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.

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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 the Recent Uptick of Israeli Activity in Syria?

Sept. 23 2022

On September 16 and 17, the IDF carried out airstrikes in the vicinity of Damascus, reportedly aimed at Iranian logistical centers there. These follow on an increase in the frequency of such attacks in recent weeks, which have included strikes on the Aleppo airport on August 31 and September 6. Jonathan Spyer comments:

The specific targeting of the Aleppo airport is almost certainly related to recent indications that Iran is relying increasingly on its “air bridge” to Syria and Lebanon, because of Israel’s successful and systematic targeting of efforts to move weaponry and equipment by land [via Iraq]. But the increased tempo of activity is not solely related to the specific issue of greater use of air transport by Teheran. Rather, it is part of a broader picture of increasing regional tension. There are a number of factors that contribute to this emergent picture.

Firstly, Russia appears to be pulling back in Syria. . . . There are no prospects for a complete Russian withdrawal. The air base at Khmeimim and the naval facilities at Tartus and Latakia are hard strategic assets which will be maintained. The maintenance of Assad’s rule is also a clear objective for Moscow. But beyond this, the Russians are busy now with a flailing, faltering military campaign in Ukraine. Moscow lacks the capacity for two close strategic engagements at once.

Secondly, assuming that some last-minute twist does not occur, it now looks like a return to the [2015 nuclear deal] is not imminent. In the absence of any diplomatic process related to the Iranian nuclear program, and given Israeli determination to roll back Iran’s regional ambitions, confrontation becomes more likely.

Lastly, it is important to note that the uptick in Israeli activity is clearly not related to Syria alone. Rather, it is part of a more general broadening and deepening by Israel in recent months of its assertive posture toward the full gamut of Iranian activity in the region. . . . The increasing scope and boldness of Israeli air activity in Syria reflects this changing of the season.

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Read more at Jonathan Spyer

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria, War in Ukraine