Daily News Egypt, Egypt
Jan 2 2009

With a Grain of Salt: Merci for your impartiality

By Mohamed Salmawy
First Published: January 2, 2009

CAIRO: I received a phone call from a French TV correspondent asking
me to comment on Gaza. A few minutes earlier, I had watched the
Israeli Embassy spokeswoman in Paris speaking on another TV program.
The presenter told her that the World Public Opinion calls for a
ceasefire on both sides. `You cannot put Israel and Hamas in the same
scale pan' the spokeswoman replied. What applies to one cannot be
applied to the other; Israel is a democratic state committed to the
world order and its laws. On the other hand Hamas is an Islamic
terrorist organization which aims at bringing down the international
system and demolishing Israel.' This being the last question, the
interviewer told her `Merci,' ending the interview.

In my turn, I too say `Merci' to the Israeli spokeswoman. Her reply is
more succinct than all ado in the Arabic satellite media. I said to
the French TV correspondent that what the Israeli spokeswoman uttered
is an arrogant racist view which holds that Israel is comparable and
equivalent to none. Its nature is totally different. Israel has a
unique history which no other people share, no matter how much is
persecuted and expunged. Neither the Armenian, the Kurds nor the Tutsi
tribes in Rwanda have the right to speak about the genocide they
suffered. If they absolutely have to, they are to choose another name
than the `holocaust,' which is a brand name, confined only to the

This is the logic of the Israeli policy, which views Israel as unlike
any other country and thus should be allowed what other countries are
not; namely, occupying the land of others, annexing these lands to its
territories after confiscating them and expelling their indigenous
residents. It is also allowed to persecute any Palestinian who refuses
to leave his land, wages regular genocide campaigns against the
Palestinians with a view to getting rid of the rest of them or driving
them to settle in neighboring Arab countries.

Now for the details of what the Israeli spokeswoman said: that Israel
is a democratic state. Since when did democracy mean occupation,
expansion, bloodletting, expelling the indigenous population and
discriminating against Sephardic Jews?

If Israel is truly committed to the international system, does this
commitment allow it to defy the resolutions adopted by the
international community represented by the UN and its specialized
agencies and hide behind the support of the US, which backs Israel in
its violation of the international legitimacy out of greed for the
Jewish vote? Does Israel's commitment allow it to stock weapons of
mass destruction, chemical and nuclear alike, at a time when other
countries are threatened if they try to obtain such weapons?

Does this commitment allow Israel to refuse adamantly to sign
international agreements on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons? Does
Israel's commitment to international laws make it, by means of wars
and acts of aggression, annex much more land than what was allotted to
it by the UN resolution based on which it came to exist; a resolution
which also stipulated the establishment of a Palestinian state on land
which has now been annexed by Israel?

Then comes her description of Hamas as a terrorist movement. According
to the official Israeli statistics, the number of rockets launched by
Hamas are finite. However, the country of democracy and international
laws [meaning Israel] has so far killed more than 400 Palestinians,
including children, women and innocent civilians and injured more than
1,500 others. So, who is the terrorist? If the terrorism of the former
is terrorism by a movement, we as Arabs have reservations about its
behavior, the latter's terrorism is that of a state that has become
more barbarous and destructive.

Then, I leveled my criticism to the French TV correspondent saying:
`It could be understandable that the Israeli embassy's spokeswoman
utter these falsities. However, it is not understandable that the
French TV broadcasts them with no comments.' He answered: `We give
freedom [of speech] to each side to present his viewpoint.'

I said: `It is your duty towards viewers to present them with the
truth. But I have not heard once that the Palestinian people are under
Israeli occupation and that they are seeking to liberate their land
after more than 40 years of occupation. I imagined that France can
better understand than anybody else the legitimacy of resistance
movements. However, by accepting the descriptions given by the Israeli
spokeswoman, you are de facto accepting what the Nazis, who occupied
your country, said about the French resistance movement.'

Mohamed Salmawy is President of the Arab Writers' Union and
Editor-in-Chief of Al-Ahram Hebdo.