PLO Foreign Minister: If Jews Have History in Israel, Then We Don’t
From an interview in Asharq al-Awsat of Palestinian Arab Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki:
Q: You said that there are a number of contentious issues. Which is the most intractable?
This is the issue of recognizing the Jewish nature of the Israeli state. This is a sharply contentious issue. It would be dangerous to recognize this because this would mean our acceptance of the dissolution of our own history and ties and our historic right to Palestine. This is something that we will never accept under any circumstances.
Isn’t that interesting? The Palestinian position is that if there is any Jewish history in Israel, then Palestinian Arab history goes “poof.”
So they must deny history in order to maintain their bogus claims!
Now, it is true – there is no particularly Palestinian Arab history to speak of before the 20th century. No one identified themselves as Palestinian, there was no particularly Palestinian cuisine or dress or culture (although some towns did have their own specific costumes and crafts.) But this answer betrays how flimsy Palestinian Arab ties to the land are.
Imagine if a US official said that he or she could not recognize Native Americans as being their own peoples – because to do that would be to deny American history. It makes no sense because there is an independent American history that occurred over the past 250 years, some concurrent with Native American history. Indigenous American history is not much of a threat to American history.
Yet PLO officials cannot accept a Jewish people or Jewish history! They know that their own ties to the land are superficial and recent compared to the Jews. Their history begins with the advent of Zionism; without Zionism they would never have become a people in any way. They’d be Syrian or Egyptian of Jordanian today. Anyone using the word “Palestinian” today would use it roughly the same way we use the word “Levantine” – there are no “Levantine people” even though plenty of people have been born in the Levant.
History is not the Palestinian Arabs’ friend. Any honest look at history shows how shallow their claims on the land are. And every single PLO official knows this fact very well.
This is why they expend enormous efforts to change history. That is why they promulgate crackpot Khazar theories and adore idiots like Shlomo Sand. That is why they insist that there were never a Jewish people.
But if you want to know the full reason why Palestinian Arabs can never accept historic fact, just read this 2011 article by former PLO negotiator Ahmad Samih Khalidi from the Institute of Palestine Studies I quoted a few years ago:
[I]f Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people, then the lands that it occupies today (and perhaps more, for there are as yet no borders to this “homeland”) belong to this people by way of right. And if these lands rightfully comprise the Jewish homeland, then the Arab presence there becomes historically aberrant and contingent; the Palestinians effectively become historic interlopers and trespassers—a transient presence on someone else’s national soil.
This is not a moot or exaggerated point. It touches on the very core of the conflict and its genesis. Indeed, it is the heart of the Zionist claim to Palestine: Palestine belongs to the Jews and their right to the land is antecedent and superior to that of the Arabs. This is what Zionism is all about, and what justifies both the Jewish return to the land and the dispossession of its Arab inhabitants.
Clearly, this is not the Palestinian Arab narrative, nor can it be.
Even in this passage, there is a Freudian slip that shows that Khalidi knows the truth: he correctly refers to Jewish immigration into Israel as a return to the land!
The Palestinian Arab position is that they cannot claim the land unless history itself is changed. And that is exactly what they are doing.