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Pardon Us For Living Print E-mail

By Sarah Honig
April 19, 2007

Every year at this season we're urged to beat our breasts in agonizing contrition and atoningly exclaim a collective "pardon us for living." Pardon us for being Israelis, for founding a Jewish state and defending it despite incessant efforts to annihilate or drive us out. Pardon us for daring to exist like other nations, on our own turf, where our own language is spoken - where our customs, holidays, celebrations, lamentations and memories take center stage. Pardon the abnormals' desire for normalcy.


It must be a transgression indeed, since as each Independence Day nears, we're exhorted to apologize for breathing this region's air, infringing on Arab/Muslim hegemony and contaminating illustrious Arab/Muslim liberality, pluralism, freethinking, nonviolence and Scouting Movement values. Before our resolve to rebuild what we impudently claim to be our national homeland, reality here was harmoniously blissful (just read pertinent depictions in Mark Twain's Innocents Abroad). We maliciously marred the indubitable perfection of a depopulating desert ringed by putrid, malaria-ridden swamps. For that we earned eternal condemnation, according to our foes and in-house enlightened moralists who empathize with enemy pain. Our domestic guardians of virtue (the likes of whom aren't tolerated in the great Islamic realm) blame us for Arab genocidal antagonism, dating back to the 1920s under the revered pan-Arab would-be f hrer Haj Amin el-Husseini, the soon-to-become avid Nazi collaborator, Berlin-resident Holocaust accomplice and wanted war criminal.

We're branded culpable for what the Arabs call nakba, their homegrown "calamity" and insidious synonym for our self-determination. Nakba is the lead entry in their lexicon of Israel's delegitimization and its ongoing effect on the Arab psyche is potent. It's not exclusively the perverse preserve of the so-called extremist fringe. It's as much the prevalent parlance of those posing as moderates, like Daoud Kuttab, whose column was paired with mine on the same op-ed page last week.

Entitled "You created the problem," its preeminent theme was that all bloodshed and tribulation in this land is down to Jewish malevolence. We're the villains of Kuttab's piece, obliging us, therefore, to beg Arab forgiveness.

That's his ostensibly restrained request. All Kuttab wants is a confession of crime and auto-demonization. After that, presumably, our aspiring exterminators would let us subsist as tainted interlopers in their sphere (what the Third Reich called Lebensraum).

BIG OF them - if you can believe even that.

But why would vehemence against us subside after we justify it? Wouldn't our self-denunciation serve as validation for our total elimination? Kuttab knows it would, but - with the rationale of any wolf in sheep's clothing - his aim is to lull his intended victims. He promises us a facile solution. Mere verbal admission of guilt would make fanatical hate abate. Millions of brainwashed Arabs falsely claiming refugee status won't seek to inundate us and overrun what we created here in the past century and a half - literally with rivers of our blood, sweat and tears.

Kuttab clearly cannot in good conscience guarantee what he cannot control. But there's no good conscience here. He isn't sincerely mistaken but insincerely misleading. He's aware the Hamas and Fatah charters call for Israel's eradication. He hears the venom spouted daily on official Palestinian airwaves.

Kuttab seemingly forgets how children in all corners of the vast Arab world (larger than all of Europe and the US combined) are indoctrinated against the minuscule island of Jewish sovereignty on a negligible geographical splinter. He witnesses the glorification of shahid (martyr) mass-murderers. He understands that this kind of upbringing sows the seeds of wars to come, not of coexistence.

His assertion that we created the problem is shameless duplicity. He cannot dispute that the nakba was engendered by lethal Arab lies -from cynical incitement to slaughter in 1929 because Jews purportedly plotted domination of the Temple Mount (to which, according to brazen Arab fabrication, they anyway have absolutely no historical/religious ties) to the latest spate of intifadas fuelled by the identical calumnies.

Kuttab realizes that no Palestine ever existed, that Arabs only discovered (and passionately rejected) the European appellation (of anti-Judaic Roman origins) after the British Mandate began. When Britain launched the Palestine Broadcasting Service in 1936, Arabs demanded the "Palestine" be replaced by "Southern Syria." Some even championed "Iraq" (another of Perfidious Albion's invented entities). Palestine (or Falastin for Arabs who can't pronounce the foreign name) had been relatively recently resurrected only as an irredentist ploy to wrest territory from Israel.

Previously, as Kuttab cannot deny, Arabs refused any compromise that left Jews even an unviable toehold, like a pitiful portion between Tel Aviv and Netanya. Kuttab disingenuously omits mention of the bloody battles Arabs instigated to sabotage the UN's 1947 partition resolution (which they now want implemented) and of seven Arab armies that invaded neonatal Israel to destroy it on the day of its birth.

Two weeks earlier, on May 1, 1948, Arab League secretary-general Azzam Pasha warned: "If the Zionists dare establish a state, the massacres we would unleash will dwarf anything which Genghis Khan and Hitler perpetrated." Kuttab's partial memory excludes 1947-48 expulsions by Arabs of Jews in this country from both ancient and new communities, with all the attendant butchery Azzam Pasha promised and which was already then perniciously inculcated into the Arab mind-set. Kuttab knows Arabs became displaced in combat they initiated for the expressed purpose of displacing Jews.

They got their just deserts. We only "created the problem" by not adhering to the Arab script for our demise. We gallingly repulsed the concerted Arab attack against us, though we were tragically outnumbered and outarmed. That's our one and only cardinal offense. So pardon us for living.
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