Friday, October 29, 2010
The late playwright Harold Pinter
Daniel Greenfield of Sultan Knish takes eloquent aim at the British-Jewish literati - anti-Zionist to a man (and woman), with the notable exception, perhaps, of prize-winning author Howard Jacobson. Hypocrisy rules OK when the true natives of the Middle East are expected to surrender their rights to Arab colonisers.
What is interesting however, is that the likes of Harold Pinter make their ultimatum conditional on achieving a state of affairs that has never existed in the history of the Middle East for thousands of years.
If we take their demand, that "Arab and Jew live as equals in a peaceful Middle East" literally, then Israel can never have legitimacy until Saudi Arabia opens up Mecca to the Jews it slaughtered and expelled from there. Only when Yemen and Syria extend equality to Jews, and everyone tosses away their weapons, instead settling their disputes with nice and orderly chess matches or humus cooking contests, then Hilda Meers or Arthur Neslen of Al Jazeera, with his countless peace proposals that involve legitimizing Hamas, will stop by for a fireworks display and shed a tear for the dead.
Since then Harold Pinter has since gone to the great wastepaper basket in the sky, but the small petty malice of notable British Anglicans, Marxists and Quakers, who all turn out to be Jewish when there's a petition slamming Israel to be signed, a boycott to be arranged, or a flotilla carrying vital supplies of aging anti-war activists to Hamas to be sailed, goes on.
Israel stole the land, they declare. Whose land did they steal? The land of the people who stole it from them. This reduces Arab grievances to a farce in which an angry burglar phones the police to report that the owner of the looted property he stole had broken into his house and took it back. (The only possible reply is that time legitimizes theft, in which case the only difference between a racist occupying colonialist entity and a native inhabitant is a few generations.) Common sense renders such outrage ridiculous, but to the moralizer, the man who takes back what is his, is just as bad as the man who took it from him. Even worse. To the moralizer, the original thief was deprived, while the homeowner is depraved. The thief only took what he needed, but the homeowner is the oppressor who took away a deprived man's necessities, he should have just kept his mouth shut.
For over a thousand years, Jews in the Middle East were deprived of their land, their property and their lives. They were legal and social inferiors of the colonizers who had occupied their country. From the Arab mercenaries who fought for Rome, to the Bedouin bandits who raided the outposts of a decrepit Byzantium, to the Caliphs dreaming of glory and gold, they had lived under an occupation that makes the wailing of the Nakba into something laughable. And the moment they managed to gain their independence, they went from deprived to depraved. In an unprecedented turn of events, they became the occupiers of their own country. The settlers of towns and villages built over the ruins and remains of the old towns and villages where they had lived.
Suddenly the nation that had gained its freedom against the will and armed force of its British colonial occupiers, was deemed the colonizer and occupier. The state that curiously extended political and religious freedoms to minorities, in a region where such minorities are usually stamped out or herded into ghettos, became a racist entity. And one of the world's oldest peoples were denounced as foreign interlopers, on behalf of a mythical Palestinian nation that had never existed at any point in history, as anything but a Greco-Roman designation for a portion of the territory on their maps.
And who are these racist Israeli Zionists anyway? Is it the Israeli Druze, Circassian or the Samaritan? The Israeli Armenian or the Israeli Arab? Of course not, it is the Jew. Of course it always the Jew. Was it the Jews who had lived there since the last massacre that wiped out their kind? Is it the Moroccan, Ethiopian and Yemenite Jews who fled oppression and tyranny to find refuge in a land where they were not required to bow to Muslim Arabs and accept them as their superiors? Was it the European Jews who fled the Holocaust to return to the land from which Arab mercenaries had expelled them to Rome, and were forced to fight the armies of General Sir John Bagot Glubb?
They, the occupiers of their occupiers. The colonialists of their colonizers. The slaves who had become masters of their masters, yet treated them with far more decency than they themselves had been treated. A crime which can never be settled, until the balance is restored, and the slaves again become slaves, and Arab and Jew are once again equal. As they are today in Saudi Arabia. Then finally Harold Pinter and the rest of the heavenly choir of West End immortals will wave the white and the blue. Because there will be peace. The peace of the slave. The peace of the dead. The butcher's bill served to Israel for daring to be free. (...)
There will of course be no new dawn of peace and equality through the Middle East. The best testament to that can be found in the status of minorities through the Middle East and the Muslim world. When even the most moderate Arab Muslim countries cannot respect the rights of Arab Christians, let alone the rights of Zoroastrians or Kurds, when even among Muslims, Shiite and Sunni bar their teeth at each other, there will naturally be no peace. There may be the occasional treaty or handshake, but these are things that governments do to and with each other. It has to do with the basic attitudes of the man on the street, his culture and religion. His need to believe that however few rights he has, his way of life is still best.
And the best testament to Israel's own status is this. After its founding, the vast majority of Jews in the Muslim world fled there. Today there are millions of Jews in Israel. And millions of Arabs. Because the Arabs for the most part stayed in a Jewish country, despite plenty of Arab countries they could have fled to. While the Jews fled the Arab Muslim lands as soon there was another option. Today Sudanese refugees from genocide in a Muslim war, cross through Egypt to get to Israel. It is almost as if Israel is actually not the worst place in the Middle East. Almost.
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