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Saturday, July 08, 2017
The Jews did not aid the Muslims in Spain
When I got Larry Gonick's Cartoon History Of The Universe part 3, it mentioned the Islamic invasion of Spain. Gonick assumed a consensus of late 1990s history-books, that the Jews had acted as a quinta columna. Gonick didn't deny it; instead, he excused it. Naturally the White Right has its own take.
When Gonick was writing, Norman Roth had already called shenanigans. The fact of eighth-century 'Islamic' Spain is that it was a damned mess. The first 'Muslims' who showed up were a ragtag band of Berbers and Arab adventurers, who did a lot of plunder but not a lot of ruling. The Arabophones left no contemporary records and precious little in the way of hadith. The Berbers were illiterate and the Jews were near-silent.
To the extent there was a common-tongue it was probably North African Romance (h/t zeca). Accordingly there survives a Hispanic Christian chronicle in Latin. But it mainly seems to be a translation of a Damascene Muslim text, with a very few local notices added in.
Last year I found some contemporary records of what was going on in late eighth-century Spain, over in France. The most credible military powers in Spain appear to have coalesced as an Umayyad exile-state, running the courts according to Awzaite jurisprudence. Azwa'i over in Syria was the last Umayyads' jihad-state jurist. Where did that leave the Jews under his legal system... er, badly.
Gonick's excuse for that Jewish collusion he'd assumed was that the old Visigothic king of Spain had been a bigot. And hey, why not; I am not here to defend Dark Age monarchy. But the Muslims were bigots too; Suras 3-5 were all in the Qur'an by the turn of the eighth century. If Umayyad jurisprudence was bad for the Jews in the 760s AD, it was probably bad in the 710s as well.
Given this model, one should expect a lot of silence from Jewish sources as they tried to avoid getting killed by any of the factions ravaging the Spanish countryside. This silence is exactly what we find. Maybe we could assume, with Andrew Anglin, and even with Larry Gonick(!), that modern Ashkenazi Jews hate Teutonic Christians just so much that Jewish treachery is to be suspected in the absence of evidence. But we are dealing with a different time in a different place with different Jews under different circumstances. So until further evidence comes to light I am siding with Norman Roth.
UPDATE 7/16/2017: Rep. Scalise followed Gonick's example.
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