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Among the Righteous: Lost Stories from the Holocaust's Long Reach into Arab Lands Hardcover – October 30, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Satloff's compelling book details the roles Arabs played in assisting or resisting the Third Reich, Italian Fascism and the Vichy government, and the expansion of the Final Solution into their countries. This includes active collaboration with anti-Semitic policies—Arabs helped run Bizerte, one of 60 labor camps for Jews in Morocco and Algeria established by the Vichy government. It also includes many instances of brave resistance, such as the bey of Tunis, who protected the Jews under his patronage. On the whole, while Jews "were almost always better off ruled by Muslims rather than Christians," Arabs generally displayed indifference to the Jews' plight. Satloff, director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and an expert on Arab culture and history, is careful to explore the nuances of a complicated story and the relationship between fascist European powers and their colonies. Italy and France, for example, overrode local control by imposing anti-Semitic social restraints in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. Satloff is, correctly, so careful about nuance that, despite some greatly moving personal narratives, the book as a whole lacks the powerful wallop that we receive from reading David Kertzer or Daniel Goldhagen. But this is important material, and Satloff's work is groundbreaking for Jewish, Middle Eastern and Holocaust studies. 8 pages of b&w photos; maps. (Nov.)
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From Booklist

The central question of his book, Satloff posits in the introduction, is "Did any Arabs save any Jews during the Holocaust?" To find answers, the author drew on the expertise of archivists, translators, interviewers, and researchers knowledgeable in the history of that tragic event. Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, describes his book as part history, part travelogue, and part memoir. Two months after the 9/11 attacks, he and his family moved to Rabat, Morocco, where he began a four-year, 11-country search for an "Arab Schindler." He discovered, for example, that the head of a mosque in Paris saved up to 100 Jews by helping them pass as Muslims, that Muslim religious clerics in Algeria refused to turn in Jews stripped of their jobs and property, and that a Tunisian Arab provided shelter to 60 Jewish escapees from a German labor camp. With an eight-page black-and-white photo insert, this account is bound to be controversial. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 251 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs (October 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586483994
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586483999
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #338,299 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 51 people found the following review helpful By John Kwok HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on November 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Robert Satloff, Executive Director, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, has written an important, gripping examination of a relatively unknown, often untold chapter of the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews, that occurred when Nazi Germany and its Fascist allies and client states (Fascist Italy, Vichy France) occupied North Africa in World War II. "Among the Righteous: Lost Stories from the Holocaust's Long Reach into Arab Lands" is a memorably terse account of Satloff's search for "The Righteous" among the Arab and Muslim worlds, a seemingly quixotic quest in search of those Arabs and Muslims who did try to protect their Jewish neighbors from persecution, imprisonment and execution by the Nazis and their Fascist allies. He embarked upon this search hoping to impress upon Arab intelligentsia in the Middle East of the necessity to come to grips finally with the harsh realities of the Holocaust; something that virtually all have failed to come to terms with since their acknowledgement of the Holocaust might lead eventually to recognizing the validity of Israel's right to exist, and of the important, though quite tragic, reasons why it was established as the world's only independent Jewish state. Much to his everlasting credit, Satloff has succeeded in his admirable quest, demonstrating that there were some Arabs and Muslims willing to protect Jews from Nazi persecution, even though others actively suppported it, while most remain indifferent to the worsening plight of their Jewish neighbors. Satloff's publisher, Public Affairs, deserves ample praise for recognizing the importance of Satloff's work by publishing this fine, if rather terse, book.Read more ›
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Seth J. Frantzman HALL OF FAME on November 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book is well written and covers an important and mostly overlooked subject. But the most poignant and important subject of this book is the authors main point. The book sets out to answer the question "was there one Arab who saved one Jew?" The introduction to this book shows that in general the most famous Arab to collaborate with the Nazis, Hajj Amin al-Husayni, and tangentially Ibn Rashid the coup leader in Iraq, are moderatly known and there stories covered. However little light, outside of Michel Abitbol's book, has been shed on the history of the Holocaust and Second World War in North Africa. SO the effort here is to shed light on the many work camps set up in Tunisia, Algeria and Libya during the war and show how thousands of Jews died in North Africa at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators. But the treatment was not universal. The Vichy government and the Italian government enacted race laws, but indiviudal local leaders didnt always extend the laws to Jews. However after 1941 the Nazis took an increasing role in North Africa, eventually sending the SS to round up and extort the Jews. In the end the Jews of North Africa and their communities which numbered some 300,000 were destroyed financially, stripped of rights and thrown out of all occupations, despite having been patriotic Frenchmen and Italians.

But the book aims to do something more than give us an intimate history of this. The author admits most Arab countries deny the Holocaust. However the view here is to examine the role of individual Arabs in saving Jews in North Africa so that Arab educators might be able to internalize the Holocaust as a heroic story of Arabs helping others, rather than the way it is taught as the Holocaust leading to the state of Israel.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Dai-keag-ity on January 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Before I go too deeply into this book, two general observations right off the top.

Firstly, considering all that has been written about the Second World War in its magnitude, to have a relatively untouched subject such as this be brought to light at this late date is truly welcome and laudable. Secondly, as I've often noted, an unfortunate side-effect of the coverage justifiably given to the evils of the Holocaust has been a certain infrequently-admitted desensitizing to the horror of the mass murder at its heart, and this new study of that period helps reawaken some comprehension of the utter dimension of cruelty that was behind the atrocities.

This book and its true stories of Arabs as rescuers of persecuted Jews (and sometimes as pro-Fascist collaborators who oppressed the Jews in North African labor camps) is a meaningful read for any scholar, or for the curious-minded. Telling tales of bravery in a time of great danger, there are many feel good moments, foremost Tunisian statesman Mohamed Chenik's clever and brave duel of wits and nerves with the occupying Nazis, courage on his part that saved Jewish lives, but there is also a scattering of disheartening tales, too, showing no culture has a monopoly on indecency.

I think anyone who deems peace between Jews and Arabs to be impossible would do well to consult the history recorded here. Not only is it a fact that traditionally Jews received better treatment when dwelling in Muslim nations than in Christian ones, but many Muslims regarded the slaying of Jews, identified in the Koran as "a People of the Book" to be a direct sin against God.
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