How Radical European Ideologies Corrupted the Arab World—and Fostered Anti-Semitism

Counterintuitive though it may seem, influential American intellectuals like the gender-studies philosopher Judith Butler and linguist-turned-propagandist Noam Chomsky see regressive Islamist groups like Hamas and Hizballah as “part of the global left”—a position shared by such political figures as Britain’s Jeremy Corbyn. Hussein Aboubakr argues that Butler and Chomsky, perhaps in ways they themselves don’t understand, are not far from the truth. For the past hundred years, Middle Eastern intellectuals have absorbed European ideological trends, from fascism to French existentialism to anticolonialism to postmodern leftism. None of them have been a salutary influence:

The ideological developments and transmutations [of the 20th-century Middle East] can be seen in the lives of many figures of the period such as Fayez Sayegh, who was the first Arab intellectual to apply Sartre’s critique of racism and neocolonialism to Israel. He argued that what applies in Congo and Vietnam also applied to Israel, and he was also the principal author of the 1975 UN Zionism-is-racism resolution. Sayegh, born in Syria to a Presbyterian minister in 1920, started his active life in the 1940s by joining the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), a Syrian imitation of Nazism under the leadership of the “Führer” Antun Saadeh. During the time Sayegh wrote and spoke for the SSNP about “the danger of Zionism on civilization and the soul,” as well as the dangers of the “Jewish psyche.”

After the turn to the left, Sayegh became an Arab existentialist authority on Sartre and Fanon. In 1965, during his tenure at Stanford, he wrote the booklet Colonialism in Palestine which was published by the PLO and then translated to a dozen of languages and distributed globally by the Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Organization (AAPSO). His booklet was the birth document of the global cause for Palestine as it hit all the major notes played by the international left—racial supremacy, segregation, exclusion, civil rights, emancipation, anti-capitalism, self-defense, human rights, and resistance—invoked Algeria, African Americans, Congo, and Vietnam, and used existentialist ideas of otherness. It was Sayegh who inserted Palestine into the anti-Western canon of the international left. The later anti-Zionist works by major figures of the French left such as Maxime Rodinson would only continue Sayegh’s work.

The new textbooks, movies, magazines, songs, and literature produced in such an intellectual environment were all tasked with shaping the Arab masses and its new generations ideologically. This was the moment of birth of Arab modernity. Together, the committed new intellectuals and cultural figures produced an entirely committed revolutionary anti-Western and anti-Semitic reading of Islam.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Anti-Semitism, Arab World, Islamism, Jean-Paul Sartre, Leftism

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7