Will they ever love their children enough?
By Gil Troy, Israel Insider, February 18, 2008
In early February, I wandered into a coffee shop directly across from Concordia University’s main building in downtown Montreal. As I entered, I saw a big poster that read “End Israeli Apartheid,” which detailed all of Israel’s alleged crimes from its founding to the Second Lebanon War.
As usual, the charges were distorted, hysterical, one-sided and completely wrenched out of context. Moreover, the main accusation falsely linking Israel (and Zionism) with the South African crime of apartheid not only misrepresents today’s realities, it robs South Africans of their own authentic historical experience — and suffering. South Africa’s apartheid system in South Africa treated blacks as biologically and legally inferior to whites. To equate the resulting South African crimes against humanity with the fallout from a nationalist clash between Jews and Palestinians turns history on its head and minimizes South Africa’s real evil.
This time, I was also struck by the nihilism of Palestinian nationalism. There was nothing positive about Palestinian identity in the poster. It was only a bill of indictment against Israel. And it’s not just one poster. Examine the websites promoting what I call “Let’s make a false equation between Israel and the racist South African Apartheid regime Week.” Program after program bashes Israel, demonizes Zionism, and bemoans Palestinian suffering.
Compare that hurricane of hate to the websites celebrating Israel’s 60th anniversary. If anything, those websites could be accused of barely acknowledging the complexity in Israel’s history — actually, in any country’s history. But ask yourself, with which movement would you rather associate — and which has a greater chance of success?
This is the great weakness of Palestinian nationalism. Golda Meir captured it decades ago with her observation that has become a truism: there will not be peace until they love their children more than they hate our children. The weakness is also reflected in the jab that one of my peacenik friends once made at one of his Palestinian friends: “Your problem is that you say you want justice and mostly mean you want revenge. Zionism wanted to solve problems — and it did.”
Palestinians and their fellow travellers will attribute this difference to the fact the Israelis won and the Arabs are oppressed. But this difference between the two movements could be found in the 1940s, after Jews lost six million people in the Holocaust, and one per cent of Israel’s Jewish population during the War of Independence — more than 6,000 people.
Nationalist movements only work if they are forward-thinking, if they are building something. Becoming addicted to hatred of the other fosters a temporary state of unity, but it ultimately degenerates into violence and destructiveness. Too much of the Palestinian national movement — and far too much of it on campus and in North America — is devoted to Israel bashing. It creates a culture of martyrdom that celebrates suicide bombers rather than nation builders. It honours leaders such as the late Palestinian Authority president Yasser Arafat, who preferred the purity of perpetual violence to the complexity of compromise. It results, as we now see, in a cult of violence, so that when Hamas turned on Fatah, Palestinians took the violence they directed toward Israelis and turned it on each other.
The entire Arab world seems engulfed by this irrational hatred of Israel and Zionism. Even when Arabs draft an Arab Charter on Human Rights, they include a gratuitous assault on Zionism. The fact that people such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, failed at first to see that perversion demonstrates just how ubiquitous and automatic it has become. History will judge enablers such as Arbour harshly for failing to warn the entire Arab world of the danger of succumbing to this mass demonization.
In contrast to all this negativity, over the last 10 years, for every Israeli that was murdered by Palestinians, nearly 1,000 Israeli children were born. Nefesh B’Nefesh, the organization that has brought thousands of North American Jews to Israel over the last few years, began with the founder’s desire to balance Palestinian murders by bringing more Jews to Israel.
Closer to home, Montreal’s Hillel decided to respond to this year’s Israel apartheid hate-fest by embracing the beleaguered citizens of Sderot.
History is clear: in the long run, bet on those who love life, not those who worship death.
Bet on the builders, not on the haters.
Source: Israel Insider