Archive for the ‘Judaism’ Category

Maimonides on Islamic treatment of the Jews

January 13, 2011

There is a claim that the Jews were much better treated under Islam than under their Christian counterparts. Whilst the ‘Christians’ are far from a model of toleration, the current clamour in certain quarters of Western academia (and obviously by Muslim propagandists) to paint dhimmitude as some benevolent, protective apparatus for religious minorities, must be treated with great scepticism.

Maimonides (1135-1204), wrote to the Jews of Yemen, who were then experiencing severe persecution at the hands of their Muslim rulers. In it, Maimonides describes his assessment of the treatment of the Jews at the hands of Muslims:

… on account of our sins God has cast us into the midst of this people, the nation of Ishmael [that is, Muslims], who persecute us severely, and who devise ways to harm us and to debase us…. No nation has ever done more harm to Israel. None has matched it in debasing and humiliating us. None has been able to reduce us as they have…. We have borne their imposed degradation, their lies, their absurdities, which are beyond human power to bear…. We have done as our sages of blessed memory have instructed us, bearing the lies and absurdities of Ishmael…. In spite of all this, we are not spared from the ferocity of their wickedness and their outbursts at any time. On the contrary, the more we suffer and choose to conciliate them, the more they choose to act belligerently toward us.

Maimonides, “Epistle to the Jews of Yemen”, translated in Stillman, Norman. The Jews of Arab Lands: A History and Source Book. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America. (1979), pp. 241–242 See also Martin Gilbert’s In Ishmael’s House

The evil of apathy

August 31, 2009

(The Holocaust of the Jews) depended most of all upon the indifference of bystanders in every land.

Rabbi Hugo Gryn, in Holocaust, Martin Gilbert, 1987, p.18

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

Pastor Martin Niemöller

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing

attributed to Edmund Burke, although not known from his writings

Luther and the Jews

October 22, 2008

Luther said: If I were a Jew, I would suffer the rack ten times before I would go over to the pope. The papists have so demeaned themselves that a good Christian would rather be a Jew than one of them, and a Jew would rather be a sow than a Christian.

What good can we do the Jews when we constrain them, malign them, and hate them as dogs? When we deny them work and force them to usury, how can that help? We should use toward the Jews not the pope’s but Christ’s law of love. If some are stiff-necked, what does that matter? We are not all good Christians.

p.379 Here I Stand – A Life of Martin Luther, Penguin 2002, Roland H Bainton

However, in later life, Luther’s irascibility came out in a tract that was very harsh towards the Jews. It even included a phrase about burning synagogues.