Do NOT mess with this woman No, Oriana Fallaci was not Jewish. However, she has written books and articles that have lent her prominence to the defense of Israel and to an attack on Israel’s enemies. We have covered her writing before. She had this to say about Yasser Arafat:

I find it shameful that many Italians and many Europeans have chosen as their standard-bearer the gentleman (or so it is polite to say) Arafat. This nonentity who thanks to the money of the Saudi Royal Family plays the Mussolini ad perpetuum and in his megalomania believes he will pass into History as the George Washington of Palestine. This ungrammatical wretch who when I interviewed him was unable even to put together a complete sentence, to make articulate conversation. So that to put it all together, write it, publish it, cost me a tremendous effort and I concluded that compared to him even Ghaddafi sounds like Leonardo da Vinci. This false warrior who always goes around in uniform like Pinochet, never putting on civilian garb, and yet despite this has never participated in a battle. War is something he sends, has always sent, others to do for him. That is, the poor souls who believe in him. This pompous incompetent who playing the part of Head of State caused the failure of the Camp David negotiations, Clinton’s mediation.

Plus que ca change…

Here is the article directly: Fallaci on antisemitism.

She was 76 years old. She will be sorely missed.

About the author

themiddle

20 Comments

  • Well, it’s sad to lose a defender of Jews, but her Islamophobic comments I won’t be missing. May God have mercy upon her soul.

  • Today it’s a bad day for those of us who believe in freedom, democracy and Western values. I’m sure the Islamist are laughing, the pseudo-communist dictators are throwing a party and most of Westerners youth are still “lazi, irresponsible and unknown of their heritage”.
    In times like this, when voices like her are needed, it’s really sad to lose her.
    We should give her the title of “Just among the Nations”, because when left wing europeans choose to be silent, she stands up to defend Israel.

  • I’d have reservations about that title, Gabriel. If she was a champion of justice and peace everywhere, I’d agree. Alas, her defense was short sighted and narrow-minded. I’d prefer that title for MLK, Jr., or even Marilyn Monroe, who in the last days of her life, began to speak out against injustice everywhere.

  • May Gd bless her !! She told the truth and suffered for it. Arafat was a swine and may his name be blotted out !!

  • Nakia, she WAS a champion of justice and peace everywhere: she critized both muslims and jews (and chrsitians and atheists), left-wingers and right-wingers!!
    She wasn’t Islamophobe, she was against intolerant jihadist Islam (as I am). As a progressive muslim, I think the first thing you should do is to critize your fellow Muslims who devote each day to think about new innovative ways of blowing themselves!
    Falacci is one of the most lucid writers, and her defense of Europe is amazing!

  • Oyster, leave Gabriel alone. He’s from Argentina, so English is not his first language. He still speaks it very well, but to expect him to eradicate dangling modifiers? Don’t make me come over there and give you what for. Gabriel is also launching a cool magazine in Spanish. You’ll be hearing about that soon, no doubt…

  • Gabriel, I don’t tolerate anyone who orders me about with no knowledge of what I do, non-native English speaker or no. Why don’t you Google me, and see if you feel the need to order me about again? I’ve better things to do than put up with presumptious, arrogant men.

  • Nakia, let me tell you that I DID read your blog. That’s why I think that YOU, who call yourself a progressive muslim, should be the first one who denounce what people of your religion do in the name of Allah and Muhammad (PBUH).
    Me, I’m a regular Jew (maybe crazier than the average), although some would call me a “progressive” or “liberal” Jew. And I denounce the Igal Amirs or Baruch Goldsteins of my people. And I hate the guys from Kach. And so on.
    And I think the answer to Islamism lies in the hands of “moderate Muslim” as the media calls those Muslims who don’t want to throw me to the sea. You have more power to stop the fundamentalist than all the armies of the world…
    Going back to the story: Falacci was not Islamophobe. She was a great journalist and writer, who hated fascism: Hitler’s, Mussolini’s or the Ayatollah’s.
    She wasn’t Islamophobe. She just hated the arrogance with which lots of muslims who inmigrated to Europe are trying to (for example):
    * Forbid that Dante Alighieri be taught in Italian schools (because in one of his books he speaks about Muhammad)
    * Burn thousands of cars in Paris and a couple of government-funded schools (and kill some people too), while they yell “Allahu Hakbar”.
    * Cut their daughter’s clitoris… (lovely tradition) or kill them if they want to hang out with non-muslims
    * etc (if you want more details, PLEASE read falacci’s last three books)

    We Jews have always inmigrants. My grandparents came to Argentina, and although they kept their traditions, they didn’t try to impose anything on the larger society ’cause we believe dina malchut dina (the law of the land is the law).
    Or to put in another words, “when you go to Rome, you act like the Romans”. That means that if your society is incapable of keeping a stable economy (partly because its wasting millions on anti-Israel guns) and you have to run to Europe, please, don’t lose your traditions, but also try to adapt to the countries that host you: don’t shit their churches, don’t rape their women (in Norway, two thirds of the violations are made by the “Middle Asia-Origin” population (which consist of 3% of the population)), etc.

    Esther thanks for defending this not-so-good-english-speaking Jew. Although I must tell you that my magazine, STAM!, will have it’s four number in the streets before Iom Kipur. It’s bimensual, and soon it’ll be on the internet (www.revistastam.com.ar) for those of you who understand Spanish.
    Nakia, if you want I’ll translate you my “presumptious, arrogant” article in last STAM! where I criticize the extremism among Jews (which, by the way, was the real cause of the destruction of the Second Temple because they pushed the whole People to the last fight against the Romans instead of trying to negotiatie inside the Temple’s walls).
    I live in a country where there are really few muslims. But every day on the TV there is a so-called-Sheik who spits so many anti-semitic lies that would make Hitler (or The Muffti) proud. And I’m still waiting for ONE (or a couple if you please) ARAB or MUSLIM who can publicly speak against him. please, at least one! I know that argentinean arabs are not anti-semitic, because I befriend some. But there is not ONE who has the balls to stand up and say “Islamists go against my beliefs. Israel is not a monster thirsty of arab blood (SIC by this sheik), etc”.

    Without Oriana Falacci, Europe is closer to the hands of Islamists and europeans are further from apreciating their beatiful culture. This is a sad Shabbat and I hope my sadness will go before Rosh Hashana…

  • Gabriel, you did not follow my directions, so you speak out of ignorance. Until you actually know who your interlocutor is and what she is saying, I highly recommend that you listen instead of commanding.

  • Oriana Fallaci was willing to speak important truths — political correctness be damned. For this she deserves enormous credit. Unfortunately, she also happened to indulge in demagoguery and bigotry. Just look at these awful passages from a profile of her in The New Yorker:

    “‘I don’t love the Mexicans,’ Fallaci said, invoking her nasty treatment at the hands of Mexican police in 1968. ‘If you hold a gun and say, “Choose who is worse between the Muslims and the Mexicans,” I have a moment of hesitation. Then I choose the Muslims, because they have broken my balls.'”

    “She spoke of a new mosque and Islamic center planned for Colle di Val d’Elsa, near Siena. She vowed that it would not remain standing. ‘If I’m alive, I will go to my friends in Carrara—you know, where there is the marble. They are all anarchists. With them, I take the explosives. I make you juuump in the air. I blow it up! With the anarchists of Carrara. I do not want to see this mosque—it’s very near my house in Tuscany. I do not want to see a twenty-four-metre minaret in the landscape of Giotto. When I cannot even wear a cross or carry a Bible in their country! So I BLOW IT UP!'”

    Link to Article

    It’s important to have people who are willing to speak up loudly and clearly against Islamic extremists. But it’s important that those who do so not be extremists themselves.

    TM, if you were going to hail Fallaci’s virtues, you really should have also frankly acknowledged her considerable vices as well.

  • Thank you, Daniel for pointing this out. It’s a shame that someone who could have used her considerable talents for even more good used them in this way, but at least she wasn’t Yvonne Ridley. (That woman is an Islamophobe’s wet dream.) Here’s my question: where are our activists, scholars, and leaders who don’t engage in apologetics and polemics, and seek greater human connections, and how can we make more of them?

  • I dunno, Daniel. Was she a bigot? I’m not sure. Demagogue, maybe, but bigot?

    She was willing to attack Islamism as you noted without political correctness. She probably was able to do so because of her unique past and relative seniority in age – simply, she had nobody to answer to. But unlike you and I, she actually met many Arab and Muslim leaders, including Arafat and Khomeini, and formed her opinions in those encounters.

    Bur her dislike of the Muslims in recent books is based upon her conception of Islam as having embarked on another stage in a war of civilizations. She rejects what she perceives they would like to foist upon her and her society. In fact she rejects the notion that she is a bigot:

    According to Fallaci, Europeans, particularly those on the political left, subject people who criticize Muslim customs to a double standard. “If you speak your mind on the Vatican, on the Catholic Church, on the Pope, on the Virgin Mary or Jesus or the saints, nobody touches your ‘right of thought and expression.’ But if you do the same with Islam, the Koran, the Prophet Muhammad, some son of Allah, you are called a xenophobic blasphemer who has committed an act of racial discrimination.

    That is more or less your take on her. But her views stem from her politics and her feminism:

    “I am convinced that the situation is politically substantially the same as in 1938, with the pact in Munich, when England and France did not understand a thing. With the Muslims, we have done the same thing.” She elaborated, in an e-mail, “Look at the Muslims: in Europe they go on with their chadors and their burkas and their djellabahs. They go on with the habits preached by the Koran, they go on with mistreating their wives and daughters. They refuse our culture, in short, and try to impose their culture, or so-called culture, on us. . . . I reject them, and this is not only my duty toward my culture. Toward my values, my principles, my civilization. It is not only my duty toward my Christian roots. It is my duty toward freedom and toward the freedom fighter I am since I was a little girl fighting as a partisan against Nazi-Fascism. Islamism is the new Nazi-Fascism. With Nazi-Fascism, no compromise is possible. No hypocritical tolerance. And those who do not understand this simple reality are feeding the suicide of the West.”

    Also her dislike of Mexicans came from personal experience:

    …she describes the events of October, 1968, in Mexico City, when soldiers shot and bayonetted hundreds of anti-government protesters. Fallaci was detained with a group of students, and was ultimately shot three times. “In war, you’ve really got a chance sometimes, but here we had none,” she writes. “The wall they’d put us up against was a place of execution; if you moved the police would execute you, if you didn’t move the soldiers would kill you, and for many nights afterward I was to have this nightmare, the nightmare of a scorpion surrounded by fire, unable even to try to jump through the fire because if it did so it would be pierced through.” Dragged down the stairs by her hair and left for dead, Fallaci was ultimately taken to a hospital, where she underwent surgery to remove the bullets. One of the doctors who cared for her came close and murmured, “Write all you’ve seen. Write it!” She did, becoming a crucial witness to a massacre that the Mexican government denied for years.

    So I am afraid it isn’t so simple to simply attack her as a bigot. I don’t agree with the strength of her attacks on all Muslims, but she doesn’t believe that moderates as defined by the West exist. Does that make her a bigot? From the article:

    I started wondering if Fallaci would tolerate any Muslim immigration, or any mosque in Europe, so I asked her these questions by e-mail, and she sent back lengthy replies. “The tolerance level was already surpassed fifteen or twenty years ago,” she wrote, “when the Left let the Muslims disembark on our coasts by the thousands. And it is well known . . . that I do not accept the mendacity of the so-called Moderate Islam. I do not believe that a Good Islam and a Bad Islam exist. Only Islam exists. And Islam is the Koran. And the Koran says what it says. Whatever its version. Of course there are exceptions. Also, considering the mathematical calculation of probabilities, some good Muslims must exist. I mean Muslims who appreciate freedom and democracy and secularism. But, as I say in the ‘Apocalypse,’ . . . good Muslims are few. So tragically few, in fact, that they must go around with bodyguards.” (Here she mentioned Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born former member of the Dutch parliament, whom Holland, shamefully, declared last month that it would strip of her citizenship, citing an irregularity in her 1997 asylum application.) She wrote that she found my question about whether she would tolerate any mosques in Europe “insidious” and “offensive,” because it “aims to portray me as the bloodthirsty fanatics, who during the French Revolution beheaded even the statues of the Holy Virgin and of Jesus Christ and the Saints. Or as the equally bloodthirsty fanatics of the Bolshevik Revolution, who burned the icons and executed the clergymen and used the churches as warehouses. Really, no honest person can suggest that my ideas belong to that kind of people. I am known for a life spent in the struggle for freedom, and freedom includes the freedom of religion. But the struggle for freedom does not include the submission to a religion which, like the Muslim religion, wants to annihilate other religions. Which wants to impose its ‘Mein Kampf,’ its Koran, on the whole planet. Which has done so for one thousand and four hundred years. That is, since its birth. Which, unlike any other religion, slaughters and decapitates or enslaves all those who live differently.”

  • Most bigots would deny that they are so, and the quotes above do demonstrate some bigotry. Some examples:
    “But the struggle for freedom does not include the submission to a religion which, like the Muslim religion, wants to annihilate other religions. Which wants to impose its ‘Mein Kampf,’ its Koran, on the whole planet. Which has done so for one thousand and four hundred years. That is, since its birth. Which, unlike any other religion, slaughters and decapitates or enslaves all those
    who live differently.”
    “good Muslims are few” (she then goes on to deem Ayan Hirsi Ali, an ex-Muslim, as a “good Muslim”, kind of like the only-good-Indian-is-a-dead-Indian-deal.)
    “If I’m alive, I will go to my friends in Carrara—you know, where there is the marble. They are all anarchists. With them, I take the explosives. I make you juuump in the air. I blow it up! With the anarchists of Carrara. I do not want to see this mosque—it’s very near my house in Tuscany. I do not want to see a twenty-four-metre minaret in the landscape of Giotto. When I cannot even wear a cross or carry a Bible in their country! So I BLOW IT UP!”
    Yeah, so she was outspoken, sometimes for good, sometimes not.

  • TM, I generally respect your views. (And I’m particularly impressed by how prolific you are and how quickly you’re able to compose such a lengthy reply!) That said, I don’t quite understand why you’re carrying water for Fallaci.

    Sure, Fallaci had reason to be mad. But it seems to have driven her mad. I don’t believe in pulling punches when it comes to criticizing extremism. But suggesting, as Fallaci did, that the “sons of Allah breed like rats” and calling for a mosque to be blown up is way beyond the pale. One can criticize extremism without falling prey to it. (And no, I’m not drawing any moral equivalencies between Fallaci and the even worse rhetoric emanating from many corners of the Muslim world.)

    There are plenty of people out there who manage to level honest, forceful, unapologetic critiques of Islamic extremism without indulging in the sort of hateful rhetoric that mars Fallaci’s record. Some of them are proud Muslims. In North America, people like Mona Eltahawy, Irshad Manji, Tarek Massoud, Ahmed al-Rahim, and Zainab Al-Suwaij come to mind (a diverse group, to be sure).

  • Nakia, you asked: “where are our activists, scholars, and leaders who don’t engage in apologetics and polemics, and seek greater human connections, and how can we make more of them?” Are you familiar with the American Islamic Congress? The people who have been invovled with that group always impressed me. Do you have any thoughts on them?

  • Daniel and Nakia, fair enough. I certainly don’t condone her harshest comments, and also don’t believe I’ve “carried water” for her. I do hope I’ve given some of her remarks context. Between this post, our conversation and the excellent New Yorker article, I believe people can judge for themselves where she stood and why.

    Oh, as to the lengthy reply, you too can emulate me by…cutting and pasting patches of other people’s writing…

  • Daniel, I’m not as familiar with the AIC as I’d like to be, so I can’t say much about what they do. They are, however, new and small, so that accounts for the fact that they haven’t made much of a splash in Muslim communities. I will make it a point to learn more about their activities, however.
    Irshad Manji has irritated many Muslims by basically pretending that she’s the only person speaking on the issues that she is talking about, and displaying vast amounts of ignorance on the issues of which she speaks. If she had taken the time to familiarize herself with basic works on contemporary Muslim scholarship, Israeli-Palestinian relations, or even the work of GLBT Muslims to establish safe spaces, she’d be much more admired. As it is, she dismisses or disregards far better work than she produces, to her detriment.

  • Thanks, TM, for posting all this. There is so much florid and wild language on the other side, that we can stand one person talking a bit wild and wooly, on the European side. It’s called hyperbole. We can handle that.

    Any way, she was right about the people she put down, the preening, highly paid leaders.

    It’s free country, right?

    The Jews can use one loudmouth on their side. They are so genteel, so well bred, so respectful. Really. They are.

    Anyway, she got to be 76 or 77 years old, which is not bad at all, when you consider how she lived – smoking like a chimney and spitting at the powerful. She didn’t die prematurely. And nobody got her, only cancer.

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