An Arab Middle East without minorities is a terrifying prospect for a Lebanese Christian acquaintance of Einat Wilf, MK. He wants the Jews back, a symbol of pluralism and tolerance. It is not about the Jews, however: the Arabs, like the Europeans, are working out their identity - with tragic consequences. But this time, the Jews are not sticking around, she writes in The Irish Examiner:
Dr Einat Wilf, MK: 'it's not about the Jews'
“We, the Arabs of the Middle East, miss you – the Jews.” I smiled at the irony.
went on to explain that while it has been more than sixty years since
nearly a million Jews of the Arab Middle East have been expelled and
forced out of their home countries, it is now becoming evident that this
merely foreshadowed things to come.
He recounted his
horror by the rising tide of Islamic brutality, genocide, and ethnic
cleansing of Christian communities that is taking place everywhere the
Islamic State is gaining ground. Just like the Jewish communities, those
Christian communities – gone overnight - have been there before the
birth of Islam and the Arab conquest of the region.
said that he is terrified to think of an Arab Middle East without
minorities. He expressed fear that the intolerance demonstrated towards
the Jews decades ago is now being turned towards almost all other
minorities from Christian to Allewaites to Shiites to the Sunni Muslims
who fail to uphold the demented standards for Muslim piety set by the
My Arab colleague was brave enough to admit
this simple truth that the world has learned over and over again, and
yet seems to never internalize: It starts with the Jews. It never ends
with the Jews.
Rising tides of hatred, intolerance and
brutality are not satisfied once they have rid society of its Jews.
Sooner or later, others will follow. Not only does it never end with the
Jews. It is never really is about the Jews. That is why it never ends
with them. Hatred of Jews is about those who hate – not about those who
When the “Jewish Question” was discussed in
Europe of the 19th century, it was not really the Jewish Question –
rather it was the European Question. It was about what Europe is and
what it wants to be.
Tragically, Europe worked out its
identity as a continent, its ideologies and its loyalties, on the back
and ultimately, on the ashes, of the Jews, nearly destroying the entire
European civilization in the process.
When Europe is
experiencing yet again rising tides of hatred and intolerance towards
Jews – whatever else it might call it and however it might seek to mask
it. It is time for Europe to ask what is wrong with Europe and not what
is wrong with the Jews. Europe’s vision of itself is challenged from
within and without, and this time around, it seems that many Jews don’t
plan to stick around to find out how Europe will resolve the European
Question "this time around “.
The Arab world is no
different with respect to the “Jewish Question”. It is not about the
Jews, and not even about Israel and Zionism, it is about the question of
Arab and Muslim identity. And, like Europe before it and, sadly perhaps
still today, it is working out its identity, ideologies, and loyalties -
initially on the back of the Jews and now on the back of other
The Christians of the Middle East believed
they would find their peace and security by aligning themselves with
Arab nationalism and becoming some of its most vocal defenders. They
thought that by aligning themselves with Arab intolerance towards Jews,
they would shield themselves from the simple fact that the vast majority
of Arabs were Muslims and that as far as Muslim theology is concerned
Christians, like Jews, are not and cannot be considered equal to
With the advancing terror, my colleague expressed
his desired to see the Jews back in Beirut, Alexandria, Baghdad,
Damascus, Aleppo, Tripoli and Casablanca, as they have been for over a
He believed that if the Jews were to
return, the minorities of the Middle East could join hands together to
promote a vision of pluralism and tolerance that would stem the tide of
rising intolerance and brutality.
My colleague overlooked
the irony that the only place in the Middle East were Christians were
not fleeing, but were secure, growing and prospering, was in the Jewish
State of Israel.
Some day, perhaps, the Jews will return.
Some day, perhaps, there will once again be bustling Jewish communities
across the Arab Middle East.
Some day, perhaps, the Jews
of Europe will reverse their renewed Exodus. Some day, these places
might truly offer havens of peace, pluralism, and tolerance, and would
settle the questions of identity that plague them.
Until that day – thank goodness for the Jewish state.
Read article in full
Arabs without Jews: roots of a tragedy (Magdi Allam)