Monday, March 23, 2009


Tell me if any of this sounds familiar:
  • Palestinians desperate to get back the homeland that was taken from them despite being overwhelmingly out-armed by their enemies;
  • Arms smuggled in to Palestine with humanitarian aid and the help and support of the bulk of the people, making it impossible for the occupier to stop the flow without choking off the population — and the Palestinians openly exploiting the humanity of the occupier;
  • Palestinians bitterly split between one group that wants restraint and negotiation and another that favors terror and no compromise;
  • Palestinians willing to sacrifice children for their cause;
  • Europeans taking to the streets to protest the treatment of Palestinians;
  • Palestinians unfairly comparing their adversaries to Hitler;
  • Children growing up in refugee camps, hardened to the outside world;
  • The Western power with the most influence in Palestine accused of favoring the wealthy and powerful over the oppressed;
  • Palestinian terrorists bombing hotels and killing innocents;
  • The occupier believing they are held to the strictest rules of engagement while the Palestinians obey no rules at all;
  • Attacks by the occupier backfiring and uniting the various Palestinian groups;
  • A proposed homeland comprised of just a couple of strips connected by narrow corridors.

In Leon Uris' Exodus, however, "Palestinian" refers to the Jews in Palestine struggling to create a homeland. Yes, it's 50 years old, and yes, I was inspired to read it by a TV show on a network I should be boycotting. Yes, the characters are inevitably overly courageous, overly good, overly evil, overly something. No, Leon Uris is never going to top any list of great literature. But who says we have to spend every minute reading great literature when we can just read great stories, instead?

The fact that the book is 50 years old can shed some light. With all the revisionist history out there, it's almost impossible to get a present-day account of the creation of Israel that's worth the protest page it's spouted on.

Exodus is good stuff and still pretty damn relevant. It's certainly written from one side's perspective, but find me an Israel-hater who can still say with certainty, after reading this book, that these people have no right to their homeland; find me an Israel-supporter who, after reading this book, doesn't sympathize a bit with Palestinians growing up in refugee camps and acknowledge this people's right to a homeland.

It's hard to believe some of it, considering all the acrimony out there, but the story from the early part of the twentieth century is of Jews and Arabs living in the same or neighboring villages in relative peace. (Well, except for the occasional riot and rampage.)

And then there's this probably true, but morally horrifying justification for the actions of the Palestinian terrorists:
Nothing we do, right or wrong, can ever compare to what has been done to the Jewish people. Nothing the Maccabes do can even be considered an injustice in comparison to two thousand years of murder.
It gets right to the heart of the matter, doesn't it? Hardened refugees with a history of victimization believing that any action is therefore justified. There's no way to do justice to the Arab-Israeli conflict in a novel (let alone a single blog post), but the exercise of going back in time half a century is good for some perspective. It's great drama, anyway. And the "Palestinians" get their homeland!

No comments:

Post a Comment