Palestinians can learn from Jews
by Salim Mansur
During the past few weeks Canadians once more witnessed the mindset driving Arab and Palestinian politics.
The leadership of the Canadian Arab Federation (CAF), in hurling public abuse at senior political leaders in Ottawa dropped its cultivated mask of responsibly serving its community, to display the streak of political ugliness carefully hidden from view.
Then the spectacle of the Israeli Apartheid Week on various university and college campuses across Canada disclosed how greatly infected are the organizers – Arab-Palestinian students and their supporters – with anti-Semitism.
In abusing federally elected leaders the CAF leadership inexcusably insulted the people of Canada .
Moreover, the intemperate conduct of the CAF leader – Khaled Mouammar is a Palestinian-Arab and Orthodox Christian – was indicative of the problem exacerbating Palestinian suffering, despite receiving much political, diplomatic and financial support from around the world.
Palestinians are an abused people, but they are not the only ones in a world where there has been much abuse of people lacking power to fend for themselves. Jews were an abused people, and the abuse directed at them eventually became the Holocaust.
But the lesson Jews have provided, especially for Palestinians, is that an abused people can turn their history around and succeed despite the odds ranged against them. What is most importantly needed – and this is the profound lesson provided by the Israelis – is equanimity of the mind in politics, sense of realism in a world riddled with irony and tragedy and an abiding faith in good people can do together in overcoming adversity.
Instead of learning from Jews – it would have been amply reciprocated – Palestinians, and Arabs in general, soaked up the racist ideology directed against Jews imported from Nazi Germany as it went down in flames in 1945.
The recent study, Jihad and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11, by Matthias Kuntzel, a German historian, should be required reading on this subject.
The demonization of Jews and Israelis in the borrowed language of Nazi Germany discloses the extent to which Palestinians and their supporters, as Kuntzel details, are the carriers of revived anti-Semitism in our time.
History is a contested ground, yet there are incontestable historical facts that cannot be erased.
Palestinians as an abused people have been most abused by their Arab brethren. The list of such abuse – for instance, the massacre of Palestinians carried out by Bedouin soldiers of the late Jordanian King Hussein's army in September 1970 – is painfully long.
But the finger-pointing at Israelis for all of Palestinian suffering is the oldest canard of blaming Jews for the ills of non-Jews. This is anti-Semitism that has run as a swollen river – not a mere tributary – in Europe 's history reaching its apogee with Adolf Hitler at the helm of Nazi Germany.
The argument made that Arabs cannot be faulted with anti-Semitism since they are ethnically Semite is rubbish. Anti-Semitism is racial hatred directed exclusively at Jews by any people, though it originated in the bosom of Christian Europe with Martin Luther holding Jews responsible for the world's ills as far back as 1543.
An intemperate mind is fuel for violence, and combined with anti-Semitism it makes for predictable wreckage.
This mindset has imprisoned Palestinians as they repeatedly demonstrate unwillingness in learning from history, or from the wreckage of their own making.