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Saudi Arabia Acknowledges the Holocaust

Jan. 29 2018

In 2016, Mohammed al-Issa was appointed head of Saudi Arabia’s Muslim World League (MWL), the state-run organization that, for decades, has been the world’s major exporter of the most extreme, intolerant, and anti-Semitic form of Islam. Issa’s mandate, in keeping with the country’s overall reformist turn, seems to involve transforming the MWL into something else entirely. Robert Satloff, who has spearheaded efforts to bring awareness of the Shoah to the Muslim world, hails Issa’s surprise decision not only to visit the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington but also to follow up with an open letter to the museum’s director:

Saudi Arabia: land of religious purity, whose king (Faisal) once celebrated the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as historical fact, whose UN representative (Jamil Baroody, 1976) once denounced Anne Frank’s diary as a forgery and claimed the murder of millions of Jews by the Nazis was fiction? The country . . . whose religious hierarchy exported bigotry and intolerance to mosques and madrasas around the world for decades, fueling the hate on which al-Qaeda, Islamic State, Hamas, and all Islamist extremist movements thrived? Yes, that Saudi Arabia. . . .

But Issa surprised me. . . . He wrote a lengthy missive. . . . In it, he labeled the Holocaust “an incident that shook humanity to the core, and created an event whose horrors could not be denied or underrated by any fair-minded or peace-loving person.” . . . On Holocaust denial, Issa had particularly harsh words: “We consider any denial of the Holocaust, or minimizing [of] its effect, a crime to distort history, and an insult to the dignity of those innocent souls who have perished. It is also an affront to us all, since we share the same human soul and spiritual bonds.”

And unlike many Muslim interlocutors with whom I have discussed these issues over the years, Issa did not try to deflect potential criticism of [his] engaging on the Holocaust by wrapping himself in the false equivalence of Israel’s “genocide” of Palestinians. To the contrary, he stayed away from the issue altogether. . . .

I assume there are many reasons—some sacred, some less so—why the head of the Muslim World League took pen to paper to denounce Holocaust denial. . . . But action matters so much more than motive. And having been written, Issa’s words cannot easily be undone.

Read more at New York Daily News

More about: Anti-Semitism, Holocaust, Moderate Islam, Muslim-Jewish relations, Politics & Current Affairs, Radical Islam, Saudi Arabia

Why a Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza Is Unlikely

Feb. 16 2018

High-ranking figures in the IDF, along with some Israeli and foreign officials, have been warning that economic troubles combined with severely deficient public works could lead to an outbreak of starvation or epidemic in the Gaza Strip; their warnings have been taken up and amplified in sensationalist stories in Western media. Hillel Frisch is skeptical:

The most important factor behind real humanitarian crises—mass hunger and contagious disease—is first and foremost the breakdown of law and order, and violence between warring militias and gangs. This is what occurred in Darfur, Somalia, and the Central African Republic. In such situations, the first to leave are the relief agencies. Then local medical staffs evacuate, along with local government officials and anyone professional who can make it out of the bedlam. The destitute are left to fend for themselves. Hospitals, dispensaries, schools, and local government offices are soon abandoned or become scenes of grisly shootouts and reprisals.

Nothing could be farther from such a reality than Gaza. Hamas, which is the main source of [misleading reports] of an imminent humanitarian crisis, rules Gaza with an iron fist. Few developed democracies in the world can boast the low homicide rates prevailing in the Strip. Nor have there been reports of any closings of hospitals, municipal governments, schools, universities, colleges, or dispensaries. . . .

Nor have there been news items announcing the departure of any foreign relief agencies or the closure of any human-rights organizations in the area. Nor is there any evidence that the World Health Organization (WHO), which rigorously monitors the world to prevent the outbreak of contagious disease, is seriously looking at Gaza. And that is for good reason. The WHO knows, as do hundreds of medical personnel in Israeli hospitals who liaise with their colleagues in Gaza, that the hospital system in Gaza is of a high caliber, certainly by the standards of the developing world. . . .

Hamas, [of course], wants more trucks entering Gaza to increase tax revenues to pay for its 30,000-strong militia and public security force, and to increase the prospects of smuggling arms for the benefit of its missile stockpiles and tunnel-building efforts. How Israel should react is equally obvious. You want more humanitarian aid? . . . Free the two mentally disabled Israelis who found their way into Gaza and are imprisoned by Hamas.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian economy