Dinesh D'Souza has unleashed a torrent of criticism with his new book, The Enemy at Home, which "explains" the hatred of the Islamic world for the United States and the West as a reaction to the excesses of our cultural left.
Our contributor Andrew Bostom responds in Jihad Watch to recent remarks of Mr. D'Souza making the case that Islam was traditionally not that bad to infidels. I listened to Dinesh D'Souza's comments about the Jews of late 15th century Spain and their "rescue" by the noble Ottomans, as well as his description of "tolerant Muslim rule in India", especially under the Mughals. As D'Souza's very flawed understanding of these examples has been packaged into ahistorical tropes that he discusses repeatedly, the larger historical context merits examination.
The Nexus Between the Jews of Spain and the Ottoman Empire
The (Berber Muslim) Almohads (1130-1232) wrought tremendous destruction upon both the Jewish and Christian populations in Spain and North Africa. This devastation-massacre, captivity, and forced conversion-was described by the Jewish chronicler Abraham Ibn Daud, and the poet Abraham Ibn Ezra. Suspicious of the sincerity of the Jewish converts to Islam, Muslim "inquisitors" (i.e., antedating their Christian Spanish counterparts by three centuries) removed the children from such families, placing them in the care of Muslim educators. Maimonides, the renowned philosopher and physician, experienced the Almohad persecutions, and had to flee Cordoba with his entire family in 1148, temporarily residing in Fez - disguised as a Muslim - before finding asylum in Fatimid Egypt. Indeed, although Maimonides is frequently referred to as a paragon of Jewish achievement facilitated by the enlightened rule of Andalusia, his own words debunk this utopian view of the Islamic treatment of Jews:
..the Arabs have persecuted us severely, and passed baneful and discriminatory legislation against us...Never did a nation molest, degrade, debase, and hate us as much as they...
He goes on to cover the fate of Hindus at the hands of the gentle Islamic world. Further evidence of the sorry history of Islamic hatred of the West and all infidels may be found in his definitive study, The Legacy of Jihad.