(MENAFN - Jordan Times) It has been a long time since I have written anything about Israel or the Arab-Palestinian-Israeli conflict. I told myself I should distance myself a little and think in a cool, dispassionate manner about our Semitic cousins who obviously have made up their mind to play down their, perhaps in their mind, racial relationship with us Arabs.
I thought that I should take a step or two back and watch to see whether they could ever somehow extricate themselves from the mental straights, the garrison mentality and the myth of the "chosen people", and slowly emerge into modern times, the 21st century and beyond - the future.
But the call of the myth and its exclusivist, irredentist ideology seems to be so strong that our cousins appear to be inextricably in its grip.
The cocoon existence protected by the rampart walls keeps alive a Zionist ideology whose roots stretch all the way back to the mythical pastoral wanderings of the tribes in the wilderness of Arabia.
I felt sad, and at the same time amazed, actually stunned, when I read an article by Dr Michael Oren, the American-born Israeli ambassador to the United States, titled "Israel is the only safe state for Mideast Christians".
In his op-ed article published by the Wall Street Journal, he went on to clarify his views on the matter saying: "In contrast to elsewhere in the Middle East" Israel remains committed to" complete equality of all its citizens irrespective of religion""
Had the ambassador defended Israel differently, the matter would have been understood. But to blatantly make such a statement in the face of Israel's record of racism and intolerance since its creation, astonished me.
The fact that the Israelis have no regard for the Arabs is evidenced by their total lack of concern or respect for them. In the article "The Arabs Portrayed", published many years ago, Edward Said had this to say: "If the Arabs have any value to the Israelis, it is a negative value; they see them as a disruption of Israel's continuing existence; inconsequential nomads; a shadow that dogs the Jew; surmountable objects""
It is sad that this attitude prevails to this day.
I was more amazed when I watched "60 minutes", where reporter Bob Simon called the Palestinians an "invisible people". The report showed the Palestinians boxed in on all sides by the wall the Israelis built in the West Bank to protect themselves in their cocoon, which makes the life of the average Palestinian a living hell.
Somehow, the ambassador "knew" beforehand that CBS news was about to air the report and called its news chief to prevent it from happening.
Now, how he "knew" is another matter that speaks for itself. But how he dared to interfere in the American freedom of the press is another story. When later interviewed with Bob Simon, he called the story "outrageous".
"Outrageous" because it told the truth about the real situation of the Arabs, Muslims, and especially Christians, in the supposed "only democracy" in the Middle East: that the Palestinians, forcibly and inhumanely expelled by Israel since l948, have dwindled to less than 1.5 per cent of the population from 20 per cent at Israel's creation.
Last year, I spent almost an entire week in the Old City of Jerusalem and every day, along with my wife, visited the Al Aqsa Mosque and, next door, the holiest of Christendom's churches, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
We sat, along with many old Muslim families from the upper Galilee, in a vigil to protect the mosque from settlers' frequent raids of desecration. Rarely did we find any Arab Christians in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. There were continuous streams of tourists from all over Europe and the Americas, but very few Arabs.
There are no Christians left in the land of Palestine, the land of Christ, even to light a candle in its churches.
I felt sad then, as I do now for the terrible conditions of the Palestinians, the racial discrimination, the manufacture of hatred, the Christianophobia and the Islamophobia that desecrates the holy land.
I always believed that peace is in the mind and cannot be achieved by occupation or by the frightening and discrimination of the "other".
The wall, the Reagan and the Bush doctrines with their Iron Dome, produce terrible, terrorist, truces that can and do frighten, but will bring no peace.
The Israeli ambassador, who is obviously not a Semite, but of the Jewish faith, and who probably did not suffer the Nazi and fascist atrocities in his American family, should heed the biblical injunction that those who live by the sword will die by it. This is not a threat but a plea for sanity and to remind that we Arabs, Muslims and Christians did not commit the atrocities, and that the Yad Vashem is a monument to Western barbarity of which the Arabs are innocent.
Peace is only peace when concluded with one's neighbours.
Hopefully, one day the whole Western world, including the Israelis, will emerge from their cave and stop believing the myth they created.
The writer is director of the Royal Institute for Interfaith Studies and former foreign minister of Jordan. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.