5 Mendacious Palestinian Myths Make One False Narrative

Given the lies and distortions of Palestinian claims, what seems more credible: An offer to buy the Brooklyn Bridge or the Palestinian narrative?

Of all the Palestinian lies there is no lie greater or more crushing than that which calls for the establishment of a separate Palestinian state in the West Bank… Not since the time of Dr. Goebbels has there been a case in which continual repetition of a lie has born such great fruits… – Prof. Amnon Rubinstein, formerly education minister, member of the far-left Meretz faction and dean of Tel Aviv University’s law faculty, “Palestinian Lies,”Haaretz, July 30, 1976

Telling the truth about the Israeli–Palestinian conflict would affirm American support for international law, democracy, the peaceful resolution of international disputes, and the principle of equal rights for all peoples… [as well as] American opposition to aggression and terrorism. – Prof. Michael Mandelbaum, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, “The Peace Process Is an Obstacle to Peace – and it always has been, because its premises are false,” Commentary, April 14, 2016

I don’t think there is a Palestinian nation at all. I think there is an Arab nation. I always thought so… I think it’s a colonialist invention – a Palestinian nation. When were there any Palestinians?... – Balad party founder Azmi Bishara, Channel 2, 1996

In last week’s column, I demonstrated how attributing legitimacy to the Palestinian narrative (and hence to the aspirations arising from it such as statehood) necessarily culminate in stripping the Zionist narrative of its legitimacy, by delegitimizing the measures required to sustain the Jewish nation-state.

Consequently, the inescapable conclusion is that the only way to attain legitimacy for measures required to sustain the Jewish state is to delegitimize the Palestinian narrative, according to which Palestinian-Arabs comprise an authentic, identifiably distinct national entity, entitled to all the rights accorded other such entities.

I undertook to trace the outlines of how to address the daunting challenge of discrediting, disproving and ultimately delegitimizing a narrative that due to “decades of distortion, deception and delusion [has] become entrenched in the collective international consciousness” as the received wisdom regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Massive sleight of political hand

As I pointed out in a previous column (UN-nation; un-nation; non-nation; anti-nation, September 16, 2011), while no consensus exists among political scientists as to an exact definition of “nation” and “nationalism,” there is broad agreement over what cannot be excluded from such definition. Thus, whatever other details different scholars might wish to include in their preferred definition, there is little disagreement that:

  • A “nation” is an identifiably differentiated segment of humanity exhibiting collective desire to exercise political sovereignty in a defined geographical territory; and
  • “Nationalism” is the pursuit, by those identifiably differentiated segments of humanity, of the exercise of political sovereignty in a defined territory.

Even a cursory analysis of historical events in this region will reveal that, in the case of Palestinians-Arabs, neither of these constituent elements exists: Not an identifiably differentiated people, desiring exercise of political sovereignty; nor a defined territory in which that sovereignty is to be exercised.

One need only examine the declarations and documents of Palestinians themselves to verify this, and discover that they have never really conceived of themselves as a discernibly discrete people with a defined homeland.

Accordingly, little effort is required to demonstrate that the Palestinian “narrative” – the ideo-intellectual fuel driving the demands for statehood – is nothing more than a motley mixture of multiple myths, easily identifiable and readily refutable. The inescapable conclusion is – or should be – that the entire edifice of Palestinian national aspirations is a giant political hoax, a massive sleight of political hand to serve a more sinister – and thinly disguised – ulterior motive.

What are the five constituent myths that comprise the noxious concoction of the Palestinian narrative?

The myth of Palestinian homeland

The first – and arguably, the most startling – myth is that of a Palestinian “homeland,” now designated as “the West Bank” (Judea-Samaria) and Gaza. For not only did the “Palestinians” never claim this as their historical homeland, they explicitly eschewed any claims to sovereignty over it until well after it fell under Israeli control in 1967.

Thus Article 16 of the original version of the Palestinian National Covenant sets out the alleged desire of the people of Palestine “who look forward to… restoring the legitimate situation to Palestine, establishing peace and security in its territory, and enabling its people to exercise national sovereignty…”

However, since the covenant was adopted in 1964, well before Israel “occupied” a square inch of the “West Bank” or Gaza, the question is what is meant by “its territory” in which the Palestinians were “looking forward… to exercise national sovereignty”? Significantly, in Article 24, they state specifically what this territory did not include, and where they were not seeking to exercise “national sovereignty,” explicitly proclaiming that they do not desire to “exercise any territorial sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan… [or] the Gaza Strip…”

From this we learn two stunning facts: Not only did the “Palestinians” not claim the “West Bank” and Gaza as part of their homeland, but they expressly excluded them from it. Moreover they unequivocally acknowledged that the “West Bank” belonged to another sovereign entity, the Hashemite Kingdom.

Myth of homeland (cont.)

There is, therefore, not the slightest resemblance – indeed not one square inch of overlap – between the territory claimed by the Palestinians as their “homeland” when they first allegedly formulated their national aspirations, and the “homeland” claimed today.

Indeed, the two visions of “homeland” territories are not only inconsistent with each other, but mutually exclusive.

Accordingly it would seem that it is Jewish rule, rather than any “collective historical memory,” that is the determining factor in defining the location of the Palestinian “homeland.” This is starkly underlined by the proclamation of Ahmad Shukeiri, Yasser Arafat’s predecessor, on the eve of the 1967 Six Day War: “D Day is approaching.

The Arabs have waited 19 years for this and will not flinch from the war of liberation… This is a fight for the homeland…”

Shukeiri’s use of the words “liberation” and “homeland” are revealing. They clearly cannot refer to Judea-Samaria or Gaza, now claimed as the “Palestinian homeland,” since these were then under exclusive Arab control.

Indeed, nothing could better vindicate the contention that the concept of a “Palestinian homeland” is a fabricated construct, conjured up to further the Arab quest to eradicate any trace of a sovereign Jewish homeland.

The myth of Palestinian peoplehood

Senior Palestinian leaders have openly admitted – consistently and continually – that Palestinians are not a discrete people, identifiably different from others in the Arab world. For example on March 14, 1977, Farouk Kadoumi, head of the PLO’s Political Department, told Newsweek: “… Jordanians and Palestinians are considered by the PLO as one people.”

This statement parallels almost exactly the oft cited, and ne’er denied, position expressed two weeks later by the former head of the PLO’s Military Department and Executive Council member, Zuheir Muhsin, who declared: “There are no differences between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese… It is only for political reasons that we carefully underline our Palestinian identity…(Dutch daily Trouw, March 31, 1977).

It was Jordan’s King Hussein who underscored that the emergence of a collective Palestinian identity was merely a ploy to counter Jewish claims to territory considered “Arab.” At the Arab League meeting in Amman in November 1987, he stated: “The appearance of the Palestinian national personality comes as an answer to Israel’s claim that Palestine is Jewish.”

This necessarily implies that the “Palestinian personality” is devoid of any independent existence, a fictional derivative, fabricated only to counteract Jewish territorial claims.

The myth of Palestinian nationhood

But not only do the Palestinians admit that they are not a discrete sociological entity, i.e. a people, they also concede that as a political unit, i.e. a nation, their demands/ aspirations are neither genuine nor permanent.

Indeed, Zuheir Muhsin candidly confesses: We are all part of one [Arab ]nation… The founding of a Palestinian state is a new tool in the continuing battle against Israel.”

Doesn’t get much more explicit than that – unless you read Azmi Bishara in the introductory excerpt.

Indeed, the Palestinian-Arabs not only affirm that their national demands are bogus, but are merely a temporary instrumental ruse. In their National Covenant they declare: “The Palestinian people are a part of the Arab Nation… [H]owever, they must, at the present stage of their struggle, safeguard their Palestinian identity and develop their consciousness of that identity…”

So how are we to avoid concluding that at some later stage there will be no need to preserve their “national identity or develop consciousness thereof? How are we to avoid concluding that Palestinian identity is nothing but a short-term ruse to achieve a political goal: annulling the “illegal 1947 partition of Palestine” (a.k.a. Israel).

After all, what other nation declares that its national identity is merely a temporary ploy to be “safeguarded” and “developed” for the “present stage” alone? Does any other nation view its national identity as so ephemeral and instrumental? The Italians? The Turks? The Japanese? Of course not.

So as King Hussein said: “The appearance of the Palestinian national personality comes as an answer to Israel’s claim that Palestine is Jewish.” Nothing more.

The myth of Palestinian statelessness

A major theme exploited to evoke great sympathy for the Palestinians’ cause – and commensurate wrath at Israel – is that they are a “stateless” people. But this condition of “statelessness” is not a result of Israeli malfeasance, but of Arab malevolence.

For the Palestinians are stateless because the Arabs have either stripped them of citizenship they already had, nor precluded them from acquiring citizenship they desired.

In the “West Bank” for example, until 1988, all Palestinians – including the “refugees” – held Jordanian citizenship. This was then annulled by King Hussein, after relinquishing his claim to this territory. This abrupt measure was described by Anis Kassim, a prominent Palestinian legal expert, as follows:”… more than 1.5 million Palestinians went to bed on 31 July 1988 as Jordanian citizens, and woke up on 1 August 1988 as stateless persons.”

But Palestinians have also been prohibited from acquiring citizenship of their countries of residence in the Arab world, where many have lived for over a half-century.

The Arab League has instructed members to deny citizenship to resident Palestinian-Arabs “to avoid dissolution of their identity and protect their right to return to their homeland.” Thus, Arab League spokesman Hisham Youssef, in an 2004 Los Angeles Times interview, reiterated that this official policy was meant “to preserve their Palestinian identity” – which was apparently incapable of independent existence without external coercion.

He went on to assert that “if every Palestinian who sought refuge in a certain country was integrated and accommodated into that country, there won’t be any reason for them to return to Palestine.” Precisely.

The myth of Palestinian refugees

Much has been written elsewhere on the anomaly of the Palestinian refugees. I will, therefore, confine the discussion to two short but edifying references.

While all other refugees on the face of the globe are under the auspices of the UN High Commission for Refugees, the Palestinian refugees have their own unique organization, the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

The two organizations have two different definitions of who is a refugee and different mandates as to how they should be treated. These differences have far-reaching consequences, arguably the gravest being that they spectacularly inflate the numbers of Palestinian refugees, from fewer than 50,000 to around 5,000,000.

Thus, in a letter to former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan (May 18, 2002), the late Tom Lantos, ranking Democrat on the US House International Relations Committee, expressed bewildered disapproval at the prevailing situation: “I am frankly baffled as to why, more than 50 years after the founding of the State of Israel, there continues to exist a UN agency focused solely on Palestinian refugees… No other refugee problem in the world has been treated in this privileged and prolonged manner.”

Over a decade later (August 31, 2014), former Labor Knesset member and ardent two-stater Einat Wilf wrote: “If UNRWA operated the same way as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which is responsible for all other refugee groups in the world, today there would be only tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees, rather than millions…”

Brooklyn Bridge or Palestinian narrative?

So there you have it – or at least part of it. Thus, in light of this overly condensed and admittedly incomplete exposé of lies, distortions and exaggerations of the Palestinian claims, what seems more credible? An offer to buy the Brooklyn Bridge or the Palestinian narrative?

(Originally published in The Jerusalem Post)

The Alchemy of Palestinian Nationhood

“Alchemy: a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation” (The Oxford Dictionary).

“I do not think there is a Palestinian nation at all. I think there is an Arab nation. I think it’s a colonialist invention — a Palestinian nation. When were there any Palestinians? Where did they come from? I think there is an Arab nation.” (Azmi Bashara, Channel 2, 1996).

“The Palestinian people are an integral part of the Arab nation. … The Palestinian people believe in Arab unity. In order to contribute their share toward the attainment of that objective, however, they must, at the present stage of their struggle, safeguard their Palestinian identity and develop their consciousness of that identity” (The Palestinian National Charter).

As the end of May draws closer so does the prospect of a French convened international summit, aimed at “relaunching the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.” Inevitably, efforts will be focused on reviving the relevance of the two-state paradigm, after a long — and well-deserved — period in “cold storage.”

Plausible perils

Indeed, perhaps the most puzzling conundrum regarding the discourse on the Middle East conflict is the enduring centrality of an idea that has so little to support it, either in terms of its empirical record or its conceptual plausibility.

After all, as Israel’s newly appointed consul general in New York, Dani Dayan wrote some time ago in a New York Times opinion piece: “The insertion of an independent Palestinian state between Israel and Jordan would be a recipe for disaster. … The new state [would become] a hotbed of extremism. … Any peace agreement would collapse. … Israel would then be forced to recapture the area.”

This is hardly an improbable scenario, given the precedent of previous Israeli withdrawals. Indeed, every time Israel has evacuated territory it has become a platform from which to launch lethal attacks against it — whether in Gaza, Lebanon or Sinai, where an assorted collection of jihadi extremists are ever-tightening their grip over the peninsula.

Clearly, in the absence of compelling evidence to the contrary, there is no reason — other than unsubstantiated hope and unfounded optimism — that a similar fate would not — sooner or later — befall the “West Bank,” were the IDF to evacuate it.

The question then arises: Why would any rational person embrace a policy that so clearly threatens to wreak tragedy on Israelis and Palestinians alike?

Transparent trickery

In the course of modern history mankind has not infrequently been afflicted by political perspectives and policy prescriptions that were manifestly misguided, and by doctrinal dogmas that were demonstrably disastrous. Few, however, have been as transparent in their undisguised trickery as what has, perversely, become known as the “two-state-solution” (or TSS).

Based on the flawed and failed notion of land-for-peace, whose validity has repeatedly been disproven, but somehow never discredited and certainly never discarded, it has, for decades, inexplicably monopolized the debate on the Israel-Arab conflict in general, and the Israel-Palestinian conflict in particular.

What makes the dominance of the TSS-approach so difficult to fathom, is not only that it is anchored neither to empirical fact nor to logical consistency, but that the Arabs openly admit that it is nothing but subterfuge.

This assertion cannot be dismissed as some radical right-wing rant. It is the unavoidable conclusion that emerges from the deeds, declarations and documents of the Palestinians.

Nationhood as alchemy

To understand how unmoored the TSS-approach is from both fact and logic, consider how devoid of substance the key elements, which allegedly underpin it, are — such as the “Palestinian nation” and “Palestinian homeland.”

To illustrate this seemingly far-reaching assertion, suppose for a moment that the Arabs had not initiated the war of annihilation against Israel in 1967. Who then would have been the Palestinians? More important, what would have been Palestine?

After all, at the time, the Arab Palestinians resident in the “West Bank” were not stateless. Until 1988, all were Jordanian citizens.

Moreover, the 1964 version of the Palestinian National Charter (Article 24) explicitly proclaimed, not only that the “West Bank” was not part of the Palestinian homeland, but that it was part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

So, had the Arabs not initiated a war of annihilation against Israel, the Arab residents of the “West Bank” would have been Jordanians, and the territory of the “West Bank” would have been Jordan.

However, in 1967 the Arabs did initiate their overtly genocidal aggression against the Jewish state, which resulted in spectacular failure.

From this mixture of defeat and disappointment, “a seemingly magical process of transformation/creation” began to emerge before our very eyes. Poof! As if by some mysterious alchemistic mechanism, Jordanian nationals were transformed into a “Palestinian nation” and Jordanian territory was transformed into a “Palestinian homeland.”

Palestine is where the Jews are

On May 27, 1967, barely a week before the outbreak of the Six-Day War, Ahmad Shukeiri, Yasser Arafat’s predecessor as chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, bellowed: “D-Day is approaching. The Arabs have waited 19 years for this and will not flinch from the war of liberation.”

On June 1, he crowed: “This is a fight for the homeland — it is either us or the Israelis. There is no middle road. The Jews of Palestine will have to leave. … We shall destroy Israel and its inhabitants and as for the survivors — if there are any — the boats are ready to deport them.”

Even for the most avid adherent of the TSS-approach, Shukeiri’s use of the words “liberation” and “homeland” should be enlightening. For they certainly did not — and could not — apply to the “West Bank” (or Gaza), since both were under Arab rule and clearly did not comprise the “homeland,” towards which Palestinian “liberation” efforts were directed.

The conclusion appears inescapable.

Rather than defining any specific territory as homeland, “Palestine” is a highly fluid geographical entity, used to designate any territory where the Jews exercise control, from which Arabs have a “sacred duty” to “liberate” it.

Palestine: Pre-1967 vs post-1967

Following the debacle of June 1967, the thrust of Arab “liberation” efforts changed.

Whereas prior to this date, the focus was on the land west of the Green Line, Arab endeavor now switched to that lying east of it, and which had fallen under Israeli control as a result its victory in the defensive war forced upon it — despite Israel’s entreaties to Jordan not to join the planned Arab onslaught against it.

This, however, was only an intermediate aim in a staged strategy to eliminate the Jewish state entirely, whatever its borders.

Perhaps the most explicit — but certainly by no means, the only — articulation of the post-1967 design was that of the oft-quoted, but yet-to-be repudiated, Zuheir Muhsein, former head of the PLO’s Military Department and a member of its Executive Council.

Echoing the identical position set out in the introductory excerpt by Azmi Bishara, a self-proclaimed “Palestinian” who represented the anti-Zionist Arab list Balad in the Knesset until forced to flee because of allegations of treason, Muhsein also opined that “the Palestinian people does not exist.”

He elaborated: “The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the State of Israel for our Arab unity. … It is only for political and tactical reasons that 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.”

He then clearly elucidated the rationale of the post-1967 staged strategy, and the crucial role the construct of a “Palestinian identity” had to play in implementing it: “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, Beersheba 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.”

Temporary tactical construct

It would be a grave error to dismiss this as merely the opinion of a single, long-forgotten Palestinian leader.

It is a view that has been expressed by many Arab leaders, Palestinian or otherwise, from Farouk Kaddoumi to King Hussein.

More recently, it has been reiterated by none other than the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, who in 2014 proclaimed: “We will never recognize the Jewishness of the State of Israel.”

But more important, it is a sentiment that permeates the entire Palestinian National Charter, according to which, “The partition of Palestine in 1947 and the establishment of the State of Israel are entirely illegal, regardless of the passage of time.”

But no less significant and revealing is the proviso conveyed in the citation from the charter in the introductory excerpt above, regarding the need for the Palestinians to “safeguard their Palestinian identity and develop their consciousness of that identity,” which is to be limited to “the present stage of their struggle.”

Think of it. What other nation declares that its national identity is merely a temporary ploy to be “safeguarded” and “developed” for the “present stage” alone? Does any other nation view their national identity as so ephemeral and instrumental? The Italians? The Brazilians? The Turks? The Greeks? The Japanese? Of course not!

The merging of ends and means

But what is the purpose of this temporary ruse? The charter is quite explicit: For Palestinians “to contribute their share to the attainment of [the] objective of Arab Unity.” And Arab unity, to what end? The liberation of Palestine, “illegally partitioned” in 1947, which is both the goal of, and the vehicle for, Arab unity.

Article 13 says it all: “Arab unity and the liberation of Palestine are two complementary objectives, the attainment of either of which facilitates the attainment of the other.

“Thus, Arab unity leads to the liberation of Palestine, the liberation of Palestine leads to Arab unity.”

So there you have it: The Palestinians’ political philosophy in a nutshell … and in their own words. The aspiration for the liberation of Palestine — aka the destruction of Israel — is the force for Arab unity, while the achievement of such liberation/destruction will provide the impetus for pan-Arab unity — presumably via the sense of empowerment and achievement it will generate.

Debunking a dangerous dichotomy

While it is true the implementation of the TSS will in all likelihood bring tragedy to both sides, that is not the only reason to oppose it.

It is a proposal that has no foundation in fact, morality or logic; it is devoid of any justification in history or in present politics.

To quote Dayan again: “Giving up this land in the name of a hallowed two-state solution would mean rewarding those who’ve historically sought to destroy Israel, a manifestly immoral outcome.”

Sadly, it is precisely because the TSS-paradigm is so unfounded, no more capable of resolving the conflict than alchemy is capable of transforming base metal to gold, that its dominance of the discourse constitutes a huge indictment of the intellectual competence of the Israeli leadership.

For not only has that leadership been unable to expose it as a flimsy falsehood, openly acknowledged by Arabs, and to consign it to the garbage heap of history, they have allowed the discourse to be needlessly corralled into a false dichotomy.

It is a dichotomy that is as dangerous as it is deceptive, making it seem that the only choices are either a geographically untenable Jewish democracy, or a demographically untenable Jewish ethnocracy.

Israeli intellectual ineptitude

This is a completely misleading and misplaced perception of reality. Indeed, there exist alternative democratic and Zionist-compliant options that can provide both Palestinians and Israelis with better and more secure lives. Regrettably, it is only Israeli political ineptitude that has prevented serious discussion of their viability and validity.

Unless the Israeli leadership can muster the political will and the intellectual ability to force these alternatives to the center stage of the debate, the consequences will almost certainly be calamitous.

(Originally published on Israel Hayom)