The 10/7 attack, the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust, has revived debate on the nature of Islam. Is it true that “Islam is peace,” as President George W. Bush said after 9/11? Or is it basically a jihad against all non-Muslims, starting with the Jews? Fortunately, these questions have been explored in an accessible and entertaining way.
I could hear the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer but I didn’t hear nobody pray, man. No, I didn’t. And it’s a pretty miserable call too, let me tell you. GWAWAWAWAWAWAWAWAK. FNUHUHUHUHUHUH – glottal stop.
That’s the opener to The Marrakesh One-Two by Richard Grenier, published by Houghton Mifflin in 1983. In this tale, Hollywood producers aim to tap Arab petrodollars for a film about Mohammed.
“There were half a billion Moslems in the world, right?” says screenwriter Burt Nelson. “If we had our Bible epics why couldn’t they have their Koran epics?” So Burt gets busy reading the holy book of the Muslims.
“Reams of Allah is great, Allah is one, Allah is supreme,” Nelson finds. “And suddenly you run into, You are forbidden to take in marriage married women, except captives whom you own as slaves. And then more Allah is great and Allah is merciful, until you come to, Men have authority over women because Allah has made the one superior to the other and because they spend their wealth upon them. Good women are obedient. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them.”
Nelson also comes across “good solid stuff” like: “Those of you who divorce their wives by declaring them to be their mothers should know they are not their mothers. Their mothers are those who gave birth to them. The words they utter are unjust and false but Allah is forgiving and merciful. “Which was a good point to clear up,” Nelson says. “I mean, I was sure it had led to a lot of misunderstanding until Mohammed cleared it up.”
Mohammed “expels one tribe of Jews but they can take a little property. And then he expels another tribe of Jews, but they can’t take any property. And then he gets sore and figures they’ve really driven him too far, and when the last tribe of Jews surrenders he has the men slaughtered and the women and children taken as slaves. Allah is merciful, but not necessarily Mohammed, I guess.” And so on, a wild ride right to the end.
“The Arab world depicted with murderous realism,” reads the cover endorsement from Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the famous New York Democrat. On September 11, 2001, Grenier saw the murderous realism close at hand. The events of October 7, 2023 would not have surprised the author, who passed away in January of 2002.
At Harvard, where Grenier took graduate studies, anti-Semites are now baying for a second Holocaust. In these conditions, The Marrakesh One-Two is a timely Christmas gift for all readers. See also Grenier’s Capturing the Culture: Film Art and Politics, from 1991, and his first novel, Yes and Back Again, published in 1966.