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Avnery on Arabs and Anti-Semites

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  • PeaceNowUK@aol.com
    Uri Avnery: 31.3.01 Take Your Bag and Get Out! Years ago a French anti-Semite asked to meet my friend Issam Sartawi, Yasser Arafat s special emissary in
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 31, 2001
      Uri Avnery:

      "Take Your Bag and Get Out!"

          Years ago a French anti-Semite asked to meet my friend Issam Sartawi,
      Yasser Arafat's special emissary in Paris. He offered him the help of the
      anti-Semites in the fight against Israel. Sartawi interrupted him: "Sir," he
      said, "Take your papers and get out!"
          "The guy disgusted me," he said when he told me about it the next day.
          I remembered this the other day, when I read the statement by the Arab
      intellectuals, who convinced the Lebanese government to cancel a meeting in
      Beirut of Holocaust deniers from all over the world. Among the signatories
      were Mahmoud Darwish, the Palestinian national poet, Edward Said, the
      well-known Palestinian-American professor, Adonis, the great Lebanese poet,
      Elias Sanbar, the Palestinian historian, and other esteemed figures from all
      over the Arab world.
          It was a resounding slap in the face for the anti-Semites. They would
      like to adopt the Palestinian cause, because since the Holocaust,
      anti-Semitism is not longer respectable, while the Palestinian struggle for
      freedom is respected by decent people around the world.
          On the Palestinian side, the temptation to accept the offer is great.
      "The enemy of my enemy is my friend," says the old adage. The anti-Semites
      fight against the Jews, the Jews support Israel, Israel oppresses the
      Palestinians. The conclusion seems obvious - but is manifestly false.
      Because, objectively speaking, anti-Semitism is the worst enemy of the
          The whole Zionist movement came into being as a reaction to
      anti-Semitism. The notorious Dreyfus affair drove Theodor Herzl into writing
      "Der Judenstaat", the founding document of the movement. It was
      anti-Semitism, which had become the hallmark of all national movements in
      Europe, that prevented the assimilation of the Jews in the modern nations and
      convinced them to form their own, separate, Jewish national movement. Without
      anti-Semitism, there would have been none of the great waves of Jewish
      immigration to Palestine.
          The Holocaust did not create the Zionist enterprise, but it gave it an
      immense impetus. Without the (belated) awakening of world's conscience, the
      State of Israel would not have come into being at the time and in the form it
          During the last few years we have witnessed another great wave of
      immigrants from the former Soviet Union, largely prompted by Russian
          The historian Isaac Deutscher compared our conflict to a man jumping
      from the window of a burning apartment and landing on the head of a passerby.
      If the Jews had not jumped from the burning European apartment, they would
      not have landed on the head of the Palestinian people.
          In this respect, the Palestinian struggle differs from any other fight
      for freedom. When the blacks were fighting for their rights in South Africa,
      the whole world detested the racist apartheid regime. All the peoples who
      revolted against colonial oppression could rely on the sympathy of
      well-meaning people around the world. But the Palestinians had to fight the
      victims of the Holocaust, who enjoyed world sympathy. As they themselves like
      to say, they are "the victims of the victims".
          All Israeli governments have exploited the memory of the Holocaust in
      order to gain sympathy in their fight against the Palestinians. Begin called
      Arafat an "Arab Hitler". Even today the Holocaust is being used to prevent
      any criticism of Israel in Europe. Every foreign dignitary who comes to
      Israel in order to preach against its treatment of the Palestinians is taken
      to "Yad Vashem" and shuts up.
          No wonder the Palestinians see the Holocaust as an instrument directed
      against them, and many of them view it solely in this light. That may be
      understandable, but it is not wise.
          Edward Said has said that the Palestinians will never understand
      Israel's actions if they do not study the history of the Holocaust. That is
      very wise counsel. Without knowing about anti-Semitism in general, and the
      Holocaust in particular, Israeli behavior cannot be understood - much as
      without knowing about the expulsion and ongoing occupation, Palestinian
      behavior cannot be understood. Of course, the expulsion of hundreds of
      thousands cannot be compared to the murder of millions, but disaster is
      disaster and pain is pain.
          It's good that the Arab world has told the Holocaust deniers, as Sartawi
      told his guest: "Take your bag and get out!"     
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