Travelling through the Djurdjura mountains of the Kabyle region, the heart of the Algerian Independence war, we met a former colonel selling ice-cream to the children. Standing on one leg, missing the other, he smiled happily and talked about the strategy against the French army. The man was impressive in his mix of strength, courage and friendliness. Or the barkeeper somewhere along the road; the front of his bar full of bullet-holes. The man himself extremely thin. After standing a day in the baking desert sun without a drop of water, someone had given him petrol in the evening. He drank: Thirst is the worst pain to suffer.
Algerians received us everywhere with great hospitality, also in Algiers. Walking on the Boulevard de la Victoire, the victory boulevard, we were greeted by some men in a café with ‘Heil Hitler’. Being shocked, I asked the men why they greeted us with ‘Hitler’. Their answer: “Aren’t you Germans?” “No”, I said, “but I would ask you the same question if we were Germans”. Then followed some remarks about Hitler who was against the Jews who conquered the land of their Palestinian brothers. I told them about the Holocaust that preceded the establishment of Israel. They asked: “didn’t Hitler start his political campaign in Bayern?” “Yes”, I said. “If so”, they replied, “why didn’t the Allies give Bayern to the Jews instead of Palestine?”
The men didn’t know that they were talking to a woman who had lost her father in Auschwitz. They judged the situation from their point of view. But the opposite is true also. Most Israeli, Europeans and Americans are utterly one-sided in their approach of Palestine, and don’t have much knowledge, partly intentionally, partly unconsciously, about the state of affairs regarding Palestine and Israel or, when they do, hardly show it publicly.
The obvious absence of the Palestinian point of view in Western public opinion contributes to the suffering and anger of Palestinians and Arabs alike. The remark about Hitler fits a simple-minded scheme: “who is not for us, is against us”. The motto sounds familiar, too familiar. George W. Bush: You are either with us or against us, CNN November 6, 2001.