November 17, 2010
Gilbert Achcar: "The Arabs and the Holocaust"

(Photo: The Arabic Hour)

Gilbert Achcar
“The Arabs and the Holocaust:
The Arab-Israeli War of Narratives”
Wednesday, November 17
(Room to be announced — see “Today in the Union”)
7:00 pm

Noted Middle East scholar, historian and intellectual Gilbert Achcar will be speaking in Madison on November 17th. Touring the US to promote his latest book, The Arabs and the Holocaust: The Arab-Israeli War of Narratives, he’ll be appearing in what promises to be an informative event for all those wishing to understand the conflicts in the Middle East. As a co-sponsor of this event, Rainbow Bookstore encourages all its friends to turn out and hear this important voice.

A major critic of imperialism in the region, Achcar is currently Professor of Development Studies and International Relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. His previous books have been translated into more than fifteen languages. Among them are The Clash of Barbarisms: The Making of the New World Disorder (Saqi, 2010), The 33-Day War: Israel’s War on Hezbollah in Lebanon and its Consequences (Co-authored with Noam Chomsky, Paradigm Publishers, 2007).

About The Arabs and the Holocaust:

The Arab-Israeli conflict goes far beyond the wars waged in the Middle East. There is a war of narratives revolving around the two defining traumas of the conflict: the Holocaust and the Nakba. Middle East expert Gilbert Achcar critically assesses Arab attitudes to the Holocaust, which he argues are closely related to the dynamics of the Arab-Israeli conflict since 1948. From Hitler’s rise to power up to the present day, he identifies a wide range of reactions among the Arab world’s four main idealogical movements: pro-Western liberalism, pan-Arab nationalism, Islamic fundamentalism and Marxism. Based on a thorough examination of sources in several languages, including Arabic, English, French and German, “The Arabs and the Holocaust” is a major contribution to the discourse of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is also groundbreaking in its effort to bridge the gap between the conflicting narratives and to promote mutual understanding.

‘This is a work of breath-taking empathy, examining one of the most painful and emotion-laden topics in the modern world with dispassion, sensitivity and high erudition. Gilbert Achcar combines a historian’s profound understanding of the workings of Arab political discourse with a fine appreciation of the traumatic valance of every aspect of this topic. This magisterial study constitutes a welcome advance on the often meretricious and mediocre scholarship produced thus far on the important topic of the Arabs and the Holocaust.’ — Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies Department of History, Columbia University

‘Essential reading for anyone who seeks a balanced understanding of the place of Jews and the Holocaust in Arab thinking today. Whether or not one agrees with Gilbert Achcar on every issue, he provides a welcome and well-informed counterpoint to caricaturists and hate-mongers and fear-promoters of every persuasion. His is a voice of moderation in a bitter conflict, and it is all the more valuable for being steeped in the history and idiom of the Arab Middle East.’ — Michael R. Marrus, author of The Holocaust in History

‘In this study Gilbert Achcar exposes a great deal of spurious scholarship on the subject and places Arabattitudes towards the Holocaust and the Jews in their proper historical and intellectual context. It is an erudite, perceptive, and highly original study that shines much-needed light on a field which has tended to be dominated by partisanship and propaganda.’– Avi Shlaim, author of The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World

‘Gilbert Achcar’s thoughtful, well researched, and very welcome assessment of one of the most explosive topics of Palestinian/Israeli historiography is a courageous undertaking. He succeeds in treating the subject of the relationship of Palestine and the Nazi Holocaust with original thinking, profound scholarship, and meticulous analysis.’ — Naseer Aruri, member of the Palestine National Council

Arranged by Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative. Sponsored by Havens Center, UW Department of Sociology, Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, Madison Area Peace Coalition, Solidarity-Socialist Feminist Anti-Racist Organization – Madison Branch, International Socialist Organization- Madison, & Individual Donors. Endorsed by UW Student Progressive Dane.