Arab extremists love to hate Israel. It doesn’t matter whether relations with Israel are good, bad or ugly. They hate Israel, no matter what. Their goal is to turn back the clock and travel back into time so they can do what their predecessors failed to do in 1947, prevent the division and destruction of Palestine by the United Nations mandate and block the creation of Israel. Their strategy to achieve this goal is as stupid as is their leadership, which is driven not by reasoned, commonsense strategies for success, but by formulas of failure based on unrestrained emotion and hatred.
This hatred of Israel and Jews is not embraced by all Arabs. In fact, most Arabs don’t hate Israel or Jews. They are just mad at Israel and Jews. They are mad because they recognize the righteousness of the Palestinian cause.
But the extremists, who are a minority faction in our Arab community, step in and bully the mainstream Arabs into silence. Arabs are afraid to stand up to the extremists who often direct their hate and anger against Arabs even more than they do against Israel. So the mainstream Arabs remain silent. It’s better to not say anything, the moderates mistakenly conclude, than to stand up to the fanatics.
That’s why the fanatics hate me so much. I reject their failed leadership and their absence of commonsense strategies to achieve a Palestinian state. And I reject their idiotic mob mentality that denounces anyone who does anything in Israel.
Oh the extremists love you when you don’t cross that line of “normalization,” which is to act in a moral and ethical manner in dealing with Israel. And for years they loved me when I criticized Israel, but kept my mouth shut about their extremist fanaticism that enabled violence and that is as much to blame for Palestine’s failure as is Israel’s own extremist movement which has blocked Palestine.
This week, a Palestinian-Jordanian band based in Amman, Jordan, Autostrad, applied and received a visa from Israel’s embassy in Amman, Jordan, to perform in Israel. Performances were booked in Nazareth and Haifa in Israel, and in Ramallah and the Golan Heights in the Occupied Israeli territories.
The extremists are now engaged in bullying the members of the band, calling them “traitors” and “mutaba” or, in English, “normalizers.” They are being denounced as “Palestinian Zionists,” a label some of the fanatics have thrown at me for committing the “ultimate haram” – I married a Jewish woman and have a Jewish son.
But I urge Autostrad to stick to their principles. If we believe Israel must be a democratic country where Jews and non-Jews should be treated equal, then we can fight to bring equality to the non-Jews of Israel, Arabs who are citizens who suffer discrimination for many reasons. One reason is that Israel discriminates against non-Jews, citizens or not citizens. And another reason is that the Arabs are failures at fighting for Palestinian rights in Israel and in the Middle East.
That’s right, let me repeat it. The Arabs are failures at fighting for Palestinian rights. Their emotion overcomes logic and reason so they are incapable of being effective. They can’t establish a Palestinian state because they are consumed with destroying Israel.
Well, Israel happens to have Palestinians living in it and they deserve to see and hear Autostrad and other performers who are bringing their message of peace to the world. In fact, Palestinians should go out of their way to bring their message and their culture not just to Arabs in Israel but to Israelis and to American Jews.
You can’t beat Israel with hate. But you can achieve freedom through principle and justice and fairness. We need to send our message and communicate our rights to the Israelis as much as we need to support those Palestinians who suffer under Israel’s racist societal policies. Instead of yelling and screaming hate against Israel at Arab conferences, we should be bringing our talents and culture and the power of our Palestinian heritage inside Israel to Israeli audiences.
Let them see who we really are, because we are not the fanatics and the extremist activists who use hatred to silence the Arab majority. We are a culturally rich people with a history and I will use every opportunity to take that culture and present it to Israelis and Jews whenever I can in columns and yes, even through standup comedy. Humor is the most powerful means of communication and comedy is a powerful means of confronting hatred and discrimination.
While the Palestinians wait another 65 years for an intelligent activist leadership to arrive, we should resist the idiot fanatics who try to silence us and bully us with names like “mutaba” and “normalization.” We should stand up for our rights and bring our message of peace directly into Israel.
In 2007, during three comedy tours of Israel that I performed, dozens of Israelis came up and said that it changed how they viewed us. It made them see us as human beings, rather than as terrorists who wanted to blow them up. It replaced the ugly stereotype that some activists reinforce with their stupidity and hatred with an image that the Palestinians are a just and fair people. We are a good people. Palestinians are a moral people and a principled people.
We, the Palestinians, are not the loudmouthed, but small collective of extremists who spew vicious hatred and promote confrontation and would rather have violence and conflict than peace. We Palestinians want our state. But we also want peace. We want an environment where we can be free to travel, live and respect each other.
If that is what normalization means, then the extremists can call me whatever they want. I just won’t be a loser like them who drags Palestine down to their failed insanity of hatred.