A day never passes without an Arab complaining about Israel. Of course, a day
never passes without an Israeli complaining about the Arabs, either. The
complaints vary widely, covering everything from food to violence.
common complaint is that Israel “stole” the falafel. Well, Israel has stolen
Palestinian land, but can you really steal a food?
I recently read an Israeli
official’s counter to this claim: has Israel also “stolen” Italian food? To be
fair, Israelis don’t go around bragging about their “Israeli spaghetti” the way
they promote “Israeli falafel.”
But to be even more fair – is that
allowed in the Arab-Israeli conflict? – many Israeli Jews are from Arab
countries (Sephardim) and have been making falafel and other Arab delicacies for
If this were just about food, it might be funny. But
that’s not the case. What’s not so funny is how, when pushed to the wall, Arab
dictators quickly start to sound like the Israelis they often frequently
For example, I recall the first time I ever heard the phrase
“iron fist” was when then-General Yitzhak Rabin vowed to break the arms of
Palestinian protesters during the first intifada.
Last week, I heard
Syria’s strongman Bashar al- Assad, whose last name means “Lion” in Arabic, vow
to crush pro-democracy protesters with an “iron fist.”
I didn’t hear a
lot of Arabs complaining about that. In fact many Arabs are cheering
Assad, the feeblevoiced eye doctor, with their usual double-vision and
Assad’s army is also firing “rubber bullets” at
protesters. I thought rubber bullets were an Israeli invention?
THING you know, Assad will probably be declaring, with typical Arab bluster,
that if the protesters don’t shut up and accept their restrictive, unfree lives,
that he will “drive them into the sea.”
Or, he might start building a
28-foot-tall concrete wall around the most disruptive areas, where protesters
have been most active. Assad will probably also call the wall a “fence,” to
soften the political impact.
If there are any Jews left in Syria, Assad
could have them build the “Oppression Wall” the way Israel has Arabs building
its Wall – err, fence, err, barrier, err, whatever.
Maybe the United
Nations might find a few moments to organize an inquiry into the Syrian
uprising. They could have some renowned Arab jurist, as its lead author,
outline the war crimes that Assad is engaging in as he orders his tanks and
planes to fire missiles on civilians.
That is a war crime, isn’t it?
(There’s even a debate on that in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Since when is
killing a civilian a war crime?)
Of course, there is a long list of things the
UN could do but doesn’t. It could order similar inquiries into the brutal
oppression against protesters in Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar,
Yemen and, well, all 22 Arab countries.
If they can’t find an Arab to
lead the inquiries, maybe they could convince former jurist Richard Goldstone to
do it. He could follow up the 2009 Goldstone Report with The Goldstone Report
Part II: Syria. And The Goldstone Report Part III: Egypt. And the
Goldstone Report Part VI: Saudi Arabia. It could become an encyclopedia of
alleged oppression, easily a 22-volume set.
Oy vey! There are so many
crimes being committed against civilians in the Arab World, it would all become
a blur. Or maybe the “blur of oppression” might be given a formal name. We can
just call it the “Arab League.”
This “fog of conflict” in the Arab World
is actually very easy to see.
In fact, although the Arab World claims
ownership of falafel, there is one dish that it serves often that it didn’t
invent but of which it could just as easily claim ownership.
That dish is
Arabs are always pointing to Israel and claiming they
are “hypocrites.” They might be. But I don’t hear the Arabs screaming that
Israel “stole” hypocrisy from the Arab World the way they scream that Israel
“stole” their falafel. They close their eyes to brutality in the Arab World but
have 20-20 vision when it involves brutality by Israel.
Don’t get me
wrong. I’m not saying Israel is any kind of angel in this whole mess. I mean,
when Israel announced last week that it would take in Syria protesters and
refugees, that sounded a little shallow considering Israel refuses to take in
Palestinian refugees from 1948 and 1967 and refuses to recognize Arabs as
citizens who marry Israelis.
But I am saying that the very Arab critics
pointing fingers at Israel are doing the exact same thing that they claim Israel
Syria’s Assad says the heart of the issue is that Syria has
been the champion of Arab Nationalism and the Palestinian cause. Is the Assad
regime really the “champion” of the Palestinian cause when it oppresses its own
people? How can that be? The writer is an award winning columnist and radio talk
show host. He can be reached at www.RadioChicagoland.com