By: Yedidya Atlas
As the US presidential elections draw closer, support for Israel becomes a mantra for every potential candidate. Republicans wave their pro-Israel flag to satisfy the significant majority of pro-Israel Republican voters (non-Jews). While President Obama renews efforts to prove to the left-liberal Jewish Democratic donors and Jewish voter blocs in key states that he too just loves Israel - despite his actual record while in office these past three years - including eating non-kosher pastrami on rye sandwiches in public.
So the Palestinians, in what appears to be a coordinated good cop/bad cop effort are redoubling promotion of their Big Lie about who their “deep roots in the Land” and that the “Palestinian-Israeli Conflict” is the big issue that requires a “just solution” - which is a euphemism for pressuring Israel to accept the Palestinian Arab position. Just one week after Dr. Ahmed Tibi attacked Majority Leader Eric Cantor in an op-ed in the local Richmond newspaper, PLO Mission head in Washington, DC, Maen Rashid Areikat, blithely repeated many of the same lies in The Washington Post.
This unrelenting PR campaign continues to bear fruit. One hears many Republicans and nearly all Democrats talk about the “Palestinian-Israeli Conflict” and the dire need to solve it to stabilize the volatile Middle East. And here is the real problem: It assumes a false axiom which stipulates that the “Palestinian-Israeli Conflict” is the core of the conflict, and therefore solving it will solve everything else in the Middle East.
It seems that everyone under the age of 60 never heard the term “Arab-Israel Conflict” which was the only term used to describe the on-going war between the Arab States and the Jewish State of Israel up until after the 1967 Six Day War. And most people over 60 seem to have memory issues.
By assuming the “Palestinian Problem”, as it was first called, is at the core of the Arab-Israel Conflict, one can now understand how it became today’s politically correct term: the “Palestinian-Israeli Conflict”, and one is forced to also assume that Arab enmity towards Israel began either after 1967 when Israel either liberated or captured (depends on whom one asks, of course) the territories that comprise the Biblically named Judea and Samaria (AKA as “the West Bank”) and Gaza, or at least no further back than the creation of the Jewish state in 1948. Yet even cursory examination of the historical facts belies these contentions because they are based on the false premise that the Arab-Israel Conflict has something to do with the so-called "Palestinian Problem."
Chronologically, Arab enmity preceded the “Palestinian Problem” before the State of Israel officially existed. The Arab countries declared war on Israel before the Palestinian Arabs fled. Logically, then, one can conclude that the Arabs had some other reason to attack the fledgling Israel other than Palestinian refugees that didn't yet exist.
It was in this vein that the semi-official Egyptian newspaper, Al-Ahram , printed the following editorial on November 26, 1955: "Our war against the Jews is an old struggle that began with Muhammad and in which he achieved many victories ... it is our duty to fight the Jews for the sake of Allah and religion, and it is our duty to end the war that Muhammad began ..."
Al-Ahram makes no mention or reference to Palestinians or refugees because the highly touted “Palestinian Problem” of today was then considered, at best, nothing more than a secondary detail and, at worst, an artificially created political weapon (The PLO was only established in 1964). The Arab-Israel Conflict is based on Arab enmity towards the Jews, and therefore the Jewish state, and has nothing to do with either Palestinian Arab refugees or any specific Israeli policies.
Bearing that in mind, one wonders why the territories under discussion for the “Palestinian State” in the making, Judea and Samaria (AKA “the West Bank”, as in the west bank of the Jordan River), became holy soil in the eyes of Palestinian Arab nationalism only after Israel took possession of these territories following the clearly defensive war in 1967?
During the previous nineteen years, from 1948 to 1967, these areas were under Jordanian control/occupation after the Jordanian Legion captured it from the fledgling State of Israel in the 1948 War. Yet despite the alleged existence of a Palestinian Arab people, there was no public outcry for Jordan to return this region to anyone to establish a Palestinian Arab state. Nor were international protests made demanding that Jordan cease "creating facts" by building new Arab neighborhoods throughout these areas, thus creating "obstacles to peace". Arab leaders didn’t make pilgrimages to the al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount in Jordanian-occupied Jerusalem, and PLO chieftain Yasser Arafat never once visited the “West Bank” during those 19 years.
The Palestinian Problem was created and promoted, and the Big Lie prospers: "Without unilateral Israeli territorial concessions the Palestinian Problem which is the core of the Arab-Israel Conflict will never be resolved." Thus the “Arab-Israel Conflict” was smoothly turned into the “Palestinian-Israeli Conflict” – the pre-1967 Arab Goliath against the beleaguered little Israeli David was transitioned into the intransigent Israeli Goliath versus the poor Palestinian David.
The Big Lie has seeped in everywhere. The first internet site, for example, seen by today’s students googling the “Arab-Israel conflict is Wikipedia. Irrespective of how really accurate it is, it is the top of the list. Wikipedia describes the “Arab-Israel Conflict” thusly:
“The Arab–Israeli conflict refers to political tensions and open hostilities between the Arab peoples and the Jewish community of the Middle East. The modern Arab–Israeli conflict began with the rise of Zionism and Arab Nationalism towards the end of the nineteenth century, and intensified with the creation of the modern State of Israel in 1948. Territory regarded by the Jewish People as their historical homeland is also regarded by the Pan-Arab movement as historically and presently belonging to the Palestinian Arabs(2) and in the Pan-Islamic context, in territory regarded as Muslim Lands.”
The line: “is also regarded by the Pan-Arab movement as historically and presently belonging to the Palestinian Arabs(2)” is footnoted as if seriously sourced. However, if one bothers to scroll down to the very bottom to see the source, Wikipedia (or the writer of said entry) accepts the “Palestinian National Charter [the PLO Charter written in 1964], as an unbiased reference source.
Further on Wikipedia’s version of history is not only in the so-called facts it includes, but those facts omitted. In the section on the conflict’s “History” it notes that “the area came under British rule as the British Mandate of Palestine”, but conveniently left out how and by whom the British received said “Mandate.”
In fact, in 1920, the San Remo Conference of the Allied Powers issued what is called the “Palestine Mandate of the League of Nations.” Hence, the League of Nations, the forerunner of the United Nations, assigned to Great Britain a mandate to establish the Jewish national home. The Preamble to the Mandate specifies that “recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine.”
The Palestine Mandate does not mention Arab national or political rights in the Land of Israel. It does not relate at all to the Arab residents of Palestine 1920, as a separate people or nationality. It merely states that the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of race and religion, must be safeguarded. The reason for that is clear. Only one nation was recognized, the Jews. Hence the object and purpose of the Mandate was to reconstitute the political ties of the Jewish people to their homeland.
Moreover, the Arab delegates to the San Remo Conference led by the Hashemite Prince Faisel ibn Hussein (who would be appointed first king of Syria, then after he was ousted by the French, king of Iraq) accepted said “Palestine Mandate” and even declared Zionist demands “moderate.”
Mr. Areikat, in his December 28th op-ed, would have readers of The Washington Post believe otherwise. “We lived under the rule of a plethora of empires,” he writes, “the Canaanites, Egyptians, Philistines, Israelites, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Crusaders, Mongols, Ottomans and, finally, the British.” In other words, the Palestinian Arabs must have been hiding in the closet since throughout thousands of years of well documented history nobody mentions them. But it doesn’t matter. The spokesmen for the PLO/PA simply repeat lie after lie until their political fellow travelers and useful idiots (to borrow terminology of another period when venal and foolish people acted similarly) in the mainstream media and academia repeat the lies as if there was a scintilla of truth in them.
One of Mr. Areikat’s more ironic lines are “Many in the United States forget that Palestinians are Muslims and Christians. They ignore the fact that Palestinian Christians are the descendants of Jesus and guardians of the cradle of Christianity.” Aside from the historical fact that Jesus was Jewish, and therefore the Israelis are the actual relatives, not the Palestinian Arabs, consider the fact that the Palestinian Authority has systematically driven out the Christian Arabs from Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, according to the New Testament. Specifically, more than 70% of Christian Arabs have fled the PA controlled areas to any country that will issue them a visa. In Bethlehem, for example, whereas in 1950, Christian Arabs comprised 80% of the population, today under Palestinian Arab rule, it is less than 15%. But why tell the truth when one’s lies are accepted so easily?
So today the situation is far different then the pre-1967 period and has been further exacerbated by the incessant presenting of the “Palestinian-Israel Conflict” in asymmetrical form. The Palestinian Arabs cry “the Jews stole our Land” and demand “inalienable national rights” predicated on a false history. And then “pro-Israeli” western politicians declare support for a Palestinian State while mumbling about Israel’s security needs and wanting peace (e.g. President Obama’s UN speeches), rather than challenge the false premise and deal with an existent problem in its true reality – including the possibility that the two sides are not equal and that there may not be an actual solution.
Given the rise of Pan-Islamism throughout the “new” Middle East, the continued inflexibility of the Palestinian Arab leadership and their refusal to abandon murderous violence as a strategic method of achieving their goals, the odds of having a Hollywood-style happy ending of the Arab-Israel Conflict or the so-called Palestinian-Israel Conflict is not slim to none, but just none.
When that harsh reality is absorbed by Republican and Democratic policy makers alike, perhaps then the issue of Middle East stability and its ramifications for the West can be dealt with in light of the true facts on the ground, and not merely as short term verbal electioneering points.
The author is a veteran journalist specializing in geo-political and geo-strategic affairs in the Middle East. His articles have appeared in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, Insight Magazine, Nativ, The Jerusalem Post and Makor Rishon. His articles have been reprinted by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the US Congressional Record.
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