Friday, October 30, 2009

Can A Zionist Be Fair To Arabs?

There is no doubt that the Palestinian people have not been treated justly and fairly over the past sixty years or so. In a sense their problems became insurmountable with the Balfour declaration of Nov 2, 1917 (92 years ago this Monday), the development that started the saga of the establishment of Israel as a Jewish state on the land of the Palestinian Arabs of the time. Fast forward to the 1948 war and all what followed; one loss after another and then you might start to understand the rationale that the Palestinian mind set has had to adopt vis-a-vis all Jews and Zionists. That inability to differentiate between one Jew and another or even one Zionist and another has served to inflame the Palestinian Israeli problem when a more liberal and objective understanding could have helped ease the pain and maybe even hasten an end to the suffering.

To suggest that the Palestinian Israeli problem has become the opiate of the authoritarian Arab regimes is not an exaggeration. Each and every Arab ruler is constantly engaged in grandstanding and in advocating positions that would demonstrate the opposition of his regime to everything Jewish and his devotion to everything Arab and Palestinian. That is why Arab “sham democracies” are invariably opposed to anything Jewish and why they favour supporting resistance groups and even terrorist actions. Blowing up school children in Tel Aviv is to be commended while harming those in say Damascus is barbaric. Our love for the Palestinians is best demonstrated by the squalid living conditions that we have provided for them and the severe constraints that we have placed on their ability to integrate in our societies, own property and acquire citizenship. On the other hand we are constantly proud of our ability to blame the Jew for each of our problems be it social, economic,scientific or political. It has even been reported recently that a major Hollywood producer was denied the right to land at Beirut International because his private jet had some Israeli manufactured parts.

Tragic events that have befallen the Palestinian people should not be allowed to become blinders that deny us the possibility of making a case based on its merits even when we have to cast a favourable judgment on a Jew, an Israeli or even a Zionist. Two cases in point help illustrate the inadvisability of generalized condemnations. The latest events in Jerusalem subjected innocent Palestinian civilians to intolerable abuse at the hands of a few members of the Israeli police force in Jerusalem. The abuse was a reminder of the degrading incidents that took place at Abu Ghraib. In the Jerusalem case two Israeli border guards decided to pick on, torture and dehumanize Palestinians for no other reason than they were Arabs. The evidence of the abuse was incontrovertible; the Israeli guards had recorded their cruelty on their own video cameras and then proceeded to boast about it. When the Jerusalem Police force refused to prosecute the officers involved and to recommend that the matter be handled by internal investigation Shulamit Aloni was infuriated. Ms. Aloni, a former Education Minister went on the offensive berating the Israeli authorities and asking whether dignity is to be viewed as the preserve of the Jews only (,7340,L-3795648,00.html). Her courageous stand is an example of what honest and decent people should do on both sides of the aisle.

Another example that deserves lots of attention in the Arab world is that of the Goldstone Report. Judge Goldstone, a South African Jew and a Zionist led the group that issued a scathing indictment of the Israeli war machine in its most recent Gaza adventure. Judge Goldstone was also critical of Hamas and its tactics. His judgment that both the IDF and Hamas have committed war crimes and violated the Geneva conventions in the last Gaza war might still prove to be one of the most damaging decisions against Israeli racism and brutality. Arabs will do well to listen to Judge Goldstone and follow his example of objectivity and justice.

It is very instructive to read the text of an interview with Judge Richard Goldstone conducted by the liberal American Rabbi Michael Lerner that is posted at:

A Podcast of the above can be heard at:



Anonymous said...

It will be difficult for an ultraconservative Orthodox Jew to be fair to a Palestinian because they are not looked upon as equals. I imagine that the same is true about many Palestinians. They are not capable of respecting Jews. But your point is well made. We need to rise above our personal experiences and hatreds and accept the other. Keep up the good work.

Ghassan Karam said...

Only when we are driven by what we have in common rather than what divides us will we have peace. Remeber though that one should not expect peace to prevail without justice.
Palestinians must feel that they have been offered a fair deal and so must the Israelis. Anything short of that will not work.


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