Thursday, January 27, 2022

  • Thursday, January 27, 2022
  • Elder of Ziyon


The Cairo International Book Fair is starting. And as it has in the past, it is pushing antisemitic themes.

One of its featured books on the website is a translation of an 1889 work by Gustave Le Bon, his chapters on Jewish civilization in his  "Les premières civilisations." 

For the most part, Le Bon is not impressed with Jewish civilization, and his first paragraph is translated in this Arabic article:

The Jews possessed neither arts, nor sciences, nor industry, nor anything that constitutes a civilization. They have never made the smallest contribution to the building of human knowledge. They never went beyond this state of semi-barbarism of peoples who have no history. If they ended by possessing towns, it was because the conditions of existence, in the midst of neighbors arrived at a higher stage of evolution, made it a necessity for them; but their cities, their temples, their palaces, the Jews were profoundly incapable of raising them themselves; and, at the time of their greatest power, under the reign of Solomon, it was from abroad that they were obliged to bring in the architects, the workmen, the artists, of whom no emulator then existed within Israel.
The description of the book goes on to say that "the goal of the book is based in particular on explaining the failure of the Jews to share in the history of civilization. And on the ethnic disadvantages of the Jews,  and on the fact that the Jews are an unfit people that came to Palestine."

Le Bon's chapters on the Jews are indeed very critical, only praising Jewish literature and poetry. He repeats a variant of that first sentence several times. 

Clearly the only reason that this section of a large book was translated into Arabic is because it is one of the few works of history of the past 150 years outside Nazi Germany and the Arab world that is so critical of Jews. In other words, translating a racist 19th century French intellectual who is best known for his theories of crowd psychology and who believed that cranial size determines intelligence doesn't reveal anything about Jews. It reveals a lot about a culture that goes out of its way to find a history of Jewish civilization that hates Jews almost as much as the culture surrounding the Cairo Book Festival does. 









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