Smooth-Talking Liar: Al-Rawi and Naqba
Frequent readers of this blog will already be familiar with Omar Al-Rawi, the smooth-talking Muslim member of the Vienna city council, who represents not only the socialist party, but also the Islamic Religious Association. Apart from accusing a distinguished gentleman of being “an enemy of Islam”, he hit a new low today: “60 years of Israel equal 60 years of catastrophe”. In an op-ed in the Austrian daily Die Presse, Al-Rawi says, “The world is celebrating Israel, and we should be allowed to commemorate Naqba.”
There are people celebrating 60 years of the founding of Israel, and there are others who are talking about “naqba”, Arabic for “catastrophe”. Joy and sorrow can lie together very closely. Some are celebrating an anniversary, others are still waiting for statehood. No one is speaking of the Palestinians’ right to statehood. Naturally no one will explicitly question this right, but implicitly everything is being done to prevent this from happening. Illegal settlements are crisscrossing the country and preventing it from being economically and politically viable. This is a policy of fait accompli, a done deal.
Ben Gurion himself once expressed its concern that the Arabs would never recognize Israel. Biblical legitimacy is unilateral, which may apply for the Jews, but this cannot obligate others, especially not the Arabs, the immediate adversaries in the conflict. The horrors of the Holocaust constitutes the convincing argument in this discussion, since none other than Abba Eban called the 1967 borders the borders of Auschwitz.
But this legitimacy is only partly universal, because the Holocaust has committed the Western world to its dark pages of history and because the Palestinians have nothing to do with the Holocaust. Still fresh in our memory is the refusal of the then Foreign Minister of Egypt, Amr Musa, who in the 1990’s refused the otherwise obligatory visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, saying that the Arabs could not be committed to the Holocaust.
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What is left for the Arabs is the factualness of recognition of Israel. And this seems the only possible way of a pragmatic solution. Israel should allow more pragmatic rather than dogmatic discussions. Offers for a ceasefire of ten years or more should be accepted, because both politically and militarily the Israelis are overwhelming. They, above all others, bear the responsibility for ensuring that the deadlock point is overcome.
Jerusalem is already ethnically divided
Hamas will turn into a political movement, provided it gets the opportunity to do so. Such metamorphoses have often taken place in history. There must be a solution to the large problems — status of Jerusalem, settlements, right of return of displaced Palestinians — and they must be addressed urgently. Tony Judt says there will be no return of displaced Palestinians; conversely, it is time for the Jews to abandon their claims. Jerusalem is, as he says, already ethnically divided and, at the end of the day, will be the capital of both states. Israel cannot be spared of dark pages of its history and must come to terms with the past.
Thank God the Muslim immigrants in Europe have nothing to do with this dark history of Europe. But our new home obliges us bear and share responsibility with their history. You can not pick just the raisins. Therefore we are allies against any form of racism, anti-Semitism, but also Islamophobia. We will take part in dealing with history. But we will of course also show solidarity with the legitimate demand of the Palestinians. And so it should permitted for us to remember the “Naqba”.
There is only one rebuttal to these outrageous claims as of today. I shall translate and post these as soon as possible.