From Empathy to Denial

Arab Responses to the Holocaust

January 2012 9781850659242 416pp
Temporarily out of stock
January 2012 9781849041553 416pp
Temporarily out of stock


Based on years of research conducted mostly in Arabic sources, Meir Litvak and Ester Webman track the evolution of post-World War II perceptions of the Holocaust and their parallel emergence in the wake of the Arab-Israeli conflict of 1948. Following the establishment of the State of Israel, Arab attitudes toward the Holocaust became entangled with broader anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic sentiments. Litvak and Webman track this discourse through the work of leading intellectuals and turn to representations of the Holocaust in the media and culture of Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and among the Palestinian people. Their chronological history, which spans sixty years, provides a remarkable perspective on the origins, development, and tenaciousness of anti-
Holocaust belief. 


Winner of the 2010 Washington Institute Book Prize

‘Litvak and Webman’s work constitutes a huge step forward in scholarship on Arab attitudes vis-a-vis the Holocaust. It fills a major gap in our knowledge by providing a detailed survey and systematic analysis of the key themes on the issue, in a detached, scholarly manner. … In a sweep of research that covers the sixty-plus year period from the end of the Second World War to the present-day, Litvak and Webman thoroughly mine Arab public commentary on the Holocaust in books, journals, magazines and newspapers to present a clear, compelling yet nuanced portrait of the various strands of Arab attitudes on the issue and how they developed over the decades, especially in reaction to critical milestones in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Indeed, their principal finding “that Arab attitudes keep pace with the evolution of that conflict” underscores the organic connection between history and politics that continues to dominate the Middle East today.’ — Robert Satloff, Director, The Washington Institute, author, Among the Righteous: Lost Stories of the Holocaust’s Long Reach into Arab Lands

‘This is an important and exceptionally well researched book, one that, despite being completely non-political, will immediately become part of the contemporary discourse about Israel/Arab relations.’  — Deborah Lipstadt, Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University

‘Litvak and Webman have produced an outstanding and timely piece of scholarship on this very sensitive and vitally important topic.’ — Francis R. Nicosia, H-German

‘[An] important new book.’ — Jeffrey Herf, The Chronicle of Higher Education

‘An excellently documented and exceptionally objective book chronicling the evolution of Arab perceptions of the Holocaust.’ — Hilal Khashan, Shofar

‘A painstakingly researched and documented description of the Holocaust as seen by the Arab world… the first truly comprehensive study of this painful topic, it makes for a reading as necessary as it is painful.’ — The Muslim World Book Review


Esther Webman is a research fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, Tel Aviv University.

Meir Litvak is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Middle Eastern and African History, Tel Aviv University and is the author of Shi‘i Scholars in 19th Century Iraq: The Shi‘i ‘Ulama of Najaf and Karbala.

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