The biggest fraud of the 20th century is the commonly-held belief that “colonialist Jews” invaded a country called Palestine and displaced its native inhabitants. This is false for a number of reasons. Firstly, the native inhabitants of the land called Palestine were Jews. Indeed, there has been a continuous Jewish presence in Eretz Israel for several thousand years.
As I explained in a previous article, the situation regarding the Arab inhabitants of Palestine had been in a state of flux for decades, even centuries. The vast majority of Arabs living in Palestine at the time of Israeli independence were migrants from the Ottoman Empire and the Arab region. Look hard enough and you will find that the vast majority of so-called Arab Palestinians are not from Palestine at all but are descended from people who came from Egypt, Algeria, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Syria, the Sinai, the Jordan Rift Valley and the Balkans.
According to the UN, some of the Arabs who claimed refugee status in 1948 had lived in Palestine for a mere two years. This is hardly indicative of an indigenous Arab Palestinian presence.
In fact, it wasn’t until the 1960s that a distinctive (though violent) Palestinian Arab identity came into being. Until then the Arabs had refused to call themselves Palestinians because it was an epithet reserved for the Jews. No, they were Arabic-speaking peoples who claimed allegiance to either a Greater Syria or even a supranational caliphate. There has never been a distinctive Arab Palestinian history or culture. The only evidence of an Arabic-speaking Palestinian culture comes from the 1960s onwards and even this is couched in 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 Palestinians know the truth about their origins and their destiny. Egyptian-born terrorist extraordinaire 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, 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.”
This is why the people who call themselves Palestinians have repeatedly turned down the possibility of an independent state alongside Israel. The Arabs themselves don’t really believe in a State of Palestine. Their only interest is abolishing the sizable Jewish presence between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. Jewish self-determination is anathema to the Arabs who, ever since the time of Muhammed, have kept the Jews in a state of subjugation and dhimmitude. When 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 subjugation) of the Jews.
What really irks is me the fact that the people who claim to be Palestinians are committing a form of identity fraud. They are not Palestinians in any real sense: They didn’t come from Palestine and they never claimed Palestinian identity until Yasser Arafat arrived on the scene in the 1960s like an anti-Semitic Moses ready to lead the nomadic and identity-less Arabs into the promised land.
While it is entirely understandable that the Yishuv chose the name Israel for their state, it has had unfortunate and unforeseen consequences. By rejecting the labels Palestine and Palestinian, the Jews cut themselves off from their own history and identity, and bequeathed both the name and history of Palestine to their Arab enemies. So we are now in a situation where the indigenous people of Palestine call themselves Israelis and the people who flocked from all over the Ottoman and Arab world call themselves Palestinians. What’s worse is the fact that the latter now claim to have been the indigenous people of Palestine all along – and the world believes it.
It is time to remind the world that the Jews are the true Palestinians. Why else would there be a Palestinian Talmud or a newspaper called The Palestine Post (now The Jerusalem 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 living among us”? Why did pro-Yishuv campaigners in the early 20th century produce posters calling for “Jews of America to register as a member of the Zionist Organisation of America” for “the freedom of Palestine”? Why did the 1939 flag of Palestine have a Star of David on it? Why did Frank Sinatra appear at a benefit concert for the Zionist cause at the Hollywood Bowl in 1947 entitled “Action for Palestine”? These are questions that cannot be easily answered by the people posing as today’s Palestinians.
All things considered, the people who fraudulently claim to be Palestinians have done rather well. Having been on the losing side in various wars and having sided with the Nazis during the 1930s and 1940s, the Arabic-speaking Palestinians have managed to appropriate a sizeable chunk of Jewish-Palestinian heritage, have received billions of dollars in aid, are able to make huge demands on Israeli, EU and US 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.
I’m tempted to use the wonderful Jewish word chutzpah to describe the audacity of the Arab-Palestinians. But the Arabic cognate of the same word (ḥasāfah) does not mean “brazen nerve” but rather “sound judgement.” And I suppose the theft of the name and heritage of Palestine has indeed proved to be very sound judgement for the Arabs who, if nothing else, seem to be winning the propaganda war against the Israelis.