Eye-opening op-ed about Holocaust denial

I’m half shocked, and half unsurprised, as the writer explains:

Western leaders today who say they are shocked by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s conference this week denying the Holocaust need to wake up to that reality. For the majority of Muslims in the world, the Holocaust is not a major historical event that they deny. We simply do not know it ever happened because we were never informed of it. . . .

For generations, the leaders of these so-called Muslim countries have been spoon-feeding their populations a constant diet of propaganda similar to the one that generations of Germans (and other Europeans) were fed — that Jews are vermin . . . In Europe, the logical conclusion was the Holocaust.

It’s a sobering read.

UPDATE: Also of note are the writer’s population numbers. As she notes, there are currently about 20 million Jews worldwide, and about 1.2 billion Muslims. That’s a startling difference — and one that, as a non-Jew and non-Muslim, I had never really thought about. For detailed breakdown, there are any number of population websites, such as here (worldwide Jewish population) and here (worldwide Muslim population by country).

I hadn’t realized it until I looked at the numbers, but there are 18 different countries with Muslim populations over 18 million (Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangledesh, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tanzania, Turkey, and Uzbekistan). Each one of those countries has a Muslim population well in excess of the worldwide Jewish population.

I wonder how many Americans realize that numerical difference. I see Israel-Middle East conflict on the news, regularly, and it gives the vague impression that there are a lot of Jews and a lot of Muslims — at least, I had always gotten that impression. If asked, I’m sure I would have answered that there were more Muslims then Jews — but not that the difference was a 100-to-1 ratio. I’m surprised to have formed such a wrong impression, and I suspect I’m not the only one who has that idea. I wonder how many Americans would answer correctly questions like, “Which is greater, The worldwide Jewish population, or the Muslim population of Tanzania? Of Morocco? Or Uzbekistan?”

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7 Responses

  1. JB says:

    It’s difficult to compare Muslim and Jewish populations because one is more tied to an ethnicity than the other.

    While one can technically “convert” to Judaism, it is rare and difficult when compared to what it takes to become a Muslim (“La ilallah illa allah…”).

    So there are 20M Jews, most of which are heritage believers. Most of the 1.2B Muslims are of Arab, SE Asian, and Sub-Sarahan African descent.

  2. For the majority of Muslims in the world, the Holocaust is not a major historical event that they deny. We simply do not know it ever happened because we were never informed of it.

    Robert Satloff, in his recent book “Among the Righteous”, recounts the “lost story” of the Shoah in North Africa and the efforts of Muslims in Axis-occupied regions to protect Jews among their midst. This is a history of which Jews and Muslims alike are insufficiently aware.

  3. Patrick S. O'Donnell says:

    Americans are still abysmally ignorant of ‘most-things-Islamic.’ I suspect few realize that most Muslims live outside the Middle East or that not all Arabs are Muslim. Americans are likewise frightfully lacking in any historical or general grasp of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

    One of my modest attempts to address this ignorance consists of an English language bibliography for ‘Islamic Studies’ (I am working on a dictionary that attempts to do justice to Islamic law (fiqh), philosophy (falsafa), theology (kalam), mysticism (Sufism), and traditional Islamic sciences in general). Several early editions are available at university library websites (Columbia, Cornell, etc.) but I can send along a later draft to anyone upon request.

    Readers might also be interested in this article from the Los Angeles Times that I first mentioned over at PrawfsBlawg:

    ‘His Cause is the Holocaust’

    Khaled Mahameed, a Muslim, hopes his museum will give Arabs a fuller understanding of their Jewish neighbors.

    By Ken Ellingwood, Times Staff Writer

    December 7, 2006

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-holocaust7dec07,1,3094357.story

    The converse of the nature of awareness and understanding of the Holocaust in parts of the Muslim world might thought to consist in the ideological employment of same in this country: Norman G. Finkelstein, The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering (London: Verso, 2001 ed.).

    Adherents.com (http://www.adherents.com/) is also helpful for comparative population figures and the like from religions of the world.

  4. Patrick S. O'Donnell says:

    Americans are still abysmally ignorant of ‘most-things-Islamic.’ I suspect few realize that most Muslims live outside the Middle East or that not all Arabs are Muslim. Americans are likewise frightfully lacking in any historical or general grasp of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

    One of my modest attempts to address this ignorance consists of an English language bibliography for ‘Islamic Studies’ (I am working on a dictionary that attempts to do justice to Islamic law (fiqh), philosophy (falsafa), theology (kalam), mysticism (Sufism), and traditional Islamic sciences in general). Several early editions are available at university library websites (Columbia, Cornell, etc.) but I can send along a later draft to anyone upon request.

    Readers might also be interested in this article from the Los Angeles Times that I first mentioned over at PrawfsBlawg:

    ‘His Cause is the Holocaust’

    Khaled Mahameed, a Muslim, hopes his museum will give Arabs a fuller understanding of their Jewish neighbors.

    By Ken Ellingwood, Times Staff Writer

    December 7, 2006

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-holocaust7dec07,1,3094357.story

    The converse of the nature of awareness and understanding of the Holocaust in parts of the Muslim world might thought to consist in the ideological employment of same in this country: Norman G. Finkelstein, The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering (London: Verso, 2001 ed.).

    Adherents.com (http://www.adherents.com/) is also helpful for comparative population figures and the like from religions of the world.

  5. Dylan says:

    I’m reminded of some blog post or web article I read in the last couple of years by a Jewish author who had visited some mid-rank South American country (I think Venezuela or Argentina). He’d been talking with his (Hispanic non-Muslim) cab driver about the Israel/Muslim hostility and the cabbie asked how many Jews there were. Six million. “No, not here in [whatever country]; I mean how many in Israel.”

  6. I tend to think that one cannot begin to understand the culture and history of the Jewish people without understanding just how tiny a minority we are (and frequently, if not always, have been). It actually informs some of my jurisprudential theories (insofar as I find majoritarian tyranny to be the most frightening aspect of republican and democratic governments), and is at the heart of much Jewish humor, especially the famous aphorism (attributed variously to a Marx brother, Kissinger, and Woody Allen): Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean everyone is not out to get you.

  7. Anonymous says:

    FWIW, the Wikipedia entry on Jewish population claims far less than 20 million Jews today .. more like 13 million.