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Call Me Naive
Last uploaded : Saturday 29th Mar 2003 at 04:11
Contributed by : The Editor



During the intense debate and, at times, explosive argument surrounding the American action in Iraq, discussions invariably shift to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. What I find disturbing about these tangential discourses is the venomous irrationality of the premises proposed. Whenever an anti-war campaigner appears on television or radio, one can expect the mantras: ?Look at what the Israelis are doing to the Palestinians whilst America puts a blind eye to it;? ?Israel has violated umpteen United Nations resolutions but America attacks Iraq? and ?The American Administration is run by Christian Zionists intent on colonising the Middle East.?

There is one mantra, however, that one hears in the United Kingdom and that causes me particular pain. This is the one that suggests that a rapacious, wealthy and heavily-armed army of massive proportions ?stole? Palestine from the indigenous population in 1947-48 and that in previous years the Zionist forces controlling the world had strong-armed Western governments into giving Palestine to the said mega-army of rapacious, avaricious Jews. This view has become so widespread as to be accepted on mainstream broadcasting in prime-time, as news anchors and discussion hosts smirk.

The relentless attacks on Jewish national aspirations that have become a daily event in Old Europe and the UK -- these attacks are not confined to TV and radio; one encounters visceral hostility on the dinner party circuit -- have inspired me to suggest an answer when one is attacked by the anti-Zionists.

I would like to suggest this question as a response to those who accuse ill-inclined Jews of usurping Palestine in the 1930s and 1940s: What would have been so painful for Arab leaders, our Semitic cousins, to offer succour and a home to Jews who were being annihilated in Europe and who had been victimised by European anti-Semitism for centuries?

One of the most frequently expressed views -- usually shouted -- on discussion programmes is ?the Arabs had nothing to do with the Holocaust so why should we have to suffer displacement because THEY were being exterminated?? I have always found this sentiment repugnant and disturbing: the Shoah, after all, was the first instance of weapons of mass destruction (gas) being used against a civilian population and the immensity of the atrocity would have been blatantly evident by 1947, when the Arab states were no longer under threat of German control.

The Arab states, whom Pierre van Paassen described as severely wanting in technological and agricultural advancement during the rise of the Zionist movement, could have benefited from an influx of highly skilled European Jews. Instead, their arrival was met with hostility and suspicion, a sentiment that has metamorphosed into violent hatred since the advent of terror movements.

When an Israel-basher appears on TV, he or she will always --on cue -- bellow that ?the Jews invented terrorism.? They will quote the lynching of British soldiers and the bombing of the King David Hotel, which countless Britons over the years have described to me in near-hysterical tones, and they will then switch gears when PLO terror is mentioned, saying, ?It is Israeli brutality that makes these poor Palestinians so desperate.? (I remind them that when I was in Israel, Yitzhak Rabin had just been handing back lands conquered in the bloody 1967 War but an unprecedented string of terror attacks was being perpetrated by Hamas, Jihad and Hezbollah.)

In summation, I propose that a new era in world affairs could be born if the Arab, non-Arab Muslim and anti-Zionist world would begin to look upon its Jewish brethren with less hatred than that we have suffered for millennia. What have we done in tiny Israel? We have created a technological and agricultural marvel -- a place where until recently children could go out anywhere without fear and in which women are emancipated and culture abounds.

ORT supplies non-Jewish Third World countries with masses of aid financed by hundreds of thousands of Jews. One million Arabs live inside Israel but when one watches thousands marching against war, one sees placards declaring Israel an apartheid state engaging in ?ethnic cleansing.?

Warmth and magnanimity from the Arab world will never happen. The hatred with which commentators discuss Israel is so out of proportion to any other subject on, for example, ?BBC Question Time? that one can only observe that Jew-hatred is alive and well and living in the hearts of millions of non-Jews. How nice it would have been had Arab leaders opened their hearts to the Jews who survived the Shoah. This is a concept never even mentioned on TV anger-fests.

Should I find myself on a BBC panel, I will ask the Israel-bashers surrounding me why it is de rigeur for Arab nations to shun Jews instead of welcoming them. Call me naive, but I would like to know.


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