Dhimmitude in the news

Something rather strange happened at the end of February. The term “dhimmitude” appeared in the sub-heading of an ordinary news item on the Times of Israel:

Syrian Christians sign treaty of submission to Islamists

Threatened by al-Qaeda-affiliated extremists, community in northern city of Raqqa chooses ‘dhimmitude’ over conversion or death

What’s even more interesting is the massive virality of this simple news story about Syria. Less than a month later it has racked up 21k Facebook shares and this is way beyond most news stories on the site and certainly much more than any other Syria related story.

The next day’s story from Syria “Syria regime said readying offensive on key rebel stronghold” has been shared a grand total of 0 times. Yes, zero, nothing, never: not one person thought this important enough to click and share on.

It will take a little longer to find out, but I don’t think even an emotional story about Assad starving Palestinians to death (published only 5 days ago) is going to reach such levels of sharing, it’s currently showing 3.6k shares on Facebook. (Clearly murdering Palestinians isn’t so important if it’s hard to blame Israel.)

The concept of dhimmitude, dhimmis and and the treatment of Jews and Christians (both special classes of infidel) by Islamic rulers has been extensively discussed in books and websites that critically examine Islam for years. The concept, however, has been largely ignored, dismissed as an historical irrelevance or actively suppressed in main stream sources.

So what is dhimmitude? I can’t describe it any better than Bat Ye’or, the author whose work has brought the term out of Islamic history and into modern discourse. Her essay “Dhimmitude Past and Present: An Invented or Real History?” is essential reading.

The description given in the Times of Israel news item, however, is a pretty good short explanation:

According to classic Islamic law, Christians and Jews living under Muslim sovereignty must pay a tax known as jizya in return for the Muslim ruler’s protection, known as dhimma.
The Christians of Raqqa chose to sign the dhimma treaty over war, the document stated, receiving a commitment by local ISIS commander Ibrahim Al-Badri, also known as Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, not to be subjected to physical harm or religious targeting.

Anyone familiar with The Godfather film might recognise this kind of deal. It’s a classic demand for money and obedience in return for “protection”. Dhimmitude comes with a whole host of restrictive conditions: it’s not even true to say it is second class citizenship. It’s non-citizenship. Even the right to life is discretionary at the whim of the Muslim overlord.

I’ve studied and written about dhimmitude for many years. A knowledge of the history of dhimmitude and the peoples who lived under it’s repressive, real, yoke for centuries is absolutely essential to understanding what’s going on in Israel today.

Over and over we have been offered “peace” in Israel. A version of “peace” based on submission to Islam and Sharia. All we have to do, as Jews, to have this “peace” is live as dhimmis and accept benevolent Islamic rule. Just as we’re told we did for centuries.

We don’t accept this. Jews must never be dhimmis again. The Christians in Syria who have accepted this condition are a modern lesson: we must never follow in their footsteps.

I’m delighted to see this simple news article on The Times of Israel gain so much quiet attention. Perhaps many more people are learning the truth about dhimmitude.

Syrian Christians sign treaty of submission to Islamists | The Times of Israel
Screen shot from The Times of Israel
Syria regime said readying offensive on key rebel stronghold | The Times of Israel
Screen shot from The Times of Israel


About the Author
Brian of London made aliyah from the UK to Israel in 2009. For many years he has blogged and broadcast about Israel, technology and other subjects. Most recently he's focused on the experience of driving an electric car every day. Brian has a scientific PhD but today owns a business in Israel.