JERUSALEM (Jul. 23)
Israeli books, translated into Arabic, have recently become a sought-after item on the Arab market, more so almost than books on sex — and all this because of compliance with the motto “know thine enemy.”
This complaint was issued by the Palestinian writer Mamoud Darvish, in an article in the Cairo newspaper Al Ahram. Darvish, a former correspondent for “Al Ittihad,” a newspaper which was published in Haifa, expresses annoyance and complains bitterly that libraries in Arab countries have become distribution centers for Israeli books.
“The many downfalls we have suffered, which stemmed from a lack of knowledge of our enemy, have pushed us to the other extreme,” Darvish writes. “So much so, that books on religion and sex in Arab libraries have made way for Israeli literature, which is widely circulated in the Arab countries. The situation has deteriorated to a dangerous level. We have reached a point where the boundaries between ‘knowledge’ and ‘propaganda’ have become blurred.”
Ignorance of Israeli society may well have been one of the factors of Arab defeats, especially during the Six-Day War, Darvish notes. “The Arab has almost lost his faith in the Arab communications, and publicity media and therefore, in his search for truth, he turns to the Israeli broadcasts and publications.”
The attitude of Arabs as a result of the influx of Israeli books has changed from one of contempt to an exaggerated appreciation bordering on admiration, Darvish writes. Not only that, but the more the Arab press disseminates stories about the Israeli Panthers, which was viewed as an Israeli internal collapse, and front paged Moshe Dayan’s divorce as a sign of growing immorality, the more Arabs admired Israel.
“In fact, however, those very reports aroused admiration in the Arab public, which saw Israel’s society as a true and healthy form of life where workers could strike, and students could criticize government policy, without causing internal upheavals.”
Darvish declared that while it is the duty of Arabs to know “the enemy,” this obligation must not be confused with a readiness to conduct “his propaganda for him.” He calls for “guidance and control” in the dissemination of Israeli books and literature in Arab countries.