Arab Council Against BDS – Inviting Jews back “Home”. Hmmm.
I may ruffle some feathers here, but I gave myself time to synthesize the thing and I still feel now the same way I did when the article Arab Thinkers Call to Abandon Boycotts and Engage with Israel first came out. I grimmaced and felt my spine straighten, like a boxer anticipating the next move of his or her opponent.
And the latest events, in which the UAE, Oman, and Bahrain attended the unveiling of Trump’s Deal of the Century and Saudia Arabia is reportedly a contributor to the economic part of the deal, has not changed that.
It looks so good: Thirty people from all walks of civil society, from 15 Arab countries, took part in the creation of a new body, the Arab Council for Regional Integration. Their mission is one of “peace and love and friendship,” whose aim is to repair relations with the Jewish state.
Members had been meeting for a number of years behind closed doors but this year they made their meeting public. They suffer death threats, of course. Among the things said were:
Al-Nisf . . . had plenty to condemn. It was, he said, “a mistake to insist on Israel’s being a racist apartheid state when it clearly is not. At the beginning of their immigration to Palestine, Jews did not treat Arabs as whites treated the indigenous peoples of America, South Africa and Rhodesia. There have never been segregated public facilities in Israel, nor any question of basic democratic rights being denied to Arab citizens of Israel. Enough of this ridiculous charade.
It is certainly music to my ears to hear the truth spoken by those who were raised to believe we are the devil.
They declared that they want to
break the barrier of boycotting within the region — in particular, the Arab boycott of Israelis — which hindered partnership in technology, medicine, infrastructure, business, economy and the expanse of human aspiration.
and acknowledged that the boycott
stymied hopes for peace between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.
One day they anticipate that Jews will be able to return to the Arab countries from which they were expelled upon Israel’s reestablishment as an modern state. As founding members of the Arab Council, Mostafa El-Dessouki and Eglal Gheita, wrote in wsj.com:
Peace has eluded the region for generations. But we’re determined to push for cooperation between the Arab world and Israel, firm in our belief that the benefits of partnership must replace the ravages of exclusion.
Just like Spain? Is there going to be a new trend whereby the Jews are invited back to the places from which we were expelled and upon whose soil our extermination was sought with glee?
I do not want to be loved, thank-you very much. I do not seek the approval of anyone. I seek respect. And in order to garner the respect of others, we have to behave from a position of respect for ourselves.
Everything we do we do because that is who we are. We engage in humanitarian efforts around the globe, not so that others will like us, but just because that is who we are; we are drawn like a magnet when we see other people in need. We develop groundbreaking technological inventions because of our insatiable curiousity and drive. Not so that others will praise us. I am not immune to the praise, but I do not want that to become a stand-in for understanding that we have human rights regardless of what we contribute to human society.
Therefore, while I appreciate the activities of movements like the Arab Council for Regional Integration and countries that support normalization of relations with us, I remain skeptical.
How long would we be welcome “back home” before we became scapegoat once more?
And, also to the point: if we did not excel in scientific, medical and technological innovations, if we had not contributed so much to the economic health of the societies in which lived, would the Arabs feel any remorse for having kicked us out of the lands in which we thrived for centuries?
If I am only human deserving of human rights because of what I can do for you, I remain suspicious. I support Israel establishing relations with you, but I am in position, with my hands held up in protective mode in case you decide we have outstayed our welcome once more.