The return of the ‘dhimmi’

Another chapter in Jewish history seeking self-elimination through downgrading identity, while enjoying a brief period of self-justified euphoria.

A person holds a sign reading “Another Jew Against Zionism, Colonialism, Apartheid, Occupation, Genocide” at a protest at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton, Canada, on Oct. 18, 2023. Credit: Jenari/Shutterstock.
A person holds a sign reading “Another Jew Against Zionism, Colonialism, Apartheid, Occupation, Genocide” at a protest at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton, Canada, on Oct. 18, 2023. Credit: Jenari/Shutterstock.
Yisrael Medad
Yisrael Medad is a researcher, analyst and opinion commentator on political, cultural and media issues.

According to WikiIslam, a “pact of protection” exists in Islamic society, termed a dhimma, which includes social rights, responsibilities and restrictions that are awarded those who merit the status of being a dhimmi. Those who qualify for dhimmi status within the Muslim society are free (i.e., non-slave) Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians as per orthodox Islamic law (Sharia).

In Understanding Dhimmitude, the Egyptian-born Bat-Yeor outlines the dhimmi condition in the legal domain, which includes an Islamic notion of protection as well as toleration; in the economic domain, where there is a tax involved (jizya); and in the social domain with the notion of vilification.

Maligned as a conspiracy theorist and an alarmist with some critics attempting to draw parallels to antisemitic conspiracies, especially after the publication of her Eurarabia, the idea that Jews cannot be free and independent in their national homeland—one even the Quran admits is their intended, at Sura 17:104: “And We said after him [i.e., Pharaoh] to the Children of Israel, ‘Dwell in the land, and when there comes the promise [i.e., appointment] of the Hereafter, We will bring you forth in [one] gathering’”has burst forth in fury these past few months. That it appears that Jews are involved in the funding of much of the agitation in their posing as progressives is, perhaps, a sign of the return of the dhimmi.

At this time, however, their self-abnegation to an ideology that would seek the elimination—at least in the first stage, of their religious, cultural, national and historical identity combined with their presumed superior superciliousness, expressed with utter disdain towards those they berate as Zionists, is absolutely astounding in its shallowness.

Here is Will Alden, writing in The Nation: “The future of our people is being written on campuses and in the streets. Thousands of Jews of all ages are creating something better than what we inherited.”

Alden, a member of the Los Angeles chapter of IfNotNow, is ecstatic; he actually records his emotional state over the past seven months as showing, in part, “exuberant highs.” He revels in what he describes as his and his comrades’ “Jewish identities [that] call us to Palestinian-solidarity work.” To their minds, “our new Jewish tradition prioritizes truth-telling and justice.”

It was the Peter Beinart acolytes who promoted the slogan “Jews won’t be free until Palestinians are,” a spinmeister twist from Nelson Mandela, yet extended and expanded that to a mind-boggling “the Jewish future demands Palestinian freedom.” Jewish Voice for Peace promotes “an Exodus from Zionism towards collective liberation,” an idea Naomi Klein pushed this past Passover. But it’s not a liberation that they will gain. They will lead those who follow them off the high ledge of Jewish sovereignty and freedom into a cesspit of renewed dhimmitude.

They are running into the arms of those that for a century and more have killed Jews, dismembered them, raped them, burned their fields and crops, and engaged in ethnic cleansing. Those who not only sought out the bodies of Jews, but our legacy and heritage souls as they destroyed landmarks and archaeological sites, and produced academics to “disprove” Jewish nationalism in that claiming Jews engage in colonial-national historical imagination such as Nadia Abu Al-Haj.

In their rush to join together in the revolutionary struggle to liberate a “Palestine,” these Jews represent another chapter of the peculiar trait of seeking self-elimination through the destruction of the Jewish collective and the downgrading of the Jewish identity, all the while enjoying a brief period of self-justified euphoria.

Jewish history records apostates as those who cooperated with the Inquisition, with gross antisemitism, the Yevsektzia persecutors and even Nazis. The late Edward Alexander referred to the modern variety as “Jews against themselves.” His collected essays mention Judith Butler, Thomas L. Friedman, Milton Viorst and Tony Judt, among others.

In a 2016 column, Alexander, together with Paul Bogdanor, noted a developing process of “unconversion … from Zionism to Israelophobia, raw hatred of Israel.” Indeed, that is what we have been witnessing since last October as their campaign has moved into high gear. And in embracing this imagined shared destiny of intersectional liberation, they are leading their followers into a renewed status of dhimmitude.

The dhimmi was real, at least into the mid-19th century. The dhimmi could not raise himself above the Muslim nor could his synagogue be higher. He was required to dismount if he passed a Muslim. He was tolerated but barely so. His was a lower status. And there was the incident when Sol (“Solika”) Hachuel, a Moroccan Jewish woman, was publicly beheaded for refusing to convert to Islam at the behest of the sultan, Abd al-Rahman.

These days, Jewish students have trouble entering a kosher dining hall, university library or class—all for which they and their parents have paid for. They face a rage of intolerance, of aspersion, of physical and mental threats. Their fellow Jews have joined in the campaign to force liberation upon them.

The dhimmi has returned.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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