The Arabs and the Holocaust
Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 1st July, 2010
This evening I chaired a book-launch, hosted by the Council for Arab-British Understanding, Arab Media Watch and Independent Jewish Voices, at the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce in Mayfair. In the hotseat was my SOAS colleague Gilbert Achcar, Professor of Development Studies and International Relations, but perhaps better known for his books, including The Clash of Barbarisms: The Making of the New World Disorder and Perilous Power: The Middle East and U.S. Foreign Policy (with Noam Chomsky). His latest work is the provocatively-titled The Arabs and The Holocaust (Saqi, £25), which is a very thorough, challenging and thought-provoking study of the Arab-Israeli War of Narratives from the birth of Zionism to the present day. The book is remarkably even-handed in the way that it looks both at the Holocaust or Jewish genocide as well as the Naqba or ‘catastrophe’ of the Palestinian expulsions of 1948 and beyond objectively. That very even-handedness, as well as the author’s scrupulous use of a fascinating range of both primary and secondary sources, has won plaudits for the book from many progressive Jewish as well as Arab scholars. Indeed, Brian Krug, Senior Research Fellow in Philosophy at St Benet’s Hall, Oxford, and founder member of the Jewish Forum for Justice and Human Rights as well as of Independent Jewish Voices — gave a well-prepared and enthusiastic citique of the book as an introduction to Gilbert’s talk. I am pleased to say that the event was heavily over-subscibed and a good number of copies of the book were sold and signed.