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The emergence of Zionism

The emergence of Zionism
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We can see then, how the infiltration of European concepts into the Muslim world, together with the changing social structure and the loss of dominance, affected the development of antisemitism in this sphere. To these two factors a third factor, which has already been mentioned, should be added - the emergence of Zionism, the Jewish national movement. Gaining momentum in a time of instability for the Muslim world, when antisemitic beliefs and attitudes were already gaining hold, Zionism would have a crucial effect on the further advancement of antisemitism in this sphere.
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As discussed in the second week, from the late 19th century through the early 20th century, the Zionist movement was emerging in Europe, bringing with it the early national Jewish immigration waves, or Aliyot, to Palestine. The Arab populations residing in the region viewed the settling of the newcomers in the area, which at the time was part of the Ottoman Empire, as a threat fueling the new anti-Jewish attitudes that were developing at the time. The sense of instability and imminent threat that was felt in the Islamic world in the 19th and early 20th centuries, was greatly aggravated following the First World War.
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As mentioned, world empires, including the Ottoman Empire, were broken up after the war and were replaced by nation-states in Europe and the Middle East. In Palestine, where a British Mandate was set up instead of the Ottoman institutions, Zionism was gaining legitimacy. The Balfour Declaration of 1917, which we have already mentioned, acknowledged a Jewish right for a homeland in mandatory Palestine and resulted in great hostility around the Arab world. The power balance in the Middle East was changing. Anti-Zionist and anti-British sentiments were rising, and sporadic assaults on Jewish communities and institutions around the country took place, as the struggle surrounding the future borders of post-Mandate Palestine was fought over.
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As we will now see, all of these would have a decisive effect on the content and spread of antisemitism in the Arab and Islamic world. Antisemitism in the Muslim world or in the Arab world, witnessed a signifacnt rise after the First World War. The First World War is a major historical turning point in the history of the Middle East - with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, with the completion of the European takeover of Middle Eastern countries, and with the emergence of Zionism and the Balfour Declaration.
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This sense of crisis, exacerbated the need to find an explanation and a scapegoat, and this is manifested in the translation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to Arabic; it is manifested in the antisemitic ideology of the Muslim Brothers, and, most importantly, it is also manifested in a series of pogroms against Jewish communities as a result of anti-Zionism. The first major pogrom is in Baghdad, in April 1941, following the collapse of the anti-British movement, right before the British recaptured Baghdad for two days, and right before the Passover holiday, there was a major pogrom against Jews. Approximately between 150 or 200 Jews were murdered, many hundreds of Jews were injured, and Jewish property was looted.
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This was very much a manifestation of anti-British feelings, anti-Zionist feelings, but expressed against the local Jewish community. Then in 1945 there was also a pogrom against Jews in the city of Tripoli in today’s Libya; and in 1948, when the Muslim Brothers tried to mobilize support for the fight in Palestine against Zionism, at the same time they also carried out a pogrom against the Jews of Cairo, because, if you fight the Jews in one place, why not fight them in another place as well. And again, these Jewish communities in Arab countries, who were not necessarily very Zionist at that time, were punished because of Arab animosity towards Zionism.
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In a sense, here the Jews were associated, all the Jews whatever their attitudes and whatever their feelings were, were all associated with Zionism - all the Jews are responsible for whatever any other Jew does, which is again a typical antisemitic phenomenon.

Prof. Meir Litvak

Both the infiltration of European concepts into the Muslim world and the changing social structure and the loss of dominance, affected the development of antisemitism in the Arab and Islamic World. To these two factors, a third factor should be added – the emergence of Zionism, the Jewish national movement.

What role did Zionism play in the changing perception of Jews in the Arab and Islamic world?

References

  • Kamrava, Mehran, The Modern Middle East: A Political History Since the First World War (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013).

  • Lassner, Jacob and Ilan S. Troen, Jews and Muslims in the Arab World: Haunted by Pasts Real and Imagine (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007).

  • Litvak, Meir and Esther Webman, “Israel and Antisemitism,” in Albert S. Lindemann and Richard S. Levy, eds., Antisemitism: A History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), pp. 237 – 249.

  • Mandel, Neville J., “Ottoman Policy and Restrictions on Jewish Settlement in Palestine: 1881-1908 – Part I,” Middle Eastern Studies, vol. 10, no. 3 (Oct., 1974), pp. 312 – 332.

  • Moreh, Shmuel and Zvi Yehuda, eds., Al-Farhud: The 1941 Pogrom in Iraq (Jerusalem: Hebrew University Magnes Press, 2010).

  • Shavit, Uriya and Ofir Winter, Zionism in Arab Discourses (Manchester: Mancherster University Press, 2016).

  • Stillman, Norman A., “Anti-Judaism and Antisemitism in the Arab and Islamic Worlds Prior to 1948,” in Albert S. Lindemann and Richard S. Levy, eds., Antisemitism: A History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), pp. 212 – 221.

  • Webman, Esther, “From the Damascus Blood Libel to the “Arab Spring”: The Evolution of Arab Antisemitism,” Antisemitism Studies, vol. 1, no. 1 (Spring 2017), pp. 157 – 206.

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Antisemitism: From Its Origins to the Present

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