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Jews, Arab Muslims in the same boat

By-Mohssen Arishie | 1 November 2009

Some readers did not accept my argument that Jews, like Arab Muslims, are the victims of racism and xenophobia inherent in the West. I discussed that argument in my comments on the results of the UNESCO elections last month, in which I doubted that Jewish lobbyists played a leading role in the ousting of the Egyptian candidate, Minister of Culture Farouq Hosni. Although I always appreciate and respect my readers' protests, I would like those who found my ideas unthinkable to consider the following scenario.In the wake of the 9/11 incidents in the US

 American racist and xenophobic elements started causing problems for American Muslims of Arab origin. Arab women wearing the traditional Muslim headdress, the hijab, suffered insults and rude remarks to such an extent that they had to shy away from appearing in public until American society recovered from the post-September 11 trauma. Wrongly believing that Arab Muslims were filled with hatred towards the culture and the lifestyle of the infidel West, US xenophobic and racist elements attacked Arab men and women in public, even physically. The former US administration of President George W. Bush scrambled to cool the outrage simmering in US society over any people or anything connected with Islam. The rising tide of anti-Muslim feelings, which gripped the American psyche hard, lapped the shores of European countries, in which their Muslim citizens of Arab origin suffered like their fellow Muslims in the US. Eventually, to save their children and women from more brutality and atrocity, Muslims of Arab origin decided to shut themselves up in their homes and lead reclusive lives. Now, let's suppose that the former US administration and its contemporary governments in Europe cynically exploited the physical and psychological sufferings of their Muslim citizens of Arab origin to encourage them to return to their place of origin - to Saudi Arabia in particular - on the pretext that the Arab Gulf was the birthplace of the Prophet Mohamed. The conspiracy would be more effective if a series of meetings were held with leaders of Muslim communities in the US and Europe, to persuade them to accept being deported in exchange for huge compensation and protection. They would have to abandon their homes, possessions, businesses and memories, and go back to their new, alleged home country.Back to my argument that Jews and Arabs are both the victims of racist and xenophobic elements in the West and the US, I argued that, before their 'deportation' from Europe during the last century to settle permanently in Palestine, European Jews had to lead a reclusive life in ghettoes to escape religious persecution.They were persecuted for allegedly torturing and murdering Jesus Christ. (It was only in 1988 that Pope John Paul II endorsed reforms by the Vatican to absolve Jews' historical responsibility for the death of Jesus). Before their deportation - not emigration - to Palestine, Jews in different European countries were regarded as pariahs. It was not the regime of Hitler alone, which brutally murdered millions of Jews, as they had been forced to retreat ignominiously into their ghettoes, long before the Nazis assumed power in Germany.My fictional scenario, set in post-September 11 US and Europe, is obviously inspired by steps taken in Europe to deport Jewish citizens. First, Theodor Herzl tried to save the Jews from centuries-long atrocities in Europe by securing them a homeland in Palestine with the consent of the Ottoman Empire and the German Kaiser. Herzl also suggested that Uganda or Argentina might have the potential to be a Jewish homeland. UK's Foreign Secretary, Lord Arthur James Balfour, tried to press a Russian Zionist, Chaim Wezmann, to accept Uganda as a national home. Perhaps it was the fact that fair-skinned Jews and the black people of Uganda might make strange bedfellows, which compelled Weizmann to reject a homeland in this African country. Geography and oceans could have been behind the Jews' refusal to settle permanently in Argentina. Instead, Weizmann managed to convince Balfour that Palestine would be the perfect homeland for the Jews, especially as this Arab land is the home of Solomon's Temple, regarded by the Jews as their holy shrine. (Compare this with the idea of selecting Saudi Arabia as a potentially suitable homeland for Muslim deportees from the US and Europe). Balfour found the idea of Palestine appealing and expressed British support for a Jewish national home in this Arab land in a declaration named after him. We all know the rest of the story, so I won't elaborate. But it is tragic that the victims (the Jews) are venting their suppressed anger and frustration on none but the innocent, while tolerating their former prison guards.
 

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