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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Jew and Arab: Why We Think So Differently

Jew and Arab: Why We May Think So Differently

by Nadene Goldfoot

From the beginning in the land of Ur Kasdim, which lies in the new country called Iraq, Abraham, whose name originally was Abram, , father of Judaism and of Arabs, made some decisions that formed the essence of his family’s future. He had taken his wife’s Egyptian maid Hagar and had a child that he named Ishmael with her because his wife, whose name was Sarai at the time, had been barren. That was the start of trouble. Ishmael turned out to be a "wild-ass of a man with his hands against everyone and everyone’s hand was against him and it was said that he would rule over all his brothers". Abram was 86 years old when Ishmael was born.

Abram was 99 years old when he circumcised himself, and had Ishmael, who then was 13 years old, circumcised also.

When Abram was 100 years old his 90 year old wife Sarai finally conceived and bore Isaac, much to both people’s astonishment. Their names were now changed to Abraham and Sarah.

There came the day when Isaac was of the age to marry. Abraham didn’t want him to marry a Canaanite woman, but wanted him to marry someone from his own family who were residing in Aram Naharaim in the city of Nahor. They were called Arameans. Abraham’s servant came across Rebecca, whose line was from Nahor, brother of Abraham, and was very impressed with her. He selected her to be 40 year old Isaac’s wife and took her back to him.

By the age of 60 Rebecca also had been having trouble conceiving and finally was expecting twins, again as different in personality as Ishmael and Isaac were. Esau was born first. He was all red with lots of hair. Jacob was born with his hand holding onto the heel of Esau and was smooth-skinned. Esau became a hunter while Jacob stayed in the tents. The father favored the hunter while the mother favored his brother. Jacob did cooking and was very intelligent. He managed to get a very important birthright given to himself instead of his brother, for one thing. Essau finally married two Hittite women at the age of 40. They weren’t monogomous in those days. They were Judith and Basemath. The threesome with their children didn’t have the same reverence of spirituality that Rebecca and Jacob had. When Isaac was dying, Jacob managed to trick his father into giving him the very important blessing which was better than today’s inheritance left in wills instead of giving it to the first-born Esau. When a blessing was given, it was something that could not be changed. It was legally binding to the people involved. Esau was furious! He knew that it was important to Isaac to not marry the women of Canaan as he considered them to be evil, so what did he do to get even? He went over to Ishmael, now one of them, and married Mahalath, his daughter!

The two brothers never could make up. Esau refused to accept Jacob’s try at becoming friends. After all, he had been tricked twice by this younger brother. Jacob had brought Esau gifts at a meeting , but it was of no use. The die was cast that caused the chasm between the two peoples.

In 1947, Abba Eban along with a few other leaders held a secret meeting with Abdul Rahman Azzam Pasha, an Egyptian. They held a very revealing conversation. A Jewish fellow by the name of Horowitz had a plan for a joint political development of the Middle East.

Pasha said, "The Arab world is not in a compromising mood." He felt that though Horowitz’s plan was rational and logical, the fate of nations was not decided by rational logic. He said that nations never concede; they fight. He continued saying that Israel wouldn’t get anything by peaceful means or compromise. Only by force of arms will you get something. The Arabs will try to defeat the Jews. He didn’t know if they would win, but they would try. They had been successful in driving out the Crusaders but knew they lost Spain and Persia (now called Iran). He related that Arabs may lose Palestine also, but it was too late to talk about peaceful solutions.

He would only concede that an agreement had to be on their terms to be acceptable. They regarded the Jews as invaders and were ready to fight. Fighting is in the nature of peoples, he continued. They aspire to expansion and fight for what they think is important.
He didn’t think he was a representative of this new spirit. His son was one ready amd wanting to fight.

All this time, Azzam had no hatred in his voice and referred to the Jews many times as "cousins". Abba Eban and the group shivered at the thought that blind fatalism and not logic ruled the Arab mind. We do have a different mentality. Perhaps it's all due to something that happened thousands of years ago.

Reference: Book: Genesis 1948 by Dan Kurzman
Book: Tanach, the Stone Edition: Torah, Prophets/Writings.

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