English versionFrench version

CULTURE & HERITAGE - Culture & History

web Bat Yeor--469x239

JEWISH CULTURE N° 198 By Gilberte Jacaret

Bat Ye'or

Bat Ye'or (Hebrew: בת יאור‎, meaning "daughter of the Nile") is a pseudonym of Gisèle Littman, née Orebi, an Egyptian-born British writer and political commentator who writes about the history of Middle Eastern Christian and Jewish dhimmis living under Islamic government; In addition to these works, she has also has published works on European countries, such as Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis.

Due to her startling theories and much of her research being original, Ye'or has become a figure of controversy.

Personal and early life

Bat Ye'or was born into a Jewish family in Cairo, Egypt. She and her parents left Egypt in 1957 after the Suez War of 1956, arriving in London as stateless refugees. In 1958 she attended the Institute of Archaeology at University College, London, and moved to Switzerland in 1960 to continue her studies at the University of Geneva but never finished her master's degree and has never held an academic position.

She described her experiences in the following manner:
I had witnessed the destruction, in a few short years, of a vibrant Jewish community living in Egypt for over 2,600 years and which had existed from the time of Jeremiah the Prophet. I saw the disintegration and flight of families, dispossessed and humiliated, the destruction of their synagogues, the bombing of the Jewish quarters and the terrorizing of a peaceful population. I have personally experienced the hardships of exile, the misery of statelessness − and I wanted to get to the root cause of all this. I wanted to understand why the Jews from Arab countries, nearly a million, had shared my experience.
She was married to the British historian and human rights advocate David Littman from September 1959 until his death in May 2012. Many of her publications and works were in collaboration with Littman. Her British citizenship dates from her marriage. They moved to Switzerland in 1960 and together had three children.
She has provided briefings to the United Nations and the U.S. Congress and has given talks at major universities such as Georgetown, Brown, Yale, Brandeis, and Columbia.

Main Works:
Ye'or is known for employing the neologism dhimmitude, which she discusses in detail in Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide. She credits assassinated Lebanese president-elect and Phalangist militia leader Bachir Gemayel with coining the term. The term itself is made up of the word "dhimmi", which means "protected" in Arabic and "refers to the legal and social conditions of Jews and Christians living under Islamic rule"

The neologism dhimmitude bears purposely some phonetic resemblance with the word servitude; servitude exists both in French and English languages; dhimmitude was intentionally invented in place of the French "dhimmité" or the English "dhimmity", which might have been the words associated to "dhimma" in a non-polemical setting.
Ye'or describes dhimmitude as the "specific social condition that resulted from jihad," and as the "state of fear and insecurity" of "infidels" who are required to "accept a condition of humiliation." She believes that "the dhimmi condition can only be understood in the context of Jihad," and studies the relationship between the theological tenets of Islam and the hardships of Christians and Jews under Islamic rule in different times and places. The cause of jihad, she argues, "was fomented around the 8th century by Muslim theologians after the death of Muhammad and led to the conquest of large swathes of three continents over the course of a long history."

She says: Dhimmitude is the direct consequence of jihad. It embodie[s] all the Islamic laws and customs applied over a millennium on the vanquished population, Jews and Christians, living in the countries conquered by jihad and therefore Islamized. [We can observe a] return of the jihad ideology since the 1960s, and of some dhimmitude practices in Muslim countries applying the sharia [Islamic] law, or inspired by it. I stress ... the incompatibility between the concept of tolerance as expressed by the jihad-dhimmitude ideology, and the concept of human rights based on the equality of all human beings and the inalienability of their rights.
Though Bat Ye'or acknowledges that not all Muslims subscribe to so-called "militant jihad theories of society," she argues that the role of sharia in the 1990 Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam demonstrates that what she calls a perpetual war against those who won't submit to Islam is still an "operative paradigm" in Islamic countries.

Reception and criticism

According to Daniel Pipes, Bat Ye'or has traced a nearly secret history of Europe over the past thirty years, convincingly showing how the Euro-Arab Dialogue has blossomed from a minor discussion group into the engine for the continent's Islamization. In delineating this phenomenon, she also provides the intellectual resources with which to resist it. Will her message be listened to?


Her books Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis and Europe, Globalization, and the Coming of the Universal Caliphate are about the alleged relationship from the 1970s onwards between the European Union (previously the European Economic Community) and the Arab states. Ye'or claims that the alleged influence of Islam, anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism over European culture and politics is a product of a collaboration between radical Arabs and Muslims, on one hand, and fascists, socialists, Nazis, anti-Semitic rulers of Europe, on the other hand. Bat Ye'or popularized the use of term "Eurabia" in the sense of: Eurabia is a geo-political reality envisaged in 1973 through a system of informal alliances between, on the one hand, the nine countries of the European Community (EC) which, enlarged, became the European Union (EU) in 1992 and on the other hand, the Mediterranean Arab countries. The alliances and agreements were elaborated at the top political level of each EC country with the representative of the European Commission, and their Arab homologues with the Arab League's delegate. This system was synchronized under the roof of an association called the Euro-Arab Dialogue (EAD) created in July 1974 in Paris. A working body composed of committees and always presided jointly by a European and an Arab delegate planned the agendas, and organized and monitored the application of the decisions.

Source: Wikipedia