Article by Nonie Darwish

[Comments are welcome at our Dialogue Corner]

An Arab Supports Israel

Making Peace Requires Acceptance

It would be a mistake to think that my support of Israel cancels my love for Moslems or Islam, my national origin. I have many reasons for supporting the existence of Israel.

First, Israel is not a threat to Arab nations. No one in their right mind would think that Israel would want to occupy or take over Damascus, Cairo or Baghdad! The corrupt dictatorships of the Middle East find it very convenient to point at Israel and the West as the cause of Arab problems. In this way they can continue their oppressive rule without much threat of internal uprising and without making much effort to improve living conditions.

Second, Israel is an asset in the region, economically, culturally and historically. The Middle East culture is richer with Israel in the area. The Jewish heritage ties us to the historical origin of the region. Egyptians joke that the Sinai was a wasteland until Israel occupied it between 1967 and 1973. In that short period Israel was able to build an infrastructure with some upscale hotels.

Third, I believe the Jewish people are special. As a child I had attended a Palestinian school and the word "Jew" brought fear down my spine. A Jewish person was portrayed as less than human, an "evil alien from outer space" who is about to destroy the world. After I moved to the US, and started interacting with Jewish people, the question was finally answered: "Jewish people are OK". I also discovered that most of them did not discriminate against me because of my background. My first job was given to me by a Jewish small businessman, and when I moved to my first apartment his lovely parents were very generous to give me all the extra dishes and stuff from their home. I still remember their kindness.

Several years ago my brother was rushed to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem and was given a 3% chance of survival. He lay unconscious in the hospital for almost 3 months. Thanks to the heroic efforts of the Jewish doctors and nurses, his life was saved. I understand that Hadassah hospital treats many Arabs. My mother who was with my brother in Jerusalem for 3 months was very impressed with the kindness and generosity of everyone around her, especially a Jewish family who was originally living in an Arab country before 1948. They visited my brother regularly in the Hospital and comforted my mother a lot. For that I think Jewish people are special.

Fourth, I am afraid of the current Moslem supremacist culture and the totalitarian police states that most Arab countries have. Living in the US and enjoying our freedoms just opened my eyes to how bad the situation is in the Arab World. The Moslem and Arab hatred of Jews scares me and I feel it is very destructive for my soul and humanity. You don't have to be Jewish to want to resist this hatred. You only have to be human being.

Every aspect of the Moslem culture and Media is geared toward the hatred and elimination of Israel. But even if there was no Israel, then what? Will they live happily ever after? Will suddenly Arab dictators start respecting other Moslem countries around them? I don't think so. Israel is the excuse for terrorizing the West.

Saudi Arabia and other Moslem States are financing and building hundreds of Mosques in Britain, the US and around the World. Some of these mosques are breeding and recruiting terrorists and spreading extreme forms of Islam, such as the mosque that inspired John Walker and his parents to send him to Yemen at age 16 to learn Arabic and Islam! We all know the rest of the story. I wonder what would happen if we try to build a church or synagogue in a Moslem Country.

Finally, I support Israel because of its unique stewardship of Judaism, the origin of the three great religions. The Middle East will be a much richer culture if the three religions can flourish and co-exist in peace. I wish Islam would show some Grace and accept the Jewish people and the State of Israel. I dream of a day when Moslems welcome and celebrate the Jewish existence in the Middle East and realize that the Jewish Religion is not a threat to them. Arabs need to put down their arms and be grateful for their wealth and land, from the Atlantic to the Indian Oceans.

Let us pray that sanity and reason will gradually take over the hearts and minds of Moslems and may God give them the wisdom and courage to coexist with Israel and other cultures. What a golden opportunity for Moslems to show the world that the Holy Land can be made truly holy by giving the Jewish people the respect they deserve in the area. In the spirit of the peace that late President Anwar El Sadat of Egypt made with Israel, I would like to extend a hand of peace to you my Jewish friends from just one person of Arab / Moslem origin.

Nonie Darwish, 18/November/2004

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This article also appears in our 'Peace Voices' section. Click here to open it.
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