Israel Diaries #2

There are more questions than answers, Pictures in my mind that will not show. There are more questions than answers And the more find out, the less I know. Yeah, the more I find out, the less I know. — Johnny Nash, 1972.

Israel Diaries #2

My wife and I have just spent the weekend as guests in the home of my Polish translators, Małgorzata Koraszewska and Andrzej Koraszewski, where, amongst many riveting discussions, we talked also about the events leading up to the re-establishment of Israel in 1948. Sheikh Dr Yasir Qadhi gatecrashed our conversation through a Jihad Watch post landing in Małgorzata's inbox. "Yasir Qadhi, my brother!" I exclaimed, "As-salam-alaikum," much to everyone's amusement.

Qadhi's timing was perfect. We had just talked about the lengths the Vatican had gone to to ensure that Jerusalem did not end up in the hands of the Jews (or the Muslims, as I was later to learn). This came as a surprise to me. I had always assumed that Jerusalem was earmarked as an international city as a compromise to keep Jews and Muslims from fighting over it. How naïve of me. The Vatican, i.e., the Catholic Church, wanted custodianship over the Christian holy places — I haven't yet figured out whether the idea was that when Jesus returns, he'd have to deal with the Pope, and since Italy tried muscling in, too, whether the Son of God is going to have to deal with the Godfather. I leave such speculations to greater minds. As for Yasir Qadhi's latest duping of Muslims, I'll write a separate post about that.

I learnt of the horrors of my friends' early lives during and in the aftermath of the Second World War. A generation that suffered so much tragedy, so much loss, so much sadness, expelled hither and thither across the Eurasian landmass, from Central Asia to Central Europe, starved and frozen. They've seen all the ugliness that human beings are capable of, and just in case Nazism didn't bring the point home, they got almost four-and-a-half decades of Communism piled on top of that. Two things that stand out about my friends: they know what it means to not have freedom; and they know totalitarianism when they see it.

My friends are not young, and they are in a hurry to give to the world what they can while they can. And they give a lot. Every day they beaver away. They have translated the work of countless illustrious names such as Ibn Warraq, Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Daniel Dennett, and a great many others. Małgorzata has several packed notebooks listing these translations in writing so small as to be hardly legible. They have a full schedule, these tireless folk, what with keeping their website, Listy z naszego sadu ticking over with regular long-form essays. Andrzej recounts how his readers have come to expect two postings at a certain time on a certain day each week, and if these do not arrive within fifteen minutes of each other, his inbox is swamped with fifty concerned emails asking after him. If I could read Polish, I have no doubt that there would be fifty-one such emails.

Every now and again Małgorzata leapt up from our conversation, "Oh, but you must read this," and scurried off to retrieve yet another piece of required reading from within the depths of their Tardis-like house. I eagerly took down the details: The Better Angels of Our Nature: The Decline of Violence In History And Its Causes, by Steven Pinker; Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin, by Timothy Snyder; Cairo to Damascus, by John Roy Carlson; Palestine Betrayed, by Efraim Karsh; From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict over Palestine, by Joan Peters.

Yes, these are dark questions and books about dark questions; such questions haunt us. Our life experiences warn us of things that others do not see. We lack the ability to change our horrible pasts, but also have no desire to do so, since only totalitarians can change the past, and those we are not. We write and warn in alarm at the anti-semitism that has become so fashionable today. Not anti-Semitic, they say. Anti-Zionist. Pro-Palestinian. Pro-Palestinian? Really? Pro-people-who-are-happy-by-the-busload-when-one-of-them-blows-up-a-restaurant-full-of-Jews? Not anti-Semitic, Anti-Zionist, like throwing an eighty-year-old Parisian Jewess to her death out the window of her apartment. Pro-Palestinian. Pro-people-who-pay-mothers-who-earmark-their-own-children-for-blowing-themselves-up-in-Jerusalem-killing-Jews. Not anti-Semitic, pro-Palestinian. Anti-Zionist, that's all. Summer camps for Palestinian children. How to kill Jews: stab them with a knife; run them over; bring honour to Palestine. Pro-Palestinian, not anti-Semitic. A Palestinian child tries to drown a Jewish child in a swimming pool.


Małgorzata gave me a book: We Can't Understand Why...: The plight and experiences of children of the Holocaust, edited by Anna Kołacińska Galạzka. I will not quote from it here, but will write a review for this website. But I will share something from another book she showed me. A Dream: Selected Poems, by Abramek Koplowicz.

Dear Dr Qadhi,
If you could only understand how you and your fellow "scholars" waste Muslim lives, you would teach your congregation not to admire Palestinians, people who "martyr" their children. Instead, you would show them that the Nazis thought nothing of sending children to their deaths. The Nazis also felt nothing, unlike the Palestinian, who rejoice. Which do you think is the more human? Also unlike the Palestinians, the Nazis did not send their own children to their deaths. They sent other people's children. Which do you think is the more monstrous?
Jews believe that life is precious. For that reason alone you ought to be working for Palestinians embracing the life force that came into their midst in 1948, rather than lying to them about Jews. How very, very lucky the Arab Muslims are to live amongst a people who can show them a way to recover their humanity. You are an educated man. To what end your five degrees, if those you care about cannot benefit from them? To what end your great 'aql, Dr Qadhi, if you cannot even save one child from its parents wishing for it a grotesque mediaeval fate? You are no better than the barely literate idiot who taught me in madrassa.
Dr Qadhi, I have high education, too. I see further than most of my peers, as no doubt do you. My learning is for saving humanity from the death cult you propagate. I want Muslims to live. By that I mean be alive. There was no need for Abramek Koplowicz to die, a child who had not yet tasted life and already had lived so much. Do you feel anything? Baby Ahmed and baby Yusuf and baby Muhammad and all the other Palestinian babies whose mothers dream of the honour of sending their own children to their deaths murdering Jews; do you feel anything? No Holocaust required; Muslims are their own Holocaust. You know what I'm talking about, and you know that I am right.
To what end your five degrees, Yasir?
We are both highly-fortunate individuals. To what end your high education?


When I am twenty years of age,
I will burst forth from this cage
And begin to see our splendid Earth
For the first time since my birth!

In my motorised bird I will soar so high
Above the world, up in the sky,
over rivers and the seas,
with such stupefying ease.

Abramek Koplowicz, 12.

When you look at your children, Yasir, what do you see: humans or Muslims? The children who dreamt of life and died in the Nazi death camps were human. When Muslim mothers give birth, their babies are human; by the time those children come to dream of death, they are Muslim. Why, with your five degrees, do you keep this barbaric horror going?
Please write to me on the Contact page of this website. I really would like to know: to what end your five degrees?

Yours sincerely,

Anjuli Pandavar

The trip up to Central Poland from the South took me through Katowice, just a short drive from Auschwitz, and further north around the outskirts of Łódź, where young Abramek spent most of his short fourteen-year life. Łódź was the Grand Central of the death camp system. To dream of killing Jews, Muslims must first dehumanise themselves. I dream of Muslims finding their humanity through the Jewish people. Between them stand Islam and its propagators, people like Yasir Qadhi. Across Poland I saw so much more than I had expected to see. I am honoured to be friends with Małgorzata Koraszewska and Andrzej Koraszewski, and so grateful to have been welcomed into their amazing lives. They restore in me the thrill of finding out just how little I know.

"The more I find out, the less I know."