Palestinianism

Should Jews reclaim the words ‘Palestine’ and ‘Palestinian’?

MAGIC_1_PPPABy Richard Mather…

In a pair of recent articles for the Jewish Media Agency I explored the nature of Arab immigration in historic Palestine (i.e. before 1948) and also the way in which the names ‘Palestinian’ and ‘Palestine’ have been appropriated by Israel’s enemies for ideological purposes. I’m glad to say that both articles struck a chord with many readers and I was subsequently asked to write something that would combine both pieces of writing.

According to the most reliable statistics, most non-Jewish immigration to Palestine occurred in the 1800s and early 1900s (which explains why in the late 17th century not a single settlement had a name that was of Arabic origin). Demographer Roberto Bachi believes there were around 151,000 non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine in 1540. By 1800, the Muslim and Christian populations had risen to 268,000, rising to 489,000 by 1890, 589,000 in 1922, and swelling to just over 1.3 million in 1948.

Many of the non-Jewish migrants to Palestine came for several reasons. The Ottoman authorities, for instance, transferred a great many people to Palestine to put them to work on infrastructure projects and to outflank Jewish immigration. Furthermore, the  Zionist project was very attractive to Arabs who were drawn to Palestine by the good wages and healthcare offered by the Jews.  Indeed, the Arab population of Palestine increased the most in cities where there were large numbers of Jews. Between 1922 and 1947, the Arab population grew by 290 per cent in Haifa, 158 per cent in Jaffa and 131 per cent in Jerusalem. By contrast, the growth in Arab-majority towns was less dramatic: 37 per cent in Bethlehem, 42 per cent in Nablus and 78 per cent in Jenin.

During the British civil administration in Palestine (1920 to 1948), restrictions were placed on Jewish immigration in order to appease Arab troublemakers. However, there was significant illegal Arab immigration from Egypt, Transjordan and the Hauran region of Syria. The Peel Commission reported in 1937 that a “shortfall of land” was “due less to the amount of land acquired by Jews than to the increase in the Arab population.”

Arab immigration continued at a pace until the Jews declared independence in 1948. By the time the Jews declared autonomy,  the Muslim and Christian population had risen substantially. The fact that non-Jewish immigration continued right up until Israeli independence is borne out by the United Nations stipulation that any Arab refugee who had lived in Palestine for a mere two years prior to Jewish independence was entitled to refugee status.

So while it would be silly to argue that there were few Arabs living in Palestine in the late 19th and the early 20th centuries, the figures do show that the Arab population of Palestine largely comprised recent migrants from the Arab world and/or the Ottoman empire. This is important because it tells us that the postmodern notion of a deep-rooted Arab Palestinian culture is a sham. All the evidence points to the conspicuous absence of Arab culture. This explains why, historically, Arabs never talked about Palestinian identity – because there wasn’t one. They were Egyptian, Syrian, Moroccan, Iraqi, Yemeni, Balkan, Sudanese and Ottoman Arabs, and many of them expressed allegiance to a Greater Syria or a supranational caliphate. (Many others, to their credit, became steadfast citizens of Israel.)

So the erroneous (but commonly-held) belief that colonialist Jews invaded a country called Palestine and displaced its native inhabitants is completely false. For a start, the people of Palestine who have the deepest roots in the land are the Jews whose relatives and ancestors have lived there  (to varying degrees) for several thousand years. Secondly, most of the Arabs who fled Palestine between 1947-49 did so because they were sure their Arab compatriots from Egypt, Iraq et al would be victorious in making Palestine Judenrein.

It wasn’t until the mid-1960s that a semi-coherent Arab Palestinian identity came into being. Until then, the Arabs had refused to call themselves the Palestinian people because it was a epithet reserved for the Jews. When people talk of a Arabic Palestinian culture or history, they are being disingenuous: the only Palestinian culture or history of any note is Jewish. Arabic-speaking Palestinianism started in the 1960s and even this was couched in fervently anti-Zionist and Judeophobic terms – hardly a stable platform on which to build a nation.

Despite their successful efforts in deceiving the world, many Arab Palestinian leaders know the truth about the origins of their people. Egyptian-born Yasser Arafat made this very clear when he said, “The Palestinian people have no national identity. I, Yasser Arafat, man of destiny, will give them that identity through conflict with Israel.” And in a conversation with Dutch newspaper Trouw in March 1977, the leader of the pro-Syria as-Sa’iqa faction of the PLO, Zuheir Mohsen, remarked: “It is only for political reasons that we carefully underline our Palestinian identity […] yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity serves only tactical purposes. The founding of a Palestinian state is a new tool in the continuing battle against Israel.”

Why else do the people who claim to be Palestinians regularly turn down the possibility of an independent state alongside Israel? It’s because the Arabs themselves don’t really believe in a State of Palestine. Their only interest is abolishing the ample Jewish presence between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. Jewish self-determination is anathema to many Muslims who, since the time of Muhammed, have tried to keep the Jews in a state of subjugation and dhimmitude. When Arab and/or BDS protestors call for Palestine to be free “from the river to the sea,” what they are really calling for is the genocide (or at best the suppression) of the Jews.

Many of the problems experienced by Israel stem from something very simple but profound –  the change of name. While it is totally understandable that the leaders of the Yishuv chose the name Israel for their state (Judea was another option), it has had unfortunate consequences. By rejecting the labels Palestine and Palestinian, the Jews circumvented their own local history and identity, and bequeathed both the name and heritage of Palestine to modern-day Arabs who have only a tenuous connection to the land. So we are now in a perverse situation where Palestinian Jews call themselves Israelis and the Ottoman/Arab peoples call themselves Palestinians. What’s worse is the fact that the latter now claim to have been the indigenous people of Palestine all along (since before the dinosaurs?) – and the world (which has always been a sucker for conspiracy theories) believes it.

Isn’t it time to remind the Arabs and the international community that the Jews are the true Palestinians? Why else would there be a Palestinian Talmud or a Jewish newspaper called The Palestine Post. Why, until the creation of Israel, were the Jews known as Palestinians? Why did Immanuel Kant refer to Jews in Europe as “the Palestinians among us”? Why does the 1939 flag of Palestine have a Star of David on it? Why was the journal of the Zionist Organisation of America called New Palestine? Why was the Israel Electric Company’s originally called the Palestine Electric Company? Why was the major funding arm of the World Zionist Organization called the Palestine Foundation Fund?

The answer: Because the word Palestine is a descriptive for the land that, for thousands of years, was the incubator for Judean identity.

(I am not proposing for a minute that Israel changes its name back to Palestine. After all, Palestine was a name foisted upon the Jews by Roman imperial aggressors. But I am saying that Jews should not let the Arabs and their Israelophobic supporters hijack the names ‘Palestine’ and ‘Palestinian’ as part of their delegitimisation campaign. Palestine was Jewish; it was never Arab. Language is everything. By relinquishing the proper use of words and removing them from their historical context, the truth of the matter is either degraded or lost altogether.)

All things considered, the Arabs since the 1960s claim to be Palestinians have done rather well. Having been on the losing side in various wars and skirmishes, and having sided with the Nazis during the 1930s and 1940s, the Arabic-speaking people of Palestine have managed to appropriate centuries of Judeo-Palestinian heritage, have turned their dirty terror war into a bogus human rights struggle, have received billions of dollars in aid, are able to make huge demands on foreign policymakers, have been offered a state of their own on several occasions, and are a cause celebre on the Left and in the liberal media.

A critic of mine recently said, “Well, all this may be true,  but the people who claim to be Palestinians are Palestinians because they say  they are and, as such, they deserve our sympathy.” The trouble is, how can I trust these self-proclaimed Palestinians who lie about their history and who are engaged in a long culture war against the Jewish people? By perpetuating the ridiculous myth that they are the indigenous people of Palestine who were kicked out by the wicked  Zionists, they do themselves a great disservice. (Historians will no doubt look back on this period and wonder how on earth the world was so deceived by the Arabs.) If the Palestinians do want a viable state (and there is little evidence that they do) then they must start acting like grown-ups.

And this means being open and honest about their identity and admitting that they are, in fact, an invention of Arafat’s Third World nationalism. There’s nothing necessarily wrong in that, but why can’t they be honest about it? It also means accepting the existence of a Judeo- Palestinian country called Israel; it means apologising for their role in the massacres of Jews in 1920, 1921, 1929, 1936 and 1947; it means apologising for the complicity of their leaders during the Holocaust; it means taking responsibility for the mistakes of the past and saying sorry for the countless deaths of Israeli civilians; and it means putting an end to the abhorrent anti-Zionist/pro-BDS propaganda that is fuelling anti-Semitism across the globe.

Only then will I consider the reality and destiny of an Arab-Palestinian people. Until then, they’ll get no sympathy from me.

HITLER’S WAR AGAINST JEWS CONTINUES IN ‘PALESTINE’

The Palestinian Arabs never miss an opportunity to refer to the Israelis as Nazis. This anti-Semitic trope has gone around the world, with Israeli flags regularly mutilated with swastikas and Jews dubbed Zio-Nazis. But the Palestinian Arabs’ greatest triumph is their success in concealing their role in the Holocaust. Indeed, it was the Palestinian Arab leadership in the 1930s and 1940s that colluded and collaborated with Hitler. And it wasn’t just their leaders who admired the Nazis. The Arab people and the Arab media were enthusiastic supporters of Hitler and his virulent brand of anti-Semitism.

In 1938, French magazine Marianne published an article revealing the Palestinian Arabs’ incredible enthusiasm for Hitler. The magazine reported that in the town of Nablus, the Arab population “received British troops with shouts of ‘Heil Hitler’.” Marianne also revealed to the French public that a number of Arab journals were regularly publishing racist editorials but also large portraits of Third Reich leaders. According to the magazine, the Arab newspapers “do not even try to conceal the fact that they have become pupils of the Ministry of Propaganda in Berlin.”

This wasn’t the first display of Palestinian affection for the Fuhrer. When Hitler proclaimed the Nuremberg Race Laws in 1935, a number of Palestinian Arabs sent telegrams congratulating him. Two years later, on the occasion of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, photographs of Hitler and Mussolini, as well as Nazi flags, were carried by Arab demonstrators in Palestine.

The man who did most to bring Nazism to British Palestine and the Middle East was Haj Muhammad Amin el-Husseini, the exiled Mufti of Jerusalem and spiritual leader of the Palestinians. Nicknamed the Arab fuehrer, Husseini collaborated with the Nazis to an astonishing extent during the 1930s and 1940s, and met Hitler on several occasions. His alliance was so successful that the Nazis declared their readiness to eradicate the Yishuv, the Jewish National Home in Palestine.

Husseini was behind the anti-Jewish riots in 1920-21 and the Hebron massacre a few years later. He believed it was a religious impossibility for Muslims to share the land with Jews. Even areas where Jews formed a majority were considered to be a defilement. In 1929, Husseini distributed pamphlets saying: “O Arabs, do not forget that the Jew is your worst enemy and has been the enemy of your forefathers.” He also announced that the Jews had “violated the honour of Islam.” This led to a pogrom in Jerusalem and a massacre in Hebron, where 60 Jews were killed and the town ethnically cleansed. The British attributed the attacks to “racial animosity on the part of the Arabs.”

This wasn’t the first time the British had encountered Muslim animosity towards the Jews. Following the demise of the Ottoman Empire, which had ruled over Palestine for centuries but had lost the First World War, international law recognised that the Jews in Palestine were there “by right.” The British took control of Palestine in 1917 and some years later established the first Palestinian state of Transjordan. The Jews living in this part of Palestine were told to leave. It soon became clear that any Jewish presence in any part of Palestine was not favoured by the Muslims. Aref Pasha Dajani, the mayor of Jerusalem, declared that it was “impossible” to live alongside the Jews because they “suck the blood of everybody.”

It was as early as 1933 that Husseini was in contact with the new regime in Germany. Within weeks of Hitler’s rise to power, the German consul-general in Palestine sent a telegram to Berlin reporting Husseini’s enthusiasm for Nazism and for the spread of fascism in the Middle East. When Husseini and several Arab sheiks met with the consul-general a few weeks later, he expressed his approval of the anti-Jewish boycott in Germany.

Very soon, the Husseini family had set up the Palestinian Arab Party, which was nicknamed the “Nazi Scouts.” Husseini’s brother, Jamal, was chairman of the Palestine Arab Party and a delegate to his brother’s Arab Higher Committee. It was this committee that led a led a campaign of boycotts and terror against Jews, and the bombings of British offices between 1936 and 1939.

In 1937, Husseini visited the Jerusalem German Consul, where he met with Eichmann to discuss “the Jewish question.” This meeting resulted in the Nazis agreeing to finance Husseini’s pogroms against the Jews in Palestine. Hitler publicly expressed his support for the Palestinian Arabs. This support was motivated by anti-Semitism and a suspicion of Britain’s colonial rule in the Middle East. In a speech made before the Reichstag in 1939, Hitler opined that Palestine is “occupied not by German troops but by the English,” and he accused British troops of oppressing the Arabs for “the benefit of Jewish interlopers.”

Not surprisingly, Husseini was keen to capitalise on the Fuehrer’s sympathy. Under the Mufti’s influence, the Nazi regime gave the go-ahead for the conversion to Islam of 25,000 Nazis in 1939. The newly-formed Jamait-e-Muslimin (“Muslim group”) were sent to Cairo to assist Nazi operations in Egypt, Palestine, Sudan and Transjordan. In the spirit of cultural exchange, a number of young Arabs were given training in Germany and Italy.

Husseini used his influence to promote Arab nationalism in Iraq. Pro-Nazi Muslims, at the behest of Husseini, slaughtered dozens of Jews in Baghdad in 1941. The Farhud or “violent dispossession” was led by the Hitler youth-modeled Iraqi-Arab Futuwwa paramilitary group under the pro-Nazi Iraqi minister of education, Saib Shawkat. The massacre was the beginning of the end of the Jewish community in Iraq, a community that had existed for 2,600 years.

The Mufti travelled to Berlin in November 1941 to meet Hitler and his foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop. Hitler, apparently impressed by Husseini’s blond hair and blue eyes, believed that “in more than one case the Mufti’s ancestors must have been Aryan.” In his meeting with the Fuehrer, the Mufti stressed that “the Arab peoples are Germany’s natural friends fighting common enemies.” Husseini pressed for a solution regarding the elimination of Jews in Palestine. Hitler, in response, stated “that Germany is committed to the uncompromising struggle against the Jews.”

During the war Al-Husseini spent most of his time in Berlin. The Nazis paid him huge amounts of money, some of which was used to fund the Arab war against the Jews in 1948. He also petitioned the Nazis leadership on several occasions to prevent thousands of Jewish children leaving for Palestine.

In 1941 Husseini began recruiting Bosnian Muslims to the Nazi cause. In a visit to Bosnia, he convinced Muslim leaders that a Muslim S.S. division would be advantageous to Islam. The Bosnian Muslims were organised into several divisions of the Waffen SS and other units. The largest was the 13th Hanzar division, which had more than 21,000 members. Declaring himself the “protector of Islam,” Husseini and his recruits were responsible for the deaths of thousands of Serbian Christians and Jews.

In a speech to his Bosnian Muslim Waffen-SS Division in 1944, Husseini declared that his Bosnian division was an “example for Muslims in all countries”. He continued:

“Many common interests exist between the Islamic world and Greater Germany, and those make cooperation a matter of course […] Further, National Socialist Germany is fighting against world Jewry […] There are also considerable similarities between Islamic principles and those of National Socialism, namely in the affirmation of struggle and fellowship, in stressing leadership, in the ideas of order, in the high valuation of work. All this brings our ideologies close together and facilitates cooperation.”

Muslim soldiers not only helped the Nazis deport Jews in east Europe, they were also involved in the liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto in 1943. On another occasion, Husseini dispatched his soldiers to Palestine in order to fight the Jews.

The Palestinian Arabs were willing recipients of Nazi funding and propaganda. On July 7th, 1942, the Voice of Free Arabism aired a program titled, “Kill the Jews Before They Kill You.” Husseini was allowed to broadcast from Berlin. One on occasion in 1944 he urged Arabs to “kill Jews wherever you find them for the love of God, history and religion.”

Operation Atlas was eerily prescient of contemporary fears of terrorists obtaining biological weapons. In 1944, at the behest of Husseini, Hitler ordered a five-man team to dump a lethal toxin in the water supply of Tel Aviv. Luckily, the unit, which comprised three Germans and two Arabs, was caught by police in Jericho before they had chance to execute their plan. It is estimated that a quarter of million people would have died if the plot had succeeded.

As well as petitioning the Nazis to halt the emigration of Jewish children to Palestine, Husseini was also complicit in the mass killings of Jews in Europe. According to Klaus Gensicke, who has studied the relationship between the Mufti and the Nazis, Husseini must have known the full extent of the Holocaust. He cites a radio broadcast made on September 20th, 1944. In this broadcast, Husseini urged the Arabs to give up 11 million Jews. The total number of Jews at the beginning of the war was 17 million. Therefore, Husseini must have known that 6 million Jews had already perished at the hands of the Nazis. Gensicke also points out that Husseini used very similar language when referring to the mass murder of Jews. While the Nazis spoke of a “Final Solution,” Husseini referred to a “Definitive Solution.”

Indeed, Husseini made several visits to the camps. He is known to have visited Auschwitz at least once, as well as Sachsenhausen and Majdanek. Husseini was apparently impressed by what he saw and gloated over the deaths of the Jews. He deliberated the possibility of building a concentration camp in the Palestinian town of Nablus.

It could be argued that it was Husseini’s fanatical hatred of Jews that encouraged the Nazis to press on with their plan to make Europe Judenrein (“Jew free”). According to testimony given at Nuremberg by Dieter Wisliceny, Adolf Eichmann’s deputy, the Mufti “was one of the initiators of the systematic extermination of European Jewry and had been a collaborator and adviser of Eichmann and Himmler in the execution of this plan […] He was one of Eichmann’s best friends and had constantly incited him to accelerate the extermination measures.”

There is no doubt that had the war gone Hitler’s way, Husseini would have been able to execute his ‘Definitive Solution’ in Palestine, probably starting with a concentration camp in Nablus. The fact that his first task in Europe was to press Mussolini, and then Hitler, for their support in his vision of a Jew-free Palestine strongly suggests that the Holocaust would not have ended in Europe in 1945 but would have continued for several more years across the Middle East and North Africa. It goes without saying that a world run by Hitler and Husseini would not be a world in which the State of Israel exists. (Following the Second World War, Egypt’s King Farouk I attempted to build an anti-Israel army comprising German spies, SS generals and Nazi propagandists. Meanwhile, Syria hired around fifty Nazis between 1948-9, including many former SS soldiers and Holocaust functionaries.)

In his memoirs, Husseini wrote: “Our fundamental position for cooperating with Germany was a free hand to eradicate every last Jew from Palestine and the Arab world. I asked Hitler for an explicit undertaking to allow us to solve the Jewish problem in a befitting our national and racial aspirations, and according to the scientific methods innovated by Germany in the handling of its Jews. The answer I got was: ‘The Jews are yours’.”

Husseini’s legacy is considerable. Having escaped to Egypt, Husseini used his influence to persuade the Arabs to reject the UN’s partition plan, the source of today’s Israeli-Palestinian crisis. He also encouraged the participation of Egypt in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Hassan Al-Banna, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood (which went on to form Hamas in 1987), hoped that Husseini would continue Hitler’s war on the Jews. He wasn’t disappointed. The Arab League, co-founded by Husseini, was involved in all major wars against Israel, as well as the two Intifadas.

Husseini also had disciples who would continue his work. Husseini’s nephew, Yasser Arafat, began working for the Mufti when he was 16. Arafat was involved in the Mufti’s covert terrorist network and assisted in the smuggling of weapons to attack Jewish settlers in Palestine. Arafat, who went on to become the chairman of the PLO and president of the Palestinian Authority, considered Husseini to be a hero of the Palestinians.

Another of Husseini’s disciples was Albert Huber, a Swiss-German journalist who converted to Islam in 1962 and became increasingly sympathetic to both Arab nationalism and Nazism. Like Husseini, Huber believed Nazism and Islam shared the same ideologies and he spent much of his life advancing the Nazi-Islam axis. Huber not only admired Osama bin Laden, he also met with bin Laden sympathizers in Lebanon before 9/11. Two months after the attack on New York, Huber was accused by the US government of funding Al Qaeda.

Husseini was the Middle East’s answer to Hitler. He had the support of fellow Muslim leaders and the backing of the Palestinians, who were very amenable to Nazism. Palestinian scholar Edward Said, who is no friend of Israel, has conceded that Husseini “represented the Palestinian Arab national consensus.” He had “the backing of political parties that functioned in Palestine,” and was “recognised in some form by Arab governments as the voice of the Palestinian people.”

There is no doubt that Husseini’s pathological hatred for Jews and Zionism, as well as his admiration for Nazism, left a deep impression on his followers. His influence can be detected in the rejectionist policies of the PLO and Hamas, the violent uprisings of 1987 and 2000, and the anti-Semitic hate speech of radical clerics that permeates the airwaves in the Palestinian territories.

For decades, the Palestinian Arabs have been in a state of war with the Israeli people. The widespread desire to see Israel wiped off the face of the map is a continuation of Hitler’s vision of a world without Jews. The Palestinians’ unwillingness to admit their Nazi past is perhaps not surprising as it would destroy their credibility as victims, a status they have been honing for several decades. (Bizarrely, the Nazis also claimed they were the victims of the Jews.) Due to the malevolent influence of Husseini and other Nazi sympathisers in the Middle East, the spirit of Hitler lives on.

Palestinian nationalism is not only historically intertwined with the Nazis, it is Nazism’s immediate successor.

EVALUATING PALESTINIANISM

TableSeveral days ago, members of the European Parliament backed a compromise motion on Palestine by 498 votes to 88. After a deal among the main parties in the parliament, the motion stated: “The European parliament supports in principle recognition of Palestinian statehood and the two-state solution, and believes these should go hand in hand with the development of peace talks, which should be advanced.”

So what is the ideology behind a Palestinian state? Is Palestinianism a genuine liberation movement or is it an Arab strategy designed to undermine the legitimacy and security of the Jewish state?

By JMA editor Richard Mather 

Palestinianism is a global anti-Semitic ideology comprising the combined efforts of the Arab and Muslim world, the Left, the Far Right, the media, the UN and various non-governmental organisations. Its goal is the advancement of the dishonest Palestinian narrative and the destabilisation of the world’s only Jewish state, which also happens to be the only democratic nation in the Middle East. Palestinianists use the weapons of delegitimisation, defamation, disinformation, anti-Semitic propaganda, faked news footage, sanctions and boycotts to achieve their aims.

Palestinianists deny or falsify the Jewish people’s historical, legal (and biblical) ties to the land of Israel. Palestinianism is non-teleological, disparate, and ahistorical. It has no specific origin or aim other than the vilification of the Jewish people and the undermining of the State of Israel. It is not interested in the creation of democratic institutions or peaceful co-existence with Jews. Palestinianism encapsulates and advances violence, rupture, ahistoricity, instability and relativism, all of which are in conflict with liberal (and Hebraic) notions of time, history, truth, democracy and development.

Palestinianism is a political pastiche of Zionism. The Palestinian Arabs did not seek to establish a homeland until after the formation of the State of Israel, and even then they were more concerned with destroying the Jewish state than actually focusing on how to build their own democratic institutions. Once it was clear that the Arab states could not defeat Israel in the wars of 1947-9 and 1967, the Arabs had no choice but to invent a Palestinian nationalism, which involved the appropriation of Israeli land, especially Jerusalem and the Jewish heartland of Judea and Samaria. The invention of Palestinianism – which is symbolised by the invention of the Nakba and the ambition to divide Jerusalem – is a political tool designed to undermine Israel’s existence and security.

Before the creation of Israel, the word “Palestinian” usually denoted the Jewish occupants of the Land of Israel. (That is why The Jerusalem Post used to be called The Palestine Post.) In a 1939 essay, George Orwell referred to the “Arabs” on the one hand and “Palestine Jews” on the other. All of which helps explain why Arab leaders like Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi told the Peel Commission in 1937: “There is no such country as Palestine. Palestine is a term the Zionists invented.”

In a sense, he was right. Never in history has there been a country called Palestine. As Arab historian Philip Hitti told the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry in 1946, “there is no such thing as Palestine in history.” In the years and decades preceding the establishment of the State of Israel, Arab riots and pogroms against British rule were not directed towards the creation of a Palestinian state. And the Arab massacres of Jews in the 1920s and 1930s were inspired by anti-Semitism, not by a desire for an independent Palestinian state.

In 1947, Arab leaders protesting the UN partition plan argued that Palestine was part of Syria. Indeed, before the 1960s, many Arab yearned for a “Greater Syria.” There was no Palestinian nation at the time of Israel’s independence and there was no demand for Palestinian statehood when Egypt controlled Gaza and Jordan occupied Judea and Samaria (“the West Bank”) from 1948 to 1967.

The words “Palestinian” and “Palestine” were only appropriated by a number of Arabs when it became clear that the Jewish state was a fact. Since the 1960s, the word “Palestinian” has been invested with a political significance designed to undermine Israel’s legitimacy.

Yasser Arafat, the icon of the Palestinianist movement, admitted that “the Palestinian people have no national identity.” And he went on to boast that he, as a “man of destiny,” will provide that identity “through conflict with Israel.”

And in an interview with a Dutch newspaper in 1977, PLO executive committee member Zahir Muhsein stated: “The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity.”

One of the enduring myths of the Arab-Israeli crisis is that the Palestinians are an indigenous people. Palestinians are not an ethnic sub-group. There is no such thing as an ethnic Palestinian. Arabs in Israel and the West Bank are ethnically identical to Arabs living in Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Egypt. The population in Gaza is largely Bedouin Arab in origin.

Furthermore, many of the Palestinian Arabs living in Israel in 1948 were themselves immigrants who came to the land in the wake of successful Zionist enterprises. The Zionists offered a better standard of living and higher wages than neighbouring Arab employers. Before the earliest Zionist settlers arrived at the end of the 19th century, the land was sparsely populated and desolate.

Palestinianism, then, is a recent invention. The sudden desire for a Palestinian state was, and still is, a tool to destabilise the State of Israel. But the problem for the Arabs is that there is neither an authentic Palestinian culture nor a genuine Palestinian history to build on. This may explain why the Palestinians are incapable of establishing a state, even after the Oslo Accords. Both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have failed to establish functioning democratic institutions precisely because they are not interested in doing so. Hamas in particular has done nothing to advance the security and prosperity of Gaza, preferring instead to build terror tunnels.

Whereas Zionism is rooted in thousands of years of culture, religious tradition and history, Palestinianism is groundless and bereft of originality. If Palestine is a state-in-waiting, then it is a state of mind, a figment of the Arab imagination.

PALESTINIANISM IN A ‘HYPER-REAL’ UNIVERSE

MIDEAST-ISRAEL-PALESTINIAN-JERUSALEM-CONFLICT

According to French philosopher Jean Baudrillard, contemporary society is alienated from “the real” due to an “ecstasy” of information. Media consumers, he points out, live in a “hyper-real” universe where reality is simulated. Indeed, many people (in the West and in the Muslim world) are alienated from the reality of the Arab-Israeli conflict due to an overload of disinformation, pseudo-historical posturing and faked news footage emanating from the Palestinianists. Truth and historical facts are relegated and replaced by a fabricated “reality” that is mediated by television, newspapers, films and the internet.

The derealisation of the Arab-Israeli conflict is fought by Palestinianists with the weapons of delegitimisation, defamation, disinformation, anti-Semitic propaganda, pseudo-history, faked news footage and boycotts. This Kulturkampf (“culture war”) is advanced in several arenas, notably the media, on campuses, among trade unions and especially the internet. Indeed, Israel’s critics and enemies are very adept at using the internet as a tool for spreading propaganda and conspiracy theories. The internet is a kind of electronic intifada in which falsehoods are routinely and easily produced.

The fact that Palestinianism has found such a willing audience around the world strongly suggests the idea of the “real” or objective reality has been well and truly shattered. As far as the global media is concerned, faked events and pseudo-facts are no less real than reality itself. Indeed, they may be more real because they serve a “higher cause”, which is the demonisation of Israel. The best example of the “death of the real” is the phenomenon known as Pallywood.

II

Pallywood, a portmanteau of Palestinian and Hollywood, is a coinage used by some media watchdogs to describe doctored and fake media footage produced by the Palestinians to illustrate their false but lethal narratives about Israel. Calev Ben-David, writing in The Jerusalem Post, describes Pallywood as “media manipulation, distortion and outright fraud by the Palestinians and (and other Arabs, such as the Reuters photographer caught faking photos during the Second Lebanon War), designed to win the public relations war against Israel.”

Canadian columnist Paul Schneidereit writes: “We’ve seen cases where the bodies of Palestinian martyrs carried on stretchers are inadvertently dropped, then, of their own volition, climb back on again. We’ve seen reports of massacres, as in Jenin in 2002, that turned out, after independent investigation, to have been greatly exaggerated. Needless to say, such episodes don’t instil an abiding trust in subsequent Palestinian claims, at least until they’re verified.”

The methods used by the Palestinian disinformation industry include:

  1. Using visual media to construct fake stories of Israeli atrocities. This involves editing media footage and staging events. For example, directing Palestinian civilians, ambulance drivers, doctors and police to “act out” roles such as the “injured man”, the “dead child”, the “concerned medic”, the “brave freedom fighter.” Palestinian journalists and cameraman are complicit in this theatre of propaganda.
  2. Luring Israeli soldiers into schools, shelters and hospitals and using civilians as human shields in order to increase the casualty rate. For example, in 2009 Hamas militants fired mortar shells from a school in Gaza. The IDF returned fire, resulting in 40 civilian fatalities.
  3. Ignoring or downplaying attacks on Israeli civilians, and omitting to mention the oppression and murder of fellow Palestinians by Hamas and Fatah.
  4. Repeating the claim that Israel ethnically cleansed Palestine in 1947-48, despite the fact that Palestinian leaders deliberately spread false rumours of rape and massacres in order to provoke Arab armies to fight on their behalf.
  5. Repeating the claim that Israel is a colonialist occupier of a country called Palestine, despite the fact that there has never been a Palestinian nation and that Jews have lived in the Holy Land for the past three thousand years.
  6. Claiming that Jerusalem is the capital of a country called Palestine despite the fact that Jerusalem has never been the capital of an Arab or Muslim entity.
  7. Depicting the Israelis as Nazis and claiming the Jews faked or exaggerated the Holocaust.
  8. Masking the prosperity of the Gaza Strip by focusing on isolated examples of hardship.
  9. Disseminating faked reports of massacres, deaths of children, atrocities and privations to the Western media. e.g. claiming the Israelis had carried out a massacre in Jenin in 2002.
  10. Appealing to the United Nations, Amnesty International, the Western media and NGOs for help and/or aid, despite the fact that Israel provides aid and/or allows passage for humanitarian assistance.

Untruth, it seems, is the currency of Palestinianism, but sadly it is a currency that buys a lot of media coverage. Israel, perhaps because of its higher ethical standards and commitment to authentic narratives, has not resorted to the tactics of disinformation and faked news footage. But as a result, Israel is facing a severe crisis of representation because traditional modes of understanding – the relation between fact and reportage – are no longer be considered useful or even valid.

MY CONDITIONS FOR PALESTINIAN NATIONHOOD

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By Richard Mather, JMA editor 

The House of Commons has voted to recognise the State of Palestine. But what is the State of Palestine? What are its borders and its currency? What and where are its legitimate international institutions? What is its government – the Palestinian Authority or Hamas?

At present, the State of Palestine is no more than a state of mind, a political-ideological fantasy dreamt up by Yasser Arafat and his Nazi sympathiser predecessor Haj Amin Al-Husseini. Palestine does not and never did exist in any concrete sense. It is a country of the imagination, residing in the warped minds of Islamo-anarchist Jew-haters.

But let’s say, for argument’s sake, that the State of Palestine is a real place. What would it be like? For a start, it would be a colonial outpost of the Arab-Muslim world, which has been appropriating land since the time of Mohammed. It would be a racist state, a place where Jews (who are the real and original Palestinians) are ethnically cleansed from Judea and Samaria. And until Hamas revokes its charter calling for the mass murder of the Jewish people, it would be a genocidal state. The State of Palestine would be a rogue state financed and armed by extremist countries like Iran and Qatar. The State of Palestine would be a human rights nightmare where women and gays are oppressed or killed, where journalists are imprisoned, where dissident voices are quashed, where political opponents are thrown off the top of buildings, where Christians are hounded out.

Despite this litany of problems, the world seems intent on establishing the twenty-third Arab country at a time when the Arab world is falling apart. A State of Palestine, with UN backing, will probably be a reality in ten to fifteen years. Of course, Israel and the Jewish people are under no obligation to recognise the legitimacy of a Palestinian state. But perhaps I can be persuaded. Here’s my list of conditions:

I will only recognise Palestine if Jews are allowed to stay in their homes in Hebron and Ariel and Beitar Illit, and the Hamas charter is revoked. I will recognise Palestine when the Arabs recognise Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish nation and the refugees (who aren’t really refugees at all but the descendants of half a million Arab immigrants to Palestine in the late 19th century) are resettled in Palestine and not Israel. I will recognise Palestine when the endemic Jew-hatred is renounced and purged from school textbooks. I will recognise Palestine when it rejects the dream of a greater Palestine from the river to the sea. I will recognise Palestine when the Palestinian Arabs apologise for their role in the Holocaust. I will recognise Palestine when they apologise for massacring Jews in Hebron in 1929 and Jerusalem in 1936. I will recognise Palestine when it apologises for starting the war in 1947-49. I will recognise Palestine when it acknowledges the mistakes it has made (rejecting several two-state solutions) and takes some responsibility for its past, present and future. I will recognise Palestine when it starts behaving like a state that wants to prosper instead of a terrorist basket case that wants to destroy the one good thing in the Middle East – Israel.

WHAT IS PALESTINIANISM?

YASSER-ARAFAT

Palestinianism is perhaps the most perilous system of thought to emerge since fascism and communism. But it is an ideology that has been nameless, as if designed to escape detection. But Palestinianism is real and it poses an enormous threat to Israel and the Jewish diaspora.

The Palestinianist ideology is particularly dangerous because it draws strength from a range of sources. You don’t have to be an Arab or a Muslim to be a Palestinianist. A large number of western socialists, liberals, conservatives and even neo-Nazis can be described as Palestinianists. Many Presbyterians, Methodists, Quakers, university academics, trade unions, NGOs and charities also deserve the epithet. All share an irrational hatred or distrust of Israel and/or Jews.

What is disturbing about Palestinianism is that it comprises many stripes of anti-Semitism. Christian and Muslim Palestinianists believe in replacement theology in which their respective faiths supersede or make obsolete the Jewish faith. Liberal Palestinianists dislike Israel because they perceive the Jewish state as exclusivist. Socialist Palestinianists abhor Israel because it is a military power with close links to the US.

All these beliefs are rooted in what is perhaps the biggest political fraud in history, that the Jews “stole” land that didn’t belong to them.  The absurd notion that the “Palestinians” are the indigenous people of a country called “Palestine” is a fabrication designed to undermine the moral and legal foundations  of the world’s only Jewish state. Unfortunately, the land libel, as I call it, is spreading like wildfire. In much  the same way as Jews were accused of killing the Son of God or using the blood of Christian children for ritual purposes, the Jews are now accused of stealing land and committing genocide. Hence the detested chant: “Palestine will be free, from the river to the sea.”

It is ironic that the same people who spend their lives claiming Jews stole someone else’s land spend an equal amount of time trying to deny and falsify the Jewish people’s historical, legal and cultural ties to the land of Israel. Part of this approach involves the rewriting of history and appropriation of Jewish identity. Palestine usurps Judea, while Jerusalem is retitled al-Quds. Judea and Samaria – an ancient geographical term for the land west of River Jordan – is now the West Bank.

While Zionism is thousands of years old, Palestinianism is a recent invention. It was born out of the Arab defeat of the Six-Day War in 1967. The realization that the Jews would not be “driven into the sea” meant that the Arabs (and their left-wing sympathizers) had to find another way of destroying the Jewish inhabitants of the Holy Land. Yasser Arafat’s invention of the Palestinian people was the answer to the Arab dilemma. In other words, Palestinianism is the ideological response to the astounding success of Zionism.

If Zionism is an ancient concept, Palestinianism is a superficial construct built on a lie about stolen land. The fact that Palestinianism has no culture or history to build on may explain why Palestinians are unable to establish functioning institutions in Gaza and the West Bank. For how can a state be built on a lie? In reality, Palestinianism isn’t about building a Palestinian state. It is a propaganda tool designed to undermine Israel. As such, it is hysterical, irrational, disproportionate and explicitly anti-Semitic.

One can perhaps understand why Arabs and Muslims hate Israel. After all, Arab nationalism and Islamic imperialism gain much of their strength from anti-Semitic rhetoric in the Quran and Hadith literature. Several verses in the Quran describe the transformation of Jews into apes and pigs as punishment for breaking the Sabbath or “worshipping evil.” Before ordering that every adult male of a particular Jewish tribe be killed, Mohammed referred to the Jews as “brothers of monkeys.” So it is no surprise that today’s Islamists refer to Jews as the “descendants of apes and swine,” or why Hamas says that Jews are sub-human.

What is alarming is the fact that so many liberal-minded people in the West have bought into the Palestinianist myth. After all, Israel is a democracy, with equal rights for women, gays and ethnic minorities like Arabs and Druze, and is a world-leader in the innovation of medicine, irrigation and green technology. It is curious that liberals and socialists, who in other circumstances champion democracy and equal rights, are apologists for reactionary organization like Hamas and Hezbollah. The only explanation for this paradoxical behaviour is that such people are anti-Semitic.

The boycotting of Jewish shops in the UK and the Kristalnacht-type behaviour in continental Europe are manifestations of the Palestinianist ideology. And it is an ideology that must be named and defeated. Anti-Semitic boycotts and attacks on synagogues in the 1930s were clearly identified as acts of fascism or Nazism. Boycotts, sanctions and Jew-hatred in the 21st century must be seen for what they are – acts of Palestinianism.

And as we come face to face with those who hate us on the streets of Manchester, London and Paris, we must clearly identify such people as Palestinianists.

YASSER-ARAFAT

 

The real danger facing Jews

In a new op-ed for Arutz Sheva, Moshe Kempinski warns of the creeping tide of Hellenism (non-Jewish practices) or a “sea of political correctness” which threatens to overwhelm Jewish identity.

He has a point, although I think the situation is more complicated. Plus, there is a far more dangerous threat to Jewishness than the “new Hellenism.”

It’s true that diaspora Jews face a struggle to retain their religious and cultural identities due to legal rulings and cultural prejudices. Only recently, the Council of Europe described circumcision as a “violation” of children’s human rights. In Switzerland, a Geneva city councilman warned his municipality against allowing a public Hanukkah event, which he said would infringe Swiss law. In Poland, ritual slaughter has been suspended on the grounds that Jews (and Muslims) are not exempt from animal protection laws.  And in Britain, some Jews are being denied unemployment benefits because they refuse to work on the Sabbath.

Throughout their long and painful history, Jews have struggled hard to maintain their religion and cultural practices. Anti-Semitic attitudes, pogroms, terrorism, assimilation, forced conversions and legal restrictions have all frayed the tapestry of Jewish identity.

However, the dividing lines between Jewishness and non-Jewishness are not always easy to define. Scholars believe that the Sadducees and even some Pharisees (two of the Jewish sects active in Judea in the Second Temple period) were willing to incorporate Hellenism into their lives. The most notable product of Hellenistic influence was the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures.  Philo and Josephus considered the Septuagint to be as reliable as the Hebrew Masoretic text. Interestingly, Septuagint manuscripts have been discovered among the Qumran Scrolls in the Dead Sea.

Jewish places of worship owe much to Hellenism. The word “synagogue” comes from Koine Greek, a language spoken by Hellenized Jews in southeast Europe, the Middle East and north Africa after the 3rd century BCE. Many synagogues were built by the so-called Hellenistai. These were adherents of a type of Hellenistic Judaism in the Greek Isles, Syria and northern Israel in the first century BCE.

And let’s not forget that there are many good things about Hellenistic culture. The world would be a poorer place without the writings of Homer, Aristotle and Plato or the mathematical discoveries of Pythagoras and Euclid.

On the flip side of the coin, non-Jewish cultures have absorbed many Hebraic ideas. Thanks to Judaism, westerners experience time as linear rather than cyclical. This has fostered a belief in material and social progress. The notion of a monotheistic personal God is thoroughly Hebraic, of course. Ethical imperatives such as justice for the oppressed and sustenance for the poor are derived from the Hebrew prophets. Yes, some of these ideas have been propagated by Christianity and Islam, but neither of these religions would exist without the parent religion of Judaism.

Hebraism and Hellenism are not enemies. The problem when arises when one culture tries to force its beliefs on another as when Antiochus IV Epiphanes (174–163 BCE) tried to impose Hellenic cults on Judea.

I completely understand the concerns of Jews who are afraid that assimilation or modern-day Hellenism will swallow up Jewish identity, particularly in America. And I sympathize with Jews who are pained by the banning of ritual slaughter and the attack on circumcision in Europe. But the real problem facing Jews today is not Hellenism. The real problem is actually something far more pernicious and life-threatening. It is Palestinianism.

II

In Europe, physical attacks on Jews receive little attention in the media because much of the abuse is carried out by Arabs who are under the political protection of some liberals who accuse critics of Islamophobia or racism. Given the European media’s irrational hatred or suspicion of Israel, this is not surprising. You only have to look at the biased news coverage and the vitriolic editorials in publications like The Guardian.

The Palestinianist ideology is particularly dangerous because it draws strength from a range of sources. You don’t have to be an Arab or a Muslim to be a Palestinianist. A large number of western socialists, liberals, conservatives and even neo-Nazis can be described as Palestinianists. Many Presbyterians, Methodists, Quakers, university academics, trade unions, NGOs and charities also deserve the epithet. All share an irrational hatred or distrust of Israel and/or Jews.

What is disturbing about Palestinianism is that it comprises many stripes of anti-Semitism. Christian and Muslim Palestinianists believe in replacement theology in which their respective faiths supersede or make obsolete the Jewish faith. Liberal Palestinianists dislike Israel because they perceive the Jewish state as exclusivist. Socialist Palestinianists abhor Israel because it is a military power with close links to the US.

The totalizing effect of this confluence of prejudices is the fetishization of Arab revolutionary violence (“We are all Hamas now”) and the denial/falsification of the Jewish people’s historical, legal and cultural ties to the land of Israel. This approach involves the appropriation of Jewish identity. Hence, Israel is recast as ‘occupied Palestine’ and Jerusalem is al-Quds. Judea and Samaria – an ancient geographical term for the land west of River Jordan – is now the West Bank. The Palestinians are the ‘new Jews’ and the Shoah is sidelined to make way for the Nakba.

Some Palestinianists hold the strange belief that the Temple in Jerusalem never existed. Others use the Bible or the Quran to ‘prove’ that God has rejected Judaism in favor of Christianity or Islam. Some Palestinianists deny the Holocaust or are calling for another one. And of course, many Palestinianists simply use violence to inflict physical and psychological damage on Jews – not just in Israel, but also in France, Sweden, Bulgaria, the UK and elsewhere.

I respect Moshe Kempinski’s concerns about assimilation and “Hellenistic” political correctness. He is certainly right to highlight these issues. But I would offer the view that Palestinianism – not Hellenism – poses the more immediate threat to contemporary Jews. Today’s challenge is not about the survival of Judaism as a religion or cultural tradition but about the survival of Jews and of Israel. This challenge does not come from Athens but from Mecca, Tehran, Brussels and Moscow.

Or to put it another way: if the Maccabees were alive today, they would be fighting Hezbollah, not the Greeks.

 

Moshe Kempinski’s article can be read here: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/14178#.UpySp8RSixJ