Institute for Historical Review

Institute for Historical Review

Beirut Revisionist Conference

Le Monde
March 19, 2001, pg. 28

Israeli Ambassador Salutes Gesture by Arab Intellectuals

They Oppose the Holding of a Denial Conference

The denunciation by a group of Arab intellectuals of a denial conference planned in Beirut is being saluted as a "remarkable event" by Israel's ambassador to France, Elie Barnavi.

"The appeal by the Arab intellectuals against the denial conference planned in Beirut (Le Monde, March 16) is a remarkable event. Certainly this isn't the first time that some Palestinian intellectuals, notably Edward Said and Elias Sanbar, have taken an unambiguous position against the Arab imitators, alas, more and more numerous of the 'despicable little troop' (Pierre Vidal-Naquet) of falsifiers of history. But this is surely the first time that a group of Arab intellectuals has signed a true manifesto, and with such brilliance.

"This gesture is all the more significant as Israel-Palestine relations are going through a particularly difficult phase, in which violence, resentment and bitterness suffocate the fleeting hope born of the faulty 'peace process.' It proves that men of good will are always capable of distinguishing between national conflict, from which the only conceivable solution is a peace based on reasonable compromise, and a war of race and religion that would carry us all off. This gesture separates the wheat of adversaries from the chaff of enemies. It marks the uncrossable frontier between the acceptable and the intolerable, between those with whom you willingly shake hands and those with whom the contact is blemished. It is a sign of hope.

"I will not lend myself to ridicule by thanking the signatories of the manifesto. They have not done it for us Jews. They have done it for themselves, for the honor of their countries and the Arab nation. But I cannot keep myself from feeling a sense of gratitude. Because, by doing this, they have affirmed, beyond the present adversity, the inescapability of our future reconciliation. They have simply restated our common humanity. One sole regret, however. Is it really an accident that there is not one Egyptian among them?"

See also: Arab signatory Elias Khoury's reply.

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