Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Arab man's burden

I can understand the Jews demanding, after their experience at Nazi hands, that they should be given some piece of territory somewhere in the world, where they would be masters in their own house and where there would be an asylum for any Jews who, in future might be threatened with a repetition of what the Nazis did.

But, if the Jews had a claim to be given a piece of territory, this should have been done at the expense of the Western nation that had done its worst to exterminate the Jews..

If the creation of a new state of Israel was judged to be a legitimate form of compensation to the surviving Jews, the territory for this state should have been taken from the Europeans, not from the Arabs.

The new Israel should not have been carved out of Arab Palestine; it should have been carved out of Central Europe.

This point seems to me to be simple and obvious. But, once, when I made it in a lecture in a Western country, (not Germany, not Britain), it was received with shouts of laughter.

The people who laughed were not Jews; they were non-Jewish Westerners, and the country was one that has been traditionally opposed to colonialism.

Yet, they laughed because it seemed to them preposterous that a Western nation should be made to pay for its own crimes with its own territory, when the West's moral debt to the Jews could, so it seemed to these Westerners, be settled by giving the Jews the territory of a non-Western people that committed no crime at all against the Jews.

This laughter shocked me because it revealed to me what seems to me a shocking persistence of the colonialist attitude of mind. A guilty Western people's territory was to be sacrosanct, because, though guilty, they were Westerners.

An innocent non-Western people's territory could, it was held, legitimately be given away to the Jews by the victorious Western powers.This amounts to the declaration of the inequality of the Western and the non-Western sections of the human race.

It is a claim that Westerners are privileged, however guilty they may be. It is a denial of those universal human rights that, in truth, are possessed by every man, woman, and child in the world, irrespective of differences in civilization; religion, nationality and race.

-- Arnold Toynbee, Two Aspects of the Palestine Question, in Arnold Toynbee, Importance of the Arab World (1962).

via Lawrence of Cyberia.


a_akak said...

To long PH but will read the rest later :)

Fe Aman Allah

on the edge said...

Love the editorial cartoon !!! The article is naive and surely was written by some one that obviously doesn't have a clue to the importance of that little strip of land in the Middle East huh ? Otherwise the reasoning behind the political move of interrupting the Arab nationalizing of the region in solidarity would be clear to them .No way would Western politics ever allow that to happen !

Highlander said...

I repeatedly say the same thing to my so called 'Western' friends, colleagues , acquaintances etc.. but each time the reaction is ranging from "err..".. denial, hostility or "this is their ancestral land" line... I gave up :P zay ili infukh fi gerba mafshusha or whatever that proverb was lol

Thanks for the post PH and glad someone did mention it at least.

Good Girl said...

Simply Arab were as always the easy target....this is all.
I am not among your blogger's list...:( Ehhhhhhhhh(sigh)

PH said...

@ a_akak :

Too long ? come on don't be lazy :P

@ on the edge :

"No way would Western politics ever allow that to happen !"

too true .

@ Highlander :

you're welcome.

@ good girl :

"Simply Arab were as always the easy target.."

and we are the most profitable ... oil and strategic waterways ;).

I am not among your blogger's list."

added you :D.

salaam all.