Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Arabs Must Accept Israel

My PostGlobal piece
The Current Discussion:Israel celebrated its 60th birthday last week. Will it survive to celebrate its 100th?

This may sound shocking coming from a Pakistani living in Dubai, but the reality is that Arabs must learn to accept Israel in their midst. While a great deal is said about Iranian leadership and Hamas wanting the destruction of Israel, if we move beyond the rhetoric, the country is there to stay.

Israel has come so far, irrespective of the controversies that surrounded its creation and its position on the Middle East political map. It will indeed make it to its 100th birthday. What will affect Arab perceptions of Israel is the way the country conducts itself. Yes, there are acts against Israel which are violent, and there are acts by Israel that create the conditions for violence to gain steam. But the issue of forcibly taking Arab lands is real: part of the inherent problem lies in claims that since an Arab farmer does not have proof of land ownership, the State of Israel can then take it.
I am not suggesting that violence on the part of the Arabs is an answer, but there is enough liberal thought on both sides to acknowledge that both have done wrongs and that these need to be stopped and then corrected wherever possible. There is a consensus among most NGOs that Israel's track record on human rights in the Occupied Territories is appalling; its surprising that a people who suffered the Holocaust at the hands of the Nazis could themselves treat people with such indignity in their own lands. This is of course not a reason to wish for an end to Israel, but more an appeal to the voices of reason on both the Arab and the Israeli sides, to bring about tolerance, acceptance and fairness into the equation.

Thus, the question is not whether Israel will make it to its 100th birthday, but in what manner will it conduct itself as it does so? In a 2004 report on Israel, Amnesty International claimed:

"…abuses committed by the Israeli army constituted crimes against humanity and war crimes, including unlawful killings; extensive and wanton destruction of property; obstruction of medical assistance and targeting of medical personnel; torture; and the use of Palestinians as human shields."

People will suggest that I am ignoring Arab violence against Israel. I am not. I am merely asking critics be fair and look ahead and see that it takes two hands to clap. I wish Israel well, as I do all its neighbors.

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