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In her own editorial to Gulf News, self-importantly titled “My ‘No’ Says More, and Matters More,” Habayeb waxed melodramatic about what she considers her courageous stand:
I started as a lone voice. In the silence of a rather vigilant night, my keyboard was my sole collaborator. Few words of protest, engulfed by anger and discontent, found their way into a yet-to-be-filled draft email.
My overly conscious heart was heavy. “I cannot accept, ethically and morally, that my voice be shared equally with writers who reflect the voice of an obnoxious occupier,” I wrote…
She denounced Israel’s presence in the book as “an allegedly legitimate literary Middle Eastern component that desperately seeks acceptance, notwithstanding its ‘genocidal’ practices against Palestinians.” Actually, Israel is not desperate, literarily or otherwise; it is flourishing and happy, as always. Thirteen Nobel Prizes for Literature have been awarded to Israeli authors; the Arab world has received one, despite its enormous population advantage.
It is the Arab world that is desperate – desperately impoverished (apart from the oil-moneyed elites), desperately ignorant, desperately backward (apart from the faux modernization of a tiny handful of places like Dubai, where Habayeb lives), and desperately humiliated by the success story that is Israel, a tiny sliver of a country that the Arab world is obsessed with (but incapable of) destroying. As for Israel’s “genocidal practices,” they are apparently very ineffective, since Palestinians have one of the highest rates of population growth in the world.
Habayeb agonized over her response to the Center’s outrageous inclusion of two Israelis, referring to her “defeated self” as “homeless”: “How can I refuse to hate a ‘killer state’ or not turn a deaf ear to voices that reflect its disgrace? I can’t. I simply cannot.”
So she kept up a “10-day unrelenting campaign, infused with persistent passion and decades-long inherited losses and accumulated pains,” until she convinced enough contributors to pull out, and her “no” was joined by other “no’s”:
In a region caught in defeat and despair, the ‘No’ turning into ‘No’s’ comes as a symbolic victory. My ‘No’ is alone no more. My ‘No’ says more, and it means even more. It is heard loud…
Actually, it is not heard at all, nor will any of the twenty-eight other voices be heard that would have been published in the book. All Habayeb has accomplished, with her hateful determination to excise a mere two Israeli essays from a book of twenty-nine, is the Pyrrhic victory of silencing everyone, including herself and fourteen of her fellow Arabs.
Habayeb and her cohorts’ chorus of “no’s” is the contrast between the moribund, nihilistic Arab world and Israel’s “yes.” “We love death more than you love life,” they proudly proclaim. Even in a matter so small as an obscure academic publication, Israel’s enemies are happy to ruin everything for everyone, even themselves, in their desperate, impotent compulsion to punish Israel.
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