Muslims and Jews: Let us coexist
Until the Zionist project of creating an exclusively Jewish state in Palestine began in earnest in the latter part of the 19th century, Jews lived in many parts of the Muslim world and enjoyed living conditions not available to their fellow European Jews until recently.
For many centuries, and apart from the first two or three decades of Islamic history when Muslim-Jewish relations were plagued with a series of crises, Jews constituted a natural component of Muslim societies.
The Islamic civilisation was built with Muslim, Christian, Sabian and Jewish hands, by scientists and philosophers from all faiths and religious denominations who found in Baghdad, Cordova, Sicily and so many other cities unprecedented opportunities to think freely, translate literary, scientific and philosophical works of earlier civilizations and produce a corpus of knowledge that became the foundation upon which Europe set up its own enlightenment project.
In fact, Jews - on many occasions - fled European lands where they had been persecuted and sought refuge in Muslim lands.
The centuries-long harmonious coexistence between the Muslims and the Jews could have gone on. However, it was shattered, regrettably, when the Western European powers decided to solve their own Jewish problem by banishing the Jews to Palestine. Western Europe feared an influx of Jews from Russia and Eastern Europe, and the idea of sending the Jews to Palestine seemed to some Christian-Zionist leaders in London to pave the way for the second coming of Christ.
To assume that the Jews cannot survive without a state of their own called Israel is extremely foolish. The Jews have been around for thousands of years without a state of their own. There are many nations who similarly see themselves as distinct, whether as a faith community or a race or an ethnicity, but have been in existence, and will continue to be so, without a state of their own.
Jews have a future and a place in the Muslim world; but the future of an exclusively Jewish state in the heart of the Muslim world is in doubt. What is more certain is a reality in which Muslims, Christians and Jews can live together again in peace and harmony enjoying equal citizenship rights; none should be superior to another.
Jews can once again put their hands in the hands of the Arabs and the Muslims to build a better future for all provided they dissociate themselves from the injustices inflicted upon the Palestinians by Zionism.
Originally published at http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/azzam_tamimi/2007/02/ijv_a_noble_jewish_initiative.html and reprinted with permission.
The subtext, of course, is that for all the talk of equal rights and coexistence, the author is advocating Jews and Christians live under Muslim rule.
Perhaps a counter-proposal is in order:
Jews and Muslims: Let us coexist
Elder of Ziyon
For centuries, the Arab and Muslim worlds have been plagued by infighting and bloodshed. Tribal wars, religious conflicts and battles between Islamic states have been constant and endemic. Even the newfound wealth of petrodollars has not significantly improved the Muslim world as corruption and theft have become the norm in the richest oil states.
There is only one place in the Middle East where Muslims enjoy equal rights, where Muslims can vote for the country's leaders, where Muslims can expect exceptional medical and social services. And that place is Israel.
For nearly six decades, over a million Muslims have lived in peace and harmony in the Jewish state. Significantly, almost none of them have chosen to emigrate to neighboring Arab countries. Their lives are far better in Israel than in any Muslim nation worldwide.
Not only is Israel a great place for Muslim citizens, but even non-Israeli Muslims who live under Israeli control enjoy better lives. The "golden age" of Palestinian Arabs, both Christian and Muslim, was when they lived under Israeli sovereignty, as their life expectancy zoomed and their birth mortality rates plummeted, as universities were built and Palestinian Arabs became the most educated and versatile members of the Arab world.
One only has to look at how the Muslims' lives have gotten worse as Israel withdrew from Gaza and parts of the West Bank to see that even under occupation, Palestinian Arabs had better lives than those of their neighbors. When Arabs have control over their own lives, their citizens suffer.
Let us live together. Let the Arabs and Jews co-exist under a benevolent Jewish regime stretching from the Nile to the Euphrates and beyond. Just imagine the heights such a society can achieve, as industrious Jews can turn oil revenues into a new Golden Age of Islam, where hundreds of millions of Arabs can all benefit from the newfound opportunities that would come in wake of a Jewish-ruled Middle East. Just imagine the flowering of Muslim women, finally allowed to reach their potential in a Jewish state. Islam will be not only tolerated but celebrated and the world will no longer look at Muslims as potential terrorists but rather as full members of civilized society.
Arab nationalism has failed and brought untold misery and bloodshed. Muslims can reap the benefits of living in a Jewish society as Israeli Arabs have learned. Isn't it time to put aside our differences and live together?
There - now doesn't that make more sense?