It is one of my ongoing contentions that the extent to which progressive-left Jewry incorporates the “Palestinian narrative” of perpetual and perfect victim-hood into their understanding of the Arab-Israel conflict is the extent to which their views on the matter are counterproductive to the well-being of world Jewry.
This is not to say that there are no elements of truth in the “Palestinian narrative” but merely to suggest that when this narrative is held up to historical scrutiny it is found largely to be a lie. The essence of the lie is that the Jews of the Middle East are the oppressors of an innocent local Arab population with a distinct and separate ethnicity from other Arabs in the region. The “Palestinian narrative” holds that during the latter part of the nineteenth-century, and throughout the first half of the twentieth-century, imperialistic European Jewish colonists stole land from the indigenous Arab population, whom they ethnically-cleansed from the region, under the false belief that G-d is a sort-of cosmic real estate broker. These vicious Jews then went forward to oppress the innocent Palestinians who, to this day, live under a brutal apartheid system leaving them no choice but to resist the Jewish settler-state in any manner possible, including suicide bombings.
Painting with a rather broad brush, this represents the “Palestinian narrative” as it is presented today to gullible and well-meaning westerners, including of course gullible and well-meaning progressive-left western Jews. The degree to which we accept this narrative is the degree to which the Jews are guilty before the conversation even begins. The degree to which we accept this narrative is the degree to which the argument can never be won because the conclusion of Jewish guilt is embedded directly within the fundamental premises of the narrative itself.
One of the ways that the “Palestinian narrative” embeds itself into the conversation by pro-Palestinian activists, by anti-Semitic anti-Zionists, and by Israel Haters of the far left, is through the terms of discussion used to describe the conflict. One of the most basic of such terms is the usage of “Occupation” to describe the situation of Arabs living on historically Jewish land. The capital “O” suggests that not only are the Palestinians living under Jewish occupation, but that the occupation itself is the uber-occupation, the Grand Dame of All Other Occupations.
The truth is that the vast majority of Arabs in Judea and Samaria live under the rule of their local dictator, Mahmoud Abbas, and not under the authority of the Jewish State of Israel. What we associate with “occupation” is the security fence and the check-points that Arabs must often contend with in their day-to-day lives in the region. These measures that the Jews of the Middle East use to protect themselves from the much larger and hostile majoritarian population are measures designed to prevent violence toward themselves and their children. For thirteen hundred years, since Muhammed’s armies stormed out of the Saudi peninsula, the Jews of the Middle East lived under the boot of Arab-Muslim imperialism until the end of World War I. Since, unlike the Copts, for example, Israel is The Dhimmi That Got Away, the Jews have been subject to ongoing war against them by those who wish to reinstate Jewish subservience under Arab-Muslim rule. What we refer to as the “occupation” is nothing more than Jewish means of self-defense against that larger, hostile majority population.
Thus when we discuss the “occupation” or, worse yet, the “Occupation,” we are admitting from the very start that the Jews are criminal victimizers and the Arabs are largely innocent victims when, from a larger historical perspective, the exact opposite is true. The Jews represent a tiny, maligned, and abused minority who have lived lives of persecution under Islamic rule century upon century since Muhammed. What has changed is that the Jews of the region did what was necessary to free themselves, when the opportunity arose, and did so through the reconstitution of the Jewish State. The Arabs, as a group, may not like it very much and many of them may use violence in order to intimidate, and even kill, their former subjects, but to suggest that Jewish freedom means the subjugation of another people is to turn both morality and history directly upon its head.
When the Arabs, including those local to Israel, finally decide to live in peace with the Jews than the security fence will come down and the check-points will be abandoned. When the “Palestinians” finally decide, if ever they do, that they are willing to accept a state for themselves in peace next to the Jewish one they may then get such a state, something that they have rejected for almost one hundred years now.
In the mean time however, whether anyone likes it or not, the Jews of the Middle East are free and they will remain free.
Mike Lumish is the proprietor of the pro-Israel blog, Israel Thrives.