Painful Lessons

“The new Israeli government has two options; to either open the doors for a meaningful peace process or to further jeopardize any hope for peace. To pursue the path of cooperation, honoring its obligations under international law, or to carry on with the further expansion of its illegal colonial-settlements, annexation, and other violations of Israeli obligations.” [Saeb Erekat, as reported in Arutz7 on 21/04/2020]

This essay addresses the phenomena which have impacted our lives for ages and remain ever-present.

From the above, either the PA’s Erekat is unaware of historical facts, elects to distort the truth or both. In fairness, his position is understandable given that throughout the years Israeli leaders would emphasize peace while the Arabs would make claims for the Land of Israel.

In comparatively recent times, June 25/26, 2019, The American Spectator published “The Myth and Fraud That There Was Ever an Arab Country or People Called ‘Palestine'” by Dov Fischer. His introduction brings to mind several recent incidents reflective of the past.

Rashida Talib, Michigan’s Congresswoman, stated that the Holocaust has had a “calming” effect on her because the “Palestinians” “welcomed” the Jews into “their” land as a haven from Hitler. The Big Lie — in so many dimensions. South Bend Mayor Buttigieg has announced that, if Israel ever extends sovereignty into any part of Judea or Samaria, he will cut off aid to Israel accordingly if he is elected President.

Others on the same bandwagon include Robert O’Rourke, a previous Texas Congressman, ”
a Scottish-Irish skateboarder best known for break-ins, drunk driving, computer hacking, faking Hispanic heritage, and having his ear hairs cut” and “Bernie Sanders, an American Communist” and existing Vermont Senator.

Fisher identifies their commonness in seeing ” nothing anti-Semitic in anything that Ilhan Omar or Rashida Tlaib has written or spoken, but they are unable to tolerate Jewish life in Judea and Samaria.” He also notes that they are in favor of the so-called “Two State Solution”. What is its origin and why are those who can find no reason for another Arab state in the Land of Israel hated?

Roman conquerors under Vespasian and Titus destroyed the Holy Temple in the year 70, and the Romans drove most of the remaining Jews out of Israel in the year 135 under Hadrian and Julius Severus with the fall of Fortress Betar. To extinguish the Jewish bond with the land for all forthcoming eternity, and to prevent yet another Jewish return to Israel from Exile as had happened only seventy years after the Babylonian expulsion of 586 B.C.E., the Romans changed the very name of the land to identify it with the pagan Biblical peoples who preceded the Jews there before Joshua: the Philistines (“Plishtim,” in Biblical Hebrew). One can consult any authorative history book and find no reference to Arabs or “Palestinians “.

The entire “Palestine” myth is built on one Big Lie after another. Having spread the Big Lie for so long — half a century — having defrauded so many gullible people and a new generation of campus ignoramuses to believe the Big Lie that there ever was an Arab country called “Palestine” and the concomitant Big Lie that there ever was an ancient Arab people called “The Palestinians”, this then assumes the believable to the world at large.

As explained by Fischer, for the two thousand years after the Romans renamed Israel, the land of “Palestine” was synonymous with the Land of Israel. There never were a “Palestinian Arab” nation; no Arabs denominated themselves “The Palestinians.” They staked no claims. There never was an Arab political entity called “Palestine.” Open an Encyclopedia pre-dating 1964, and look up “Palestine.” You will find no reference to Palestine, sins it did not exist per se.

In fact there never was an Arab anything called “Palestine” and never an Arab people by such name. The Ancient History Encyclopedia offers full confirmation of this in “The Great Jewish Revolt of 66 CE.” According to Josephus, the well known Roman Jewish historian who fought alongside the Jewish people in the revolt, the shear ineptitude of the Roman governors of the province was the main cause of Jewish anger. The indifference and malice from the Judean governors reflected the malice of the emperors in Rome. What followed was a brutal war of Jews fighting Jews and Jews fighting Romans. Never to be found, a single “Palestinian”.

TOI Blogger, Alan Meyer in his “The Invention of the Palestinian People” of Aug. 9, 2019, explains why. He commences with” Until the late 19th century century the term Palestinian was used as a regional term.” He thoughtfully reminds one that an identity as a people is one precursor to nationhood. “And nationhood is the presence of common identity together with the three key elements of sovereignty, self-determination and self-sufficiency.”

Meyer demonstrates the “Palestinians” never having this and still do not. However, the concept that such a people exists has been consistently impressed on the world in order to achieve a base political goal. Notably, the deliberate creation of the “Palestinian people” as a discrete entity resulted in the May 28, 1964 creation of the PLO for the political purpose of destroying a sovereign and legally mandated Jewish state.

During the entire 400 year period of Ottoman rule [1517-1918], prior to the 30-year long Palestine Mandate, “There was no political unit known as Palestine” according to Palestinian historian Muhammad Y. Muslih. Azmi Bishara, founding leader of the nationalist Balad Party [with seats in the Knesset since 1999] said in 2002, ‘My Palestine identity never precedes my Arab identity—-I don’t think there is a Palestinian nation, there is [only] an Arab nation—-”

The 1964 PlO Charter, when referring ‘Palestinians’ “—- vowed allegiance to the ideal of pan-Arab unity i.e. eventual assimilation into “the greater Arab homeland.” Ahmad Shuqeiri, a Lebanon-born politician of mixed descent, previously serving as the Arab League’s secretary confirmed “—Palestine is nothing but southern Syria.”

Had Israel lost the War of Independence, its territory would have been divided among the invading Arab forces. Thus, the name “Palestine” would have been lost in history, as the invented people existed purely for political purposes. In fact, until 1967, nobody had ever heard of the ‘Palestinians” as a people” steeped in antiquity.

For Alan Meyer, the whole concept of a ” people Palestinian” is a base political strategy invented not to build a state but to destroy a neighboring one. To those who are knowledgeable on this issue will continue to say they are an invented “people”.

He states further that the tactic of the myth of a “Palestinian people”, while being simple enjoys sophisticated preaching and dispersing with distortions of reality. It capitalizes on history, which has a proven record showing that the bigger the lie and more common its retention, the more it is accepted as authentic and genuine.

Earlier, on December 20, 2011, BESA published Professor Michael Curtis’ “Palestinians: Invented People”. He takes us back to February, 2019, when the 1st Congress of Muslim-Christian Associations met to consider the future of the territory formerly ruled by the Ottoman Empire, which dissolved after WW1. The Congress declared: “We consider Palestine as part of Arab Syria as it has never been separated from it at any time.” They recognized the symmetry in terms of national, religious, linguistic, moral, economic, and geographical bonds. In 1956, Ahmad Shuqeiri 1st PLO Chairman, concurred with this adding, “Only for political reasons do we carefully underline our Palestinian identity—–for tactical reasons.”

Perhaps even more significant, Curtis makes the point that a sovereign Jewish state existed prior to the rise of the Roman Empire. Further, while the Romans destroyed the 2nd Temple, changed the name of the land to Syria Palestina, and banished the Jews from Jerusalem, this did not eradicate all Jewish presence in the area. On the other hand, the “Arab Nation” never included a state known as “Palestine”.

An online magazine for Australians, “Jews Down Under” published, ‘Palestinians the Invented People’ on August 17, 2014. It commences by pointing out that in the glorious history of the “Palestinian people”, there is only one “small” problem; nobody in history ever found them. We learn that what is even more amusing, is that Alexander the Great passed all along the coast of Palestine from Tyre to Gaza in 332 – but did not find a single “Palestinian”: only Jews.

Further, we are informed that there is not a single document written in the period of the Arab rule in Palestine referencing “Palestinians” since no such document exists. Arab rule in “Palestine”, did not last long. 300 years after the Arab conquest, Turks –first Mamluks and then Ottomans, overcame them.

Think-Israel Nov-Dec 2013 published Victor Sharpes’ “The Counterfeit Arabs” with a commencement, “they are the Arabs who call themselves ‘Palestinians’.” He goes beyond reminding us that “there is no such thing as a Palestinian people” by a reminder that the modern Palestinian Arabs are primarily the descendents of those itinerant Arabs who illegally flooded British Mandatory Palestine from Egypt, Sudan, Syria and Iraq.

He discusses Canaanites, Philistines, Jewish Revolts of 73AD and 135AD, Saladin, Romans and Greeks, in fact an expansive history. Sharpe’s piece is both excellent and lengthy, but omits proof of the continuity of Jewish life in the Land of Israel.

From other sources, proof is offered for continuity of Jewish life in the Land of Israel:
*Martin Gilbert: Exile and Return
*James Parkes: Whose Land?
*Ben -Zvi: The Exiled
*Muslim Dynasties, Crusader Rule, The Mamluks etc.

The 2nd phenomena relates to Israel’s Confused Democracy. As early as 1999,Professor Paul Eidelberg penned, “Making Votes Count: They Don’t in Israel “which appeared as Policy Paper #79 of Ariel Center for Policy Research. His initial comment speaks volumes to today. “So long as Israel lacks district elections, it will limp from crisis to crisis or from Jerusalem to Washington, until it collapses”. What a prediction come true!! He notes that 76 out of 77 countries rely exclusively on district elections for lower [or only] branch of their legislature, except Israel.

While discussing the differences in forms of government Eidelberg shows how they impact on political decisions. The paper serves as a good primer for the less informed on the subject and for today how little has been done in the way of reform. In all the interim years, Paul Eidelberg has persistently pursued the given topic with obviously no fault of his own minimal success.

“Is this Democracy?” by Daniel Tauber was published by the Jerusalem Post on March 5, 2013. In his opening remarks, he says, “If a lawmaker doesn’t face the public before whom he and his opponents can present initiative, defend their records and be judged, then there is no bond between them.” This, of course is precisely the problem with Israel’s lack of representative democracy.

Tauber then quotes PM Netanyahu, “It cannot be that the country facing the most challenges should suffer from instability and a weak electoral system.” This is really curious. One would have expected him to lead a movement towards its reform. Particularly so, as he resided in the US and would have been exposed to accountability of government officials and employees, and the opportunity for citizens to influence decisions.

Daniel Tauber presents the pros and cons of Israel’s flawed democracy. His primary statement is as follows:
“But in all the talk about electoral reform and why it is necessary, one element has been sorely missing. Perhaps that is because it is not an easy truth to admit: Israeli citizens don’t elect representatives and an essential component of democracy is therefore missing.”

TOI “Agenda Item for the next Knesset: Electoral Reform” by Dov Lipman was published on April 7, 2019. It is as relevant now as it was then. His introduction:” The average Israeli has no say about who represents them, and that’s not only a shame, it’s a failure in democracy.”

Yet another valid point he makes is that Israel functioning using the same system as that established under emergency circumstances in 1948 is absurd; and the failure to make changes and adapt to new realities is hurting our country.

Dov Lipman correctly defines the necessary changes are primarily in three categories: regional representation, raising the electoral threshold, and the separation of powers.

CONCLUSION
A phenomenon is an extraordinary occurrence or circumstance. That Israel should suffer two for almost its entire existence is beyond comprehension.

“Insanity, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” [Albert Einstein]

“All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, mercy honor. [Winston Churchill]

ADDITIONAL REFERENCES
“Making David into Goliath: How the World Turned Against Israel.” [Joshua Muravchik]
“Israel’s Flawed Electoral System: Obstacle to Democracy” [Alex Bain]

About the Author
Alex Rose was born in South Africa in 1935 and lived there until departing for the US in 1977 where he spent 26 years. He is an engineering consultant. For 18 years he was employed by Westinghouse until age 60 whereupon he became self-employed. He was also formerly on the Executive of Americans for a Safe Israel and a founding member of CAMERA, New York (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America and today one of the largest media monitoring organizations concerned with accuracy and balanced reporting on Israel). In 2003 he and his wife made Aliyah to Israel and presently reside in Ashkelon.
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