The latest claim by Foreign Minister Riad Malki, of the Palestinian Authority, is that the Palestinians will “never accept, under any circumstances” the idea of Israel as a Jewish state. “This is a sharply contentious issue. It would be dangerous to recognize this because this would mean our acceptance of the dissolution of our own history and ties and our historic right to Palestine.”
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, the London-based Arabic newspaper, he characterized the Israeli government demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state as being the singlemost difficult issue facing the current round of peace talks sponsored by US Secretary of State, John Kerry.
“This is something that we will never accept under any circumstances. Acceptance of this would also raise fears about the fate of the 1.8 million Palestinians living in Israel. They are already second-class citizens, so how will they be affected by the Judaization of the state? This also raises questions about the [Palestinian] refugees and the right of return. So this is something that we absolutely cannot accept,” he added.
Much to Israel’s frustration, the current administration appears willing to go along with the Palestinian position and is prepared to acknowledge the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) belong to the Palestinians. Malik indicated the United States has guaranteed “we will have the entire territory of the West Bank” as a basic principle of negotiations.
One of the crucial pieces to the Palestinian narrative is that they (Palestinians) were present in the Holy Land before the Jews, and because of this, have a greater moral authority and right to the territory as part of a future independent Palestinian state.
Supporters of the Palestinian position often compare the Palestinians to “indigenous” peoples like Native Americans and call Israel a “colonizer.”
There are more than a few problems with the Palestinian narrative.
The modern media is filled with stories about the Palestinians, their plight, their dilemmas and their struggles. All aspects of their lives seem to have been put under the microscope. Only one question never seems to be addressed: Who are the Palestinians? Who are these people who claim the Holy Land as their own? What is their history? Where did they come from? How did they arrive in the country they call Palestine?
If the Palestinians are as ancient a people as they claim to be, then we’ll find copious amounts of evidence of that in various works of history, won’t we? (Just like we find lots of history about the ancient Romans, Greeks, Albanians, Mygars, Bulgars, Egyptians, and a whole host of others).
But here’s where it gets interesting, because as it turns out, the “ancient” Palestinian people are elusive indeed. In fact, they’re so completely elusive that at some point, when pouring over the historical record and finding exactly nothing…no mention of them at all in ancient times, you have to begin to ask yourself why that is.
The general impression given by most in the media is that Palestinians were established in the Holy Land for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Yet curiously, when it comes to giving the history of this ancient people most news outlets find it harder to go back more than the early nineteen hundreds.
– CNN, an agency which has devoted countless hours of airtime to the “plight” of the Palestinians, has a website which features a special section on the Middle East conflict called “Struggle For Peace”. It includes a promising sounding section entitled “Lands Through The Ages” which assures us it will detail the history of the region using maps. Strangely, it turns out, the maps displayed start no earlier than the ancient date of 1917.
– The CBS News website has a background section called “A Struggle For Middle East Peace.” Its history timeline starts no earlier than 1897.
– The NBC News background section called “Searching for Peace” has a timeline which starts in 1916.
– BBC’s timeline starts in 1948.
Perhaps we’re simply looking in the wrong places? Of course, that must be the case, so let us go then to the source. Let us go to the website belonging to the Palestinian National Authority. Surely they will be able to tell us all about the ancient people who are the Palestinians, yes?
Well…not so much, as it turns out. After you wade through several pages bemoaning the “Israeli occupation” and “Israeli human rights violations,” you find yourself wondering where the history is, and you will find a little, some of it even dating back to the early 1900’s, but it would be a bit of a stretch to call this “ancient,” no matter how much you torture the definition of the word.
So maybe we should just give up on the ‘net altogether and go looking in actual history books?
Again, you find something most curious when you do that. See, actual books, such as “Battleground” by Samuel Katz and “From Time Immemorial” by Joan Peters long ago detailed the history of the region. Far from being settled by Palestinians for hundreds, if not thousands of years, the Land of Israel, according to dozens of visitors to the land, was, until the beginning of the last century, practically empty.
Alphonse de Lamartine visited the land in 1835. In his book, “Recollections of the East”, he writes “Outside the gates of Jerusalem we saw no living object, heard no living sound.”
None other than the famous American author Mark Twain, who visited the Land of Israel in 1867, confirms this. In his book Innocents Abroad he writes, “A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action. We reached Tabor safely”. We never saw a human being on the whole journey.”
Even the British Consul in Palestine reported, in 1857, “The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is that of a body of population!”
In fact, according to official Ottoman Turk census figures of 1882, in the entire Land of Israel, there were only 141,000 Muslims, both Arab and non-Arab.
Once the area began to develop economically, Arabs poured into the region, but that was rather on account of the presence of the Jewish people, and not in spite of it (a detail that was noted by none other than Winston Churchill himself, who proclaimed in 1939 that “far from being persecuted, the Arabs have crowded into the country and multiplied.”
Jobs provided by newly established Zionist industry and agriculture lured them there, just as Israeli construction and industry provides most Arabs in the Land of Israel with their main source of income today. Malcolm MacDonald, one of the principal authors of the British White Paper of 1939, which restricted Jewish immigration to the Land of Israel, admitted (conservatively) that were it not for a Jewish presence the Arab population would have been little more than half of what it actually was.
So it begs the question: If the Palestinians are indeed a myth, then the real question becomes “Why?” Why invent a fictitious people? The answer is that the myth of the Palestinian People serves as the justification for Arab occupation of the Land of Israel.
While the Arabs already possess 21 sovereign countries of their own (more than any other single people on earth) and control a land mass 800 times the size of the Land of Israel, this is apparently not enough for them. They therefore feel the need to rob the Jews of their one and only country, one of the smallest on the planet.
Unfortunately, many people ignorant of the history of the region, including much of the world media, are only too willing to help.