Tags: arabs | jews | peace

Arabs Must Prove They Want Peace With Israel

Thursday, 05 Nov 2009 08:54 AM

By Tawfik Hamid

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Many Arab countries have already signed peace treaties with Israel, or expressed their desire for a final settlement in the Middle East conflict.

But signing agreements, giving speeches, and expressing desires for peace will not actually bring peace to the Middle East.

Action is needed to make it happen.

Fair and factual evaluation of the Arab-Israeli conflict undoubtedly demonstrates that Israel has taken many initiatives to prove its sincere desire to live in peace with the Arabs. So far, the Arabs have not done the same.

For example, Arabic language is used to welcome visitors in Israeli airports; it is written on the street signs to help the Arab minority and visitors, and it is printed on the Israeli currency. In addition, Israeli Media and TV regularly air Arab movies and songs for their audience.

Israel also allows Muslims to build mosques and to have a Shariah court; evidence that confirms the genuine desire of the Israelis to live in peace with the Arabs.

Furthermore, Muslims are allowed to carry the Quran into Israel, allowed to do the call for the Muslim prayers, and permitted to visit the Jewish Holy places such as the Wailing Wall. This also proves the true tolerant nature of the Israelis and their sincere desire to live in peace with the Arabs.

The question now: Is the Arab world ready to reciprocate the tolerance shown by the Israelis and prove to the world that Arabs truly want peace?

Are the Arab countries that signed peace treaties with Israel ready to allow Israeli songs and music in their media or to use Hebrew words to welcome Israeli citizens when they visit their countries?

Are the Palestinians ready to allow Jewish people to visit the Jewish holy areas inside the Al-Aqusa Mosque as Israel allows Muslims to visit the Wailing Wall?

On the contrary, the Palestinians declared violent uprising that ended in killing many innocent people after former Prime Minster Sharon visited one of the Jewish holy places that happened to be in the Muslim controlled area.

In addition, will Saudi Arabia consider allowing Jews to carry their holy books inside Saudi Arabia as Israel allows Muslims and other religious minorities to carry their holy books inside the Holly Land of Israel?

Some may argue that there is not a large enough Jewish community in the Arab world to justify using Hebrew words or airing Israeli songs in the Media. The answer is simply to use Hebrew words and air Israeli songs alongside Arabic songs in the Arab media.

Arabs should reciprocate Israeli tolerance and show a sign of welcome to Jewish guests who visit the Arab countries.

In addition, it is a way to teach Arabs the value of respect for other cultures.

In fact, the lack or near absence of Jewish people living in the Arab world is evidence that Israel was much more tolerant than most Arab countries. While Israel allowed more than a million Arabs to live in their country, many Arab countries kicked their Jewish citizens out of their homes.

In this context, it is fair to acknowledge Morocco¹s virtuous decision to protect its Jewish minority and to not force them out of the country.

From a practical point of view, in order to take active steps toward peace it is imperative to stop all forms of anti-Semitism in the media of the Arab world. True peace in the Middle East will not happen until Muslim scholars teach Muslim children that Jews are not "pigs and monkeys" and that it is not a duty for Muslims to kill every Jew before the end of days, as is sometimes taught.

In short, Israel has already taken many active steps to prove its aspiration to live in peace with the Arabs. It is now the Arabs turn to reciprocate this by taking similar steps to show tolerance to the Jews.

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