NOTE: This essay addresses the fiction of "Palestinian" identity... the
claim that there was an ancient "Palestinian" people and culture that was
displaced by Jewish invaders. Talk about projection and displacement! Islam
mastered the art of deceptive narrative long ago... perhaps explaining why
Marxist intellectuals love them so much, even when they slaughter people
like the workers at Charlie Hebdo. Despite the total lack of historical
facts, various United Nations bodies have been busy since 1948 creating and
teaching this nonsense. Recently UNESCO ruled that Jews have no historical
connection to Hebron and the Temple Mount. What we're seeing here is
identical to what the NSDAP did in Germany and Europe with their fictitious
"Aryan" identity. And, as with the "Aryans", "Palestinians" are superior to
any other group. It's all a bit overwhelming, to be honest. But history
shows that big lies like these ("Palestinian" and "Aryan") eventually
It’s the narrative, stupid
How do you characterize a population as a *people*? Most of us would say
that a people has some combination of language, religion, culture, place of
origin, and genetic makeup, and that its members identify with a *historical
narrative* that describes how they came to be.
The Jewish people is a paradigm case of a people, with a unique language
and religion, a definite origin, clearly distinguishable genetics, and a
historical narrative spanning thousands of years that is probably the most
powerful story in much of the civilized world. This is why it is so
typically *chutzpadik* for Palestinians to argue that there is only a
Jewish religion and not a Jewish people.
*The Palestinians do not have a unique religion, language, genetic
identity, or place of origin – unless you count having an ancestor who
lived in Mandate Palestine for at least two years as establishing
rootedness there. But they have a historical narrative with which they very
*It is a relatively new narrative, having originated in the mid-20th
century as a reaction to the establishment of the Jewish state. It is to a
great extent false – there is no long-term ‘Palestinian’ presence in the
land of Israel (claims going back to biblical times are ludicrous, and few
‘Palestinians’ can trace their lineage in the land prior to about 1830;
most are descended from 20th century migrants). Their story about their
dispossession by the Zionists is also to a great extent false and
self-serving. But none of this matters.*
What does matter is that virtually all Palestinians believe the narrative,
and it is perfectly designed to combine with the features of the Arab and
Muslim culture of the Palestinians in such a way as to create endless,
insoluble conflict with the Jewish state.
The narrative tells of a proud culture rooted in the land, dispossessed by
foreign invaders who have no connection with it. It tells about humiliation
of the Palestinian people, their wealth and property taken from them. It
tells about a Muslim land being ruled by infidels, or almost worse, by
*Jews*, Mohammad’s historic enemies whose inferior role is demanded by the
Qur’an. It tells about Arab manhood being insulted by repeated military
defeats by the children of pigs and monkeys.
The narrative tells about an intolerable condition, and its collision with
Arab culture and Islam can’t be resolved by a compromise which permits the
continuation of Jewish sovereignty in any real sense. Any solution
acceptable to the Palestinians must include the return of their ‘property’
– that is, the ‘return’ of the descendents of Arab refugees to ‘their
homes’. For Muslims, there is also the fact that the entire land, having
been ruled at one time by Muslims, is a part of *dar al islam* and must
return to Muslim rule. And of course, no situation in which a Jew is
superior to a Muslim in any way is acceptable.
Worse, Arab honor, which was stolen by military defeat and which continues
to be taken by the daily humiliations of Israeli security measures, must be
regained. This requires equal humiliation and violence against the Jews.
But why can’t the Jews make a similar argument on the grounds that the
rights of the Jewish people were abrogated by the Arab conquest of the 7th
century? The Palestinians take this threat quite seriously, which is why
they insist that there is a Jewish *religion* but no Jewish people. And it
is why they make ridiculous statements like “Palestinians are descended
from ancient Canaanites,” “There was no Jewish Temple in Jerusalem,” or
“Jesus was a Palestinian.” It is why they are working assiduously to get
UNESCO to declare all Jewish historical sites to be Arab or Muslim.
As long as the Palestinian narrative is believed there will be no peaceful
two-state solution or any other compromise that allows a Jewish state to
continue existing. And as long as Arabs understand that their lost honor
needs to be regained there will be no end to murderous outbursts of
violence against Jews by Arabs.
These are not things that are in our power to change. There is no way we
can educate the Arabs to stop believing their narrative and to start
believing ours. No matter how kind we are, how conciliatory, how fair, how
just, how many concessions we make, how much economic opportunity we
provide, the fundamental problem remains. If you think I’m exaggerating, read
this about Palestinians
in general, and this about Arab citizens of Israel
If anything, as time goes by, the narrative gets embedded more firmly in
the Palestinian psyche.
So does this imply that there is no hope?
Not exactly. There is no hope for a peaceful compromise, true. But there
are other ways a conflict between peoples – yes, I think their narrative
makes them a people, if not an ancient one – can end. One side or other can
prevail, can overpower its enemy to the extent that it gives up the idea
that it can win, and stops fighting.
The usual example of this is WWII in which the losers were crushed so badly
that they gave up, accepted occupation, and even changed their ways of
thinking so as to reject militarism and ultimately became allies of their
erstwhile enemies. But there is another example that is much closer to home
and might provide a model for a solution that requires somewhat less death
and devastation than that wrought by the bombing of Dresden or Hiroshima.
That is the example of the Arab citizens of Israel.
They are not any less committed to the Palestinian narrative. But most of
them have come to understand that they are not capable of overthrowing the
Jewish state. They lived under military rule from 1948-68, but since then
have had the same rights (if not responsibilities) of Israel’s Jewish
citizens. The combination of the perception of an overwhelming imbalance of
power plus the availability of economic options has not canceled the
Palestinian narrative, but has made it possible for them to live peacefully
in a Jewish state. What other country in the world can say that it has a
20% Muslim minority that is not a source of violent instability?
The continued docility of our Arab citizens isn’t guaranteed. In order for
it to continue, there are several things that are important: they must
continue to understand that they will not obtain national rights in the
Jewish state, either by violence or political means, although their civil
rights will be protected. Israel will remain a Jewish state, not a
binational one. The flag and national anthem will not be changed, and there
will always be a Jewish right of return, and never an Arab one. The
overwhelming imbalance of power must be maintained. But at the same time
their rights to equal treatment under the law and their economic
opportunities must not be foreclosed.
The same principles apply to the Arabs of the territories, although it is
probably not a good idea to suddenly grant them citizenship and hope that
they will behave like the Arab citizens from 1948. But we are presently far
from establishing the necessary imbalance of power as long as the Fatah and
Hamas organizations are operating. They and similar enemies of Israel must
be defeated and destroyed as a first step. We wouldn’t tolerate Fatah
operating in Tel Aviv, so we should not tolerate it in Ramallah either.
The strategic geography of the land of Israel implies that we cannot give
up control of Judea and Samaria and still be capable of defending our
nation. That in turn means that we have to deal somehow with its Arab
inhabitants. Their dedication to the pernicious Palestinian narrative
precludes a Western-style compromise, but if we can decisively end their
ability to make war, then maybe their only remaining option – as in the
case of the Arab citizens of Israel – will be to live in peace.