The Only Urdu Poem about the Holocaust, and Its Author

March 10 2021

In 2009, a fourteen-day event was held in the Indian city of Lucknow—home to a large Muslim minority—where films about the Shoah were shown and lectures on the subject delivered. Its purpose was to counteract Holocaust-denial propaganda emanating from Iran, a country with long and deep-seated cultural connections to Lucknow. There Anwar Nadeem, a distinguished Urdu-language poet, read a poem he had written about the extermination of European Jewry. Navras Aafreedi explains its significance:

The Urdu language is the lingua franca of linguistically diverse South Asian Muslims, who make up almost a third of the global Muslim population. . . . In the 18th century, it emerged as the language of Indo-Persian Muslim high culture. It is spoken as a first language by nearly 70 million people and as a second language by more than 100 million people, primarily in Pakistan and India.

In India, even those with university degrees are often completely unaware of the Holocaust, and history textbooks that cover Nazism at all often omit mention of the Holocaust. Moreover, textbooks and curricula often focus on Hitler’s abilities as an “impassioned speaker,” who “devised a new style of politics,” sometimes portraying him with outright admiration. Worse still is the attitude found in Urdu media:

As a consumer of news provided by the Urdu press, Nadeem had read much that aimed at either denying the Holocaust, minimizing its scale, obfuscating it, or simply reversing it by describing the Jewish Israelis as the present-day Nazis. Even when the Holocaust films retrospective was taking place in Lucknow, . . . the Urdu press there published front-page stories denying the Holocaust and calling it the biggest hoax of the 20th century, with the intention of sabotaging the ongoing event. . . . Muhammad Iqbal, the national poet of Pakistan, revered as the ideological father of Pakistan and one of the greatest Urdu poets ever born, is regularly cited by Urdu columnists for his anti-Jewish statements and couplets.

It was precisely these attitudes Nadeem sought to combat. A translation of his poem can be found at the link below.

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Read more at ISGAP

More about: Holocaust, Holocaust denial, India, Poetry

The End of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, and the Rise of the Arab-Israeli Coalition

Nov. 30 2022

After analyzing the struggle between the Jewish state and its Arab neighbors since 1949, Dan Schueftan explains the current geopolitical alignment and what it means for Jerusalem:

Using an outdated vocabulary of Middle Eastern affairs, recent relations between Israel and most Arab states are often discussed in terms of peace and normalization. What is happening recently is far more significant than the willingness to live together and overshadow old grievances and animosities. It is about strategic interdependence with a senior Israeli partner. The historic all-Arab coalition against Israel has been replaced by a de-facto Arab-Israeli coalition against the radical forces that threaten them both. Iran is the immediate and outstanding among those radicals, but Erdogan’s Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean, Syria—and, in a different way, its allies in the Muslim Brotherhood—are not very far behind.

For Israel, the result of these new alignments is a transformational change in its regional standing, as well as a major upgrade of its position on the global stage. In the Middle East, Israel can, for the first time, act as a full-fledged regional power. . . . On the international scene, global powers and other states no longer have to weigh the advantages of cooperation with Israel against its prohibitive costs in “the Arab World. . . . By far the most significant effect of this transformation is on the American strategic calculus of its relations with Israel.

In some important ways, then, the “New Middle East” has arrived. Not, of course, in the surreal Shimon Peres vision of regional democracy, peace, and prosperity, but in terms of a balance of power and hard strategic realities that can guardrail a somewhat less unstable and dangerous region, where the radicals are isolated and the others cooperate to keep them at bay.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Abraham Accords, Israel-Arab relations, Middle East, Shimon Peres, U.S.-Israel relationship