Israeli Arabs have infinitely more rights in Israel than Jews had in Morocco, where David Suissa was born. But Suissa's arguments fell on deaf ears when he took part in a forum where Palestinian sympathisers refused to see anyone but Palestinians as victims. Depressing article from the Jewish Journal. My comment follows below: (with thanks: Michelle)
David Suissa makes a point
"Instead of fighting anger with anger, I kept my composure. Instead of
playing the “I’m a bigger victim than you are” game, I played the “I
feel sorry for your anger” game.
Maybe it was the time of year. Here I was, about to enter the holiest
moment of the Jewish calendar, when as Jews we are obligated to reflect
on our mistakes of the past year and commit to genuine self-improvement.
How could I indulge in anger at such a time?
In my opening remarks, I spoke about being born in an Arab country
where for centuries my Sephardic ancestors prayed to return home to
Zion, and of the immense blessing I felt to be born in the generation
that did, in fact, return home to Israel. I spoke of my empathy for Arab
culture and the Palestinian people, and I expressed sadness that their
hearts and minds were “occupied” with so much Jew-hatred.
My sadness was reinforced when, later in the evening, I asked the crowd
of about 100 for a show of hands of those who believe in Israel’s right
to exist within pre-1967 borders, and only a few hands went up.
Did all of this hostility make me regret showing up? Not for a minute.
It just made me stronger. I countered the lies, but more important, I
realized the power of not playing victim.
After losing 6 million people in the Holocaust, I said, the Jews had
every right to wallow in victimhood. Instead, the new country of Israel
accepted the “two-state solution” declared by the United Nations in 1947
and looked forward rather than backward.
Israel made a desert bloom. It built roads, schools, hospitals,
universities and great cities, and, no matter how many wars it had to
fight, it never stopped looking forward. Yes, Israel has made plenty of
mistakes, but it also has shown its willingness to make painful
sacrifices for the sake of a genuine and enduring peace with its Arab
Despite Israel’s societal problems, I told the group, I am proud of the
fact that Israeli Arabs have infinitely more rights in Israel than my
Jewish ancestors ever had in Morocco; and I am proud that countless
human rights groups throughout Israel have the freedom to fight against
injustice of any kind.
I went as far as to dream that one day, Israel would turn into a “light
unto the Middle East” and become a crucial resource for the region. But
if I moved anyone with my message, it didn’t show. The anger and
bitterness toward Israel was relentless. While I spoke of Israel’s
mistakes, at no time did I hear any panelist suggest that Palestinians
themselves have made mistakes.
I’m not worried about Israel, I said in my concluding remarks. I’m
worried about the poor Palestinian people who have been taught by their
corrupt leaders to value permanent victimhood."
Read article in full
My comment: Apologetics only attract contempt, as the J-Street representative soon found out, but it's possible that Suissa is taking the wrong line altogether by refusing to harp on Jewish victimhood. It is only by showing that Jews are the victims of the Arabs that Suissa might stand any chance of changing hearts and minds. Tell them about the pre-Israel massacres your ancestors suffered in Morocco. That even small children threw stones at Jews. That Jews were given the most unpleasant and menial jobs. That their women were kidnapped and forcibly converted to Islam. That their property was stolen as they fled. Tell them that only in Israel could Jews live with freedom and dignity.
Challenge the audience to come up with a better solution.