|Yemen Jews en route to Israel, 1949|
In 1930 Shakib Arslan published his famous book "Why Muslims Delayed Progress," a question that still echoes today. After successive generations and decades, and the question remains waiting for the answer, as the Arab reality remains stalled even after the departure of Western colonialism.
It is clear that there is a psychological background of confusion and hesitation planted in the recesses of the Arab consciousness. We must boldly ask: Why is the pan-Arabism falling behind?
Consider what happened in the judo competition for the Olympic Games in 2016 in Brazil, when the Israeli Judoka Or Sasson defeated his rival Egyptian Islam Shihabi in the first round match.
The Egyptian player refused to shake hands with the Israeli player. The astonished audience witnessed this act and people all over denounced the Egyptian. This leads to the question: Why are we Arabs deliberately distorting our image in front of the world in normal situations?
Are the responses of our actions in the eyes of the West immoral? ...
We must remember that after the announcement of the plight of Palestine in 1948 the Arab countries expelled their Jews to Palestine. The number reached approximately 900,000 Arab Jews, and thus the Arabs gave with this move, consciously or unconsciously, a gift to the emerging Jewish state, because of their hatred of the Jews and the failure to consider them as normal citizens in their countries of origin.
The Arabs were unable to separate the Jewish religion and Zionism as a political movement, resulting in the failure of tolerance and coexistence with the Jews as a community. The passage of time has led this Arab act against Arab Jews to a disastrous result. The Arabs lost the elite of their fellow citizens of the owners of money, influence, arts, industrial diversity and culture. Then they entered into costly wars and incalculable losses against Israel. The Arab mentality continued weaving conspiracy theories to their people, and the permanent search for a scapegoat to justify their defeats.
In the final analysis the "racist" Jewish state represented by the Israeli entity gained different colors of citizens in the area of land that the Arabs lost, but these Arab Jews themselves became citizens, as well as Jews who came from Russia and the West. [NB: I put "racist" in quotes because that is how I interpreted the intent, but it was not in scare quotes in the original - EoZ]
For more than two thousand years Jews lived in Arab countries such as Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, as well as in Muslim countries such as Turkey and Iran, and today they make up more than half of Israel's population.
Given the number of Jews at the present time who remained in the Arab home countries we can note the vast difference between the past and present. Now, in contrast, we find that the Palestinians are the largest refugee group in the world, and generously supported. After the 1948 war, 700,000 fled from their towns and villages, and we know that some of them did not emigrate because of the war, but they were asked [by Arab leaders] to leave, and they thought it would be temporary, and they would return to their areas after the end of the conflict with the Israeli entity.
The Syrian Prime Minister in 1948-1949, Khalid al Azm, wrote in his memoirs of the Arab role in persuading the Palestinians to leave from their areas. The Arabs did not realize the gravity of this error that created the Palestinian refugee crisis to date, prompting the United Nations to form UNRWA in 1949, the largest United Nations agency ever created to deal with only one group of refugees.
Our problem in the Arab world is a cultural problem of anti-diversity and lack of acceptance of others who are different. English historian Paul Johnson notes a precursor to the social and political deterioration of the Arabs after the expulsion of their fellow Jewish citizens, when Spain expelled its Jewish citizens in 1492, leaving a significant impact on Spain, as this led to the deterioration of Spain and its colonies in financial science, finance and financial loans.
In czarist Russia, many anti-Semitic laws led to the weakening of the entire Russian government and its corruption in the end, which also led to a mass exodus of the Jews, and therefore the intellectual and human capital loss.
As for Germany, it was possible that the United States would have been the runner-up in the nuclear bomb arms race if Adolf Hitler did not expel Jewish scholars such as Albert Einstein and Edward Teller, and others who emigrated to the United States and invented the American nuclear bomb.
If the Arabs had noted the mistakes that other nations made they could have learned the lessons of such folly of expelling Arab Jews who might have been supportive to help the Arab regimes in the face of Israel if they only had the concept of citizenship, coexistence and tolerance.
There are those who are still confused between Zionist racism and Judaism as a religion. Arab anti-Semitism is not the result of chance and did not start since the rape of Zionism of the land of Palestine in 1948, it is a historic reality and still present in the literature of Islamic heritage, which is essentially the jurisprudence and interpretations of human beings of the previous centuries, the interpretations which were suitable for their time, which was less open, more wary and fanatical. But it seems that the hatred against the Jews will remain constant as long as these heritage books continue to incite since the first stages of education for children, when we teach them that "those who have evoked your anger" are the Jews, and that "those who have gone astray" are Christians! (Quran 1:7)
Thinkers and critics point out that school curricula throughout the Arab countries need radical changes to erase phrases that incite hatred, and the trend towards the formulation of approach works to promote tolerance and acceptance of others' language, and to move away from fanaticism and sectarianism. Hatred and hostility is a highly infectious disease that greatly affects everyone, whether they are ordinary or intellectuals.
But the case of deterioration of the Arab thought go beyond the principle of citizenship and the values of coexistence to the basic level of how poor is our university education, which educates generations and controls the future behavior. In view of the ranking order of universities around the world we do not find an Arab university's name in the list.
At the level of scientific research, we find that the Arabs are very much lagging behind the rest of the world, and if we compare the patent numbers, for example, between Egypt and Israel, on the grounds that Egypt is the largest Arab country in terms of population, the Patent Office in the United States announced in 2015 it gave 3804 patents to Israel compared to 30 patents from Egypt.
It is natural to say that states should learn from their neighbors, even if they are have a historical legacy of enmity, and should overcome the stereotype in the form of an Israeli soldier terrorizing the Palestinians.
We must also ask ourselves why there is not yet a Palestinian state? If Israel allowed Palestinians to have a state of their own, would there be peace in the Middle East? What is the Arab share in the failure to reach the day of the declaration of the birth of a state for the Palestinians?
It seems that many opportunities were lost so far from our hands, after the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, Britain seized most of the Middle East countries, including the region that makes up historic Palestine, which is now ruled by Israel.
After 17 years, specifically in 1936 during the Arab Revolt against the British and against the Jews, the British formed the "Peel Commission" task force to study what they called the uprising. The Committee concluded that the cause of violence is that the Palestinians and the Jews want to rule the same land, the answer that was reached by the Peel Commission was to establish two independent states, and one for Jews and other Arabs.
But even this British two-state solution faced difficulties and controversy and did not lead to any practical benefit to the Palestinian cause.
The solution to establish two states was strongly opposed by the Arabs, whom the British offered 80 percent of the disputed lands, compared to 20 percent for the Jews, and despite the small size of the Jewish state the Jews accepted this offer, while the Arabs refused.
And it continued the process of biting off the Palestinian land that has become a dream of establishing a Palestinian state within what is known as 1967 far-fetched in the light of the spread of Israeli settlements.
The result is that the Palestinian issue in the Arab consciousness has become merely talk, but the Palestinians themselves have contributed to this situation.