname@example.org