As a progressive Zionist I’ll be the last to suggest that Israel has no responsibility for the fact that 23 years after the Oslo Accords, there is still no State of Palestine. But I also believe that had the founding voice of Palestinian nationalism been a charismatic moral giant like Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi instead of a bloody terrorist the likes of Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian people would have had their state long ago.
News that a Jewish couple were murdered in front of their own children in the last 24 hours on the West Bank and the incredibly painful-to-watch video below remind us that the worst enemy of the Palestinian people are not any particular Jews or Israelis but Palestinian enmity for the Jewish people.
Hate is an attempt through words, deeds and emotions to dehumanize one’s enemies. Ironically, hater’s don’t realize or care how dehumanizing is to them. Palestinian contempt for Jews and the Zionist entity has done more damage to their cause than Islamophobia or intolerant Israeli right-wing nationalists ever could.
Venomously yelling Allah Akbar, God is Great at people you loathe and encouraging your children to do the same doesn’t mean that your cause is just or that Allah is on your side. On the contrary, it suggests you’ve surrendered both your faith in the God of all people and the humanity that Islam, Judaism and Christianity demand from their followers. Heros committed to a noble cause don’t murder noncombatant civilians. Murdering parents in front of their children has to be ultimate act of depravity utilized by people who worship evil, not Allah.
ALLAH AKBAR is what people whose faith is so strong that their civility can never be compromised have the right to proclaim with pride.
Just recently in thinking about Ben Carson and Bobby Jindal, I suggested in a post on FB that some Republicans of color work hard at whitewashing their public persona. A couple of people suggested my comments were racist. If a person doesn’t take pride in their own religious, cultural or racial heritage and dedicates his/her life to mimicking the beliefs, values, rhetoric and prejudices of the tribe he or she most admires, who’s really the racist?
As a Jew and a Zionist, I took great pride in the remarks offered Sherif Gaber in this video. Then I challenged myself to consider whether or not I was not guilty of double standard. Afterall, isn’t Gaber essentially saying that the Jews and Israel -who are the sworn enemies of much of the Arab world, aren’t deserving of all that enmity? Is Sherif Gaber not guilty of rejecting his own heritage to celebrate someone else’s?
No. Sherif Gaber has no desire to be Jewish or live in Israel. In fact, in spite of being arrested and charged with “promoting immoral values” by Egyptian security forces, he has chosen to remain a Muslim living in Egypt. Gaber’s message, unlike that of say of a Clarence Thomas type conservative Black Republican is not, I’m going to reject my heritage and act like the most zealot member of another group, rather it’s just the opposite. Gaber is saying to his fellow Arabs, get past the argument about whether or not the Jews and Israel belong in this part of the world and let’s take full advantage of what they have accomplished in the cause of improving our own countries. Look at where we are and where Israel is in regard to democracy, human rights, technology, education, etc? Can we really afford to hate them and want to destroy them? For what purpose?
That’s a far cry from Bobby Jindal trying to act more Christian than the Pope or Ben Carson using classic white Christian conservative prejudices about abortion, gays and Muslims as a platform for his Presidential campaign.
In listening to Sherif Gaber I hear a proud Egyptian Muslim reading his own family the riot act about the energy and resources being wasted on hate. History has proven that no government, no religious tradition or national state can survive and flourish if their primary mission statement has more to do with the vilification of others than building a better world. Sherif Gaber gets that and wishes Muslims in general and his fellow Egyptians in particular would put more time and energy into building successful, affluent, democratic state, dare I say, like Israel.
Watching this video made me so proud, so optimistic, so reassured that in spite of the hot-heads, bigots, tribalists, Islamophobes, “my god can beat up your god” morons out there, there are Muslim, Jewish, Arab, Israeli, Africans, Europeans, Christians and mensches of all kinds out there to keep us believing in peace, SOMEDAY? SOON! PLEASE!!