The Invention of the Palestinian People

The other day the question was put to me why so many keep saying that Palestinians are an invented people.

A simple question with a complex answer.

Until the late nineteenth century, the term Palestinian was used as a regional term.

Residents living in the region between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean identified themselves primarily in terms of religion: Muslims felt far stronger bonds with remote co-religionists than with nearby Jews and Christians. Living in that area did not imply any sense of common political purpose or sense of discrete peoplehood or nationhood.

An identity as a people is one precursor to nationhood. And nationhood is the presence of common identity together with the three key elements of sovereignty, self-determination and self-sufficiency.

The “Palestinians” have never had this, and they still don’t have it. The concept that such a people exists is being forced on the world to achieve a base political goal.

In actual fact, the deliberate creation of the “Palestinian people” as a discrete entity in 1967, and the political group known as the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1964 was for the political purpose of destroying a sovereign and legally mandated Jewish state.

Till that point in time, nor, it will be shown, after that time, was there ever ANY sense or mention of a “Palestinian” people or nation.

The term Palestinian was ALWAYS followed by a descriptive noun – Arab;  ie Palestinian Arab.

According to Palestinian historian Muhammad Y. Muslih, during the entire 400 year period of Ottoman rule (1517-1918), before the British set up the 30-year-long Palestine Mandate, “There was no political unit known as Palestine.”

When the Islamic armies conquered the Levant, they adopted the administrative name used by the Byzantines and dubbed part of Palestina Prima (“the first Palestine”) – more or less today’s Jerusalem area and the Shfela [coastal plain] – as “Jund Filastin.” Jund means “army;” Jund Filastin means “the Palestine military command.” In other words, the name did not signify the national identity of a “Palestinian people” who lived in the land, but instead, a military district, in line with the Byzantine nomenclature.

Until Israel was re-established as a nation in 1948, Palestine was the term for the territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. The word Palestinian was applied to anyone living in that area.

As late as 1909 the first recorded Arab to use the term “Palestinian” was Farid Georges Kassab, a Beirut-based Orthodox Christian who, in 1909, espoused sympathy for Zionism. Kassab’s 1909 book stated that “the Orthodox Palestinian Ottomans call themselves Arabs, and are in fact Arabs.” Even Kassab decried the use of the term “Palestinian” Arab. Nevertheless, apart from the ancient indigenous Jews in the Levant, the largely Muslim Arab population identified only as Arab and ONLY with the start of the British mandate, was the term used to describe both Jew and Arab. So, the term Palestinian did not take on its current popular meaning until the mid-20th century and was used as a regional reference.

On a related tangent, in 1948, the invasion of Israel by 6 pan-Arab armies had NOTHING to do with creating an Arab Palestinian state but ALL to do with a classic imperialist Muslim scramble for Palestinian territory. Had they succeeded, as the first secretary-general of the Arab League, Abdel Rahman Azzam, admitted to a British reporter, Transjordan “was to swallow up the central hill regions of Palestine with access to the Mediterranean at Gaza. The Egyptians would get the Negev. The Galilee would go to Syria, except that the coastal part as far as Acre would be added to Lebanon.”

Had Israel lost the war, its territory would have been divided among the invading Arab forces. The name Palestine would have vanished into the dustbin of history.

So, are the “Palestinians” an invented people for purely political (anti-semitic) purposes?

Well, even Mandate Palestinian Arab leaders during the British mandate era (1920-48) who, as products of the Ottoman imperial system where religion constituted the linchpin of the socio-political order of things, had no real grasp of the phenomenon of nationalism. Hence, they had no interest in the evolution of a distinct Palestinian nation, or acknowledging a Palestinian “people”, because there simply wasn’t one.

As an example that there was no concept of “Palestinian” nationhood or peoplehood, the April 1920 pogrom in Jerusalem was not in the name of independence of the “Palestinian people” of the Mandate area, but under the demand for its incorporation into the (short-lived) Syrian kingdom, headed by Faisal ibn Hussein of Mecca….

In 1926, the Arab Executive Committee still referred to Palestine as the unlawfully severed southern part of “the one country of Syria, with its one population of the same language, origin, customs, and religious beliefs (emphasis mine), and its natural boundaries, as I pointed out earlier.

In July 1937, the Arab Higher Committee (AHC) justified its rejection of the Peel Commission’s recommendation for the partition of Palestine on the grounds that “this country does not belong only to [the] Palestine Arabs (that qualifying noun again….) but to the whole Arab and Muslim Worlds (emphasis mine).”

And finally, as late as August 1947, three months before the passing of the U.N. resolution partitioning Mandate Palestine into Arab and Jewish states, the AHC’s mouthpiece, al-Wahda, advocated the incorporation of Palestine (and Transjordan) into “Greater Syria (emphasis mine).”

No, there was no concept of “Palestinian people” but rather, always one of Palestinian Arabs who were part of the wider Arab Muslim ummah.

How did they then suddenly appear as homogeneous ethnic group in 1967 when not even the Arab High Commission had ever heard of them?

There are undereducated misconceptions too that pan-Arabism was of no consequence in the dialogue surrounding the authenticity of the “Palestinian” “people”. This is untrue.

Even the younger generation of post 1948 Arab activists supported this ideal as evidenced by Ahmad Shuqeiri, a Lebanon-born politician of mixed Egyptian, Hijazi, and Turkish descent who served as the Arab League’s deputy secretary-general. As he put it, “Palestine is part and parcel in the Arab homeland.”

Asked to clarify which part of the “Arab homeland” this specific territory belonged, he added that Palestine “is nothing but southern Syria.”

And so, it is no surprise that Yasser Arafat, the (Egyptian born and educated) father of the “Palestinian people” followed this pan-Arab line. The 1964 PLO charter defined the Palestinians as “an integral part of the Arab nation”, rather than a distinct nationality (emphasis mine) and vowed allegiance to the ideal of pan-Arab unity – that is, to Palestine’s eventual assimilation into “the greater Arab homeland.”

In 1996, even that bastion which proclaims itself as the leader in the “struggle” for the Palestinian “people”, Hamas, said this, “Islamic and traditional views reject the notion of establishing an independent Palestinian state … In the past, there was no independent Palestinian state. … [Hence] our main goal is to establish a great Islamic state, be it pan-Arabic or pan-Islamic… This…land…is not the property of the Palestinians…. This land is the property of all Muslims in all parts of the world.”  (senior Hamas leader Mahmud Zahar, 1996)

And finally, on this line of reasoning, it is not possible to go past the words of Azmi Bishara, founding leader of the nationalist Balad Party (with seats in the Israeli parliament since 1999). In a statement he made in 2002 he said: “My Palestinian identity never precedes my Arab identity…. I don’t think there is a Palestinian nation, there is [only] an Arab nation…. “

Not much more needs to be said; the concept of a Palestinian “people” engaged in a struggle of “liberation” from a colonial Jewish “oppressor” is a purposely misleading one, invented solely for the purpose of de-legitimising the Jewish state and its people.

The Levantine Arabs, up to and including 1948 , ALWAYS identified firstly on the basis of religion and secondly on the basis of ethnicity. Thus the Levant contained Christian ARABS, Muslim ARABS but only and always, Jews. In other words, the identity of those Arabs who today would like to be known as an ancient “Palestinian “people” have in actual fact NO distinguishing markers of a discrete peoplehood (ever) given that their identity is mostly based on shared customs and beliefs of their Arab Muslim brothers, ALL of them mediated by Islam.

Till 1967, nobody had ever heard of the “Palestinians” as a people, let alone a “people” steeped in antiquity. Its subsequent use is merely a political tool to delegitimise the Jewish claim to what was left of the division of the British Mandate into two projected Arab Muslim entities and one Jewish one.

However, there are those who will use meaningless terms like endogenesis and ethnogenesis in an attempt to pointlessly philosophise with words that have no concrete impact on the issue to hand.

Besides, the concept of a homogeneous, ethnic and disparate “Palestinian people” (endo/ethno genesis) is frankly ludicrous when one considers that through centuries of Muslim imperialism right down to the end of Ottoman Empire in 1918, caliphs and other rulers brought in hundreds of thousands of soldier slaves loyal to their pay masters.

The Tulunides brought in Turks and Negroes.

The Fatamids introduced Berbers, Slavs, Greeks, Kurds, and mercenaries of all kinds.

The Mamelukes imported legions of Georgians and Circassians.

Saladin brought in 150,000 Persians who were given lands in Galilee and the Sidon district for their services.

In the fourteenth century, 18,000 Yurate Tartars from the Euphrates were brought in, soon followed by 20,000 Ashiri and 4,000 Mongols who occupied the Jordan Valley and settled from Jerusalem south!! Mongols…

In 1830, as a further example, Mehemet [Muhammad] Ali colonized Jaffa and Nablus (Jewish Schem before the arab invasion and occupation…) with Egyptian soldiers and their Sudanese allies. So much so that british estimates of the 13,000 inhabitants of Jaffa, for example, ran at 8,000 Turco-Egyptians, 4,000 Greeks and Armenians, and 1,000 Maronites. The british did not consider that there were any Arabs at all in that city. ….

For her/his part, it would be a brave soul who would deny the constancy of the presence of the Jewish PEOPLE in the Levant over the past 3,000 years.

No, the whole concept of a “Palestinian people” is a base political strategy invented not to build a state but to destroy a neighbouring one. For this reason, many who are knowledgeable on this issue will continue to say they are an invented “people”.

Today, while the term Palestinian is applied to the Arabic-speaking residents of what is largely the State of Israel, this usage is purposely misleading because for most of human history, a “Palestinian” was simply a person born or living in that land with no connotation of being a “people”.

When used in reference only to non-Jews, it implies an historical claim to the territory in opposition to Israel. In reality, the concept of Palestine as a nation-state in opposition to Israel or as a racial group ( a “people”) predating the presence of Jewish inhabitants is historically false and is currently pushed as part of a broader strategy of delegitimising Jewish connection to the Land of Israel.

The tactic of the myth of a “Palestinian people” is simple yet sophisticated: preaching and dispersing lies and distortions of reality. History proves that the bigger the lie and the more common its reiteration, the more it is accepted as authentic and genuine.

After all, who can believe that an entire national leadership would dare to totally distort and fabricate history in full?

But the notion of a “Palestinian people” has been forced on Europe and America through the ploy of telling all players what they want to hear.

To a guilty Europe, where there is a high level of guilt and remorse about its own colonialist past, the creation of Israel is pitched as an excess of a bygone European colonialist era where Europe is directly blamed for the creation of the Jewish state.

To the Americans, where many feel guilt and remorse over historic racism, the Palestinians depict Israel as a racist state, which treats them in the same way as African Americans were treated.

And for the broader international community and for human rights organizations, Israel is a cruel occupier that violates all human rights and freedoms of the Palestinians.

But no matter the myth of a Palestinian “people”,  ANY Palestinian national identity is overwhelmingly founded, and heavily predicated, on the negation of Jewish and Israeli identity, rather than on positive attributes or real history.

Arguably, the international community’s enabling and legitimizing of the wishes of a group of people with such an open hatred of a neighbouring sovereign state may be down to simple things: Oil, wilful naiveté, anti-semitism, and a politically correct unwillingness to offer any challenge to such falsehoods.

In the end though, it matters little. The modern re-constituted Jewish State of Israel and the Jewish people are celebrating 71 years of existence as contributing members of the family of nations; without the need to revise, falsify or fabricate its 3000 year old history.

The same cannot be said for the Palestinian “people”.

 

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Is anti-Zionism anti-Semitic?

In the myriad internet forums that abound today, the question of whether it is anti-semitic if one is an anti-zionist comes up with monotonous regularity.

More often than not, the question is asked by those who wish to hear that such is not the case and it is often a precursor for some heart-felt Israel-bashing. Thus, if it is not anti-semitic to be anti-zionist, then the hate-fest against the Jewish state using a term which offends sensibilities less, can proceed unhindered.

Below, I have laid out why those who might want to disparage or delegitimise the Jewish state might want to reflect on what it is they are actually saying and to posit that anti-zionism and anti-semitism are but two sides of an ugly coin.

  • Anti-semitism is everywhere and always defined as hatred of Jews.
  • Anti-zionism is used to conceal hatred of Jews.
  • Anti-semitism is hatred of Jews without a country.
  • Anti-zionism is hatred of Jews with a country.
  • Anti-semitism focused upon the Jewish people.
  • Anti-zionism focuses on the Jewish state consisting of 6 million Jewish people.
  • Anti-semitists evokes imagery of jewish fascism, extremism, death and genocide based on ethnicity
  • Anti-zionists evoke images of anti-semitic imagery and metaphors based on politics.
  • European anti-semitism referred more explicitly to racial and cultural, rather than religious, antipathy to Jews.
  • Muslim anti-zionism refers explicitly to passages of the koran such as the koran-inspired allegation that Israelis are allegedly told by rabbis that if they die while killing Palestinians they will go straight to paradise.
  • Antisemitism lauds cartoons depicting Israelis and other Jews with Nazi-style uniforms and swastikas as standard fare.
  • In anti-zionism, the Arab admirers of the Third Reich are totally effaced.

Traditionally, anti-semitism incuded hallmarks like:

  • Usurpers in countries they live in
  • timeless conspiracy theory of undue and unseen Jewish influence politically or economically
  • denying the reality and scope of the Nazi Holocaust
  • branding Jews as “Christ-killers”
  • accusing Jews of usury
  • depicting Jews as dishonest, treacherous, and evil

Today, anti-zionism includes hallmarks like:

  • the UN-sponsored Durban Conference against racism of September 2001, which denounced Zionism as a “genocidal” movement, practicing “ethnic cleansing” against Palestinians (Jews as evil).
  • denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination (because they are usurpers)
  • using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism to characterize Israel or Israelis (conspiratorial allegation of ancient tropes)
  • drawing comparisons between contemporary Israeli policy and that of the Nazis ( Jews are not only alleged “Christ killers’, but also alleged genocidal killers of ‘palestinians”)
  • designating Jews, far from being victims of the Nazis, as Nazi collaborators who now carry on their tradition (denying the reality and scope of the Holocaust)
  • designating Israelis will succeed too well in activities with which Jews are more traditionally associated—in the factory, the counting house, and the marketplace – and other peaceful methods to pursue its nefarious design of penetrating and dominating the Arab world (conspiracy theory of undue and unseen Jewish influence )

There is no imaginary watertight compartment separating Israel, realised, in part, through political Zionism, from the Jewish People.

Thus, even though it is not a priori anti-Semitic, the calls to dismantle the Jewish state, whether they come from Muslims, the Left, or any other hate group, increasingly rely on an anti-Semitic stereotyping of classic themes, such as the manipulative “Jewish lobby,” the Jewish/Zionist “world conspiracy,” and Jewish/Israeli “warmongers.”

And finally, the more radical forms of anti-zionism that have emerged with renewed force in recent years do display unmistakable analogies to European anti-semitism immediately preceding the Holocaust as outlined above.

These include calls for a scientific, cultural, and economic boycott of Israel that arouse associations and memories among Jews of the Nazi boycott that began in 1933.

They also include the systematic manner in which the Jewish State of Israel is harassed at international forums such as the United Nations, where the Arab voting blocs have for decades pursued a policy of isolating the Jewish state in their aim of turning it into a political pariah.

Today, Arab “anti-Zionism” has helped to infect Europe with an old-new version of anti-semitism in which Jews are rapacious, bloodsucking colonialists.

Today, anti-zionism is much more than an exotic collection of radical-chic slogans chanted by the young and “woke” on university campuses.

It has become an exterminationist ideology among the disaffected and undereducated of the world, reconstructed in the Middle East and re-exported back to Europe resulting in the resulting in the advocacy-centric media frenzies which apparently pass as the new norm of much of modern reporting.

In 2019, as ever, anti-zionism is anti-semitism.

The Siren-call of Anti-Semitism

“Jewish people, it’s like basically they’re stingy, man, you know? It’s like  they’re good person[s], but they’re stingy [ . . . ]. How shall I explain it? [ . . . ] They’re racist to Bengali [ . . . ] that’s why Bengali people hate them.” [Bangladeshi in London]

 

With the growing hostility to Israel in the decades that followed the 1967 war, researchers, authors and government reports have identified Arabs and Islam by far at the epicentre of anti-Semitism in the world.

In his 2015 book “European Muslim Antisemitism”, Gunther Jikeli begins by pointing out that

“Antisemitism in Europe has increased dramatically since the beginning of the twenty-first century. Antisemitic parties, although still a minority, are now members of the European Parliament and some national parliaments. Antisemitic stereotypes meet with high approval rates in surveys, and in some countries the majority of the population shares these views.”

For reasons of Muslim sensibilities, Jikeli limited his survey and research to young Muslim males in Berlin (Turks), Paris (North Africans) and London (Pakistanis/Bangladeshis). His research documented a detailed description of patterns of argumentation for negative views of Jews in four main categories of patterns:

  • “Classic” anti-semitic attitudes (jews are stingy or hook-nosed)
  • Anti-semitism related to Israel (based on a conflation of Jews and Israelis and certain tropes such as “Jews kill children”)
  • Negative views of Jews with direct reference to Islam, Muslim identity, or the person’s ethnic identity.
  • Expressions of hostility against Jews in which the person does not bother to give any arguments for such enmity (“Jews are hated because they are Jews”)

Of course, such coarse ant-semitism is not limited to young Muslim males in Europe. It applies to not-so-young Muslim males in America as well.

Despite both Al-Qaeda’s protestations and extensive evidence to the contrary, the notion that the Mossad and/or the American government was responsible for 9/11 continues to hold sway.  In 2016, Joy Karega, at the time an assistant professor at Oberlin College, endorsed this assertion. On her blog, she quoted a speech by the avowed anti-semitic minister Louis Farrakhan, in which he declared that this was all a Jewish and Zionist plot.

“They say that the World Trade Center building [sic] were brought down by carefully placed explosives, not by planes. They say that all three buildings had to have been wired with explosive charges long before September the 11th and this is something that took tremendous sophistication to do, and that sophistication was not with Osama bin Laden or his followers. Listen.

But if it was not Muslims then who?…It is now becoming apparent that  there were many Israeli and Zionist Jews in key roles in the 9/11 attack.”

 

On the other side of the world, in European France, Stéphane Charbonnier, the editorial director of Charlie Hebdo, had completed, only two days before his murder, the manuscript for a book about what he termed the “disgusting white, left-wing bourgeois paternalism” that fanned not only the flames of Islamist terrorism but Europe’s largely studied indifference to and indulgence of contemporary anti-semitism.

This laissez faire indulgence is echoed in Deborah Lipstadt’s 2019 book “Antisemitism Here and Now”. Lipstadt points out that “Various studies, including one conducted in 2017 by the University of Oslo, have shown that attacks on European Jews, particularly physical assaults, come in the main from radicalized Muslims… [but that] too many people in the West—including religious figures, intellectuals, politicians, and journalists—tend to come dangerously close to what can only be described as rationalizing this extremist Islamist terror”[emphasis mine].

What is Anti-semitism?

So, what is anti-semitism? In a paper published in 1905, and in answering his own question as to what the word “Semite’ means/implies, Gustav Gottheil says:

“Suppose we ask, “What does Semitism mean?” Only this, must be our answer,—that it is a summing up of the ruling dispositions, habits, mental endowments, and moral peculiarities of all the races comprised under the name of Semites, so named from their supposed descent from the eldest of the three sons of Noah. So ineradicable are these features supposed to be that, no matter where the races have lived or are now living, no matter what stage of civilization they have passed through or have reached now, no matter what influence non-Semitic races have exercised upon them, they remain essentially the same.”

Gotheill says that the designation fastened upon Jews as a stigma was a fraud from the beginning, a conscious fraud and a malicious invention where “What was meant was not anti-Semitism, but anti-Judaism; but that name had to be avoided because it implies hostility to a religion and a creed…

In 2019, that admonishment has forced anti-semites to develop a new and successful track where (Jewish) Zionism is now the ostensible enemy of mankind, but where the age-old demand to delegitimise and demean Jews is still central to the old hate.

This conflation of anti-semitism with Zionism may in part be explained by explaining antisemitism as a special form of that group enmity which directs itself against ethnic minority groups of inferior strength. And once political Zionism succeeded in helping re-establish the nation and state of modern Israel as a strong and vibrant member of the international community, it is not difficult to understand how easy it is/was for anti-semites to conflate the two. In the words of Jeffrey Goldberg, the American Middle East expert, “The line separating anti-Zionism — the belief that Jews have no right to an independent state in any part of their ancestral homeland — and anti-Judaism, already reed-thin, [had] pretty much vanished.

In other words, although anti-Jewish sentiments among a disproportionately vocal minority of Muslims and their anti-semitic European supporters go back centuries, today’s hostility results from two main developments: Jewish success in modern times and the establishment of Israel.

This is manifest currently in the work of European French anti-semites like Herve Ryssen (“Understanding the Jews, Understanding Anti-Semitism”, 2014) where he unabashedly states that Jews are hypersensitive to the slightest hint of anti-semitism, that “Jewish intellectuals exhibit a certain characteristic inclination towards enormous untruths” and that

“It is moreover striking to observe that synagogues are the only places of public worship in which the faithful must barricade themselves behind bomb-proof doors. A foreign observer – a“Candide” – might legitimately ask here, “Hey, these people don’t seem to think that other people like them very much”. Perhaps they have something on their conscience?”

The fevered and subjective work of Ryssen notwithstanding, Peretz Bernstein (“The Social Roots of Discrimination. The Case of the Jews”, 1951) asks the question whether it is not unreasonable to be the enemy of a person who may be a most respectable member of the community and to whom certainly no individual offence can be imputed save that of belonging to a disliked group.

But Ryssen is far from being a lone voice. The wave of modern Anti-Semitism across Europe in July and August of 2014 revealed a dangerous amalgamation of left-wing, Islamic-animated, and right-wing extremist Jew-hatred.

Social-psychological explanations of Europe’s robust tolerance of Jew-hatred aside (The Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz….), the layer of European and American anti-semitism in addition to historical Muslim antisemitism may have best been captured by Leon Poliakv’s comment: Israel is [still] the Jew among nations.

And it is this metamorphosis from the historical “It’s the Jew’s fault” to “It’s Israel’s fault” compounded by the conflation of Judaism and Zionism that is reinforced ad nauseam in European discourse on the Middle East. So entrenched is the new anti-semitism in the 21st century, that an American Muslim male visiting Israel can publicly “pray” to eradicate Jews, but then remembers the password “Zionists”.

Writing in the Islamist Watch’s ME Forum on July 9, 2019, Sam Westrop recounts this incident:

“Only a couple of weeks ago, while waiting at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel, following a trip to the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, California imam Ahmed Billoo (also known as Ahmed Ibn Aslam), wrote on his private Facebook account that he was “feeling annoyed” about his location. He offered a prayer to deal with the surfeit of Jews in the building:

“Oh God, reduce their numbers, exterminate them, and don’t leave a single one alive.”

He added the hashtag “Zionists.”

 

As the passages above have hopefully illustrated, contemporary anti-Semitism is fragmented though widespread. Its sources do not all merge into a single, unique stream and is unlikely to result in a joint political and ideological project. And whilst one is to avoid “…both overestimation which leads to disproportionate images of anti-Semitism and underestimation which, on the contrary, would be to be blind to reality…” (Wieviorka, 2007), there is no small part to be played here by a more socially responsible media.

In this regard, choosing just one British newspaper as an example of all that is wrong in the British Left today, The Guardian’s advocacy of Palestinian nationalism (and its resultant anti-semitism) to the British public has generally been as much accompanied by a lack of in-depth knowledge about Israel, Zionism and Jewish history as it has mirrored the ideological confusions of the British Left in the wake of its early Soviet Union inspired ideology and its current (errant) perception that Israel has moved away from its founding socialist ideals.

No matter the reason, the lure of anti-semitism remains in excellent health in the 21st century. While it is true for most of Europe (and possibly for the Muslim world) that the inspiration for another holocaust of Jews will in all probability never again take hold, the target (now Israel) for Euorope’s anti-Semites, inspired by virulent Islamist rhetoric has changed.

In these tendentious times, Gotheill’s 1905 exhortation remains as bright a beacon today as it was when it was first written: “It [anti-semitism] will and must disappear in [countries], the civil order of which is based upon the principle of equal rights to all law-abiding citizens, to whatever race or religion they may belong. “A fair field and no favor.””

To that, in 2019, I can only add “Amen”.

 

Ideology, Gracelessness and a Determination to Denigrate

On June 25 2019, Seth Frantzman of the Jerusalem Post wrote a troubling editorial on Trump’s Peace to Prosperity plan.  Troubling because one would expect a senior writer at the Post to present considered and balanced views no matter the topic.

It is additionally troubling because Frantzman nowhere mentions that the Plan closely models the astoundingly successful Marshall Plan which rescued large swathes of war-torn Europe and contributed greatly to the economic power house that is Germany today.

For example, Frantzman intimated that Peace to Prosperity was pointless in wanting to raise the Palestinian (sic) GDP because that GDP had “already doubled in the preceding 10 years. Specifically, Frantzman wrote:

“The plan appears to have two main goals in 10 years: double the GDP of the Palestinians, and create one million jobs. The World Bank says the GDP of the West Bank and Gaza is $14.5 billion. It actually doubled since 2009, when it was estimated at $7.2 billion, according to the World Bank. So, in fact, it has already doubled in the last 10 years. The Palestinian GDP is larger than that of Somalia and South Sudan …”

For Frantzman, it would appear that Somalia and South Sudan having smaller GDPs is reason enough to dismiss the American initiative. Not for him the Plan’s item 3 which targets Gazan unemployment with a goal to reduce unemployment there to single digit figures.

This was also a core approach of the Marshall Plan which formulated an economic package to “provide a cure rather than a mere palliative” for a Europe destroyed by war.

In fact, if one transposes the three stated objectives of the Marshall Plan to the “Palestinian” problem and if one substitutes the word “Palestinian” {sic) for “Europe/ean”, then the considered dismissiveness of Frantzman’s article becomes all the more troubling. Here are those 3 (1947) objectives with the stated changes inserted:

  • the expansion of Palestinian agricultural and industrial production;
  • the restoration of sound currencies, budgets, and finances in individual Palestine; and
  • the stimulation of international trade (in) Palestine and between Palestine and the rest of the world.

Despite periodic calls for new Marshall Plans in response to critical situations faced by some regions of the world or some problem to be solved in others, for Frantzman it is enough to pronounce that Peace to Prosperity “…sounds like replacing existing models of funding for the Palestinians, such as UNRWA, with a new fund whose leadership will come from the “beneficiary countries,” which will implement projects and give grants.

This is not the place to get into a discussion of the virtues, biases and crass politicisation or otherwise of UNRWA these past 71 years, but Frantzman’s mentioning of an arguably failed UN organisation in the same breath as a new economic initiative along the demonstrably successful lines of the Marshall Plan for “Palestinians” is breathtaking in its arrogance and in its ideological pursuit of failed prior political practice.

The arrogance of the article is taken a step further when Frantzman dismisses Peace to Prosperity as a stunt where the plan addresses “Palestinian” economic problems “…by just throwing additional financing at them.” To shore up this argument, Frantzman states that in some ways Peace to Prosperity “…seeks to draw parallels to Singapore, the Baltic states or Dubai as models and claiming that “These countries had a political horizon and then an economic success story, not the other way around.

It may be just me, but I always understood that the political horizon for the Gazan and Judean Arabs was always a “Palestinian” state. Thus, in order to circumvent yet another failed Islamic state in the region, Peace to Prosperity attempts to provide a successful economic paradigm, in the style of the Marshall Plan, which will provide ANY future “Palestinian” state with the economic wherewithal to maintain political, social and “national” viability for the foreseeable future.

The Marshall Plan called for assistance in becoming a joint effort, “initiated” and agreed by European nations. The formulation of the Marshall Plan, therefore, was, from the beginning, a work of collaboration between the Truman Administration and Congress.

In just so many words, Peace to Prosperity Plan echoes the Marshall Plan in its sentiments regarding collaboration and joint effort:

“These programs (Peace to Prosperity) are designed to use market principles and actors to underpin a 10- year plan for all key segments of the Palestinian economy… Peace to Prosperity is a realistic and achievable plan that can be implemented by the Palestinians, with the support of the international community (emphases mine), to build a better future for the Palestinians and their children.”

So, just as the success of the Marshall Plan was predicated on collaboration and joint effort, so too is the Peace to Prosperity plan; and in those many words.

However, it would appear that despite Frantzman’s agreement that “…the Palestinian economic situation is bleak and declining..”,  he is satisfied that, currently, “International aid to Palestinians already provides the economy with some help”, and, besides (he continues), “The US in this respect is reinventing the wheel with some of the proposed grants. It is unclear, for instance, why a new system needs to be put in place to re-discover that the “Palestinian healthcare system requires better medical facilities to enhance treatment capabilities.

Back in 1947, the Marshall Plan provided a backgrounder as rationale for its economic rescue package. I have copied that passage verbatim below but have substituted the word “Palestinian” (sic) for “European”:

“Capital was increasingly unavailable for investment. Agricultural supplies remained below 1938 levels, and food imports were consuming a growing share of the limited foreign exchange. Palestinians were building up a growing dollar deficit. As a result, prospects for any future growth were low. Trade between Palestine (and other states…) was stagnant…Having already endured years of food shortages, unemployment, and other hardships associated with the war… the Palestinian public was now faced with further suffering. To many observers, the declining economic conditions were generating a pessimism regarding Palestine’s future that fed class divisions and political instability.”

However, for Frantzman, Peace to Prosperity “…appears to be presented in a vacuum…partly due to the constraints Palestinians live under.” And those “constraints” Frantzman says are due solely to the “elephant in the room”: Israel. Pleased with this statement, Frantzman’s next comment is even more stellar (pun intended): “It’s as if the plan was designed for a Palestinian economy that exists in an imaginary universe or on the Moon, without a realistic discussion of how many aspects of the Palestinian economy are linked to Israel…

Nowhere in his commentary does he mention 71 years of Arab refusal to accept an Israeli peace initiative in any shape or form nor thr (so far) 13 Israeli peace offers NOR the THREE of statehood (1948, 2000, 2008). Not even once.

Nor does Frantzman deign to comment on the 2001 Taba talks and the “Palestinian” refusal to accept its in-principle suggestion of having Palestinian sovereignty over Arab neighbourhoods and an Israeli sovereignty over Jewish neighbourhoods, nor even on that 2001 Israeli offer of withdrawal from the West Bank over a 36-month period with an additional 36 months for the Jordan Valley in conjunction with an international force…

Just as assuredly, Frantzman does not mention the Israeli right-wing government of Ariel Sharon’s 2005 attempt at providing a semblance of national “Palestinian” autonomy in its decision to unilaterally disengage from Gaza with the resultant booms, balloons and barbecues (of wild-life) that that initiative visited on Israel.

Instead, Frantzman complains “But if you don’t consult them (Palestinians) and ask what they want, then how can you help them?” Clearly, the refusal of the “Palestinians” to even attend the conference is not worthy of comment despite their stated desire to be consulted.

I have taken the trouble to write this second article on the Frantzman piece because, for many other readers of the Jerusalem Post and me, this sort of biased commentary signifies an upfront (marked and commented on) change in the Post’s political affiliations in addition to permitting rank propaganda hatchet pieces like Frantzman’s, grace its pages.

I particularly take issue with the hit piece because Frantzman was writing an editorial and not an opinion article (for which he may be forgiven for an arguably errant opinion and perhaps reminded of his omissions and bias).

The successful Marshall Plan and the fledgling Trump Peace to Prosperity plan share near-identical objectives (see above).

But, for the Jerusalem Post and for Seth Frantzman, the choice of words used to comment on the initiative is symptomatic both of dismissive ideology based editorials and a demonstrated inability to learn from the few documented successes of history, “The Trump administration appears to approach the Palestinian issue the way Trump approached real estate investment.

In the very congested Israeli media marketplace, it might be that the Jerusalem Post (and the Post’s repeated online exhortations to subscribe…),  might have decided to pander to its American Jewish English readership which has little direct or studied knowledge of the antecedents of the Arab-Israeli conflict and to broaden its influence/subscription take-up in the liberal political morass of that cohort.

But, or long-time readers, and for those who are personally cognizant of the tortuous paths of the conflict both militarily and politically, Seth Frantzman’s article is a shameless pandering to the lowest common denominator of American anti-conservative sentiment. It is, perhaps too, left-labour ideological angst of the success only Israeli right-wing parties have had in hammering out the only two lasting peace treaties the State of Israel has with the Islamic states of Jordan and Egypt in the country’s seventy-one year old history.

A Middle East Pax Romana

The conventional wisdom that talk, negotiation and compromise are the best way to resolve conflict is not true. It certainly wasn’t true of the Pax Romana, the American Civil war or of the case of the belligerents Germany and Japan at the end of WWII. Compromise has certainly done nothing to resolve the conflicts over Cyprus, Darfur, the Ukraine and the Korean peninsula.

Likewise, talk, negotiation and compromise certainly hasn’t worked in the Arab-Israeli conflict and in the current iteration of the so-called “Palestinian”- Israeli conflict. American policy has long been to prevent Israel from achieving a decisive military victory over the Arabs.

In 1956, President Eisenhower forced Israel to abandon its territorial gains from the Suez Crisis. Similarly, following the 1967 Six Day War, the U.S. helped engineer a U.N. resolution calling on Israel to return unspecified “territories occupied” in the war. The Reagan administration stopped Israel from obliterating Yasser Arafat’s PLO forces in Lebanon in 1982, and, most recently, the Obama administration pressured Israel to limit its objectives in its 2014 war with Hamas.  Roman, G. 2016.

By removing the consequences of failure, Israel’s adversaries need not fret over irrevocable loss because they know the international community will pressure Israel to return to the status quo ante.

In violent, armed, protracted conflict, one can only win if the other side loses and, for there to be peace in this current iteration of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the “Palestinian” Arabs need to undergo visible defeat as well as acknowledge that they have been defeated. Only then can pace be born. This will also need to be the case in the coming of the inevitable conflict with Hezballah in Lebanon.

But, beginning in 1964, and certainly after 1967, the Arabs have succeeded in creating an ancient nation and people called Palestinians who have been deprived of their indigenous rights by colonising Jewish occupiers.

Mainly to reduce the threat of terror on their own citizens in the air, as well to ensure a supply of vital petroleum, Western Europe went along with the Arab charade with difficult consequences for Israel.

It is as well to get this over and done with at this stage: No Arab or Muslim state of Palestine ever existed.

Prior to 1964, and after 16 years of continuing conflict between Israel and the Fedayeen, there was never a prior concept of an Arab OR Muslim Palestine as a people, nation or state.

Particularly between 1948 and 1967, Arabs in the nascent state of Israel who were caught in the middle saw themselves as of the same nation as the Arabs in Jordan, Egypt and Syria – they were not ‘Palestinians.’  So much so, that the League of Nations, and the UN, until 1967, meant the Jews when they wrote ‘les palestiniens.’……..

These recently discovered “Palestinian People”, who allegedly demand political “self determination” were created by the Soviet disinformation masters in 1964 when they created the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

The term “Palestinian People” as a descriptive of Arabs in Palestine appeared for the first time in the preamble of the 1964 PLO Charter, drafted in Moscow. and affirmed by the first 422 members of the Palestinian National Council, handpicked by the KGB.

Why in Moscow? In the 1960s and 1970s, much like Iran (Hezbollah, Houthis, Hamas, al-Sabireen…) is doing today, the Soviets were in the business of creating and supporting “liberation organizations”: for Palestine and Bolivia in 1964, Columbia 1965, in the 70s “The Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia” that bombed US airline offices in Europe, and “The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine that bombed Israelis.” But the PLO, was by far its most enduring success.

In the PLO Charter preamble, the phrase “Palestinian Arab People” was used to exclude those Jews who had retained a presence in Palestine since Biblical times and had been a majority population in Jerusalem as early as 1845. But it was Romanian Communist dictator Nikolai Ceausescu, at Soviet urging, who persuaded Arafat to abandon his claim of wanting to annihilate the Jews in Israel in favour of “liberating the Palestinian People” in Israel.

It was the first step in reframing the conflict between the Arabs and the Jews from religious jihad to secular nationalism in a quest for political “self determination”, a posture far less offensive to the West.

And the west, desperate to stop Arafat and the PLO from blowing up its citizens in the tactic of plane skyjackings perfected by these Arabs, played along with the pretence.

So desperate was the west to keep the oil flowing that on April Fool’s Day, 2014, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signed letters requesting that “the State of Palestine” be granted accession to 15 international conventions and treaties.

This action by the Palestinian leadership, and the consequent, hurried acceptance of the Palestinian applications by the UN which was expedited in an unseemly manner by the Swiss government, raised serious questions.

This was despite a 2011 UNSC ruling that rejected a Palestinian request for membership, citing disagreements on whether “Palestine” fulfilled the requirements set forth in the UN Charter for membership.

The reason that the “ancient” “Palestinian” people should be recognized as having a state was all the more ludicrous, in that nothing had changed in the interim.

Thus, the November 2012 UN General Assembly resolution upgrading the status of the Palestinian representation in the UN to that of a non-member observer-state did not establish a state, and therefore did not grant statehood to the Palestinians.

This is because the United Nations – whether the General Assembly or the Security Council – does not have the power to grant statehood. It only has the prerogative to invite existing states to apply for UN membership and to consider if such states fulfill the criteria for membership as set out in the UN Charter.

And, by all accepted international legal and customary criteria, no sovereign Palestinian state exists/ed because such statehood can/could be achieved only in accordance with the accepted international law criteria of a permanent population, a defined territory, government and the capacity to enter into relations with the other states.

As is manifestly clear today, Hamas, as Gazan “Palestinians”, cannot even enter into relations with their brother-“Palestinians” in Ramallah, let alone oversee a defined and agreed territory of any future Palestinian state.

But more than this, the whole notion of an Arab Muslim “Palestinian” “state” runs in direct contravention of the ill-fated 1995 Oslo accords which clearly stated in Article XXX1(7) that “neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (emphasis mine) pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.”

Writing in 2014, Alan Baker presciently stated:

The enthusiasm with which the international community appears to encourage and pamper the Palestinians, and to play along with their attempt to accede to international conventions, under the flawed illusion that there exists a sovereign state of Palestine, will only serve to encourage the Palestinian leadership in its refusal to return to a negotiating mode in order to reach a final status agreement with Israel, solving all the relevant and outstanding issues that can be solved only through negotiation.

As such, the Palestinian leadership assumes that the international community will go along with any Palestinian demand, thereby obviating any need for negotiation and agreement.

One has only to view and/or read the vehement and violent “Palestinian” rejection of the 140 page Trump Peace to Prosperity Plan to understand better what Baker forecasted 5 years ago.

And so, to return to this article’s opening thesis, NO peace will be possible until the “ancient” “Palestinians” are thoroughly defeated in (the coming) war and where no constraints are made upon Israel.

It is time that the international community stopped lying to itself, stopped relying on cheap politicization rather than legal competence and international law, and accepts fully that this last vestige of the 100 year Arab-Israeli conflict has been protracted only through self-serving lies in that community which have nothing to do with either international law OR treaty.

When Negativity Masquerades as Considered Commentary

In the Jerusalem Post, Seth Frantzman has taken to the op-ed and commentary pages with a vengeance. This may be due to his new post as op-ed editor or even to his new position as Executive director of a forum he founded, but, here, I refer to the vacuous generalisations in his 25 June  2019 article “Five Takeaways from President Trump’s ‘Peace to Prosperity’ Palestinian Plan’

Frantzman’s article is a laundry list of negativity. I list his negative comments in chronological order with my commentary as appropriate.

  1. To begin with, Frantzman’s use of scare quotes around ‘Peace to Prosperity’ in the title is not only an immediate give-away of the negativity to follow, but a hackneyed use of that strategy by a writer who gets paid to provide (hopefully readable) commentary that is not biased.
  2. After some obligatory and bland background information, Frantzman then launches into the meat and potatoes of his blatant bias. “What is immediately striking is that much of the plan, which looks more like a brochure or a snazzy business concept, is generalizations.”

I will talk more about the uselessness of generalisations as scribed by Frantzman himself, but here I would merely like to provide a reference to negative comment number two by Mr Frantzman.

  1. In like vein, Frantzman then moves on to negative comment three under his subtitle “Grants: Reinventing the wheel or putting a Trump brand on Palestinian issues”. In case the reader was not aware that Frantzman was writing a hatchet piece, he elucidates thus:

“Basically, it sounds like replacing existing models of funding for the Palestinians…The plan appears to have two main goals in 10 years: double the GDP of the Palestinians, and create one million jobs….It actually doubled since 2009, when it was estimated at $7.2 billion, according to the World Bank. So, in fact, it has already doubled in the last 10 years.” The Palestinian GDP is larger than that of Somalia and South Sudan…”

Frantzman here implies (states?) that because the “Palestinian” GDP is larger than that of Somalia and South Sudan, any further attempts to bring economic prosperity through additional grants which may lead to peace and stability is a re-inventing of the wheel. As he says, the GDP has already doubled, so why bother. And just to drive the point home Frantzman writes: “What is interesting about the plan is that in some of these cases, there were already existing models for supporting Palestinian civil society or careers for women. The US in this respect is reinventing the wheel with some of the proposed grants.” He concludes this section of his hatchet piece with “Some of this isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel, but putting the Trump brand on it.” In other words, while some of the Kushner roll-out could be of value, Frantzman demonstrably takes issue with it because it is a brainchild of the Trump administration. It has a Trump “stamp” on it. No other reason is offered.

  1. In his next sub-section titled “Elephant in the room: Israel”, Frantzman complains that The prosperity plan appears to be presented in a vacuum in which Israel’s role is hidden from view.” He then embarks on an itemisation of the ways in which Israel is responsible for running a trade barrier and flouting rule of law. He states that the stagnating “Palestinian” economy is due to Israel and the constraints it puts “Palestinians” under due to their inability to move “freely across borders”. Further, Frantzman writes that “In areas where Palestinians sought to build access roads, such as developing Rawabi in the West Bank, they ran into problems from Israeli bureaucracy. So the hurdle is not just about money, it is about Israel (emphasis mine) and the need to get Israel on board for this plan.” Nowhere in this long sub-section is the reason for restriction of access and resulting stagnating economy put at the feet of Hamas in Gaza and the PA in Ramallah who have sent waves of killers across the borders to kills Jews and thus necessitate crossing restrictions to save Jewish life. Frantzman now begins to read like a Ma’an op-ed.
  2. Of course, there may well be a good reason for Frantzman’s Ma’an-like commetary. In his own words, “I used to lecture at a Palestinian university, and I wonder what my former students would think of this.”

I have no issues whatsoever with Frantzman having taught at Bir Zeit or wherever. Some of my best friends are Arabs. But what I do have an issue with is that when an op-ed editor  of a national daily and executive director of some forum or other uses his position to write a hit piece on possibly one the most inventive peace initiatives in the last 50 years.

In closing, Frantzman opines: ‘This plan, like so many before it, contains a lot of generalizations and hopeful words.” But nowhere in his commentary does Frantzman ever come up with a single concrete workable idea on how to achieve the peace that the current American administration is trying to establish. Frantzman’s article is full of generalisations and context-free statements that tell only part of a story of Arab intransigence over seventy one years.

In continuing desultory negative fashion, Frantzman finishes his commentary by asking in plaintive tones“…if you don’t consult them and ask what they want, then how can you help them?…”

He must surely be ignorant of the history of the past 71 years where the likes of the Mapam, Mapai Israeli labor and the HaShomer kibbutz movement , New Labor, and Blue and White AND whatever current iteration of the Labor party Ehud Barak currently dreams of forming, DID ask the Arabs what they wanted. He possibly doesn’t know that their unequivocal and unchanged answer was that they wanted the removal of an Israeli Jewish state from the Middle East (is Frantzman unaware of the goals of lawfare and BDS?) based on the ludicrous myth that the “Palestinians” are indigenous to the Levant and that their “land/country/nation” was appropriated by the Jews. Frantzman must also needs be ignorant (or recklessly dismissive) of the Barak and Olmert offers of statehood, the latter of which offered the “Palestinians” MORE land than even they bargained for. Saeb Erekat will vouch for that.

Frantzman would do well to be mindful of Kushner’s statement re generalisations instead of the litany of negativity and drag-downs he evinces: “When people criticize, the question I would ask them is what is your (emphasis mine) idea, what ideas are you putting forward….it is easy to be against things, but…it is not going to help the region…we’ve tried to…take the harder task of being for something. And we’ve put out 140 pages of details.”

For a dismissive Frantzman, and in his words, those 140 pages of carefully and painstakingly thought out details which in some areas echo the successful Marshall Plan to revive a wrecked Germany is nowt but “…a  brochure or a snazzy business concept…”

I am currently unsure whether Frantzman feels he is under pressure to publish given his new responsibilities, but, once again, he would do well to heed Kushner’s words in this regard: “The ways of the past have not worked…”

Here, Frantzman has no option but to agree, whether he considers Israel the “elephant in the room” or not because he came up with not a single concrete idea to push for peace. Questions and issues to “…be directed to Jerusalem and not Ramallah…” as he puts it , are nothing but vacuous more-of-the-same hitherto useless verbiage. And, finally, even Seth Frantzman  cannot gainsay Kushner’s parting words in his June interview when he states that that:”… Palestinians, don’t have a great track record in getting a deal done.”

In rising in the ranks of the hierarchy at the Jerusalem Post, one would expect Frantzman to be more balanced in his commentary because as a writer, he performs a public service. With “service” such as that provided in Frantzman’s June 25 commentary (sic), one could just as easily get one’s news and views from Al Jazeera.

Or Ma’aan.

Lies, Dissembling and Deceit

After 71 years of “pining” for their “ancient and indigenous” “homeland”, but with no political progress of any kind visible, over seven decades one must question whether the PA under Mahmoud Abbas is at all interested in peace and/or a negotiated settlement.

The short answer must clearly be “No” and is part of a decades-long exercise in double speak that some influential countries take as true statement of intent. This article will explain why, for over 70 years, the Levantine Arabs (PLO, PFLP {and derivatives}, Fatah, the PA and Hamas) have never been interested in peace.

The Palestinian Authority Charter dissected

The PLO, founded in 1964, became recognized and declared itself to be the legitimate representative of the “Palestinian” people wherever they are and the only agency empowered to negotiate on their behalf.

In 1964 too, during Arafat’s reign of terror, the Palestine National Authority (PNA) Charter was created which was a mixture of fiction and proven double-speak. Like the demonstrable history of dealing with the former mandate’s Levantine Arabs, the Charter stated highly debatable theories and some downright incorrect ones.

For example, Article 1 of the PNA charter states that: “Palestine is the homeland of the Arab Palestinian people…” This statement is a lie because it makes no mention of the legal homeland of the Jewish people who lived there for the previous 3,000 years.

Article 2 states: “Palestine, with the boundaries it had during the British Mandate is an indivisible territorial unit….” Here we have some lexical sleights of hand . If Palestine “during the British mandate” was “indivisible”, then Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan have no right to exist. But Israel’s Arabs in Jordan and Lebanon have tried that already and got roundly smacked.

Article 3 continues: “The Palestinian Arab people possess the legal right to their homeland” Here is an example of verbal deceit. Arabs do indeed have a legal right to a homeland if they wish. However, the “Palestinian” Arabs in this particular scenario opted for war. Three times. And lost ever increasing amounts of territory which Israel has always maintained would be subject to a negotiated return in any final status settlement.

Article 5 “The Palestinians are …Arab nationals”. This is a confusing statement because if there is only an Arab Muslim ummah (nation) and no concept of state (See “indivisible territorial unit’ of Article 2), then the demand for a “Palestinian” “state” flies counter to the wishes of the ummah for an “indivisible” new and independent Arab entity called Palestine.

Peace Offers to end all Peace Offers

Anyhow, in 1993, it was the PLO which negotiated the Oslo Accords with Israel, which set into place, in 1994, the Palestinian Authority in certain specific regions of Gaza and Judea & Samaria.

Theoretically, the PA could speak only for those in those areas, under its authority. But over time, Israel began dealing only with the PA and not the PLO even though the offices of the PA were filled in the main by PLO people and where Arafat’s money-man and successor, Mahmoud Abbas, was head of both the PA and the PLO.

Thus it was that when Ehud Barak offered Arafat a state in 2000, he was speaking to him as head of the PA. In 2008, Abbas, as upholder of the PA Charter Article 22: “The People of Palestine believe in peaceful coexistence…” refused Olmert’s historic offer of peace AND a state, including forgoing sovereignty of Jerusalem because Abbas (mis)calculated on getting a better deal seeing that GW Bush was on the way out and that Olmert was finished politically. In 2009, Abbas was quite content to display the PA Charter’s Article 12 on Arab unity (“The Palestinian people believe in Arab unity….”) when the December 2008 Israeli operation against Hamas in Gaza (Cast Lead ) was initiated because it would politically and physically weaken his Arab “brothers”.

The flips and flops of the Arabs continue into 2019 when Abbas’ PA refuses to attend the latest peace initiative aimed at ending conflict. Dubbed the “Deal of the Century”, this stage-driven economic revival plan for Gaza and the “West Bank” as a precursor to a negotiated border settlement has also been vetoed by Abbas.  Given his refusal to two stunning previous Israeli offers which included more than 100% of the land he claims he wanted for a Palestinian state, it is no big surprise Abbas has announced that the PA has already rejected Trump’s peace proposal in his yet unpublicized “deal of the century”.

Orwell at the UNSC

Abbas’ fine words (and some downright porkies: We are the descendants of Canaanites that lived in the land of Palestine 5,000 years ago…) to the UN Security Council in February 2018 make the casual reader gasp as to the Orwellian nature of his address.

I do not here intend to counter these items of Abbas’ speech because to do so would give the man’s claims a veneer of legitimacy. The reader can make the judgement for her/himself.

For example, Abbas stated “We have been committed to fostering a culture of peace, rejection of violence, pursuit of sustainable development…agricultural farms and technological production, as opposed to establishing weapons factories…

As another example, in Feb 2018, Mahmoud Abbas said, “The Palestinian people…have made contributions to humanity and civilization witnessed by the world.

And, just to pick a third and final example of systemic dissembling by the PA/PLO, Mahmoud Abbas stated at that same meeting that he had been on “…a long journey and efforts to create a political path based on negotiations and leading to a comprehensive and just peace, as you are aware, we participated in the Madrid Conference in 1991 and signed the Oslo Accords in 1993…”

It thus becomes difficult to reconcile these fine words with Abbas’ adherence to the PA’s 1964 Charter where Article 9 states: “Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine.

Nor does Abbas apparently suffer any intellectual dissonance by supporting Article 10 of the Charter he espouses: “Commando action constitutes the nucleus of the Palestinian popular liberation war. This requires its escalation, comprehensiveness, and the mobilization of all the Palestinian popular and educational efforts and their organization and involvement in the armed Palestinian revolution.

And when we remember Abbas’ stirring words to the UNSC in 2018 about the value of history and the incontrovertibility of its facts, Abbas then supports Article 20 of his organisations Charter which states  “The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history.”

Demonstrably, the “Palestinian” leadership will say (and has said) anything you want to hear in order to achieve its goal.

Jerusalem: the Mecca we don’t know about

But in this 71 year old “quest” for “Palestine’s “ “indigenous Arabs to “regain” their homeland, with the ancient and holy Muslim city of Jerusalem as their capital, never once is Jerusalem mentioned as an issue in the Charter. Not heard of even, in 1948. Not in 1964. And not in 1968 (their revised Charter…). Only the refugees and right of return is mentioned.

As is well known, Jerusalem is not the place to which Muslims pray, this “sacred” Muslim city is not once mentioned by name in prayers, and it is connected to no mundane events in Muhammad’s life.

The city never ever served as capital of a sovereign Muslim state, and it never became a cultural or scholarly centre. Little of political import by Muslims was initiated there (Pipes, 2001).

In fact, it was only a long time AFTER the death of Mohammad that the Umayyads, a Muslim dynasty from Damascus, Syria, built a second mosque in Jerusalem, again on the Temple Mount, and called this one the Furthest Mosque (al-masjid al-aqsa, Al-Aqsa Mosque). It is only through this subterfuge that the Umayyads retroactively gave the city a role in Muhammad’s life….

Like everything else in the so-called “Palestinians” “struggle” for a “homeland”, Jerusalem, Israel’s capital was used only as a political pressure point to delegitimise Jewish legitimacy in the ancient city.

To illustrate this, Muslim scholars over the centuries had variously theorized about the prophet tying horse to the eastern or southern walls—but not one of them before the Muslim-Jewish clashes at the Western Wall in 1929 ever associated this incident with the western side. Once again, politics drove Muslim piousness regarding Jerusalem (Pipes, ibid).

In other words, its non-mention in the PA Charter notwithstanding, Jerusalem, for Muslim interests, served merely as a powerful vehicle for mobilizing Muslim opinion internationally. In this regard, post-1929 claims of newly-found passionate Muslim attachment to Jerusalem were only part of a public relations exercise to delegitimise Jewish history and indigeneity in the region.

This is echoed by June 6, 2019 article by Pinhas Inbari in his article in JCPA (vol 19; no. 8) where he says that the refugee issue (and not Jerusalem) is the “essence” of the PLO, and without the Palestinian refugee problem, the PLO would not exist.

Abbas’ PA and the Gazan dictatorship are given far too much credence as potential negotiating partners. They are not interested in peace with the Jews.

Of Might and Men

Published in English only in 1972, PFLP spokesman Ghassan Kanafani in his seminal pamphlet on the 1936 Arab revolt against the British nominates three main enemies of the Arabs. These enemies were: “the local reactionary leadership; the regimes in the Arab states surrounding Palestine; and the imperialist-Zionist enemy.”

In 2019 as in 1936, it has been made clear that the neighbouring Arab regimes have no sympathy for the “Palestinians” and the three most brutal examples of this deep dislike were the Jordanian massacre of “Palestinians” in 1970, the Chrisitan Arab Phalango massacre of same in Lebanon in 1982, and the recent 2015 massacre and wipe-out of “Palestinian” men, women and children in the Yarmouk camp in Damascus in 2015.

With regard to the massacre of the Syrian “Palestinians”, as the fate of the obliterated Palestinian Yarmouk camp became known, Abbas rejected a secret European initiative to transfer the refugees from the camp to the abandoned site of Aqbat Jaber in Palestinian-controlled Jericho, a fully PA administered area in what is popularly referred to as the “West Bank”.

Mahmoud Abbas rejected the initiative, on grounds that the right of return does not apply to territories in the Palestinian Authority but to Israel. In private conversations, however, senior Palestinian officials said that the Palestinian Authority did not want the refugees from Yarmouk within its boundaries because they supported Hamas.

Mahmoud Abbas will lie, dissemble and deceive regardless of the terrible cost in human lives and suffering of the people he says he fights for. How else can we reconcile his 2018 words to the UNSC (“Seventy years have passed since….6 million Palestine refugees continue to suffer from the cruelty of exile and loss of human security. “) with his documented refusal to save his own “people” from a known massacre in progress in Damascus?

For their part, the “local reactionary leadership” so bemoaned by Kanafani in 1936 continued its path of chaotic alliances and enmities. In 1969, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) split from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). And both the PFLP and the DFLP who’d had bitter experience of the Jordanian and Lebanese authorities, advocated overthrow of their Arab brothers in unity in alliance with local parties as well as later being violently opposed to Sadat’s Egypt.

As far as Kanafani’s “imperialist-Zionist enemy” is concerned, 71 years after the declaration of the State of Israel, unending conflict remains the strategy of the PA, Fatah and Hamas to attain the goal of dismantling the State of Israel.

In spite of this, Israel has for decades cultivated secret ties with the monarchical Arab dictatorships in the Gulf.   Saudi Arabia in particular has dropped any pretence or semblance of lip service to the Palestinian cause. The Sultan of Omar hosted Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the country. Qatar has direct channels of communication with Israel and Bahrein defended Australia’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of “Israel” – in a tweet in Arabic, no less.

Those Who Ignore the Lessons of History…

With Trump’s economic summit on the future of “Palestine” only days away, it should come as no surprise that Abbas and his advisers will revert to past behaviour to torpedo even these measures to bring an end to the conflict and to underline that nothing the United States can offer will be enough.

This is arguably because the Palestinian National Charter of 1964 (amended in 1968) has never been about peace in the Middle East. It has ONLY been about the removal of the Jewish state from the Middle East.

It is not unreasonable to suggest that the time for a negotiated peace is long past. It is now time for an imposed peace with an annexation of parts of Judea and Samaria in return for a guarantee for an autonomous Palestinian Arab entity where Israel has military control of the Jordan valley.

Seventy one years of Arab terror against Israel has shown the world where their hearts truly lie. And seventy one years has shown that if peace is not imposed, the Levantine Arabs will continue to lie, dissemble and deceive. Too many lives have been lost to allow this to continue.