On conscience

I cannot say anything here other than to distribute the thoughts of my friend Dan Tawfik. Those of you close to the pointy end of the stick always have harder decisions to make than those of us who have the privilege and luxury of enjoying peace. I would only hope that I would have the fortitude that Dan does.

The following appeared in Haaretz:

“I  am  an  Israeli,  a  Jew,  an  Arab,  but  first  and  foremost  a  Human  Being      

In  these  troubled  times, we, Israelis, are expected to  all  unite,  to  choose  one,  clear-­‐ cut  identity.  So  I  set  out  to  find  out:  who  am  I?  First,  my  family,  those  I  love,  the   desert  landscape.  Second,  I’m  a  scientist  fascinated  by  the  molecular  complexity   of  nature.  Together  with  colleagues  from  many  nationalities  and  religions   (including  Arabs),  I  explore  this  complexity.  Third,  I  love  mountains,  music   (including  Umm  Kulthum),  literature  and  food  (especially    hummus).  I’m  Jewish   by  religious  origin  and  cultural  heritage,  Israeli  by  nationality,  and  an  Arab  by   ethnic  origin  and  name,  Saleh  Dan  Taufik,  a  spelling  that  clearly  “exposes”  this.  I   have  no  intention  what  soever  of  giving  up  any  of  these  elements,  or  of  being  put   in  any  compartment,  or  category,  let  alone  one  originating  from  prejudice,  racist   views,  blindly  following  fanatical  preaching  and  political  populism.  I  have  a   dialogue,  affection,  and  a  lot  in  common  with  many  Arabs,  but  not  with  all  Jews,   and  certainly  not  with  those  trying  to  impose  opinions  and  beliefs  which  I  do  not   share.      

I  detest  the  illusion  of  “unity”,  as  its  lowest  common  denominator  is  hatred  of   Arabs  in  general  and  Israeli  Arabs  in  particular.  I  denounce  racism  and  the  false   concept  of  putting  all  Arabs  in  one  basket,  any  one  from  Muhammad  Deif  (head   of  the  Hamas’  military  wing)  to  a  hummus  maker  from  Ramleh.  This  racism   primarily  serves  the  goals  of  Hamas.  In the same vein,  I  denounce  the  description   of  all  IDF  soldiers  as  war  criminals  (including  me,  since  I  served  in  the  IDF  as  an   officer  (Major  Ret.),  and  in  Gaza  and  the  Occupied  Territories).  If  this  is  unity,  I   proudly  count  myself  out.      

I  am  aware  that  I  might  receive  insults  and  threats.  Nevertheless,  I  absolutely   refuse  to  hate,  refuse  to  generalize,  refuse  not  to  lament  the  death  of  children,   even  if  they  lived  next  to  a  rocket  launcher  and  their  parents  voted  for  Hamas  –  I   lament  their  death  along  with  the  tears  for  our  dead.  I  refuse  to  see  any  Muslim   or  Arab  as  my  enemy,  because,  amongst  my  others  identities,  I  am  an  Arab.  The   day  when  many  more,  here  and  there,  will  think  as  I  do,  will  be  a  better  day  for   us  all.      

Professor  Dan,  Salah  Tawfik”


- originally posted on Wednesday, August 6th, 2014