Fred Maroun
A believer in peace and human dignity

Arabs owe Jews a lot more than 250 billion dollars

According to The Times of Israel, “Israel is preparing to demand compensation totaling a reported $250 billion from seven Arab countries and Iran for property and assets left behind by Jews who were forced to flee those countries following the establishment of the State of Israel”.

I hope that Israel gets that money, and I also hope that it gets far more than that.

We Arabs have so far fought Israel for over 70 years with two openly stated objectives: Either destroy Israel by force, or destroy Israel by transforming it into an Arab state through a “solution” that would see Palestinian so-called refugees join the Jewish state. Coalitions of Arab armies tried the first approach in 1948, 1967, and 1973, and various Arab terrorist entities still believe that they can achieve that goal. The second approach has been the official policy (though not spelled out as such to the Western media) of Fatah since it supposedly accepted the existence of Israel but not as a Jewish state.

If we had destroyed Israel, we would have entered history as responsible for another genocide of the Jewish people, not long after the Holocaust. By resisting and defeating the coalitions of Arab armies that attempted to destroy it, Israel prevented us from becoming the second Nazis of history.

And if we had succeeded in changing Israel into an Arab state, we would have found ourselves with one more failed Arab state, where democracy is fictional and where torture, muzzling of the press, and political assassinations are not. At best, the Arab version of Israel would have been a second Lebanon, a country sliding into Muslim theocracy with decreasing liberties and a dying economy. Instead of this, Israeli Arabs live in a world-class country, with extensive economic opportunities and democratic freedoms. Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria and Gaza could have achieved those benefits too, if they had chosen peace over war.

Israel saved us from ourselves, and it continues to do so today, repeatedly extending an olive branch to us while we repeatedly do everything to not deserve that olive branch.

Israel gives its Arab citizens equal rights even though the Arab world violently expelled practically all its Jews.

Israel welcomes Arab visitors even though Israelis are banned from most of the Arab world and even though Israelis are often unwelcomed even in countries that Israel has peace treaties with.

Israel meticulously avoids civilian casualties when fighting back against terrorists, even though our terrorists openly target Israel’s civilians.

Israel helped Syrians injured in the Syrian civil war even though Syria is still at war with Israel and still makes threats against it.

If the Jews had behaved like us, there would not be a single Arab in Israel today, including in Judea and Samaria and in Gaza. There could be no pretense that “Palestine” exists.

While we treated Jews as if they were less than nothing, they responded by treating us as human beings, and in the process, they gave us some dignity. They responded to our denial of their humanity by recognizing our shared humanity. But whether we choose to see that shared humanity or whether we choose to continue to hate Jews is up to us. Israelis can treat us as if we belong to the same humanity, but they cannot force us to behave accordingly.

What we owe Israel is well beyond what we could ever repay, and yet we could try, at least by starting to recognize our shared humanity.

French version: Les Arabes doivent aux Juifs bien plus que 250 milliards de dollars

Ben Gurion Boulevard in May 2018, one of my most cherished memories of Tel Aviv
A fruit vendor on Ben Gurion Boulevard in Tel Aviv
At a Tel Aviv market
About the Author
Fred Maroun is a Canadian of Arab origin who lived in Lebanon until 1984, including during 10 years of civil war. Fred supports Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state and to defend itself. Fred supports a liberal and democratic Middle East where all religions and nationalities co-exist in peace with each other, and where human rights are respected. Fred is an atheist, a social liberal, and an advocate of equal rights for LGBT people everywhere.
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