Monday, November 07, 2005

THE ALLEGED PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE between Arabs, Christian and Jews in Middle Age Spain, during the Moorish domination of the Iberian Peninsula, is a persistent myth, Jihad Watch's Hugh Fitzgerald writes:
The myths about Islamic Spain (known collectively as the "myth of Andalusia") have their origins in the romantic writers of the early 19th century. Just as Sir Walter Scott, venturing beyond Scotland, painted a completely fictional portrait of the "noble Saracens" tutoring the Christians in chivalrous behavior, so the myths of wonderful tolerant Andalusia owe their existence to two highly imaginative works by convincing writers: "Tales of the Alhambra" by Washington Irving and "Le Dernier des Abencerages" by Chateaubriand. The latter, of course, thought nothing of making things up even about his own life -- some of his entirely fictional trips are set down as fact in "Memoires d'Outre-Tombe."

The apotheosis of this is the dreamy effort of Maria Rosa Menocal, entitled "Ornament of the World," which purports to be about Cordoba, where "three faiths" worked harmoniously blah-blah-blah a lesson and hope for our age blah-blah-blah Maimonides blah-blah-blah. Now the first thing to know about this impressionistic fantasy is that it completely ignores, does not even mention in its bibliography, any of the major scholarly works on Muslim Spain -- including those of Evariste Levi-Provencal, of Dufourcq, of Bousquet, of many others. It ignores a good deal else as well, including Maimonides' own words: "...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..."

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