It is a favourite slogan of xenophobes, of indigent peoples who feel they are being invaded by an unwelcome tide of foreigners through normal migration generally termed emigration by segments of a society wishing to become immigrants elsewhere in the world - "go back to where you came from". People who are nationals of a geographic entity calling itself a nation, a country, who fear the incursion of strangers, who blame them for their own lack of opportunities in employment and sharing the wealth of their country's natural and national resources.
Currently, governments welcome immigrants who often bring their experience and education and professional attributes with them, attempting to escape an intolerant and oppressive society to make a better life for their families. Countries of the world are also obligated to accept a certain number of refugees - displaced persons who for reasons of political instability, internecine or tribal warfare leading to dislocation, or a totalitarian government enforcing their version of religion or ideological fundamentalism - to offer asylum.
People who comfortably belong to a majority group, who see themselves as original investors of a society, part of the heritage, culture and generally-accepted social mores, with a political system that reflects their values, tend to look at intruders with a jaundiced eye. But for those countries' citizens truly advanced in the social acceptance of others, seeing them as a source of societal enrichment. Generally, a period of adjustment and grudging acceptance leads to some modicum of tolerance.
People who emigrate to countries where their outward differences make them instantly recognizable as foreign elements in an otherwise homogeneous society have always been initially met with suspicion and often enough outright hostility. In our modern world, particularly within advanced countries, there has been a sea change in attitudes. Regardless of which there are certain elements of society that are often viewed poorly, seen as caricatures, representatives of
unwanted foreign traits.
Jews, a group of people whose well-documented origin was in the Middle East historically, were dispersed in two massive events when occupiers found them to be irritatingly and single-mindedly devoted to their religion and their traditions. Through conquest by the ancient Assyrians who also destroyed the First Temple in 586 B.C. When Jews returned from their sojourn in Iran, and re-constructed the temple, it was destroyed again in 63 B.C. by the Romans and the Israelites again dispersed.
The current dispersal of Jews from their ancient tribal homeland (which included part of what is today called Israel, and parts of Lebanon and Jordan as well), the diaspora, settled over the millennia that followed within the Middle East, across Europe, into Asia and India and eventually into North America. Everywhere that Jews settled they were considered to be outsiders, interlopers, strangers whom the original population tolerated, or did not.
It was in 1930s Germany where fascism led by an Austrian house painter whose hatred for Jews was so deeply entrenched, that anti-semitism found its apogee in a state-approved, state-initiated, state-planned mass annihilation. Where an earlier Russian screed called "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" were taken as proof of Jewish duplicity and greed, and racist propaganda began its dehumanization of an entire people to eventually enable Nazi Germany to embark upon a systematic program of mass extinction.
In Europe at that time to be a Jew was to be a degraded human anomaly, a malign force, a hindrance to social justice and uniformity within society; a despised sub-human presence desperately requiring extirpation. Throughout Eastern Europe in particular Jews were hounded and forbidden by law to be viewed as entitled to security, and ongoing pogroms kept Jewish communities quietly, fearfully, out of sight. In the Middle East Jews were permitted to live as a tolerated group paying a 'tax' for the privilege.
Western Europe was a more improved, yet still difficult place for Jewish acceptance as equals within society. Jews, as a group, suffered from a dreadful public image and official neglect in between pogroms, wherever they lived. In the 15th Century the Spanish Inquisition forced Jews to turn to Catholicism, or expulsion; those who converted to become marranos and found to be secretly practising their faith were put to the torch. The balance were expelled in 1492 as undesirables.
When the Allies liberated concentration camps wherever Nazi Germany prevailed all over Europe, they found the remnants of European Jewry, barely alive, after six million Jews had been systematically slaughtered. Records of their geographic origins carefully maintained; their properties assimilated by the state, their hair and clothing and gold teeth extracted to be used in the wartime economies of the Axis powers. Jews aided the Axis war effort, through forced slave labour, and some even survived that experience.
From the vast acreages of the concentration camps with their gas chambers and their crematoria the armies of the allied powers sought to repatriate Jews from the camps to their 'homelands', their places of European origin. The sick and demoralized Jews in refugee camps, sad remnants of a proud people, were difficult for Allied armies stationed in Europe, to deal with. When Jews returned to their homes throughout Europe there was nothing to return to; their homes had been taken by others or had been destroyed; their families had been fed into the death machine, and they had nothing left.
What they were left with in many places of Europe was hostility by their former neighbours some of whom were reluctant to surrender property not theirs. Nor the children entrusted to them to help them survive. And anti-semitism that simply refused to bow to the sorrow of the Holocaust. So many Jews who had survived the horrors of the death camps met their death on return to their former homes. Right-wing groups would travel through villages to rout out the returned Jews and murder them.
A homeland of their own which had always been a dream, the return to Zion, to the Jewish capital of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, where sat the most holy symbol in Judaism, became an imperative as influential Jews living in North America and England began to formulate accelerated plans that the Zionist movement had always advocated. Jews were actually smuggled, hundreds of thousands of Holocaust survivors, into British-mandated Palestine.
This happened with the connivance of Palestinians. For at that time, in the 1940s, Jews were 'Palestinians'. There were in the mid-1940s roughly 900,000 Arabs living in the region of Palestine, and approximately 600,000 Jews. When the struggle of the Jewish diaspora to attain a place of their own where Jews could find haven and security denied them anywhere else in the world resulted eventually in the United Nations declaring partition for Palestine, Jews returned to their historical homeland.
Partition was celebrated by Palestinian Jews and rejected by Palestinian Arabs and the Arabs in the greater Middle East. War was imposed on the new State of Israel time and weary time again and each time Israel prevailed, was able to defend herself and establish the state that Jews had longed for so passionately. Sixty-two years later, Israel is still negotiating with a still-outraged Arab community for recognition. Arab Palestinians have time and again rejected the potential for a country of their own.
Concessions were never adequate to their needs and desires. When, in fact the reality was that there was only one concession that would have sufficed, and that would have been the complete surrender of the land that Israel sits upon, to be 'returned' to Arab rule which might allow Jews to live in the greater geography as dependents. Egypt, which signed a peace agreement with Israel 30 years ago has never relented in its antagonism toward the Jewish State. And Jordan is little different.
The Egyptian High Court is currently considering stripping citizenship from Egyptian men married to Israeli women, and this would engulf thousands of Egyptian men and Israeli women, married for decades and raising families together, in an impossible situation. A lawsuit was filed on the grounds that "Egyptian nationality laws warn against marriage to anyone characterized as Zionist"; which, of necessity describes any Israeli. The high court has directed the ministry to 'take the necessary steps to strip these Egyptian men of their nationality'.
Which, presumably, could be restored should they choose to renounce their marriages, leave wife and children.
And, at the very time that U.S.-sponsored 'proximity' peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority proceeds, PA-owned television broadcasts a message calling on Israelis to 'return' to their true places of origin; Europe and Ethiopia, thus enabling Palestinian Authority Arabs to return to the Israeli cities that should now revert to Arab ownership.
The televised message urges Israelis to go to "your original homeland". Ukraine, Poland, Germany, Russia and Ethiopia, all presumably eager to receive their former residents. Whereas, according to the message, those eastern Jews who lived in and were then thrust from Arab countries such as Syria, Egypt and Iraq upon the establishment in 1948 of Israel, would obviously not welcome their return. Nor be prepared to return to them their confiscated properties.
This message by the Palestinian Authority is one that PA children know well. They are instructed in their schools to believe that Jews menace their childhood and threaten their adulthood. They are taught to fear the Jewish presence, and to resent it for the tragedy it brought to Palestinian Arabs who fled their homes at the exhortation of their Arab allies preparing to assault Israel in its formative years. Those same Arab states confident they would speedily conquer a small Jewish, ill-equipped state. Though fate decreed otherwise.How is there to be peace between Jews and Arabs when most Israelis are sabras now, born in Israel, those whose parents originated in Europe. And they are held, by the PA to be foreigners? Many more had been in the Middle East as subservient groups to the Arabs for millennia, while others had lived in their traditional homeland, including Jerusalem, for hundreds of years.
How is there to be peace between Jews and Arabs when the forthcoming populations, the children grown to adulthood are taught and believe that Jews have no right to be there? Israeli Arab children with full Israeli citizenship are taught that they live in "part of occupied Palestine". Does this equip them to future life as peaceful citizens of side-by-side states?
For that matter, what of the Israeli Arabs who have been duly elected by their Israeli-Arab constituents - all of whom have full entitlements as Israeli citizens - and sit in the Knesset as MKs and who fulminate against the state, and declare that it should be dissolved and become majority Arab?
How can peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority become reality when the PA steadfastly refuses to acknowledge that Israel is a Jewish state?
Labels: Anti-Semitism, Human Relations, Justice