If I were a Palestinian, I’d be worried. The P.A’s recent attempt at having Israel banned from FIFA should worry each and every Palestinian who wants a bright prosperous future for his people. If I were an Israeli, I wouldn’t be too worried (and let’s face it, like always in the big history of our little people, the only things that should really worry us are internal issues). Following are words of advice from a small people who have been around for a few thousand years (and still kicking).
The average human being doesn’t like uncertainty. The average human likes routine. And so usually, when your life is all of a sudden turned upside down, you panic and you beg for things to go back to the good old days. This explains evolution. If there is a need for change, we need it to be gradual or else we lose it. Well, most of us do. Hold that thought. Now, I’d like to give you the entire Jewish history in one paragraph. And then we’ll get back to our neighbors’ problem and how it relates to uncertainty.
How the Jewish people got to where they are today: we became a people while we were slaves of another nation. It would make Apartheid seem like the most liberal system. After hundreds of years of tyrannical slavery and genocide, we escaped. We invent monotheism and the idea that all men are equal. We conquered land (that is after all how a group of people becomes a nation historically isn’t it?) Many years later, after our capital and temple were destroyed (uncertainty anyone?) we revolutionized our religion. While the world believed in oracles we took power away from our prophets (too much uncertainty) and gave it to practical scholars who found stability in uncertainty.
We changed our religion from having sacrificial ceremonies at its core (what everyone else was doing – the safe and certain thing to do) to something completely different. We gave new meaning to the sacred laws which brought us to sacrificing in our temple in the first place. Our top priority was to have our kids learn these laws. And because we are Jews, we argues about the interpretations of these laws to this day. This revolution allowed us to maintain our religion once exiled. After being kicked out of several countries (England and Spain to name a couple), forced to be someone we were not, we couldn’t practice our revolutionized religion based on prayer, learning and day to day practice. So what did we do? We invented Kabala. Never heard of it? Ask Madonna.
We weren’t allowed to practice our religion so we invented a form of practice which was utterly spiritual. Years later with Europe becoming more liberal we started to lose touch with our religion. And those who didn’t, fought with one another about what it really meant to be a Jew (never a dull moment at dinner with the in-laws). And then the world decided for us. A Jew was someone who shouldn’t be here. Holocaust. 6 million Jews died, 1.5 million children. My father’s family were all killed save his parents. What did we do then? We strengthened the already forming Jewish State and became an independent people. We created a State which I think even Kind David and King Solomon would be proud of. This has been a very rough version of our history. For a better idea, I strongly recommend Cecil Roth (I don’t bring Jewish history to pat myself of the back, nor is the purpose of this article to gain hurrays from my fellow people. I merely bring my people’s history because I know it a little better than others).
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying everything is perfect. Far from it. We still have cartels and monopolies to get rid of, we need to treat equally non-Jewish citizens who want to be a part of our state (but it’s hard when they themselves are ambivalent about it), and we need to have decent sports teams (because otherwise, FIFA and this decision will actually be doing us a favor). But my point is that we thrive on uncertainty. Others and exogenous events strengthen our identity. But it is an identity which is rooted in our own internal outlook and belief system. We don’t try to create independence or even nationhood based on hate of others (I don’t give anti-Semites THAT much credit).
Let’s get back to our story. If I look back 2000 years, 1000 years, heck, even 60 years, I am proud of the decisions my people made. They made me stronger and more proud. And sure, there will always be bad decisions and ugly stories that the winners in history will try to hide. But in a 1000 years, what will a Palestinian think? They will see how poorly their leadership behaved under uncertainty. Or worse. Even then they won’t learn –
‘Hey, did you read about the de-legitimization campaign our forefathers took on? Yeah, they really showed those Israelis when they stopped buying their exports. One of the boldest, bravest, most defining moment was when our leaders of the past kicked their soccer team out of FIFA. It was at that moment that we became a proud, unified people with the core of our identity based on………’ (Hate).
And now for a practical exercise: google the words ‘Palestinian contributions to the world.’ You know what, why go that far? Just read a bit about the course of Palestinian evolution. And when I say evolution, I mean how are they moving forward? I have no doubt there is so much energy bottled up. Why waste it all on hating us? It will only make me stronger and you, well, the definition of you will only become to hate me. This means that even if you succeed and exile me, you will scatter into nothing and be taken over by the other countries around you. Even Ottoman administration at its best didn’t do much with our land (everyone just loves quoting Twain’s Innocent’s Abroad on the matter). But we did and do for one simple reason.
I don’t define myself by the Holocaust. Do yourselves a favor and don’t define yourself by your Nakba. You can, but it won’t get you anywhere. My advice? As a policy, ignore us Israelis for 50 years. It will be the best thing that ever happened to you.
Important: the above only refers to the P.A. leadership. I give its people more credit than that. They do after all, live under an oppressive corrupt dictatorship that hates me so that their people won’t rebel against how corrupt and oppressive their leadership is.