“The world should not sway on holding thugs and rogue leaders accountable for their behavior.” — former Israeli prime minister (and notorious thug) Ehud Barak. The Washington Post, July 20, 2001
A day before three Palestinians, including a three-month baby, were shot to death by Jewish settlers, Daniel Pipes of the National Post (7/18/2001) recommended that the Israeli government intensify the brutality of the occupation. Pipes is one of those Jewish Lobby armchair generals who have swamped the air waves and major newspapers with an assortment of recommendations for new forms of collective punishments against the Palestinian citizens of the West Bank and Gaza. Among the war crimes he is recommending to the Israelis is that they accelerate the pace of economic warfare against the population and “permit no transportation of people or goods beyond basic necessities. Shut off utilities to the PA. Raze the PA’s illegal offices in Jerusalem, its security infrastructure, and villages from which attacks are launched. Capture or otherwise dispose of the PA leadership. Destroy the PA. Reach separate deals with each Palestinian town or village”. Read that again and notice that he is advocating ‘Razing villages’ a la Lidice.
Whatever Daniel is putting in his pipe, it appears that a substantial majority of American Jewish pundits are nodding their heads with the standard Amen corner repertoire. In the name of being politically correct, an intellectually dishonest America has seen fit to overlook the pervasive bigotry in the American Jewish community. What perverse logic allows the same writers and pundits who propagate anti-Arab racist rhetoric to so easily masquerade as ‘liberals’ on other social and ethnic issues? It stands to reason that an individual who is prone to defaming Palestinians is just as easily inclined to be anti-Black or anti-Asian or Anti-immigrant.
Take Hillary’s campaign for the Senate and its open appeal to anti-Arab Jewish bigotry in New York. It guaranteed the Jewish vote and the all-important Jewish campaign contributions. And that was good enough for Hillary. That particular campaign proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the ‘Jewish liberal’ is a myth of another age. Two generations ago, when many Eastern European Jews were working class garment workers, the American Jewish community had a direct interest in strong unions and class solidarity. Jewish participation in the Civil Rights movement was at least partly motivated by getting rid of the last legal barriers to full citizenship for Jews. Even as late as the sixties, special covenants in real estate contracts prohibited resale to those of the Jewish faith. Many Ivy League schools had “Jewish quotas”. Now that they are the most powerful minority in American history, they have a new attitude.
So, it is fair enough to assume that the prominent presence of many Jewish intellectuals in the Civil Rights struggle was motivated by the fact that it was beneficial for the Jews. It is also well to remember that a majority of ‘Jewish leftist intellectuals’, even of that era, were staunch Zionists. There are good reasons why anti-Arab racial stereotyping in Hollywood manages to thrive in an era when members of the American Jewish community heavily influence our mass media. The machinery that defines modern American culture, heavily influenced by wealthy Jewish media barons, appears quite at ease in systematically propagating racist attitudes against American minorities, especially African-Americans, Asians, Arabs and Hispanics.
So what purpose does it serve to point out these obvious social problems in the Jewish community? Well, Its a reality check to confront those impossible ‘ American Jewish liberals’ who have no problem with Israeli military occupation and the historic crime of dispossessing the Palestinians of their patrimony. It takes a certain amount of crude and chronic ethnic bias for these ‘liberals’ to make common cause with a war criminal like Ariel Sharon of Sabra and Shatila and Qibya. It is essential that those of us who have observed this unique American ethnic phenomenon leave a clear historic record of the Jewish community ‘leaders’ who have become unabashed advocates on behalf of Israel, right or wrong, right-wing or extreme right-wing. It amounts to a very bad case of state worship. If you deconstruct many of their arguments, you find that they essentially rely on Jewish supremacy or ‘exceptionalism’. It is hard to mistake the constant appeal to the darker side of our American natures by these media lords, like Sulzberger and Conrad Black, who see themselves as merely doing odd jobs for the Israeli state.
It never fails to amaze me that these ‘mainstream’ Pro-Israeli Jewish groups, even the self-anointed ‘progressive’ organizations, never take into account that a few million Arab-Americans are in the audience, many of them of Palestinian origin. They know that we, their fellow American citizens, pay a price when they resort to the arson of defamation to market every Israeli crime as being “the only way to deal with Arabs”. Making life miserable for Arab-Americans, is not something they ever stop to consider. Indeed, part of their ‘Israel First’ agenda is to permanently freeze Arab-Americans out of the American mainstream. It is unfortunate that so many Americans of Arab origin have come to accept their ‘invisible’ political status. Although, given the power of the Jewish community, it is not an entirely irrational decision for Arab-Americans to consider the political process off limits. We have an American political class that transparently and flagrantly responds only to those who show them the money. Even if we could compete in that game, we would only be contributing to the continued corruption of an already severely compromised political machine.
Which brings me to the constant talk of the Holocaust, which seems to intensify when Israelis are in a particularly vicious mood against the natives in the Palestinian colonies. I don’t understand the Holocaust any more than I understand Pol Pot and the killing fields of Cambodia. Neither do I understand the Inquisition or what we did to our native people in this country. As an American of Egyptian origin, there is nothing in the 6000 years of recorded Egyptian history that compares with the Holocaust. It’s a modern European thing that we don’t understand. Yet, I would still caution that it is not wise to compare the Holocaust and the Nakba.
Those Palestinians, who out of rage, have seen fit to deny the magnitude of the Holocaust, are denying a crime that the perpetrators have already confessed to. If the Germans have admitted the Holocaust; what possible benefit does a Palestinian or Arab gain from denying another people’s crime, especially this well-documented crime. Indeed, such denial allows Israeli apologists to claim that some Palestinians are retroactively complicit.
Having said that, if we measure everything by the Holocaust, we allow for a very wide margin of evil to go unnoticed. Consider how the media has ignored Sharon’s record as a war criminal and the Russian atrocities in Chechnya. Putin gets all dressed up and shows up at the G-8 summit in Italy and the big ‘media’ worry is the Koyoto Treaty. While he slowly chokes the Palestinians, Sharon is hailed for his ‘restraint’. As Milosovic’s goons were slaughtering tens of thousands of Bosnians, Croatians and Kosovars, Elie Wiesel was busy objecting to how we shouldn’t compare the evil in the Balkans with the Holocaust. Even as they dig up mass graves on an almost daily basis, it is still considered polite conversation to debate whether America should have intervened to put an end to ‘ethnic cleansing’. Why exactly are these American ‘liberals’ and ‘leftists’ so concerned about Milosovic being tried at the Hague? Which chapter in his book of war crimes did they miss? And did they miss it out of concern for the fate of Israeli war criminals? Is there a deal between the Israeli lobby and Putin? Why all the hush hush about the vicious campaign to decimate the Chechens?
If Putin had the audacity to kill a dozen Russian Jews, he would be facing an economic embargo from the leaders of the G-8 summit. They would convert back to the G-7 summit in a New York minute. If enough Bosnians had been of the Jewish faith, how far would Milosovic have been allowed to go with his diabolical plans? If the Palestinians were East Timorese, what American ethnic group would stand up and demand that America subsidize the military machine that is used to repress them? Do we constantly dwell on the horrors Germans inflicted on the Jews, nearly six decades ago, so that Israelis can pulverize the Palestinians with impunity tomorrow morning? How exactly do American Jews and Israelis account for the fact that the architects of the Nakba, the expulsion of the Palestinians in 1948, drew up their designs to vacate Palestine of its native people long before Hitler was born? To continue to rationalize Zionism as a consequence of Nazi atrocities is a strange historic delusion. History has one timeline that can not be bent to suit Israeli mythology.
Neither should we forget that the Nazis also tormented Gypsies and nearly a million of them perished in concentration camps, as did many non-Jewish Slavs and other minorities and more than a few German dissidents. In Babi Yar, fully half the victims were non-Jews. To this day, the Gypsies continue to suffer gross discrimination, especially in Eastern Europe. Now, If we were to propose a Gypsy ‘solution’ along the lines of Zionism, we would need some little defenseless country that can be vacated to accommodate ‘Gypsy national aspirations’. Which little country do we expect to volunteer to alleviate the suffering of the Gypsies by giving up their homeland and settling in refugee camps?
The Israelis have latched onto the Holocaust as a carte blanche to do with the Palestinians as they please. It serves no purpose for Palestinian and their allies to contest the burdens of Jewish collective suffering in Europe. What we should object to is the notion that Palestinians should be designated to pay a price for other people’s crimes. The Holocaust was a crime by Europeans against Europeans based on a test of faith and ethnicity. Zionism is a crime by Europeans against an ancient native Middle Easterner people, based on a test of faith and ethnicity. There was no justification for either crime. And those who stand up for either crime should be recognized and confronted for what they are; racist pond scum. Stuff that in your pipe, Daniel.
The most essential thing about the Holocaust is that it was inflicted on individual Jews, one Jew at a time and on Gypsies, one Gypsy at a time. Is that not what makes the diary of Anne Frank so compelling? What possible motive justifies the crime against Anne Frank. What possible motive justifies the crime against Muhammad Dura or the 500 other Palestinians who were killed by the latest Israeli criminal repression in the West Bank and Gaza? Why is no one alarmed by Israeli crowd control methods that have the deliberate intent of killing and maiming teenagers with bullets to the head, neck and back? It takes incredible effort for the Israelis and their American-Jewish supporters to market this permanent state of aggression against the Palestinian people. The campaign to demonize the Palestinians for their ‘bad behavior’ in resisting the daily indignities of a murderous land-thieving foreign military dictatorship is a major international project. Once you strip down Zionist dogma to its essence, the Palestinians are basically being punished for abandoning their attachment to their ‘original’ aboriginal monotheistic Hebrew teachings and adopting Christianity and Islam. They are being punished for being culturally Arabized.
Consider the Egyptians, another ancient people, who were conquered by Arabs and adopted their ways. There is very little left of ancient Egyptian culture in daily Egyptian life. The average Egyptian has scant knowledge about ancient Egyptian gods and religious rites. He would recognize hardly a word of the language spoken by his pyramid building ancestors. If a group of Nefertiti worshipping French cultists were to demand a homeland for ‘Egyptophiles’ on the shores of the Nile, would we expect the Egyptian people to just shuffle off to some other land? Would such a demand not prompt a spirited and legitimate native resistance to such a notion. Well, the Palestinians are as ancient a people as the Egyptians and the Greeks and the Lebanese and the Syrians. The sanctity of their ancient villages and towns should never have been violated in the first place. Does the cultural transformation of Egypt entitle anyone to remove Egyptians from their native soil? Don’t bother to ask Israelis that question. I don’t want to know their answer. Barak, who passes for an Israeli dove, is currently on a propaganda tour for Sharon. Part of his bag of tricks is to keep on repeating racist drivel about how he can make a deal with a Scandinavian based on a hand shake but not with Arabs and about the ‘neighborhood’ and the ‘neighbors’. That is his evasive answer to any and all questions. It is not a lack of focus on the part of Barak. The whole idea is to slander the Palestinians to justify continued Israeli repression and continued American support.
So, given this background of Israeli behavior, how should Palestinians feel about the Jews who have ‘returned’? The Palestinians are fully entitled to remember Israeli motives, which are clearly pronounced in their Zionist ideological literature, whether it is authored by Begin or Ben Gurion or Jabotinsky or Barak. Even the Israeli ‘left’ is not immune to dabbling in the Zionist mythology of an ‘ancient people returning to an empty land’. With the constant violent encroachment by messianic settlers, the Palestinians have been given daily reminders of what Zionist dreams are made of. The Zionists were idealists and zealots who wanted to build a ‘dream country’ and were willing to waste another people’s country to do it. Before we all kiss and make up, let us at least pause for a moment of historic atonement. If only to avoid heaping additional insults to the multiple injuries of the Palestinian people.
Is it too much to ask for a little restraint on the racist ranting of Israelis and American Jews who continue to insist that they had a God-given right to ‘transfer’ the Palestinians to make room for ‘their people’? Is it not entirely poor manners to not take into account how a Palestinian might feel about the instant ‘portability’ of his people. Most Arabs can accept that the Israelis are now in Palestine in large numbers and that they need to be accommodated. I will grant that no one is responsible for the sins of their fathers. But I will go to my grave with the concrete knowledge that these Eastern European Yiddish immigrants came uninvited and with the devious and indecent intent to displace the native people and destroy their way of life. They didn’t just declare their intentions; they erased hundreds of Palestinian towns and villages from the face of the earth.
Upon the ruined homes of this defenseless peasant society, they succeeded in building their Jewish supremacist state and, like Abba Eban stated, it is not Monaco. It is a nuclear-armed pseudo-theocracy with democracy for Jews, just like Apartheid South Africa was a democracy for Whites. Israel does not need Palestinian approval and it certainly does not merit Palestinian approval. As a very first step towards reconciliation, The Israelis and their American-Jewish supporters need to knock off the insulting Nakba denial rubbish. A minimal requirement for peace is that they stop being so brutally rude about this particular subject. No self-respecting Palestinian, and they are a very proud people, will ever accept that his ancient villages and towns should have been erased from the face of the earth to accommodate European Zionist aspirations.
Moving on to a solution that takes a full accounting of the fact that Israelis are born into a racist society and can’t help themselves from being bone-deep bigots. The whole reason for a two-state solution, and the occasional honest Israeli will say as much, is that Israelis still fantasize about an eternal Jewish Supremacist state. The difference between a dove and a hawk comes down to the amount of real estate needed to achieve this Zionist Nirvana. It is folly of certain idealistic Palestinians to expect that the Israelis will miraculously overcome their very deeply ingrained racism over night. They get it at school, at the dining table, from their political parties, in the army, from the radio, at the café, on the tube, from their elites, from their low lives, whether they are Russian or Ethiopian or Morrocan, when the sun shines, when it rains, from their leftists and from the right wingers, every day of the year. On top of all that, they get constant affirmation from the American Jewish bigots on this side of the pond. Bigotry is a fixture in the Israeli national character by ideological design and by a state inculcated culture that disparages the native people of Palestine. This is one of the Zionists ‘facts on the ground’, a deliberate top-down campaign to justify Jewish dominance over the Palestinians and the creeping annexation of their lands.
That is also the primary reason why I advocate a two-state solution. Israeli arrogance, belligerency, land theft and attempted cultural genocide have not exactly endeared the Jews to the Palestinians. So, it should surprise no one that the majority of Palestinians want to live apart from the Israelis, for their own sense of personal safety and for the welfare of their kids. It will allow them to authentically recreate some of what was lost, some of what could have been if the wheels of fortune had not trampled on their destiny; a place with Palestinian museums to commemorate the incredible tragedy of this long suffering people. A country where they are first class citizens; a shelter land to heal from the agonies of five decades of exile and military repression. A place where the dabka is the national dance, Arabic is the national language and Levantine traditions are woven into the fabric of daily life. A small slice of the planet under the sky, where a Palestinian child can fly a kite instead of throw a stone, and live a full life without ever suffering a single indignity from Israeli occupation thugs or Jewish supremacist settlers. A place where Palestinians can preserve their tradition of religious tolerance between Christians and Moslems that has survived even the darkest nights of exile. Let them again teach the world the universal messages of their ancient sages.
A ‘bi-national’ state is impossible because of the chauvinism and bigotry of the average Israeli, who is as Euro-centric as ever and still feels alien in the Middle East. Why would the native people of Palestine want another generation of their children exposed to that nauseating attitude of folks walking around acting like they are ‘chosen people, here by the will of God, and, oh, so much more Western than the natives. A Yiddish clan fully entitled to grab native land and spirit the inhabitants out to an unknown destiny. And, above all, to eternally keep the Palestinians out of the Promised Land.’
Let the Israelis have their Yiddish supremacist state. The situation today demands two states, and decades of reconciliation and compensation. But let every Israeli know this, Palestinians and Arabs can only promise the Israelis a peace as cold as ice until Israelis decide to abandon their national chauvinism. The Israelis desperately need to teach their kids about the “Nakba”, original Zionist intent, who really started all the wars, who derailed the promise of Oslo, the constant attempts to inflict harm on the neighboring Arab states, Qibya, Sabra and Shatila and the war criminal ‘fathers of their country’. As for the American Jewish community, they had better come to terms with the fact that Arab-Americans will never permanently settle for being a minority’s minority. Our little chapter in American history will fully record the unbelievable amount of bigotry that was directed at our community. In this regard, we will never forget the contributions of American Jewish leaders, who were willing to use the arson of bigotry as an incidental expense of demonstrating their militant support for a racist and repressive foreign government. Here too, in America, there will be a need for reconciliation. In the meantime, expect a peace as cold as ice.
Mr. Ahmed Amr is Editor of NileMedia.com in Seattle and a regular contributor to Media Monitors Network (MMN)