Australia/Israel Review

Deconstruction Zone: Letter to a Jewish BDS supporter

May 5, 2016 | Fred Maroun

Fred Maroun

I have a question to ask you, but first I would like to establish my understanding of who you are.

You are Jewish, probably young and probably American, but you may be European or even Israeli, and you may not be so young any more. You have embraced the Arab battle against Zionism and you support the BDS movement, which aims for a single bi-national state in place of Israel and the Palestinian territories, and aims for the “return” of millions of Palestinian refugees who would make Israel an Arab state overnight.

Your position interests me because I am the same as you and yet I am your opposite. I am the same as you in that I am in the counter-current of my own community, but I am the opposite of you in my ethnicity and in my allegiances in the Israel-Arab conflict. I am an Arab who supports Jewish nationalism.

Your position is much less selfish than mine, I must admit. While I support Israel because I see huge benefits for my Arab compatriots in emulating Israel and in adopting its human rights and democratic values and its enterprising spirit, you support Arabs while knowing that you and your community will get less than nothing in return.

Since you are educated (I assume that you are educated since you took a bold stand that most people in your faith community disapprove of) then you know that Jews like you were ethnically cleansed from all Arab countries. You also know that when Jews like you faced the Holocaust, no country in the world provided them a safe haven.

Despite this knowledge, you selflessly want to give up Jewish sovereignty over the only part of the Middle East where Jews are still allowed to live, and the only safe haven for Jews who face discrimination and violence anywhere in the world. I have to admit that this level of selflessness is well beyond my capabilities.

Yet, I have difficulty rejoicing because while you are willing to sacrifice your own people, I am not willing to sacrifice mine. The demise of Israel as a Jewish state would affect much more than your people. It would also extinguish the only hope remaining for progressive Arabs like me.

For us Arabs, whether we are Palestinians, Lebanese, Jordanians, Egyptians, Syrians, Iraqis, or any other variety of Arabs, we know that there is only one place in the Middle East that respects our liberal values, and that is the Jewish state of Israel.

Your stand against Israel, if it is successful, would help some Arabs, I admit. It would help terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. It would help Arab despots who rely on anti-Zionist rhetoric to remain in power. It would help, and in fact it already helps, the Palestinian leadership avoid making peace with Israel, which keeps the Palestinians stateless and fully dependent on Israel and on Western charity. Your stand undeniably helps ultra-conservative and reactionary Arab forces.

You have heard many stories of Israeli abuse of Palestinian human rights, and that is what encouraged you to take the stand that you did. You also believe that Jews are imperialist invaders in the Middle East, and that they re-created the Jewish nation at the expense of the Arab residents.

When you learn that the vast majority of the accusations of human rights abuses against Israel consistently turn out to be false, you remain satisfied in the knowledge that some of them turn out to be true. When you are reminded that your own people, the Jews, have lived on the land of Israel for over 3000 years and that they had a long history all over the Middle East (until they were ethnically cleansed), you dismiss it because it contradicts your narrative.

When you are asked why you want to penalise the Jews of Israel while not penalising Arabs for the much worse crimes that they commit against Jews and Arabs, you say that you are only concerned about improving the behaviour of your own people and that it is up to Arabs to worry about improving the behaviour of Arabs. Your response confirms the importance of my stand, which is to try to improve the behaviour of Arabs. Unfortunately, while you seem to complement what I do, by demonising Israel, the only real hope for the Arab world, you are also making my struggle much more difficult.

So here you are. A Jew who insists on an impossibly high moral standard for Israel even if it brings an end to the security or even existence of your own people, and even if it undermines the Arab struggle to achieve modest liberal values that Jews have achieved long ago. You take a left-wing, progressive, activist stand and yet your stand aids the antisemites and the most right-wing reactionary Arabs.

Which brings me to my question. Is there perhaps some other cause that you can support instead of the Arab/Palestinian cause?

Fred Maroun is a Canadian of Arab origin who lived in Lebanon until 1984, including during 10 years of civil war. © Times of Israel (, reprinted by permission, all rights reserved.


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