By Eric Vandenbroeck
A critical history of Palestine Part 2.
The history of what is now Palestine and Israel is a complicated one that started when the Hashemite Sherif Hussein and particularly also his son Faisal I bin Hussein teamed up with the British the result of which was that for a brief period of time in 1920 Faisal I bin Hussein became the King of Syria which supposed to have included what is now Palestine and Israel.
As Steven Wagner pointed out in his 2014 dissertation, few British officials, however, recognized the inherent contradiction in their promises to Zionists and Arabs between 1917 and 1919. Including that the understanding of Arab politics was limited by a few channels of information, and the biases of some officers. Hence what they understood about the connection between the Hashemite family and Arab secret societies differed from the true relationship. (Steven Wagner, British Intelligence and Policy in the Palestine Mandate, 1919–1939, DPhil, University of Oxford: 2014, pp 26–28.)
In this context, a three-way alliance between Britain, the Arab movements and Hashemite Sherif Hussein and his two sons, was based on a temporary alignment of interests of each party. Britain misunderstood and overrated the connection between the Arab movements and the Hashemites, but only came to realize this after the end of the war.
Nevertheless, Hussein's achievement was nothing short of extraordinary. Notwithstanding his pretense to represent "the whole of the Arab Nation without any exception" the Sharif represented little more than himself. The minimal backing he received from a few neighboring tribes had far less to do with a yearning for independence than with the glitter of British gold and the promise of booty. Hussein could not even count on the support of his local constituency. As late as December 1916, six months after the Sharif and two of his sons, Abdallah and Faisal, launched what came to be known euphemistically as the Great Arab Revolt, the residents of Mecca were almost pro-Turks, and it would not be before the winter of 1917 that the pendulum would start swinging in the Hashemite direction.
Unlike Turkey-in-Europe, where the rise of nationalism dealt a body blow to Ottoman imperialism, there was no nationalist fervor among the Ottoman Empire's Arabic-speaking subjects. A British Intelligence Report (FO 686/6 from 28 Dec 1916) estimated that a mere 350 activists belonged to all the secret Arab societies operating throughout the Middle East at the outbreak of World War I, and most of them were not seeking actual Arab independence but rather greater autonomy within the Ottoman Empire. To the vast majority of the eight to ten million Arabic-speaking Ottoman subjects, the message of the tiny secret societies meant nothing. They remained loyal to their imperial master to the bitter end and shunned the sharifian revolt altogether. Between 100,000 and 300,000 of them even fought in the Ottoman army during the war. As Lawrence of Arabia put it in a 1915 memorandum on the conditions in Syria:
Between town and town, village and village, family and family, creed and creed, exist intimate jealousies, sedulously fostered by the Turks to render a spontaneous union impossible. The largest indigenous political entity in settled Syria is only the village under its sheikh and in patriarchal Syria the tribe under its chief. ... All the constitution above them is the artificial bureaucracy of the Turk. ' .. By accident and time the Arabic language has gradually permeated the country until it is now almost the only one in use; but this does not mean that Syria-any more than Egypt-is an Arabian country. (As quoted in Eliezer Tauber, The Emergence of the Arab Movements, 1993, Chapter 28.)
These realities appear to be of little import for Hussein and his sons. For all the rhetoric of Arab independence in which they couched their communications with the British, the Hashemites were no champions of national liberation but in their own way, imperialist aspirants anxious to exploit a unique window of opportunity to substitute their own empire for that of the Ottomans, Hussein had demonstrated no nationalist sentiments prior to the war, when he had generally been considered a loyal Ottoman apparatchik, and neither he nor his sons changed in this respect during the revolt.
In spite of all the early promises to Sherif Hussein and his son Faisal I bin Hussein, for the British controlling Palestine was perceived as vital in order to protect Suez that would ameliorate the German threat to Egypt and India.
In fact when all people born in British Mandatory Palestine between 1923-1948 (today's Israel) had "Palestine" stamped on their passports at the time. But when they were called Palestinians, the Arabs were offended. They complained: "We are not Palestinians, we are Arabs. The Palestinians are the Jews".
It also is no accident that neither Mark Twain, nor any of the series of English travelers who visited the area, nor anyone else who traveled through desolate Palestine over the centuries ever mentioned the “Palestinian" people. They spoke of encountering Muslim Arabs, as well as Jews, Christian Arabs, and others, but no one, among multitudes of people who wrote about Palestine, ever refers to any Palestinians. Nor do the many British white papers and other documents the British government produced during the Mandate period ever mention the Palestinians. The opposing factions in those documents are the Jews and the Arabs.
There is a very simple reason for this: there were no Palestinians.
Tour of the Holy Land in 1695 shows no Islamic nation at all. "Most of the land was empty, desolate, and the inhabitants few in number and mostly concentrated in the towns of Jerusalem, Acco, Tzfat, Jaffa, Tiberius and Gaza. Most of the inhabitants were Jews and the rest Christians. There were few Muslims, mostly nomad Bedouins. ... In the Galilee capital, Nazareth, lived approximately 700 Christians and in Jerusalem approximately 5000 people, mostly Jews and some Christians. ... In Gaza for example, lived approximately 550 people, 50 percent Jews and the rest mostly Christians."
An uncomfortable fact for those who advance the claim that the Palestinians are the indigenous people of the area is that they have no history: there was never a state of Palestine, never a king or president of Palestine, never (until quite recently) a Palestinian flag, and nothing that distinguishes the Palestinians culturally, linguistically, or otherwise from the other Arabs of the region.
During the Mandate period, the Arabs of Palestine generally considered themselves to be Syrians, and Palestine to be Southern Syria. Early in 1919, Arab Muslims in fourteen Palestinian municipalities, calling themselves the Muslim-Christian Association, presented a petition to the Paris Peace Conference, which was deliberating about the postwar fate of Syria, Palestine, and other former Ottoman possessions.
The petitioners insisted that Southern Syria, that is, Palestine, be considered “inseparable from the independent Arab Syrian government,” for it was “nothing but part of Arab Syria and it has never been separated from it at any stage.” Arabs in Palestine, they said, had “national, religious, linguistic, moral, economic, and geographic bonds” with Syria, and therefore insisted that Palestine must be ‘‘undetached from the independent Arab Syrian Government.1 Palestine “should be part of Southern Syria, provided the latter is not under foreign control.”2
Likewise in March 1919 in far-off San Salvador: a group of people who identified themselves as “Syrian Palestinians" called on the world’s powers to establish “no separation between Syria and Palestine" and hoped that “Syria and Palestine remain united." This unity was important, they explained, for “we trust that if Syria and Palestine remain united, we will never be enslaved by the Jewish yoke."3 The president of the Muslim-Christian Association, Arif Pasha ad-Dajjani, declared that “Palestine or Southern Syria,an integral part of the one and indivisible Syria, must not in any case or for any pretext be detached.”
Those who were making these demands would all today be considered Palestinians. Yet they would have been baffled beyond measure if they could have been transported a century ahead and made to listen to today's rhetoric about the Palestinians, the indigenous people of Palestine. So would Musa Kazim al-Husayni, who as head of the Jerusalem Town Council declared in October 1919: “We demand no separation from Syria."
Even Ahmad Shukairy, who in the 1960s was president of the Palestine Liberation Organization conceded that at the close of World War I, no one was talking about the rights of the Palestinian people; instead, what was in the air was union of the Arabs of Palestine with the Arabs in Syria: the slogan went “Unity, Unity, From the Taurus [Mountains] to Rafah [in Gaza], Unity, Unity.”5 In February 1920, a group of Palestinian Arabs held a congress in order to emphasize that call for unity between Syria and Palestine. It passed a resolution stating that “it never occurred to the peoples of Northern and Coastal Syria that Southern Syria (or Palestine) is anything but a part of Syria.” Another resolution called for Palestine “not to be divided from Syria” and demanded “the independence of Syria within its natural borders.”6 The following month, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, who was to emerge in the ensuing years as the leader of the Arabs' violent opposition to the Jews in Palestine, lent his signature to a petition to the British military governor of Palestine, demanding that Palestine be included within the borders of Syria and that any border between Syria and Palestine be removed. In April 1920, however, at the San Remo conference, the British and French decided to treat Syria and Palestine as separate entities. Even that inhabited the ancient site of Jerusalem as early as 3200 BCE.”8
So is that really true? Are the Palestinians really the indigenous people of the area that the State of Israel now occupies, and were they really displaced by the Israelis?
There is no trace of support for such an idea in history. No archeological evidence, or evidence of any other kind, has ever been found to substantiate a link between the ancient Canaanites or Jebusites and the modern-day Palestinians.9 The land that is now the State of Israel corresponds roughly to the lands known in ancient times as Judea, Samaria, Idumea, and Galilee, and was inhabited by Jews. In A.D. 134, the Romans expelled the Jews from the area in retaliation for a revolt against their rule.
Subsequently, Palestine was the name of a region but never of a people or of a political entity. The area that was Palestine was part of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire until it was conquered by the countered a significant number of Jews, and were no kinder to them than they had been to their brethren in Europe. According to the twelfth-century Syrian Muslim chronicler al-Azimi, “they burned the Church of the Jews."12
A contemporary of al-Azimi and a fellow chronicler, Ibn al-Qalanisi, added: “The Franks stormed the town and gained possession of it. A number of the townsfolk fled to the sanctuary and a great host was killed. The Jews assembled in the synagogue, and the Franks burned it over their heads. The sanctuary was surrendered to them on the guarantee of safety on 22 Sha’ban [14 July] of this year, and they destroyed the shrines and the tomb of Abraham.”13
The Crusaders, expanding on the prohibition that the Romans had set centuries before, forbade Jews to enter Palestine, but some came anyway. In 1140, with the Crusaders still ruling Jerusalem, the Spanish philosopher and poet Yehudah Halevi wrote in his Kuzari, or Book of Refutation and Proof in Support of the Despised Religion, that Jews could be closest to the God of Israel within Israel itself. He himself then set out for the land, only to be killed in Jerusalem the following year.14
In fact, there is increasing evidence that comes to light is that the “Palestinian people” were a propaganda invention during the 1960s, in order to counter the image of the tiny Jewish state standing virtually alone against the massive Muslim Arab nations surrounding it, the KGB (the Soviet Committee for State Security) invented the “Palestinians,” an even smaller people who were, the propaganda insisted, oppressed by a powerful and ruthless Israel.15 Also the French historians Guy Milliere and David Horowitz, authors of the book Comment le peuple palestinien fut invente (How the Palestinian People Were Invented), explain that the Palestinians were invented in order to “transform a population into a weapon of mass destruction against Israel and the Jewish people, to demonize Israel, and to give totalitarianism and anti-Semitism renewed means of action.”16
A nation and a people need a distinct identity, and so one was constructed for the Palestinians. For a national flag, the new Palestinians appropriated the banner of the ill-fated Arab Federation of Iraq and Jordan, the short-lived 1958 union between those two nations.
But a nation and people also need a founding father. There being no Palestinian history, and thus no great Palestinian historical figures, someone more contemporary would have to serve this purpose. That would be Yasser Arafat, who was even less of a Palestinian than his people. According to Ion Mihai Pacepa, who had served as acting chief of Cold War-era Communist Romania's spy service, Arafat was one of the multitudes of the indigenous people of Palestine who was actually from somewhere else: “the KGB destroyed the official records of Arafat's birth in Cairo, and replaced them with fictitious documents saying that he had been born in Jerusalem and was, therefore, a Palestinian by birth."17
Inventing a History
There were also efforts to fit out the new people with a history. The Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam reported on December 4, 1998, that the chairman of the history department at Gaza's Khan Yunis Educational College, Dr. Yussuf Alzamili, “called on all universities and colleges to write the history of Palestine and to guard it, and not to enable the [foreign] implants and enemies to distort it or to legitimize the existence of Jews on this land."18
Alzamili may have revealed more than he had intended. Universities and colleges were not only to “guard” the history of Palestine but to “write” it. Had it not already been written? Was this a tacit admission that the Palestinians were not a people and had no history, and so this history had to be fabricated, as was the nationality itself?
Jesus Christ named Palestinian
All Christians know this about Jesus, according to Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki in April 2017: “The Christians know that Jesus Christ was a Palestinian. He really was from Jerusalem, and his resurrection was from Jerusalem.”20
An official daily newspaper of the Palestinian Authority, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, reminded its readers on November 18, 2005: “We must not forget that Messiah [Jesus] is a Palestinian, the son of Mary the Palestinian.”21
Everything about him was Palestinian, such that, as Palestinian politician, Azzam al- Ahmedsaid on December 19, 2018, “Christmas is one of the permanent Palestinian symbols.” Jesus as a Palestinian was central to Palestinian claims of everyone in the land of Palestine.”22
A member of the Palestinian Authority's Parliament, Mustafa Barghouti, added on the same occasion: “Jesus, who was born on this land, was a Palestinian and defeated his suffering. This tree hints at an additional victory that the members of our people will achieve at Khan Al-Ahmar.”23
A picture of Jesus as a victimized Palestinian also appeared in the rhetoric of Laila Ghannam, the district governor of Ramallah and El-Bireh. On July 31, 2017, she attended mass at Holy Family Roman Catholic Church in Ramallah, and told the priest, Father Ibrahim Shoumali: “The integration of all residents of the district”, that is; both Muslims and Christians,“brings everyone pride. Jesus is a Palestinian, and the occupier's bullets do not differentiate between one Palestinian and another. We are all partners to the struggle, building, and making decisions.’24
In pursuing this notion of Palestinian victimhood being embodied in Jesus the Palestinian, Al-HayatAl- Jadida’s editor in chief, Mahmoud Abu Al-Hija, in an editorial published on February 19, 2017, departed from Islamic orthodoxy, which holds that Jesus was a prophet of Allah, not the savior or redeemer of the world, and conveniently forgot about the hatred and genocidal incitement that are routinely featured in Palestinian media: “Palestine has never brought anything to the entire world but this message, the message of love, tolerance, and peace. There is no better and clearer proof of this than the message of the righteous Palestinian Jesus Christ, peace be upon him, who bore his cross while the crown of thorns wounded his forehead. He walked through the Via Dolorosa, bore the suffering of this path, and became the savior of all mankind and its redeemer from the injustices of hate and its destructive ailments.”25 Similarly, despite the fact that the Qur'an states that Jesus was neither killed nor crucified (4:157), Fatah Central Committee member Tawfiq Tirawi declared him the first Palestinian martyr: “For Christmas, the birthday of Jesus the first Palestinian and the first Martyr (Shahid), peace be upon him, we will surely stop the path of suffering [that is, referring to the Via Dolorosa, which Christians believe to be the path Jesus walked on his way to being crucifixion] and go up to free Palestine, happy New Year.”26
A September 2016 editorial in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida was a bit more careful not to contravene Qur'anic claims regarding the crucifixion: “Jesus, Issa son of Maryam, peace be upon him, was the first Palestinian Martyr (Shahid), who was crucified by the Jews, or they think they crucified him.”27
In an op-ed published in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida on May 16, 2015, columnist Omar Hilmi Al-Ghoul directly equated the sufferings of Jesus with the sufferings of the Palestinians, both, he said, at the hands of the Jews: “the messenger of peace and love, Jesus, may he rest in peace... suffered from the injustice of the first Jews...in the same way his people, the Palestinians, have suffered from the Zionist Jews in the past and in the present.. .for the delay in doing them [the Palestinians] justice through restoring some of their rights.”28
On Christmas Day in 2014, Al-Ghoul wrote in Al- Hayat Al-Jadida: “My lord Jesus, peace be upon you, those who crucified you 2,000 years ago [that is, the Jews] have returned to crucify your people, of different religions, without distinguishing Christians from Muslims. They spread their poison in every part of your homeland—where your churches and the mosques of your successor, Prophet Muhammad son of Abdullah of the Quraysh tribe, peace be upon him, were built—to spread destruction, strife and discord.... Jesus, the man of peace and love, rest in peace, for your people, the Canaanites, stand firm on the ground, holding onto their rights, determined to protect their land."29
Perhaps Palestinian officials believed in the totalitarian dictum that once the big lie was frequently enough repeated, it would be generally accepted as true.
"Palestine is Jordan and Jordan is Palestine..."
In the early days of the existence of the Palestinians, the fact of their nonexistence in history was much more widely known than it is today. In 1969, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir stated that “there was no such thing as Palestinians.... It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist.”30 In fact, she noted, an “independent Palestinian people with a Palestinian State” had never existed.31
The Arab Muslims of Palestine knew this as well. Syrian President Hafez Assad once told Yasser Arafat: “You do not represent Palestine as much as we do. Never forget this one point: There is no such thing as a Palestinian people, there is no Palestinian entity, there is only Syria. You are an integral part of the Syrian people, Palestine is an integral part of Syria. Therefore it is we, the Syrian authorities, who are the true representatives of the Palestinian people.”32
Prince Hassan of the Jordanian National Assembly put it simply on February 2, 1970: “Palestine is Jordan and Jordan is Palestine; there is only one land, with one history and one and the same fate.”33 In a 1977 interview with the Dutch newspaper Trouw, PLO executive committee member Zahir Muhsein likewise acknowledged that the Palestinian people were a propaganda invention:
The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct “Palestinian people” to oppose Zionism.
For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.34
Abdul Hamid Sharif, the Prime Minister of Jordan, would have agreed. He said in 1980: “The Palestinians and Jordanians do not belong to different nationalities. They hold the same Jordanian passports, are Arabs and have the same Jordanian culture.”35
King Hussein of Jordan put it most succinctly of all in 1981: “The truth is that Jordan is Palestine and Palestine is Jordan.”36
Even Yasser Arafat himself admitted this, saying in 1993: “The question of borders doesn’t interest us.... From the Arab standpoint, we mustn't talk about borders. Palestine is nothing but a drop in an enormous ocean. Our nation is the Arabic nation that stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea and beyond it.... The P.L.O. is fighting Israel in the name of Pan- Arabism. What you call ‘Jordan’ is nothing more than Palestine.”37
Despite the now universal acceptance of the distinct nationality of the Palestinians, traces of their newly minted status sometimes appear in sources that would never admit that the entire Palestinian identity is an exercise in mummery. The Institute for Middle East Understanding, in a 2006 article entitled “Palestinian Social Customs and Traditions,” stated matter-of-factly that “Palestinian social customs and traditions are similar to those of other Arab countries.”38 The Palestinian values noted, family solidarity, hospitality, honor, are elements of Muslim culture all over the world; there is absolutely nothing specifically Palestinian about them.
Likewise, the Excellence Center in Palestine acknowledged that “the Culture of Palestine is closely related to those of its nearby countries such as Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.”39 Indeed. By now it is commonplace to see traditional Arab dress, food, and customs described as “Palestinian,” with no acknowledgment that they are just as Syrian, and Lebanese, and Jordanian as they are Palestinian. The propaganda creation has taken on a life of its own. The existence of the Palestinians is taken for granted.
The Palestinians Strike Back
There are, however, still occasional dissenting voices.
Late in 2011, former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who was then a strong contender for the Republican Party's 2012 presidential nomination, dared to inject a note of historical realism into the campaign. “Remember,” he told an interviewer, “there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire.... I think that we've had an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs and who were historically part of the Arab community. And they had a chance to go many places, and for a variety of political reasons we have sustained this war against Israel now since the 1940s, and it’s tragic.”40 The Palestinians, said Gingrich, had “an enormous desire to destroy Israel.”41
In response, the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Salam Fayyad, affected dismay, demanding that Gingrich “review history” and claiming: “The Palestinian people inhabited the land since the dawn of history.”42 Fayyad added: “From the beginning, our people have been determined to stay on their land. This, certainly, is denying historical truths.”43 Palestinian politician Hanan Ashrawi charged that Gingrich had “lost touch with reality” and that he questioned the reality of the Palestinian nationality only as “a cheap way to win [the] pro- Israel vote.”44 A Hamas spokesman declared that Gingrich’s remarks were “shameful and disgraceful” and demonstrated “genuine hostility toward Palestinians.”45
None of the reporters who interviewed Fayyad, Ashrawi, or the Hamas spokesman had the historical knowledge or temerity to confront them with the statements of Yasser Arafat, Zahir Muhsein, or any of the other Arab leaders who had denied that there was any such thing as a Palestinian people.
Hussein Ibish of the American Task Force on Palestine went even further than his allies, charging that denying the reality of the Palestinian people was just an attempt to divert attention away from the fact that the Israelis were a newly minted people as well:
“To call the Palestinians ‘an invented people' in an obvious effort to undermine their national identity is outrageous, especially since there was no such thing as an ‘Israeli' before 1948. ”46
Ibish was being disingenuous. It is hard to go anywhere in Israel, from the Negev to the Golan Heights, including Judea and Samaria, known today as the West Bank and a center of Palestinian settlement, without encountering archeological sites that testify to the ancient Jewish presence in the land. There most certainly were “Israelis" before 1948; in English Bible translations they are known as “Israelites," but they are the same people, and they had lived continuously in Eretz Israel for several thousand years.47 There is; in contrast, no evidence of Arabs in the area before the seventh century of the common era.
Nonetheless, the myth has taken hold, and it is now widely taken for granted, in our age that has little historical memory and scant interest in gaining more, that the Palestinians are a genuine nationality and are the indigenous people of the land that Israel illegally occupies.
Having established the Palestinians as a tiny indigenous people whose land had been stolen by rapacious, well-heeled, and oppressive foreigners, it was time to return to the negotiating table, not in order to achieve any genuine accord with Israel but to exploit the victimhood status of the new tiny people they had invented in order to win valuable concessions from the Israelis.
The story of the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process" henceforth universally refers to the Muslim Arabs of Palestine as Palestinians, and almost always also adopts the Jordanian term “West Bank" for Judea and Samaria.
The Elusive Solution
There have been innumerable “solutions" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and none of them have actually solved anything. Yet it has never occurred to any of the American presidents who have tried to win a Nobel by being the man who finally brought peace to the Middle East, or to any of the Prime Ministers of Israel who, willingly or unwillingly, made massive concessions to the Palestinians in the hope of finally achieving peace, or to any of the professional diplomats and foreign service “experts" who have expended massive amounts of time trying to hit on the solution that would actually satisfy everyone, that perhaps there is a fatal flaw in the “peace process" itself, such that a peaceful negotiated settlement will never, ever be achieved.
Yet that flaw does exist. It is called jihad.
The Islamic doctrines of jihad, along with the supremacist and anti-Semitic passages of the Qur'an and Sunnah, have been responsible for the entire problem from the beginning up to now. They engendered the hostility that Arabs had for the Zionist settlers in Palestine, even as those Arabs moved close to the new Jewish arrivals in order to benefit from the economic opportunities they offered. They led to the failure of every negotiated peace settlement, because each was predicated upon the Arabs’ accepting the existence of a Jewish state in Palestine, no matter how small, and such a state was plainly un-Islamic, a violation of the Qur’anic the command to “drive them out from where they drove you out." They have led to the ferocious demonization of the Jewish state among young Palestinians, ensuring that the conflict will continue for decades to come no matter what agreements are made.
So what is the solution?
The reality is that there is no solution, at least not one that will bring about genuine amity and a situation in which Israelis and Palestinians live peacefully as neighbors.
That is not something that people today, particularly Americans, want to hear. There is a prevailing assumption that Palestinians, Israeli's or/and they're representatives just sit down and talk with one another, they will ultimately be able to find common ground and work out all their differences.
Well, the Israelis and the Muslim Arabs have done this again and again and again for more than four decades now, and the conflict still rages. Borders have been adjusted, troops have been withdrawn, settlements have been dismantled, and yet the Palestinian media still daily seethes with rage and hate against Israel, and calls for its destruction. For talks to succeed, both sides have to be willing to make compromises and abide by agreements; the Palestinians have repeatedly shown that they are willing to do neither. They clearly see negotiations with Israel as a means to gain concessions that are steps on the way to the ultimate collapse of the Jewish state.
Going forward, therefore, there should be no negotiations at all, or if there are, they must be conducted on a more realistic basis.
Negotiate on the Basis of Reality, Not Fantasy
Previous negotiated settlements have included the requirement that Palestinians renounce terrorism, and they did so on paper but never made even a token effort to do so in reality. Any future negotiations should not even begin until this has been done and the Palestinians can show that it has been done to the satisfaction of all parties.
Is that likely ever to happen? No. But future participants in the “peace process” will be foolish, and will be played for fools, if they continue to negotiate with the Palestinians while the Palestinians continue to incite hatred and violence against Israel.
Prime ministers, presidents, diplomats, and other negotiators should also realize that the two-state solution and any other solution that will ever be devised will never blunt the force of the jihad against Israel, or take away the impetus for that jihad. In light of that, it doesn't really matter which one is ultimately implemented; none will solve the problem.
For example in 1967, immediately following the Six-Day War, Israel offered to return almost all the land it had won in that war of self-defense in exchange for peace.
The Arab world responded to this offer in September 1967 with the three famous “No’s” of Khartoum; “no peace with,” “no negotiations with,” and “no recognition of” Israel. As Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban commented: “This is the first war in history which has ended with the victors suing for peace, and the vanquished calling for unconditional surrender.”
More than a decade later, when Egyptian President Anwar as-Sadat promised that his country would recognize Israel’s right to exist and establish diplomatic relations if it returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt, Israel, under the leadership of the right-wing prime minister Menachem Begin returned the Sinai in its entirety.
That territory alone, three times as large as Israel, made up 91 percent of the land the Jewish state had captured in the Six-Day War. As part of handing over land that served as a potential protective buffer in case of war with Egypt, Israel also gave up the oil fields it had developed in Sinai, which would have saved Israel billions of dollars each year on oil and enabled it to become largely energy independent.
And this was only one of many times Israel was willing to make compromises for peace. At Camp David in the summer of 2000, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasir Arafat and the Palestinians more than 95 percent of the West Bank and part of Israel proper (to make up for the percentage of the West Bank it was not returning) in which to establish a Palestinian state. Arafat not only rejected the offer, he then launched the second intifada, during which the Jews of Israel, civilians especially, were targeted for death by suicide/homicide bombers. Whereby the families of the killers where given large payments of money by Iraq and Saudi Arabia. In addition, the bombers themselves where promised that as a reward for murdering Israelis and other Jews, they will immediately ascend to a high place in heaven where they will be served by seventy-two virgins.
Thus, in Israel’s often desperate pursuit of peace, it has returned, or offered to return, more than 97 percent of the land captured in 1967 (in addition to much of the West Bank, the Golan Heights, lost by Syria in its war with Israel, remains in Israel’s hands). So much for the charge that Israel has not been willing to make compromises for peace.
The Two-State Solution
The Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 then gave the world an intimation of what a Palestinian state would be like. Mortimer Zuckerman and the others who raised money for a greenhouse equipment for the Palestinians assumed that once the Israelis were gone and the “occupation” was over, the Palestinians would lay down their weapons and resume a normal life. Many likewise continue to hope that if a Palestinian state is finally established, Palestinians will end their jihad against Israel and the two states will indeed live side by side in peace.
But the “river to the sea” a chant that has become so popular among certain groups in the United States is a maximalist imperative that leaves no room for any Jewish state at all. The State of Palestine would, like unoccupied Gaza, become a new base for jihad attacks against a diminished Israel. It would inevitably be a rogue state, dedicated only to the destruction and conquest of its Jewish neighbors.
The One-State Solution
Some say that in light of these realities, and in light of the fact that Israel has a perfectly reasonable claim to sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza, by dint of international agreements and the right of conquest, it should simply annex those territories and make the Arabs living in them citizens of Israel. Israel can simply enforce its laws impartially upon all citizens, prosecuting terror activity as it does now. It has even been argued that many Palestinians would welcome becoming citizens of Israel, as they are tired of their society that idolizes rage and hate, and are ready to live in peace.
Particularly maddening to many Palestinians is the vast corruption of their leaders. Mahmoud Abbas and his two sons control a business empire worth four hundred million dollars. Similar is with the leaders of Hamas. Their fortunes have largely been skimmed from the aid money that the United States, the European Union, and others have lavished upon the Palestinians. Palestinians who are less wealthy can see what is happening and would prefer being citizens of Israel over continuing to live at the mercy of what could be called a corrupt band of kleptocrats.
Others, however, will never abandon the jihad.
Thus a unitary state would be racked with unrest and violence against Jewish Israelis. It would also have a massive Muslim Arab population that could ultimately overwhelm the Jewish population of Israel and turn it into the twenty-third Arab state.
On the Palestinian side, the one-state solution refers to Palestinian “refugees" flooding into Israel and becoming citizens of a unitary state, which would, by the sheer force of numbers of these “refugees" quickly lose its character as a Jewish state and become part of the Arab Muslim conglomerate of states. The Jews would be massacred, expelled, or subjugated.
So what can be done?
There is no solution that will establish permanent peace, but the problem can be managed. Islamic jihadis respect nothing about those whom they regard as infidels except strength; indeed, Islamic law mandates that Muslims must not wage jihad when the enemy is more than twice as strong as they are and they have no chance of victory.
The key to Israel's survival, therefore, is not negotiations or more concessions of land for a chimerical peace, but strength: military, cultural, and societal strength. If a Palestinian state is established, Israel should not only recognize that it will be its inveterate enemy from the first moment of its existence and plan accordingly, but it should also constantly shed as bright a light as it possibly can upon the Palestinian state’s jihadist activities, challenging the UN and the shapers of international opinion on their hypocrisy and the blind eye they turn to those activities. It should not pretend that the establishment of this state has solved or will solve anything.
If, on the other hand, Israel instead assumes full political control over what are at present considered to be the Palestinian territories, which would require a sea change in international politics ever to be even seriously considered, it should recognize that many, if not most, of the new Israeli Arabs would never accept its sovereignty and would constantly try to undermine the Jewish state. It should retreat from its acceptance of the “Palestinian” myth and remind the world as often as it possibly can that there is no ethnic, cultural, religious, or linguistic difference between the Palestinians, the Syrians, the Jordanians, and the Lebanese. It should challenge Syria, Lebanon, and the other Arab states on why they refuse to grant Palestinians citizenship. And it should state clearly and unapologetically it's right to what is now known as the Palestinian territories. But as it does all this, it must be ready to become even more of an international pariah than it already is, for Palestinian propaganda seems constantly to outdo itself in being as mendacious as it is shrill and enraged.
These are grim scenarios. Many will prefer to be more optimistic and to press for a new round of negotiations that will surely, this time, finally hit on the solution that will bring peace. And so they will enter into those negotiations, and the Israelis will make still more concessions to the Palestinians, and the Palestinians will give nothing of substance in return, and what will have been gained? What has Israel gained by ignoring the reality of the jihad for over four decades and pretending that the Palestinians were good-faith peace partners?
So maybe it is time for a new approach. The response of Israel, and of the free world in general, should not be fear or hatred, but a sober realism and a determination to remain resolute against the jihad, to defend Israel as a legitimate state and a free society, and to stand firm for humane values and the principles of human rights.
1 Daniel Pipes, “The Year the Arabs Discovered Palestine,” Middle East Review, Summer 1989.
7 Jean Patrick Grumberg, “When Was the ‘Palestinian People’ Created? Google Has the Answer.” Gatestone Institute, November 20, 2017
8 “Palestinians: The Invented People,” News and Views for Jews Down Under, August 17, 2014. https://jewsdownunder.com/2014/08/17/palestinians-the-invented-people/
9 Grumberg, “When Was the ‘Palestinian People’ Created?”
10 “Palestinians: The Invented People.”
12 “Palestine Liberation Organization: Draft Constitution (1963),” The Israel-Arab Reader: A Documentary History of the MidMiddle East Conflict, Laqueur and Rubin, p. 93.
15 Jamie Glazov, “From Russia With Terror,” FrontPageMagazine.com, March 31, 2004.
16 Grumberg, “When Was the ‘Palestinian People’ Created?”
17 Ion Mihai Pacepa, “The KGB’s Man,” The Wall Street Journal, September 22, 2003.
18 “Rewriting history: Jesus misrepresented as ‘Muslim Palestinian,’” Palestinian Media Watch, n.d. http://palwatch.org main.aspx?fi=505
29 including for the above see also https://townhall.com/columnists/jonathanfeldstein/2019/12/10/hijacking-jesus-n2557748
30 Golda Meir, “Who Can Blame Israel?,” Sunday Times, June 15, 1969.
32 “Palestinians: The Invented People.”
34 James Dorsey, “Wij zijn alleen Palestijn om politieke redden,” Trouw, March 31, 1977. https://brabosh.com/2016/02/18/pqpct-bbo/
35 “Palestinians: The Invented People.”
38 “Palestinian Social Customs and Traditions,” Institute for Middle East Understanding, June 26, 2006. https://imeu.org/article/social-customs-and-traditions
39 “The Culture of Palestine,” The Excellence Center in Palestine, n.d., http://excellencenter.org/the-culture-of-palestine/
40 “Palestinians are an invented people, says Newt Gingrich,” Associated Press, December 9, 2011.
42 Glick, “Yes, Palestinians Are an Invented People.”, https://www.realclearworld.com/articles/2011/12/13/yes_palestinians_are_an_invented_people_99796.html
43 “Palestinians tell Gingrich to learn history after ‘invented people’ claim,” The Guardian, December 10, 2011.
46 Glick, “Yes, Palestinians Are an Invented People.”
48 Howard M. Sachar, A History of the Jews in the Modern World, 2006, p.455
49 “UN Security Council Resolutions: Resolution 95 (September 1, 1951),” Jewish Virtual Library.