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by Moshe Dann


Every time someone writes, speaks of 'Palestinians' a myth is reinforced

The establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the Nakba (catastrophe) for Arabs, and the aggression by five well-armed Arab countries, assisting local Arab gangs and militias that had been attacking Jews for years, placed Jews in Israel and the state in mortal danger.

Fighting back, Israel eventually negotiated an armistice in 1949 that allowed a respite from open war, albeit not terrorism, and without peace. The Egyptians occupied the Gaza Strip; the Jordanians occupied Judea, Samaria and the eastern part of Jerusalem, including the Old City and Temple Mount; Syria continued to occupy the Golan Heights, from which it constantly shelled Israeli settlements; all trained and supplied terrorists who raided Israel. The UN did nothing.

Arabs who left homes and property in Israel and many from other countries who joined Arab armies and did not want to return, remained in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, most as "refugees" under the care of UNRWA.

This heterogeneous population was called "Arab refugees," not "Palestinians," because at the time there was no such group, or people.

One reason they were called "Arab refugees" was because there were many other refugees in Palestine, who were Jewish. Hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from Arab countries streamed into Israel. UNRWA offered no aid, although Jewish refugees had lost everything and the newly established state had few resources.

It took a crafty Egyptian, Yasser Arafat, to create the PLO with his friends to promote the destruction of Israel and the return of Arab refugees. Arab countries saw them as convenient proxies in their war against Israel, to "liberate Palestine."

Except for Jordan, no Arab host country permitted the newcomers to obtain citizenship; as temporary residents, their civil and humanitarian rights were harshly restricted.

The designation "Palestinian" did not become widely accepted until after the war in 1967, in which Israel, in self-defense, captured areas that had been assigned to a Jewish State by the League of Nations and Mandate, and then occupied by Arab countries: Judea, Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem; the Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, rich in Jewish history and archeology, and the Sinai Peninsula.

As the PLO launched mega-terrorist attacks around the world, "Palestinianism" became accepted, backed by the Arab League, Muslim and "non-aligned" countries, and the United Nations.

As the proportion of anti-Israel countries in the UN grew, "Palestinians" were given more and more recognition, support and legitimacy, unlike any other group.

And the fraud worked! It worked so well because the world's media accepted the Palestinians' self-definition and their cause. Even the Israeli media, politicians and jurists adopted this myth. Academics promoted "Palestinian archeology," "Palestinian society and culture." Every time someone writes or speaks of "Palestinians" it reinforces this myth.

'Liberating Palestine'

Most major newspapers use only the term "West Bank" — a Jordanian reference from 1950 to distinguish the area from the "East Bank" — rather than its authentic names, Judea and Samaria, apparently to deny its Jewish history.

"Palestinian" came to mean Arabs who lived in Judea, Samaria and Gaza — as well as those in UNRWA-sponsored "refugee camps" in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, and hundreds of thousands of "Palestinians" living throughout the world. By UNRWA's unique and controversial definition, anyone who claims to live or have lived in Palestine, and all descendents, forever, are considered "Palestinian," with full rights and privileges.

Spread among 58 "refugee camps" (in many cases entire towns) UNRWA's over half-billion dollar budget supports about 1.5 million "refugees in camps" and 5 million "registered refugees;" the total population is expected to reach 7 or 8 million next year, and growing.

As Palestinian nationalism spread among Israeli Arabs, the term became an identity magnet for Arabs on both sides of the 1949 Armistice Line — the "Green Line," as well as those living in other countries. Today, "Palestinian" can be anyone who for whatever reason identifies as such, including their children, grandchildren, etc.

This amalgam of national identity is possible because "Palestinian" is not a separate, unique linguistic, cultural, ethnic, religious or racial group. Nor does this motley group, currently led by Fatah and Hamas terrorist organizations, aspire to a country with clearly defined borders. Their goal is not statehood, but exterminating the Jews, thereby "liberating Palestine."

The success of "Palestinianism" is a tribute to what money, influence and Jew-hatred will buy and attract. That Jewish and Israeli media and NGO's support Palestinianism stems from liberal ideals of helping those who are less fortunate, the underdog, and even a genuine, although misdirected desire to live in peace, a supreme Jewish value.

Although there's probably no way to prevent the notion of "Palestinianism" from spreading, there's no reason to ignore it, and less to accept it. Arabs of Palestine are entitled to civil and human rights in the countries in which they have resided for generations. That there needs to be a second Arab Palestinian state, in addition to Jordan, which was carved out of Palestine and whose population is two-thirds "Palestinian," and whether such a state will resolve all the attendant problems is extremely doubtful.

That the State of Israel should commit suicide to accomplish this goal is unthinkable.

EDITOR'S NOTE: These are comments by readers of the original article that amplify some points made in the article.
9. Mr Dan is 100% correct

Unfortunately the news media both overseas and our own local "expert" journalists have marketed the "Palestinian" label so industriously, that it will need a major effort to rip it off. The prestigious British weekly mag. "Economist" has been referring to "Palestine" for a long time now, as if its a real entity - replacing the use of by-lines "Ramallah", "Bethlehem" etc. Only Gaza is still called Gaza. I have noticed the trend in the last two years in English media, as well as France 24 & Al Jazeera TV stations (anti-Israel anyway)

I dont think real history has a chance today against the fashionable mythology being peddled by the Arab propaganda machine. Sadly the Israel government is cooperating with this new labelling.

Israeli grandmother (09.30.09)

11. You are right, I have inadvertantly used the moniker "Palestinian" to identify a group of people whose identification with Israel, Judea and Samaria is, as you delineate, quite problematic.

Incidentally, I was surprised to hear from a (former) academic historian from Israel who challenges the kind of negative image of Israel put out by the ilk of David Newman and Neve Gordon and many others (see and, frankly, I read your column with relief.

Robert Haymond , Ashdod, Israel (09.30.09)

18. #5, "Palestinians" have nothing to do with Philistines

Here are some basic facts that even a spinmeister like Ilan Pappe cannot fudge.

The Philistines, an ancient people of Aegean origin, ceased to exist around 500 b.c., during the Babylonian destructions.

The Arabs who adopted the name 'Palestinians' did so some 17 years after the termination of the Palestine Mandate, a name that the Arabs had always condemned as a foreign Zionist/British implant. It is a ficticious name for a ficiticious nationality that never existed.

If I decide to buy a house along Seneca Lake in upstate New York, that does not make me a member of the Seneca Indian tribe...any more than modern "Palestinians" can claim a link to ancient Philistines and Canaanites.

Jake (09.30.09)

19. I love when the Arabs claim to be Philistines

Considering that it is a Hebrew term meaning "Invader from over the seas".

Stupid people attempting to steal another people's history.

Gee , Zikron Yaakov (09.30.09)

74. ALSO JEWS UNTIL 1948 had PALESTINIAN written in their passports and birth certificates - I HAVE ONE LIKE THAT!!! - since THAT was the name given to the place in TOTALLY ANTI-JEWISH SIGNIFICANCE by the Roma Emperor Hadrian taking it from a FOREIGN PEOPLE OF INVADERS OF GREEK PHOENICIAN ORIGINS that were EXTINCT after being defeated by the Jews.

There is no "Palestinian" PEOPLE distinguishable from the rest of the Arabs. Even a PLO leader confirmed it in 1977 in Amsterdam.

Jews and Arabs under British Mandatory Rule were called Palestinians

ALBA , Adria, Italy (10.05.09) N.ALBA@YAHOO.IT


The author, a former assistant professor of History, is a writer and journalist living in Israel. This article appeared September 30, 2009 in Ynet,7340,L-3783717,00.html


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