"It may be necessary to recall the history of this Palestinian tragedy.
In 1947 Israel accepted the plan for the division of Palestine; the Arabs
rejected it." With these words, Elie Wiesel, launched into a rant
full of Zionist mythology on the editorial pages of The New York Times
(NYT 1/ 24/2001).
I happen to agree with Elie Wiesel on the need to recall the history
of the Palestinians. We simply differ on the historical record. His memories
of the events that have tormented the Palestinians for over half a century
are selective and inaccurate.
When Wiesel and other American Jews talk of the Palestinians, we Americans
of Arab heritage must demand that they not corrupt the historic record
with their faulty memories. Why has it taken Wiesel five decades to address
the question of the civil rights of Israeli Arabs? He also needs to explain
his role as an apologist for the continued Israeli military occupation
of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.
To ask Wiesel to do less would only allow him to continue to insult the
memories of Arab-Americans. Yes, Elie, we also walk around with the wounds
inflicted by our memories. We bear in our hearts the burden of grief over
the unbelievable injustices that have been inflicted on our people. Lest
you be lulled into complacency after fifty years of doing successful public
relations to honor the memory of your people, never assume that our memory
of Palestinian history will be erased.
No amount of political or media muscle is going to pull the curtain on
the historical record of how the Palestinians were forced out of their
homeland. Indeed, many Israelis, including Hebrew University historians,
have already reconciled themselves to the fact that Zionist mythological
history will need to be abandoned. Wiesel would do the cause of peace a
huge favor by refreshing his own memories of Palestinian/Israeli history.
For a man who is enmeshed in memory, it is difficult to understand his
amnesia of what transpired during the period of the British mandate and
how the Palestinians were forced into exile.
Wiesel never passes up the opportunity to remind Europeans and Americans
of what they need to remember about the Holocaust. They gave him a Nobel
Prize for the constant reminders. He has spared no effort to let the world
know what happened to his people when a cruel test of faith induced in
Nazi Europeans the madness to slaughter European Jews and European Gypsies.
Those of us who have absorbed the lessons of the Holocaust assumed that
kind of irrational behavior had been forever banished from the heart and
soul of Europe, until Milosovic re-ignited the demon with his policy of
This time around, it was a test of Islamic faith that was reason enough
to allow one group of Europeans to attempt the extermination of another
group of Europeans. During that last episode of European carnage in the
Balkans, Wiesels interest was confined to arguing why we should not
compare Milosovics ethnic cleansing to Hitlers Holocaust. Such
a comparison was enough to insult his memories of the slaughter of his
people. He appeared to be more concerned about the insults to his memory
than in condemning the ongoing slaughter.
It has been two thousand years since the birth of our lord Jesus. It
is unfortunate that over the centuries since this Jewish Palestinian prophet
preached his message of universal love and tolerance, many Europeans and
others have twisted his message into a license to commit mass hate crimes
against the Gypsies, the Jews, the Muslims, the Heathens, the pagans and
the wiccans, to mention a few.
To this day, many Europeans seem to harbor a deep disdain for Gypsies.
The Gypsies of Europe, who in places like Slovakia and Rumania have actually
been walled off from the rest of the population, continue to bear the trials
and tribulations of being an unwanted and unloved cultural minority in
Europe. Under the Nazis, the Gypsies were mercilessly slaughtered by the
thousands. They suffered the same fate as the European Jews.
Now, Mr. Wiesel, I have a question for you and other Zionists. What if,
in the year 2001, the Gypsy leaders of Europe, in despair at their current
conditions and their past treatment, would propose the creation of a Gypsy
homeland to shelter their people from European bigotry. Which little country
in the world would Elie Wiesel recommend we vacate to accommodate their
aspirations. Malta? Tunisia? Jamaica? Which people would volunteer to give
up their country to these refugees from an oppressive Europe? Argentina?
It stands to reason that what we find morally repugnant today, we would
consider morally repugnant a century ago. When we review the ghastly history
of man on this planet, we are aghast because we judge it by todays
moral standards. In this day and age, the world community and the European
states would not dare to solve their Gypsy problems by vacating
a little country like Jamaica or Tunisia to create a country as Gypsy as
England is English. Indeed, such a ludicrous proposal would not see the
light of day in the halls of the United Nations, in the American Congress
or in the British Parliament. The reason is simple. The world would not
tolerate the notion of administering such cruel collective punishment on
Jamaicans or Tunisians for the European sins against the Gypsies.
A half a century ago, the Anglo-American allies who emerged as victors
in World War II, the greatest generation, reacted with revulsion against
the Holocaust, that most monstrous of modern European crimes.
They came up with a solution that was an extension of the
crime. They would finally agree to grant the Jews of Europe a shelter
country by creating a Jewish State in Palestine. Many European Jews
had already found refuge in Palestine, either as immigrants motivated by
Zionist ideology or as refugees from Nazi horror chambers. The British,
who had conquered Palestine from the Turks during the course of the First
World War, had a mandate from the League of Nations to prepare the Palestinians
for eventual self government. Under the cover of that Mandate, they had
allowed a creeping annexation of Palestine by Zionists. The Jewish community,
mostly European immigrants, had grown to a third of the population during
the Mandate years and the stage was set for the exile of the Palestinians.
By 1947, the United "European" Nations came up with a partition
plan. The Palestinians would be asked to vacate half their country to make
room for a State as "Jewish as England is English". And if the
Palestinians didnt like it, the well-armed Jewish minority, including
a large number of soldiers who had fought as part of the British Army,
would take care of business by force of arms. Well, Weisel has conveniently
erased this chapter of Palestinian history from his memory. He not only
rationalizes the dispossession of the Palestinians; he is willing to defame
the victims as "extremists".
One can understand how Zionism might have been acceptable to both the
British public and to European and American Jews fifty years ago. After
all, this was the same European public that had inflicted the Holocaust
and it was the same European governments that were still very much involved
in colonial enterprises. Europe might have been torn to pieces during the
course of the war, but England and France emerged from the ashes with every
intention of holding onto their imperial estates in Africa, Asia and the
It is perhaps one of the most absurd historic ironies that the Jews of
Europe were consolidating their colonial hold on Palestine as other Europeans
were being forced to dismantle their empires.
What is even more ironic is that the Jews of Europe were abandoning the
land of their birth at the very moment that Western Europe was emerging
into a democratic liberal political haven where Jews could live and prosper.
They had witnessed the nightmare and they left before the dawn of a new
infinitely more humane European epoch.
For Weisel to condone what happened to the Palestinians is beyond belief.
I will allow that he is a man who appears to embody a constant state grief
over the agony of his people. He is certainly entitled to immerse himself
in the dark memories of the Holocaust. Having said that, he is not entitled
to pedal the insidious and inciteful Zionist historic mythology. Because,
it insults my memory and it insults the memory of every Palestinian.
I have always maintained that the Israelis are not afraid that a Palestinian
State would have Palestinian guns, they are afraid of Palestinian history
books and Palestinian museums. They are afraid of Palestinian science books
that document DNA testing conclusively proving that the Palestinians were
the "First People of Palestine" and that Elie Weisel is an American
of European heritage who has as much claim to Jerusalem as a member of
the Navajo tribe.
There is a raw intellectual dishonesty about Zionists. They are masters
of contrived history and double speak, in a manner very similar to the
communists. They are true believers who not only want to shape the future,
but are willing to disfigure the past to accommodate their political agenda.
If an American Zionist Jew and an American Zionist Christian can be so
tolerant of Jewish supremacy in the Israeli state, I have to wonder why
their intolerance does not stretch across the ocean to the shores of these
United States. I have to reassess how far we really have to go as a nation
before we achieve racial harmony and religious tolerance. While many American
Jews and their allies profess a "liberal" agenda, I have to question
the depth of their conviction about all matters regarding civil rights
and religious and racial tolerance.
We need an immediate end to this constant Judo-Christian European-American
guilt tripping at the expense of the Palestinians. It is perhaps the major
reason that so many Americans still sympathize with the Israelis, who conveniently
identify themselves as fellow-Europeans stranded in a dangerous
Middle East. Yet, when it suits their purposes, the Zionists will harp
on their alleged roots as an ancient Middle Eastern people "returning"
to their lands. One of the craziest things about the modern Israeli, the
pseudo-European who has emerged from the Zionist experience, is that while
he loves the real estate in the Middle East, he doesnt understand
a thing about the native people of the Middle East. In their chauvinism,
the Israelis differ little from the Pied Noir French settlers in Algeria.
Weisel and other Zionists constantly hammer on is their "historic right
of return" after 2000 years of absence. Yet they insist on denying the
Palestinians the right of return after a 50 year forced exile. I am certain
that Weisel is aware that the "right of return" of the Jews is based on
a test of faith and not actual ancestry. On the other hand, the Palestinians
make their claims with the deeds to the land in the villages and towns
that were erased to make room for the creation of a Jewish country.
History has been cruel to the Palestinians whose whole existence as a
people was disrupted so folks like Elie Weisel could set up an exclusively
Jewish country to shelter them from the torments of Europe. Now, one can
understand why Europeans and European-Americans might want to make up for
the grotesque unfathomable sin of the Holocaust. But the Palestinians are
as innocent of that crime as the Polynesians. If Europeans want to make
up for the sins of their fathers, let them make a contribution from their
father's estate not from the flesh and blood of an innocent people like
The Jews in Israel and America need to stop talking amongst themselves
and start listening hard to Palestinians and Arab-Americans. It will be
good for peace in the Middle East and social harmony in America. In the
meantime, Elie Weisel will need to ponder his personal acts of cruelty
against the memory of the Palestinian people.