13 thoughts on “David Shasha’s ‘Obsession’ Review – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. “Nasser, as is known, loathed and persecuted Hassan al-Banna and the Muslim Brotherhood. The emergence of Wahhabi Sunni fanaticism in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Bin Laden, is directly connected to this movement.”

    Holy crap! What an ignoramus. Banna was killed 6 years before Nasser came to power, and Wahabbi Islam started in the 1700’s. In fact Wahabbis sponsored and supported the Muslim Brotherhood. He has it backwards. This article is filled with such inaccuracies as well as poor arguments all the way through. A really bad review. 0 stars. No wonder Richard likes it so much!

  2. I am sorry, but there is, in fact, much to dispute as regards to the “facts” of this case. Everything from the West supposedly “carving up” the Middle East, to the existence of outside imperialism itself, to the “oil obession”, is questionable.
    One can oppose Israeli and American policies without taking an uncritical attitude towards the Middle Eastern peoples.

  3. @Yoni: No, I’m afraid you’re the ignoramus.

    First, David noted that Nasser persecuted the Muslim Brotherhood, which he did. Second, Nasser was an army officer before he assumed power and it’s possible David was referring to the army’s persecution of al-Banna BEFORE Nasser’s coup. Third, since al-Banna was assassinated by the then Egyptian government, we can safely assume that he WAS persecuted by someone, whether or not it was Nasser specifically.

    Second, David was not talking about when Wahabi Islam BEGAN, but rather when it went on the ascendancy IN SAUDI ARABIA.

    So far your criticism of David’s review is 0 for 2. Not a very good record. But maybe the Devil Rays will take you if you try out. They need some help & may not be too picky about yr weak hitting.

  4. I just have one small objection to what you say here, Richard. I read Arthur Waskow’s piece and the David Shasha piece and there’s no need to rank one above the other. They’re both good, making their points about the film in different ways.

  5. For someone who accuses the filmmakers of using “pilpul,” it sounds like Shasha needs to wrap his own rhetoric in academic “Ashkenazi” clothes in order to sell his critique of the film. I think any remnants of Sefardic culture have been effectively erased!

    “…the Jewish-produced documentary “Obsession.”
    This sounds like self-hating Ashkenazi. I’d think you were the late Bobby Fischer in disguise!

    The motif “Arab as Nazi”
    The Arabs pass out the “Protocols”. They says horrific things about Jews (I have been there to hear it). They commit heinous acts against Jews like suicide bombings. Where are you, buddy?

    “passionate hatred bordering on the pathological”
    Are you talking about “Tikun Olam?” Aren’t academics like yourself passionate and hateful? You just mask your rage in academic grammar.

    “fanatical Zionism that is regularly taught in American Jewish Day Schools each and every day”
    The fact that the Land Of Israel belongs to Jews is part of the Jewish religion. Sefaradim are most known for hibat Tsion “the love of Tsion.” Sefaradim are the CORE of the right-wing in Israel-you know this Mr. Sasha! [sic]

    “Such is the pyrrhic victory..”
    I think the Pyrrhic victory will be that of assimilated Enlightenment Jews who spent furious energy denouncing their own religion. In the meanwhile, they have 0-2 children and continue to intermarry. Religious Jews are having more and more children and will inevitably be the majority. Thus, all of your ranting and raving is not naught.

    1. “The Arabs pass out the “Protocols”. They says horrific things about Jews (I have been there to hear it). They commit heinous acts against Jews like suicide bombings. Where are you, buddy?”

      Aye – and who wrote the Protocols, pray tell? Presumably – by the same logic – Russians must be Nazis – including the 21 million the German army killed, of course. The only real short-coming in Shasha’s article is that he doesn’t mention the decidedly seamy fact of Martin Gilbert having contributed in his own insular fashion to ‘Obsession’.

      “I think the Pyrrhic victory will be that of assimilated Enlightenment Jews who spent furious energy denouncing their own religion”

      Is that the old self-hating Jew trope? You know, the one that denies particular points of view to people because they’re Jewish?

  6. @Manchester:

    The Arabs pass out the “Protocols”. They says horrific things about Jews (I have been there to hear it). They commit heinous acts against Jews like suicide bombings.

    “The Arabs” do this? Since when does an entire ethnic group engage in collective hatred? No, I’m afraid it’s you who are engaging in racist rhetoric.

    The fact that the Land Of Israel belongs to Jews is part of the Jewish religion.

    The Land of Israel “belongs” to Jews? No, I’d say more that the Land of Israel is on loan to Jews from God. And if we ever show we’re not worthy of the loan, God’s entitled to take it back from us. With Jews having views like yours, our lease is definitely shaky.

    Religious Jews are having more and more children and will inevitably be the majority. Thus, all of your ranting and raving is not naught.

    You wear so many hats & now you’ve added a new one, that of Jewish demographer. You’ll have to excuse me if I say you’re “expertise” is full of crap. Orthodox Jews are a distinct minority and will remain so for quite some time.

  7. ““The Arabs” do this? Since when does an entire ethnic group engage in collective hatred? No, I’m afraid it’s you who are engaging in racist rhetoric.”
    Watch Obsession! Stop listening to just your OWN voice!

    “the Land of Israel is on loan to Jews from God.”
    This sounds very Reform. The Land Of Israel, G-d, and the Jews are one entity. This is the view from Orthodox sources. Jews were exiled because they didn’t follow the commandments and for senseless hatred.

    “Orthodox Jews are a distinct minority and will remain so for quite some time.”
    The Orthodox are 20-25% of the population in Israel, but the birthrate is 2-3 times that of secular Jews. The reason Orthodox are a minority is because of the Holocaust and assimilation! You NEVER mention assimilation on your site, I think because you are afraid to admit it.

  8. I think that Shasha is trying to ingratiate himself in the Ashkenazi world. Nowhere is it stated that upon the creation of Israel, hundreds of thousands of Sephardi Jews were discriminated against and expelled from countries like Iraq, Egypt, and Yemen. Nowhere is it mentioned that pro-Nazi pogroms were carried out in Baghdad in 1941 (before the Israeli occupation of Palestine) under Rashid Ali. Nowhere is it mentioned the role of Hajj Amin el Husseini in fomenting anti-Jewish violence for personal gain.
    If it were 1930, and I were asked to predict which country would try to kill all the Jews, Germany would not have been my first choice. I would have picked Russia, with Poland as number 2, and perhaps France as number 3. Similarly, Iran has unitl the last 30 years, had good relations with Jews. Now the leadership of Iran is obsessed with exterminating Israel. The lesson is that past relationships are no guarantee of future performance, as they say on your Wall Street. Shasha may be your court Jew, but with us Amcha, he has no street cred

    1. It’s a discussion of the film ‘obsession’ – not a history of Jews in Arab lands. If that’s what you’re after see Norman Stillman’s study

      http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jews-Arab-Lands-Modern-Times/dp/0827607652/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1254222496&sr=1-2

      “Similarly, Iran has unitl the last 30 years, had good relations with Jews. Now the leadership of Iran is obsessed with exterminating Israel”

      Israel is a state, not a people. There is a Jewish community in Iran thousands strong; we’re not in 1930’s Europe. Time has moved on.

  9. my god. the responses to this essay by David Sasha are worrying in their extremism. The idea that god plays favorites in terms of dispensing land is a radical and extremist idea that has nothing to do with modernity or the enlightenment.

    The ideas of racial purity in notions of Jewish intermarriage with non-Jews will be taken over by Orthodox Jews belong to the 19th c. not the 21st.

  10. AN, you’re missing the context. The Iraqis rallied around Nazi ideology not because they intrinsically hated Jews, but because it was a response to British imperialism. That Jews somehow became associate with the Britannic enemy was an unfortunate situation that they had no control over. And let’s not forget the British role in the Farhud – quite ironic considering the Nazi-inspired association.

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