It’s Time to Speak ‘Dugri’

For non-Hebrew speakers, “dugri” is not a language. It is a Hebrew word borrowed from Arabic and Ottoman Turkish meaning straightforward, honestly, bluntly, openly, telling it like it is, putting one’s cards on the table without shame or hesitation  (“tuchas auf’n tisch”).

In Israel, it is common usage to hear someone say, “let’s talk dugri”. It makes sense. No beating about the bush. Telling it as it is whether one wants to hear it or not. So in our infrequent discussions with Palestinians, it is about time that we talked dugri.

The facts are clear. In 1947, the Jews accepted the United Nations Partition of Palestine. The Arabs rejected it out of hand. The Jews compared it to a table with four legs. Cut the table in half and replace the two missing legs. Half a table is better than no table. The Arabs, on the other hand, said “no ! we want the whole table, not half of a broken one. We demand the whole table. It is ours. It belongs to us”.

So they prepared to take the “table” by military force. In 1948 as we declared our independence from the British Mandate, we were attacked by seven Arab nations well-armed and bent, as always, on the destruction of the Jews. The war cry “itbach al-yahud”… slaughter the Jews… was heard in every neighborhood, town, village, city, kibbutz where Jews lived in the land of Israel.

Tzur Yisrael..the Rock of Israel.. protected us and although many thousands of our bravest young men and women were killed in the Arab attacks, we were victorious.

So too in the Six Day War of 1967. So too in the Yom Kippur War of 1973. So too in the almost-daily terrorist atrocities upon innocent men, women and children in their homes, at cafes and at bus stops.

It is a never-ending war. So-called “peace” talks have floundered and failed. Not since Anwar Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem in 1975 has there been an Arab leader willing to take our out-stretched hand in a gesture for peace.

So it seems to me that now is the time for us to talk “dugri” to the Palestinians. The settlements and the settlers are not the problem. There were no peace negotiations between us and the Arabs even when there were no settlements… reclaimed biblical lands in Judea and Samaria captured in our victorious 1967 war.

So speaking dugri to Palestinians let us make it absolutely clear that the settlements and the settlers will remain on our ancestral land. Let us speak dugri when we tell them that Jerusalem will never again be divided. Let us speak dugri when we tell them that we refuse the right of return to Arabs who fled or left under force in the 1948 war.

Let us talk dugri when we point out that Arabs who remained in Israel after 1948 were granted full citizenship with all rights, benefits and privileges of Israeli Jewish citizens and compare it to the plight of the Arab refugees who, for almost 70 years, have been forced to live in filthy refugee camps in Arab countries, deprived of citizenship or benefits.

How shameful it is that Palestinians are not wanted nor welcomed by their Arab brethren. The only Arab nation which makes provision for them is the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan which is comprised of the 77% of Palestinian territory torn away in 1922 by the British government as a gift to the Emir Abdullah of Trans-Jordan. Almost 80 % of all Jordanians are originally from Palestine, including the country’s Queen, wife of King Abdullah II.

The royal family of Jordan does not like to hear it, but the fact remains, speaking dugri, Jordan is the real Palestine and there is sufficient room there for the Arabs of the West Bank to move there and to live quietly and at peace with their own people, their own flesh and blood families.

We have been earnest in seeking a peace with the Palestinians but, again speaking dugri, it can never happen. We are two people, two cultures, who cannot live in peace with one another. But we need not live in war. Speak dugri to those who seek our destruction. Remind them that losers in wars have no rights to make claims on lost territory or property. That is the price of war.

And speaking dugri, we must tell them “take it or leave it; these are our terms”.

May the Rock of Israel ever be our constant Guide and Companion. He too is a Master of dugri.

Speaking dugri, there is none else but Him.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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