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Middle Israel: Undelivered speeches (3) (JERUSALEM POST) By AMOTZ ASA-EL 01/28/05)Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1106796048752 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
My fellow Palestinians

A hundred years have elapsed since an Arab first foresaw the historic clash between us and the Jews, when he - Negib Azouri was his name - wrote in his Le Reveail de la Nation Arabe that the Arab and Jewish national movements "will have to fight each other until one of them prevails."

While in many ways prophetic, this assessment was also emblematic of our tragedy, for Mr. Azouri was not a Palestinian. Rather, his pan- Arabist zeal was part of a Lebanese Christian´s effort to be accepted into the modern Arab mainstream, which of course was dominated by Muslims.

Since then our cause has been hijacked, abused and all but destroyed by a succession of self-appointed crusaders.

First, our founding leader, Haj Amin el-Husseini, led us to a catastrophic confrontation with the British Empire. Not only did that choice result in the mass hangings of Palestinian warriors, it also enticed the Jews to start building an army. We never like thinking about this, but it´s time this Palestinian leader told the Palestinian people that when the Jews returned here it was not part of a desire to engage in violence; they had had enough of that when they lived among the Christians. Rather, they came here eager to build, plant and create; had we not provoked them they would never have built the army that ultimately killed so many of us.

Our next grand mistake came after World War II.

Tragically, not one among us understood what had happened to the Jews, and what that had to mean for us. Had we been sober at the time, we would have conceded that the great Jewish nation had just been dealt the most severe blow any nation had ever been dealt by another, and that the Jews would restore themselves in their ancestral land no matter what the cost. Our refusal to acknowledge that at the time - and in my personal case even decades later - ultimately left us not only defeated on the battlefield, but also dispossessed, displaced, and disenfranchised.

Just think about it: To avoid the infamous Nakba all we needed to do was accept the UN partition resolution of 1947, not to mention the much more generous Peel Commission proposal of 1937.

OUR NEXT catastrophe came the morning after the Nakba.

Blinded by the pan-Arab effort to fight on our behalf against the young Jewish state, we abandoned our destiny to the devices of the assorted generalissimos, princes and kinglings who had seized control of the great Arab nation as the colonial era drew to a close.

Back in the 1930s and 1940s we mismanaged our diplomacy not only by opposing Britain, but also by siding with Germany. And it wasn´t just Haj Amin; From Rashid Ali who led a pro-Nazi coup in Iraq, through his supporters in Syria who eventually established the Ba´ath Party, to the young Gamal Abdel Nasser, who lamented the Reich´s defeat when it happened, and Anwar Sadat who actually spied for the Nazis, the Arab nation seemed all but determined to defy historical gravity.

Think about it: We backed the Germans when they were actually pushing Jews to move to Palestine, and fought the British even when they were fending the Jews off.

It was that kind of stupidity that continued to dominate our diplomatic conduct in the coming years. Who forced us to choose the Soviets as our allies during the Cold War? Nobody. We could have gone with America and offered our nation a better life. But we always insisted on defying the historical, political and economic rules of gravity. That, of course, is how my predecessor later backed Saddam Hussein, even at the horrible cost of a massive Palestinian expulsion from Kuwait and a boycott by much of the world, including even our Saudi brethren.

Even after that, there was no stopping us from committing the most incredibly absurd mistakes. We violated, in broad daylight, our signed agreement to never again resort to violence in our dealings with Israel; not only did we wage yet another futile war on the Jews, we actually targeted their civilians; and not only did we kill so many innocent and defenseless people, even babies in their mothers´ arms, we nurtured, glorified and systematically deployed suicides.

Moreover, we had lost not only the capacity, but even the pretence of controlling our violence. My predecessor never privatized anything, except one thing: violence. That one function, which civilized societies are always careful to place in the hands of the state, we abandoned to the devices of assorted clans, hoodlums and warlords.

LET´S FACE it - for the better part of a century, we had gone mad; now the time has come to restore sanity.

I am on record for having realized long ago that our war was impractical. Now I want to say more than that: It was also immoral.

It was immoral not only in its means, which so frequently involved the deliberate murder of innocent people, but also in its aims, which boiled down to a robbery-victims´ insistence that we deserved everything and our adversaries nothing.

We were not robbed. The Jews are the ones who were robbed. First, Christianity tried to rob their soul, then fascism tried to rob their body, and then we tried to rob their land. It´s time we realized all these efforts were equally criminal, pathological and doomed to fail.

Now we can become the wellspring not only of our own tribe´s renewal, but of the entire Arab nation´s; we can become the source of inspiration for a new generation of Arabs who will seek to be engaged in rather than enraged by the world about them.

It´s been a century since old Negib Azouri predicted that Arab and Jew were predestined to fight until one of the two prevailed. It´s time to introduce a new century, one in which Arab and Jew give way, reconcile, and cooperate - until both win.

Last in a three-part series (© 1995-2005, The Jerusalem Post 01/28/05)

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