Wednesday, October 03, 2012
My obnoxious rebuttal to Rachel Shabi
(With thanks to all those who emailed me Rachel Shabi's article)
The Israeli government has just raised the Jewish refugee issue. (How tiresome for Rachel Shabi. She thought she was done with the subject.)
Israeli diplomats have been told to make an equivalence at every 'relevant' forum. What fun, she writes sarcastically. How very manipulative, misleading and obnoxious.
Writing in Haaretz, this award-winning journalist and author is but the latest of leftwing critics of deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon's campaign to obtain justice for Jewish refugees. Someone should have told her that a torrent of abuse is little substitute for powerful argument. As Victor Hugo once said, "Strong and bitter words indicate a weak cause."
So let's examine what arguments she does advance: " Jews are supposed to have a nation." A variant of Hanan Ashrawi's contention that Jews cannot be refugees because they were returning to their 'homeland'. Yet it has been easily established that most Jews who came to Israel arrived through a combination of push and pull factors. A Jew can be both a refugee and a Zionist.
Then comes a restatement of the Arab propaganda argument that 'Zionist emissaries' caused the exodus when 'most Jews preferred to engage in home-grown nationalist movements'. This is simply not true. Iraqi Jews became Zionists overnight following devastating pogroms such as the 1941 Farhud - in which almost 200 Jews were slaughtered like sheep - because the underground offered them training in self-defence. They also turned to Communism because Arab nationalism marginalised and excluded non-Arabs and non-Muslims. Very few became nationalists.
As one whose relatives also stayed in Iraq until the 1970s I have news for you, Rachel. They did so not to prove that they were good nationalists, nor to escape the unwanted attentions of Zionist emissaries, but because they had no alternative. They were trapped as hostages in Iraq simply because they were forbidden from leaving. Does she ever wonder for a moment why in the 1970s most of the rest of Iraq's 3,000 Jews - those who did not succumb to Zionist pressure to join the forced exodus to Israel in 1950 - were desperate enough to risk arrest, imprisonment, life and limb, to escape persecution and terror in Iraq by smuggling themselves through the Kurdish mountains and over the border into Iran ?
The rest of Shabi's piece is built on the false premise that the Israeli government wants to 'offset' Jewish and Palestinian claims - in fact Israel has been pushing the idea of an international fund to compensate individual refugees on both sides.
She also claims that Palestinians are not just any Arabs deserving of resettlement in not just any Arab country - and that it's about time that Israel behaved as a member of the Middle East family of nations by appreciating the difference. Yet a reading of the Palestinian National Covenant will tell you that the Palestinians consider themselves part of the Arab nation. The Hamas charter, whose primary aim is a caliphate, not a Palestinian 'homeland', considers Palestinian Arabs part of the Muslim umma. But when it comes to fighting for basic Palestinian human rights: how annoying, how tiresome.
When it comes to fighting for the rights of Palestinians to live as full citizens of the country they happen to be living in now - with rights to jobs and property - the likes of Rachel Shabi are just not interested - if it does not allow them to score points against Israel.
But enough of such obnoxious truths. Rachel, I know it's all such a bore.