Tuesday, August 21, 2018

  • Tuesday, August 21, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
This throwaway line in a Haaretz article by Odeh Bisharat mentions an old Arabic expression:

Perhaps one might whisper in opposition leader Tzipi Livni’s ear that before she tries to explain to us why she didn’t attend the demonstration against the nation-state law organized by the Arab community’s Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, while adding that only if a long list of conditions were met would she condescend, of her great goodwill, to attend, she ought to say who even invited her. How do the Arabs phrase it – she’s like “a beggar who also sets conditions.”
A page about Arabic proverbs discusses this expression and similar ones:

مقدي وخنجرة بحزامة beggars can't be choosers
I found a very interesting thread on wordreference giving Arabic equivalents for the English proverb "beggars can't be choosers". This Iraqi version is my favorite:

  مقدي وخنجرة بحزامة
(muqadi wakhanajara bihazaama)
Literal meaning: a beggar with a dagger in his belt.
Meaning: describes someone who tries to get his own way when he doesn't really have a choice.

Unlike the English proverb, most of  these Arabic proverbs describe behavior: طرّار و يتشرّط (Tarraar wiyitsharraT), "a beggar and he sets conditions" (Saudi);  شحات ونزهي (shaHaat wiyinazee) "a beggar but acting like a rich man." (Egyptian); شحات وعايز رغيف shaHaat wi'aayiz righeef -- a beggar and he wants a (whole) loaf (Egyptian).

Exactly how would one describe a Palestinian leadership that has no land, no state, living under what they call occupation, who are nonetheless insisting that they have veto power over every aspect of every peace plan? Who refuse to even come to the table to discuss any peace plan which would force them to compromise in any way?

The phrase “a beggar who also sets conditions" and  "a beggar and he wants a (whole) loaf"  describes the Palestinian leadership perfectly.

I wonder if any Arab leader or pundit ever applied this to them.




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