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Mustapha Tlass, long time defense minister of Syria, has at last retired from his post, while retaining his positions in the Baath central committee. Tlass is man of parts, best known for his successfull literary endeavors. In 1983 Field Marshal Tlass wrote a book called The Matzah of Zion, accusing the Jews of having murdered a priest to use his blood to make the unleavened bread of Passover (Matzah) in the 1840 Damascus blood libel affair. This book has gone through eight printings and as of 2001 there were plans to make it into a movie. Far from representing any clash between Muslim and Christian civilization, the book is a triumph of ecumenism, since the Christian blood libel accusation has now been adopted into Muslim culture, and in turn, Tlass's book has become a staple of Christian antisemitism as well.
Nobody knows for sure why Tlass retired. Tlass was past retirement age, but I'm told that in Syria, officials who do not die in office are considered to be failures. Some say that he retired to make way for a policy that was less adamantly opposed to Yasser Arafat and the Fatah organization, recently given an office in Damascus. Perhaps Field Marshal Tlass retired so that he would have more time to write another delightful and edifying book of Jewish recipes, like his book about the blood libel of 1840. This would be a fitting crown to a career that includes supervising the occupation of Lebanon and probably assisting in the notorious massacre of El-Hama, where it is estimated that as many as 38,000 dissidents were murdered using poison gas. (Estimates of deaths range up to 100,000. In his book, From Beirut to Jerusalem, page 90, Tom Freidman claims that the figure of 38,000 was given by Rifaat Assad himself ).
Tlass is retired, but racism is far from dead. It is not the exclusive property of the uneducated, or a fringe belief set in the corner. In the Middle East, racism is a major determinant of attitudes and policy, Racist fabrications are accepted by policymakers like Tlass and by opinion shapers as fact. A recent article in the independent, moderate Palestinian newspaper Jerusalem Times recently proclaimed that "Negotiations are futile." Palestinians should not waste time negotiating with Israel, according to Palestinian moderate Haidar Abdul-Shafi. On what is this policy pronouncement based? The paper claims:
This major policy pronouncement by a prominent and relatively moderate Palestinian leader is based on a racist fabrication presented as "fact." The "inaugural Zionist summit" that Abdul-Shafi refers to is apparently the first Zionist Congress, which did not even mention a specific country as a Jewish national home in its resolutions. Antisemites have imagined all manner of things about this meeting. Contrary to facts, many insist that the first Zionist congress adopted or promulgated the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which is in reality an anti-semitic forgery circulated by the Tsarist police. There was never any "Zionist summit" which decided to control all of Palestine.
Where do Palestinians and other Arabs get their notions about Zionism? I was somewhat taken aback when I received several letters from a prominent Palestinian journalist, explaining that Zionism is based on the Talmud, and that hateful actions of settlers are in line with the Talmud and with the dictates of Hesronot Shas. These claims seemed a bit bizarre, given that the founders of Zionism were not religious. I had never heard of Hesronot Shas. It seems however, that in Web sites of groups such as Stormfront, Al-Jazeera.info, intellnet.org, abbc.com, biblebelievers and Jewswatch, there is a lively and imaginative literature, every bit as good as the efforts of the esteemed Field Marshall Tlass, which claims that the Talmud, Hesronot Shas and other books contain the secrets of Jewish hatred of gentiles and are the motivation and ideology of Zionism.
A sample from intellnet.org will give you the flavor of this "information:"
Want to know more? Here is another quote from the same Web site (I refuse to link to these Web sites, it increases their search engine ranking):
In reality of course, the Talmud is a book of argumentation about Jewish law that is open for all to see. Hesronot Shas, as I found out, was a list of censored passages in the Talmud that have been restored in newer editions. There are no secrets there, and no plots. The material certainly has nothing to do with Zionism, and probably has nothing to do with Christianity. I discovered that there are a large number of Web sites that parrot similar fabrications about the Talmud, Hesronot Shas, Zionism and the Jews. Some are sponsored by "anti-Zionists" and some are produced by ordinary antisemites. These are no doubt a reflection of the an underlying racist culture that embraces East and West, Christian and Muslim. To do my bit to correct the problem, I have created a Web page that provides some basic information about these matters.Click here to find out more.
To be sure, the fault is not all one sided. Settler rabbi Dov Lior insists that it is OK to kill innocent non-Jewish civilians in order to save the lives of Jewish soldiers. Needless to say, the racists feed off each others' absurd pronouncements. Lior could not have done a greater service to the antisemites than to insist, against reason and precedent, that Jewish law is racist and contrary to international law. Rabbi Lior apparently never read Levitius 24:22, which states:
Let's stop kidding ourselves. Racist poison like that circulated by Tlass or ABBC.COM or settler rabbis has nothing to do with Israeli actions or Zionism or "the Palestinian struggle" or "Jewish Self Defense." It is not "legitimate criticism of Israeli actions" or real Jewish Halachic law. It was not caused by "the occupation" nor by "Palestinian Terror." The same accusations against the Talmud, and the same blood libels, have been leveled against Jews for nearly two millennia, when there was no State of Israel and there were no Zionists. It is only old wine in new battles. People like Tlass are anti-Zionists because they are antisemites, not the other way 'round. People like Rabbi Dov Lior represent racist ideas that were formulated before the first Palestinian threw the first rock at the first Zionist. There will not be peace in the Middle East as long as these opinions are held by religious leaders, opinion shapers and policy makers.
Let's retire all the racists.
Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000262.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to email@example.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.
Replies: 5 comments
Why is it that any bigot on the Zionist side is immediately shunned rejected strongly by most (99%) Zionists.
Whereas on the Islamo Arab side, these racists are embraced accepted, with a standing ovation, by (almost) ALL!!! of them, See Mahathir of Malaysia.
There's a huge difference, and it is not this bigot or that racist, it is the more important overall culture, that shapes things, and the world, and we need to change that.
Posted by Paul @ 05/20/2004 04:46 PM CST
Tlass and Dior are both racists, but it's down right ludicrious to recognise on one hand that Dior's racsim is a sympton of the conflict and not recognise that Tlass's is also a result of the conflict. It doesn't justify either's racism in any way, but what you seem to be implying is that Jews somehow have a better class of racist than Arabs.
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