Sunday, December 30, 2007

Antisemitism, and Alternative History - Part I

1st of 3 parts

Weapons in the War against the Jews

Anti-Semitism targets the Jews as a group for physical extermination

By Moshe Sharon

Origins of "alternative history"

Hatred of Judaism and the Jews is an intellectual creation. Its sound foundations were laid in ancient times by historians, writers, poets, philosophers and artists long before Christianity added the theological dimension. Since then it has had the most lasting effects, and has been the one permanent feature that has accompanied the Jews throughout their history.

Born in Hellenistic Egypt, intellectual anti-Semitism has two main features which go hand in hand; one is the invention of an alternative (or counter) history for the Jews; the other describing them as inferior human beings, filthy, bearers of disease and haters of humanity and of the gods.

Alternative history declares the historical records of its target people as false, and presents its own version as the truth. Since its creation by the anti-Semites in Egypt in the 3rd century BCE, the practice has continued to this very day. It has passed through certain major stations on its way, such as the writings of some of the Church Fathers, a number Moslem historians and theologians in the middle ages, Voltaire's (1694-1778) essay on the Jews in the Dictionaire Philosophique, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion ,and Hitler's Mein Kampf, until it became commonplace in Arab text books, in multitudes of internet sites, and in numerous publications that deny the Holocaust.

The denial of the Holocaust is the the latest and most arrogant example of alternative history, the essence of anti-Semitism in modern times. The Holocaust deniers know the truth, for there is hardly a case in history that is more documented than the Holocaust. Nevertheless they are out to absolve the Nazis, and blame the victims, presenting the extermination of 6,000.000 Jews as a Jewish conspiracy. Mahmud 'Abbas (nom de guerre: "Abu Mazen"), the current Palestinian darling is one of them. In 1982 he received a PhD from Lumumba University in Moscow for his thesis on the "Secret Relations between the Nazis and Zionism," which included all the elements of Holocaust denial (a criminal offence in many Western contries for which people are sent to prison).

The first known alternative history for the Jews was written in Alexandria by the Egyptian priest Manetho, who felt the need to supply his Greek readers with a reply to the Biblical story of the Exodus, with the explicit aim of denigrating the Jews. According to Manetho's alternative history, the Jews were a group of 80,000 lepers who rebelled, took over Egypt and, ruling it for more than a decade, they spread death and horror in the country. Their leader was Osarseph, a priest from Heliopolis. After thirteen years in exile the Egyptian King, returned to Egypt, killed most of them and drove the rest out of the country, pursuing them to the borders of Syria.

Manetho's story was designed to negate everything positive about the Jews. The Jews described Joseph as a wise governor who saved Egypt from disaster, and Menetho replied by making him an apostate Egyptian priest of Osiris (hence his name Osarseph) who ruined Egypt. The Jews regarded themselves as a people, Manetho decscribed them as horrifying mob of lepers. The Jews claimed that God had brought them out of Egypt, Manetho asserted that they had been expelled.

Manetho's "history" and the abundance of horror stories about the Jews, spread by his copiers and successors, are characterised by a mixture of hate and fear. Later, Moslem classical historians also created their own versions of Jewish alternative history. But unlike their predecessors, their attitude to the Jews was that of hate resulting from contempt rather than hate based on fear. However, once the Moslems became acquainted with European anti-Semitism, they embraced the Western description of the Jew as the embodiment of pure evil, and Judaism as a bloodthirsty religion whose followers planned to subdue the world with the help of Satan. Thus the hatred felt by the Moslems towards the Jews now comprised both fear and contempt.

The blood libel, the unholy, gruesome lie of Christian Europe against the Jews, assumed immediate prominence in Islamic anti-Semitic thought and practice.

Moshe Sharon

Professor (Emeritus) of Islamic History and Civilization

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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