Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Jewish Palestinians

Michael L.

{Cross-posted at Jews Down Under.}

Here is a question.  If there are Palestinian Muslims and there are Palestinian Christians, how is it that there are no Palestinian Jews?

Here is a possible answer.

Prior to 1948 the Jews of the British Mandate of Palestine referred to themselves as "Palestinian" in a manner not unsimilar to the way that I refer to myself as a "Californian."  The Jerusalem Post was the Palestine Post, the Israeli Opera was the Palestine Opera and so forth and, therefore, the Arabs did not use that attribution.  It was only after the formal establishment of Israel that the Arabs could start comfortably calling themselves "Palestinian" and most did not do so until the late 1960s.

{In this way, I am myself older than are the "Palestinians" as a people.}

So much of our approach to understanding the Arab war against the Jews is trapped in outmoded tendencies of thought that are buttressed by loaded terminology derived from the so-called "Palestinian narrative."  "West Bank," for example, always leaps to mind.  The very term "West Bank" deletes 4,000 years of Jewish history on Jewish land, yet it is used daily by almost everyone who discusses the ongoing war.

The term "Palestinian" - a word that means "conqueror," by the way - serves a similar function, except inside out and backwards.  If "West Bank" erases Jewish history, "Palestinian" invents a distinct nation, with a contrived history, where no such nation was previously understood to exist.  "Palestine" is simply a word that the Romans used to rename Judea and Samaria after the Philistines.  Once the Romans destroyed and scattered the Jewish remnant in the First Century CE they renamed Judea and Samaria (or Yehuda and Shomron in the Hebrew, if you prefer) after the ancient enemies of the Jewish people.

In the twentieth-century, of course, "Palestine" referred to the British Mandate of Palestine.  In this way "Palestine" was merely considered a region or a district and the people who called themselves "Palestinians" were mainly the Jewish residents of the area.  The term was never meant to denote a distinct ethnicity or nation any more than, say, Saharan represents a distinct ethnicity or nation.

Or, for that matter, Californian.

Everyone who resides in the state of California is a "Californian."  No specific ethnic group who live here get to decide that they, and only those of their choosing, can legitimately refer to themselves as "Californian."  Any effort to legalize such ridiculous distinctions would be laughed directly out of the halls of Sacramento.

The biggest mistake that Israel ever made was in recognizing a newly formed and allegedly separate group of Arab-Muslims who started calling themselves "Palestinian."  From a historical stand-point there never was any such distinct people until Arafat and the Soviets conjured them up toward the end of the twentieth-century for the specific purpose of challenging Jewish claims to historically Jewish land.

Before that the local Arabs and Muslims - many, if not most of whom, hailed from surrounding regions - defined themselves according to ethnicity, as Arab, according to religion, as Muslim, and according to both family and tribe.  What they did not do is define themselves as "Palestinians" because until 1948 they generally considered the "Palestinians" to be Jews.

The historical prestidigitation performed by Arafat and friends is nothing short of remarkable and is truly a testament to long-term thinking and creative anti-statesmanship.  They had a specific goal, to obliterate and replace Jewish sovereignty on the land where Jews come from.  In order to accomplish this goal the PLO started referring to the local Arabs as "Palestinians" and once that was accepted by the international community it became easy to suggest that the indigenous Palestinian people are under the jack-boot of Zionist imperialism and oppression... or however else one might wish to formulate the anti-Semitic, because anti-Zionist, talking points.

So, yes, everyone who resides in the former British Mandate of Palestine is "Palestinian," if we insist on using outmoded and counterproductive terms of expression.  But if we must use the term "Palestinian" than we should make it clear that this recent social construction of an identity is entirely "racist" and discriminatory in its essence because those who claim that identity do so in an exclusionary manner.

Not that Jews want to be "Palestinian," of course, but everyone who resides in what was the British Mandate of Palestine is, in that sense, a "Palestinian."

11 comments:

  1. That about covers it, but can it be sold at this point in time with the 'world' so invested in the b.s. of the narrative? The most powerful nation on earth now has a leader walking around telling us that "no one has suffered more than the Palestinian People," while he tries to boycott a speech the leader of the free world will be giving March 3.

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    1. Interesting.

      I have not thought of it in those terms, but at this point Netanyahu is, in fact, the "leader of the free world."

      I don't know that I've heard that usage since Reagan and the fall of the Soviet Union.

      As for whether the truth can be sold to the rest of humanity, all it takes is for us to get united behind it.

      Once that happens no one can stop it.

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  2. It's an affect of mob psychology. Set the Jews apart from everyone and lump everyone else on the other side. Christian palestinians, Arab palestinians, canine palestinians, porcine palestinians, aquatic palestinians, coniferous palestinians and so forth. Just keep yelling that everyone everywhere at all times since the beginning of time is on the 'right' side and the Jews of course are on the 'wrong' side.

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    1. Following his links. Hadn't heard of the Madison attack (30 swastikas painted on homes, including that of the local Jewish Federation president) yet, but are they serious? Police are unsure if this was a hate crime?

      I'm guessing the odds of it being a random case of well-wishing by 17th Century Hindu time travelers are not fucking great, myself...

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    2. Now home and reading comments.

      I particularly enjoy the fact that infamous Daily Kos antisemite 'Paleo' is now claiming to be Jewish. That lowlife is one of the longest-running, and most prolific, Jew haters on a site with absolutely no shortage of long-time, prolific Jew-haters, and I don't remember him or her making that claim before.

      But regardless, even if true, then he or she is a Gilad Atzmon type, rather than a David Duke type. Take your pick. Neither one is a good thing to be, and both are essentially the same in the end.

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    3. And in the end, nobody apologized. Color me shocked. Some did once again blame Israel, however, and others told dhonig to stop being so uppity.

      His point was proven, once again.

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  4. You guys should check out Vic Rosenthal, the Elder's new columnist.

    This is his premier piece and it's really very good, concerning the upcoming Israeli elections.

    Vic is known within the Jewish blogosphere for his old FresnoZionist blog and his current Abu Yehuda blog.

    And I am pleased to be able to say that I played an instrumental role in arranging for his association with EOZ.

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    1. Very well written piece, and scary that our tax dollars are influencing the election via the V15 campaign.

      I would shake Obama's hand for his domestic policies, but kick him in the balls for his foreign relations!

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