Saturday, February 21, 2015

Prof. Mehnaz Afridi, Valiant Freedom Fighter Challenging Arab Anti-Semitism

Today in the New York Times there was a story in the ON RELIGION section by Samuel G. Freedman about Prof. Mehnaz Afridi, Director of Manhattan College's Holocaust, Genocide, and Interfaith Education Center, emphasizing her devotion to educating Muslims about the Shoah.

And here is a video from 2012 featuring Dr. Afridi giving a lecture on how she views the way her scholarship should proceed.

And then, purely coincidentally, is an article published in COUNTERPUNCH Magazine by Uri Avnery.

The cosmic irony is simply too much for me.
There is something in Dr. Afridi that reminds me of Walid Shoebat, the supposedly 'reformed' ex-PLO member who now is dedicating his life to 'fighting Arab anti-Semitism'.
This situation is a painfully obvious case of anti-Palestinian collaboration with Empire, made most obvious by Freedman:
As her research unflinchingly shows, a strain of Holocaust denial runs deep in the Arab-Muslim world. Holocaust recognition among Arabs and Muslims, less noticed but equally divisive, has also served as a means of delegitimizing Israel and Zionism. By this line of reasoning, which ignores the historical ties of Jews to Israel, the Holocaust was a crime inflicted by Europeans for which Palestinians paid the price.
I've recently been reading Edward Said's THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE, which remains perhaps the most nuanced secular argument for the Palestinian cause.  In that volume he devotes a significant level of insight in regards to the Shoah and its impact on the discussion of the Nakba.
I know as well as any educated western non-Jew can know, what anti-Semitism has meant for the Jews, especially in this century. Consequently I can understand the intertwined terror and the exultation out of which Zionism has been nourished, and I think I can even at least grasp the meaning of Israel for Jews and even for the enlightened in Western Liberal. And yet, because I am an Arab Palestinian, I can also see and feel other things - and it is these things that complicate matters considerably, that caused me also to focus on Zionism's other aspects. The result is, I think, worth describing not because what I think is so crucial but because it is useful to see the same phenomenon in two complementary ways, not normally associated with each other… Zionism is to be carried out by the Jews with the assistance of major European powers; that Zionism will restore “a lost fatherland," and in so doing mediate between the various civilizations; that present-day Palestine was in need of cultivation, civilization, reconstitution; that Zionism would finally bring in enlightenment and progress at present where there was neither…The three ideas that depended on one another in… almost every Zionist thinker or ideologue… are (A) the nonexistent Arab inhabitants, (B) the complementary Western-Jewish attitude towards an "empty" territory, and (C) the restorative Jewish project, which would repeat by rebuilding a vanish Jewish state and combine it with modern elements like disciplined, separate colonies, a special agency for land acquisition, etc.  Of course, none of these ideas would have any force were it not for the additional fact of their being addressed to, shaped for, and out of an international (i.e. non-Oriental and hence European) context.
In this sense, it seems worthwhile to discuss the exact history of Islam in Palestine.  The hadith do include the narrative of the Prophet Mohammad's night journey to Jerusalem and ascension to Paradise in the Isra and Mi'raj, but the topic of Islamic conversion in the Levant including Palestine took place some eight years after the death of Mohammad, beginning approximately in 640 and lasting to as late at 1516 under the Malmuk Sultanate.  It was during this period that the dhimmi taxes were first instituted and Christians, Jews, and Muslims lived in harmony.
What is important to understand is that the historical ancestors of modern Palestinians were both Semites and either Christian or Jewish, but then converted to Islam at some point in between the 7th and 16th centuries.  This properly frames the discussion of the heritage of Palestinians in historic Palestine.

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