Battlepanda: A voice of reason from the not-so-distant past


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Friday, August 11, 2006

A voice of reason from the not-so-distant past

People always talk about how 'complicated' the Israeli/Arab issue is. How intractable it all seems. Sometimes they try to ignore it altogether because of the sheer impossibility of pinning down a definitive version of the situation amid so much suffering and such strongly conflicting claims. Its easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the Jews and the Arabs must have hated each other from the dawn of time and will continue to hate each other until the day of judgement. Except, of course, that's not the way it happened.

Sixty years is a long time in terms of the human individual. Enough time for a newborn babe to grow tall and strong, and eventually stooped and withered. But in terms of human history, compared to the lifespans of nations and civilizations, 60 years is not so very long at all.

It was almost sixty years ago, that King Abdullah wrote this. He wrote with devastating clarity that has become all but impossible to achieve as the ensuing years as bloody hands on both sides blurred the outlines of the debate.
Our case is quite simple: For nearly 2,000 years Palestine has been almost 100 per cent Arab. It is still preponderantly Arab today, in spite of enormous Jewish immigration. But if this immigration continues we shall soon be outnumbered—a minority in our home.

Palestine is a small and very poor country, about the size of your state of Vermont. Its Arab population is only about 1,200,000. Already we have had forced on us, against our will, some 600,000 Zionist Jews. We are threatened with many hundreds of thousands more.

Our position is so simple and natural that we are amazed it should even be questioned. It is exactly the same position you in America take in regard to the unhappy European Jews. You are sorry for them, but you do not want them in your country.

We do not want them in ours, either. Not because they are Jews, but because they are foreigners. We would not want hundreds of thousands of foreigners in our country, be they Englishmen or Norwegians or Brazilians or whatever.

Think for a moment: In the last 25 years we have had one third of our entire population forced upon us. In America that would be the equivalent of 45,000,000 complete strangers admitted to your country, over your violent protest, since 1921. How would you have reacted to that?

How indeed, would Americans react if legions of foreigners started establishing themselves in our midst?
While AP reported that there were 1,000 people in attendance, this was the one time when the mainstream media under-reported numbers at an extremist Muslim rally. There were easily 2,500-3,000 Jew-hating, anti-American bodies in the room that has a maximum capacity of 1,000.

Among the many speakers, several things were in common: multiple statements about the Jews, cheers for the total destruction of and end to Israel, and support for Hezbollah, the Mujahideen, and the Martyrs.

A very religious Islamic event, I sat with the many bitter-looking, hijab-encrusted women in black (the women were relegated to separate seating in the back). Every imam of every Shi'ite mosque in town was there, white turban et al. (...)

Haj Mohammed Turfe (...) repeatedly spoke of how "only a few thousand Jews will survive Armageddon." This mantra, repeated often throughout the event, got raucous, deafening applause and cheers. Well, for once--I thought--extremist Muslims have respect for Christianity...when they can twist it to suit their fascist hopes and dreams.
I don't want to focus on Schlussel. But the point is, when you introduce a hostile population into any community, panic and hatred is the natural result. If anything, the Arab/Israeli situation is remarkable by the lack of significant prior animus. King Abdullah's letter, tinged though it is with desperation, is significant for how cogently and reasonably it is argued, how it spared no pains to sympathize with the Jewish plight and also to appeal to the hearts and minds of Western readers. He spoke without anger or hatred. It's the kind of voice that the Arab world could sorely use right now.