10 July '16..
This is part one of a two-part series. The second part will examine what we Arabs can do differently today.
In the current state of the relationship between the Arab world and Israel, we see a patchwork of hostility, tense peace, limited cooperation, calm, and violence. We Arabs managed our relationship with Israel atrociously, but the worst of all is the ongoing situation of the Palestinians.
The Original Mistake
Our first mistake lasted centuries, and occurred well before Israel's declaration of independence in May 1948. It consisted of not recognizing Jews as equals.
As documented by a leading American scholar of Jewish history in the Muslim world, Mark R. Cohen, during that era, "Jews shared with other non-Muslims the status of dhimmis [non-Muslims who have to pay protection money and follow separate debasing laws to be tolerated in Muslim-controlled areas] ... New houses of worship were not to be built and old ones could not be repaired. They were to act humbly in the presence of Muslims. In their liturgical practice they had to honor the preeminence of Islam. They were further required to differentiate themselves from Muslims by their clothing and by eschewing symbols of honor. Other restrictions excluded them from positions of authority in Muslim government".
On March 1, 1944, while the Nazis were massacring six million Jews, and well before Israel declared independence, Haj Amin al-Husseini, then Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, declared on Radio Berlin, "Arabs, rise as one man and fight for your sacred rights. Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history, and religion. This saves your honor. God is with you."
If we had not made this mistake, we might have benefited in two ways.
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Fred Maroun, a left-leaning Arab based in Canada, has authored op-eds for New Canadian Media, among other outlets. From 1961-1984, he lived in Lebanon.
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