Monday, September 29, 2003

Said's Fictional Past

David Frum has an elequent article in NRO today on the late Edward Said. He finds in Said's life the Middle East conflict in miniature:

For fifty years, Said put his passion and his intellect at the service of his grievances. And yet, when you look again at the details, you see something very strange: By far the greatest catastrophe to afflict the Said family was not the loss of a single house in Jerusalem, but the destruction of their family fortune in Egypt – first by mob attacks against their store in 1952, then the following year by outright confiscation by the Nasser government. Said was indeed the victim of dispossession by a tyrannical and bigoted state. Only, the state that dispossessed him was not Israel, but Egypt; and the grounds for his dispossession was not his Arab ethnicity, but his Christian religion.

Yet in all Said’s long life thereafter, he could never (as far as I am aware) bring himself to address this core truth. I used to read Said's column in the online edition of Al-Ahram, the state-controlled newspaper of the government that ruined his family. Somehow, the normally vituperative Said never quite found occasion to mention what Egypt had done to him. All his fury was concentrated on one target: the Jews.

Yes, absolutely... if the State of Israel had never been formed, all Arab countries would be paradise. That's what the Arab government strong men from Tripoli to Baghdad (oh wait... we took care of that one...) feed their people at any rate.

Even for a brilliant man like Said, it's often easier to live with a comfortable lie than face the truth. Go to NRO and read the whole article.


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