Western Arrogance Leads to Arabian Slights

Too many westerners fail to understand the nuances of the Arab world, its extensive historical, religious, cultural and social roots.

Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat
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Hamas hold national flags as they march in Gaza City to mark one year since Pillar of Defense, Nov. 13, 2013.Credit: Reuters
Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat

All things considered, Sayed Kashua had the opposite situation in mind to that of the Palestinians’ situation under occupation: Instead of a situation where they get hit, a situation in which they do the hitting. Just like a prisoner dreaming of freedom, and that his jailors would be thrown into the police van. What’s more humane than that?

In Israel, however, fantasy is forbidden. And if such a situation becomes reality anyway, one must quickly return to the two daily minutes of self-humiliation (like George Orwell’s two minutes’ hate). If that’s the case, dear Arabs, please say to yourselves, convincingly: Yes, we Arabs are a contemptible people; we don’t tolerate others, or even ourselves. Further: Dear Jews, don’t look at us, because when the time comes, we’ll slaughter you. The Palestinians should act according to a suggestion from Shaike during a Hagashash Hahiver skit: “Be a man, humiliate yourself!”

To steal from Orwell’s “1984,” it’s not bad – in fact it’s healthy – to punch up history a bit. If that’s the case, please erase any mention of the white man in the West during World War II, and the legacy of blood they’ve created on the Arab side of the world. Now please memorize: Seventy years ago, there was a world war in the Middle East. The Arabs massacred 60 million of their own people, including six million Jews, who were not a threat to Arab hegemony.

Thank you to thought policeman Alexander Yakobson (“If Israeli Jews were the conquered ones...”), who managed to put down a conspiracy that was about to spread like wildfire. Because the Arabs, with their wild imaginations, could still claim that they were forced from their homelands in 1948, that their villages were stolen, their children suffer to this day in refugee camps, and that they are forbidden to create a state on even 22 percent of their homeland.

And thus, after Yakobson nipped the conspiracy in the bud, now, dear Sayed Kashua, get back to your column. Tell us gracefully about your efforts, as a son of a terrible people, to sneak into Jewish society. Tell us, in your entertaining ways, about how Jewish society is patronizing, like every modern society.

But the answer that evades me, even though I played my part in this self-humiliation: If the Middle East is so wild, who was it that decided to bring cultured people to live in this neighborhood? It seems that someone who is drawn to this place isn’t far off from the locals’ mentality – and I don’t know if I’m praising the Jews by saying that, or insulting them.

In any case, it’s important to mention that Yakobson is against the occupation. Further, while supporting the Jewish state, he manages in the same breath to propose a plan for including Arab citizens, with equal rights, in the state’s definition.

But here’s my problem: Similar to those same “Orientalists,” Yakobson does not try to understand the deep processes under way in the Arab sphere, their extensive historical, religious, cultural and social roots. Superficial statements that portray the situation in such ways as “If the Arabs ruled here, there wouldn’t be two peoples” are tainted with racism. Hamas, whose personnel Yakobson quotes, was born against the backdrop of cruel occupation, almost the only one in the world.

Relations between Arabs and Jews throughout history – without considering the national conflict, which is less than 100 years old – were very good, much better than those between Europeans and Jews. Jews were treated with respect, and their prophets were treated as sacred.

There remains a great fear over the situation in the Arab states surrounding us. But instead of strengthening the advanced ones, fighting against the fanatics, Yakobson depicts them all as bloodthirsty. The Arabs said, “Ya Saad, that’s not how you take the camels down to the spring!” Really, Ya Yakobson, that’s not how you talk about a people.

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