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September 3, 2017 9:21 am

The True Palestinian ‘Nakba’

avatar by Philip Carl Salzman

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A truck that was attacked by Arab irregulars on the main road to Jerusalem, 1948. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Seventy years ago today, the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) introduced a detailed proposal to the UN General Assembly for the partition of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state, approved less than three months later by a vote of 33 to 13. Not for the last time, however, a concerted international effort to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict foundered on the shoals of Arab rejectionism.

Arab Muslims roundly condemned UN partition — and more broadly the very principle of a Jewish state anywhere in Palestine — striving instead for complete victory. Following the tribally-based principle of those closer uniting against those more distant, the opposition to the Jews was both organizational and religious. Jews were not kinsmen and, worse, were infidels.

The Arabs acted according to their tradition, refusing compromise with inferiors. For over a millennium, Islamic empires had spread by the sword from Arabia across the Middle East and North Africa to much of Europe and as far east as India. God bestowed upon Muslims a right — no, a duty — to dominate Dar al-Islam (the house of Islam) forevermore. Not only did Jews, long a subservient and despised minority in Dar al-Islam, lack the right to have an independent state in Palestine, but the Arab residents of Palestine had no right to concede it to them.

The Arabs in Palestine thought that the Jews could not and would not stand up to them, and they acted on that well-established cultural principle. However, the thousand-year-old conditions did not obtain this time around. The Jews they faced were not a dhimma, and they did not cower. Against the odds, and with little outside help, they fought and won. Again and again.

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While maintaining their uncompromising rejection of any Jewish state in the Holy Land, the Arabs eventually abandoned their triumphalist rhetoric in favor of a more useful narrative. In this retelling, Israel is responsible for seven decades of mayhem, not the victim of unremitting hostility. That role would now be played by the Arab residents of Palestine, now called “Palestinians” — indeed, they would be forced to play it by the refusal of Arab states to naturalize, or even provide humane accommodations, to the so-called “refugees.”

Arab states marshalled their collective influence to sell this narrative to the rest of the world, with much success. Most Europeans and their governments, including the European Union, and many Americans risk apoplexy in their violent denunciations of Israel, while tripping over themselves offering sympathy and money to the Palestinians. The United Nations has established a complex bureaucracy devoted solely to their needs.

This narrative has received a particularly warm reception in the academic world, where Western imperialism, rationalized by disparaging “Orientalist” stereotypes of Middle Easterners, is seen as the single greatest cause of the region’s ills.

Of course, blaming all Palestinian problems on Israel makes even less sense than attributing the Arab-Islamic world’s economic, political, and cultural decline in recent centuries to relatively brief and limited Western interventions.

Though the narrative has grown more and more fantastical over the years, its acceptance remains disturbingly widespread. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ condemnation of Israel for “destroying the environment” at a signing ceremony for the Paris climate accord last year encountered no howls of diplomatic protest. Dubravka Simonovic, the UN special rapporteur on violence against women, could claim weeks later that Palestinian men beat their women because of “the clear linkage between the prolonged occupation and violence against women” without being promptly terminated.

In the end, of course, the Palestinian victimization narrative hurts Palestinians by obscuring the actual sources of their misery — their failed supremacist ideology, despotic and corrupt leaders, and irrational hate of Jews — preventing the emergence of genuine solutions to a tragic, festering problem.

Philip Carl Salzman is a professor of anthropology at McGill University and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

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  • Could an Arab-Palestinian State in Israel ever be acceptable?

    A second Arab-Palestinian State (Jordan is the first), especially in Israel (west of the Jordan River), is not viable; not even in theory. There is nothing to debate. The past 70 years has proven that the Arab culture and mentality is not conducive to coexistence with its own people, much less with the Israelis.

    If there is to be peace for Israel, and thus, the entire Middle East, it is imperative that Israel has a total crushing victory over its enemies.

    Reviewing all the efforts Israel has tried in the past seven decades in trying to give the Arabs concessions has only returned more terror, violence, suicide bombing and encouragement to continue the terror and violence. The PLO and Hamas Charter state explicitly that they must fight Israel’s Occupation and all of Israel belongs to the Arabs. Thus, they consistently incite the Arab population to acts of terror and violence; actually educating their children to hate and kill Jews.
    Examining the facts of what has taken place in Gaza since 2005 proves instead of using their resources to build an economy and improve the lives of their people, the terrorist organizations who run Gaza used these resources to build attack tunnels, purchase weapons, rockets, missiles and other war making instruments and supplies. All the while taking a section of Gaza and turning it into luxury enclave for their leadership, while the rest of the population lacks the basic necessities to survive, which they blame on Israel.
    Gaza is nothing more than a terrorist entity promoting terror and violence against Israel and all Jews. No other country in the world would allow such a terrorist organization to exist within their borders. An examination of the devastating effect on Europe and the U.K. from the Arab immigrants from the Middle East and the steps being taken by those countries to rectify the problem proves the above factual statement. Perhaps those countries should set-up an Arab-Palestinian State within their borders.
    The situation in other Arab/Muslim countries is no different with some minor exceptions. About 400,000 Arab-Palestinian were employed and living in Kuwait. After the Gulf war against Iraq and Saddam Hussein of 1991, the Kuwaitis expelled the Arab-Palestinians due to their support of Saddam Hussein. If other Arab countries refuse to create a State for fellow Arabs, why should Israel be forced to create a State for the Arab-Palestinians?
    Historical facts show Arab countries, in support of the Arab-Palestinian agenda, lost four wars against Israel since 1948. Now these same countries are using the illusion and deception that they want peace which can only be achieved by creating an Arab-Palestinian State in Israel. With this insidious and deceptive approach they have managed to gain more in concessions than all their wars, and receive billions of dollars in financial support. These concessions by Israel and the financial support from nations of the world and the U.N. which the Arab-Palestinians continue to use to promote terror, killings and endless daily acts of violence against innocent Jews of Israel. They defraud and deceive the world by not using all the funds for the betterment of all Arab-Palestinians.
    The Arab-Palestinians and their supporters are waging war against Israel under the guise of a “peace process”. The solution to the Arab/Palestinian-Israeli confrontation lies not in more painful concessions, but by reversing the concessions by Israel. The only true solution is for Israel to impose its’ will and crushing the enemy so it cannot continue to wage terror and violence. It should not, and cannot be ignored that the ultimate goal, the dream of Arab-Palestinians is to eliminate the Jewish state. They have openly stated such and should be considered a declaration of war against Israel.
    What Israel needs is the world at large to mind its own problems and let Israel resolve the Arab-Palestinian problems without outside interference whatsoever. Ironically, allowing Israel to put an end to the terrorist acts of the Arab-Palestinians is the best thing that could happen to the Arab-Palestinians. It would liberate them from their destructive obsession and allow them to begin constructing their own polity, economy, society, and culture with the ultimate goal of becoming self-sufficient.
    Israel must have all the territory west of the Jordan River. It is legally and historically Jewish territory which was guaranteed by the Supreme Allied Powers as part of an international agreement after WWI. At the same time the Arabs were allocated over 13 million sq. km. (6 million. sq. mi.) with a wealth of oil reserves, plus took over 75% of Jewish allocated land of Palestine and established the new Arab State of Jordan east of The Jordan River. The new State of Jordan immediately expelled all the Jews and confiscated all their assets. Furthermore, other Arab countries also terrorized and expelled over a million Jewish families who now reside in Israel and comprise over half the population. These are the very same Jewish refugees from Arab countries which Arabs confiscated all their assets including, personal items, businesses, homes and over 120,000 sq. km. (46,332 sq. mi.) of Jewish owned Real estate for over 2,600 years.
    It is going to be a monumental achievement to relocate the Arabs in Israel to Jordan and/or to other Arab countries. However, it is a known fact that after WWII over 100 million refugees were resettled in various countries so it can be done. However, by relocating the Arabs in Israel to the homes and land confiscated from the million expelled Jewish families is more than a fair exchange. Arab refugees being returned to Arab countries to replace the Jewish refugees wrongfully and forcefully expelled. This would be a peaceful solution to the unending war being waged against Israel.
    Another solution would be for the total and crushing defeat of all Arab-Palestinian organizations by Israel which would mark the beginning of the end of the wider Arab and Muslim war on Israel.
    YJ Draiman

  • Nakba is Arabic for disaster, and is the root cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It’s been an unmitigated disaster that most Arabs reject Israel, and won’t accept responsibility for their failures.

  • The Arab countries forcefully expelled over a million Jewish families and confiscated all their assets

    The Arabs and the world at large will have to consider the million Jewish families who were persecuted and expelled from Arab countries and all their assets, personal assets, businesses, homes and Real estate property over 120,000 sq. km which is 6 times the size of Israel and valued in the trillions of dollars that was confiscated by the Arab countries. Those expelled Jewish families from the Arab countries were mostly settled in Israel and some in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). Today over half the population in Greater Israel consists of Jewish families expelled from Arab countries and their descendants. Do you think it is just to expel them again from their own country of Israel and give their lands to the Arabs who expelled them from their Arab countries? Think again, it will never happen. A good solution is: Relocate the Arabs from Greater Israel to the over 120,000 sq. km. land and home confiscated by the Arab countries and utilize the money of the confiscated valued of Jewish assets in Arab countries to finance the relocation and build an economy and industry where both the hosting Arab country and the relocated Arab Palestinians will benefit from greatly.
    The Arabs can also utilize the funding provided by the world nations instead of buying weapons, build housing and industry, and thus improve the standard of living and quality of life. The question is how and when these avenues of solutions can start; and is there a strong enough leadership to pursue this avenue.
    YJ Draiman

  • Hillel

    not to mention the “supremacist ideology, despotic and corrupt leaders and irrational hate of jews” in much of Europe and the rest of the bloody world.