Book Reviews 237
There is a further question which I do not have the space to explore in detail here:
that is the use of the word ‘Jewish’ in a limited number of contexts that would not appear
to add anything to this arguments and appears incongruous. I think the terms ‘Zionist’
and ‘Israeli’ or ‘pro-Israeli’ would have validly conveyed the authors intention but without
further inquiry it is not possible to clarify whether this is the result of editing, translation
(since the book was ﬁrst published in Arabic) or an intention to express some speciﬁc
relevance in the use of the word ‘Jewish’ in each of the contexts it appears.
School of Arts and Humanities
St. Mar y’s University College
Twickenham TW1 4SX, UK
The Clash of Zionism and Islamism
Rumy Hasan, Dangerous Liaisons: The Clash Between Islamism and Zionism (London:
New Generation Publishing, 2013). 207 pages. Hardback. ISBN-13: 978-1909593145.
Rumy Hasan, a lecturer at Sussex University, has written a book covering what he terms
the clash of Islamism and Zionism. However one of the major conceptual faults of the book
is to treat Islamism, presumably Political Islam, as the equivalent of Zionism. (7) Yet by his
own admission, the most extreme wing of Sunni Islam, the Salaﬁsts, have shown complete
disregard for Zionism, including ‘Osama come lately’ who suddenly discovered Israel
(105). Like the Salaﬁsts, Hamas were opposed to the revolution against Hosni Mubarak
(98). If anything it tries to cover too much in too short a space.
The other problem is that it is comparing chalk and cheese. Zionism was a deﬁned and
agreed upon political movement which used the religious symbols of Judaism to justify its
colonial messianism. On the other hand, there is no agreement as to what Islamism is, or
even if it exists. Islam has simply been grafted on to a host of existing political currents and
Islamism, for want of a better word, has historically been a defender of the existing
order. The Egyptian brotherhood ignored the mass protests in Tahrir Square against
Mubarak until late in the day. Why has Islamism, in its various mutations, taken a grip
over much of the Arab masses? How is it that a movement that looks backwards 1,400
years provides what appears to be modern solutions? Why is it, as Hasan remarks but
doesn’t explain, has there been no Islamic equivalent of the Enlightenment? What was the
signiﬁcance of Morsi’s rise to President and the Egyptian Brotherhood to power in Egypt?
It is not enough to speak of the conﬂict between Islamism and Zionism. The latter
was founded speciﬁcally as a political ideology and movement in 1897 and was part of the
ideology of signiﬁcant parts of the British evangelical ruling class – Lords Shaftesbury and
Palmerstone, David Lloyd George and of course Arthur J Balfour.
Yet thousands of Jews ﬂed the Spanish Inquisition to North Africa. One per cent of Jews
under Nazi and Vichy occupation of North Africa were exterminated compared to up to
90% in Poland and the Baltic republics. Indeed Moslem Albania was the only country
in Europe where the number of Jews after Nazi occupation was greater than before.
238 Holy Land Studies
Yet in 1950 the oldest Jewish community in the world lay in Baghdad (itself one-third
Jewish) until the Zionist leaders, in consort with pro-British r uler Nuri al-Said conspired
to force them out. There are 2 versions of the Talmud – that of Jerusalem and Babylon, the
latter was the most authoritative.
Islam and what is termed Islamism changed as the Middle East changed. It was
the reaction of some of the most backward elements in society to changes they little
understood. Israel termed itself a ‘Jewish State’ which Hasan rightly says is more a State of
the Jews (the actual title of Herzl’s seminal pamphlet). British imperialism in Palestine, just
as in India, consciously sought to divide and rule between Jew and Arab. It did this in a
number of ways, for example the imposition of the Mufti of Jer usalem on the Palestinian
population in 1921. When he came 4
in an election to the post in 1921, Haj al-Amin
Husseini was appointed anyway. Having been appointed by Sir Herbert Samuel, British
High Commissioner and ardent Zionist supporter, the Zionists now complain that the
Mufti was pro-Nazi!
The irony of Israel painting Hamas as the anti-Semitic devil incarnate is, as Hasan
shows, a good example of chutzpah. It was Israel that helped create Hamas! He cites the
New York Times’ David Shippler’s conversation with Brigadier General Yitzhak Segev:
once he told me how he had ﬁnanced the Islamic movement as a counterweight
to the PLO and the Communists. ‘The Israeli Government gave me a budget
and the military government gives to the mosques’.
When the PLO wanted to co-operate with Hamas, the price was the complete
Islamicisation of the PLO and the elimination of its left-wing! (pp. 46–51) This shows that
‘Islamic’ movements today are anti-socialist as well as, in Hamas’ case, sectarian towards
Where Hasan goes wrong is in his statement that Zionism, as a product of a
European heritage, also inherits the Enlightenment.(29) On the contrary, Zionism was
a reaction against the Enlightenment, just as the anti-Dreyfusard campaign was. As
Clermont – Tonnerre, a Deputy in the French Assembly stated: ‘We must refuse everything
to the Jews as a nation and accord everything to Jews as individuals.’ In his pamphlet Rome
& Jerusalem (1862) Moses Hess, the earliest Zionist theoretician explained that
the process of enlightenment, started by Moses Mendlessohn and his group of
intellectuals in the last part of the 18
Century, which had, for its aim the
harmonisation of Judaism with the modern rationalistic spirit. . . (resulting) in a
tremendous impetus for assimilation).’
If there was one thing Zionist hated it was ‘assimilation’ of Jews to the non-Jewish
communities. Many rabbis and others have compared such ‘losses’ to the holocaust. Indeed
Herzl admitted that Drumont had enabled him to view anti-Semitism open-mindedly.
Zionism hated the Enlightenment, as did the Nazis, because it placed a primacy on
individual rights and not loyalty of the individual to the state. This was true of all Zionist
leaders including Herzl and Nordau.
The key problem with Hasan’s book is that it rests on the thesis of Mersheimer and Walt
in their ‘The Israel Lobby’ as ‘supremely effective’. This is a classic example of mistaking
cause for effect. It is no accident, as Hasan points out, that the leaders of the European far-
right such as Gert Weelders are avidly pro-Zionist, as were anti-Semitic British politicians
like A J Balfour, who promised Palestine to the Zionists regardless of the views of those
living there. In fact what Hasan can’t explain are the statistics he himself provides. Israel is
almost as unpopular as the North Korean regime, yet the elites continue to support Israel
1 Alex Bein, Theodore Herzl-A Biography (New York: Meridian Books, 1962), p.112.
Book Reviews 239
now more than ever. Why? Because it is in their interest to do so. Likewise Jews abroad act
as a pretext for such support but that has nothing to do with the real reasons for imperialist
interventions. At times like the Suez War, or George Bush’s (snr) threat to freeze Israeli
loan guarantees, Israel came to heel like a whipped cur and the Lobby fell silent. AIPAC is
only as strong as it is allowed to be by the US Establishment.
As Hasan himself points out, it is the f a r-right, the anti-Semitic right, that supports
Israel most avidly from Andrew Breivik in Norway to the BNP and EDL in Britain. John
Hagee, the leader of the 30 million strong Christians United for Israel, described Hitler as
God’s messenger who had been sent to drive the Jews to Israel.
The demonisation of Islam is no different to the way in which Judaism used to be
attacked by the far-right. It is all a question of ‘freedom of speech’. When Nick Grifﬁn of
the BNP reads out tracts of the Quran to show that it is an ‘evil’ religion, he could and
would have done the same 50 years ago with the Talmud, and its chauvinist attacks against
Christians. In every religious tome you can ﬁnd expressions of bigotry and what is now
termed racism against others. These are the legacy of past ages.
All in all this is a welcome book in any library and will make people think about the
glib generalisations against those of the Islamic faith.
A Gospel Journey
Mary C. Grey, The Resurrection of Peace: A Gospel Journey to Easter and Beyond. Questions
for Reﬂection by Pat Glegg. (London: SPCK, 2012), 129 pp. Paperback. ISBN-13: 978-
Mary Grey’s ‘The Resurrection of Peace: A gospel journey to Easter and beyond’ is a
theological invitation to Christian pilgrims to visit the Holy Land in a different way. Like
its predecessor, ‘The Advent to Peace: A Gospel Journey to Christmas’, the book is a plea
to connect to Christian sacred places by becoming sensitive to their messages. The central
message is the need to attain peace with justice and reconciliation. The author is not overly
concerned about the precise historical validity of pelg rimage places or routes like the Via
Dolorosa, but more with the question how a visit to those places can help to evoke a
‘shared yearning for a change with resurrection as a source of hope’. The change is related
to the present world a nd the pilgrim travels with the suffering people living nearby the
places – here primarily the Palestinians. Due to the Christian focus the book gives extra
attention to Palestinian Christians who are ‘an ongoing part of Palestine’s origins, ongoing
dynamics and future hope’.
A genuine engagement with the people who presently live outside peace implies a
willingness to deal with complexity, the author asserts, as well as with a context of
diversity, interwoven relations, and division and conﬂict. It is therefore necessary to
understand the aspirations of all three communities living in the land – Muslims, Christians
and Jews. Such an approach entails multiple lenses and readings – theological, political,
economic, and human; and subsequently requires a balancing of voices and interpretations.
Doing so necessarily demands facing and accepting uncertain tr uths – unlike the reductive
judgements in those cases when the Bible is assumed to have one ‘real’ ﬁxed message.