Remembrance and Arabs

by Yasmine Fahim   - (January 31, 2005)

I have written and deleted, rewritten and re-deleted, many times over my own responses to mails which expressed either disappointment at the Arab communities for refusing to attend the Holocaust remembrance, or outright obfuscation at the boycott. I have not been able until today to put down my thoughts without sounding, in Western terms, "racist, prejudiced, or anti-Semitic." But today, I no longer can refrain from writing down my honest thoughts: in no way can we, Arabs, in all honesty and sense of integrity, take part in the remembrance of a shameful historical event which has given Israel, and its supporters, too many excuses to treat Palestinians, and Arabs as well, in just as horrifying ways.

We are saturated with movies and books and conferences and speeches and debates which keep portraying all Jewish communities as innocent lambs who continue to suffer prejudice while the plight of Palestinians, at the hands of Israelis who are Jewish, remains neglected. Not only this, the Western communities in general insist on accusing the Palestinian of behaving in such ways as to merit this kind of treatment. After all, how dare they hold on to their lands, their identities, their homes, their dignities? How dare they resist?

Moreover, are the Jewish people the only ones to have suffered massive massacres? How about the Russians whom Stalin massacred? How about the Arabs across the Middle East who fell victims to the invasions and occupations of Western countries? How about Sabra and Shatilah? How about the horrors and infuriating abuse of innocent Iraqis? How about the French who ended up in concentration camps along with the Jewish prisoners? How about Hiroshima and Vietnam? How about the people of Argentina? And Africa?

So it goes that Arabs are mostly juvenile, or despicable, or barbarians who hate Israel and want to throw Jews into the sea. But we never really hear the truth about Israel and the blindness of those who support its tactics and criminal acts against Palestinians, as well as its arrogance regarding its neighbouring countries.

Because of the Holocaust, we must forgive Israel and love it blindly and allow it to continue its illegal activities. Because of the Holocaust, we must forgive all the slander, the injustice, the humiliation, the transgressions, the bias, the double-standard, the insults, the accusations, the arrogance, the crimes, the abuse, the tortures, the disdain, the lies, the charade and then take part in the hypocrisy. Because of the Holocaust, we Arabs, and Muslims in particular, must pay the price for the racism perpetrated on Jews by Europe. Because of it, we must endure it all and pretend that Israel truly wants peace with us, that it has no intention of pushing its borders farther into our lands.

To those who haven't gotten the point, to those who persist in finding faults with us, I would like to say this: "Live among us. Live our history. Live our frustrations and helplessness. Experience our fears, our memories, our heritage, our refugee camps, our disasters, our vulnerabilities in the face of two great imperialistic nations: USA and Israel. Experience the horrors of those whom the occupations have victimized and discarded as non-important obstacles. Then judge.