Signed by 103 university professors and journalists, the Olga document contains a hidden message about Arabs
Over the past few weeks, a position paper called “The Olga Document” is making the rounds in Israel and, as it turns out, the world. Its signatories, and perhaps even its supporters, are not worth even a quarter of one vote in parliament, but that does not minimize the document’s significance. While it does not reveal any new truths, it carries special weight because its drafters have become key players in the current discourse about Israel at universities and in the media. If, one day, Israel is cast aside as a leper, as was South Africa, it will be their doing (though some may praise them for it). They are few in number but influential, and we must not disregard them.
Before I let loose my wrath over the document (to the delight of its supporters), I will start by saying that I found myself, surprisingly, agreeing with quite a bit of what it contained. One example: “Israel is up to its neck in the mire of occupation…while it goes on extending the settlements and multiplying the outposts.” And another: “Palestinians, as all other people, are neither devils nor angels, but just like us, are humans, created equal”. Can anyone disagree with such a basic, human statement?
The problem is that the writers themselves, all of whom are part of the post-colonial discourse, do not really believe what they wrote. They do not believe Arabs are human beings. The signatories, who probably look in the mirror and see Nelson Mandela, have hidden between the lines of this document – like many others – the most terrible secret of all: they think Arabs are mentally handicapped.
Let’s begin with the document’s heavy-handed accusations against the Zionist enterprise, leaders, intellectuals, and journalists – “both right and left”. All of them are guilty of “racist arrogance”. The drafters have, justifiably, erected a wall separating themselves from the left (that is, the “Zionist left”, that obscene phrase) in the “progressive” discourse they conduct.
Secondly, the document fully adopts the fanatical Palestinian point of view and shows total contempt for the pragmatists. Nearly 150,000 brave Palestinians, people of peace, signed the Ayalon-Nuseibe document, which relinquishes the right of return completely. This is of no concern to the “progressives”. They won’t give up this issue, even if the Palestinians do.
If there are those among us destroying any chance of a settlement, who are perpetuating fanaticism and Palestinian defiance, it is these fanatics, who reject any attempt by Palestinians to reach a compromise. Crazy youths are not a product of the right-wing only. On the left, they aren’t so young; they’re adults. Most are well-known academics, some journalists.
Predictably, these fanatics are opposed to a separation agreement. In this way, they are in total harmony with both Arafat and the Yesha Council. I’ve written about this insane coalition many times before and have nothing to add.
More importantly, while we’re on the subject of racism, this document contains no criticism – not a single word – of the Arab side. Nothing about the rejection of a separation agreement, nothing about the historical desire for Israel’s destruction, nothing about racist incitement and antisemitism, and nothing about murder and organized terror. The Arabs are guilty of nothing.
As even non-lawyers know, the only two groups totally free of legal responsibility are minors and the mentally incompetent. The Arabs are not minors. The post-colonial discourse, to which this document belongs, favors pinning all the blame on the West, on Israel, on Zionism. Courageous Arab critics, Christians and Muslims, have called this “externalizing blame” in their articles about the late Edward Sa’id, father of the “guilty West” prototype. (He gave the academic seal of approval to the Muslim fanatics who preceded him.)
Briefly, the core of post-colonial racist discourse is that it does not view Arabs, like other human beings, as mature and responsible people. Therefore, they cannot be blamed. They are always dependent on the West. Whatever they do – self-oppression, mass murder in Iraq, genocide in Sudan, tribal and governmental tyranny, corruption at the upper echelons, repression of women within a patriarchal culture – is, of course, an indictment of the West, i.e., Zionism, Bush, America.
The problem with this discourse is that it perpetuates the backwardness of the Arab world, as well as its obstinacy. As a result, it also perpetuates the suffering of Arabs and Palestinians. If this is what these academics and journalists claim, then any Palestinian who says something different (according to Arab culture, which we must not analyze) becomes a traitor.
Arabs, both Christians and Muslims, are the victims of this patronizing and depressing discourse. There are already signs of a brave silent minority. We must pray, for their sake, that the minority will become a majority.