By Abu al-Sous (Salah Mansour)*
General view of al-Maliha (Jerusalem) taken soon after Nakba, and in the foreground Israeli Jews looting Palestinian properties.
While living my childhood in occupied Palestine, I witnessed unexplainable negative emotions (often in the forms hatred and anger) from Israelis, many of whom were young soldiers humiliating Palestinians daily whenever they can. I always knew there is more to it than just the normal hatred or anger between enemies. However, I could not understand what's the source of this abnormal hatred and anger? Frankly, I thought that we Palestinians should be angrier, not the Israelis, after all Israelis are the ones who dispossessed and thrown us out of our homeland; not the other way around. Years passed, I immigrated to the United States, and I was in touch with more Zionists (Jews and non-Jews alike). Overtime, I developed a theory for this unprecedented negative emotions, which I like to share with you in this small article.
Briefly, I believe the source of this negative emotions is deeply irrational, and its core is very emotional. The more I researched the Zionists movement (especially from its founders), the more I found that the vast majority of Jews (especially before WWII) were not Zionists and many thought it will be dangerous to Jews, which explains why over 99% of the emigrating European Jews preferred America over the "Jewish state" to be in British occupied Palestine! However, the Holocaust was a deeply traumatic experience which shocked the Western Jews who survived the genocide. As a result, the extreme and the fringe in Jewish politics became the mainstream, and the "Never Again" slogan was born. For the average Westerner, this slogan may not sound harsh; after all European Jews suffered European anti-Semitism for centuries. On the other hand, to us, the Palestinian people, this slogan implies "Never Again" regardless of the price; "Never Again" even if others become the victim, "Never Again" period.
This slogan carries behind it deep negative emotions, which is rarely analyzed or debated; it is a taboo to discuss. Many Western Jews felt betrayed by their respective nations who persecuted them for centuries, and many of these nations openly collaborated with Nazi Germany, who often handed their Jewish citizens to the SS. This was deeply a traumatic and a very humiliating experience not only to European Jews, but also to the European nations (no exception) who witnessed the genocide and at minimum turned their heads the other way. Those who survived the Holocaust found in the Zionist ideology their salvation. Zionism gave them the feeling of empowerment where Jews and Jews alone (no gentile or Goyim) must be the masters of their own future, and they promised themselves never to be the victim again. Consequently, I believe this is the moment when the Spartan Jew was born and the "Never Again" slogan became its moral facade.
When Israelis strikes at Palestinians; they are not only sending messages to Palestinians, they are not only retaliating against Palestinian violence, they're also sending messages to their deprived self-esteem (for lack of a better term) and to the rest of the world that the Jew will not be the victim again. From my experience, rarely you rationally can discuss the conflict with neither a Jew nor a Westerner without the memories of the Holocaust being so close behind; I always felt those memories even when not a word of the Holocaust was mentioned; simply it is there, simply it cannot be discussed. That is the primary reason why discussing this conflict with many Jews and Westerners is very frustrating; you want to discuss the real issues (dispossession, ethnic cleansing, & colonization), but you can't. Sadly, the emotional barriers are so great to overcome, especially when those emotional barriers cannot be discussed. Often in such discussions, the Palestinian is painted as the anti-Semitic, and Palestinian resistance to Israeli war crimes becomes "terrorism". Sometimes I wonder why the West is scared of confronting this emotional barrier? Could it because this barrier masks the way Westerners treated their Jewish citizens for centuries? Could it be that discussing this particular problem will open a Pandora's Box? I don't know if I am right or wrong, however, I am certain that this emotional barrier should be studied further; I believe this taboo contains few of the important keys that are essential to resolving this conflict.
This analysis explains why often many Israelis believe that: Arabs understand only the Language of Force; as if the Language of Force knows how to discriminate between an Arab and a non-Arab! This racist and derogatory slogan (often repeated openly by Israeli leaders) gives the Spartan Jew the moral green light to respond as he wishes to Palestinian violence, and as a result also he compensates for his deprived self-esteem. In that respect, the Spartan Jew sees no Palestinian resistance to Israeli war crimes, he sees only Palestinian "terrorism"!
Some of you may say: Palestinians also carry negative emotions (hatred and anger as well), however, in my opinion the source of these emotions isn't the same; the source in the case of Palestinians is more rational than emotional. Palestinians have been dispossessed and ethnically cleansed of their homes, farms, and businesses so they make way for the persecuted European Jews, and now they see alien colonizers living in their looted homes, and tilling their fields which they've farmed for generations. From my experience, this is a deeply emotional and a very humiliating experience as well. It should be noted that Palestinians directly deal with this traumatic event by directly confronting their oppressor, and they clinch to whatever is unique in their national identity (i.e. art, food, literature, folklore, customs, dresses, history, ...etc.).
Sadly, it scares me to think that we Palestinians started to look also for the Spartan amongst us; I seriously hope not. The Spartan Jews is no example. In my humble opinion, every victims has the right to defend his family and home by all possible means; this is a God given right which I extend even to the Israelis who deprived us from our homeland. However, the victimhood gives no moral grounds to become a Spartan; gives no moral ground to dehumanize the other! Once you become a Spartan, you will always live by the sword, and sadly the sword becomes the preferred communication tool.
Finally, I wish to tell every Westerner and a Jew reading this article how this conflict has little to do with religious differences; this conflict would have been the same even if other Arabs dispossessed Palestinians. We Palestinians don't wish to become anybody's psychological experiment; we don't want to become a make me feel good pill, we don't wish to become anybody's punching bag. We Palestinians don't wish to become anybody's messiah, and definitely we don't wish to be crossed for somebody else's sins. Sincerely, I wish Palestine was a commodity that can be bought and sold; I would have sold it. I could be one of the few Palestinians who actually empathizes with Jewish suffering, however, my homeland is so dear to give, no human can do that! For us Palestinians, Palestine is not only our homeland, Palestine is our identity; Palestine is the intoxication of our memories; Palestine is the Jewel of all Jewels. My homeland, Palestine, isn't for sale.
Our DATE is 60 years LATE, God willing sooner or later we shall return.
* Salah Mansour is the founder and editor of PalestineRemembered.com, the largest Palestinian online community.
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