by Jerold S. Auerbach

Identity theft, in most jurisdictions, is a punishable offense. But in the United Nations, Palestinians are free — indeed, encouraged — to rob Israel of its history, heritage, and homeland.

At times the United Nations seems to exist for no reason other than to stoke Palestinian fantasies. UNRWA, its benevolent Relief and Works Agency created solely for Palestinian refugees," was established after the 1948 war when Israel secured its independence and Palestinians proclaimed their eternal dependence.

During the fighting instigated by five Arab nations, 700,000 Palestinians abandoned their homes, some in fear of the Israeli army and others in obedience to the instructions of their own leaders. (A similar number of Jews, expelled from Arab countries, found safe refuge in Israel.) By now, the number of Palestinian "refugee" claimants is nearly 5 million, all of whom receive UNRWA funding and none of whom seem inclined to leave their refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, or even the West Bank and Gaza, which Palestinians control.

The Arab states, in conjunction with the U.N., decided that it was better that Palestinians fester in poverty, misery, and rage (at Israel) than be absorbed as citizens of the nations where they reside. By now nearly 30,000 UNRWA workers have a vested interest in preserving their own jobs, which require that Palestinians remain unprepared for life outside their refugee camps.

If UNRWA has functioned as the world's largest welfare scam, it is about to be joined by UNESCO, the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It recently approved a Palestinian membership bid even though — unlike all other UNESCO members — the Palestinians are not a state and show few signs of taking meaningful steps to become one.

UNESCO exists to identify and conserve sites of international cultural significance, a worthy objective. But it is about to be rolled by the Palestinian Authority, which — hardly coincidentally — claims Jewish (and even Christian) holy sites as its own. Just last year the Palestinian Authority claimed the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, from which it has driven away most Arab Christians, as a heritage site. It insisted — predictably — that Jesus was a Palestinian. But the PA was not then a UNESCO member, and its request was denied.

With Palestinian membership in UNESCO voted for overwhelmingly at the end of October, the Palestinians are prepared to resume their plundering of Jewish history. At the top of their list of "Palestinian" sites deserving of world heritage status are the tombs of the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs of the Jewish people in Hebron. Along with Rachel's tomb outside Bethlehem, and Joseph's tomb in Nablus (biblical Shechem), these were among the most revered Jewish holy sites in the world for two millennia before the birth of Muhammad and the rise of Islam. They still are.

Now, in its most fanciful claim, the Palestinian Authority is prepared to request that UNESCO designate the Dead Sea as Palestine's own "heritage site." What the Palestinian historical claims to the Dead Sea might be are undisclosed. The famous Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in the caves near Qumran at the northern edge of the Dead Sea, comprise nearly one thousand biblical texts and other ancient Jewish documents recounting Jewish life in the centuries preceding the destruction of the Second Temple — millennia before the appearance of Palestinians.

The Palestinian Authority has yet to reveal any historical connection of its people to the Dead Sea for the simple reason that there is none. But its minister of tourism has indicated that its claim would confirm Palestinian ownership of part of the Dead Sea, thereby preventing Israel, which has developed its western shore and environs, from claiming full control.

Plundering Jewish history and claiming Israeli land is, of course, the raison d'être of Palestinian existence. It is nothing new; Palestiniannational identity has always been built on the foundation of biblical and Zionist sources. Shortly before the birth of the State of Israel, a prominent Arab historian conceded: "There is no such thing as Palestine in history."

Without a history of their own, Palestinians have pillaged Jewish history to create an imaginary national narrative. They cite the biblical Canaanites as their ancient ancestors and embrace Ishmael, born to Abraham's servant Hagar, as their "biblical" forebear. The "right of return" of Palestinian refugees, predictably, is modeled after the Israeli Right of Return extended to Jews everywhere by the Knesset in 1950.

Claiming the Land of Israel and the history of the Jewish people as their own, Palestinians have engaged in nothing less than identity theft. Their leaders inhabit a land of their imagination, no less fanciful than Oz, Wonderland, or Shangri-La. And, with their remarkable penchant for damaging their own cause — never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity, as Abba Eban memorably said — they have now deprived UNESCO of its $60-million annual payment from the United States, prohibited by law from funding an international organization that includes "Palestine" as a member before peace is negotiated with Israel.

Despite the shameless complicity of UNRWA, UNESCO, and the United Nations itself, Palestinian fantasies of seizing Jewish history in the Land of Israel are unlikely to float — even on the Dead Sea.


Some of the comments that added useful information.

Token 11/06/2011 09:29 AM

Excellent, perceptive, well articulated piece. Good writing, founded on good thinking! The UN is unquestionably prosecutable under the RICO act, and has morphed from an utterly corrupt, third world, communist dominated, hate filled, covetous, spiteful, anti-American mendacious mob, to an utterly corrupt, hate filled, covetous, spiteful, mendacious, cynical tool of Arab/Islamic jihad.

We, the People, need to quit this not only worthless, but pernicious organization, and throw its collective ASSets, out of our country. Let these dipsomats party in Riyadh, resolve whatever the hell they want, and fade from the consciousness of honorable men(and women, of course, no sexism here, just good diatribe). Let the Saudis make up our share of the budget. We ought then found a new organization open exclusively to democracies starting with Israel, Canada, Australia, UK(I know, I know), France( I know), Germany, and a select few others.

We are an honorable people, and should not soil ourselves with repeated contact with the anti-American, anti-Semetic cesspool that the United Nations has become.

madmath1 11/06/2011 04:37 PM

The problem with the UN is the same problem we're seeing in general elections here in the US. At first, only the Nuclear state, which were democratic states (except Russia) were allowed in the UN. Then we got the "bright" idea after the Korean conflict (thanks Truman, why I feel he's so overrated) we got the bright idea, like having all citizens (and in some areas non citizens) instead of those that have investment in the the system, that all nations should have a vote as well. Unlike in the US where only 47% are supportive of socialistic anti-American ideals as they have no skin in the game, well, over 50% (last I check, nearly 73%) are either of socialist states, communist states, or down right dictators and are anti-American and extremely anti-capitalists in their ideals and we wonder why the UN is so corrupt and oppressive in their agendas and rhetoric. If things don't turn soon here in the States, we're going to realized, as we are in the UN, that when every person, like every nation state, have a vote, then free societies and true republics, like those with no skin or investment of the behavior of government other than what they're willing to hand out to them, are going to vote with the best interest of the republics or free societies. As we see with the Occupied movements we are seeing with the member nations of the UN, they're willing to lie, steal, distort, and rewrite history to achieve those goals which both organizations (ok, the occupied movement isn't suppose to be an organization, but they're acting like one) have in common, the end of free societies and capitalism throughout the world. So long as we continue to let the worse of human nature like those in these tyrannical states continue to have a vote, then the UN will continue to vote for corruption and evil Since they can't survive without the the US and her money, the US alone bares the brunt of responsibility for keeping it going. So as long as we continue to stay in the UN, not only are we supplying the guns and bullets to have placed against our collective head, but those of the other free societies as well. We as a country need to start asking if, as well as how long, are we willing to be voluntary victims to our own and allies demise.

Salubrius 11/06/2011 08:48 PM

To honor the term "Palestinian" is to accept the fake designation devised by the Soviet dezinformatsia. See: Brand, Soviet Russia, The Creators of the PLO and the Palestinian People, The Arabs local to Palestine is a more accurate term. In my opinion, "extortion" is a better verb to describe what they have done than the term "plunder".

The Jews were granted exclusive political rghts by the Balfour Declaration. That was only policy, but it was converted into International Law when the policy was adopted by the WWI Allies at San Remo and published in a trust agreement called a mandate by the League of Nations and adopted by the US in 1920 by a joint resolution of the Congress. It became domestic law, treaty law of the US as well in 1924 when the Anglo American Convention was executed. A trust was used to defer to an argument raised by those opposing Balfour that the Jews, who were only a minority of population of Palestine in 1920 (60,000 our to 600,000), should not be granted sovereignty -- that it was not "democratic". Woodrow Wilson was included in those who raised the argument. So in a memo of December 19, 1917, Arnold Toynbee and Lewis Namier in the British Foreign Office described a plan to grant the Jews exclusive political or national rights in trust or mandate, with their obtaining sovereignty when the Jews became a majority after the Diaspora Jews returned to Israel and they could also fulfill the other obligations required to exercise sovereignty. The memo is included in a recent article by Sir Martin Gilbert, the biographer of Churchill. Ever since that time, the Arabs local to Palestine, the so called Palestinians, and the Arabs elsewhere have used violence and threats of violence to try to steal those rights from the Jews. The UN Partition was recommended to try to avoid Arab violence in 1948. In the Oslo agreement, the Arab consideration for Israel entry into the agreement was a renunciation of violence -- a promise that was never kept as the murder of Jews following the agreement was in greater number than those before the agreement.

So, instead of the noun "Palestinians" I would have used "Arabs local to Palestine", and instead of plunder, I would have used the verb extortion. But the author is to be commended in any event.


Jerold S. Auerbach, professor emeritus of history at Wellesley College, blogs at

This appeared November 2011 in the American Thinker and is archived at

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