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November 13, 2014 12:58 pm

Author of ‘Best Speech by an Israeli Diplomat Ever’ Calls Time on Palestinian ‘Narrative of Victimhood’ (INTERVIEW)

avatar by Ben Cohen

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George Deek speaking at an Oslo event hosted by pro-Israel group "Med Israel for fred." Photo:

I first encountered the name of George Deek at the end of September, when a reader sent me a link to an entry on a Norwegian blog headlined “The best speech an Israeli diplomat ever held.” Whether the speech deserved that ultimate praise is an open question, but it was certainly one of the more powerful personal accounts of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that I’ve ever read. The fact that its author was a 30 year old Christian Arab citizen of Israel, a native of Jaffa, and the current number two at the Israeli Embassy in Oslo, with an enviable command of Arabic, Hebrew and English, only made the person of George Deek more intriguing.

This week, I conducted a long interview with Deek over the phone. He spoke rapidly and eloquently for over an hour, weaving his personal story into the wider fabric of the Middle East’s myriad ethnic, religious and political conflicts. Deek made the case that his own, sometimes frustrating, quest to succeed in a Jewish state offers a scintilla of hope to the other countries of the Middle East, where – as we are seeing once again in Iraq and Syria – sectarian and communal divides are much more stark and brutal. That he did so with a charm that almost compels you to agree with him is by the bye; the intellectual merits of his arguments warrant serious consideration, and perhaps indicate that Deek has a future ahead of him as a liberal Arab writer or politician.

Deek and I began our conversation with the subject of 1948, and what Palestinians call the “Nakba” ­- the Arabic word for “catastrophe” that is used to describe the creation of the State of Israel. In his September speech, Deek had remarked that “you don’t need to be an anti-Israeli to acknowledge the humanitarian disaster of the Palestinians in 1948, namely the Nakba;” what, I asked, did he mean by that?

“The Palestinians suffered a humanitarian disaster during the Nakba,” Deek said. “People were driven out of their homes because of intimidation, or because of the warnings of other leaders. It can’t be described as anything other than a terrible tragedy.”

There can be no debate, Deek stressed, over whether this tragedy befell the Arabs of Palestine. “Otherwise my family would not have been scattered all over the globe,” he said, “from Canada in the west, to Australia and the Gulf countries.” But, he continued, “the question is not what happened, by why it happened.”

Just as the Palestinians are themselves scattered, Deek posits, so is the responsibility for their plight. Fundamentally, he said, the events of 1948 were driven by the same Arab refusal to recognize the Jewish state that plagues the region today. Referring to the recent poll on anti-Semitism conducted by the Anti-Defamation League, Deek reflected with sadness on the fact that “80 to 90 percent on average in the Arab countries have anti-Semitic attitudes – they think the Jews control the media, and politics, and so on.” With that in mind, he wondered what “things might have been like if the Palestinians would have said to the Jews, ‘Welcome back. This is your home, but it’s also our home, so let’s find a way that we can live here together.'” As Deek acknowledges, that was not a message that Arab leaders, centrally the pro-Nazi Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, were particularly keen to communicate. Throughout the Arab world, war was declared on both the Jewish State and the idea of the Jewish State.

Back in Jaffa, the Deek household was not enamored of either of these goals;  neither his mother nor his father’s families were especially political, Deek said. But like many other Palestinians, the outbreak of war meant displacement, and the Deek family, bullied into leaving by Arab emissaries who insisted that they would return once military victory had been secured over the Zionist forces, found itself in a refugee camp in Lebanon.

“For my family, the significant part of the story was what happened after the war,” Deek said. He explained that his grandfather, also named George, had worked for Rotenberg electricity company in Jaffa, where he had made many Jewish friends. Stranded in Lebanon, where his new wife Vera gave birth to a son, George Sr. was determined to return to his home in Jaffa. He did just that, thanks to “an act of grace” from his friends in the electricity company, who also got him his old job back.

“To go back, not to do what their brothers and sisters did, but to take a chance, to live in Jaffa among those whom they were told were their enemies, and make them friends, to not be defined as victims, that was the decision my grandparents made,” said Deek.

If Deek’s grandparents were one source of inspiration for his rejection of an identity defined by victimhood, the other was his beloved music teacher, a Holocaust survivor named Avraham Nov. “He was the ultimate victim. His whole family was murdered by the Nazis,” Deek said. “But he refused to be defined as a victim, because he knew that if he did that, he would be stuck in the past.” ­

“The narrative of victimhood is a narrative that paralyzes us and corrupts us morally,” Deek continued. “When a group defines itself as a victim, it no longer takes responsibility for what it does, even terrible crimes.” There is, Deek said, no incentive for any nation defined by victimhood, as the Palestinians are, “to recover. When you see yourself as a victim and you are treated like a victim, you become a prisoner of your own past.”

I put it to Deek that a detractor would counter that his grandfather, in returning to Jaffa, had an option that was denied to 750,000-odd other Palestinians, and that therefore casting off victimhood is something of a luxury.

“It’s true, I don’t think that other refugees had the same opportunity, even if they had wanted to go back,” he replied. “But that’s not the point. The point is that my grandfather went to a place where he could build a future, and this is the tragedy of the Arab world. The Arab world has treated the Palestinian refugees who stayed there shamefully. In Lebanon, Syria, the Gulf countries, they are denied citizenship, they do not have the basic human rights that others have, they are barred from leading professions, and this cruel discrimination prevents them from moving forward. So it’s not a question of where you are living. It’s question of us together, Arabs, Jews, the international community, putting pressure on those countries that are confining the Palestinians to that vicious reality.”

Deek voiced harsh criticism of UNWRA, the UN refugee agency tasked with serving Palestinian refugees (the overwhelming majority of them now descendants of the original 1948 generation,) for exactly the same reasons. “UNRWA is preventing the refugees from moving on,” he said.

Throughout our conversation, Deek emphasized his conviction that to be a member of a minority is “a blessing,” in that it creates an additional impetus to succeed in the wider society, as well as providing that society with a test of its own tolerance. On these counts, Deek said, the Arab world had failed.

“The acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state in the Middle East is inherently connected to our ability to accept Christians or Yezidis or Baha’i or anyone who is different,” Deek argued. Without its Christians, he observed, the Arab world would more precisely be described as the Muslim world. “We are the ones who make it Arab, by making it about something more than just Muslims. An Arab world that is not able to accept a Jewish state, an Arab world that cannot accept Christians within it, is a world without humanity.”

What, though, of the Arab citizens of Israel? If “assimilation” into Jewish society is impossible, Deek answered, and if “isolation” and separatism are undesirable, there is a third way nevertheless. For there is no inherent contradiction between preserving one’s Arab identity and fully participating in the life of the nation, Deek said, although he granted that effects of such an endeavor on individual psyches would certainly be unsettling.

Indeed, some of Deek’s experiences during his own journey through Israeli society starkly demonstrate the pettiness and prejudice from which minorities even in democratic societies are not immune. When he began job hunting after graduating with a law degree around a decade ago, he noticed that his Jewish friends, including those who’d achieved lower grades, were getting many more job interviews all the same. So Deek sent out his resume once again, this time with a Jewish name. Around 50 per cent of those firms that ignored him when he applied as an Arab, he told me, contacted him when he applied as a Jew.

“I faced discrimination as an Arab in Israel in the same way as an Algerian in France, or a Pakistani in Britain,” Deek said, placing the issue of prejudice in Israel in its appropriate context. Yet he didn’t choose the route of outing the law firms that wouldn’t consider an Arab applicant through some fiery exposure in the media. Instead, he said, he has found himself on a far more challenging path, which involves battling the prejudices of the majority on the one hand while declining the temptations of eternal victimhood on the other.

As we were about to end our conversation, Deek was anxious to tell me about the apartment building in Jaffa where he grew up, where the other residents were a Muslim family, a Christian family, an orthodox Jewish couple, and a Catholic priest. This, he said, was a metaphor for the kind of open society that Israel promises. “Israel is the only place in the Middle East where an Arab can say, ‘I live as an Arab in my homeland and in a liberal democracy with full rights,'” said Deek.

Expressing sentiments like these will inevitably put Deek in the vulnerable position of being demonized as a “collaborator” or dismissed as incoherent idealist. I somehow doubt, though, that Deek will lose his energy or his vision because of a few outside critics.

I suspect, in fact, that his response would be similar to the answer that the Zionist leader Vladimir Jabotinsky offered his adversaries: “Defame if you must! The dream is greater than its slanderers. It need not fear their calumny.”

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  • Veronique Levy

    Kol Hakavod for forging ahead and succeeding!

  • Sharon Jaffe

    I would just like to say that I really enjoyed this article. I respect your opinion and the work you are doing to build bridges of reconciliation and friendship in Israel. Anyone can say whatever they want in the comment section from the comforts and confines of their couches, but you are out there living it and making a difference. If I lived in Israel, you are someone I’d love to be friends with. God bless!

  • This may sound like a dream and a fantasy. However, all people, regardless of their trials and tribulations need to go forward with an open mind, leave their prejudices behind, and pursue peace, tranquility and life with an economic future.
    Life without hope is no life at all.
    Life is too precious to live in animosity toward others.
    This message needs to be conveyed to the masses as an inspiration to leave the distorted past behind and move forward.
    Many souls who survived the Holocaust against all odds had the courage and determination to go beyond hate and revenge. They started life anew when they lost a whole generation and family.
    I know it is not easy, you carry the scar all your life.
    I have a mother in law who was put in the gas chamber by the Nazis 3 times. Yet, she was able to live through it and survive while losing her parents, grandparents and other siblings.
    It is time for all to shed the victim-hood mentality and move forward.
    YJ Draiman

  • Sonia Willats

    MR. DEEK. I want to commend you. For your honesty, and for rising above your personal pain and frustrations, as you father and grandfather did before you. And for your honesty and truth – seeing your own perspective, but also Another’s… understanding the need for a Jewish state, for the Jews to return HOME.. whilst acknowledging that it was also yours, and that people were displaced. Also for seeing that the Arab / Muslim’s world’s intolerance of Jews and minorities precipitated much of this pain.

    Ben Cohen. I want to thank you for many excellent articles over the years in Algemeiner.

    Algemeiner. Thank you for your interesting articles, good writers.. It is the paper whose comments section I value above all others.

  • Joanne Ratulangi

    Both Moslems and Christians actually have an equal potential to bear Antisemitic attitude in heart and mind. The only solution is willingness to admit and struggle for the seemingly utopic notion: we MUST live in peace because peace is the least factor to overcome the various problems in life. And this gentleman has proven the truth of such a notion. It’s not easy indeed to face a bitter fact of getting ignored in job hunting because u’re part of the minority. But, instead of blaming the negative situation, he chose to go on, face the challenge, keep going until he achieved something that gives contribution to his Israel country. That way, people begin to stop underestimating us as minority. Even it’s kinda people look up to u in admiration, respect and woww. If he had been an Israeli Jewish diplomat delivering a speech about Israel, his speech might’ve not been taken as ‘the best speech an Israeli diplomat ever had’ since it’s something ‘usual’, ‘common’ coming out of your mouth when u’re a Jew living as part of the major group in a Jewish state. But because he’s an Arab delivering such a wonderful speech on the history of his family in Israel and his personal close experience with his Jewish teacher which seems to have inspired him so much, then people can say’s awesome! 🙂 I can say this because I myself am part of the minority in my home country. It’s not easy at times to be part of minor group, everywhere. But we have no other option than facing the challenge and keeping on struggling to give contribution. I can boldly say that the Jews have been the group of minority everywhere with paying the highest price as minority (facing Antisemitic challenges) but struggling to give positive contibution at the same time to each society they’re living in. I do hope someday my country will have a diplomatic tie with the state of Israel (currently we don’t) so we can learn many positive things from this country of miracle. It seems to be utopic but u know what? 🙂 listening to Mr. Deek’s amazing speech has instilled in my mind that hope is always there for those with courage for the noble things in life. 🙂

  • pierre mamou

    THIS FRASE “”The Palestinians suffered a humanitarian disaster during the Nakba,” Deek said. “People were driven out of their homes because of intimidation, or because of the warnings of other leaders. It can’t be described as anything other than a terrible tragedy.”” IS MORE THAN AMBIGUOUS: not precising the warnings were from the arab countries, telling people to get out and to come back when the last Jew would be drown or with hos throat cut.

    • Hastaroth

      If you have read the whole article,you would have seen that Mr.Deek did indeed say that,but in different words.

  • I am a 76-year-old Zionist (yes, “that” word). One could say I imbibed Zionism with my mother’s milk. I can recall the founding of the State of Israel as a 9-year-old back in 1948. Since my dad had a large family, including his parents and sisters in Palestine – and then Israel, I remember many conversations with my dad on the subject of Arab refugees, and I recall my dad opining that the unfolding refugee tragedy (in his opinion precipitated by the surrounding Arab states) would haunt the Middle East for generations. As I recall, his family, living in Kfar Saba, begged their Arab friends not to leave, and indeed, many did choose to remain.
    George Deek is an awesome person. we need more voices of reason like his. In fact he is not alone. Abdulhateef Al Mulhin, a journalist writing in the Arab News (out of Saudi Arabia, no less!) has exactly the same opinion. There is no doubt that some Jewish combatants during the War of Independence were also guilty (in precipitating the flight of refugees). Regardless, as George Deek rightly points out, dwelling on the past is counter-productive. The Palestinian refugee problem only suits the aims of Israel’s enemies; they are certainly NOT “pro-Palestinian” as they have been described in much of the world’s press -particularly the left-wing press.
    To be a true “Zionist”, I believe, one also has to be equally “pro-Palestinian” as well a “pro-Israel”. In other words, the only true path to peace is to improve the lot of the Arab minority within Israel. It would appear that some progress is being made in this respect. As for the “other side”, they have to realize that proper, honest leadership is the only answer. Hamas certainly does not fit that description – nor does the PLO. Playing the victim card as George Deek points out, helps no-one.
    Great article, George!

  • Arab support for the Palestinians is a mask for ISLAMIC supremacy. NOT ONE Arab war against Israel was to establish a State of Palestine. It was to extinguish the Jewish state.
    Christian support for the Palestinians is a mask for hatred of a sovereign Jewish state.

    The best option for Palestinians is to re-join the People of Israel. The vast majority of the Arabic-speaking peoples of the Holy Land – especially those living in Judea and Samaria – are historically part of the People of Israel, settled there long before the Arab conquest of 636 CE.

    • I agree entirely.Israel will never be defeated by the new world order!Long live Israel and the Jewish people,the chosen people of God!From a born-again Christian!

    • Danny Kid

      Actually, “a vast majority of the Arabic-speaking peoples of the Holy Land – especially those living in Judea and Samaria -” immigrated from the surrounding dysfunctional, economically stagnating Arab states where there was no work (as is still the case) in the early 1900s to find work in the thriving Jewish and British generated economy of the Palestinian Mandate.
      Examination of the names of today’s “Palestinians” reveals their origins from Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia etc., all countries created by European conquerors around the same time as Israel was self established and declared by the efforts of the Jews (not by the UN which simply accepted the new Israel as a member state).
      Not only is there no historic “Palestinian” nation but even today the Arabs living in Aza, Judea and Samaria are made up of disparate clans, tribes and families that hate and fight each other, as is the case in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan. The only thing “uniting” them is their hatred of Israel and Jews.

    • Sonia Willats

      Very true, and well said.

      Also, the world seems to refuse to discuss the fact that “Trans-Jordan” was cut off the Jewish state, in order to accommodate the “Palastinian” Arabs.

      Given this reality, Obama, Kerry, even Britain and it’s self-approving liberal MP’s, couldn’t keep slamming Israel as an invader in its own historical homeland. I’m constantly surprised that the world turns a blind eye to this fact every day.

  • judithg

    mr. deek, like his brudder moslems, still does not get it that the war mongering of the arabs against the state of Israel caused their own problems. he kinda soft pedals that inherent truth. they are savage beasts and murderers. and, like all arabs he is basically full of crap and repeats the same claptrap as any arab.

    • Mark Z

      And you are a racist and bigot. Mr. Deek is a great example of person who believes in Israel as an open society and a showplace of democracy. He quite rightly defines himself as an Arab who has chose to reject “victimhood” while acknowledging that the creation of Israel created grave problems for many Arabs in the Palestine of 1948. His grandfather chose the path of friendship and cooperation with Jews and returned to Israel and George Deek is following his grandfather’s bath of reconciliation and participation in Israeli society.

    • Deanna Mascherin

      Wow, Judthg, you have just shown yourself to be as intolerant and hateful as those you proclaim to be savage. Nice going!!

    • Samera

      I hope he reads this comment so he knows once and for all this is all he will ever be in the eyes of any Jew. I’m not saying it out of disrespect to him but its a wake up call. This comment reflects the real world. Wake up.

    • Sonia Willats

      Not true. He ‘gets” the war-mongering but has chosen not to join it, and likewise not to see himself as a victim. He’s a BIG man.

  • Helena

    The only reason that he as an “Arab” can say such things, which would be considered collaborating with the enemy”, is because he is not a muslim. The problem is religious, whatever one wants to say otherwise. The muslim religion does not accept ANY piece of muslim land to be conquered by non muslims. There has to be a war at any cost until the muslims get it back. Therefore I have no hope of peace AT ALL.

  • We all should encourage that this mans voice be heard,send a link of this interview to your political representatives to reporters, bloggers and everyone who can spread the word ,

  • Margarete Healy

    Great interview. But both sides need to inject some wisdom in dealing with each other. Pragmatic. What’s the best way for me? Continued hatred and violence? Or an attempt to be wise and accept each other for my own benefit? Wisdom, not anger!

    • J. Solomon

      The problem is that the Muslims in Gaza and the West Bank can never gain that kind of wisdom because the have been indoctrinated in hatred of and killing of Jews with their mother’s milk and all through their schooling, so how can the see Jews as anything other than what they have been carefully taught?! Deek is not. Muslim, he is a Christian and as such was not educated by UNWRA or in a mosque! He was thought to make decisions for himself!!!!

  • Marlene Maier

    Would that such understated decency could finally be heard. Thank you for this article.

  • martin

    At the point of historical time here is where we find ourselves. Every native population in the world throughout history resists colonists as long as it has the slightest hope of being able to rid itself of the danger of being colonized, That is what the Arabs in Palestine have been doing, and they will persist in doing
    as long as there remains a solitary spark of hope that they will be able to prevent the transformation of ‘Palestine’ into the ‘Land of Israel. It will never
    happen. Israel exists; the Palestinian people exist. Neither is provisional. Within these territorial confines, two nationally distinct groups, who are divided by language, culture, and history, cannot live wholly apart or wholly together. Israel has nothing to talk about with the Palestinians. They blundered by talking to
    them and that produced Oslo. They have been talking to the wall forever. It’s lunatic, trying to pretend away reality in order to reach a deal attractive on prime-time television. It’s stupid. It’s childish. There will be an incorporation of Judea and Samaria into Israel and we’ll be done with this nonsense. The settlements are so established that even if, magically, an Israeli and Palestinian agreement based on the 1967 borders could emerge, it would swiftly collapse. The classical two-state solution is exhausted, defeated, abandoned. It will not work. In the past the idea of a Palestinian state seemed beautiful to the Arabs. It would be free and equal, with no occupation. Today, not as many educated Palestinians are enthused about it. They are disappointed by Palestinian failures—their internal failures reflected in Gaza. That was Israel’s second blunder. There will not be a third. “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”. In Palestine, polls differ radically, but a half century of occupation proves a one-state reality is effectively dead. Attempts to salvage with a binational state got nowhere as that – like as a one-state solution- is a joke. It is beyond discussion, it is a fantasy. There is only one government that controls this state now, and it will eventually colonize the rest of historic Palestine, This is not a racial dispute, it’s not sectarian. It’s a displacement and a replacement exercise. The Palestinians will tire sooner than the Israelis will and then a resolution will be found what to do with the Palestinians in Israel.

    • Sonia Willats

      Well said. (Wish Algemeiner has a LIKE button.)

      • Sonia Willats

        Surely a “resolution” was already found by the UN, by dividing Trans-Jordan to create a Palastinian state, but then the UNHCR and UNRWA have ignored that solution, and perpetuated the suffering of the Palastinian refugees, allowing the world to glorify this displacement struggle above all others.

  • Ira

    Very inciteful. Shows what education can do or not do if there is not enough of it. I agree with him in that the other Arab countries suppress the Palestinians as do Hamas.
    Jews must be realistic however, and remember that as long as Arab schools preach hatred to Jews, there can be no peace or advancement of the Palestinians.

  • I know it is a dream and fantasy, If this story can be conveyed to the masses with a message and an inspiration to leave the distorted past behind. Go forward with an open mind, leave your prejudices and pursue peace, tranquility and life with an economic future. Life without hope is no life at all. Life is too precious to live in animosity towards others.
    Many souls who survived the Holocaust against all odds had the courage and determination to go beyond hate and revenge. They started life anew when they lost a whole generation and family.
    I know it is not easy, you carry the scar all your life.
    I have a mother in law who was put in the gas chamber by the Nazis 3 times and was able to live through it and survive while losing her parents, grandparents and other siblings.
    YJ Draiman

  • The tolerant Muslim is like the tolerant Nazi: interesting but ultimately ineffectual when it comes to the fate of the Jews.

    • Richard Sherman
      Your post is simply racist as is your opinion. You judge George without knowing him. If you did you would realize how wrong you are and what an ignoramus you appear

      • Sonia Willats

        I agree, Neil. A v.disappointing comment by Richard Sherman, whose comments I often appreciate and agree with.

        Mr Deek has chosen to rise above victim-hood; to see the good and rise above the bad. It takes greatness – obviously it runs in his father and his grandfather.

        Victor Frenkl recommends this rising above one’s own pain, choosing one’s own reaction to a difficult situation not of your own choosing.

        When you find good, acknowledge is as good, Richard Sherman. Deek is clearly an unusually honest and good man.

    • maria

      Yes, there are no tolerant muslims as there are no tolerant nazis. The “tolerant muslims” support the muslim terrorrist.

    • Mr Deek is one of the few individuals that I know of, who has understood the most important thing in the life of anyone who feels he/she was disadvantaged – whether that perception is factual or not and whether the disadvantage was administered by the state or parents; that most important thing is: there comes a day when you have to take responsibility for your own life; to take charge of your destiny.
      Mr. Deek evidently has successfully done that. I congratulate him and thank him for sharing his experiences so that hopefully others can learn to do the same thing.

      • Samera

        You very well know it’s not the case if taking charge if your destiny! Not in the state of Israel,,, unless you choose to take a path in which you start to repeat theories that are all well and correct,,, in theory ,,,, but are not true at all… Sooner or later you will discover that it’s not about justice nor taking charge of your destiny. Let us not be too naive ,, please !

    • Dear Richard Sherman,
      I am afraid you did not get the point of Mr. Deek’s story, which is IMO: there comes a day in the life of everyone who felt discriminated against, whether by a state or a parent, when he/she must take responsibility for his/her own life and take charge of his own destiny.
      That is how you become a free person, free of the pathology of victimhood.

      • Sonia Willats

        YES, yes, Dr Farron. I agree with you.

    • Your comment is narrowminded and offensive. A tolerant Nazi is a contradiction in terms.

    • Brian Sacks

      Leaving aside other aspects, which other replies have addressed, George Deek is not a Muslim. He is a Christian.

  • Bro. Nick

    I wonder if I as a ‘Biblical CHRISTian’ will react with the same “LORD GOD” given grace and perseverance in the face of the very great probability of active Persecution of both CHRISTians and JEWS here in ‘Amerika’?

    May I truly trust “the LORD JEHOVAH” and live – or be willing to die – trusting in the inspired words written so long ago by Joshua:
    and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.”
    (Joshua 24:14 [KJV])

    And those inspired to be written by the beloved Apostle Paul:
    (Eph 6:10-11 [KJV]) – PLEASE read verses 10-20.

    – CAPITALization and emphasis of Holy Scripture mine – Bro. Nick

  • jill schaeffer

    I am so encouraged by this article to actually begin writing (instead of just thinking) on Hannah Arendt’s concept of “inhuman innocence,” featured albeit briefly in her first volume, The Rise of Anti-Semitism of the three volume series, Totalitarianism. Mr. Deek says it exactly, “The narrative of victimhood is a narrative that paralyzes us and corrupts us morally…” Inhuman innocence is a state of being in which no value is ascribed to your past (or to history), truth (beyond your experience and perception) and action (whatever you do or don’t do is of no worth). The result is a state of metaphorical limbo and existential impunity. I can do whatever I want because I’m entitled to redress and to anything or everything else, whatever comes into my mind or goes out of it.

    Mr. Deek is a courageous man, it seems, but also a wise one, someone who understands the odd power and insights available to a member of a minority group. Most folks on the periphery long to be dead center, wannabe innies. But his view from several peripheries situates him wonderfully to be sane, human and idealistic . Thank you so much for this article.

    • Lucille Kaplan

      A beautiful comment that enhances the already powerful effect of the account of the Deek interview. . .Thank you, Ms. Schaeffer.

      • Sonia Willats


  • NCS


  • Wonderful interview. Thank you.

  • Julian Clovelley

    An excellent speech in many ways but there is a reservation in my mind. The speech is pointing to the faults of others rather than seeking to rectify the faults in self. That never gets anyone anywhere.

    One of the core problems of the Middle East is that every faction blames every other faction, and relates how the opposition have to change to bring about peace and a better future.

    That gets us nowhere. There is no point in telling your opponent to change – what you most have to do is address the faults in your own persona. Mr Geek, as an Israeli Diplomat of whatever family origin, clearly identifies himself with the Israeli persona. It is the faults of that identity he should be addressing first, for it is there that he is most likely to be able to influence change, by addressing that persona as a member of it. Or would that require too much courage and likely loss of position? I feel that has to be asked

    Is the Israeli identity truly multicultural? – I think not Mr Geek. Can it, from a position of equality of its citizens, address the Arab world as a persona that has solved its catastrophic internal divisions? – I think not there too.

    I am sure that many Jewish and Israeli people will applaud his analysis of the faults of everyone except the Jews of the region. But would the applause continue if he addressed those faults – that for him, as an Israeli, are far more readily available for reform and every bit as much in need of it?

    The crucial word in any speech attempting to bring about change is “I” and not “They” – If talking about “They” and “Their” faults dominates, then the speech is by definition almost “accusatory” rather than “confessional” and “reconciliatory.”

    I don’t want to hear from “You” what “They” have to do – or what is wrong with “Them” – I want a recognition of what is wrong with “You” and what “You” are prepared to do about it

    That is the Israeli speech the world is waiting for. That is the one that will lay the path to the negotiating table. The rest, however emotionally satisfying for the allies, for the people whose worldview one shares, may well be emotionally satisfying – but I fear to the people who most need to feel identification, it will be seen as just another offense

    But don’t stop trying. Keep genuinely trying, and one day the words will come. Just be careful the moment you write the word “they”, and ask yourself – is this in fact an accusation rather than an appeal for reconciliation? It is not so much what you think the other side “must do”, as what you are prepared to do that matters.

    • Paul

      You take the testimony of a person who has experienced living in Israel, and who says things you do not agree with – and you then respond “I don’t want to hear from “You” what “They” have to do – or what is wrong with “Them” – I want a recognition of what is wrong with “You” and what “You” are prepared to do about it

      Obviously, the speaker is wrong and must change – because he has lived here and experienced the Israeli reality, and he doesn’t support your anti-Israel view.

      Do you practice what you preach ? Would you care to tell us about the problems with your prejudiced leftist views regarding Israel and the Jews ? Using sentences starting with “I need to change my ….”.
      Or is your advice to change only for THEM ?
      Built onto your arguments is a prejudice: if anyone does not agree with you and NOT bash Israel, you explain this by THEM being biased.
      You appear to be a very fortunate person: you appear to have God’s absolute truth inscribed on a little gold tablet, allowing you to discard any evidence to the contrary because you KNOW you are correct. Most people can only have that certainty while they are too young and unknowledgeable to question their convictions.

    • Paul

      An excellent comment in many ways but there is a reservation in my mind. The comment is pointing to the faults of others rather than seeking to rectify the faults in self. That never gets anyone anywhere.

    • Mark Stern

      Dear Julian, Please note that his surname is Mr Deek. By you using the word “geek” you show that you really don’t like what Mr Deek is trying to describe as his life expirience.

    • Robert Davis

      Clovelly : considering the populations are not equal between Jews and arabs “the israeli ,speech the…world(what world?that of antisemits?)is waiting for” will hopefully NEVER come because it would be the end of Israel! Your speech has to be reversed since it is CONTRADICTORY: you ask others to blame themselves: Why don’t YOU blame YOURSELF? that woulkd be logical and more baanced since it is up to the stronger in numbers to make the concessions! You and the “world” you cite evidently the anti Israel party not the judeo-christians who do not ask that, MUST mazke the concessions not Israel who would be destroyed if it did. Your speech is not impartial as you would like us to believe!

    • Lynne T

      Who gives a flying f____ about your reservations, windbag?

      They go with your incorrect observations of what Ben wrote above and your political position generally that Israel ought to disappear and all would be lovely. Deek clearly spoke about the discrimination he faced after graduating from law school.

  • Aimee

    As a newly graduated lawyer and a Jewish woman, I was also denied job interviews at law firms… here in the USA (I graduated law school in 1978). Like Mr. Deek, I didn’t dwell on it or complain about it. I moved on (and became very successful, as house counsel at a very non-Jewish utility company).i have always said that, if the Palestinians had only accepted Israel’s existence and chosen to stay and become law-abiding citizens, they would have been so much better off. It’s a major tragedy that they chose hatred and war instead.

  • rachel robinson

    Which one is so objectionable that it needs to be moderate?

  • rachel robinson

    I submitted two comments, they were not offensive, they did not include incitement to violence, they were just good nice comments, and yet it was decided not to print them.
    I wonder why. Maybe there were other comments that were also erased.

    • Billy Bumps

      Under so mein heir, was ist los ? Why are you
      refusing to include my comment….and…
      seems others also…..was ist?.

  • rachel robinson

    I just submitted a comment, but apparently the powers that be in this website decided not to show it.
    Too bad.

  • rachel robinson

    This is a voice speaking in the wilderness. I wonder how many of the UN or the world leaders or even Mr. Kerry, or Mrs. Clinton will read this. I wonder how many of the leaders of any of the Moslem countries will read this.

    • Billy Bumps

      Years ago a person told me..”if you tell your customer the
      same thing ten times, he will believe it. If you tell yourself
      the same thing 10 times you will believe it.” Also, I was told,
      “If you practice a certain behavior for 30 days it, the behavior, will become a habit. If you practice the same
      behavior for 90 days it will become part of your
      character.”…… How long has this conflict been going on?
      Oh well… will take a while I think…..

      • Billy Bumps


    • Confirm.
      Unfortunately important messages circulates mostly among Jews (private or organization).
      Seldom outreaches outside, which should be, as ell.