The Israeli television series Fauda (chaos) has come back with season three and its main character, Doron, is once more opening our eyes to the tragedy that continues to afflict Palestinians and the Israeli Jews.
A Netflix production, Fauda premiered in Feb. 2015, bringing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict right into our living rooms with its raw violence that has become part of that region since the UN-sanctioned partition of British Palestine in 1948 into two — a Jewish and an Arab state.
It took me several decades before I understood the history of the region. Reading James Michener's The Source in the late 1960s made me realize that far from being European occupiers of Palestine, as we were told, the Jews had been living around Jerusalem and the Levant for more than a millennium. In fact, it was the Arabs under Caliph Umar Al-Khattab who first occupied the lands of Palestine in the year 637CE by dislodging the Byzantines.
Thus, watching Fauda makes my heart bleed. How can two people who both have truth on their side be such mortal enemies? The Israelis have a right to a Jewish state, but my brothers, the Palestinians, also need a state of their own.
For me, a discussion about Muslim-Jewish relations or the Arab-Israeli dispute becomes a non-starter the moment the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state is challenged.
Having said that, I firmly believe Israel is in serious violation of international law by continuing its occupation of the West Bank. I am against this occupation not because I am Muslim, but because I am against the occupation of any land by a foreign country.
Islamist hatred of the Jew has little do with the state of Israel.
Whether it is Morocco's continued occupation of Western Sahara, Pakistan's occupation of Balochistan, Sudan's occupation of Darfur, Indonesia's now ended occupation of East Timor or the refusal by four Muslim countries — Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran — to end the occupation of Kurdistan, for me, they all merit equal attention.
For the Muslims of the world, the 1925 invasion of the Kingdom of Hejaz by the Sultanate of Nejd and the continued occupation of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina by the Saudi royal family should be our primary reason for anger, but it is not. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find any scholar or sheikh who would dare mention this sad part of contemporary Islamic history.
For Jew-haters, the question of Palestine is merely an excuse, not the reason. The Islamist hatred of the Jew has little do with the state of Israel or a supposed love for Palestine. If tomorrow Hamas was able to fulfil its threat of wiping Israel from the face of the map, hatred of the Jew would continue unless the fundamental myths that sustain Judeophobia are challenged with courage.
To understand this phenomenon, listen to the speech of Egyptian cleric Muhammad Hussein Ya'qoub that aired on Al-Rahma TV on January 17, 2009.
If the Jews left Palestine to us, would we start loving them? Of course not. We will never love them. Absolutely not ... They are enemies not because they occupied Palestine. They would have been enemies even if they did not occupy a thing ... You must believe that we will fight, defeat, and annihilate them, until not a single Jew remains on the face of the Earth. It is not me who says so. The Prophet said: 'Judgment Day will not come until you fight the Jews and kill them ... As for you Jews – the curse of Allah upon you. The curse of Allah upon you, whose ancestors were apes and pigs. You Jews have sown hatred in our hearts, and we have bequeathed it to our children and grandchildren. You will not survive as long as a single one of us remains.'
Now, do you understand Doron?
Tarek Fatah, a founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress and columnist at the Toronto Sun, is a Robert J. and Abby B. Levine Fellow at the Middle East Forum.