The Middle East Studies Association Imagines Its Future

The large room at the Marriott Wardman Park was filled to overflowing on Sunday afternoon for a special session billed as “Thinking Palestine Intersectionally.” The seats were occupied and scores of others stood along the walls, sat on the floor in front of the stage, and spilled out into the hallway. For many it was clearly the highlight of The Middle East Studies Association’s November 2017 annual meeting of faculty and graduate students, held in Washington, DC. Perhaps 500 people were present to hear Noura Erakat, Judith Butler, Samera Esmeir, and Angela Davis be hailed as symbolic conquerors of the Jewish state. “The peace process is over,” Erakat began, and then affirmed “the entwinement of our liberation,” offering her own take on intersectionality. The real reason the United States blocked the “Zionism is racism” framework, she declared was “to prevent itself from having to pay reparations for slavery,” a claim that would have surprised the very people who fought against the 1975 UN resolution. The days of progressive advocacy “except for Palestine are over,” she concluded. It is time “to bar supporters of Israel from feminist movements.” Even this last agenda item, a call to cast out the female devils in our midst, met with loud applause.

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The Sarah Halimi Affair and the Taboo on the “New” Anti-Semitism

The following essay was originally published in French at Le Figaro Vox on July 14, 2017, and is published here by permission. Translated by Russell A. Berman.

In the night of April 4, 2017, in Paris, Sarah Halimi, a 65-year-old Jewish woman, was savagely killed. Her murderer, Kobili Traoré, a radicalized Muslim with a Malian background and a long police record, assaulted her for forty minutes, first in her living room and then on her balcony. He shouted “Allah Akbar,” while degrading his victim, called her a “fat whore” and a “shaitan” (a demon in Arabic). From their windows and later from the courtyard, several neighbors heard and then witnessed, in disgust, the massacre. In Noémie Halioua’s excellent article in Causeur, she reports the testimony of one of them: “First I was woken by the moans of a creature in suffering. It was torture. First, I thought it was an animal or a baby. But then, lifting the blinds and opening the window, I recognized that it was a woman moaning as she was being beaten. With each blow, I heard a moan; she did not even have the strength to cry out anymore.” Kobili Traoré strikes her so hard that his fist is swollen. When he sees the light of the police flashlights in the courtyard, he yells, “watch out, there is a woman here about to commit suicide,” as he seizes his victim, still alive, by her wrists and throws her over the banister of her balcony. Sarah Halimi lays in the courtyard, dead, covered in blood.

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Conspiracy “Anti-Zionism”: The Current Face of Judeophobia: Ideological Aspects of the Greek Case

The recent tripartite summit held in Thessaloniki in mid-June 2017 between the Greek and Israeli Prime Ministers and the Cypriot President to discuss energy- and security-related issues of the Eastern Mediterranean region, gave rise, again, to protests and strong reactions from the so-called political extremes against the visit of the Israeli Prime Minister to Greece. Within the context of the summit, the Greek and Israeli Prime Ministers also attended the official ceremony of unveiling a commemorative plaque for the planned Holocaust Museum in the city of Thessaloniki.

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Nazism in the Middle East

Writing in the journal Contemporary European History, Mia Lee reviews a group of recent books that focus on the historical connections between Nazism, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the rise of al-Qaeda. Included in the review is Matthias Küntzel’s Jihad and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11, published by Telos Press. Purchase your copy in our online store, and save 20% by using the coupon code BOOKS20. An excerpt from the review:

Küntzel begins his narrative with the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928, which became the largest mass organisation in Egypt in the 1930s. During the war the Brotherhood was stridently anti-British, anti-foreigner and increasingly anti-Jewish. Its leader, Hassan al-Banna, had ties to al-Husaini. Once the war was over al-Banna was one of the most prominent Arab leaders to petition the Allied authorities for al-Husaini’s release from detention, and when the Mufti escaped from France in 1947 al-Banna personally welcomed him in Cairo. On the evidence of these ties, as well as his study of the Brotherhood’s ideology, Küntzel argues that the Brotherhood was the key point of transference of anti-Semitism from National Socialism to the Arab world. . . .

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Renzo De Felice's The Jews in Fascist Italy: An Historical Appraisal

A panel on Renzo De Felice’s The Jews in Fascist Italy: An Historical Appraisal was held at the Calandra Institute on January 28, 2016. The panel included Frank Adler, Telos Editorial Associate and editor of Telos 164 (Fall 2013): Italian Jews and Fascism. Copies of Telos 164 can be purchased in our online store. Panelists explored the genesis of De Felice’s book and its place in contemporary historiography. Commissioned by the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities and published in 1961, it was the first study of the anti-Jewish persecution in Italy to reach a general audience. It was also a young historian’s first book on the Fascist era. This glance into a chapter of national history, that Italy had been quick to bury, set De Felice on a path to become one of the leading and most controversial scholars of Fascism. How was his attempt to capture an unsettling past received at the time of the book’s publication? What place does this book have in the current scholarship when many of its conclusions have been overturned after five decades of research on Italian state-sponsored anti-Semitism? And to which degree have the studies of Fascism and of the persecution of the Jews shed light on one another?

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Event Announcement: Renzo De Felice’s The Jews in Fascist Italy: An Historical Appraisal

Telos readers in the New York City area may be interested in an upcoming event at the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute:

On the occasion of the paperback reprint of Renzo De Felice’s The Jews in Fascist Italy, this panel will explore the genesis of the book and its place in contemporary historiography.

Commissioned by the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities and published in 1961, it was the first study of the anti-Jewish persecution in Italy to reach a general audience. It was also a young historian’s first book on the Fascist era. This glance into a chapter of national history, that Italy had been quick to bury, set De Felice on a path to become one of the leading and most controversial scholars of Fascism.

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