Monday, December 19, 2011

The time has come to uninvent the Palestinians

From The JPost, 16 December 2011, by

The Palestinians aspiration is not to establish a state of their own but to dismantle a state of others

I think there is an Arab nation. I do not think there is a Palestinian nation. I think it’s a colonialist invention... When were there any Palestinians? ...until the 19th century Palestine was the south of greater Syria. – Azmi Bishara, 1994
I think we’ve had an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs, and who were historically part of the Arab community. – Newt Gingrich, 2011
Newt Gingrich is to be warmly commended on his recent statement underscoring the lack of authenticity of Palestinian nationality. ...Coming from the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination it is a declaration that could have a profound impact, not only as a much needed clarification of Middle East history, but more important, as a vital signposting for Middle East policy in days to come.
...Negation of ‘other’
...the Palestinian collective is ...defined not by what it is, but what is not; not by what it wishes to achieve, but what it wishes to prevent; not by what it wants to create, but by what it wants to eliminate.
It has no independent rationale – apart from the denial of Jewish nationhood — to sustain it. As such it is not an affirmation of national “self” but a negation of a national “other.”
Jordan’s King Hussein underscored precisely this when he remarked that the emergence of collective Palestinian identity was merely a ploy to counter Jewish claims to territory considered “Arab.”
At the Arab League meeting in Amman in November 1987, he said: “The appearance of the Palestinian national personality comes as an answer to Israel’s claim that Palestine is Jewish.”
This is precisely the sentiment conveyed a decade earlier by the now oft-cited and largely uncontested remark by Zuhair Muhsin, former head of the PLO’s Military Department and an Executive Council member, in which he candidly conceded to a Dutch daily: 

“... 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.”
Historically fictitious, politically fraudulent
The usually dovish former Mossad head Efraim Halevy cast doubt on the Palestinians’ “capability of nationhood” in a 2009 interview with the Canadian weekly Maclean’s. He identified a lack of internal drive for nationhood, warning, “A nation has to be built from within... the Palestinians are not creating their own nation. The nation is being created from without. This... cannot succeed.”
...Even the Palestinians’ own “National Charter” reveals that they are not — and do not see themselves — as a genuinely distinct people or a cohesive nation, with a coherently defined homeland. Thus the Palestinians not only affirm that their national demands are bogus, but that they are merely a temporary ruse meant to annul what they term “the illegal 1947 partition of Palestine” (i.e. Israel in its entirety):

“The Palestinian people are a part of the Arab Nation... [and] believe in Arab unity.... However, they must, at the present stage of their struggle, safeguard their Palestinian identity and develop their consciousness of that identity.”
How is any fair-minded person to avoid concluding that at a later stage there will be no need to preserve their identity or to develop consciousness thereof? How is one to avoid concluding that Palestinian identity is merely a short-term deception designed to achieve the political goal of eliminating the Jewish nation-state?
Significantly, the urge for Palestinian sovereignty only seems to arise in response to the manifestation of Jewish sovereignty. Thus the 1964 version of their National Charter unequivocally forswears Palestinian claims to “any territorial sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and Gaza,” areas which are now stridently claimed to comprise their “ancient homeland.”
Palestinians did not object to almost two decades of Jordanian and Egyptian authority, nor does the solid Palestinian majority in Jordan today seem highly motivated to express its distinct “national identity.”
And while the possibility of a revolution in Jordan cannot be discounted, this would most likely be motivated by the same factors that precipitated revolutions in other parts of the Arab world – dissatisfaction with the regime rather than desire to throw off alien sovereignty.
We are thus compelled to concede that “Palestinian nationality” is devoid of any independent existence, but is fabricated only to counteract Jewish territorial claims.
Indeed, without such claims there would be no Palestinian nationality. As such it is a fictional derivative — an invention — precisely as claimed by Azmi Bishara, Zuhair Muhsin, King Hussein, the Palestinian National Charter — and of course by Newt Gingrich.

Contrived statelessness
If any further evidence of deception were needed, consider the issue of the “statelessness” of the Palestinians – one of the major themes played upon to invoke sympathy for their “cause” and fierce recriminations against Israel.
In reality, however, this state of “stateless” is not a result of callous Israeli malfeasance but of deliberate Arab malevolence.
For the Palestinians are stateless because the Arabs have either stripped them of citizenship they already had, or precluded them from acquiring citizenship they desire to have.
In the “West Bank,” for example, up until 1988, all Palestinians, including the refugees, held Jordanian citizenship. This was annulled by King Hussein when he relinquished his claim to this territory. This abrupt and brusque measure was described by Anis F. Kassim, a prominent Palestinian legal expert, in the following terms: “... more than 1.5 million Palestinians went to bed on 31 July 1988 as Jordanian citizens, and woke up on 1 August 1988 as stateless persons.”

But Palestinians have also been prohibited from acquiring citizenship in their countries of residence in the Arab world, where they have lived for over half a century. The Arab League has instructed its members to deny citizenship to Palestinian Arabs resident within their frontiers, “to avoid dissolution of their identity and protect their right to return to their homeland.”

Thus Arab League spokesman Hisham Youssef conceded in an 2004 interview to the Los Angeles Times that Palestinians in the Arab world live “in very bad conditions,” but added that this official policy is meant “to preserve their Palestinian identity,” which apparently is incapable of existence without coercion. With breathtaking callousness, he went on to assert that “if every Palestinian who sought refuge in a certain country was integrated and accommodated into that country, there won’t be any reason for them to return to Palestine.”

Clearly, Palestinian nationalism is being preserved and pursued with greater zeal by their Arab brethren than by the Palestinians themselves. How then can it be considered anything but an artificially contrived invention?

...The time has come for a concerted effort to uninvent the Palestinians. ...An observation by Daniel Pipes suggests...  
“...the fact that this [Palestinian] identity is of such recent and expedient origins suggests that.... it could eventually come to an end, perhaps as quickly as it got started.”...

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