It doesn't have to be that way. Once there was a realistic dream that Arabs and Jews could flourish together. In 1919, the man who would become King Faisal I of Syria, which the British then expanded to include Iraq, expressed support for a national home for the Jews in Palestine. In a new book, "Faisal I of Iraq," Ali A. Allawi quotes the king as saying: "No true Arab can be suspicious or afraid of Jewish nationalism. ... We are demanding Arab freedom, and we would show ourselves unworthy of it, if we did not now, as I do, say to the Jews: Welcome back home."
King Faisal wrote a letter to Felix Frankfurter, a dedicated Zionist who later became an influential justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, to express his confidence that peace could descend on the Middle East: "We feel the Arabs and Jews are cousins in race, suffered similar oppressions at the hands of powers stronger than themselves. ... The Arabs, especially the educated among us, look with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement."
There are various interpretations of Faisal's overtures. Perhaps he wanted to tap into Jewish influence and money, needed to establish an independent Arab state. He understood how Arabs aligned with the Jews could advance prosperity for all.
But constructive patriotism gave way to destructive nationalism, unleashing fierce anti-Semitism and unrelenting hatred for the very idea of a Jewish state. The rest of the world would hold Israel to a higher standard of behavior.
Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard law professor, tells Newsmax that Israeli "imperfections and deserved criticism cannot even begin to explain, much less justify, the disproportionate hatred directed against the only nation-state of the Jewish people and the disproportionate silence regarding the far greater imperfections and deserved criticism of other nations and groups -- including the Palestinians."
Reality often intrudes on the most precious hopes of men and women of good will, and King Faisal's dream of Arabs and Jews as cousins working together to create a modern Middle East was not to be.
Nevertheless, this is the season of hope and renewal. The first brave flowers of spring, after all, usually must push their way through a carpet of melting snow. But we must keep hope alive.