Gebran Bassil is expressing a reflexive Arab nationalist antisemitism that has been far outstripped by actual events — but apparently Bassil wasn’t paying attention. In chapter nine of Bat Ye’or’s seminal Islam and Dhimmitude, she discusses at length the ambiguities of Arab nationalism, showing how as a movement it destroyed Middle Eastern Christian communities, dividing them and weakening them. Arab nationalism was also linked to Nazism and of course, theological anti-Semitism. In Sylvia Haim’s “Islam and the Theory of Arab Nationalism,” reprinted in Andrew Bostom’s The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism, Haim quotes the founder of the Arab nationalist Ba’ath Party, Michel Aflaq:
Muhammad was the epitome of all the Arabs, so let all the Arabs today be Muhammad. . . . Islam was an Arab movement and its meaning was the renewal of Arabism and its maturity . . . [even] Arab Christians will recognize that Islam constitutes for them a national culture in which they must immerse themselves so that they may understand and love it, and so that they may preserve Islam as they would preserve the most precious element in their Arabism.
Haim concludes: “For Aflaq, Islam is Arab nationalism.” (Emphasis in original).
Bassil’s antisemitic conspiracy paranoia is born of a myopic ignorance of the close relationship between Arab nationalism and Islam, and of how Arab nationalism has devastated the Christians of the Middle East by making them subservient to an Islamic agenda that ultimately has not spared them, and of how Israel is facing the same jihadist foe that the rest of the free world faces.
For the sake of their own survival, Christian Arabs should and must reject Gebran Bassil and the point of view he represents. Most will not do so.
“Bassil: Arabs should confront ISIS and Israeli terrorism,” Daily Star, October 12, 2014:
BEIRUT: Arabs have a duty to confront the terrorism of both ISIS and Israel, Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said Sunday in Cairo during an international donor conference for Gaza.
“Our gathering today as Arabs is a normal thing, as Palestine is our mother cause,” Bassil said, addressing officials of Arab and Western countries who gathered in the Egyptian capital to announce pledges for rebuilding batter Gaza.
“We were the first to say that Israel and ISIS are similar in their terrorism and destruction, and that they converge to the extent that ISIS is the best Israeli tool to create divisions in the region.”
Describing Israel as a “racist” country, Bassil said that Gaza cannot witness sustainable development unless Israel stops its course of “sustainable destruction.”
He called on Arab nations to confront the Israel and ISIS, and said Arabs should unite and not rely on international actors to come to their rescue when in trouble.
“We only ask for the intervention of the international community when we cannot help ourselves, and when the human values structure is about to collapse.”
Bassil said the Lebanese Army had proved that Arab armies can act even without “foreign-imposed no-fly zones.”
“The Lebanese Army is working on preventing the advancement of ISIS toward our villages without any aircrafts,” he added, calling on Arabs to use all their capacities to achieve justice before it is too late.
“Will we need, one day, to hold an international conference to reconstruct the whole Middle East because of ISIS?,” Bassil asked.