Over the years, I’ve often written about Israel and not always in a flattering light. After President Rabin was assassinated — his wife once told me that she preferred Arafat to Netanyahu any day — I lost all hope that reason, wisdom and humanity might prevail in the Holy Land. I keep returning to a subject that does not exactly endear me to my Jewish friends partly because the mistreatment of the Palestinians offends my sense of justice. People often warn me to lay off. ‘Don’t get involved, it’s the last thing you need,’ they say. I have a pat answer. ‘A Palestinian mother who loses a husband or a child to a bullet cries as bitterly as a Jewish one.’ And a small reminder: the Palestinians never put a Jew in a camp, the Germans did, so why take it out on the former?
Yet after each column I’ve written about Israel, the feedback is mostly: ‘You’re an anti-Semite, and we expect nothing less of you.’ Well, get your pens ready, pals, here we go again. It is mind-blowing to me that, taking account of their history, the Israelis have allowed themselves to become the systematic oppressors of another people. Well before 1948, Jewish armed gangs had begun to chase Arabs out of places they had lived in since time immemorial. Because of the Holocaust, people turned a blind eye. We all know the rest.
Under Jordanian leadership the Palestinians permanently lost their lands after the wars of 1948, 1956 and 1967, and only Egypt managed to get the Sinai back after a so-so performance in the war of Yom Kippur in 1973. No Arab leader lifted a finger to help the dispossessed; keeping them in squalid camps served a political purpose, and to hell with them.