Bat Ye'or

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Gisèle Littman
Born Gisèle Orebi
1933 (age 80–81)
Zamalek, Cairo
Pen name Bat Ye'or (Hebrew: בת יאור‎)
Occupation Writer
Nationality British
Alma mater University College, London
University of Geneva[1]
Notable works The Decline of Eastern Christianity: From Jihad to Dhimmitude (French:1991, English:1996)
Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide (2001)
Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis (2005)

Bat Ye'or (Hebrew: בת יאור‎, meaning "daughter of the Nile") is a pseudonym of Gisèle Littman, née Orebi, an Egyptian-born British writer and political commentator who writes about the history of Middle Eastern Christian and Jewish dhimmis living under Islamic governments.[2]

She is the author of eight books, including Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis (2005), Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide (2001), The Decline of Eastern Christianity: From Jihad to Dhimmitude (French: 1991, English: 1996), and The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians Under Islam (French: 1980, English: 1985).

Personal and early life[edit]

Bat Ye'or was born into a Jewish family in Cairo, Egypt. She and her parents left Egypt in 1957 after the Suez War of 1956,[3] arriving in London as stateless refugees.[4] In 1958 she attended the Institute of Archaeology at University College, London, and moved to Switzerland in 1960 to continue her studies at the University of Geneva,[5] but never finished her master's degree[1][6] and has never held an academic position.[7]

She described her experiences in the following manner:

I had witnessed the destruction, in a few short years, of a vibrant Jewish community living in Egypt for over 2,600 years and which had existed from the time of Jeremiah the Prophet. I saw the disintegration and flight of families, dispossessed and humiliated, the destruction of their synagogues, the bombing of the Jewish quarters and the terrorizing of a peaceful population. I have personally experienced the hardships of exile, the misery of statelessness − and I wanted to get to the root cause of all this. I wanted to understand why the Jews from Arab countries, nearly a million, had shared my experience.[5]

She was married to the British historian and human rights advocate David Littman from September 1959 until his death in May 2012. Many of her publications and works were in collaboration with Littman. Her British citizenship dates from her marriage.[1] They moved to Switzerland in 1960 and together had three children.[1]

She has provided briefings to the United Nations and the U.S. Congress and has given talks at major universities such as Georgetown, Brown, Yale, Brandeis, and Columbia.[1][8]

Main works[edit]

Dhimmitude[edit]

Main article: Dhimmitude

Ye'or is known for employing the neologism dhimmitude, which she discusses in detail in Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide. She credits assassinated Lebanese president-elect and Phalangist militia leader Bachir Gemayel with coining the term. The term itself is made up of the word "dhimmi", which means "protected" in Arabic and "refers to the legal and social conditions of Jews and Christians living under Islamic rule".[9]

The neologism dhimmitude bears purposely some phonetic resemblance with the word servitude; servitude exists both in French and English languages; dhimmitude was intentionally invented in place of the French "dhimmité" or the English "dhimmity", which might have been the words associated to "dhimma" in a non-polemical setting.

Ye'or describes dhimmitude as the "specific social condition that resulted from jihad," and as the "state of fear and insecurity" of "infidels" who are required to "accept a condition of humiliation."[10] She believes that "the dhimmi condition can only be understood in the context of Jihad," and studies the relationship between the theological tenets of Islam and the hardships of Christians and Jews under Islamic rule in different times and places.[11] The cause of jihad, she argues, "was fomented around the 8th century by Muslim theologians after the death of Muhammad and led to the conquest of large swathes of three continents over the course of a long history."[12] She says:

Dhimmitude is the direct consequence of jihad. It embodie[s] all the Islamic laws and customs applied over a millennium on the vanquished population, Jews and Christians, living in the countries conquered by jihad and therefore Islamized. [We can observe a] return of the jihad ideology since the 1960s, and of some dhimmitude practices in Muslim countries applying the sharia [Islamic] law, or inspired by it. I stress ... the incompatibility between the concept of tolerance as expressed by the jihad-dhimmitude ideology, and the concept of human rights based on the equality of all human beings and the inalienability of their rights.[13]

Though Bat Ye'or acknowledges that not all Muslims subscribe to so-called "militant jihad theories of society," she argues that the role of sharia in the 1990 Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam demonstrates that what she calls a perpetual war against those who won't submit to Islam is still an "operative paradigm" in Islamic countries.[14]

Reception[edit]

Bat Ye'or's work has attracted praise and criticism from academic historians and political commentators on Islam and the Middle East.

British historian Martin Gilbert has called her "the acknowledged expert on the plight of Jews and Christians in Muslim lands"[15] In a Jerusalem Post interview, referring to Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis he stated "I've read Bat Yeor's book. I know her and have a great respect for her sense of anguish. ... I'm saying that her book—which is 100 percent accurate—is an alarm call that will ultimately prevent what she's warning about from taking place."[16]

Bruce Bawer, writing in the The Hudson Review on Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis, wrote that "[n]o book explains the European Muslim situation, in all its complexity, more ably," "[i]t's hard to overstate this book's importance. ... Eurabia is eye-opening and required reading for anyone seriously interested in understanding Europe's current predicament and its probable fate."[17]

According to Daniel Pipes,

Bat Ye'or has traced a nearly secret history of Europe over the past thirty years, convincingly showing how the Euro-Arab Dialogue has blossomed from a minor discussion group into the engine for the continent's Islamization. In delineating this phenomenon, she also provides the intellectual resources with which to resist it. Will her message be listened to?[18]

Robert Spencer, an American writer on the West's relationship with Islam, described her as "the pioneering scholar of dhimmitude, of the institutionalized discrimination and harassment of non-Muslims under Islamic law". He argued that she had turned this area, which he believed the "Middle East studies establishment" has hitherto been afraid of or indifferent to, into a field of academic study.[19] British writer David Pryce-Jones called her a "Cassandra, a brave and far-sighted spirit."[20]

Johannes J.G. Jansen, Professor of Arabic and Islamic studies at Utrecht University, wrote in the Middle East Quarterly that "In 1985, Bat Ye'or offered Islamic studies a surprise with her book, The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians under Islam, a convincing demonstration that the notion of a traditional, lenient, liberal, and tolerant Muslim treatment of the Jewish and Christian minorities is more myth than reality."[21]

According to historian Niall Ferguson, "future historians will one day regard her coinage of the term 'Eurabia' as prophetic. Those who wish to live in a free society must be eternally vigilant. Bat Ye'or's vigilance is unrivalled."[22]

Irshad Manji describes her as "a scholar who dumps cold water on any dreamy view of how Muslims have historically dealt with the 'other'."[23]

According to journalist Adi Schwartz from Haaretz, the fact that she is not an academic and has never taught at any university, but has worked as an independent researcher, has, along with her opinions, made her a controversial figure. He quotes professor Robert Wistrich, head of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism, who notes that "[u]p until the 1980s, she was not accepted at all. In academic circles they scorned her publications. Only when Bernard Lewis, Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, published the book 'Jews of Islam' with quotations from Bat Ye'or did they begin to pay any attention to her. A real change toward her emerged in the 1990s, and especially in recent years.[24] Lewis, though, on another occasion, called the term dhimmitude a "myth" that "contain[s] significant elements of truth," the "historic truth" being "in its usual place, somewhere in the middle between the extremes."[25]

Mark R. Cohen, a leading scholar of the history of Jewish communities of medieval Islam, thinks Bat Ye'or "has made famous" the term dhimmitude though he thinks it is "misleading." He feels that "[w]e may chose to employ" it keeping in mind that it "connotes protection (its meaning in Arabic) and that it guaranteed communal autonomy, relatively free practice of religion, and equal economic opportunities, as much as it signified inferior legal status."[26][27]

Michael Sells, John Henry Barrows Professor of Islamic History and Literature at the University of Chicago, argued that "by obscuring the existence of pre-Christian and other old, non-Christian communities in Europe as well as the reason for their disappearance in other areas of Europe, Bat Ye'or constructs an invidious comparison between the allegedly humane Europe of Christian and Enlightenment values and the ever present persecution within Islam. Whenever the possibility is raised of actually comparing circumstances of non-Christians in Europe to non-Muslims under Islamic governance in a careful, thoughtful manner, Bat Ye'or forecloses such comparison."[28]

In a review of The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude the American historian Robert Brenton Betts commented that the book dealt with Judaism at least as much as with Christianity, that the title was misleading and the central premise flawed. He said: "The general tone of the book is strident and anti-Muslim. This is coupled with selective scholarship designed to pick out the worst examples of anti-Christian behavior by Muslim governments, usually in time of war and threats to their own destruction (as in the case of the deplorable Armenian genocide of 1915). Add to this the attempt to demonize the so-called Islamic threat to Western civilization and the end-product is generally unedifying and frequently irritating."[29]

Sidney Griffith, the head of the department of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures at The Catholic University of America wrote in a review of Decline of Eastern Christianity that Ye'or has "raised a topic of vital interest"; adding, however, that the "theoretical inadequacy of the interpretive concepts of jihad and dhimmitude, as they are employed here", and the "want of historical method in the deployments of the documents which serve as evidence for the conclusions reached in the study" serve as dual barriers. He goes on to say "[quotations] are presented out of context, with no analysis or explanation. One has the impression that in their bulk they are simply meant to undergird the contentions made in the first part of the book", concluding that thus Ye'or has "written a polemical tract, not responsible historical analysis."[30]

According to the American scholar Joel Beinin, Bat Ye'or exemplifies the "neo-lachrymose" perspective on Egyptian Jewish history. According to Beinin, this perspective has been "consecrated" as "the normative Zionist interpretation of the history of Jews in Egypt."[31]

Eurabia[edit]

Main article: Eurabia

Her books Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis and Europe, Globalization, and the Coming of the Universal Caliphate are about the alleged relationship from the 1970s onwards between the European Union (previously the European Economic Community) and the Arab states. Ye'or claims that the alleged influence of Islam, antiamericanism and antisemitism over European culture and politics is a product of a collaboration between radical Arabs and Muslims, on one hand, and fascists, socialists, Nazis, antisemitic rulers of Europe, on the other hand.[32] Bat Ye'or popularized the use of term "Eurabia" in the sense of:

Eurabia is a geo-political reality envisaged in 1973 through a system of informal alliances between, on the one hand, the nine countries of the European Community (EC) which, enlarged, became the European Union (EU) in 1992 and on the other hand, the Mediterranean Arab countries. The alliances and agreements were elaborated at the top political level of each EC country with the representative of the European Commission, and their Arab homologues with the Arab League's delegate. This system was synchronised under the roof of an association called the Euro-Arab Dialogue (EAD) created in July 1974 in Paris. A working body composed of committees and always presided jointly by a European and an Arab delegate planned the agendas, and organized and monitored the application of the decisions.

Reception[edit]

The notion of "Eurabia" has been dismissed as a conspiracy theory by some commentators.[6][33][34][35] Writing in Race & Class in 2006, author and freelance journalist Matt Carr, for example, states:

"In order to accept Ye'or's ridiculous thesis, it is necessary to believe not only in the existence of a concerted Islamic plot to subjugate Europe, involving all Arab governments, whether 'Islamic' or not, but also to credit a secret and unelected parliamentary body with the astounding ability to transform all Europe's major political, economic and cultural institutions into subservient instruments of 'jihad' without any of the continent's press or elected institutions being aware of it."[35]

Carr argues that Bat Ye'or is the "main inspiration" for many conspiracy theories current on the far-right. Furthermore, Carr notes that "[s]tripped of its Islamic content, the broad contours of Ye'or's preposterous thesis [in Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis] recall the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories of the first half of the twentieth century and contemporary notions of the 'Zionist Occupation Government' prevalent in far-right circles in the US".[35] He notes further that Bat Ye'or's analysis is driven by a contempt of "Islam's celebrated cultural achievements" and a view of Islam as a "perennially barbaric, parasitic and oppressive religion".

Affiliations[edit]

Bat Ye'Or sits on the Board of Advisors of the International Free Press Society,[34][36] identified as a "key organization" of the Counterjihad-movement. She is considered as its "main ideologue", with roots in Ye'or's Eurabia are important to the movement.[6][34]

Works[edit]

Books[edit]

Book chapters[edit]

  • 17 chapters in Robert Spencer (ed.), The Myth of Islamic Tolerance: How Islamic Law Treats Non-Muslims, Prometheus Books, 2005. ISBN 1-59102-249-5.
  • "The Dhimmi Factor in the Exodus of Jews from Arab Countries" in: Malka Hillel Shulewitz (ed.), The Forgotten Millions. The Modern Jewish Exodus from Arab Lands, Cassell, London/New York 1999; Continuum, 2001, ISBN 0-8264-4764-3 (pp. 33–51).
  • "A Christian Minority. The Copts in Egypt" in W. A. Veehoven (ed.), Case Studies on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. A World Survey. 4 vols. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1976, ISBN 90-247-1779-5.

Articles[edit]

See also[edit]


Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Julia Duin (30 October 2002). "State of 'dhimmitude' seen as threat to Christians, Jews". The Washington Times. Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  2. ^ Sidney H. Griffith (November 1998). "The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude, Seventh-Twentieth Century (review)". International Journal of Middle East Studies (Cambridge University Press) 30 (4): 619–21. doi:10.1017/S0020743800052831. JSTOR 164368. 
  3. ^ Gilbert, Martin (1997). A History of the Twentieth Century: 1952–1999. HarperCollins. p. 142. ISBN 068810066X. Retrieved 3 August 2012. "Most of those who went elsewhere did so as 'stateless refugees, among them Gisele Orebi (later Gisele Littman), who was to become the acknowledged expert on the plight of Jews and Christians in Muslim lands, and their vigorous champion: her book The Dhimrni. Jews and Christians under Islam, written under the pen name Bat Ye'or, brought the issue of continuing discrimination to a wide public." 
  4. ^ André Darmon, Israel Magazine July 2007 Interview with Bat Ye'or Bat Ye'or – I was born in Egypt, in Cairo, into a family of the Jewish bourgeoisie, of an Italian father and a French mother. My grandfather, to whom Egyptian nationality was accorded by exception, was crowned Bey by the Ottoman sultan. My father decided to renounce Italian nationality as a result of Mussolini's racist laws, but when Nasser came to power, my mother's goods were confiscated because she was French and my father's because he was Jewish. We were forced to stay home, we were chased out of public places and at that moment we decided to flee Egypt. Many fled secretly from fear of being imprisoned. We were forced, like all Egyptian Jews, to sign papers according to which we renounced all our goods, our passport and our nationality, for those who had it, since the Jews had been for the most part Ottoman subjects and not Egyptian. The Jews promised in writing not to demand anything of the Egyptian State. The only right we had was to take one suitcase, which was searched and thrown to the ground and 20 Egyptian pounds that were taken from us anyway by the customs officials, not to mention the insults and acts of terror in front of my parents, both of whom were invalids.
  5. ^ a b John W. Whitehead (9 June 2005). "Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis An interview with Bat Ye'or". The Rutherford Institute. Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c "Eurabiske vers" [Eurabian verses] (in Norwegian). Morgenbladet. 19 August 2011. Retrieved 27 April 2012. 
  7. ^ Sholto Byrnes (28 October 2011). "History rewritten". The National. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  8. ^ Nidra Poller (7 February 2005). "The Brave New World of Eurabia". The New York Sun. Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  9. ^ Staff writer (19 June 2005). "What is 'dhimmitude'?". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 30 July 2012. 
  10. ^ Duin, Julia (30 October 2002). "Islam's 'idealistic version of itself' not quite the reality". The Washington Times. Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  11. ^ Ye'or, Bat (10 October 2002). Dhimmitude Past and Present : An Invented or Real History? (Speech). C.V. Starr Foundation Lectureship. Brown University. Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  12. ^ Desrochers, Donna (28 February 2002). "Americans should educate themselves about jihad's "culture of hate," says WSRC speaker". Brandeis University. Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  13. ^ Rod Dreher (29 October 2002). "Damned If You Do". The National Review. Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  14. ^ Bat Ye'or (1 July 2002). "Jihad and Human Rights Today". The National Review. Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  15. ^ Sir Martin Gilbert, A History of the Twentieth Century, Volume III: 1952–1999, p. 127: "Most of those who went elsewhere did so as 'stateless refugees, among them Gisele Orebi (later Gisele Litrman), who was to become the acknowledged expert on the plight of Jews and Christians in Muslim lands, and their vigorous champion: her book The Dhimmi. Jews and Christians under Islam, written under the pen name Bat Ye'or, brought the issue of continuing discrimination to a wide public."
  16. ^ Ruthie Blum. "One on One with Sir Martin Gilbert: Hindsight and aforethought". The Jerusalem Post. The Jerusalem Post. 
  17. ^ Bawer, Bruce (Winter 2006). "Crisis in Europe". The Hudson Review 58 (4). 
  18. ^ Pipes, Daniel (January 2005). "Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis". Fairleigh Dickinson University. 
  19. ^ Brian Lamb: Robert Spencer interview (transcript), C-SPAN, 20 August 2006
  20. ^ Pryce-Jones, David. "Captive continent", National Review, 9 May 2005
  21. ^ Johannes J.G. Jansen (1 March 2005). "Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis". Middle East Quarterly (Middle East Forum). 
  22. ^ Thomas Jones. "Short Cuts". London Review of Books. 
  23. ^ Irshad Manji, The Trouble with Islam, pg. 61
  24. ^ Adi Schwartz from Haaretz.com 'The protocols of the elders of Brussels' "Bat Ye'or's opinions have made her a controversial figure, as has the fact that she is not an academic and has never taught at any university. She conducts her research independently. Since the 1970s, Bat Ye'or, who is now 71, has published about 10 books, most of which deal with the life of the Christian and Jewish minorities in Muslim countries. "
  25. ^ Bernard Lewis, 'The New Anti-Semitism', The American Scholar Journal – Volume 75 No. 1 Winter 2006 pp. 25–36.
  26. ^ Cohen, Mark R. (2011). "Modern Myths of Muslim Anti-Semitism". In Ma'oz, Moshe. Muslim Attitudes to Jews and Israel: The Ambivalences of Rejection, Antagonism, Tolerance and Cooperation. Sussex Academic Press. pp. 33–36. ISBN 1845195272. 
  27. ^ books.google.com, Modern Myths of Muslim Anti-Semitism
    1. She endeavors to "expose" what she thinks is an insidious European plot to conspire with Arab countries in an anti-American, anti-Israel, and anti-Semitic campaign, which will, in the end, backfire by reducing Europe to what she calls by the misleading term "dhimmitude." (p. 34)
    2. We may chose to employ the noun "dhimmitude," the term Bat Ye'or has made famous. But we need to keep in mind that the term dhimma connotes protection (its meaning in Arabic) and that it guaranteed communal autonomy, relatively free practice of religion, and equal economic opportunities, as much as it signified inferior legal status. (p. 36)
  28. ^ Qureshi, Emran; Sells, Michael Anthony (2003). The New Crusades: Constructing the Muslim Enemy. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 364. ISBN 9780231126663. Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  29. ^ Robert Brenton Betts (September 1997). "The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude (review)". Middle East Policy (Wiley-Blackwell) 5 (3): 200–203. doi:10.1111/j.1475-4967.1997.tb00274.x. Retrieved 4 August 2012.  (subscription required)
  30. ^ Griffith, Sidney H., "The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude", International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 30, No. 4. (Nov. 1998), pp. 619–621.
  31. ^ Beinin, Joel (2005). The Dispersion of Egyptian Jewry: Culture, Politics, And The Formation Of A Modern Diaspora. American University in Cairo Press. p. 15. ISBN 9789774248900. Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  32. ^ Alyssa A. Lappen (5 April 2005). "Triple-pronged Jihad – Military, Economic and Cultural". The American Thinker. Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  33. ^ See:
  34. ^ a b c Arun Kundnani (June 2012). "Blind Spot? Security Narratives and Far-Right Violence in Europe" (PDF). International Centre for Counter-terrorism. Retrieved 23 July 2012. 
  35. ^ a b c Matt Carr (July 2006). "You are now entering Eurabia". Race & Class (SAGE Publications) 48 (1): 1–22. doi:10.1177/0306396806066636. Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  36. ^ "International 'Counter-Jihadist' organisations – The International Free Press Society (IFPS) Network". Counter-jihad report. HOPE not hate. Retrieved 21 July 2012. 

External links[edit]