A Fable About Palestine
By JEAN BRICMONT
(Jean Bricmont teaches physics in Belgium. He is a member of the Brussells Tribunal. His new book, Humanitarian Imperialism, will be published by Monthly Review Press)
"Let's start with a story. Imagine that Africa has become rich and powerful, and that Euroope has become poor, divided and without real independence. Imagine next that, tired of being repeatedly massacred, the Tutsis decide to found a national home elsewhere. Certain of their leaders designate Wallonia, in Belgium, as that new home. Other Africans, to solve what some call the "Tutsi problem", approve of the project. Thus a flood of Tutsis pack up, weapons and all, and begin to settle in that region, while proclaiming that the people already living there have to go somewhere else. With their wealth, their determination and their weapons, the Tutsis rapidly manage to take possession of the farms, forests and towns and chase away most of the natives, either by legal means or by intimidation. A large part of Wallonia becomes a new Tutsi State, which boasts of being particularly well governed and democratic. All of Africa looks on in admiration.
However, to the surprise of the Africans, most of the Walloons are against that arrangement. Bewildered, sometimes supported by other Europeans who are nevertheless divided and whose leaders are weak and indecisive, they engage in several last ditch fights which only allow the Tutsi State to expand. The Africans can't understand why the Belgians and other Europeans are unable to appreciate the superiority of the system introduced onto their continent by the Tutsis. While Tutsis from all over the world are invited to come and settle, it is explained to the inhabitants who are being pushed out that there are other French-speaking States where they can go. All those who, in Europe or elsewhere, denounce that situation risk being called "anti-Tutsi" racists. When, parked on various scraps of ex-Wallonia, completely surrounded by the Tutsi army, a certain number of natives throw themselves into violent and desperate acts, commentators vie with each other to come up with theories on the peculiarities of Walloon culture that push them to such fanaticism.
The aim of this fable is not at all to compare or to pretend to establish any equivalence between two tragic histories, that of the Jews or that of the Tutsis, but solely to illustrate the fact that the attitude of the Arabs toward Israel is not necessarily due to a strange and violent culture or religion, but is no different from the attitude anyone might have if put in a situation similar to theirs . It is above all the situation that is strange. Recognizing it doesn't mean that one can or should undo what has been done in the past . But if one wants to arrive at a genuine peace, not only between Arabs and Israelis, but also between the West and the Arab-Muslim world, then one must begin by understanding why the others see the world as they do, and by honestly distinguishing the aggressor from the aggressed."