"'You are absolutely wrong on all counts. First of all there was never any Palestine to begin with... so who exactly do you mean by Palestinians?'
There were also no "Israelis" as such until Israel was officially created. Both identities are constructed ones. Again, so what? In the end, they're fighting over land. If either side wanted peace, they'd have it by now. As it is, there are people on both sides who have profited, and continue to profit, from the continuation of hostilities."
-- from a reader
No, but the word "Palestinians" and the invention of the "Palestinian people" was a deliberate construct. It did begin right away. It was not the term used, ever since there were Arabs in what Western Christendom called "Palestine." The phrase was never used by the local Arabs until after the defeat in the Six-Day War. And then, having jettisoned Shukairy a few years before, the Arabs collectively decided, with a little help from public-relations advisers in the West, to thoroughly redo their presentation.
The most important thing was to redefine the conflict. No longer are all those Arabs against a tiny Jewish state. No. Now, by an act of optical illusion, the tiny Jewish state would be transformed into a vast empire, this Greater Israel (why, the same BBC newscasters who routinely refer to Lebanon as that "tiny country" and to Jordan as that "tiny country" -- I hear it all the time -- for some reason never use that epithet with Israel. Never. Not once) which, even if it came into being, would be all of the size of Massachusetts, and less than one-one-thousandth the size of the Arab states.
But the absurdities pile up. It was time to rename the local Arabs, both those in the territories won by Israel that were part of the original Palestine Mandate (Gaza, the "West Bank" quondam Judea and Samaria), and those who had been called simply, and a bit too easily, "Arab refugees" -- by every single Arab spokesman at the U.N., the Arab League, and elsewhere -- living in those villages (always described as "refugee camps" though some are full-fledged cities, and all have stores and built-up areas; these are not tent cities -- the kind of thing that refugees in Darfur must endure) in Jordan, Lebanon, and so on.
The term "Israeli" was not deliberately invented to score political points. Far from it. The Jews of Israel are really what is in play here, the survival of a Jewish state, of the right of the Jews to have a state.
It is absurd to equate the deliberate and sinister creation of this fake "Palestinian identity" (google "Zohair Mohsen" and "Palestinian people" for more) for political ends, with the simple term "Israeli" to describe those who are citizens of the state of Israel.
So let's do it otherwise. Let's, more truthfully, talk about Arabs and Jews. Arabs and Jews in the Middle East. Do the Jews, who come from the Middle East, and a million of whom in 1948, having endured for centuries the life of dhimmis under Muslim rule (save in those places, such as North Africa, where the brief rule by European powers led to Jewish emancipation from the burden of living under Shari'a -- thanks in Algeria to the loi Cremieux of 1870) left, and most fled to the state of Israel? Do the Jews have a right to a state, a state that can be defended against permanent Muslim aggression, or do they not?
And as for the local Arabs, whose numbers have been so exaggerated -- few bother to consult the Ottoman cadastral or demographic records, such as they are, in pronouncing on the subject of "Palestine" and fewer still put that "Palestine" and the non-Muslim and non-Arab minorities of the Middle East into their proper light, their proper perspective -- for the Kurds also, now is perhaps the time to add, have a right to an independent state, and Lebanon, by rights, should remain a haven, a final haven, for the Arabic-using Christians -- not all, by a long shot, are Arabs -- in the Middle East.
So there it is. A Jewish state, permanently imperiled, and asked to voluntarily make itself still more imperiled. And the implacable relentless Arabs, using salami tactics, and their vast unearned wealth, to apply every kind of pressure to get the world's Infidels to join in the gang-up, and to push Israel back to clearly indefensible borders, without control of vital aquifers, without control of traditional invasion routes, eight miles wide at its waist, from Qalqilya to the sea. And this is the one country, the only country, that the most persecuted tribe in human history, having recently been the victim of the most unbelievable crime in human history, that exists for that tribe to embody its national identity without any doubts or need to conform to what others would have.
And on the other hand, there are the Arabs, who having denied or attempted to deny every non-Muslim and non-Arab people in North Africa and the Middle East -- Kurds and Berbers and now blacks in Darfur and Christian Copts and Maronites and Assyrians and Chaldeans and others -- their rights, in some cases their linguistic and cultural rights, in others their rights to control or profit from their own natural resources, in still other cases, to enjoy freedom from Arab political masters -- and those Arabs have denied these peoples the right to speak their own non-Arab languages (see the case of the Berbers), retain their own culture, have even mass-murdered them in the Sudan and Iraq, with the other Arabs looking on, openly or silently supporting them, and blocking all attempts to stop the murder.
And those same Arabs, with their 22 states, have also been the beneficiaries of unmerited wealth, having nothing to do with their own efforts, their own industry or entrepreneurial flair. The rich Arabs and Muslims have received, for doing absolutely nothing, some ten trillion dollars since 1973 alone, and we all know the arms, and the luxurious palaces, and the call girls, and the yachts, and all the rest of it, that they have spent their money on, including the mosques and madrasas and Da'wa and propaganda on behalf of Islam -- through buying up journalists, creating academic centers, dangling possible contracts before greedy businessmen, and all the rest of it.
And you still wish to tell us you are morally neutral when it comes to Arabs and Jews in that little affair in a dusty sliver of land on the eastern littoral of the Mediterranean? You surely are not the moral idiot you have painted yourself to be. Surely you have not thought this all through. Surely history, including the last millennium or two, or at least back to the beginning of Islam's conquests and subjugations, and the fantastic story of what happened to the Jews, those who remained, and those who made their way out of the Middle East, should make some impression on you.
Assuming you are free of the usual mental pathology that explains so many cases of such "neutrality" in this case, one hopes you reconsider your declaration of "neutrality" -- as unacceptable a position as declaring moral neutrality between the Allies, and Nazi Germany, during World War II.
Apologies; above link to L.Auster reference doesn't work; the article appears at: front page magazine. Try 'Archives' there, and tap in date of August 30 2004.
Hugh, excellent didactic piece.
I am reminded of another worthy piece:
"How Strong is the Arab Claim to Palestine?" (L.Auster.)