Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Arab rhetoric of hate to backfire

This commentary by Neil Berro was published Tuesday, May 17, 2011 in the New Haven Register.

So now, Hamas and Fatah want to play together in the sandbox. This is, perhaps, the final drop of poison in the witches' brew of what is turning into the Arab spring of repression, hatred and murder.

As someone who dreams of peace for the Middle East, I hoped these two Palestinian factions - best known for acts of killing, kidnapping and rejection - would say this to each other:
Let us renounce violence, terrorism and incitement against Jews, Israel and all who support them.

Let us cease teaching our preschoolers with "Sesame Street"-style characters who extol martyrdom.

Let us cease teaching our elementary school kids mathematics by counting the number of dead Jews killed at bus stations, restaurants, Passover Seders and in homes.

Let us end our textbooks that eliminate Israel and target Jews as victims and scapegoats. -
Let us insist that our religious leaders end their unyielding and uncompromising calls for Islamic rule and supremacy.

Let us stop passing out candy when Americans are destroyed at the World Trade Center or an Israeli family is butchered in a knife attack in their home.

Let us show the Arab and Muslim world that strength and greatness is not in how many Jewish school buses we can blow up, and that the commitment to peace will bring enduring light to all people.

Let us hope Hamas and Fatah will say to all Palestinians: We misled you. We treated you as cannon fodder. While Jews built a nation, gained the respect of the world for their science, modernity, competitive economy, human rights and progressive treatment of women, gays and minorities, we have done the opposite for decades.

Our martyrs are not those who kill Jews who are unable to defend themselves, like Leon Klinghofer, thrown overboard in the Mediterranean; Gail Rubin, an aspiring nature photographer killed by terrorists on an Israeli beach; or Dora Bloch, a grandmother suffocated while helpless in a hospital. Our martyrs are the lost generations who could have become soldiers for peace, equality and liberty.

Palestinians can only look at their Israeli Arab brethren in envy and ask, why not us? It is Israeli Arabs who since Israel's creation in 1948 have enjoyed growth and prosperity, while we taste our very bitter fruit of refusing to accept Israel.

The entire Arab and Muslim world, in a historic convulsion of change, can only look at Israel, and ask, why not us? The answer may start with being honest with oneself.

Prayerfully, may the Palestinians realize that peace is the way and the actions and rhetoric of hate and rejection will backfire.

With the death of Osama bin Ladin, some will want to proclaim peace and seek one-sided concessions from Israel. It would be nice if the diplomats would stare into the reality of Palestinian polemics, starting with the hateful words from Hamas on the death of bin Laden, calling the murderer of thousands a "holy warrior." Peace would then have a better chance.

Neil Berro of New Haven has worked for Jewish and Israeli causes since 1981. Write to him in care of the Register, 40 Sargent Drive, New Haven 06511. Email: nberro@comcast.net.

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