Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Miki wishes to point out, in reaction to yesterday's post, that no one seems to question the fact that the Palestinians exist as a people. True. In actual fact, if it weren’t for Israel there certainly wouldn’t be a Palestinian nation (Hey, they owe us ;-)). If it weren’t for us, they would be no more than inhabitants of a district in Syria, or in a Greater Transjordan, or in Egypt, maybe even in Iraq (See, without the Israeli threat, Iraq might have swallowed up the Hashemite Jordanian Kingdom years and years ago).

But all this is speculation, just like trying to wish Israel and the Israelis away into non-existence. The Palestinians exist, like it or not. And their tragedy is a real one; their suffering is not imaginary. However, it could have been avoided had they had the wisdom and foresight to accept the Partition Plan of 1947, dividing the country between Arabs and Jews. We accepted it (What accepted?! We rejoiced! We danced in the streets!). They did not. They waged war. And they paid a terrible price.

And they continue to wage war, and continue to pay a terrible price.

Life is about adapting to change. This is rarely easy. We Jews had our fair share of adapting to change in the twentieth century, as well (and isn't that the understatement of the century?).

One summer, in Sinai, Bish and I made friends with a young Egyptian student. For various reasons, we were the first Israelis he had ever met, and he was amazed at the way we didn't fit the stereotype he had had in his head. He told us about a Palestinian who lived in his village. He explained that this Palestinian was widely disliked in the village (as were many of the Palestinians living in Egypt), because he was regarded as being badly behaved, pushy, money-grabbing ... Sound familiar?

It crossed my mind then that the Palestinians could be to many in the rest of the Arab world what the Jews are to many Europeans and other westerners. They don't like them. They often treat them badly and discriminate against them. They feel obliged to speak out in their favor, as lip service, as a sort of inner-Arabic political correctness, but they are not prepared to accept them, or actually do anything for them. Quite the contrary. Over the years, the Palestinians' Arab brethren have done little but contribute to, and perpetuate, the Palestinians' suffering.

How sad.

Sad also that the Palestinians and we Israelis have so much in common, but can’t get on with one another.

[Miki, thank you for inspiring this post, with your thought-provoking remarks.]

Update: Some interesting observations by Brian Ulrich.