There are two kinds of Arabs in this world. Those who hate Jews, and those who don’t. And in my life, I have met more of the former than the latter.He goes directly to the point, explaining how seemingly intelligent Arabs lose their marbles when it comes to Israel.
I am not proud to say that. Arabs will not like me for admitting it. But it is true. And it is something I wish the Obama administration understood. It is something Americans should know as the “Arab Spring” enters its second year.
I didn’t know much about any of this as a Lebanese kid growing up in New Jersey. But I found out about it when I wrote my first pro-Israel column for my college paper as a young student journalist.
I defended Israel on some point I’ve long forgotten, but what I’ll never forget is the backlash I received from fellow Arabs. Some were Americans, others were students from Arab countries, many of whom I counted as friends.
First came the letters to the editor, then the personal insults. It was as if I’d broken a secret code I didn’t know existed. Some secret blood oath, which goes something like this: Arabs don’t speak unkindly of Arabs in public, or kindly about Israel.
The backlash stunned me. I pondered the pounding I had taken, and floundered a bit. I even thought for a short time of writing something negative about Israel the next time I had a chance, just to balance things out and reestablish my Arab bona fides.
One friend accused me of being a self-hating Arab. He explained to me that I was exploiting my ancestry to ingratiate myself with white America and the Jews who controlled white America.
I explained to him that I was white. And that I was an American. And that I didn’t believe that Jews controlled America. The Jewish men I knew had a hard enough time controlling their own families! But nothing I said helped relieve the tension, not even my stab at humor.
I also explained that many of my Jewish friends did not like my column. Most were liberals from New York or northern New Jersey who assumed I was with them on the politics of the Middle East, that I was in agreement with the governing thesis that drives most Arabs and liberal Jews: that it is Israel that is the problem in the region, not the Palestinians, and not the Arab world itself.
An Arab American friend of mine who works for a large NGO is a case in point. He is Jordanian, he’s well educated, and he speaks five languages. But mention the word Israel, and watch his blood boil immediately. He will go into a lengthy diatribe about the injustices perpetrated against the Palestinians by Israel. When Prime Minister Netanyahu’s name is mentioned, I worry that he will have a seizure on the spot.Read it all here. Maybe one day there will be more people like him.
Why is this? Why is all of his passion, all of his anger and rage, directed at this one country, this one people?
Why is it not directed at Syria, I ask him? By all accounts, the Syrian government orchestrated the assassination of one of the Arab world’s great men of peace, former Lebanese prime minister Rafic Hariri. And President Assad continues to terrorize his own people.
Why not at Hezbollah, which orchestrated the takeover of Lebanon?
Why not at Hosni Mubarak when he was in power? Or Saddam Hussein?
Why not at the ways in which Islam degrades women in the Middle East, trapping them in a life of servitude?
Why not at the ways some Muslims are persecuting Christians throughout the Middle East, as reports pour in about atrocities upon atrocities?
Why not a critique of the Koran itself, which regrettably finds little separation between mosque and state, thus relegating the majority of Arabs to life under theocratic regimes?
Two reasons: fear, and envy.
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At the moment, the vast majority of Arabs hate the Jews, Israel and the West.
Arabs like Lee Habeeb who have freed themselves of the racist and conspiratorial worldview that rules the thinking of most Arabs are a minority.
Maybe peace will be possible someday. In our generation though, both reality and common sense tell us it is impossible.
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