You Have To Think Like The Other Guy
Brian of London is back: back in black and glad to be back (though no nooses were harmed). Melanie Phillips, as ever, is trying to patiently educate the well nigh lost cause of left leaning British Jewry through her writings in the Jewish Chronicle. Her piece this week is a careful deconstruction of the “True face of moderate leaders”. In this case Professor Sari Nusseibe who for years has been regarded as the:
“epitome of Palestinian moderation. The urbane president of al Quds university in east Jerusalem, he has been regarded as a “two-state solution” moderate. His actual advocacy of a one-state solution and the swallowing up of Israel has been unaccountably ignored.”
Of course he is the very model of a modern Muslim moderate and has gone and let the side down by actually telling us what is in his head:
Yet now he has let down his guard to reveal more starkly what lies beneath this polished veneer. Considering the Israeli government’s requirement that the Palestinians must acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state, Nusseibeh declared in an al Jazeera article (in English on its website) that this was inherently “problematic” because of its “legal, religious, historical and social implications”.
Those problematic implications are that, for Nusseibeh, a Jewish state would necessarily either be a theocracy or practise apartheid — stripping Israeli Arabs of their civic rights and ethnically cleansing them from Israel, on the basis that in a Jewish state the only people with civic rights would be Jews.
I would encourage you to read Melaine’s, as ever, excellent deconstruction of his position but I’m going to suggest another simpler reason he holds these views.
Most people assume that everyone else thinks as they do. And usually, within your own race, nation or milieu you’d have a good chance of being right. People do this, assuming that everyone wants the same things they want (peace on earth, equitable distribution of everything, reduction of carbon emissions, death to the Jews and so on). It’s a natural thing to do and it’s a wrenching shock for most people to force themselves to understand another person’s brain might be wired completely differently. Such fundamentals as wanting to see one’s kids out live one are not universal values. I want mine to grow up, for example, some parents in Gaza would rather see theirs blow up. That’s quite a shock for some people.
The reason Nusseibeh can’t imagine a Jewish state that doesn’t tend toward a theocratic apartheid state with vanishing rights for non Jews is because that is precisely what happens whenever people guided by Islam achieve political control. It’s just a simple observable fact. And Nusseibeh knows exactly what a Palestinian state would do and he just assumes Jews think and do like he would.
So, in contrast to Melanie, I don’t think “his argument is as bizarre as it is disgusting”. It’s actually perfectly natural transferance of his own wishes, desires and expectations, onto the Jews he so clearly doesn’t understand.
But I don’t think that is a message Melanie Phillips’s readers in the Jewish Chronicle are quite ready for.