Rawan Osman

We stand with you

We stand with you.

“We” cause I am not the only one.

Yesterday, under my post expressing support for the Israelis on social media, an elderly Palestinian that I know from Damascus left a comment: “You are a whore. Shame on you.”

He was implying, of course, that I was an honor-less woman betraying the cause of his people. Although the gentleman’s outburst is suggestive of an outspoken character when outraged, he was lost for words in the face of the atrocities committed by the Assad Regime against the Syrians throughout twelve years. Even when the regime starved hundreds of Palestinians to death at the Yarmouk Camp in Damascus, he was tone-deaf.

What is much more interesting than this double-standard phenomenon, is the abundant support among Arabs for Israel. People write to me to praise my courage for saying what they would not dare say. But what would scare those living in Europe of freely expressing their thoughts against Hamas? Physical violence isn’t necessarily what prevents people from showing their support for Israel in the West, but rather shame.

In Covenant and Conversation Rabbi Sacks reflects on shame as opposed to guilt inspired by Ruth Benedict‘s The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: “One of her central insights was the difference between shame cultures and guilt cultures. In shame cultures the highest value is honor. In guilt cultures it is righteousness. Shame is feeling bad that we have failed to live up to the expectations others have of us. Guilt is what we feel when we fail to live up to what our own conscience demands of us. Shame is other-directed. Guilt is inner-directed.”

I grew up between Lebanon and Syria within a shame culture where peer pressure decided how one behaved and what convictions one held. Yet, I never cared for people’s opinion of me. What matters is that my behavior remained coherent with my thoughts.

I might be shamed, but I am not guilty. Guilty are those who call Hamas militants “freedom fighters”. Guilty are those celebrating a cowardly attack during the Jewish high holidays, reminiscent of the Yom Kippur disgraceful war. Guilty are those distributing baklava on the streets in Berlin routing for Hamas. Guilty are those chanting “Allah is Great” around naked and tortured bodies.

If these are those who shame me, then shame is my badge of honor.

Last year, a publishing house in the German city where I study advertised an event that they were organizing. The poster read from afar something like “Israel… Apartheid…” Coming closer, I could read the name of the German author visiting to promote her new book. Her nickname on social media was “Hamas Helga”.

Other students who are familiar with the agenda of that publishing house told me not to bother and attend, as there will be the usual bunch of old leftists. I bought her book, read it, and then read her other books. I watched her interviews and then I needed to ask her some questions.

The room was full, not only of the old friends of the publisher but mostly of young students, Europeans as well as Arabs. More than a hundred persons listened to her account as she reported the situation in Israel where she lives with her Palestinian husband. The essence of her lecture and of her last if not all her books is that Israel has been an apartheid abusing and mistreating the Palestinians since the day it existed.

She proudly claimed to have been a personal friend of Sheikh Yassin, the founder of Hamas, and she regretted his unlawful assassination by Israel. She emphasized that Hamas had no other choice but to do whatever possible to defend their cause – a penny for her thoughts today.

When told that Hamas was classified as a terrorist organization and that the Hamas Charter called for the annihilation of Israel, the author claimed that the charter was changed. I told her that the Arabic version available online was not updated, unlike the English one which was altered to accommodate the Western taste. My remark was irrelevant. I’d already said more than she could digest when I was allowed to speak.

First, it was important to discredit her assertion that people in Gaza love Hamas, for they are all religious and that women in the Middle East “love their veil”. I told her that half my family is Lebanese and the other Syrian. None of my grandmothers wore a veil.

I asked the author what she would write about if peace was achieved between the Israelis and the Palestinians. After all, she is one of many who made a career out of the conflict. Also, I wanted to know why she repeated the same ideas in all her books. My impression was that she was more invested in bashing Israel than in attaining a solution. I asked her why she hadn’t invited the Palestinians to develop a comprehensive and realistic proposal for a sustainable peace instead of her continuously inciting them against the Israelis if she really cared for their wellbeing.

I told her and her audience that I grew up in war and that anyone who feeds the rift between the Palestinians and the Israelis contributes to producing new wars. Wars that cost us lives back in the Middle East.

Of course, she replied to none of my questions. The publisher, however, was furious and gave a long speech on the necessity to hold Israel accountable for human rights abuses. Especially in Gaza which needs to be freed.

Free Gaza indeed, but from Hamas. Free Lebanon from Hezbollah. Free Syria from Al-Assad. Free Iran from their evil regime. They are a genocidal alliance and the actual enemies of the people, not Israel.

What Hamas has committed today is unforgivable, and it is the beginning of its end. The world has witnessed what Israel must deal with and what these terrorists can do if unleashed. The images exceed those of the Munich Olympic massacre, ISIS’s executions, the Bataclan Attacks and the Nice Ramming combined. The entire world watched them behaving like beasts. If my child or my demented grandmother was kidnapped and taken hostage to Gaza, I would want mountains mobilized and the world trembling in indignation. And by no means am I the only one who feels this way right now.

Israelis, you should know that you have the support and sympathy of many of your neighbors. Without a doubt, Israel will prevail. Baruch dayan ha’emet.

About the Author
Rawan Osman is a Syrian-Lebanese peace activist, currently writing a book about her perception of the Jewish people and Israel before and after leaving the Middle East. Formerly with the PeaceComms Institute, Osman is studying Jewish and Islamic Studies at Heidelberg University, Germany. She is fluent in Arabic, French, English and German. She can be reached at
Related Topics
Related Posts