Our Responsibility Towards the Jews in the Arab Countries

By Uri Harari, in the Israeli daily Yedi'ot Aharonot, 9 Feb.. 1969


When we hear of riots, pogroms or hanging [of Jews] we seethe with anger, and justly so. We mobilize public opinion and we raise our warning. We try to do everything within our capacity to help the persecuted Jews. Then we ask ourselves, "Where were they all these years?", "Why did they not immigrate into the country [Israel] in time?"...Still later, and deep in our heart there is also a tiny flicker of vicious joy, "Serves them right!"; "We warned them!"; "We told them so!".

It is, of course, not customary for us to talk about it in public, but many of us felt a tiny bit of joy at another's calamity when we read reports in the papers about the swastika epidemic in Europe in 1960, or about the [pro-Nazi] Takuara movement in Argentina. And even today, we have very mixed feelings when we read of de Gaulle's anti-Semitic hints or about the intensification of anti-Jewish feelings among black leaders in the United States.

Despite all the anger and the shock and the insult, these phenomena fit into our world view, because Zionism said then, as it says today, that this is the state of affairs, and that such it must be so long as Jews live among Gentile nations. In our great enthusiasm for the achievement of Israeli independence and sovereignty, we sometimes forget the negative aspect of Zionism - its cruel world view... [Zionism] assumes the eternal hatred of the Jew by the Gentile, irrespective of how liberal the Gentile may be... Concerning one answer there is no discussion: of course we must do everything in order to enable every Jew who so desires to immigrate into the country and establish his life here.

We have to save the Jews from Arab countries, to act with all our might to get the gates of East European countries opened. We must create in this country possibilities for the absorption of [Jewish] immigrants from western countries. So far this is all agreed. But does the state of Israel have duties towards Jews who can immigrate into the country and do not wish to do so?

Furthermore, do we have the right to tell them, "We know better than you what is good for you, and we shall therefore act to get you to immigrate into the country; we might even act in order to facilitate the deterioration of your situation [in the Diaspora] so that you will have no other choice but to immigrate into Israel!". One should note that this last question is not imaginary. We have already had to face this question in very concrete situations, and we may have to face it again in the future.

Translated and quoted in Uri Davis, Israel - an Apartheid State, Zed Books Ltd., London and New Jersey, 1987, p.3