End Israel’s boycott of Palestine

End Israel’s boycott of Palestine
Saudi Gazette  Sunday, March 10, 2013


Once again there was another Op-Ed calling for an end to the Arab boycott of Israel in a major America newspaper, this time the New York Times. The author is Ed Husain, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, an organization that spends a lot of time defending Israel at the expense of accuracy.

Husain is not an Arab, he is a Bengali Muslim. That explains a lot. Husain detailed how he traveled to Jerusalem without any hassle, and he wondered why the Arabs haven’t done enough to improve the city.

Maybe “senior fellows” at the Council on Foreign Relations don’t follow the news, like reports that Jerusalem is a practically a closed city to most Muslims, Arabs and particularly Palestinians.

Or maybe he missed the stories about the new Israeli bus service that separates Jews from non-Jews (specifically Palestinian non-Jews). It is the same racism that forced Blacks like Rosa Parks in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955 to ride in the back of the bus.

Under the new Israeli policy, Palestinians cannot ride on the same bus with Jews because Jewish settlers have concerns and view all Palestinians as terrorists. In separate buses or in the back of the bus, in any language or society, that’s called racism. Apparently the Council on Foreign Relations, and Ed Husain, don’t have a problem with “separate but equal” policies.

It’s not easy for Arabs or Palestinians to do anything in Jerusalem since Israel militarily occupied the western part of the city in 1948 and then the eastern part in 1967. Israel routinely prevents non-Jews from doing any construction in Jerusalem. Arabs can’t develop their land. I know because I own 8.5 acres of land just south of Jerusalem adjacent to Gilo, the illegal Jewish-only settlement that Israel claims is a “city” where Arabs and Muslims have been chased out by Jewish neighbors.

Maybe Husain missed the Wall. Maybe he was told to look for a “fence.” But the concrete wall that separates Palestinians from Jerusalem and most of the deep water wells in the West Bank and in Israel reminds people of the World War II concentration camps with their turrets and towers where armed soldiers watch with guns pointing downward at the civilians who are forced to pass through military checkpoints like those that once separated Berlin.

The reality that the non-Arab Husain doesn’t see or maybe doesn’t want to see is that Israel doesn’t recognize Palestine. But it sure looks nice on a column to have an author with an “Arab” name urging Arabs to stop boycotting Israel. Husain even goes so far as to urge Arabs to stop the anti-Semitic writings in school textbooks and in the Arab media.

A day doesn’t pass that someone doesn’t come up to me and say: “Why are you complaining about not enough Arabs in the American media? You have Fareed Zakaria.” No, Fareed is not an Arab, I respond, exasperated.

If Husain and Zakaria were Arab, maybe they would lead the chorus demanding that Israel end the anti-Arab hatred that overwhelms Israeli textbooks, not just in the settlement schools but in mainstream Israeli schools where history is distorted and Palestinian claims to rights in Israel are rejected as unfounded.

Palestinians, many Israeli textbooks assert in Hebrew, “never existed as a nation” and migrated to the “land of Israel” from other Arab countries. Not being Arab, Husain might simply accept those claims and not recognize the inherent racism or anti-Arab hatred these Israeli school teachings embrace.

I would bet that if Ed Husain were to try to enter Israel and tell the heavily armed border guards and security personnel who occupy Ben Gurion Airport that he was a Palestinian returning to his country, he might experience what many Arabs experience: Hours of detention; deprecating, disparaging comments; ridicule and challenges to their dignity. And a barrage of questions like: “Where is your grandfather from originally?”

Israeli security asks questions like that because they want to be sure about who they are discriminating against when they subject visitors to their racist interrogations at the airport. Husain concludes his column by arguing that Arabs and Muslims – he never uses the word Palestinian (probably a prohibition imposed by the Council on Foreign Relations, I am sure)  – should do what they can to alleviate Israeli concerns about their security.

How about alleviating Palestinian concerns about their rights? How about asking Israelis to recognize the rights of Palestinians to live in Palestine? How about asking Israel to recognize Palestine? How about treating everyone in Israel the same regardless of their religion or nationality and ending the institutional discrimination that prevents Palestinians from buying and selling land, building homes, living in certain neighborhoods and settlements, or qualifying for government services and benefits?

As a matter of fact, Ed Husain, maybe you need to go back to Israel and have a second look. Don’t go there escorted by a pro-Israel organization. Enter through Jordan and travel to Jerusalem through the Israeli military occupied West Bank. Look and act just like any other Muslim.
Then, tell me how you feel.

 — Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. He can be reached at www.TheMediaOasis.com

Follow him on Twitter at @rayhanania

Categories: Middle East Topics

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