David Remnick and Ayman Odeh: On how a prominent liberal can be so wrong

A few days ago, an history was made in the Middle East. This is that part of the world, where usually the word history is closely connected with bad news. But not this time, as the Arab League of Nations, the most representative body of Arabs in the Middle East, made an important decision. It officially and publicly declared Hizballah as a terror organization.

History?. A huge piece of history, even though it was hardly mentioned in the mass media outside of the Middle East. Not enough even in the Israeli media. But very much in the Arab media, which could not fail to recognize the fact, that this was the first time that the vast majority of the Arab world defines a group claiming to be an authentic anti-Israel resistance movement as no other than a terror group. The decision had nothing to do with Israel, no new, hitherto unknown love to the Jewish state. It had everything to do with regional Middle East politics, with Iran , with the civil war in Syria, in fact the overall Sushi war in the Middle East [sunnis vs.Shi’ites], and the role of Hizballah as the executioner of the Iranian regime.

It also sent a signal to the Obama Administration in the aftermath of the ill-fated Iranian nuclear deal-whereas you naïve Americans think that there is a new Middle East, we, the realistic Arabs, understand that, in fact, it is the very old Middle East which reigns supreme, mostly characterized by the old sectarian hatreds. And yes, there was also another subtle message, one sent to Israel, which is, we the Arabs are not afraid anymore to tell the truth about what REALLY happens in the Middle East, even if, G-D forbid, it conforms with what Israel says.

Well, we the Arabs seems to exclude the servants of Iran, such as Iraq and Syria, but also Israeli MKs, and in particular, one called Ayman Odeh, the leader of the joint Arab List in the Israeli Knesset .Odeh, the leader of the Israeli Communist Party, condemned the Arab League, arguing that this decision is reprehensible because it “served Israeli propaganda”. This is the same Ayman Odeh, who recently was the subject of an adulating piece in the New Yorker , written by David Remnick, an iconic figure among American Liberals in general, and Jews in particular.

“What is required of a saint is a radiant reflection of the holy and a capacity for miracles. what is required of a political saint is an intimate familiarity with the interrogation room”, is what Remnick wrote, and while Remnick did not specifically define Odeh as a political saint, he left his readers with very little doubt, that indeed he was. A saint who supports the Hizballah, a murderous organization responsible for the killing of hundreds of Americans , many Lebanese, many thousands of Syrians and yes, should we even mention, many Israelis. Odeh’s support of Hizballah became public only after the Remnick piece was published, but if Remnick wanted to be in the land of reality, and not in the la la land of his political fantasies, he would have paid attention and mention a lot of red lights flashing strongly, which could have given a much less saintly picture of Odeh.

For example, rather than mentioning the Communist Party in 10-15 words, writing about the fact, that this is still the most Stalinist Party of all the Communist Parties of the West, a party which for decades adopted religiously the most extreme Arab and Palestinian positions against Israel, a party which has never dared to conduct any social struggle within the Arab community in Israel, only extreme national campaigns against Israel. A party which never condemned any suicide bombings during the second Intifada, despite the claim of Odeh to the contrary, in his well-manufactured interview with Remnick.If Remnick was less in love with Arab-Palestinian soft-spoken nationalist and more familiar with reality, he would have given much more coverage and significance to Ali Salam, the democratically-elected mayor of Nazareth, who chased Ayman Odeh out of his town, when the “Communist Saint” came to incite the religious feelings of Muslims in Nazareth over the false charge, that Israel was undermining the holy places of Islam in Jerusalem.

I can go on and on with examples of the superficiality of the “Saint” analogy, but no need for that. In fact, I could end up here, simply reminding our readers, hopefully Remnick is one of them, that our hero, the “Saint” is a supporter of the murderous Hizballah , instead I leave it open to Remnick to write a quick P.S to his sycophantic piece about the “Saint” Odeh, apologizing for misleading his readers. Also promising to learn the languages used by Odeh when he is not propagating to naïve American Liberals, rather when he talks to his people. Maybe even going to Nazareth and writing about Ali SALAM, not a Zionist, not a Saint, simply a realistic man who wants REAL peace.

About the Author
Dr Josef Olmert, a Middle East expert, is currently an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina