Leon Uris’ “The Haj”

Leon Uris published an historical novel in 1984 which he entitled The Haj.

The protagonist is a boy, Ishmael, who is growing up in a Bedouin Arab village, Tabah, in Palestine, now Israel.
Ishmael was a son of Ibrahim, the Muktar of Tabah; he had been born during the Palestinian riots of 1936, which were a violent resistance against British occupation of their land, and especially against the British policies which were allowing immigration of many Jews from Nazi Germany into Palestine.
The character Ishmael recalls political developments soon after World War II, in the mid-1940s, when he was about eleven years old. Here is an excerpt from page 157:

One night, just after the war ended, Radio Damascus broadcast news that death camps had been discovered in Germany and Poland. Many millions of Jews had been gassed to death by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. In the following days all the newspapers were filled with the revelation and every night on the radio it seemed another new dath camp was discovered. Radio Cairo said that Churchill, Roosevelt, and the holy Pope in Rome had already known about the death camps during the war but kept quiet about it and let the Nazis kill the Jews without protest….
I was still going to school at the time and in Ramle there were street celebrations over the death camps led by members of the Moslem Brotherhood. Mr. Salmi read surah after surah from the Koran to prove to us that the death camps were the fulfillment of Mahammed’s prophecy of the Day of the Burning of the Jews. It was all in the Koran, Mr. Salmi reasoned, so Mohammed obviously had a magical vision from Allah, and it proved the major point of Islam; what would happen to nonbelievers.


— from Leon Uris’ novel, The Haj,  published in 1984 by Doubleday and Sons

Glass half-Full

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