Palestinian apologists say that all people are equal and deserve equal treatment. That is wrong on both points. Egalitarianism is a totalitarian policy, and to demand political equality is as wrong as to demand economic equality. Equal opportunities produce unequal outcomes. Jews and Palestinians had equal opportunities in 1948. The Jews used theirs better and have prevailed against Palestinians.
People are not born equal. Different people have different mental abilities, and some have peculiar national traits. Women, for example, do better than men in some occupations and worse in others. It is good that there is no norm, that all types of people are different, with people suited variously to various activities. Current scientific knowledge does not draw firm conclusions on the nature of human differences, genetic or cultural. Differences are, of course, no excuse for discrimination, but analysis should not be labeled racist or sexist.
Edward Said does not believe in equality and finds Ben Gurion’s remark likening the Arabs to American Indians offensive. If Edward Said believed Arabs and Indians were equal, he would not be offended. Edward Said also dislikes the suggestion that Pakistan and Bangladesh control the Muslim landmarks in Jerusalem. If Edward Said thinks his country is better than some other Muslim nations, he should not be surprised someone else does the same. Professor Said does not care about other non-Jewish people in Israel, only about the Palestinians. Edward Said has no reason to criticize people who do not care about Palestinians.
People of different nations often think differently since they have different cultures. Edward Said calls Richard Butler’s claim that Arabs have a different notions of truth from the rest of the world racist. Likely, however, most Westerners who work with Arabs would subscribe to that judgment. Not burdened by Western-style moralizing and skeptical of infidels, Arabs are very flexible about the truth and their promises. Islam expressly sanctions deceiving non-Muslims. Mohammed invited the Jewish leader of Khaibar to come unarmed for negotiations, then killed him. The phenomenon is not rare: before the invention of the notion of racism, Europeans said the American Indians were dishonest. The Indians probably thought they were just being practical. Only developed societies can afford the restraint of promises.
Equality of Israelis and Arabs presupposes similar or at least compatible cultural platforms, what Edward Said calls a “reconciliation of experiences.” But Western and Islamic values are irreconcilable, and equality is out of the question. Differences should be understood and tolerated but cannot be ignored.
The Ten Commandments similarly prohibit bearing false witness only against one’s neighbor, a member of one’s group.