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Times on Muslims Saving Jews in World War II

The centerpiece story in The Sunday Times Magazine—this is the Times of London we’re talking about—was, this past weekend, a report on Muslims as the saviors of european Jews condemned by the German government.

Does one even need to ask? Indeed, the Holocaust in question would be that precise Holocaust which never happened according to modern Islamist thought.

* * *

It is, of course, not even a little bit surprising that Muslims came to the rescue of Jews during the Holocaust. It doesn’t even approach the wild outer boundaries of the zone adjacent to surprising. What we have here is a reporter who thinks she’s making some proud point to a band of racist warmongers. She imagines minds blown at the news she’s broken; stereotypes dashed. Which I think is awfully significant.

Certainly, a great impediment to successfully ameliorating this gruesome situation in which we find ourselves—riven cities, exploded trains, burning embassies, and the like, all at the hands of Islamist terrorists—is that a not inconsiderable portion of Western civilization is, because of its quite unique and possibly historic sensitivity, very receptive to charges of racism. A charge of racism is a tug on the emergency break. And more often than not, even when the charge is unfounded, it in the final analysis is a policy killer. Thus a very obvious and effective instrument for our enemy to use is to inject the suggestion that we are keen to do battle against them because of their skin color or their creed—because of our unexplained, unfounded, vague, and undefined hatred.

It is a remarkably weak argument, of course. (There are so many wonderfully compelling reasons to hate groups like al Qaeda and Hamas. Why rely on something so insignificant as color or creed?) But it doesn’t need to be very strong. The Western world has well recovered from its own past of irrational hate, and is now hypersensitive to the charge. So if someone can successfully pull off the charge that, say, George Bush is conducting a Christian crusade against Islam, then without further investigation the War on Terror has been to some extent discredited. The queasiness is enough. As I say, that hypersensitivity is something of which we might otherwise be proud. But in this peculiar instance, is it not worth always looking at the facts? The fact, of course, is that since September 12, 2001, this president has put his rhetoric on crutches to make absolutely certain that he is plain as day on one point: Not all Muslims are terrorists, and our war is against violent radicalism—not against the religion writ large nor against Arabs. The Global War on Terror, to an extent never before seen in open warfare, has been conducted with sharp resolve between the guilty and the innocent.

This is not a surprise, as we recognize the War on Terror as a modern amalgam of warfare and criminal justice. Such an alloy is what we, together, concluded was needed to respond to the quite novel tactics and strategies of the Islamist machine.

And yet there still breathes this vague notion that perhaps the War on Terror is being conducted with such zeal because its prosecutors simply detest that there are brown people. Again, it is awfully silly, isn’t it? To see such a thing written? Yet it does provoke articles like the one mentioned above. Some Muslims helped Jews to escape from the Nazis? Of course; that was the least they could do as fellow humans. Some Germans helped the Jews as well. So did American protestants. And Buddhists. And Hindus. Each did what each could, as was demanded by the elemental moral code that their religions or their families instilled. But each did only so much.

No, to stop the thing, what was required was the American and British militaries. In the case of the former, what was required was for a president to nudge his people into a war they desired not to fight. Franklin Roosevelt, many have remarked, was in a sense lucky that the Pearl Harbor offensive took place, since, even as it disturbed, it eased his heart and his mind, both of which were for months aching to find a way to steel America for war. And when Pearl Harbor did happen, whom did we attack in response? Japan, certainly. But our strongest response was toward a state that hadn’t attacked us at all: Hitler’s Germany. Hardly a misdirected response.

Now, there’s plenty of evidence for American racism during our prosecution of World War II. (Indeed there is evidence that every polity was racist toward whoever was its enemy during that war.) There’s no evidence, however, that racism animated our entry into the war. Just as in the War on Terror, our entry was precipitated by material grievances against known enemies. If the Japanese press bureau had begun to plant articles about Americans being anti-Japanese, with their mean slurs and their caricatures, would it have sapped our resolve? Certainly not. As those very slurs testify, America was a harder place in the middle of the twentieth century. Today, such charges do very immediately and very effectively weaken our resolve. To fix that problem I’d suggest something very simple: Attempt to verify all charges of racism, rather than allowing the bellow of the accusation to bring honest and necessary work to a halt.

* * *

A coterie of Muslims aided oppressed Jews in the thick of Nazi rule? The news puts a smile on one’s face, but it certainly comes as no surprise. For your next trick, Times of London, tell us about the time the Holocaust-denying, Jew-exterminating, anti-Semitic, anti-Israel forbears of today’s members of Hezbollah helped the Jews. Better get your best journos on it, because it is going to be one tough story to crack.


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