It’s not about Israel, or Palestine if you prefer, it never was. In 629 when Muhammad and his ruthless devotees vanquished the Jews of Khaybar it had little to do with the 1947 United Nations partition plan. When Islamic leader Tamim and his tribal hordes massacred six thousand Jews in Fez, it was not inspired by the 1949 armistice line. The 1967 Israeli victory had nothing to do with the 1066 murder of 4000 Jews in Granada. The list is long and bloody and all before the star of David was raised over the Knesset. 1013 in Cordoba, 1517 in Tzfat and Hebron. More recently 1834 and 1838 in Tzfat, 1840 in Damascus, 1910 in Shiraz, 1921 in Jaffa, 1929 in Jerusalem and Hebron, 1934 in Thrace, 1938 in Tiberias, 1945 in Tripoli, 1947 in Aden and Jerusalem.
Yes, in certain places and times there has been if not peace between Muslim and Jew, at least tolerance of us. But it was just that, tolerance, a keeping of the hounds at bay if you will, until the time and place of their choosing. A culture of violence in which murder is the highest virtue is nothing new to this world.
Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany were of this variety. The extent of their ambitious cruelty is known to all. And yet within five years of their defeat, both countries had earned re-entry into the world of civilized nations. How could this be?
The history books can better tell you of General Macarthur’s westernization of Japan or the Allied nations de-nazification of Germany. But this feat took place in a time when people knew the difference between good and evil and had no moral qualm demanding of the evil to be good or at least not murderous, genocidal maniacs.
To the educated classes, forgive me my “Manichean binaries” and lack of “nuance” but there is no amount of Kerry-led diplomacy that will heal the ancient fratricidal schism between Sunni and Shia or Alawite and Sunni or Sunni and Coptic (and so on). It is all the more a hubris driven fantasy to believe any carrot, stick or voice of reason will lead Israel’s neighbors to come to terms with her presence in any corner of their very exclusive, immolating neighborhood. Wishing it to be so, as I very much do, will not make it so.
Today we pretend that the impediment to peace is one of poor communication, a few fringe extremists, and an apartment complex in a Jerusalem suburb – rather than the worshipful embrace of carnage and blood that permeates huge swaths of the Arab world. This game of make believe is why Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Sudan as well as Gaza, Hebron, Ramallah, Jenin and Shechem are in a state of gory unstaunched blood letting. This is why three teenagers are awaiting burial tonight rather than sleeping at home in their warm beds.
May their memories be for a blessing.