Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Guardian thread discusses 'Jewish nakba'

There is plenty in Khaled Diab's latest piece for the Guardian website Comment is Free to argue with, and if you hurry you might still be able to leave a comment yourself. The gist of the piece is that Jews and Arabs have had so much in common that Disraeli called the Jews 'Mosaic Arabs'. You can see where Diab's argument is leading to: a one-state solution.

Some commenters have questioned Diab's assumption that much Arab antisemitism is simply a response to Israel's creation; and several have used Diab's piece to ask if the Arab world would ever recognise what they called the Jewish Nakba.

But Comment No. 1366790 was amongst the most thought-provoking :

"AminsEGrEgypt: "JeremyHP and Khaled, do you think the Arab world will ever acknowledge and compensate the Jewish Naqba?"

Khaled responded: "See my article (link above). Morocco, for one, has offered its Jewish community a right of return. And I think other Arab countries need to acknowledge the crime they committed in expelling their Jewish minorities in the years/decade following the creation of Israel."

Khaled, I think you have missed Armin's point. The vast majority of "Arabic Jews" categorically reject the title and are completely uninterested in any right of return, so the offer is a pig in a poke (and thus like all pigs neither kosher nor halal).

Nor are the "Arabic Jews" so sanguine as yourself about their supposedly integrated pre-expulsion status. You may not realise it, but you have taken the view of the majority that "our darkies, they wuz so happy before they got uppity and wanted civil rights". It's presumptuous and insensitive (to say the least) whether done by white Americans towards "their" black minority, or by Muslim Arabs toward "their" Jewish minority.

Your second sentence is closer to correct. There were two crimes: The first, 14 centuries of the Jewish minority treated as second-class and in some ways near-apartheid. The second, the expulsion itself.

By "compensate the Jewish Naqba" Armin could have meant mean both monies to the Sephardim and Mizrahim in recompense of these 14 centuries, and recompense of spiritual and political and material losses in the form of a Jewish right to a defensible sliver of land in the Middle East as a basis for their hopes and dreams. A good argument could be made that Israel and Jerusalem (and potentially even the west bank) should have even been proposed by the Arab world as just such recompense, with appropriate compensation to residents who move, either Jews from Arab countries to Israel, or Palestinians from Israel to Arab countries.

"After all, many Israelis on the left have considered and actively work for moral, national, political, and material recompense to the Palestinians for their 60 years of second-class existence. Why should there not be many Arabs who consider and actively work for moral, national, political, and material recompense to the Jews for their 1,400 years of second-class existence?"

More from Khaled Diab

2 comments:

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

Bat Ye'or has pointed to the refusal of the Arabs/Muslims to acknowledge that dhimmi peoples were nations before the Arab conquest reduced them to dhimmis. They especially like to apply this to Jews because it's politically convenient. It is very patronizing to view the Jews --or other dhimmi peoples-- as happy folk, protected by their Islamic patrons, with all their needs supplied. And they play music so well, and the Hebes are good at accounting too so we kindly and generously made one a minister of the treasury in Iraq.
Indeed, it does sound like the idyllic image of the happy slave on the southern plantation. What does Diab have to say, I wonder, about how the Copts are treated in Egypt today?? If Jews were "allowed to return" to their happy homes in Egypt, could they expect better treatment than that given to the Copts??

Indeed, there are stories about how well some Jews and Muslim Arabs got along, even stories like that from Israel. But these stories are from the late Ottoman period when European powers had forced the Ottoman Empire to relax the dhimmi restrictions and humiliations on non-Muslims and give them more equal treatment [which was never full equality]. In that period, it is my belief, many Muslim Arabs saw the Jews as less threatening to their order or dispensation than Christians, who were demanding or fighting for independence in several parts of the empire, Crete, Armenia, Bulgaria, etc. So, it is my theory, some Muslim Arabs came closer to the Jews in various places.

Let me just add that many Europeans, including Britishers, find that Arab accusations against Jews are convenient for alleviating their own sense of guilt toward Jews in Europe or Jews generally, and confirm and justify their own old prejudices against Jews.

bataween said...

What you say is right, Eliyahu. The question is not whether Jews and Arabs can live together, BUT ON WHOSE TERMS? That's why I think so much of these dialogue and coexistence initiatives in Israel and elsewhere miss the point.
People like Khaled Diab are interesting and thoughtful. Diab has recognised the suffering of the Jews,but he is not ready to blame the Arabs for it.