Revisionist history — An all too common practice

“With all the money that has been invested in the problem of [the] Palestinians, it would have been possible long ago to resettle them and provide them with good lives in Arab countries.” [Andrei Sokolov]

The book , History of the Arab Peoples” by Albert Hourani, regarded as a distinguished Oxford historian, was first published in 1991 and received rave reviews. The book seller Goodreads described it as “Encyclopedic and panoramic in its scope” and hailed it as a fascinating work chronicling “the rich spiritual, political and cultural institutions of Arab history through 13 centuries.”

At the time, 1991, Goodreads considered that no region in the world was more important than the Middle East and no people more misunderstood than the Arabs.

Two established historians, while recognizing value in certain aspects of the book, offer a critical review of the author’s bias and concealed prejudice.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal on April 5, 1991, Daniel Pipes noting that Hourani ‘has a way with words—making it]—a pleasure to read.” However, close scrutiny of the book reveals “some major deficiencies having to do with “its static quality, its tendency to gloss over problems and, its hidden agenda.”

Key comments from Pipes:
[a] Hourani’s narrative lacks a sense of history; and in some ways his work more closely resembles an Arab chronicle than a modern Western history.
[b] A more severe problem concerns the book’s overly-rosy picture. unpleasantries , such as racism, the status of women, and the Arab record in Africa are either touched on lightly or sugar-coated.
[c] Absent is any mention of the terror of enslavement, the castration of eunuchs, the raping of slave women, the pitiless conditions on farms and mines, or the unending humiliation of the slave status.
[d] Saad Eddin Ibrahim, an Egyptian, wrote in 1988 about human rights abuses that “the last ten years witnessed an unprecedented scale of atrocities committed by several Arab governments against their own citizens.”
[e] Hisham Sharabi of Georgetown University writes that the Arab world is for the most part “a culturally and politically desolate and oppressive place in which to live and to work … a difficult place in which to struggle to build a decent and humane society.”
[f] A very pointed retort from Nizar Quabbani who asks, “Our culture? Nothing but bubbles in washtubs and chamber pots.”
[g] Signs of desperation are completely absent from Mr. Hourani’s detached and genteel “disturbance of spirits.”
[h] Mr. Hourani pursues a fashionably leftist agenda, impugning capitalism and attacking Israel, but with so fine a subtlety it borders on the surreptitious. His anti-Israel agenda also leads to some strange assertions. If you want to understand the Arabs, stay clear of Albert Hourani’s apologetic. Instead, read Bernard Lewis’s ‘The Arabs in History’ which, even after forty years, remains the best introduction to a tangled subject. There is also the highly recommended Bernard Lewis, “The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years”, most certainly superior to that of Albert Hourani.

Joel Carmichael, editor of Midstream has called his December 1992 review of Hourani’s work, “A Camouflaged Polemic.”While recognizing the subject 458 page book as having the status of a panorama covering all Arab-speaking societies, his critical introduction alerts a reader to identifiable lapses.

He says that if they,the”people” have the same historical background that justified the book to begin with, just what is it that”distinguishes one Arab ‘people’ from another?” He adds,”on a definition of Arabs, Hourani is satisfied with a simple one: an Arab is a speaker of Arabic.”

Carmichael explains how Hourani slights the contribution of Judaism to Islam, Muhammad, author of the Qur’an , spends about half the book acknowledging the “message of Moses”. Further, there is “the biblical theory of Ishmael, son of Abraham as father of the Arabs who was always accepted by both Jews and Arabs, as historical.

When the Jews in Arabia rejected Muhammad’s leadership, it was to be their undoing. As stated in the Qur’an, his irritation resulted in “his exterminating and expelling all Jews from the peninsular from that day to this.”

At a later time, Maimonides was to forbid Jews to accept Christianity even on pain of death , while it was legitimate , if compelled to accept Islam. Carmichael explains how Muslims regard Jews and – for that matter Christians and everyone else – as, in principle, inherently subordinate. Consequently, he feels, there might be some irritation vis-a-vis the Zionist success in wresting away even 1/500th part of the Arab-speaking domain.

Joel Carmichael opinionates that for Muslims, the Jews, while eerie in surviving the Shoah and then being able to influence, persuade, bamboozle, hypnotize – the Christian powers into supporting Israel – even fitfully, halfheartedly, and contradictory – have the sort of power popularly ascribed to large, mysterious associations like the Masons and the Jesuits.

He goes on to posit why Hourani did not question how it was, that despite the vast Muslim population, over the vast area, the largest under the control of a single group of people with vast resources [two thirds of the world’s oil, etc.] has the overwhelming bulk of political activity been concentrated on this tiny element [Israel] .

Further, Hourani so abstractly failed to explain the deeper currents of honor, prestige, resentment and ambition. Carmichael notes also that Hourani was one of the first to create the phrase “Palestinian people”. Accordingly in 1967 he must have known that the “Palestinian People” was a polemical innovation.”By a mere reflection of reality, in a word, the polemic had been so successful that it was accepted as fact.”

Hence, the nonexistent but projected state of the “Palestinian People” – even “nation” – that could claim the specific area under Israeli control. By describing Israel as Israel routinely as an “occupation”, Hourani joins all the opponents of Israel’s territorial integrity, “including all the Arab leaders and, of course, the major media and the US government.”

There was no need for Hourani to use a circuitous path to destroy Israel’s rightful claims according to international law. As noted by Carmichael,”his detachment has been splintered by an unavowed passion.” Stated, differently, by adhering to truth, his book would have been greatly enhanced.

Writing in Arutz7 on 20/11/2013, Victor Sharpe addresses “The Counterfeit Arabs” in a counter weight to those who seek to provide fictitious arguments against Jewish claims to the Land of Israel. As a prolific freelance writer on the given subject with many published articles in established media sources, Sharpe is well qualified for the task at hand.

By way of an introduction he states categorically; “There is no such thing as a Palestinian people, no such thing as a Palestinian history, and no Palestinian language exists. There has never been any independent sovereign Palestinian state in all of recorded history- let alone an Arab independent state of Palestine.” They are the Arabs who call themselves Palestinians.

Sharpe substantiates all of his allegations with concrete evidence. He states that any search for Palestinian Arab coinage or Palestinian Arab archaeological artifacts specifically related to any Palestinian Arab king or ancient leader will be in vain, as they do not exist. On the other hand, in the case of Jews, there is ample evidence by way of coins, pottery, ancient scrolls, all providing conclusive, empirical and millennial evidence of Jewish civilization dotting the land known correctly as Israel – not Palestine.

There can be no disputing but the fact that the present day so-called “Palestinians” are an Arab people sharing an overwhelming Muslim Arab culture, ethnicity and language identical to their fellow Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa, with few, if any, distinctions.

Abbas and others who argue that they are derivatives of Canaanites and Philistines are not only liars but authors of nonsense. As Sharpe points out, Canaanites, without doubt, were the first known inhabitants of the Land of Israel prior to the first Hebrews. Their language was similar to Hebrew and their territory stretched north into the present day Lebanon, including the present day Golan Heights. Further, he says, the Canaanites were finally subdued during the reign of King David. Most Canaanites were gradually assimilated into the Jewish people and were no longer a distinguishable people.

The historical record references the 8th century BC as having the Canaanites no longer existing and confirming only the Jews able to trace back an historic link to ancient Cannan and not the “Palestinians.”The Philistines were alien people, known as the Sea People, who entered the land from the Mediterranean Isles.”Palestinian” Arabs attempting to claim a linage with them is “as absurd as that of the links with early Canaanites.

Moving through from 73AD, the 1ST attempt of the Jews to gain independence from the repressive yoke of Roman occupation, Masada, Roman destruction of Jewish capital and 2nd Jewish Temple, there is absolutely no mention of any place called “Palestine” before that time. In fact, nowhere do the Romans reference Palestinian” people.

Fact is, there is no lack of evidence to prove the claims of Jewish roots and continuity in the Land of Israel. Likewise, it is a simple matter to disprove all Arab hoaxes in this context. A few examples: From Victor Sharpe:

“There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not”. (Professor Philip Hitti, Arab historian, 1946)

“It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria”. (Representative of Saudi Arabia at the United Nations, 1956)

Concerning the Holy Land, the chairman of the Syrian Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in February 1919 stated: “The only Arab domination since the Conquest in 635 AD hardly lasted, as such, 22 years.”

From Professor Paul Eidelberg [Arutz7- 14/06/2016:

“The Arab claim to Palestine is a hoax——-The Arab hoax is intended to negate the Jewish People’s claim to their ancestral homeland. The hoax is typical of the Arab myth-making culture, a polite way of referring to the Arab’s tendency to prevarication.”

“Quoting Middle East expert Professor Y. Harkabi —-‘The use of falsehood—and distortions of truth—are typical of Arab political life [and]—seem to feel reluctant to mention this aspect of their analysis of the Arab world—–quotes the liberated Arab sociologist Sonia Hamady:’ Lying is widespread amongst the Arabs and they have a low idea of truth.'”

Winston Churchill in his history of WW2 demonstrates how the political correctness and appeasing meglamaniacs and fanatics, cannot, and will not ever succeed. He acknowledged the growing power and demands of the Muslims worldwide and recognized the need for it not to be treated as was the rising power of the Nazis. At some time, he was given to stating; “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.

To date, Israel has been blessed with politicians and leaders who have largely not learned the lessons of Churchill, or as proclaimed by David Meir -Levi in his booklet, “Stolen History: How the ‘Palestinians” and Their Allies Attack Israel’s Right to Exist by Erasing its Past”; as follows”
“The entire endeavor to steal Israel’s history and replace it with the fiction of a ‘Palestinian’ nation of high antiquity in historic Palestine is war by other means. And as in all wars, the first causality is the truth.”

President Donald Trump means well but regrettably, he suffers from poor judgment. Selecting a team of amateurs will not materialize in a “Deal of the Century”, but utter failure. An end to further discussions on a so called two state solution needs to be abandoned forever and replaced by one of several other realistic schemes.

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.