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The Middle East: Israel as seen by the Arabs

Middle East specialist Ed Jajko comments on the posting "The Middle East: Israel as seen by the Arabs":

"The last clause of this paragraph is unfortunate [See my note. RH]. Why should understanding the "Arab mentality" be a cause of distaste? One reads in the paragraph above the "most Americans know little about Israeli history," and that "the Arab vision of Israel is very different from the American one." Having also been in Israel, and in East Jerusalem when it was Jordanian and later when, as my Palestinian hosts said, it has been under occupation, I would have to say that yes indeed, the Palestinian experience is different since it is based on being in medias res every hour of every day since June 1967, while the Americans who know little of the history see it from afar, through a variety of political, social, and religious filters.

By the way, the blowing up of part of the King David Hotel was directed at the British mandate government, not the Arabs, and does not figure much if at all in the list of Arab grievances. To the Arabs, "the most notorious act of terrorism" is probably the incident at Deir Yassin.

Distaste, disgust, anger, horror -- because of suicide bombings, targetted assassinations, sniping, random attacks, wholesale military invasions: yes. But distaste for trying "to understand the Arab mentality"? No".

My note: Ed is referring to the `phrase "but it is our obligation to try to understand the Arab mentality, however much distaste we feel". I do not feel distaste. On the contrary. I was referring to those who make no attempt to understand the Arabs and who denounce as anti-Semites those who do, an attitude unfortunately common in the US.

Ronald Hilton - 6/24/02