The Jews never left, but the memory of their presence was obscured, especially in Jerusalem. The capital in particular was transformed by Arafat into a place where the historical reality was denied and forgotten, despite the proof that can be found even in Muslim books referring to the Al’Aqsa Mosque, and recalling, with the pride of conquerors, that it and the famous Dome of the Rock were constructed on the remains of the Second Temple built by Herod – Beit al-Maqdis built on top of Beit ha-Miqdash, as the Temple Mount is explained in tourist brochures.
Attempts to expel the Jews from Jerusalem over the centuries have not succeeded: the most recent – no less bloody than the many previous savage attempts – was during the second Intifada, consisted of a strategy uniting the fanatical denial of the Jewish people’s historical belonging to Israel with a genocidal hunting spree, carried out on buses, in restaurants, in supermarkets, and so on. This strategy followed a pre-determined path. It was a terrorist war, and a rejection of the Jewish presence and its right to exist, which was sold to the world as a form of colonialism, like the French presence in Algeria, meriting only obliteration through violence. This is the same denial of the Jewish people’s right to their State, on their land, that led Mahmoud Abbas, during the peace process, to refuse to acknowledge the existence of the “Jewish State”, as unconditionally required by the Israeli government. When he swears that he will never recognize Israel, Mahmoud Abbas is not stating his own personal policy, but rather a long history of refusal – the “Arab refusal”, as it has been called.
During discussion on a document that submitted 17 amendments to Strasbourg, in the European Council, I witnessed the passage of a resolution recognizing the request for “two states”. I proposed that this be changed to “two states for two peoples”, but this was rejected, and out of ignorance, laziness, conformity, and fear of the opinion of the Palestinians and Turks who were present as observers, the “two state” formula was passed. What does this mean? It means that two states can be created under the “stages” strategy, which was theorized by Faisal Husseini, along with the concept of the peace process as a “Trojan Horse” that can used to create a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. But the second state specified under the resolution, which simply calls for “two States”, could be anything – a state for two peoples, a state of its citizens, a state that is not Jewish but is ready to become Jewish, to disappear sooner or later so that the maps can finally be correct when they show, as they currently do on the walls of Palestinian schools and offices, “Palestine” as a state that includes all of Israel, with Israel being wiped off the map.
In denying Jewish history, Mahmoud Abbas is following in the footsteps of Arafat, who was unbeatable in propaganda – it was one of his most important warhorses. For him, Jewish history in Jerusalem is a “a fictitious myth”, invented by Israel “with brute force”. Palestinian newspapers, now unfortunately blindly followed by the international press, speak of the “supposed temple of the Jews”. Saeb Erekat gave his own explanation of why the Palestinian Authority does not intend to recognize the “State of the People of Israel”: “That would negate our entire narrative,” he said. And what is this narrative? It is something that leads directly to the impossibility of a true peace accord, continuing the tradition of building a false history in which the Palestinians are the rightful owners, while the Jews are foreign usurpers, genuine colonialists, and even agents of American imperialism (the protesters that ask Mahmoud Abbas to flatly reject Obama’s requests also accuse him of conspiring with the Americans and Israelis).
Acceptance of the right of the Jews to have their own State, here on this land, is the only real way to neutralize the refusal which, in recent years, has strengthened the determinedly negative responses to any peace proposal (Rabin, Barak, Olmert, Clinton, Obama), maintaining a fundamental attitude of refusal, and therefore an intention to fight to the death.
Reading Itamar Marcus’s always-instructive Palestinian Media Watch, we see endless evidence of this. There is a wide gulf between the recognition of Israel in 1993 under the Oslo Accords, and the recognition of Israel’s right to exist. Marcus quotes the PLO’s ambassador to India, Adli Sadeq, saying: “There are no Palestinians who would disagree about the fact that Israel exists, but recognizing its right to exist is very different” (Al-Hayat al-Jadida, November 26, 2011). Palestinian children are taught to distinguish between these two concepts. Their school textbooks say that “The war of ’48 … ended with the catastrophe of the Zionist gang stealing Palestine and establishing the so-called State of Israel”. Children as young as eight learn that all of Israel has been occupied territory since 1948: “We must never forget that we have a land that was occupied in 1948, and that will one day be returned to us.” When Kerry, or anyone else, maintains that it is pointless to insist on the recognition of a Jewish State because this was already done through the Oslo Accords, it must be considered that these sorts of texts, and this way of thinking, existed long before Oslo, and are firmly established in the “narrative” of Saeb Erekat.
The future depends on how we view the right of the Jewish people to their own State on this land. It is therefore essential that putting a stop to the conflict be seen in terms of ending the lie that says the Jewish people invented the fable of its Middle Eastern origins, and is in fact made up of a patchwork of nationalities, with their bags packed, ready to return to Morocco, Germany, Italy, or France. Despite all the names artificially placed on it, this land has been called Israel for more than 2000 years. It is the Land of the Jewish people, and until this is recognized and assimilated by everyone, even Palestinian schoolchildren, there is no future for peace.