The continuation of Omar and my discussion. This is a response to Omar’s comments (in bold) on the first half of my comments (Part I).
Well, it’s good that you didn’t follow the usual attitude and simply considered me a terrorist only because I’m Palestinian, I appreciate that, honestly.
Is it because you’ve been treated this way before that you expected me to treat you like a terrorist, or just expectations built up from impressions?
Another thing I’m really appreciating here, the fact that you realize this is a controversy of historical resources, “two radically different sources of history”, but I have serious troubles bringing my sources here because of many facts. Most of what I know isn’t coming from reading on the internet, as a Palestinian, 50% of what we know is simply “eyewitnessed”, I don’t have to read books telling me about how Israelis are treating me! And when you grow up among elder people (politicians, fedayes,..) you have a walking sources of history, the remaining 50% is a collection of many TV documentaries, newspapers, books, and Internet. It’s hard to provide links, but I’ll try to do my best here.
I understand. Don’t feel you have to link every statement you make. Let me know where you get whatever information you have. I’ll trust you on that. Just, please, allow me the ability to call some of its reliability into question.
I’ll give you an example of what I mean. I was in a Boston area dialogue group put together after the second intifada started. At one point, one of the Palestinians in the group, whose family fled Haifa in 1948 and he grew up in a Lebanese refugee camp, told his story. Deeply touching. Especially when he was briefly in Cyprus with his father and he said, “Why can’t we live like this?” But when I asked him why his family fled Haifa, he told me they were fleeing the threat of massacres from the Zionists. Now I didn’t have the heart to tell him that the case of Haifa is the clearest one of the Jews begging the Arabs to stay, and that if his dad took the family out, it was because he believed the reports from Arab leaders about massacres and the calls to get out so the Arab armies could come in. In other words, his father had made a terrible mistake (those Arabs who remained in Haifa are in much better shape that the Palestinians in Sabra and Shatilla refugee camp, live better than the average Cypriot). So I understand that his dad would tell both himself and his family that he fled Zionist butchers in 1948 — how painful to admit so disastrous a lapse of judgment. But I also don’t think his testimony is reliable on what actually happened.
“who went to Algeria in the early 1800s“, Ok, I’m pretty sure that you don’t actually think that for the 1300 years of the Islamic empire it was all a Golden Era
Well you have to admit that that’s how it sounds from Muslims when you listen to them tell you about how well they have treated their minorities.
You have to realize that as soon as the Ottmans got in control, they started all the oppression (it doesn’t mean that it didn’t individually happen before them) not only to the Jews, but even more to the Arab Muslims, executions and exaggerated taxes were aching Arabs, Muslims, Christians, and Jews! Even the special tax (Al jezyah) that Christians and Jews used to pay wasn’t oppressive, they had to pay that tax in order not to participate in the armies of the Islamic Empire, in other words, Muslims defend their Empire’s lands, spread security, and christians and Jews don’t have to participate in that, they enjoy it only. Other than this special tax, Christians and Jews were treated just like any other Muslim elsewhere.
Here’s a good example of conflicting sources. You’re telling me what Muslims tell themselves about how they’ve treated Jews and Christians. But you also need to listen to what Jews and Christians say about this. To take one small example: in addition to the Jizya (whose weight was often calibrated to encourage conversion to Islam), Dhimmi could not either bear witness in court, nor take a Muslim to court. This is a huge disadvantage, a kind of legal apartheid that meant that Muslims could use the courts against any dhimmi with whom they were in conflict. And the reason given for this legal ruling was that anyone who could reject the truth of Islam and not worship Allah in the prescribed way had to be too dishonest to trust in court. I don’t think that people with that legal disadvantage felt that they were “enjoying” the Muslim empire. Do read the links at Eliyahu’s blog and especially the entries on Dhimmi status of Jews in Jerusalem.
As the poet Robert Burns said: “Ah would some power the giftie gie is [give us the gift] to see ourselves as others see us.” Muslims would do well to realize how it felt to be a dhimmi, not what they think dhimmis should have felt.
Actually, at the times where Europe used to seek-and-destroy Muslims and Jews in the middle ages, many Jews immigrated to the Islamic Empire because of the fact that it was the only place where Jews were actually tolerated, many Muslim Caliphas had Jews inside the Royal Castle, sometimes as physicians (Salladin, Al Ma’moon, Haroon Al Rasheed), sometimes as political advisors (Also Al Ma’amoon), and sometimes Jews participated in the Great Translation Wave, (Isaac Bin Honain), the main point is, the only place/time where Jews were tolerated was among the Muslims and Arabs.
In one sense you are right. When the medieval Christians were treating the Jews abominably, many of them fled to Islamic lands. But I’m afraid their preference for Islam was only relative. I’m not saying there weren’t good moments (like the translation projects of the 11-12th centuries in Spain). But they were short-lived and insecure, and the shift to more hostile and demeaning attitudes could come at any time. Maimonides, the famous Jewish doctor, philosopher and exegete experienced both the best (Cordoba in the “golden age”), the worst (conquest of Cordoba by Muslim zealots — the Almohades — not unlike groups like Hamas and Hizbullah, which his family had to flee), and the average (he had some not too great things to say about being a Jew in Egypt, even as the Sultan Salahadin’s doctor). I do recommend reading some non-Muslim sources on what it’s like to be a dhimmi. I do think that any Muslim treated the way the Muslims treated non-Muslims would consider it humiliating and unacceptable.
As for the time being, there are examples of this tolerance between Palestinians and Jews that I’ve witnessed my self! In Nables (my native town) there exists a minority of Jews, they’re called “Sumara.” When I was a little kid, I used to play football with them, we as Palestinians (Nabelsis) realized that those sumara are native citizens, they had been there for as long as we had been there, hence, they are treated differently than any Israeli.
That’s great. They are Samaritans and date back to the first exile (early 6th century BCE).
Another very important fact, the teachings of Quran and the prophet Muhammad highly values Christians and Jews (on what concerns how should they be treated), it’s part of the Islamic faith to believe in Christianity and Judasim, so, no matter what may have happened at some period of history between Arabs and Jews, the fact remains that Muslims are forced (by Islam’s teachings) to treat Jews with nothing but respect.
Now you have to help me here, because I gather there are more than just positive passages about Jews and Christians, and some of them are being used rather constantly these days. What horrifies and terrifies me is the waves of hatred that seem to flood the airwaves of Arab and Muslim culture. MEMRI and PMW chronicle this material in some detail, and much of it is in mainstream media. So my question to you is: are you telling me this because you believe it and live it, and everyone around you does? Or you want me to believe it (maybe you also want to believe it), but you know that’s not a very good description of the reality. Have you not heard anyone refer to the Jews and pigs and monkeys (a twist on a quotation from the Quran!?)?
Now, let’s turn to the other part, which obviously what clearifies the conflict in historical sources, let’s start with the first point.
1) “Deir Yassin took place in 1948″ “it came after decades of Arab uprisings”, fine, why would Arabs uprise? If there wasn’t a huge thing threatening them, why would they rise up?
It might be that it was because they were really threatened. But it could also be because they were victims of propaganda aimed at getting them to believe they were under threat. Haj Amin al Husseini used to incite Arabs against Zionists by sending out doctored pictures of the Dome of the Rock with a Star of David over it. That was clearly an innacurate if not dishonest depiction of Jewish intentions — even when the Jews took over the site in 1967 they did not do anything of the sort. (There’s a close parallel with the Muhammad cartoons scandal: the three worst ones [most were very mild] were not by Danish cartoonists, but by the very Imams who wanted to stir up rioting in the streets.
It’s the basic point that I want to communicate to you: there’s a difference between what we imagine drives other people and what really does. As early as 1919, Arabs were being told: “We will push the Zionists [Jews] into the sea or they will push us into the desert.” I submit to you that the Arabs have systematically been mis-informed by their leadership on the intentions and behavior of the Israelis. The Arab rioter’s comment that I quoted in an earlier post about how, even if they’ve made everyone better off, I’ve lost my sense of dominion, and I’d rather rule in poverty, suggests another reason for the rioting: not fear of being destroyed, but fear of losing dominance.
And about the example you provided, this might be the first time I hear of such a thing, I’ve checked the link, and I can’t realize how could you consider such an incident as a massacre, and actually compare it to Deir Yassin??
Are you saying they are incomparable because of the numbers involved? I consider the mass killing of civilians during “peacetime” more vicious than in the heat of war when faced with soldiers firing from behind and dressed as women.
2) “the most remarkable differences between the arrival of the Jews to Palestine and the European imperialists to Africa” So what are you basically saying here, the ARRIVAL of the Jews isn’t imperialistic? All the examples and incidents that you have written can be answered by simply asking you this:
If somebody coming from some place you don’t know where it is, decides to “ARRIVE” to your country, live beside your house, buy your land, invite other people from other places to come and live near him, start to make a military force (trained by the British), backed with an OLD political promise of getting YOUR house one day (Balfour’s promise 1917), would it really make a difference if your temporary economic status is better than before? What would you decide to do here?
This is a good and fair question. It isn’t as bad as you claim, but it’s clearly serious. No one was planning to take (rather than pay for) YOUR house one day. Indeed after 50 years of Zionist settlements there are many more Arab Muslims in Palestine than before. Take Jerusalem for example. There are many beautiful Arab houses in West Jerusalem. All of them come after the Jewish settlement, since before that, no one built a house outside the walls of the city. Why? Because they would have no protection from Bedouin raids.
But the larger issue remains. Let’s not forget that Palestine at the time was ruled by two absentee forces, the Ottomans (later the Brits) and the effendi class of landowners. The typical Palestinian had neither political autonomy nor economic independence. So the advent of a group working for a civil democracy did not necessarily challenge any freedom of the local population. On the contrary, the advent of Zionism offered real possibilities for the local population, including for an independent Palestine. But the most vocal inhabitants — not necessarily the majority — saw this in religious terms, in terms of an invasion of Dar al Islam by an population that should be dhimmi. That’s the core of the conflict.
After the Jews conquered the west bank in 1967, they literally flooded the west bank with money, the local merchants witnessed a rapid and vast economic improvement, but for how long? One month! the Jews were playing a dirty game of buying the voices of resistence. they forced the Israeli army and merchants to conduct heavy transactions with the local merchants undercover or even publically. It’s much more important to guarantee your freedom than to fill your pocket, this was the mentality of the voices that you’re talking about.
I’m a bit confused here. The statistics indicate a steady and long-range rise in all the elements of Palestinian “quality of life” statistics, from GNP to individual income, to birth rates and population rise, to institutions of higher education like Bir Zeit. What’s your evidence that this was only a month and just a trick?
As for your comment “more important to guarantee freedom than to fill your pocket,” I’m not sure that the two are distinct. People whose ruling elites do not allow them to keep most of the fruits of their labors, do not allow them political freedoms either. The Palestinian narrative pretends that before the Zionists the Arabs in Palestine were free. On the contrary, like all the other Arab commoners (masses) at the time, none of them were free and none of them are free now. Someone commented that the Arabs don’t mind being oppressed as long as it’s by their own kind. That’s the dilemma. You allow your elites to exploit you and you attack those who, not “yours” offer you a different solution to the problems of freedom, dignity and economic well-being.
3)Arabs believe in this notion because it’s true, Israel has proven to us in 1967 that it’s true, Do you want to know why do we believe in it? Why don’t you have a look at the ‘Agoura’, the Israeli coin, have a look at that map on it, and then call it a conspiracy theory conducted by Arabs! When you ask Israelis about this, they sure will laugh, because I’m pretty sure that you’re asking commoners who have no idea (don’t care) about their own history or about their own religion, ask some members of Shas, they’ll easily show off with this ambition (they’ll tell you that the lands of all Arabs ,the snakes and rats, are theirs)!! Where should categorize the Israeli imperialistic act of 1967?
The issue is not what’s on the coin, but what it means. Certainly there are Jews and Israelis who feel that the land from the Jordan to the Mediterranean should be theirs. It is the biblical borders as well as being a natural border with more security that the ’49 borders which Abba Eban called “Auschwitz borders” because of their immense vulnerability. On the other hand many of those who feel this way are willing to compromise on this in order to get on with life. It might surprise you to find out that the religious leader of Shas, Rabbi Ovadia Yossef explicitly supported the Oslo process and gave a rabbinic ruling (the equivalent of a Fatwa) permitting Israel to renounce their claim to this land for the sake of peace. And no Jew will tell you that the lands of all the Arabs are theirs.
“giving back Sinai” !!!!!!!!!!!!! ??????
I’m in total shock eversince I read this sentence, you’re trying to tell me that Israel gave back Sinai because of its good wells!! have you ever heard of 1973?
Can you explain what you think happened in 1973 that led to the return of the Sinai?
and negotiating for returning Golan! What’s that exactly? Or maybe you’re telling me that the rejection of Hafiz Al Assad’s efforts is negotiations?
Yes. What do you think happened?
Now, talk about Arabs inside Israel, tell you what, search for Azmi Bshara or Ahmad Al Tibi (both are arab representitives in the Israeli parlimant) read them, and then tell me about full rights and living under the Israeli regime.
Do you know of any Arab politicians who, without an armed party behind them, can be as publicly critical of the government of the country in which they are elected officials as they are and still be alive?
Look, I’m not telling your that the condition of Israeli Arabs is great. But I am telling you that the Israelis give more freedom and political power and educational opportunities than any Arab nation gives — not to its minorities — but to its own Arabs. No one is perfect. But under conditions of warfare with her neighbors, the Israelis have done more for their Arabs in their first 60 years than the Americans did for their blacks in their first 180 years. I’m not saying this to dismiss your complaints, but to give you some perspective. The country you live in does not even allow Jews, much less grant them any kind of political rights and protections. Isn’t this the pot calling the kettle black?