Israel and Sudan

I am often shocked by the strength of feeling in Sudan, when it comes to talking about Israel.

Now, here, I must make it clear exactly what side I stand on, and it is certainly not with Israel. I think Israel has behaved disgustingly in the world in the past fifty years since it came into existence. I am also willing to stick my neck out and say that the nation should never have been created, and the world might have been a better place had Winston Churchill, for all his success in the war, never been born.

But the country has been created and we’re stuck with it and it’s not going to go away and it is wrong to nuke the place simply because the forefathers of the country stuck it slap bang in the middle of Palestine.

Now, having set the context, allow me to introduce a delightful twenty-year old lady that we spent several hours with yesterday. She is Sudanese, but was born in the UAE, and speaks fluent English with an American twang and some mixed-up prepositions.

Next year, she is hoping to go and study in Virginia, the US. She confessed to me that she is very nervous of this, despite a lot of her family living there.

I asked her why.

Besides stating the obvious – that she doesn’t want Americans to judge her and her religion – she also said: “I just don’t know what I’d do if an Israeli sat next to me. I mean, if he sat next to me, I could kill him – I really could. I probably wouldn’t, but I could.”

My strong counter-argument that one shouldn’t judge a people by the government – otherwise I wouldn’t be living in Sudan – met with little support. I used Iraq as the example, saying that I actually marched against the war before we sent troops to the country, and never voted for Tony Blair, so how can I be held accountable for his actions. Her stern expression showed that she didn’t take the point. She just hates Israel – that’s all there is to it.

Now, when I visited Israel, several years ago, I got talking to an Israeli in a bar in Tel Aviv. Inevitably, our conversation drifted to the ongoing tension between Palestinians and Israelis. This is what he told me: “The thing is, one these bloody Palestinians have to understand, is that we have enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world five times over. They have just got to stop pissing us off, otherwise we will use them.”

I mean, how can any sort of solution ever be found to the Israeli conflict with such hostility on both sides? I know that bad stuff has happened, from both sides, but people have just got to take a deep breath, relax and try to find a mutually-acceptable solution. Preferably without nuking or butchering anyone along the way. Hatred just prolongs things.

On the way back, we listened to a Palestinian rap song. “I’m just protecting my land, how can I be the terrorist?” the guy sang.

“I’m addicted to this song,” said the twenty-year-old.

Or take Dal Group, the largest privately-owned company in Sudan. Some time ago, I was told that they are financed quite heavily by Israel. I still have no proof of this, but I put this comment, as a good journalist should do, to the company. The press officer that responded did so in fury. “How can you suggest such a thing,” he positively screeched at me through the telephone. “This is extremely insulting. It is like me asking George Bush if the Republican Party is financed by Iraq.”

Nice analogy, I thought, I must remember to use that.

“So,” I repeated, in measured tones, “is Dal Group in anyway funded by Israel?”

“I am not even going to consider answering that,” he snapped back – and that was the end of our brief exchange.

Any lesser journalist might have taken his non-answer to be a tentative admission, but I am not going to do that.

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9 Responses to “Israel and Sudan”

  1. Yasmine Says:

    hi, kind of stumbled on your post there. i am egyptian and i work in dal group but of course i am not involved in this kind of information. i am curious to know how you got to know about isreal heavy investment in dal though. i won’t quit if thats so but i would like to know for my personal interest. Anyway, what eating you up so much about isreal, you are not an arab and your position will never be taken seriously because you can go in either direction and will be ok by both

  2. cantueso Says:

    I also kind of stumbled on your post and was shocked to see that you mentioned Churchill in this context. In what regard would he have been involved? I have read a lot of Churchill. One learns a lot there.

    And also it is incredible that Israel should be hated even in the Sudan. Isn’t the Sudan very far from Israel? And can’t people see that Israel should have received either better frontiers or more committment from the UNO countries that backed its creation?

    (I am not related to any Jewish people, but in Switzerland we also have long frontiers that could of course not really be protected in WWII. A cliffhanger existence?)

  3. kizzie Says:

    I have lots of opinion on the Israeli -Sudanese relations. I don’t want to write a long incoherent paragraph about it so, here you go
    1- As a Sudanese raised in the Middle East, I was taught to hate Israel at an early age. When I grew up I learned how to make a distinction between Israel and Jewish people (like American jews for example).
    2-I always despised the fact that I can’t go to Israel ( its written on my passport) even though we never went to war with Israel or anything. What are our reasons? We have to show loyality to the Arab world ( even though we are literally the scum of the Arab world).
    3-I believe that Israel imposes apartheid on Palestinians. I recognize it as a state if it recognized the right of Palestine as a state too. Through all of this, 25% of the world’s refugees are Palestnians. Don’t they deserve to have a country too? Israel is a 1st world country while many Palestnians are homeless.
    I guess I’m just against inflicting pain and suffering on people.
    I want to add that I wouldn’t kill an Israeli if I saw one. I would sit down and have a proper conversation. I’m Sudanese, I know that fighting doesn’t solve any problems.

  4. Andrew Brehm Says:

    “I believe that Israel imposes apartheid on Palestinians.”

    Well, you believe wrong. Arab citizens of Israel have the same rights as Jewish citizens of Israel.

    Citizens of an ENEMY COUNTRY on the other hand, do not.

    I fear that most countries handle the situation that way. I can tell you that when West-Berlin was under American occupation, we the people of West-Berlin, certainly did not have the same rights as American citizens.

    “I recognize it as a state if it recognized the right of Palestine as a state too.”

    Great. Israel did and does recognise the right of “Palestine” as a state. The Jews accepted the partition plan and recognised the founding of an Arab state, the Arabs rejected it.

    In 1967 Israel offered to return the West Bank and Gaza so it could be an Arab state, but the Arabs rejected the offer.

    In 1994 Israel again offered peace and an Arab state, and Arafat ultimately rejected it.

    Same in 2000.

    And now Israel has withdrawn from Gaza but the “Palestinian” people have voted for WAR rather than a STATE.

    So what exactly do you want Israel to do instead of saying YES every single time the question of the Arab state comes up?

    “Through all of this, 25% of the world’s refugees are Palestinians.”

    That is simply not true.

    First of all, the number of Arabs that fled Israel is almost equal to the number of Jews that fled Arab countries. The reason those Jews are not refugees is because Israel made them citizens.

    Are you going to blame Israel for Arab failure to grant citizenship to their brethren? Or would the moral scales be showing equal if Israel had NOT granted citizenship to the Jewish refugees (and if thus there were still official Jewish refugees even today)?

    Second, there are a few million Palestinian Arabs (you have somehow decided that a “Palestinian” is a non-Jewish inhabitant of Palestine, which I consider a racist definition, which is why I use “Arab” instead), but there are many millions of refugees in Africa.

    Third, there is a difference between “refugee” and refugee. The fact that the UN and Arab countries call them refugees doesn’t make them refugees. The vast majority of those people have NEVER FLED ANYWHERE and have been born long after the supposed fleeing took place. How can they be refugees other than by courtesy? (And why is that same courtesy not applied to the children of Jewish refugees from Arab countries or even the children of German refugees from Poland?)

    “Don’t they deserve to have a country too?”

    Yes, they do. And I think they should have founded one in 1948. Or at any time between then and 1967. Or in 1967 when Israel offered it. Or in 1994 when Israel offered it again. Or in 2000, or perhaps now.

    They only have to stop the attacks. Why they don’t do it, I do not know. It has nothing to do with a need to “defend” their people against Israel because Israel has never attacked those who didn’t attack Israel PLUS they don’t have the means to defend themselves against Israel if Israel really wanted them dead any more.

    None of the grievances you have are in any way Israel’s fault.

    The Palestinian Arabs should have a state, yes. I am as Zionist as they come, but you will never hear me say that I don’t believe that Arab Palestinians should have a state.

    Israeli Arabs should have equal rights in Israel, yes. Again, as Zionist as they come, but I never ever promoted unequal rights. (In fact, I am in favour of drafting Israeli Arabs into the army and treat them exactly like Jewish soldiers. I wouldn’t make a difference at all based on ethnicity or religion.)

    And I doubt you will find many Zionists who are against any of your demands, except the one that all this is somehow our fault.

    Israel is not to blame for being attacked by the Arabs BEFORE there ever was a refugee problem. And Israel is not to blame for what happened (or didn’t happen) in Gaza and the West Bank before 1967.

    And Israel is not to blame for the Arab refusal to accept the partition plan or any of the peace treaty offers later.

    “Israel is a 1st world country while many Palestinians are homeless.””

    And an Arab state could have become as rich as Israel, had the Arabs founded one and not invaded Israel. And how come Israel developed into a first world country in the 50s and 60s and Gaza and the West Bank did not? It has something do with Israel that Israel developed so much. But it has nothing to do with Israel that Gaza and the West Bank, and Egypt and Jordan did not.

    Fact is that Israel defends itself.

    And if you want to know why, simply dress up as a Jew and walk through an Arab city. You will see first hand why Israel has decided to make it VERY EXPENSIVE INDEED to kill Jews.

    And if you think that Jews are only hated in the Arab world because of what Israel did, let me remind you that

    a) the Jewish refugees that arrived in Israel and elsewhere from the Arab world complained about DECADES of mistreatment

    and

    b) other minorities are also treated like dirt or worse in Arab countries, including Christians and Darfurians (and Nubians) in Sudan and Kurds and Shiites in Iraq (which is also why the Kurds very much welcomed the invasion you so graciously opposed as if you didn’t care about the plight of the Kurds and Shiites under Saddam).

    You can also dress up as a Muslim Arab and walk through Tel Aviv and see how the Jews react. That way you will easily find out which side starts fighting and why all attempt to reach a peace so far simply haven’t worked.

    If you want to be critical of Israel, please refrain from using arguments that are lies or half-truths.

    Israel does NOT impose “apartheid” on Arab citizens and NO country gives the same rights to ENEMIES as to its own citizens.

    (I have myself shared a university dorm with Israeli Arabs.)

    Israel does NOT deny that the Arab Palestinians have a right to their own state, and neither do Zionists.

    (I personally support such a state and would be happy if the Arabs finally got around to founding one. I would be even happier had they founded in 1948 like they were supposed to. Do you really think that Israel PREFERRED being attacked and nearly destroyed over seeing an Arab state in the West Bank and Gaza?)

    Palestinian Arabs are NOT 25% of the world’s refugees. The majority of those so-called “refugees” have never seen the place they allegedly fled from.

    (Also, the Jewish refugees were never taken into account. BTW, I, the evil Zionist himself, completely support a scheme where those refugees and their descendants would be compensated by Israel. In fact I would accept it if the Arab League dictated how much money each family should get in compensation. And I support that Israel would have to pay that money to that Arab state you demand. I have no problem with that. Let them simply tell Israel how much a refugee should get and let’s multiply it by the number of original refugees.)

    “I guess I’m just against inflicting pain and suffering on people.”

    Does that mean that you were opposed to the original Arab invasion of Palestine when Israel was founded?

    What about subsequent attacks? What about 1967 when Arab forces marched towards the border and blocked Israel’s access to the Red Sea and Arab radio stations screamed “Kill all the Jews!”?

    What about daily rocket attacks from Gaza? Are you against those? What should Israel do against them? (I insist that waiting them out is NOT an option. If you feel that rocket attacks must be opposed peacefully, YOU can oppose them peacefully.)

    It is great that you wouldn’t kill an Israeli if you saw one. But do you understand that the attitude that makes it necessary to make that statement is exactly what is at the core of this conflict?

    Don’t make the distinction between the Jewish people and the state of Israel. The state of Israel does what it does to protect the Jewish people from attacks. The fact that that is necessary can be clearly seen by how Jews were treated in the Arab world for decades (or even centuries) before Israel was founded and by how other minorities are treated in the Arab world. Your distinction is one between X and the survival of X.

    Without Israel, middle-eastern Jews would no longer exist in any great numbers. How can you not hate the Jews but despise the mechanism that saved them?

    Consider this:

    If Israel was so oppressive, why do the Palestinian Arabs that live within Israel’s sphere of influence not run away?

    The Jews ran away from Arab countries. They do not want to return. Israel cannot be as bad as those Arab countries, otherwise we would have a general movement FROM Israel TO Arab countries, not vice versa.

    I realise that Palestinian Arabs want to live where they grew up and where they have their family roots, but if Israel really was so bad, why do not at least 30% of them protect themselves by running away? The Jews did flee Arab countries once given the chance to run SOMEWHERE.

    Why do Israeli Arabs remain Israelis and not become part of an Arab state (every poll says so)?

    If Israel hadn’t been attacked in 1948, and the Arabs had never fled the country and had become citizens like those that remained, would you still hate Israel?

    If yes, what would you hate about a state with equal rights for Jews and Arabs?

    If no, why do you hate Israel for something the Arabs did to Israel?

    When I studied in Haifa, the introduction contained a quote from the mayor of Haifa in 1948. He and the previous (Muslim) mayor PLEADED with the Arabs to stay and defend the city against the Arab invaders from Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, and Transjordan.

    Most did not stay. And the city almost fell.

    What do you blame Israel for? Asking the Arabs to stay and defend their home against invading armies? Not forcing the Arabs to stay when they started leaving? Not dying when the Arab armies did attack?

    You can deny that that is what happened, but that wouldn’t answer my question.

    IF the above was true, and Israel asked the Arabs to stay and they DIDN’T, would you blame _ISRAEL_ for the refugee problem or not?

    Because if that answer is no, you will change your opinion about Israel once you find out the truth, in old newspapers if nowhere else.

    Do you even know how many Jews fled Arab countries for Israel?

    Do you agree or disagree that refugees deserve compensation?

    And, considering how Jews were treated in Arab countries (badly enough to want to run away) and how much Jews are hated by Arabs, especially by Palestinian Arabs, do you think it is a good idea to force Jews to live next door to them in the same cities? What can be the result of that?

    And consider this: Israel has the bomb, apparently. Israel also has superior weapons technology. And Israel has money.

    So why are the Palestinian Arabs still alive?

    There are three possible answers:

    1. They fight back and Israel fails to kill them all.

    That would mean admitting that the Palestinian Arabs are a mortal danger to Israel, and not just peaceful victims of Israeli aggression.

    2. The world won’t let Israel kill the Palestinian Arabs.

    That answer assumes that it is obvious that Israel would kill them if given the chance. That would be anti-Semitism, wouldn’t it? We have never seen Israel attempt to kill all Palestinian Arabs, hence claiming that Israel wants to do that and can’t must be based on prejudices rather than facts, right?

    (I assume Nasser’s gigantic armies and the radio stations’ “Kill all the Jew!” plus the history of minorities in Arab countries gives us a lot of material to show that Arabs might indeed want to destroy Israel and that Israel is indeed NOT fighting a non-existing parody of an enemy.)

    3. Israel can kill all the Palestinian Arabs but, despite the fact that they are the enemy and want to destroy Israel, does not.

    If that is true, Israel wouldn’t be the bad guy.

    And regarding your point 2: Yes, indeed, Sudan and the Sudanese are treated like the scum of the Arab world. None of the wealth found in the ground in Saudi Arabia has benefited Sudan and nobody helped you during our civil war.

    And incidentally, Israel is now granting refuge to your current refugees. Does Sudan have a better friend than Israel in the world? Perhaps. But Israel is a better friend than an enemy should be.

    If the Palestinian Arabs ever win and Jews are fleeing Israel, do you think they can flee to Sudan like the Darfurians can flee to Israel?

    You know they cannot, and you know why.

    And that is why there is a conflict.

    Once a Jew can walk through an Arab country like an Arab can walk through Israel, there will be peace.

    …between Israel and the Arabs. You will still fight it out with all those other pesky enemies, like the Persians, the Kurds, the Nubians, the southern Sudanese Christians, the Berbers, the Darfurian tribes, and all those other peoples in the region.

    The one with the Persians will be the big one.

    Good luck with that!

  5. Another Blog On Sudan Discovered : The Sudanese Thinker Says:

    […] Israel and Sudan: No surprise there really. Her reaction is rather representative. […]

  6. lirun Says:

    this is not journalism..

  7. blakerig Says:

    It is not supposed to be journalism.

    It is supposed to be a blog.

  8. Violet Says:

    Andrew – what a brilliant reply. All that work – I hope “Blakerig” and lots of other people read it. Things have moved on, of course, and the Palestinians are still winning the propaganda war, but interestingly, nobody wants them: not the Egyptians, the Jordanians, the Sudanese, anyone. They are good for Islamic propaganda purposes, but for nothing else at all; it is hard to infer anything else about these troublemakers.

  9. Bob Says:

    Wow, so this woman is worried that she will be judged for her religion. Instead of for the fact that she could murder an innocent person just for being Israeli?

    And Israel is the badguy. Israel, which in its entire history hasn’t killed 1/10 as many people as the Sudanese Arabs have murdered in the last few years. 300,000 dead Africans, actual genocide, actual apartheid, honest to Allah enslavement of Black Sudanese by Arab Sudanese, and Israel is evil for not letting the Palestinians kill them.

    Sudan is living proof that the human rights organizations and the UNHRC that spend their time criticizing Israel are doing it purely because they are anti-Semites. Like a cop who walks by an ongoing mass murder by Muslims every single day on his way to arrest a Jewish jaywalker.

    Too funny.

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