Thursday, February 16, 2017

On correcting the present, but not the past

Sar Shalom

Via Elder of Ziyon links list, I came across a post by Hunter Stuart, a journalist who held all the standard left-wing positions about Israel, and then came to realize the error of his understanding as the result of spending a year and a half in Israel. However, while his experience living in Israel taught him that his perceptions about the present were at odds with the reality, it did not confront him with how his perceptions of the past have elements that are similarly at odds with reality.
I know a lot of Jewish-Israelis who are willing to share the land with Muslim Palestinians, but for some reason finding a Palestinian who feels the same way was near impossible. Countless Palestinians told me they didn’t have a problem with Jewish people, only with Zionists. They seemed to forget that Jews have been living in Israel for thousands of years, along with Muslims, Christians, Druse, atheists, agnostics and others, more often than not, in harmony. Instead, the vast majority believe that Jews only arrived in Israel in the 20th century and, therefore, don’t belong here.
Of course, I don’t blame Palestinians for wanting autonomy or for wanting to return to their ancestral homes. It’s a completely natural desire; I know I would feel the same way if something similar happened to my own family. But as long as Western powers and NGOs and progressive people in the US and Europe fail to condemn Palestinian attacks against Israel, the deeper the conflict will grow and the more blood will be shed on both sides.
As followers of Israel Thrives would know, the best statement that could be made to support the notion that "more often than not, [the Jews and Muslims lived] in harmony" is that the Muslims only rarely massacred the Jews and others living under their jurisdiction. Other than that, the social order was one in which Islam was the master faith and any infidel who would not want to face repercussions had to be obeisant to that reality. Any peace that existed during that time was the result of non-Muslims recognizing their place in society and thus not provoking their Muslim masters.

There is nothing wrong in sympathizing with the Palestinians' desire for autonomy. However, Stuart goes beyond that in stating that he doesn't blame the Palestinians "for wanting to return to their ancestral homes," implying that their "ancestral homes" are in the southwestern Levant. The question to pose regarding that claim is what percentage of Arabs living in Mandatory Palestine in the 1920s were born there and of those what percentage were born to parents who were born in what became Mandatory Palestine? Whatever amount of time one deems sufficient to make the Levant one's ancestral home, to claim that just one generation more than since the start of the British Mandate is sufficient just cannot be supported. Moreover, unlike the case of the Jews, the Arabs who did not live in the southwest Levant maintained no connection to the Levant. Thus the contest is not between indigenous residents and immigrants, but between immigrants who had no prior connection (the Arabs) and immigrants returning to their spiritual home (the Jews).

One could ask why this matters. After all, he supports Israel's claims today, what's the big deal if he has mistaken views about the past? However, this ignores Orwell's lesson that "he who controls the past controls the future." As Stuart further wrote:
I’m back in the US now, living on the north side of Chicago in a liberal enclave where most people ‒ including Jews ‒ tend to support the Palestinians’ bid for statehood, which is gaining steam every year in international forums such as the UN.
Now how many of Stuart's new neighbors in Chicago believe that "Jew and Arabs lived in peace and harmony, as equals, in the state of Palestine, until white, European, religiously driven Jews were given a country because of the Holocaust, and committed genocide against the indigenous Arabs, while colonising the land using American and British weapons?" Is siding with the Palestinians an unreasonable conclusion from such a premise? While speaking accurately about the pre-Zionism condition of the Jews of the Levant and how many of the Palestinians have bona fide ancestral connections to the land will not necessarily induce his neighbors to abandon their factually erroneous view, accepting the false facts will definitely not challenge those views and thus leave in place the narrative that standing with the Palestinians is like standing with the Civil Rights movement that ended Jim Crow rather than standing with the Klan that opposed Reconstruction and ushered in Jim Crow.


  1. There are no 'palestinians' there is no state there is no country culture society history or people-hood. None.

  2. The formulation I would use is that any Palestinian state would have to consign the Pact of Umar to the dustbin of history.

    As to Palestinian rights, they should not be punished for winding up where they are now. That is, they should have a bona fide say in the governance of the state that rules them. If giving them all citizenship in Israel is problematic, then a separate state should be created where they would be given a say in its governance. This also provides no reason that they should get any part of Area C.

  3. Their entire identity, their whole raison d'etre is based on opposition to the existence of Israel. What are they without this unifying creed? What else holds this "de facto nation" together? And what would hold them together as a "nation" if they ever got their wish (G-d forbid) and Israel was eliminated?

  4. "Is siding with the Palestinians an unreasonable conclusion from such a premise?"
    It's an unreasonable conclusion from ANY premise. Because none of these people take sides in the Tamil/Sinhalese conflict, Armenian/Azerbaijani conflict, Sunni/Shia conflict, or any other conflict. Even conflicts involving Palestinians and someone else.
    Virtually no one "supporting the Palestinians" is supporting the Palestinians.
    They are opposing the Jews.
    We don't know how many of the Palestinians are native to southern Levant.
    I would test for genetic proximity to Samaritans or Druze and give citizenship to those who pass. Recent imports from Egypt, Maghreb, Hind, Bosnia, or Sudan should find themselves some other place to live.
    Or they can always convert.

    1. You're making a major fallacy. If you were to start from the premise that Israel was rounding up the Palestinians and offering them up en masse as in Aztec sacrifices, would you still say that standing against Israel is unreasonable? If you say unreasonable "from ANY premise," you are saying that it is.

      The problem is not that people conclusions that are detrimental to the Jews from their narrative. The problem is that they are accepting a narrative that is based on a pack of lies.

      Even if the jump from their narrative to their conclusion is not reasonable, their opinion is otherwise, and they're entitled to that opinion. However, they are not entitled to their facts that their narrative is based on anything other than a pack of lies. Would you rather try to flip the opinion or the misperceived fact?

  5. I don't go along with the assumption that Palestinian Arabs should get an independent state of their own. Others don't have one. They would need to meet certain conditions that they certainly have not yet met to be considered an independent people.

  6. Doodad,
    Why must moral thinking people conclude that Palestinians, amongst the world's peoples who do not themselves have their own states, have an independent state of their own? Kurds don't have a state, Puerto Ricans don't have a state, and Obama had decided that the natives of Western Sahara are only entitled to some form of limited autonomy under the auspices of an Arab government in Morocco, but suddenly when it comes to Palestinians we're told this is some weighty moral issue where denying them a state is somehow unthinkable.
    Remember, we're not talking about civil rights nor human rights, but sovereign rights, i.e., the right to raise armies and form military alliances. And we're talking about this in relation to a population that claims mandate Palestine is "historic" Palestine, and is entirely rightfully theirs because they call themselves "Palestinians." They reject, and are indoctrinated for the purpose of rejecting the Jews' connection to the land, i.e., history itself, and supplant it with tall tales.

  7. And please don't assume that I find the idea of statehood for these people outside the realm of possibilities. That's not my point.

  8. Jeff, I think people who want a "state," should have one; Jews, Kurds, Puerto Ricans, Quebecers, etc. Fair is fair. Of course if the goal is the destruction of others mainly then all bets are off. I believe that may be the motivation of many Palestinians but certainly not all. If that were the case, I think we'd be seeing a lot more violence and bloodshed than we do now.

    Perhaps I overstepped when I said that stuff about moral thinking. Lord knows I don't have any superiority when it comes to that.

  9. Jeff I also agree about certain conditions which they haven't and may never meet. Overall I am pessimistic about that ever happening given all the time and effort that has gone into it.

  10. "Of course, I don’t blame Palestinians for wanting autonomy or for wanting to return to their ancestral homes."

    It doesn't take a deep thinker to realize that if the Land of Israel is the home of an Arab people, such as the Arab-Palestinians - or are they Palestinian-Arabs? - then they are not Arabs, now are they?

    I mean, did the British become indigenous Americans when they conquered that land from the previous inhabitants? I do not think so.

    The other option, obviously, is that they are of Arab descent and that means that their "ancestral homeland" is that pleasant peninsula nearby.

    Why do people who are actually paid to know about the conflict find that which is most obvious, the most difficult to grasp?

    It's just astonishing.

    1. When I first saw that bit about ancestral = Palestinians I wanted to toss my cookies. It's egregiously ignorant PC garbage. Funny he didn't accord legitimacy to the Jews' natural desire to want to return to their ancestral home. That's because of the ahistorical narrative now incorporated into the prevalent regressive left's anti-imperialist/racial narrative. Intellectually it's no more advanced than the blood libel, because it is based on profound ignorance.
      So now he sees Jews as maybe nicer than he was willing to admit interlopers in someone else's "ancestral home." That's progress, I guess.

      There is a video still up over at Elder's joint starring Eugene Kontorovich I recommend everyone check out where we find out that apparently "international law" concerning occupied territories are really just for Jews and really no one else.

    2. Like most terms nowadays, ancestral has a new meaning/wider meaning unless you listen to Ryan Bellerose who has an innate, been there done that understanding. And lately he has been scolding Jews for dropping the ball on their narrative. Go Ryan!

    3. Ryan is right. Insisting on the indigeneity of the Jewish people to Judea and Samaria is key.

      btw, as an aside, I have two outstanding questions, both from Shirlee of Jews Down Under fame.

      The first is: "anti-Semitism" or "antisemitism"... or does it matter the least little bit?

      The second is "Judea" or the Latin "Judaea"? Like most everyone, I tend to go with the former, but she insists on the latter. I don't know why, really. I mean, we could just as easily go with the Hebrew and call it "Yehuda."

      Yehuda and Shomron.

      In fact, that makes more sense.

      The Arabs use Arabic for everything, including ancient Jewish religious sites and we don't even use the language of our own people to refer to he very land that our ancestors come from.

      Now, tell me, how screwed up is that?

    4. Take the narrative by the horns. That's the lesson. never surrender. Deny the false narrative at every step. Trouble is, once Israel started down the road of accepting the Palestinian narrative, it became near impossible to reverse it.

    5. I think that the problem is not so much of surrendering over the narrative as getting distracted with matters of accepting Israel's existence/security measure today.


    please share and spread this meme!