The Palestinians claim that since they are separate national identity, they are entitled to “the right of return” as a basic inalienable right, and this forms a central, irrevocable platform in the “peace” negotiations with Israel.
Palestinians, as well as other Arabs and supporters, rarely tire of pointing out that more 60 years after the creation of Israel, Palestinians remain ‘refugees.’ It is, or should be a commonplace to point out that this is by choice, since no Arab state besides Jordan grants Palestinians citizenship. In comparative terms, the fact is also that there are no remaining ‘refugees’ from the contemporary, vastly larger and more convulsive creation of India and Pakistan, nor of course from World War II.
Palestinian identity is synonymous with three things, the ‘right of return,’ the permanent, sanctified struggle with Israel, and permanent recognition of their status as refugees, dispossessed at the hand of Israel with the connivance of the international community. A corollary demand is that the international community must sustain them as ‘refugees’ through UNRWA until the Palestinians themselves, somehow, declare the ‘refugee crisis’ resolved.
Palestinian national identity is predicated on winning a zero sum struggle with Zionism, not a vision of a state of their own.
The two authors are mystified, as are we all, at the lack of understanding of the Palestinians’ real intentions, especially since they are broadcast loud and clear on a daily basis in Arabic to their own people:
Unwillingness to listen to what Palestinians say in Arabic (and often English), about their political demands or national identity, much less their attitudes towards Israelis, has long been one of the most puzzling features of American and European engagement with the Middle East. Abbas’s defense of the ‘right of return’ is absolute, as is that of nearly every Palestinian politician and intellectual.
The ‘right of return’ is sometimes explained away as being symbolic rather than practical, an element of the Palestinian ‘narrative’ regarding the blameless circumstances of their diaspora. Israelis are demanded to accept both the narrative, in which they are the villains, and the possibility of the mass return of Palestinians that would, by design, end Israel as a Jewish state.
In contrast, the demand that Israel be recognized as a Jewish state would have no practical costs for Palestinians. But it would be acknowledgment of the character and permanence of Israel, and thus is rejected outright. This cannot be admitted, indeed, the entire thrust of Palestinian public culture, from education to summer camps to TV programming, relentlessly pushes the idea that Israel is temporary and illegitimate.
And then we have our utter astonishment at the Americans’ naivete in thinking that a Palestinian state will cure all ills in the Middle East:
With Arab nationalism, and nations, dissolving everywhere, it is both ironic and mysterious that the US is expending so much capital attempting to bring yet another such state into being. It failed to do so in Iraq, it abetted the dissolution of Libya and the convulsions in Egypt, and stands aside while Syria burns. And with Palestinian leaders all but stating outright that they have no plan but to struggle against Israel, the American task is Sisyphean.
Eminently sensible proposals regarding borders, Jewish communities in the West Bank and even Jerusalem are rendered irrelevant. No peace is possible until Palestinian society makes the compromise it has been unwilling to do for nearly a century, share the land. Until they do so, by their leaders giving up, however reluctantly, the ‘right of return,’ by declaring their struggle against Israel at an end, and by declaring that an independent Palestine means no Palestinian is a refugee, there will be no peace.
Demonstrating the Palestinians’ implacable opposition to Israel, here is BDS advocate Omar Barghouti – a antisemitic hypocrite who demands an academic boycott of Israel despite the fact that he himself studies at an Israeli university – demanding the “right of return” for the millions of Palestinian “refugees”. Listen out for his not-so-implicit accusation of racism against the Jews: (h/t Zvi).
Since the right of return is clearly predicated upon a separate Palestinian national identity. Eli E Herz at Myths and Facts provides us with a pertinent reminder about the artificiality of the Palestinian identity:
The artificiality of a Palestinian identity is reflected in the attitudes and actions of neighboring Arab states that never established a Palestinian state or advocated one prior to the Six-Day War in 1967. What unites Palestinian Arabs has been their opposition to Jewish nationalism and the desire to stamp it out, not aspirations for their own state. Local patriotic feelings are generated only when a non-Islamic entity takes charge – such as Israel did in 1967 after the Six-Day War, and dissipates under Arab rule, as it was under the rule of Jordan prior to 1967.
Culturally, Palestinians are not distinct from other Arabs. The sole contributions Palestinians can take credit for are the invention of skyjacking for political purposes in the 1960s, and a special brand of suicidal terrorism that uses their own youth as delivery systems for bombing pizza parlors, discos, and public commuter buses.
Ironically, before local Jews began calling themselves Israelis in 1948 (the name Israel was chosen for the newly established Jewish state), the term ‘Palestine’ applied almost exclusively to Jews and the institutions founded by new Jewish immigrants in the first half of the 20th century, before independence.
Princeton University professor of Semitic literature Philip Hitti (1886-1978), one of the greatest Arabic historians of the ninth century and author of ‘The History of the Arabs,’ testifying on behalf of the Arab cause, told the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine in 1946: “There is no ‘Palestine’ in history, absolutely not.”
For some more background on the issue of the Palestinian right of return, see the entry “Palestinian right of return – a plot to destroy the Jewish state” in the Jewish Virtual Library.
There is also an excellent, thoroughly researched article on the whole issue by Prof. David Bukay at the American Center for Democracy. Here is a very small excerpt:
The Palestinians’ right of return was never related to the occupation of 1967 territories, but to the 1948 occupation; and it is not two states’ solution living in peace, based on territorial division of 1967 border (with or without exchanged territories), but the entire territory ‘from the Sea to the River.’ This reality is proved by the demand to fulfill and to accomplish the right of return, which is a pure euphemism to Israel’s destruction as a Jewish-Zionist independent state.
Although it’s quite long, you should read it all.
Sadly for us, although these truths are all self-evident to us, how do we go about confusing the world with facts? This is a world that does not wish to hear.