Diane Weber Bederman

The Naqba 2015

In 1948, five Arab countries attacked the new country of Israel, sure of their success. They failed. But Jordan conquered part of Jerusalem in the war, annexed it, ethnically cleansed the Jews whose ancestors had inhabited Jerusalem for thousands of years, destroyed the Holy Sites just as today ISIS has destroyed the Holy Sites in lands they take. Between 1948 and 1967 Jordan demolished 58 synagogues in Jerusalem’s Old City and used the tombstones for sidewalks, having learned well from the Nazis.

And the war that the Arab world initiated led to hundreds of thousands of Arabs on the move. And no Arab country would welcome them, take them in, embrace them as brothers and sisters. And so, over time, the Muslims called this episode the Naqba, the Catastrophe. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of Jews whose ancestors had lived in Muslim countries for thousands of years, from the time before Jesus, were thrown out, forced to leave their homes and businesses behind. There would be no home for them in Europe; not after the Nazis. They were welcomed in Israel. There are no Jewish refugees anywhere in the world. They are always welcome in Israel, embraced by their brothers and sisters.

“In Israel’s early years, refugees outnumbered residents. Israel itself was one large refugee camp in the 1950s and 1960s. No one can forget the sight of hastily erected ‘transit’ camps of fabric tents, and wooden or tin huts. These were conceived by Levi Eshkol of the Jewish Agency to provide temporary housing and jobs. The first ma’abara was established in May 1950 in Kesalon in Judea.”

It is today that we are witnessing a true Naqba in Muslim countries, a catastrophe of epic proportions. Millions of Muslims are on the move with nowhere to go. They are refugees because of the barbarity of the actions of other Muslims. And once again their Arab brothers and sisters refuse to embrace them, take them in as family. They remain refugees in Muslim countries.

From Syria’s Assad’s state-sponsored barrel bombs and chemical weapons on his own citizens to ISIS gang rapes of young girls, beheadings and suffocations, to the roasting of men alive as if they were pigs on a spit, to the drowning of men locked in steel-barred cages; these are Muslims terrifying other Muslims. There is no concept of care for the other, let alone caring for one’s brother. This is tribal warfare and it is no different in intent than the tribal behaviour that took place in 1948 when Muslims refused to care for other Muslims.

And now the UN screams for Europe, the West to take in these people who are shell-shocked. And Europe and Canada and the USA will take these people because of our fundamental ethical beliefs — that we not only care for our brother, but we care for the other. This is in diametric opposition to the Muslim world who will not care for their own.

“Burden sharing has no meaning in the Gulf, and the Saudi, Emirati and Qatari approach has been to sign a check and let everyone else deal with it,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Human Rights Watch for its Middle East and North Africa division. Kuwaiti commentator Fahad Alshelaimi said in a TV interview that his country was too expensive for refugees, but appropriate for laborers.

You can’t welcome people from another environment and another place who have psychological or nervous system problems or trauma and enter them into societies.”

I guess there is no concern on the part of Kuwait for the trauma these people are suffering just trying to get to Europe or the fact that the culture and language are foreign.

Muslim leaders are doing what they do best, blaming the West, this time “for not intervening forcefully against Mr. Assad in a way they believe could have ended the conflict and stopped the refugee flow.”

This Naqba is a repeat of 1948. Any Muslims not taken in by the West will be left in camps. And the Muslim world will continue to blame others for not caring enough for their own.This is the catastrophe. Not just the displacement of millions of people who have suffered under the hands of barbaric terrorism by Islamists, but the refusal of Muslims the world over to care for their own while blaming others for the displacement.

About the Author
Diane Weber Bederman is a multi-faith, hospital trained chaplain who lives in Ontario, Canada, just outside Toronto; She has a background in science and the humanities and writes about religion in the public square and mental illness on her blog: The Middle Ground:The Agora of the 21st Century. She is a regular contributor to Convivium: Faith in our Community. "