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|Saddam was right – "Palestine is Arab"
By Charles M. Morse
Moments before one of the world's last remaining hard-line socialist leaders faced his judgment in the form of a noose tightened around his neck, the former Iraqi Dictator Saddam Hussein blurted out "Palestine is Arab." And this may have been one of the few times in Saddam's blood soaked career that he spoke the truth.
The fact is that the former Palestine, known today as Israel since having achieved independence from Britain in 1948, is largely Arab today. The majority of the Arabs living in Israel today are Arab Jews. Israel, formerly Palestine, is Arab, Jewish Arab as opposed to Muslim or Christian Arab. This factor plays a major role in the ongoing conflict between Israel and its non-Jewish Arab neighbors.
Arab Jews had always lived in Palestine and in the rest of the Middle East alongside their Arab Muslim and Arab Christian neighbors. Arab Jews began immigrating in large numbers into Palestine, along with European Jews and Arab Muslims, in the later part of the nineteenth century. Jews had been native to the Middle East and North Africa for over a thousand years, centuries before Islamic forces thundered out of the Arabian Peninsula after the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632 CE.
After the seventh century establishment of the Islamic Arab Caliphate in the Middle East, in lands that had been Christian for centuries previous, native Christians, Jews, and other non-Muslims sank into the humiliating status of dhimmi's or second-class citizens. Christians and Jews were forced to wear special articles of clothing that identified them as non-Muslims, were forced to pay a special tax, and had to contend with many dangers and indignities over centuries of Muslim rule. The non-Muslim experience in the Middle East was comparable to that of African-Americans living in the American south before the civil rights movement.
The emerging Jewish State of Israel represented the establishment of the first democracy in the Middle East. The Arab Jews of Israel, both native and those who immigrated from other Arab and Muslim regions, would achieve equal rights and would experience full emancipation from their dhimmi status in the new state. This fact, and the threat that it represented to the elitist Muslim-Arab effendi, was not lost upon certain Arab-Muslim elitists such as Amin al-Husseini, appointed from an elite Arab Muslim family as Mufti of Jerusalem by the British Governor of Palestine Sir Herbert Samuel in 1922. The Mufti, in his effort to strangle the newly emerging emancipated state, become a close collaborator with Hitler and spent much of World War II living in Berlin.
The emancipation of the Arab Jew from his dhimmi status in the newly established State of Israel threatened the entire authoritarian caste system that had dominated the Arab Muslim Middle East for centuries. The very presence of the free and equal Arab Jew living in his own country threatened to awaken dormant freedom movements from amongst Middle Eastern Christians and from amongst the Arab Muslim poor. This fear was most likely exacerbated in the minds of Arab Muslim elites as they drove Arab Jews out of Iraq, Yemen, and other Arab countries by the hundreds of thousands. These native Arab Jews were subsequently absorbed into the modern Israeli society in the years following Israel's independence.
Certainly European Jews settling in Palestine in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries spearheaded the modern Zionist movement. They introduced into the region concepts such as democracy, capitalism, and modernity. Many forward thinking and progressive Arab Muslim leaders at the time, such as Faisal, King of Syria and Iraq, scion of the moderate Hashemite clan, and the great grand uncle of the present King of Jordan, welcomed the development of a Jewish State in Palestine. Faisal believed that a Jewish Palestine, existing within "modest and proper" borders, as he wrote to Harvard Law School Dean and later U.S. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, would assist the newly emerging post World War I Arab Muslim States enter the new century.
Today, as a result of the continuous and ongoing immigration of Arab Jews into Israel, as well as the high rate of intermarriage between Israeli-Arab Jews and Israeli-European Jews, Israel is more than ever before an essentially Arab society. Saddam was right to point out that Palestine, or Israel as it is now known, is truly Arab. The Arab- Jewish State of Israel is a prosperous, free, and successful society, one that stands as an example of the possibilities that freedom offers to Arab Muslim brethren in the Middle East who yearn for freedom.
Chuck Morse is a former Massachusetts congressional candidate and the author of The Nazi connection to Islamic Terrorism.