His thesis is that to Arabs, the lyrics of Israel's national anthem are just as offensive and extreme and frightening as Jews hearing the Arab chant, “in spirit, in blood, we shall redeem Al Aqsa."
What are the equally offensive lyrics of Hatikva, according to Alpher? “To be a free people in our land, the land of Zion and Jerusalem.”
Let's see. Hatikva expresses a millennia-old hope for Jews to return to their ancestral homeland. it doesn't say that this return should be violent, or even that it should dispossess other people.
The chant of “in spirit, in blood, we shall redeem Al Aqsa" appears to be much more recent - from 2002, coined by extremist Islamist Raed Salah, head of the northern branch of the Islamic movement. It is meant to be nothing less than violent and antisemitic. (Another source traces it to the same person but in 2000.)
The phrase reached the public consciousness in a 2011 rally sponsored by the Islamic Movement in Umm al-Fahem. Some 30,000 Arabs chanted the phrase. The rally also reatured a play showing ultra-Orthodox Jews destroying the Al Aqsa Mosque.
I can certainly understand why Israeli Arabs might not want to sing Hatikva. However, Alpher self-righteously claims to speak on behalf of Arabs in his assertion that Arabs feel physically threatened by the words of Hatikva - he says that "when Jews sing 'our hope has not been lost, the two-thousand-year-old-hope,' it scares [Israeli Arabs.]"
The only hate that I see from any Israeli Jew in his columns is that of Rogel Alpher himself, who despises his own nation so much that he has called the Israeli flag a "fascistic symbol" and who had pledged to leave the country because of how immoral it is.
Amazingly, he still hasn't left, since Ha'aretz apparently still thinks that he has useful things to say.
(Not surprisingly, this column is being translated into Arabic for Palestinian newspapers.)
UPDATE: As is often the case, PreOccupied Territory takes my story and runs with it.
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