(This opinion piece is a revised and updated version of one published by iWitness News on Aug. 18 2014)
Thankfully, the relentless, unprovoked, and unjustified 11-day attack beginning on May 10 consisting of the indiscriminate lobbing of over 4,000 missiles at the State of Israel by the Hamas terrorist organisation ruthlessly controlling the non-state territory of Gaza has ended with a mutually agreed upon but unconditional ceasefire.
But the accompanying left-wing and/or thoroughly anti-Semitic global political and media attacks against Israel’s legitimate right to both exist as an independent Jewish country and to defend itself against lethal attacks by any and all enemies has only increased.
These evil and specious verbal attacks, increasingly accompanied by physical assaults on diasporic Jews in the United States and elsewhere for the “crime” of being Jewish, should also remind those not taken in by contrived, ahistorical, and simplistic victimisation narratives and undeserved self-determination demands.
Thoughtful people unfamiliar with the roots and history of this conflict need to familiarise themselves with the fallacious nature of the claim of those now calling themselves “Palestinians” for an independent, Moslem-only state of their own in all or part of the former British mandate of Palestine.
More particularly, contrary to Jomo Thomas’s unsubstantiated claims, there is today no authentic ethnic group called the “Palestinian people” nor has such an entity ever existed in the past.
MYTH: The Palestinians are the descendants of the Biblical Philistines.
FACT: The Philistines were a non-Arab people, now extinct, from the Aegean region who settled around the 12th century B.C. on what is today the south coast of Israel and the Gaza strip. But the name “Palestine” comes from the Greek word Palaistina, a derivative of the Hebrew word Pleshet (invaders; penetrators). Defeated and absorbed by the Jews and other ethnic groups, the Philistines disappeared as a distinct people by the time of the birth of Jesus Christ. There is no archaeological, historical, or linguistic evidence connecting the ancient Philistines to the modern Palestinians.
MYTH: The Palestinians had a country of their own in the past that was lost or stolen from them.
FACT: Since the destruction of the second kingdom of Judea (the southern half of the so-called “occupied territories”) in the second century, the land the Roman conquerors re-named Syria Palaestina (to obscure Jewish association with the land of Israel) has been governed by one foreign power after another. The name Syria Palaestina disappeared and “Palestine”, the Gentile name for the land of Israel, ceased to exist as a separate entity after it temporarily became part of the Arab-Muslim empire in 638. For nearly 13 centuries from 638 to 1917 (when the British took charge following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire headquartered in Turkey), no separate administrative or socio-cultural entity called “Palestine” existed: the Ottoman Turks who ruled the Middle East from 1516 to 1917 regarded the geographical region of Palestine as part of Southern Syria. For most of human history, Palestine has only existed as a Western Christian term to describe the Jewish Holy Land and its Hebrew and Christian inhabitants. From the beginning of recorded history until nearly the present, neither foreigners nor local residents recognised a unique people — other than the Jews themselves — called “Palestinians” living in a place called Palestine.
MYTH: The Palestinians are an ancient people, as old as or older than the Jews.
FACT: Prior to the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan to divide Palestine in two states, one for the Jews and one for the Arabs, the latter residents never regarded themselves as a distinct people with a separate Palestinian identity. Indeed, in 1937, mid-way through the British Mandate, a local Arab leader told the Palestine Royal Commission, “There is no such Country [as Palestine]. Palestine is a term the Zionists invented! Our country for centuries was part of Syria.”
Throughout human history, whenever the word Palestine was used it referred to a place in the Middle East whose most distinctive feature was its continuous Jewish occupation. According to nearly all traditional definitions, Palestine is the land of the Jews: the country of the Hebrews; the Holy Land; the Promised Land; the location of Zion. During the British Mandate (1922-1948), it was the Jewish people who were called Palestinians. It was the Israeli capture of the West Bank from Jordan in the Six-Day War in 1967, not some ancient sense of nationalism, that gave birth to an organised demand for an autonomous Palestinian state. And it was not until 1988 that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) declared its aim of creating a Palestinian Arab state separate from the neighbouring Arab states.
MYTH: The Palestinians are a distinct people.
FACT: The absence prior to 1948 of any sense of Palestinian identity is because there is no unique and separate Palestinian language, religion, nationality, or culture. The people who have recently begun calling themselves Palestinians are the Arab Moslem descendants of numerous localised lineages, clans and tribal groups. A strong sense of pan-Arab identity and belief in Islam, not some fictitious ethnic identity, are what has always united the “Palestinians.”
MYTH: Most of the inhabitants of the contested territories — the West Bank and Gaza Strip — have lived there for millennia.
FACT: When exiled Jews began to return to their native Palestine after 1882 as part of the modern Zionist movement, fewer than 250,000 Arabs lived there, most of them recent arrivals. Today, the bulk of Palestinians are Moslem Arabs who moved to the sparsely populated areas west of the Jordan River after 1882 in response to Jewish immigration and entrepreneurship. Even Yasser Arafat, the dead leader of the Palestinians, was born in Egypt.
MYTH: All that the Palestinians want is a state of their own.
FACT: If the ultimate aim were Palestinian statehood, there would not have been a war against the new State of Israel rooted in the rejection of the 1947 United Nations partition resolution; there was no call for statehood between 1950 and 1967 when Jordan and Egypt, respectively, controlled the West Bank and Gaza Strip; and the Palestinians rejected statehood for open warfare in 1967 and again in 2000. The Hamas charter states that: “When our enemies usurp some Islamic lands, Jihad [a holy war waged in the name of Islam] becomes a duty binding on all Muslims. In order to face the usurpation of Palestine by the Jews, we have no escape from raising the banner of Jihad.”
The aim of the Palestinians and their Arab supporters has always been to appropriate the whole of what they call “occupied Palestine”, the British mandated territories — all of present-day Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza strip — and drive the Jews into the sea.
MYTH: Palestinian independence will see an end to violence against Israel.
FACT: The Palestinians and their Arab allies have fought three wars of extermination against the Jewish state in 1948, 1967, 1973, and have conducted hundreds of heinous terrorist attacks against innocent men, women, and children, both in Israel and abroad, including the present one. None of the many political concessions by Israel has resulted in a decrease in murderous attacks against non-combatant Jews. By legalising the claims of a fake ethnic group headed by terrorists, Palestinian independence would only strengthen the call for Jewish liquidation by legitimising and protecting it with political sovereignty.
MYTH: Like all other peoples, the Palestinians deserve a state of their own.
FACT: There are thousands of unique ethnic groups in the world today — peoples with separate languages, cultures, and histories — few of which have their own country. The Palestinians have a far weaker claim to statehood than most of these authentic ethnic groups, including the Muslim Kurds whose 35-50 million people were also falsely promised a state of their own in 1920 but continue to live in exploited minority status in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria with hardly a word of outrage from the outside world. The Palestinians, in turn, already have a state of their own: Jordan, a country where they form the majority of the population and where it is illegal for Jews to live.
As Moslem Arabs, the Palestinians now control 22 countries with 99%of the land mass and population of the entire region. If most Israelis were Moslem Arabs, not Westernised Jews, there would be no Middle East conflict. If there were no state of Israel, there would be no demand for a Palestinian state.
MYTH: The Palestinian refugees living outside Israel have an inherent right to return to their “homeland”.
FACT: There would be no refugees today if the Arabs had accepted the 1947 United Nations resolution granting the Palestinians a homeland of their own. Seventy-four years later, most of the exiles are dead and few of their children and grandchildren have ever lived in Israel. There would be no dispossessed people today if the Arab nations (other than Jordan) had followed universal international precedent by resettling their compatriots displaced by the 1948 war — if they had acted like Israel which welcomed and integrated the 850,000 Jews who fled or were evicted from Arab countries after 1947, rather than imprisoning their own Arab people in squalid refugee camps where they are used a cynical tool to garner international sympathy. Conversely, the Israelis granted automatic citizenship in their new state to the Arabs who chose not to flee. Today, these one million plus Israeli citizens are among the freest, best educated, and most prosperous Arabs in the Middle East. When coupled with the contradictory demand for sovereignty, the “right” of return of the four million descendants of the original half million residents of the former British Mandate shows that a combination of Arab nationalism and Islamic fundamentalism require a Judenrein (“Jew free”) Palestinian state from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.
MYTH: The Palestinians are willing to accept the existence of the State of Israel.
FACT: As Moslem Arabs, the Palestinians are willing to accept only other Middle Eastern Moslem Arab states. No Palestinian map or schoolbook recognises Israel as a distinct geographical region, let alone a sovereign state. Conversely, the Palestinians have made no territorial claim to Jordan, a British colonial invention forming 75% of the League of Nations Palestine Mandate whose population is classified as two-thirds “Arab Palestinian”. The aim of the Palestinians is not the achievement of statehood; it is the liquidation of the Jews.
MYTH: The Middle East conflict is a fight over land.
FACT: Israel consists of a tiny sliver of arid, resource-poor territory largely ignored by the Arabs until its late 19th century Jewish development. Rather than a fight over land, the present conflict is rooted in anti-Semitism, religious intolerance, envy, and self-imposed victimisation. Palestinian schoolchildren are systematically taught to hate Jews; the media are replete with 1930s-style racist Nazi propaganda; passages from the Koran are quoted as proof of Jewish perfidy; the Holocaust is treated as a Zionist hoax aimed at blackmailing the West. Using Israel as a scapegoat for their own failures and insecurities, nearly all the region’s Moslem Arab governments refuse to accept what they call the “cancer” of a Jewish state in their midst.
MYTH: The Jews have a flimsy claim to a homeland in the Middle East.
FACT: Undisputed archaeological, historical, and genetic evidence shows an uninterrupted residence of Jews in the Promised Land since Biblical times: there was never a time when there were no Jews or Jewish communities in the ancient land of Israel. From the beginning of recorded history to the present, Israel has been the only indigenous sovereign state west of the Jordan River. From the beginning of recorded history to the present, there has been only one genuine Palestinian people: the Jews of Israel.
MYTH: A two-state solution — one for the Palestinians encompassing the West Bank and Gaza –and one that encompasses the present sovereign nation of Israel will solve this long-standing conflict.
FACT: Most Palestinians will only accept a one-state solution encompassing a Judenrein Palestinian state from the Jordon River to the Mediterranean Sea, a view that is explicitly stated by Jomo Thomas when he writes: “To understand the Palestine/Israeli conflict, we have to disabuse ourselves of the notion that European Jews have a right to a homeland in the area that is historical Palestine.”
This, of course, is the main Palestinian talking point which denies the continuous occupation of the Promised Land by small or large groupings of Jewish people –despite repeated attempts at total ethnic cleansing — since well before the emergence of the United Monarchy of Israel and Judah over 3,000 years ago, as described in the Old Testament and confirmed by the archeological record.
Instead, Jomo Thomas and others propagate the myth that, “Palestinians always lived in Palestine and always made up the majority of people who lived there.”
Historical and factual ignorance or denial, Arab propaganda, left-liberal guilt, and outright anti-Semitism are legitimising a phoney demand for a sovereign Palestinian state where none has ever existed. The creation of a Palestinian state would be catastrophic for Israel, retrogressive for the Middle East, and destabilising for the world.
See also this instructive YouTube video on the history of the region in support of the contents of this opinion piece.
The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].