On the fiftieth anniversary of the Six-Day War, I commemorate with my Jewish friends. Before the war, Jews around the world feared what would happen to the Jews of Israel as they were surrounded by Arab armies and as the Arab leaders drummed up anti-Semitic hatred. But Israel stunned the whole world and particularly Arab leaders when it initiated a preventative attack, and when its young army vanquished much bigger and more experienced Arab armies in the short space of six days.
I am happy for my Jewish friends, but at the same time, as an Arab, I am embarrassed. I am not embarrassed that we lost. We deserved to lose, and I cannot even think of the massacres that may have ensued if we won. I am embarrassed that we started the war in the first place. An unnecessary war that followed 19 years after another unnecessary war that we also lost.
I am embarrassed that we let hatred drive our decision to go to war. I am embarrassed that we did not take Israel’s offer right after the war to make peace in exchange for land. I am embarrassed that since then, Egypt’s and Jordan’s realization of the foolishness of war was not matched by the rest of the Arab world, particularly my own country of Lebanon.
I am embarrassed that we never made a single credible comprehensive offer of peace to Israel. I am embarrassed that still today, 69 years after our first war against Israel, we still use the Palestinians as pawns in our war of hatred.
I am embarrassed that instead of denouncing the hatred, much of the world has joined with us in attacking the Jews’ right to self-determination.
I am embarrassed that I, and the few other Arabs who stand up to hatred, cannot do much more than speak up, and that we have not moved to action even our fellow Arabs who live comfortably in the West.
I am embarrassed as a citizen of the West because we pay lip service to Israel but we cannot provide substantial support to Israel, for example against the Arab attempts to rewrite the past and erase the Jewish history of Jerusalem.
I am embarrassed that we in the West are too beholden to Arab dictators to even take the symbolic step of recognizing that Jerusalem is an indivisible part of Israel.
I am embarrassed to ethnically belong to a group that thrives on hatred and to geographically belong to a group that appeases haters.
I am embarrassed to belong to a human race that has learned nothing from the lessons of the past and that continues to let antisemitism fester and grow.
I am embarrassed that I cannot write these words in an Arab publication or even in a mainstream Western publication because hatred and appeasement are too strong.
But there is something that I can do, and it is to fly in the face of every Arab tyrant and every Arab hatemonger, and to write the truth where I can, because unlike the vast majority Arabs who see the truth and yet remain silent, I refuse to be silenced, and that is something that I am proud of.
So, to my Jewish friends, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Six-Day War, I say, you have a lot to be proud of, not only from those six days, but from everything that your people did before and after. All the hatred in the world cannot take that pride away.