Anti-Jewish hatred continues to exist in Arab world, says historian Georges Bensoussan

French historian says old antisemitic texts are still widely distributed


Fanatical anti-Jewish hatred continues to exist in the Arab world despite recent signs of closer ties between Israel  and Arab countries, the French historian Georges Bensoussan has said.

Speaking to the JC on the fringes of the Limmud conference in Paris, Professor Bensoussan said the writings of Grand Imam Sheikh Tantawi, the dean of Al Azhar University in Cairo until 2010, and Saudi Arabia’s former ruler Faisal were still widely distributed despite recent efforts to disassociate from them.

Sheikh Tantawi described Jews as “descendants of apes and pigs” in his doctorate while King Faisal wrote a preface to his own edition of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion – a publication often left in hotel rooms in the kingdom like Gideon’s Bibles in Christian countries – that stated Jews wanted to take over the world.

Asked about the attitudes of the authorities in France towards anti-Jewish violence committed by Muslims, Professor Bensoussan claimed the police operated in the fear of alienating the Muslim community and predicted Jewish people in France would respond to this by increasingly hiding their Jewish identity in public.

The historian has courted controversy himself in the past: he was acquitted by a Paris court last year of inciting hatred against Muslims after saying in a radio appearance that “in French Arab families, babies suckle antisemitism with their mother’s milk.”

But his defence argued he was quoting a Muslim source and that he was only referring to Salafists and had no intention of inciting hatred.

Around 800 people attended Limmud’s annual conference in France, which also featured talks from France’s Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia and Elise Fajgeles MP.

Andrew M Rosemarine is an international lawyer, and Middle East commentator

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