A man has found himself between Being alive and being free He looks his captor in the face Says “I’ll be buried in my grave. Before you put me in those chains, You can put me in the ground”
Take my life, you’ll never take my soul I will meet my Father face to face And see the new Jerusalem And see the new Jerusalem
Three Hebrew boys are meant to choose Between a lie and what is True They stand up tall before the King Said “you can throw us to the flames.” It makes no diﬀerence what you do, Cuz we will never bow to you.”
Long ago, we have resolved To serve nobody else but G-d To never fall into again The deathly wicked hands of man It seems we lost this war, my brothers But I will not perish by their sword I’d rather die in a state of freedom Then hand my life over to Rome
Based on Elazar ben Yair’s final speech in the Great Revolt against the Romans (66 – 70 AD): “Since we long ago resolved never to be servants to the Romans, nor to any other than to God Himself, Who alone is the true and just Lord of mankind, the time has now come that obliges us to make that resolution true in practice…We were the very first that revolted, and we are the last to fight against them; and I cannot but esteem it as a favor that God has granted us, that it is still in our power to die bravely, and in a state of freedom.”
Below are eighteen Judean artifacts that clearly demonstrate indigenous Jewish presence in the Land of Israel. All of the pieces below are thousands of years old and confirm ancient Jewish life in the eastern Mediterranean. Michael Lumish
The inscription below, from the Second Temple Period in the 1st century CE, was presented to the public by the Israel Antiquities Authority in October, 2018. It includes the full Hebrew spelling of the word “Jerusalem.” It was discovered near the Jerusalem International Convention Center (Binyanei Ha’Uma).
The famous Arch of Titus, celebrating the conquest of Judea, was built by Roman emperor Domitian, brother and successor to Titus, around 81 CE. As we read in the article linked above:
The arch celebrates Titus’s military victories during the First Jewish-Roman War (66–74 C.E.)—when the Romans infamously burned the Temple in Jerusalem. One of the arch’s panels depicts Roman soldiers carrying captured treasures from Jerusalem’s Temple, including a large menorah, through the streets of Rome.
The Magdala Stone is a large carved stone that dates to the 2nd Temple Period and was unearthed in 2009 on Migdal beach in an archeological dig near the site of a hotel construction. It is the oldest image of a menorah ever discovered. The synagogue in which it was discovered is one of six known synagogues from that period.
This ancient menorah, often referred to as the “Mother of All Menorahs” was discovered in the Cave of Coffins in Beit She’arim and was carved during the time of King Herod. At six feet high and four feet wide, it is among the largest menorahs ever found. After the Bar Kochba revolt (132 -136 CE), Beit She’arim became a center of Torah-learning, as well as a burial ground for important rabbis and their families, since the Romans refused to allow Jewish burials in Jerusalem.
This coin was struck over Roman coinage in use at the time, which became a common practice following the failed Bar Kochba revolt. The coin represents the façade of the Temple before its destruction. It is held in the Israel Museum.
At only 2 centimeters by 2 centimeters, this tiny “curse tablet” is dated to 1200 BCE. It represents what archaeologist Dr. Scott Stripling claims is the first proto-Alphabetic Hebrew text and includes the first known usage of “YHWH,” the name of God. It was unearthed at Mount Ebal, which Deuteronomy 11:29 describes as a place of curses. It demonstrates that the Israelites were literate when they entered the Land of Israel, led by Joshua.
Gabriel Barkay, archaeology professor at Tel Aviv University, discovered the Ketef Hinnon scrolls in 1979. It is important because it contains the text of Numbers 6:24-26. It represents the oldest testimony of Biblical writings known to exist. It was discovered when Barkay told a young boy to clean one of the caves that he was examining and the child took a hammer to the floor, causing it to collapse beneath him, revealing a hidden tomb within walking distance of Jerusalem.
In the ancient Jewish town of Huqoq, just northwest of the Sea of Galilee, archeological teams from the University of North Carolina and Brigham Young University discovered mosaics believed to depict the Biblical heroines Deborah and Jael from the Book of Judges.
Gargilius Antiques was a previous unheard of 12th Governor of the province of Judea sometime between 120 and 130 CE, shortly before the Bar Kochba rebellion. The inscription was discovered in 1948 in the town Dor, about 35 minutes’ drive south of Haifa on the Mediterranean coast.
Divers working for the University of Haifa discovered the large tablet held the name of Gargilius Antiques and referred specifically to the province of Judea. In November 2016, another inscription, in Greek, was found off the coast of Dor by “underwater archaeologists,” which confirms Antiques’ role in the governorship of the Jewish province.
The Dead Sea scrolls are, with the possible exception of the Arch of Titus, the most famous Judean artifacts in the world. They were discovered in 1946 to 1947 during the British Mandate. As we read in the link above:
“Manuscripts and other artefacts tell us stories about their own lives and not just about their contents. These artefacts themselves have a tale to tell of why they have been preserved and how they have been copied and annotated. They are more than copies of ancient texts, but silent witnesses to continuing traditions, alive within Judaism, and to the afterlives of ancient works.”
Khirbet Qeiyafa is an Iron Age site that is often thought to have been the home of the Biblical Goliath, overlooking the Elah Valley, about thirty kilometers from Jerusalem. The large building at the center is thought by some archeologists to have been a home of King David. Others suggest that it was Philistine land, thus the association with Goliath.
This coin was discovered in the home of an east Jerusalemite and dates back to the Antigonus II Mattathias, the last Hasmonean king. Also found was a Hasmonean oil candle and Biblical seal ring with writing in ancient Hebrew.
An ancient Jewish settlement, dating to the period of the Second Temple, was discovered near Beersheva in the Negev Desert. The area contains many subterranean tunnels with hidden supplies to assist local residents in the event of disaster or war. The site also holds a watchtower and an oil lamp with the image of a menorah with nine branches. The settlement thrived until the Bar Kochba revolt of 135 CE.
These figurines were common in Judea during the First Temple period but were no longer created after the Babylonian conquest of 586 BCE. As we read in the link above:
Two major types of Judean pillar figurines have been found. One type has a face that’s pinched to make two eyes (Left, Photo: Israel Museum, Jerusalem). The second type has a mold-made head with defined facial features and rows of curly hair (Right, Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art).
The Hasmoneans were the descendants of the Maccabees, a group of rebel-fighters who ruled Judea during the Seleucid Empire. The coins were made from bronze and illustrate Jewish presence in ancient Israel.
Ziklag is thought to have been a Philistine city that gave way to an agricultural settlement dating to the time of King David. The site held clay vessels that once held grain, wine, or oil, as well as eating utensils. As we read in the link above:
Furthering the claim that this is Ziklag is the clear evidence of a massive fire, which could confirm the biblical account of the Amalekites burning the city and taking the women and children captive while David and his men were away.
Sometimes brainwashing can become so uncontested and thoroughly convincing, what’s left after the spin cycle is nothing but falsehood.
Take the case of the “nation-laundering “of the Palestinian people. Here’s what decades of impeccable PR, global gullibility, and re-imagined anti-Semitism has enabled many to bizarrely believe:
There once was an Arab nation called Palestine, with the people in it known as Palestinians. After the Holocaust (which was either a hoax or exaggeration), the Western powers, duped by scheming Jews, were guilted into creating a Jewish state, fashioned solely from stolen Arab land.
Israel’s colonial imperialism required a massive population transfer of invaders and settlers. Jews from Europe, America, Canada, and South Africa—all white-skinned with absolutely no connection to the Holy Land—“occupied Palestine.” They formed an army, fortified by advanced weaponry supplied by the West, and then forcibly drove Palestinians from their homes, confiscated their property, and scattered them either to other Arab states or wretched refugee camps.
An otherwise peaceful people, the Palestinians who remained in the West Bank and Gaza have been relentlessly tormented by Israeli aggression, mistreatment, and, of course, illegal occupation, ever since.
Not a single sentence of that storyline is remotely true.
There never has been an Arab nation-state called Palestine. At the time of Israel’s founding, in 1948, the word Palestinian did not describe a distinct Arab people. In fact, the word itself was created by the Ancient Romans, and they were referring to Jews, not Arabs.
Jews have been living continuously in what is today Israel since the time of the Jewish patriarchs of the Old Testament and the creation of the first Jewish state – the Kingdom of Judea, which preceded the Ancient Greeks by several hundred years. After the fall of Judea, until Israel was created, the land was occupied by a host of other nations for well over 2,000 years. Ironically, the occupation of “Palestine” ended with the creation of Israel.
And with one million Middle Eastern and Persian Jews forcibly removed to Israel soon after its creation, most Israelis today are actually dark-skinned, indigenous people. But even Jews who were born in Brooklyn or Brentwood have an umbilical, ancestral connection to Israel.
The Holocaust did, in fact, result in the mass murder of two-thirds of European Jewry, but the discussions about resurrecting Judea and creating a new Jewish homeland originated decades earlier, during World War I.
Declarations, treaties, resolutions, the League of Nations, and then the United Nations all attested to Israel’s existence. The world was not conned into giving Jews anything more than what was already a claim of right—a country of their own after two millennia of exile, on the same land where Jews first became a people.
The West did not weaponize Israel against the Arabs. In fact, the West’s reluctance to enflame the Cold War caused it to stay fairly neutral. During its early years battling hostile Arab nations, Israel relied mostly on archaic armaments from Czechoslovakia and France—which were purchased with cash.
Finally, many Arabs living in Israel in 1948 would still be there as full citizens had not five regional nations attacked Israel on its very first day of existence. And certainly no one can credibly refer to the Palestinian people as “peaceful.” We have them to thank for inventing and perfecting the terrorism that plagues us all today. And as for “occupation,” not a single Jew lives in Gaza, and Israel has no legal obligation to withdraw from the West Bank until the border is secure and Palestinian violence is finally abated.
So how did the counter-story of a mythical Palestine—this phantom fantasia—obtain such staying power? It’s not just false—it’s spectacularly false. And the plain facts are not ancient history. It’s quite easy to verify. There are still people alive from Israel’s founding—Jews and Arabs. There are ample books, newspaper accounts, radio recordings, documentary footage—all setting forth how Israel became a nation, and how the Palestinians, time and again, repeatedly failed to take the necessary steps to become one. Yet, these easily debunked fabrications persist.
It requires the suspension of disbelief aided by the repetition of lies. Palestine is more an idea than an actual place, the magical thinking of a country that never existed. Hocus-pocus political history. The politics of telling a better story, especially one that more people are already predisposed to believe.
And it’s working.
The United Nations has designated “Palestine” as a permanent non-member state with souped-up observer status. They have their own relief agency, UNRWA, which allows Palestinian-Arabs to remain as refugees in perpetuity, never required, unlike other refugee groups, to fold themselves into another state. The U.N. has accepted the mythology of an unlawfully confiscated Palestinian homeland. No such similar acknowledgment has been granted to the Kurds, Cypriots, Tibetans, and Kashmiri, however.
Meanwhile, Middle East Studies Departments in universities all across the Western world hype the false narrative of persecuted Palestinians and land-grabbing Jews. The paradox of Palestinian inclusion within the vortex of woke, intersectional grievances is not lost on anyone who has been to college lately. Indeed, it is laughable given how Sharia-observant Palestinians, especially in Gaza, feel about women, gays, the transgender, cultural and academic freedom, religious diversity, free speech, and the rule of law.
The “progressives” who have embraced the plight (and overlooked the terrorism) of the Palestinians wouldn’t last a week in Gaza or Ramallah. Tel Aviv, however, would be very much to their liking if they could only get past the presence of so many cosmopolitan Jews.
Mainstream media plays its own role in disseminating a one-sided, hopelessly biased account of how Jews came to dominate a Middle East where they don’t belong, and who subjugate a docile and distinct group of Arabs who merely wish a return to their homeland without Jewish malevolence. Palestinian rejectionism of five separate offers of statehood since 1947 is never even a footnote in the “official” account.
The Charters of Hamas and Fatah are never closely examined, either. If anyone bothered to look, they wouldn’t find anything resembling the Declaration of Independence. The Palestinian contribution to representative democracy, as embodied in their founding documents, are blood libels writ large. So, too, is the chant, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” an undeniable ode to genocide. A gleeful anticipation of a Jewless Israel. The expressed language of national aspirations foreshadows what pluralism will look like in a Palestinian state.
It is well known that Palestinian violence is rarely reported. Hamas launches rockets from hospitals and schools indiscriminately; Palestinian children are deployed as human shields. Not newsworthy. Palestinians stab tourists outside the gates in Jerusalem’s Old City. A minor incident, especially if the victims are either Jewish or white. What’s “fit to print” is always reduced to an indictment of Israeli reprisal, which is presented as disproportionate and aimed at civilians.
Moral clarity gets lost in this fog of twisted perceptions and altered states. Israel wins wars it does not start and rather than set the terms for surrender, global opinion insists that it instantly sue for peace—and then return conquered land. Palestinian attacks on civilians are dismissed as the price Israel should pay for the “Occupation.”
Anti-Semites will accept any story that demonizes Jews. They are forever the world’s scapegoat from which there is no escape. Blamed for its problems. Subjected to its absurd double standards. Always portrayed in a false light. And self-hating Jews are quite comfortable looking unfavorably upon their own people, a life’s mission dedicated to distancing themselves from the tribe. They don’t seem to understand that trying to convince Christians that they are among the “good Jews” is a self-defeating crusade.
Which comes down to this unassailable inflection point: There’s never a shortage of people who will gladly adopt the Palestinian version of events.
Yet, is there no consequence to these delusions—moral or otherwise? It is the deliberate circulating of an entirely wrong set of facts with no attention paid to truth.
In 2020, the actor Seth Rogen appeared on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, where he revealed that he was lied to as a child in a Vancouver Hebrew School. Apparently, he was told that no Arabs lived in Israel at the time of its creation, that Britain was overseeing a totally empty piece of land that eventually was awarded to the Jews. Camels, dates, and sand were in abundance—but, improbably, no Arabs. He wanted listeners to know that this inexcusable omission has left him incensed and caused him to reject the idea of a Jewish state altogether.
How can a Jewish person be that ignorant of basic facts, while also casually rejecting the self-determination of his own people? Rogen accused the Zionist movement of conning not just the world, but Jewry itself! The Conflict and all its complexity, simplified by someone who wasn’t paying attention in Hebrew School. The 2,000 years of Jewish wandering, an exile that ended for him in western Canada, is a mere trivial detail in recorded history.
Let me be clear: If the Arabs of British Mandate Palestine wished to rename themselves “Palestinians,” that is their right. There will always be right-wing Jews who argue that Palestinians are simply Jordanians who want their own country. I am not among them. Like many Jews and Israelis, I accept the reality that Arabs and Jews always lived in the land that is now Israel—which include the disputed territories. There is no dispute about that. But the question of nationhood is equally without dispute: There has never been an Arab, no less Palestinian nation, on Israeli soil.
The problem is that Palestinians profess to want the land and the title, but they refuse to put in the work necessary to achieve statehood. States are not built on the foundation of hate alone. All those rejected peace offers are telling. It suggests a fear of what it takes to bring about an actual Palestine. Fantasizing about a mythical homeland while seeking to destroy the Jewish one is far more satisfying.
Palestinians may lack confidence in everything except their disdain for Jews, which is prodigious, but also poisonous. After all, both are descendants of Abraham, a sibling enmity that is as tragic as it has been long-lasting. The Abraham Accords, so aptly named, was regrettably not launched where it was most needed.
But while Palestinians may be indigenous to the land of Israel, they are wholly disingenuous in presenting themselves as its perpetual victims. Nothing was stolen from them. They are stateless because they never had a state—not because they were denied one, or had one taken away. Indeed, it’s not at all clear whether they actually want one. When your patriotism is inversely related to the death of Zionism, you’re not ready for statehood.
For a people without a country, with no national currency, political history, sustained leadership, defined borders, or even a gross national product aside from terrorism, Palestinians have nonetheless created the illusion of a homeland lost to Jewish land-grabbers. After all those hijacked planes, murdered Olympic athletes, a handicapped man (69-year-old Leon Klinghoffer) tossed overboard from a cruise ship, elderly Parisian grandmothers thrown from balconies, pizza shop and Passover Seder bombings, the Palestinians finally discovered their true calling—the branding of their suffering, and the delegitimizing of the Jewish state.
If you can’t beat them, defame them.
Palestinian rage is understandable, the bitterness of seeing Israel rise from the sands of the Middle East and in a mere handful of decades, emerge as an economic juggernaut and regional superpower. But that rage is not limited to violence alone. It has been channeled into a secret weapon worthy of TV’s Mad Men – the deploying of Madison Avenue techniques to peddle propaganda. Israel has been outmaneuvered in both the game theory of hasbara and the conspiracy theories of old.
The case for the Jewish state is a tough sell, always perhaps, but especially these racism-shaming days. Palestinians are invoking Jim Crow but dispensing with passive nonviolent resistance. Sympathy for Jews in this cultural moment is a woke outrage; while criticizing Muslims, even the fanatically murderous variety, is categorically taboo.
Will this new marketing strategy continue to succeed? Hard to tell. Palestinian petulance has always been rewarded. And there’s no Iron Dome for global revulsion. Yet, with the normalizing of relations with Israel, Gulf nations have seemingly withdrawn from the Palestinians, favoring a more profitable trading partner, instead. Angry Arabs can be tiresome. And hate does not a nation make.
Palestinians have rejected peace offers that would have given them 97 percent of what they had ostensibly asked for. It’s what they can’t respectably ask for that is the real problem: dead Jews.
Across the planet, radicalization among diverse Muslim-majority communities continues essentially unabated. Most Muslim communities have long ignored, are unaware, or live in fear of the root cause of that radicalization: the ideas of political Islam, or Islamism. There are innumerable opportunities to track and learn about what happens upstream from ideas fueled to send susceptible Muslims hurtling down the river of militant Islamism. But no single idea has given Islamist movements more return on their radicalization investment than “Palestinianism” and the marriage of that national identity movement with Islamism and HAMAS. Understanding this synergy or parasitism is essential to countering the perennially obstructionist and radical elements of the Palestinian leadership establishment.
More globally, understanding this synergy is also essential to translating how the Palestinian front ideology for Islamism—Palestinianism—is then also capitalized around the world to radicalize other Muslims and legitimize Islamist supremacism. From the United States to Indonesia, this is not simply a phenomenon relegated to Palestinianism, but rather no ethnicity or nationality of Muslims is spared the ravages of the supremacist ideologies of Islamism.
Islamists care nothing about the indigenous ethnicities they conquer. Instead their caliphism steals the grievances of others in order to drive a blinding movement across a people with a common identity. One of the primary worldwide oncogenes of this phenomena is manifested within the Palestinian movement.
First, let us take a look at Palestinianism as an idea and then look at the idea of Islamism, vis-à-vis HAMAS. Last, we will look at how understanding this phenomenon carries within it the only path to defeating the propaganda machine of Palestinianism’s primary fuel—political Islam.
The idea of Palestinianism takes hold
Palestinianism, on its surface, was first described by apologists for the Palestinian movement toward statehood as a “mirror image” of Zionism and part and parcel of a two-state solution. In one of the earliest references to the idea, in 1973, John B. Wolf noted that an outgrowth of the 1967 war had been for Palestinians to recognize their “Palestinianism,” an idea which he noted would integrate them into their lost land and give them a political presence so far ignored. It was a formulation of an idea that essentially legitimized, whether real or not, a deeply seeded concept of a Palestinian state within the Palestinian consciousness. A national identity does not have to be real or even based in an actual existing state for it to quickly become a virulent inspiration of a collectivizing movement.
Edward Said then gave the term new life defining it as “a political movement that is being built out of a reassertion of Palestinian multiethnic and multireligious history.” Said, a Palestinian-American author and Columbia University professor, made an industry out of obsessively blaming the West for their “bias” in framing the ills of the Palestinian movement. His premise was essentially that if the West changed its vantage point to being one primarily through the lens of Palestinian grievances, it would realize that Zionism (often articulated more obliquely under critique of colonialism or orientalism) was the problem and Palestinianism was the solution. His advocacy for Palestinianism inspired other Western Palestinian intellectuals and apologists like Rashid Khalidi to revise history and expand Palestinian identity from the cultural domain into the national and political domain. Khalidi, for example, later tried to counter the history of early 20th century Zionism by claiming that Palestinianism as a national movement existed long before World War I.
This all recently came full circle as growing criticisms of radical Islamist American politicians like Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) were defended last year by anti-Zionists like Peter Beinart, who tried to claim that criticism of these high profile politicians was simply bigoted “anti-Palestinianism.” Beinart and others were feebly attempting to mirror their experience with anti-Zionism with an attempt at equating Palestinianism with domestic American identity politics. Tlaib, an Arab-American, has embraced her identification as a “woman of color.” Beinart made the hysterical claim that “the evidence that the Squad’s critics are anti-Palestinian is far stronger than the evidence that the Squad is anti-Jewish.” In effect, Palestinianism became a central driving force to minimize rank anti-Semitism and normalize the propaganda of Palestinianism. Therefore, clearly diagnosing what Palestinianism actually represents is key.
What exactly is Islamism and how does it inspire Palestinianism?
In short, “political Islam” or “Islamism” is a belief that Muslims have an obligation to promote the public application of their interpretation of sharia (Islamic jurisprudence), and where possible, establish Islamic states. Thus, a political movement embodied by a party or parties whose platform is centered on the advocacy and application of sharia under a collective identity and national flag of Islam is by definition—Islamist.
Islamists believe the Qur’an is the source of law, not a source of law. Argumentation within Islamist governments and parties is based upon clerical interpretations of God’s law, not upon a reasoned deduction of effectiveness of human law. Thus, whatever their interpretation of God’s law is not up for debate or liberty to reject. It is mandated. Citizen rights in the Islamic state are not inalienable from God but rather guaranteed by the “consensus” of the clerics or “ulemaa” (so-called scholars) chosen in this oligarchy to interpret Islam for the nation (or the ummah). No matter how moderate Islamists present themselves, they will always hold on tightly to the notion that a majority Muslim state must be identified as an “Islamic state” with clerical guidance to ensure society’s proximity to the Muslim path. Islamists, when a minority, can often appear to be lawful and to fit within the constructs of minority rights. They will often dissimulate publicly to deceive the population about their long-term intentions.
Islamists will use religion and clerical leaders to wrest control of government, society, and culture from the masses. Their populism, where it exists, is rooted in collective faith identity politics of “majoritocracy.” Terrorists do this by any means necessary; non-violent Islamists do it through patient advocacy and slow societal change and even democracy. Islamists try and run under the radar wherever possible, especially where they are a minority because whether violent militants or non-violent civilizational jihadists, their ends justify any means necessary.
One should read the work of Hasan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood and those of other Muslim Brotherhood ideologues such as Sayyid Qutb, (author of the infamous treatise Milestones) to understand the all-encompassing transnational goals of lslamism. The philosophical father of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sayyid Qutb, spent two years (1948-50) in the United States before going back to lead the founding of the Islamist movement in Egypt with his book Milestones, a short treatise that described the West as the land of Jahilliyah (ignorance) and evil. This treatise listed the ‘Milestones’ for establishment of the Islamic state in order to prevent the descent of society into the evil of the “secularism” he saw in the West. Certainly, the anti-Semitism found in Europe reinforced many of the Islamist constructs he developed for political Islam. The likes of Qutb used whatever constructs they could to advance their Islamist supremacy and discarded as ignorant other constructs that contradicted their Islamist goals.
Islamism depends upon conspiracy to explain away the weakness of the Muslim condition and the need for Muslim collectivism and Islamic statehood and ultimately neo-caliphism. Although the Muslim Brotherhood has reportedly abandoned its open endorsement of terrorism and changed its methods to include democratic means after the Arab Awakening of 2011, its endgame (theocracy) is still anathema to Western liberal democracies. As I testified to Congress in 2018, the Brotherhood shape-shifts frequently, but its published mission has never changed. Its 18-month rule of Egypt again revealed what Recip Erdogan, the over 20-year President of Turkey and head of the Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP), said in 1996 as Mayor of Istanbul. He noted publicly that “Democracy is like a train; you get off once you have reached your destination.”
Democracy obviously is not just about the ballot box. It is about a system of law in which every citizen has access, and minority rights are defended. The ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood has flourished over the past century under the toxic atmosphere of despotic dictatorships and monarchies throughout the Muslim world, metastasizing into hundreds of Islamist splinter movements.
An Islamic state, whether ISIS, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, or Turkey (under Erdogan’s AKP) will unite its military as a force fighting for the honor of that Islamic state, fighting for Jihad. The unification of 56 otherwise disparate states under the Organization of Islamic Cooperation is in effect a neo-Caliphate, which is inspired by an attempt to centralize the Islamist collective, whether each state is fully theocratic or pseudo-secular. This is extremely important to an understanding of Palestinianism as there is nothing more convenient to creating a consciousness of an “Islamic Empire” than fabricating and exploiting a national identity that pits Muslim grievances against a ”non-Muslim oppressor.” Islamists exploit this with Palestinians and Kashmiris alike.
In 2005, Laurie Goodstein, in an interview of Zaid Shakir of the San Francisco based Zaytuna Institute, quoted Imam Shakir as saying, “Every Muslim who is honest would say, I would like to see America become a Muslim country.” The Islamist lens and hijacking of any Palestinian grievances is rooted, not in truth about root causes, but rather in a Machiavellian anti-Semitism that has become an intoxicant not just for young impressionable Palestinian youth but also a rallying cry for Islamists across the planet.
Most important, as long as domestic and global Islamist influences stranglehold the Palestinian communities, the Islamists of HAMAS have little desire to work toward peace and take in any honest brokerage for realpolitik. Their Islamist platform is wholly dependent upon an infinite propaganda of the anti-Israel, anti-Semitic narrative and the global leadership and funding it gives them from countries that may otherwise be their enemies, from Iran to Pakistan.
Lastly, as much as an argument could be made that for the Palestinian Christian minority, for example, the Edward Saids and Hanan Ashrawis of the Palestinian movement, Palestinianism was more about a national, cultural, and historic identity, the reality is that HAMAS’ leadership infused an unmistakable definition which made Palestinianism equivalent to an Islamist theocratic state. The useful idiocy of certain Palestinian Christian leaders notwithstanding.
The link between Islamism and anti-Semitism
The link between Islamism and anti-Semitism is rather simple. It is self-evident that supremacists from within a particular faith community will create and exploit hatred toward another faith community in order to collectively rally their own followers against a common enemy. Islamists utilize anti-Semitic imagery as a tool for their own ascension into power among Muslim-majority communities and nations. Islamists often exploit both the Muslim Ummah and the Jewish minority in order to create a groupthink against the “other.” The demonization of Jews by Islamists is a key signal to all of us, not only because of its imminent threat to all Jews across the world from Islamists who may become violent or oppressive, but also because beneath that hatred lies a more global supremacism that treats all minorities from within the faith and outside the same, as obstacles to their own ascension. These theo-fascists use the demonization of minorities as populist tools to rally populations to their fascism.
In Arab-majority nations, Islamist movements have always set themselves up to fill in the vacuum created by Arab authoritarianism and fascism. Per that playbook, Palestinianism, in its form as a supremacist racial national identity has found itself usurped also by the Islamist movement of HAMAS. HAMAS’ propaganda has always been that they are the “moral and religious” alternative to the secular, God-less, Fatah Party. They insist that their version of Palestinianism is far more moral and protective of Palestinians when, in reality, they are just as corrupt but keep the Palestinians beholden to grander global Islamist movement interests and the strings of every OIC Islamist regime that sends them aid and weaponry.
The hate created by both the secular and Islamist fascists in the Arab world has also tellingly fueled a mass exodus of the Jewish people that began in 1948 at Israel’s founding when there were more than 800,000 Jews living in Arab lands. Today, it is believed that there are less than 20,000 remaining. That exodus has carried over to the Christian community where it is believed more than two million Christians have fled the Middle Eastern Arab community in the last 20 years. This vacuum of religious diversity only fuels the Islamists’ supremacist mentality.
The exploitation of Israel among Islamists is also virtually a litmus test for anti-Semitism. Martin Kramer, a Middle East scholar has noted, “Islamists see Israel as a symptom of a larger conspiracy against them either Western or Jewish or a sinister combination of the two. Many Islamists today do not look at Israel or its policies as their irritant. They look beyond, either to America, symbol today of the power of the West, or to the Jews, dispersed throughout the West where they exercise a malignant influence. These are deemed to be the real forces driving history.”
Kramer highlighted in 1994 that Rashid al-Ghannushi, who later happened to become the Tunisian Islamist leader of the ruling Al-Nahda party (Tunisia’s equivalent of HAMAS) stated then that there existed, “a Jewish-American plan encompassing the entire-region, which would cleanse it of all resistance and open it to Jewish hegemony from Marrakesh to Kazakhstan.” This exemplifies the use of conspiracy theories by Islamist demagogues to portray a false narrative against Israel and thus by association, all Jews.
These conspiracy theories then spread like wildfire and are exploited by fellow global Islamist movements of all stripes to broaden the conspiracy against all Muslims and provide more excuses for the failures of Muslim-majority nations. When the OIC met in Malaysia, Prime Minister Mahatir told the crowd, “The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million, but today the Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them.” Reports were that the crowd responded with a “resounding ovation.” This fits with the opinion polls from Pew for those nations.
No one personifies the symbiosis of global Islamism and the HAMAS grievance narrative better than the de facto leader of Sunni Islamism across the planet, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi. Al-Qaradawi is an icon of the Islamist movement. His presence on Al Jazeera, teaching Arab masses about Sharia and Life with more than 60 million viewers, has made him one of the greatest threats to Israel and the West among Islamists. His influence and perch from Qatar upon the Islamist movement and Muslim majority nations is unparalleled. Any review of his work in Arabic would show how deeply central his apologetics for HAMAS and his demonization of Israel are. Again, global Islamism needs the Islamist narrative form of Palestinianism to fuel its continued existence.
HAMAS (Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya- Islamic Resistance Movement) is a militant Palestinian spin-off of the Muslim Brotherhood founded by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in the 1980s. As radical as they were employing suicide bombing and jihad, they tried to portray themselves on the Palestinian street as the only viable alternative to Fatah, and more moderate than the militant PIJ (Palestinian Islamic Jihad). HAMAS took over the Gaza Strip from the other Palestinian political party, Fatah, in elections in 2006. It rightly remains a U.S. designated foreign terror organization (FTO) because of its comprehensive utilization of terrorism underpinned by a charter and ideology that explicitly endorses terror and jihad. It still gets massive material and financial support from Iran as well as political support from Turkey and other OIC nations. Its politburo (governing council elected by its “shura council”) was long led by Khaled Meshal who was perched in Damascus until the Arab Awakening, and now is led by Ismail Haniyeh since 2017, who has operated from Doha, Qatar since 2020.
HAMAS’ rule of Gaza, as it took over Palestinian Authority institutions, has left little doubt of the type of rule their Islamism brings. Its judiciary has empowered authoritarian institutions based in draconian sharia law which is misogynistic, racist, and Islamic supremacist against all other faiths.
In May 2021, HAMAS and Israel entered their deadliest conflict in over six years. HAMAS and PIJ initiated the war firing thousands of rockets into Israel after weeks of tension in Jerusalem. Hamas likely lost standing among Palestinians, and globally, and found that the best way to curry favor with their followers in the Islamist movement was through engaging in armed conflict with Israel. Ten Israeli civilians were killed and more than 300 injured. Evidence showed coordination with the IRGC and Lebanon’s Hizballah. Israel was forced to respond militarily to remove the threat of rocket attacks posed by HAMAS and its terror supporters in Gaza. Soon thereafter a cease-fire was achieved, and Palestinianism only again grew stronger as HAMAS’ aggression somehow bolstered their victimhood narrative.
Palestinians need their own ‘Arab Awakening’
Last year’s armed conflict between HAMAS and Israel, which started with HAMAS’ offensive launching thousands of rockets into Israel aided by the IRGC and other global Islamist interests, only ended with another embarrassing military defeat for HAMAS and its Islamist movement. Yet, the narrative always somehow works out for HAMAS regardless of the reality: a narrative of defense, not offense, of victimhood, not aggressor. Without Islamist supremacism, and its theological underpinnings, their conspiracy-laden fictional accounts would have little traction. Jihadists never lose. Even in suicide, they are the victors. Even in surrender, they will overcome.
Why does all this matter? Palestinianism is a malleable tool that has certainly been useful over the last half-century for its anti-Semitic exploiters of all stripes, whether Islamist or Arabist or otherwise. Its fungible themes of identity politics, tribal collectivism, grievance narratives, and national supremacism have stood at the ready for any willing accomplice. Yet, the underlying fuel that drives the growth of the movement, despite massive losses year after year, is the inspiration of Islamism. Without Islamism, Palestinianism dies on the vine like every other supremacist national identity in the region before it. With Islamism, it carries the imprimatur of God, of Islam, of faith and the Hereafter. When Islamism is parasitizing Palestinianism, any Islamist Muslim can be a “Palestinianist.” It is quite the phenomena that Pakistani Islamists in the Jamaat Islamiya party, Islamist Supremacists in the Iranian Republican Guard Corps, Islamists in Qatar, Egypt and across the West all chant the Islamist mantras of Palestinianism. Regardless of their own national identity, each are conferred honorary citizenship vis-à-vis Islamism.
Invoking Palestinianism can happen literally during any Islamist attack across the planet. As so-called ‘mainstream’ Islamists from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim American Society (MAS) took up the grievance narrative of Lady Al Qaeda, Aafia Siddiqui, the MIT graduate jailed in a federal prison with an 86-year sentence in Texas for trying to kill American soldiers and planning a terror attack in New York City, they radicalized many including a British national, Malik Faisal Akram. Akram attacked a Colleyville, Texas, synagogue on January 16, 2022, taking hostages and demanding Siddiqui’s release. Thankfully, the terrorist was shot dead and the hostages released. It should, however, come as no surprise that this Pakistani cum British radical Islamist immediately targeted the Jewish community when he decided to get vengeance for his militant hero, Aafia Siddiqui. Siddiqui, like her students, was barbarically anti-Semitic. During her trial she demanded that jurors be tested genetically for their Jewish identity. From Afghanistan to Texas, Islamists find immediate common ground as Palestinianists blaming their ills of the day not on the Islamists but upon Israel and the West.
Interestingly, the Abraham Accords have given new hope to the normalization of relations between some of the Arab gulf states and Israel. They have begun to rupture the once impenetrable front of Muslim-majority nations in the OIC against the state of Israel. But still, Arab monarchies are lower-hanging fruit since as Arabists they will take self-interest and self-preservation over Islamist ideologies every day of the week. While their concessions away from the tired history of anti-Semitism against Israel are a major step forward, it does little to fracture the Islamist hold on Palestinianism.
In the end, the only viable pathway forward will come when the Palestinians themselves marginalize and defeat the global Islamist movement’s stranglehold on their communities vis-à-vis HAMAS, PIJ, and their tentacles. Palestinianism is a natural front for Islamists to work hand-in-glove with Palestinianists. Yet, it matters little to any of them that the Islamists do not have a care in the world about the actual grievances of Palestinians as they, instead, simply create more grievances.
Islamists hijack the consciousness of Palestinians, use it for their own global purposes in jihad and caliphism, and dismiss their own crimes against humanity and the radicalization of coming generations.
Reformist Muslims, with our eyes on the target of the only cure, counter-Islamism, are harboring no illusions. The struggle against Islamism is generational but must be realized. Peace and self-determination for Palestinians can only come after they have shed their Islamist masters. With the Arab Awakening marching across the Arab world, many hoped that it would come to Gaza in protests against HAMAS as well as Fatah. But unfortunately, the battle for the soul of Palestinians has yet to be realized.
The only pathway for generational security of Israel from Islamists, whether Palestinianists or otherwise, is to join the West in a systematic, public-private, broad-based anti-Islamist strategy to combat Islamist ideology. All free thinkers and liberal leaders in the West, and across the planet, must take sides within the House of Islam with the dissidents against the Islamists. Our Muslim Reform Movement coalition in the West has the makings of a template of how HAMAS, Palestinianists, and other Islamist supremacists can be defeated.
Taking the side of reform-minded Muslims who champion liberty and eschew Islamism, must be the centerpiece of the strategy. Our Muslim Reform Movement is a coalition formed in December 2015, united in our common opposition to theocracy and tyranny, and in the defense of liberty. Our Declaration of the Muslim Reform Movement articulates what we are for and what we are against. No Islamists or Palestinianists would ever be able to honestly sign that declaration. Within its principles and leadership coalition is the makings of the only strategy with an antidote to the poisonous intoxicant of Islamism within Palestinianism.
Wolf, J. B. (1973). Black September: Militant Palestinianism. Current History, 64(377), 5–37. http://www.jstor.org/stable/45312785
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Global Threat. Hearing Before the Subcommittee on National Security of the committee on Oversight and Government Reform. House of Representatives. 115th Congress. Second Session. July 11, 2018. Serial No. 115-90.
Jasser, M. Zuhdi. Anti-Semitism: A Growing Threat to All Faiths. Testimony to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations. U.S. House of Representatives. February 27, 2013.
Did it make sense for Nazi Germany to waste precious wartime resources pursuing worldwide Jewish genocide? Or what happened in Colleyville, Texas, on January 15, 2022 – did that make sense? Malik Faisal Akram flew from England to Texas and took a Jewish congregation hostage, demanding “the release of, as he said, ‘my sister,’ Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani Jihadist held in federal prison in Fort Worth.” Why? Because, he claimed, “Jews control the world, Jews control the media, Jews control the banks … Jews control everything.” This kind of craziness goes back some 2,000 years. But you know that!
For I’m preaching to the choir and our congregation knows the story. Who else was murdered by the millions in facilities designed to create nothing other than Hell on Earth? What other people has been deemed to deserve it—to the detriment and even self-destruction of the persecutors themselves? We know about being regularly beset by absurd injustices—what it is to be against impossible odds—and to lose. We know of the hopelessness of those who died in the camps – our relatives, our allies. We know that Sophie Scholl and her friends in the White Rose resistance movement were captured and executed.
I’m addressing those who already have a sense of such realistic hopelessness. I remember hearing the testimony of a Holocaust survivor: “We knew, every day, that we would die—we had no hope … and yet…”
And I’m addressing those who understand that “Jews may be guilty of many things, but I would put it to you that they are never, never guilty of the crimes with which anti-Semitism charges them,” as the scholar Ruth Wisse said. So I’m not going to make that case, and I speak to those who recognize anti-Jewish prejudice precisely by such false charges. To those who believe otherwise, as well as to those who remain unaligned (and those passing by who catch an earful of my sermon), I say: listen, if you want to, if you can, if you feel drawn (you may be changed); otherwise, move along.
The congregation I’m addressing is not defined by religious affiliation, or by tribalism in either its positive or negative sense, not by indelible markers or even by general life choices, but instead by decisions made in the moment—any moment, every moment. It requires a decision for truth—a wager on its validity, on its value; a decision for fidelity—to the facts of the case, to what’s given in reality; for honesty—with an oath, a pledge; and for justice—the truest possible, for such fallible beings. It is a decision made, in every case, in each individual heart.
And since you already know, I don’t need to convince you that the charges against Israel are, as Jewish advocate Dani Ishai Behan puts it, 80 percent lies and 20 percent half-truths (though it’s always good to be reminded). Nor do I need to rehearse the details of the defense when, amongst ourselves, it suffices merely to recite the litany:
the Jews’ pre-Israel second-class dhimmi status, and the pogroms and persecution under Muslim regimes;
repeated Arab rejectionism versus Zionist willingness to compromise, and recurrent Arab military aggression versus Jewish self-defense;
Western support for Israel, always equivocal and inconsistent, withdrawn at crucial moments, with fatal consequences for Jews;
annihilationist war against the nascent Jewish state barely three years after the Holocaust, waged by Hitler’s actual Arab supporters and collaborators;
the flight of nearly a million Jewish refugees from the Arab world, resulting in an essentially Judenrein (“Jew-free”) region outside of Israel;
the increase in Arab violence with every attempted appeasement, every Israeli gesture of “land for peace”;
decades of Palestinian Arab indoctrination in anti-Jewish delusion and scapegoating by a relentlessly militant leadership—the groundwork for decades of socially sanctioned, religiously justified, financially rewarded terrorism;
the Cold War fabrication of an anti-Israel propaganda narrative by the PLO and the KGB, punishing Israel for not supporting the Soviet Union’s imperialism and designed to work on Western feelings of guilt over its own imperialist history and putative criminality;
more recently, the build-up of a self-avowedly genocidal Iranian nuclear program, along with Iran’s blatant financing of regional and international terror networks, all largely overlooked and even sanctioned by the major Western nations, supposed allies of Israel;
and the hijack of institutions like the UN and Amnesty International—founded to protect human rights, prevent war, and ensure “Never again”—by the most tyrannical, warmongering, and anti-Israel global powers.
We’ve pointed out these realities tirelessly, but it makes little impression. We’ve answered the unjust charges reasonably and with overwhelming evidence, but to no avail because we’re up against unreason. The fact that our prosecutors’ case is the exact obverse of the Israeli one is plain to us, though not to the wider world. And we know why: because the truth is coherent, they’ve modeled their every point on it, but in reverse.
We know that the so-called “Nakba” is a cruel, cynical ruse to usurp the true horror of the Shoah, to seize the status of victim for its public relations appeal. But with such outrageous accusations levelled so relentlessly at the Jewish state, who—outside of our circle—isn’t naturally going to wonder if there isn’t fire where there’s so much smoke? And while people do admit there may be “two sides to the story,” even that much—giving the Jews some benefit of the doubt for being such frequent victims of persecution—increasingly requires the willingness to defy an angry chorus and to risk having one’s voice cancelled completely.
This exposes a stark reality. Out of three possible judgments—Israeli/Jewish responsibility for the conflict, Arab/Muslim responsibility, or combined Israeli/Jewish and Arab/Muslim responsibility—only actual Jewish innocence seems inconceivable today, even to the most generous of viewpoints.
My own wholehearted support of Israel was not a foregone conclusion. If life experience made me aware of Jewish suffering (my great-uncle had been in Dachau, my father’s family had left Eastern Europe and its pogroms for the Americas), and if my patrilineal connection gave me some skin in the game (I was ashamed, for example, of “looking Jewish”), these also helped orient me toward the suffering of Palestinian Arabs. I could easily imagine them feeling aggrieved about their loss of land, their military defeats, their living conditions.
And if liberal parents and a rebellious bent led me to question convention and authority, Israel did represent one of those authorities, its essential rightness a convention of my upbringing. If my icons of politics and philosophy—self-described defenders of the underdog, challengers of the status quo—were interrogating its public face, how could I help but ask along with them: Is Israel an apartheid state? Does it oppress Arabs? Does it silence its critics? Has it betrayed its professed ideals? Was it born in an “original sin” of dispossession?
I became “critical of Israel,” as people sometimes say of themselves. No, I didn’t accept (unlike many, it must be said) the most fanatical charge: that Israel had become Nazi-like and therefore, like Nazi Germany, shouldn’t exist. I knew that was nonsense—though probably inevitable, given the psychological factors (and, of course, a post-Nazi Germany does continue to exist). But surely Israel was committing the crimes and transgressions enumerated by my progressive sources. Why should this be inconceivable? If Jews are just human (the very argument against anti-Jewish demonization), why mightn’t they give in to vengeance, or simply act badly? Who in history hasn’t done as much, at some point?
If Israel is in fact behaving like apartheid South Africa, it should be subject to the same sanctions, no less—though also no more! For if it manifests the violence of abused-become-abuser, doesn’t it deserve our love as much as our censure? Because other historical victims-turned-victimizers were provided by my progressive models, with justifications for their extremism, it seemed only fair that Israel be judged according to the same standards. And couldn’t the Jews, of all people, be forgiven some overreaction? The worldwide Jewish population hasn’t to this day returned to pre-Holocaust levels! But even my attempted evenhandedness (itself shockingly rare) was utterly off the mark. It didn’t take into account the mythical power of “Palestine” and its apocalyptic battle with the “Zionist entity.”
I did at last come to realize, less than a decade ago, that Israel is not guilty. Studying the contending positions, weighing the credibility of the parties, considering the psychological dimensions, reasoning as objectively as I could, I finally determined that the charges are not only false, but made in bad faith. The accusers pervert the course of justice for their self-serving, unjust ends.
Israel is not guilty of a founding sin, not guilty of repeated aggressions, not guilty of land-theft or historical revisionism, not guilty of expansionism or imperialism, not guilty of supremacism, not guilty of indefensible violence. (If, unlike the people I’m addressing directly, you’re not convinced of this position, you can’t do much better for an objective overview than Ben-Dror Yemini’s Industry of Lies: Media, Academia, and the Israeli-Arab Conflict – or, for that matter, this issue of White Rose Magazine.) Should Israel have acted wrongly in some instance (of which there is, I swear, indeed remarkably little evidence), such exceptions have no bearing on Israel’s supposed fundamental crime, the crime of existing.
And double-jeopardy applies: that charge can never again be given credence. Even in the face of other, lesser charges, one’s first response must now be disbelief, for there exist no prior bad acts to be taken into account, and the prosecution’s zeal has been exposed as agenda-driven, its objections as slanderous distractions. As we’ve cried out for 2,000 years: the Jews are not guilty!
But you know that.
If we want to talk about systemic bias, how about one that regularly accuses Jews of the most heinous crimes, prejudges them as guilty, then sentences them to the most brutal punishments—a “system” that includes Christian, Islamic, secular, even Jewish variants, a protocol of thinking now 2,000 years old? Who wouldn’t despair? I feel it sometimes, and I don’t live on the Gaza border, subjected to the incessant renewals of attack, to rockets from above, terror tunnels from below, environmental arson all around—not to mention a media determined to misreport the situation, if mentioning it at all. Nor am I on a Western campus, isolated and facing an indoctrinated mob barely able to contain its urge to hurt—an ever more common occurrence, one coming entirely from the left, but one that hardly registers among Western liberals, including campus administrators.
But I do see things plainly and clearly (now). And that’s part of my message: the whole is visible like never before. Yet, we can’t help but ask, isn’t it all the more overwhelming to rehearse such a record of wrongs, all the more hopeless to glance back over such a history of loss? In a way, yes. Realism! But no, too, because a new clarity may emerge about just what we’re dealing with.
In Germanic legend, there’s a story about how Thor leaves the human world, Midgard, to visit Utgard, “the beyond,” where King Loki challenges him to prove his strength. But it’s a trick: the cat Loki directs Thor to pick up is really a section of the world-encircling Midgard Serpent. So try as he might, Thor can’t help but fail. The cat’s ordinary appearance masks its incomparable immensity. Our situation is different, because we do know the enormity of what we’re up against. But the hostage-taking at Beth Israel in Colleyville was resolved when the rabbi, Charlie Cytron-Walker, threw a chair at their captor, allowing the four hostages to escape. This sermon of mine is about that chair, which—thanks to our historical moment—is within all our grasp.
Thor and Loki’s Cat
I know that “the Israeli/Palestinian conflict” seems too big to lift, too heavy in every way, and it can be massively destructive when wielded against us. But taking it up into our thinking we actually hold the very key not just to the moral, spiritual fight for the Jewish people, as if that weren’t enough. Our decision to see through the spectacle to its meagre ordinariness, to pull back the curtain on the Wizard, shows to the world that truth, fidelity, honesty, and justice won’t be held hostage, illegitimately occupied, self-servingly redefined—un-defined—by their enemies, despite their bluster, despite even their desperate violence.
The word “Palestine” has become wildly mythologized, has come to fairly drip with classic anti-Semitic associations, generally unrecognized as such. We, of course, know the old tropes: rapacious Jewish land theft, secretive Jewish power, child-murdering Jewish fanaticism, innocence defiled by an alien Jewish presence. They explain why anti-Jewish persecution has always played out the same way: a misunderstood minority is imagined as having outsized influence but is much weaker in reality than the majority and therefore makes the perfect target for any show of false bravery—a “punching down” portrayed as its complete opposite by the perpetrating mob.
The unique geopolitical situation of Israel has thus been ideal for the emergence of the newest version of the old configuration. For a calculating focus—“Checkpoints!” “Refugee camps!”—can easily make Israel look like the bad guy. In reality, it’s but a tiny country with a tiny population, beset by internal enemies and outnumbered by external aggressors, facing a “Long War” waged by the most patient of foes, in an unsympathetic global context. Denial of context is key, the refusal of a broader perspective—for as we know, checkpoints are but a practical response to Arab terror, and Palestinian Arab living conditions are kept poor by their own leadership. Why? To cultivate despair and render civilians more easy to weaponize against the Jews—who are portrayed as the obstacle to Islamic supremacist dreams, as substitute villains to be blamed for Arab misery. To create conditions not unlike those of Germany, 1930—fertile ground for would-be dictators, with a ready supply of disaffected potential extremists.
Israel’s military may be renowned, but we know the story of its gradual build-up from nothing in the face of repeated assault. We’re rightfully proud of its proficiency, and of its precision in minimizing civilian casualties—we know Israel has no bloodlust. And we know beyond doubt that Israel would have preferred not to need a military at all, to have lived in peace from the outset. We know, too, that every self-defensive Israeli gesture will be met with condemnation, will be presented to—and taken by—the world as an Israeli offense (for, as we know, Jews are never granted the right to be “innocent until proven guilty”).
But if we zoom out, what appeared upside-down—as a cartoonish hell with no explanation beyond “Jewish evil”—is suddenly righted, explicable by the most pragmatic, psychologically obvious interpretation. The Nazis had unified, controlled, and exploited a war-scarred, post-Depression populace by conjuring a demon of epic proportion and sending Germany into existential struggle against it. The forces arrayed against Israel have more at stake even than Hitler’s “Thousand Year Reich”: the worldwide caliphate, the millennial victory of Islamism, the absolute confirmation of their belief. And they’re aided and abetted by that other would-be world conqueror, utopian collectivism/leftism, in almost all its variations.
If we take a still longer view, we can see beyond even this understandable if unfortunate drive to conquest (“It’s just human nature”). Crucial though it is to refute the “Big Lie” of Israeli criminality, to expose the base motives behind its enemies’ high-minded talk of “rights” and “justice,” all we’ve shown is familiar human ugliness at work. (Practically speaking, achieving even this level of humanization is usually impossible with anti-Israel activists). Yes, the image of “Palestine” holds together a narcissistic role-play in which real people are demeaned into fairy-tale opponents. But what is revealed by this construction is not merely a pathetic pretense or a rigged game, not just the power-lust of the immature or a desperate con-job—all prosaic insights, however vital. It discloses something far more consequential for everyone.
Complex and unresolvable as it is, yet somehow transcendently singular, Jewish peoplehood has been attacked in its every aspect in historical turn: the religious dimension (deicide, “Christ-killers”), the geographic (exile and diaspora), social (ghettoization, expulsion), biological (“racial inferiority”), cultural (“Degenerate Art”), and finally, today, the political as such (“Israel is illegitimate”). But these onslaughts haven’t been random: each is meaningful, for their objects together form the very image of human personhood. What is a person, after all, but a spiritual, geographical, social, biological, cultural, political being? To be anti-Jewish is thus to be anti-human, to flee the demands of personhood as such. And this coherence has only become visible today, because over time the anti-Jewish figure has shown itself completely, thanks to the survival – spiritual, geographic, social, biological, cultural, and political – of the Jewish people.
Even more: as the people, Israel, were chosen by their G-d as “a light unto the nations,” so the region, Israel, may function for anyone as a light on human universality, on the place of truth, fidelity, honesty, and justice – for those with eyes to see, for those who decide to look with truth, fidelity, honesty, and justice. It creates a line that cuts through every positive identity, every abstract demographic: Christian, Muslim, secular, even Jewish; traditionalist, conservative, liberal, radical. If one decides, in one’s own heart, for oneself, to abide by truth, fidelity, honesty, and justice, one will find oneself among genuine allies, sharing a cardinal orientation if not every particular position. And one will find oneself on the side of Israel – that ethnically diverse, politically pluralistic, religiously tolerant, argumentative but life-affirming nation, that state which is more than just another country (as its enemies clearly realize, on the deepest level).
From our long vantage point, we will see, too, that Jewish values have won—despite their repeated betrayal by hypocrisy. In fact, our very awareness of hypocrisy testifies to their triumph, for otherwise people (and regimes) would get on with their self-serving acts without the need for higher “moral” excuses. The true source of the fantasy of Jewish world domination is Judaism’s actual universal influence on consciousness! It testifies to the supreme elevation of conscience—the inescapable presence, in each person’s mind, of that infinite demand to take the other into account, to consider the effect of one’s actions on one’s neighbor. (Hitler, remember, thought conscience a Jewish invention.)
This is why Israel’s enemies can’t simply annihilate it, but must pretend to defeat it on its own ground—must illegitimately claim the mantle of truth, honesty, fidelity, and justice before a bought or bullied jury. It’s why Jewish anti-Zionists can claim to be truer to Jewish values than Zionists: even their spurious authority comes from speaking “as a Jew.” For the Jewish people do, as it happens, stand on the side of right in the courtroom of universality, despite their enemies’ overwrought denials (which, seen through, only further reinforce the fact).
“Palestine” is the keystone in an edifice of lies, and its removal can bring down the walls. It is what psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan designated with the term point de capiton, the “quilting point” that sutures together a fabric, unifying all the pieces of an ideology, giving the whole its semblance of truth. In the fever-dreams of Israel’s enemies, “Palestine” makes it all make sense—not just this specific historical, religious, social, political conflict, but everything: history, religion, society, politics. They believe all inequities will be ironed out, all struggles pacified, utopia flower, if there is but “justice in Palestine.”
We know—those of us who care about the reality of truth, fidelity, honesty, and justice—that this inversion of reality casts their position on everything else into doubt. If you’re so committed to one illusion, how can your other views be trustworthy? Sure, it’s understandable to prefer a fairy tale where you’re the vanquishing hero to a lifelong struggle against the odds. Yes, it’s sometimes awkward to stand with people who disagree about fundamental things – though the workers, bankers, artists, students, Christians, Jews, Roma, soldiers, intellectuals, farmers, and shop-keepers of the anti-Nazi resistance knew their common enemy (imagine the philosophical debates!).
But to place a fabrication based on lies and evasions at the symbolic center of your worldview? Israel, in this fantasy, represents the epitome of all Western evils rolled into one. It is meant to be guilty of all our era’s ultimate crimes. And like every historical example of this same pattern, Jews are imagined as being virtually all-powerful, with only the shaheed for jihad—or “Siegfried” queered, depending on your background—able to take them down. (Recall our Colleyville hostage-taker’s tirade.)
Finally, demythologizing “Palestine” offers us a unique and decisive purchase on modernity itself – on the very questions of meaning that haunt our post-truth times. For the whole “anti-Zionist complex” (as Jacques Givet titled his masterful book) is not simply a lie, or even the sort of demonization common to all warring enemies. If it were, it wouldn’t have the uncanny power it does, the superficial allure to seduce ideological opponents, the shiny promises so attractive to the easy mark. The collectivist fantasy of “Palestine” presents the very mirror-image of the community of truth: the latter cuts across simplistic identities, bringing together disparate individuals through their own choice for conscience; the former provides those wishing to avoid the challenges of personhood with the cheap satisfactions of conformity and self-gratification.
The deconstruction of truth in contemporary culture is not separate from the line of development that begins with Judaism’s earliest enemies, and that results in what Holocaust survivor Primo Levi called “the anti-creation” of the camps – the murder, not just of human beings but of the very idea of the human, as survivor Elie Wiesel said. In the real-life logic of history, in the sense behind many sensational events, Israel – name of the people and of the nation – is indeed pivotal.
In the fantasy on which Israel’s enemies rely, “Palestine” is the keystone, quilting point, linchpin. But in our hands, the reality of Israel is that chair with which the rabbi took out the Beth Israel attacker. In our discussions and debates, in our own minds when trying to wrestle with the huge, seemingly world-encircling serpent that is anti-Jewish prejudice, we are – thanks to the truth revealed by the facts – in the remarkable situation of being able to lift the cat, to throw the chair. It can be wielded by anyone who takes the long view, who grabs reality by the big picture, and whose aim is guided by truth, fidelity, honesty, and justice.
I’m preaching to the choir: sing out! Even in the surest knowledge of hopelessness, the word of our congregation, clearly articulated and precisely targeted, can disable a hallucinating, hysterical attacker. And to save a life—not least, one’s own—is to save a world.
“We had no hope … and yet … ”
CODA: A chair for everyone – As my friend, artist Gilles Goyette, asks when challenging accusations of Zionist “Nazism” by leftists and Islamists: whose side do you think would Hitler have been on today, that of Israel or that of Israel’s enemies? In other words, here’s a “Beth Israel chair” that anyone can use to hit the target square on the head, because everyone knows the answer. Would Hitler have sided with the Jews? The idea is laughable, absurd. So throw the chair: “If Hitler were alive now, how would you feel about being on his side?”
The Genealogy of Ideas is the history of the evolution of thought around any particular subject.
It is part of the larger subfields of Cultural and Intellectual History. However, it touches upon every aspect of the field, such as Social History, Military History, Economic History, etc.. What distinguishes the History of Ideas from other categories is that it traces how various people thought about the object of discussion and how those ideas influenced behavior.
The history of the notion of “Palestine” spans millennia and evolved continually from the ancient Greeks to the Romans, to Christianity in the Middle Ages, to 19th century European Zionism, to the Arab states in their alliance with the Soviet Union in the 20th century, and, finally, to the western-left following the 6-Day War of 1967. It was after that moment that the western-left adopted Arab notions of “Palestinian” indigeneity to Eretz Israel (the Land of Israel), thereby validating and financing the long Arab-Muslim War against the Jews of the Middle East.
The Jewish Presence – Pre-History, the Bible, and the Babylonian Exile of 587 BCE:
The Jewish experience in Canaan precedes formal history. The early Jews, much like the early Muslims, had no notion of “Palestine” until it was foisted upon the people by Emperor Hadrian and the Romans in the 2nd century CE and then, later, by the European Christians in the early Medieval period. No Jew, from the time of Abraham through until the Jewish nation’s defeat and scattering by the Romans, considered themselves “Palestinian.” The Philistines, however, they were certainly well-aware of.
Although the Philistines are referred to numerous times in the Hebrew Bible, even the ancient Egyptians were aware of their presence as we know from reliefs at the Temple of Ramses III at Medinet Habu. The Hebrew Bible, of course, is not a historical text in the way professional historians think of such work. Rather, it is a primary source from which historians draw, but do not consider definitive. The Bible is an early attempt at the writing of history and tells us much about the Jewish people.
The Israelites encountered the Philistines in the Biblical account when they entered Canaan. The Philistines preceded the Israelites, who followed Moses and Joshua out of slavery in Egypt to the “Promised Land.” Each considered the other a hostile power because, in a conflict over land and, thus, the means for survival, they were enemies.
In Genesis 21-22, we read of Abraham and Isaac and their dealings with Abimelech (a generic Biblical name for all kings of the Philistines) and their negotiations and treaties. Just as Abraham prayed for peace between his eldest son, Ishmael, child of Hagar, (his concubine) and his son Isaac, so he prayed for peace between the Israelites and the Philistines.
In any case, the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II destroyed the Philistine city of Ashkelon in 604 BCE, wiping the Philistines off the face of the planet. The Jews were a bit luckier. In 587 the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem, resulting in what history knows as the Babylonian Exile. But the Jews survived the Babylonians. The Philistines did not.
The Ancient Greeks – 5th Century BCE:
The Philistines, as an Aegean people, were kin to the Greeks. The Greek Reporter tells us:
“Philistines were very likely of Greek origin, according to a recent DNA study that traces the origins of the ancient villains in the Eastern Mediterranean.
This is actually the first study of DNA recovered from an ancient Philistine cemetery, as scientists wanted to find the roots of the infamous people of the Hebrew Bible, according to a report in National Geographic.
It is therefore not particularly surprising, that the ancient Greek historian, Herodotus (484 – 425 BCE), is the first person in recorded history to use the term “Palestine” as a geographical location.
As he was writing during the Babylonian Captivity, he makes no reference to the Land of Israel, however as we read in the text of the Histories, he refers to “Palestine” nine times.
In The Fifth Book of the Histories, Called Terpsichore, Herodotus tells us that, “the sea coast of Syria; and this part of Syria and all as far as Egypt is called Palestine.”
In The Fourth Book of the Histories, Called Melpomene, he further claims:
Now in the line stretching to Phenicia from the land of the Persians the land is broad and the space abundant, but after Phenicia this peninsula goes by the shore of our Sea along Palestine, Syria, and Egypt, where it ends; and in it there are three nations only.
One thing is clear. At no point in the Histories are the people of “Palestine” ever represented as Arab. They certainly could not be Muslim because Muhammad was not born for many centuries to come.
Despite Arab claims to the contrary, contemporary “Palestinians” have no historical connection to either the land conquered by the Philistines, nor Canaan more generally, as their forbearers largely remained within the Arabian Peninsula until shortly after the death of Muhammad in 632 CE. This marks the beginnings of the Arab colonial period, defined by the conquest of the Middle East and the defeat of the Byzantine Empire.
The Romans – Early in the Common Era:
Were it not for the ancient Romans, it is likely that the word “Palestinian” would have disappeared from human lips long ago. For the Romans the idea of “Palestine” very specifically referred to the Philistines, which is precisely why Emperor Hadrian, upon the defeat of the Bar Kochba Rebellion (132–136 CE), renamed Eretz Israel as Syria Palaestina. The idea was not merely to humiliate the defeated Israelites by naming their land after its ancient enemies, but to erase Jewish history entirely. Hadrian thus set a precedent later duplicated by the Arabs and their western-left allies to seek erasure of Jewish history on Jewish land.
During the Roman conquest of the Jewish people many of the Jews who were not slaughtered or crucified were led in chains to Rome, where surprisingly:
… the Jewish community in Rome grew very rapidly. The Jews who were taken to Rome as prisoners were either ransomed by their coreligionists or set free by their Roman masters, who found their peculiar custom obnoxious. They settled as traders on the right bank of the Tiber, and thus originated the Jewish quarter in Rome.
Five hundred and eighty thousand men were slain in the various raids and battles, and the number of those that perished by famine, disease and fire was past finding out. Thus nearly the whole of Judaea was made desolate, a result of which the people had had forewarning before the war. For the tomb of Solomon, which the Jews regard as an object of veneration, fell to pieces of itself and collapsed, and many wolves and hyenas rushed howling into their cities.
The significant point in terms of the genealogy of the idea of “Palestine,” however, is that the Roman conquest represents the key moment whereby Israel became “Palestine.” Although they failed to wipe out the Jewish people, as the Persians erased the Philistines, they did manage to plant the seed that turned the Jews into “Palestinians.” Any semi-educated Roman understood that the Philistines were long gone by the time Hadrian dragged thousands of Jews to the Rome.
But even they understood that the “Palestinians” were not Arabs. And despite the change of name to Syria Palaestina, everyone understood from that moment until well into the 20th century that inhabitants of “Palestine” were primarily Jews.
The Rise of Christian Europe – The Early Medieval Period to the Crusades:
Following the collapse of the Byzantine Empire, and with the rise of Christian Europe, the idea of “Palestine” took on new meaning. No longer was “Palestine” merely a contemptuous Roman label meant to demean the Jewish people and eliminate Jewish history. Rather, it became an idealized place of religious yearning, often referred to as “The Holy Land.” Church historian and Bishop of Caesarea, Eusebius (263 – 339 CE) represents the first recorded usage of the word “Palestine” within the Medieval European Christian context. He wrote, History of the Martyrs of Palestine thereby unintentionally advancing a malicious Roman usage of the name. From that day to this, “Palestine” or “The Holy Land” has been in regular employment in the West and it was always understood to be the land of the Jewish people and the place where Jesus walked.
To a Medieval Christian, the notion that “Palestine” referred to a land indigenous to Arabs and Muslims would have been entirely preposterous, and from a historical perspective even the most illiterate, half-starved, serf would have been entirely correct. Everyone in Christian Europe understood “Palestine” or “The Holy Land” to be the land of their savior, Jesus Christ, who was a Jew believed to have been betrayed by other Jews. This concept goes to the very heart of the Christian faith. Were it not for the betrayal by Judas and, thus, the crucifixion of Christ, there could be no Salvation, nor the advent of Christianity itself. That it was Jewish land, however, was never in doubt.
During the Crusades, in retaliation for the Muslim conquests of the Christian Byzantine Empire and the Jihad into Europe until halted at “The Gates of Vienna,” the Church sought to claim Jerusalem for itself. But the Crusaders understood, despite their slaughter of the Jews – as a mere interim exercise on their quest to trounce the Islamic Empire – that the land of Jesus was Jewish land at the time of Christ.The Crusaders had no soft and squishy collegial sensibilities with regards other peoples. They wanted, quite simply, to replace the Muslims with the People of Jesus. They longed with religious fervor to stomp out the Muslim conquerors and replace them with the Christian conquerors. That the land had once been Jewish was not relevant to the effort, but it was also not denied. The ones with any education understood that “Palestine” had been the land of the Jews, but why would that fact deter their goal?
Naturally, it did not. From that day through until most of the 20th century “Palestine” was always understood to be the historical homeland of the Jewish people.
Muhammad and the Quran – Early 7th century:
Despite contemporary ahistorical Arab-Muslim claims to an ancient Palestinian nation that long preceded the rise of the Roman Empire, there is no reference to any such place known as “Palestine” in the Quran. There is, in fact, not even a direct reference to the city of Jerusalem in that book, and Muhammad never once left the Arabian Peninsula and therefore never put a toe in that city.
Islam today claims that the al-Aqsa Mosque, in Jerusalem, is the ‘third holiest site in Islam.’ It does so because Muhammad is said to have, upon his death, ascended to Paradise on horseback, at the site of the “Farthest Mosque” in what is known as The Night Journey. Contemporary Muslims generally believe this mosque was in Jerusalem, even though there were no mosques in Jerusalem in the year 632, the year of Muhammad’s passing.
It must be understood that religious mythology, while holding great meaning in the lives of believers, does not constitute historical truth. Nor should it, because that is not its function. As the famous 20th century mythologist, Joseph Campbell, said:
Mythology is not a lie, mythology is poetry, it is metaphorical. It has been well said that mythology is the penultimate truth—penultimate because the ultimate cannot be put into words. It is beyond words.
Mythology is poetry. Muhammad’s Night Journey is religious poetry, perhaps even beautiful religious poetry, but it has nothing to do with historical truth. In much the same way the romantic notion of an ancient (Arab) “Palestine” is likewise mythology, but in the case of “Palestine” it is not even referred to in the Hadiths.
Even contemporary sources, such as the pro-Palestinian / Jihadi organization Islamweb.net admits this. In a post titled, “Qur’anic verses about war between Israel and Palestine” we read, “The Hadith does not mention Palestine by the name, so this war will be general, i.e. in Palestine and everywhere else.” The Hadiths are Shia and Sunni religious texts, usually thought compiled around the 8th or 9th century, that describe the behavior of Muhammad, allegedly from eyewitness sources. They serve as examples to Muslims on how best to behave to exemplify Muhammad’s principles. “Palestine” is not referenced in the Hadiths, because it is not referenced in the Quran. It is not referenced in either because there was no “Palestinian-Arab” place in history until the United Nations formalized the notion.
The Jewish Presence – The First Aliyah:
Theodore Herzl and the First Zionist Congress encouraged and promoted the First Aliyah, the wave of immigration from Europe to Israel in 1881 – 1903, for the Jews chased out of the Pale of Settlement by the pogroms and general Eastern European hostility. This requires very little emphasis because it is so obvious. For millennia, from the time of Bar Kochba until the late 19th century, after being slaughtered and forcibly removed from their homeland, the Jews were the world’s most famous wanderers. The “Wandering Jew” was a popular cliché throughout Europe and the West. The rootless Jew was a villain in the common imagination of many western nations. The Jews who made Aliyah at the end of the 19th century were determined to re-establish themselves in their ancestral homeland. At the time, even the Arabs had no concept of “Palestine” as distinctly Muslim land, other than by right of earlier conquest. It was simply one bit of land among many other much larger parcels that they had taken through Jihad and that, therefore, must always remain Muslim per theological decree. It was only as diaspora Jews returned to the Land of Israel that the Muslim leadership decided that Jerusalem was their third holiest site. Prior to that, some small numbers of Muslims and Arabs made a home for themselves there, but its religious significance was minor. Within the Ottoman Empire it was a backwater.
A glance at this 1875 photograph of the Dome of the Rock speaks volumes:
It was desolate and overgrown with weeds, which would hardly befit the “Third Holiest Place in Islam.” Of course, at the time, the Dome of the Rock, built upon the Second Jewish temple, was not the Third Holiest anything to anyone. The notion that the Temple Mount was holy to Arabs was simply politics and not the least bit reflective of Arab feelings.
Such a notion, in the long genealogical march of the idea of “Palestine” from Herodotus and Hadrian was definitely not gospel to the approximately 25,000 Jewish people who arrived in Zion under miserable physical and financial conditions during this period. The land was overgrown, untended, filled with swamp, mosquitos, and malaria. Were it not for the generosity of the famous Rothschild family, and its head, the Baron Edmond De Rothschild (1845 – 1934), it is likely that the First Aliyah would have died. Instead, as Jews cleared land and set up settlements and towns, Arab peasants from elsewhere in the Ottoman Empire began to immigrate to the land, too.
The British and the Mandate following World War I:
This began to change following the Ottoman defeat in World War 1, by the Allied Powers of France, Britain, Russia, and the United States. In the negotiations after the war, the Mandate of Palestine (full-text) was established as a British protectorate under the League of Nations, thereby maintaining the western inclination toward the idea of (Jewish)“Palestine.” Herodotus (for innocent reasons) and Hadrian (for malicious reasons) dubbed Israel “Palestine” and so “Palestine” it remained. Of course, the post-war San Remo Conference of 1920, divvied up the Ottoman corpse among the European powers, while the text outlining the British Mandate of Palestine called very specifically, following the Balfour Declaration of 1917, for the “close settlement by Jews on the land.” The British immediately violated the Mandate by chopping off three-quarters of it as a gift to the Hashemites – descendants of the Prophet — who created the state of Trans-Jordan (now Jordan).
But even then, the truncated land delegated for the Mandate of Palestine was understood to be the land of the Jews who were giving the British migraines in their determination to continue Aliyah and to settle their own homeland whether anyone liked it or not. The Brits did not particularly like it and neither, obviously, did the Arabs who objected to any Jewish presence unless those Jews conformed to their traditional role of dhimmi with severely limited rights. The Jew among them as subservient they could stomach. The Jew among them as equal, they could not.
Following the war Aliyah continued and the Jewish people – along with some Arabs, it should be noted – went about building the political, financial, industrial, agricultural, and transportation infrastructure of what would become recognized by the United Nations as the Jewish State of Israel, in Resolution 181, 1948. It should also be noted that the United Nations emphatically did not create the State of Israel. It merely acknowledged the condition of statehood that the Jews had constructed for themselves.
The Arabs in the 20th Century:
Beneath the Arab surface, however, some Arab Christian intellectuals had already, by the late 19th century, floated the idea of a distinct “Palestinian” nationality. Your average local Arab would not have been aware of any such notion of “Palestinian” nationalism. And the opportunity did not arise until after David Ben-Gurion dubbed the Jewish reclamation of Jewish land Israel (or “He Who Struggles with God” – Genesis 32:28) that the local Arab population could later take up the banner of “Palestine.”
In 1964, Yasser Arafat created the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). They not only insisted upon the ahistorical notion of an ancient “Palestinian” people struggling against Jewish usurpers, but with some helpful advice from the Soviet Union, suggested that Zionism was contemporary Nazism. In other words, they convinced some Western youth that fighting Jewish self-determination in the wake of the Holocaust was actually a fight against a Nazi-like evil. In the effort to demonize the Jews of Israel, the local Arabs in coordination with the Western press, developed what we call “Pallywood.” Pallywood was (and is) staged productions, or highly edited video footage, designed to malign Israel for the purpose of encouraging hatred against, and the eventual dissolution of the Jewish state. This encouraged idealistic western progressives to justify their venom for the Jewish state, and the Jewish people, as a righteous fight against contemporary fascism. Essentially, this is a genocidal project because, were it to succeed, it would leave the seven million Jews in Israel at the mercy of the over four hundred million Muslim-Arabs surrounding them. History very clearly suggests that any such eventuality would lead to the slaughter of those Jews.
Nonetheless, throughout most of the 1960s, the local Arabs considered themselves Arabs, or often Syrians, but not “Palestinians” because in their experience that referred to the Jewish people, their traditional social inferiors. Many local Arab-Muslims despised the Jewish “Palestinians” because they refused to know their place under Islam.
All of this changed after the 6-Day-War of 1967. It was only after it became clear that the Jewish Israelis would not be so easily removed from the land that Yassir Arafat’s project began to reap significant fruit among the general Arab population who expropriated the name “Palestinians” for themselves as a distinct people.
This history of ideas teaches, among other things, how quickly people can be persuaded to believe virtually anything if the powers-that-be promote an idea, and one’s family and social circle embrace it. So, it was with the Arabs of the former Mandate. Within a very brief period after the Six Day War, a majority of Israeli Arabs came to think of themselves as “Palestinians,” an allegedly ancient Muslim people. The local Arabs, encouraged by the Soviet Union and then by the western left, took up the notion of an ancient “Palestinian people.” The idea of an ancient “Palestinian” people became so widespread that the Palestinian Board of Tourism claimed (with a straight-face) – as we learn in Ryan Bellerose’s work in this volume – an amazingly venerable “1 million years of Palestinian history” on this tiny strip of land.
The truth, however, was told by PLO executive committee member, Zahir Muhsein, in 1977, when he said:
“The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity… In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese.”
The truest thing that can be said about Palestinianism is this: if not for Zionism, Palestinianism would not exist. It is, in every way, a reaction to Zionism and what has been achieved through it – namely, the reconstitution of the national home of the Jewish people. And where Zionism is the spontaneous national liberation movement of a people whose connection to the land predates antiquity and modernity alike, Palestinianism was imposed upon Arabs who resided in what was once the colony of Palestine. More than that, it is an adaptation of Arab nationalism, which can be viewed as the intellectualization of a percieved need to reclaim the colonial privilege and sense of ethnonationalist unity that were lost when the Islamic Empire dissolved at the end of WWI.
And when the Arab League began the process of transforming resettled Arab refugees and Arabs who were adapting to the reality of life in Israel into a discrete Arab Palestinian people, the glue that held together the notion of that people was so weak that the Arab League felt it necessary to strip resettled Palestinians of their rights as citizens and residents of the Arab states wherein they made their homes and to then ghettoize them regardless of their wealth, achievements, and contributions lest they forget that they were now Palestinian first and Arab second. This new condition of otherness and statelessness had two effects. The first was the setting apart of newly minted Palestinians from the pan-Arab world. Many were confined to UNRWA camps that would shortly become slums wherein an authentic voice and the power to transform one’s condition were impossible to come by. The second was that Arabs turned Palestinians were now limited to a politics defined by a hatred for Jews, Israel, and Zionism. This had and still has the added effect of drawing into that trifecta of hatred anyone who sympathizes with Palestinians. Meaning, per Palestinianism, to sympathize with the plight of Palestinians is to hate their “persecutors” and to never look beyond that hatred in order to gain a deeper understanding of the conflict.
But, what is Palestinianism? Simply put, it is the belief that freedom for the Palestinian people will not be achieved until Palestine, which was never a state and never exclusively Arab and Muslim, is restored to its pre-1948 boundaries. Meaning, Palestinianism is defined by a call for the destruction of the Jewish state and the dispossession of millions of its citizens. But, how do the proponents of Palestinianism intend to accomplish that destruction? As different as Yasser Arafat, the man who once led the PLO, and Edward Said, the Palestinian American academic and author of Orientalism are, both men agree that Palestinians lack a counter-narrative, or as Said would say, a “counter-myth.” Enter BDS (the campaign to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel) with its false claims of Palestinian indigeneity, forced dispossession, genocide, and of course “Israeli apartheid.” Arafat and Said would also agree that developing that counter-myth and convincing the world of its “truth” is key to reversing everything that has been accomplished through Zionism. But, where Said naively imagines a “post-Zionist” reality wherein the end of the Jewish state and the removal of every political and national boundary between the river and the sea has resulted in equity between Arab and Jew, Arafat imagined a a purely Arab and Palestinian state in place of Israel and the territories of “Palestine.” His stated intention was to realize that state by “making life unbearable for Jews” via psychological warfare and demographic change, or, as he put it, “population explosion.”
As the primary vehicle for Palestinianism, BDS, or rather those who lead it, excel at applying the language of Said and those like him to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while covertly pursuing the agenda of Arafat and his terrorist successors. And this habit of obfuscation is as much a part of Palestinianism as its rejection of the Jewish right to self-determination in the ancestral home of the Jewish people. For proof of this, look no further than the official home page of the BDS movement, which describes BDS in this way:
The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement works to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and to force Israel to comply with international law.
Compare that statement to this one made by Omar Barghouti, the founder of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel: “Israel was Palestine and there is no reason why it should not be renamed Palestine.” Barghouti also said this: “…we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian, not a sell-out Palestinian, would ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.” But, it isn’t just Barghouti who holds these views. Barghouti’s Egyptian counterpart and the co-founder of BDS, Rami Saath, has proven ties to Ikhwan Al Muslimeen or the Muslim Brotherhood, the transnational Sunni Islamist organization that is directly responsible for the creation of Hamas in Gaza. Rather than renounce the Brotherhood (which once tried, but failed to transform Egypt into a theocracy), Saath gave up his Egyptian citizenship and left Egypt altogether.
Realizing that BDS, which has done the most to propagate Palestinianism in the West, is fundamentally ultra-nationalist and supremacist should lead one to another realization: that it and thus Palestinianism are cloaks for Islamism, which is to say for a group ideology that espouses not just the destruction of the State of Israel, but the destruction of the West. If Islamists succeed in both endeavors it will be because they, along with far-left ideologues, were able to convince enough people that the rights of seemingly marginalized or oppressed groups matter more than those of seemingly privileged groups—for how else could Palestinianists and Islamists convince the world that Palestinian freedom and sovereignty can only be achieved through the elimination of the world’s only Jewish state and that persons who push for that elimination will be on the “right side of history”? The pursuit of that ethical sea change is the common ground that the far-left and Palestinianists/Islamists stand upon and that serves as the basis for their strange fellowship. I say “strange” because the Islamist is necessarily opposed to everything that the left holds sacred. Gender equality and women’s rights? Haram (forbidden)! LGBTQ rights, including the right to be one’s authentic self without fear of harm and persecution? Doubly haram! And then there is the right to be free of compelled religious practice and forced compliance with religious beliefs. As far as the Islamist is concerned, that right is yet another Western blasphemy.
And when leftists call upon Israel to end her blockade or “siege” of Gaza absent any call upon Hamas to alter its disposition toward Israel, they appear to be blissfully ignorant of the reality that made that blockade necessary. That reality is not a product of Israeli malice toward Gazans (it was Israel that gave all of Gaza to its Arab residents and that not only sends massive amounts of material aid to Gaza on a continual basis, but that regularly treats Gazan children in Israeli hospitals), but a product of Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorism. When Israel last eased the blockade by allowing Gazan fishing boats to venture further into the Mediterranean and by allowing material goods and technical aid to flow more freely into the Strip, the end result was the appearance of “terror tunnels” that led from Gaza to Israeli communities and the deployment of Iranian-made Fajr-5 rockets that that could threaten lives in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
This is where the obfuscation that is so regularly employed by Palestinianists meets the ignorance of their audience – an audience that, by every appearance, prioritizes the propagation and defense of a sociopolitical identity over evidential reasoning and moral clarity (mind you, right-wing ideologues suffer from the same disease of the mind). I’m speaking of course of young adults who are either in the process of becoming liberally educated, or who lack formal education and view themselves as social outsiders and members of an underclass. The former is most likely to take part in actions that are confined to the safety of a college or university campus while the latter could be found ‘decolonizing’ Seattle’s Capital Hill neighborhood during the summer of 2020 and, in so doing, depriving thousands of Seattle residents of basic public services (emergency services included) for just under two months while also contributing to more than one homicide inside the protest zone.
But the goal of the Palestinianist is not to engender chaos for its own sake. Instead, his or her immediate goal is to alter the fabric of Western culture—to make it thinner and more prone to tearing. Think of that fabric as the Judeo-Christian tradition with its rejection of collectivism, which proceeds from the Judeo-Christian belief in the divinity or sacredness of the individual. Now, think of those tears as moral confusion. The tearing of that cultural fabric is nowhere more evident than on Western college and university campuses, whereupon Palestinianists have compelled some faculties and administrations to divest from Israel by selling shares in any enterprise that does business in or with Israel and by ending relationships with Israeli academics and institutions. To be clear, it is the normalization of the Palestinianist hatred for the Jewish state and a unified Jewish people that creates those tears, not the acts of divestment and boycott themselves. In all likelihood, the Palestinianist understands this and regards any increase in that hatred as a sign of success.
And because the West has already imbibed too much of that hatred and hatreds like it, it has begun to lose sight of the truth. Should it continue to drink from that cup, it may soon become crtically demoralized and fall prey to an enemy whose brand of morality would have once been regarded by virtually every member of that society as evil, or, at the very least, wrong-headed. And make no mistake, the West is well on its way to becoming so. That many in the West do not see Palestinianism for what it is proof enough of this. That is not to say that Palestinians do not suffer and that the average person is wrong to sympathize with Arabs who must navigate checkpoint after checkpoint in order to travel from village to city and back again or who are confined to Gaza, a place with crumbling infrastructure and a weak, insular economy. But, why do these conditions exist? Does Israel truly engineer and maintain them for her own benefit? A Palestinianist would certainly say so but could not honestly tell you why. That Palestinianist might tell you that it’s all about land – that the Zionists want it all.
Never mind that it was the Zionists who offered to exchange land for peace whenever Jerusalem sensed that peace might be possible. Israel most famously exchanged land for peace when it returned the Sinai to Egypt, but decades earlier, some Zionist leaders in what was then Mandatory Palestine agreed to the British plan to place half of Palestine under Hashemite rule and thereby divide the land in the hope that doing so would quell Arab nationalist unrest and strengthen the British position in Palestine. Rather than quell that unrest, the creation of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan made the prospect of a full-blown civil war in Palestine inevitable by giving Arab nationalists a base from which they could launch attacks against Jewish Palestine. Still, Israel clung to the hope that she would one day be at peace with her neighbors. That hope bore fruit when Israel, with the help of U.S. brokers, struck permanent peace deals first with Egypt and then with Jordan.
But, according to the Palestinianist, a just peace with Israel is impossible. This claim was repeated when the Palestinian Authority scuttled the Oslo Peace Accords and publicly endorsed the use of terrorism against Israeli civilians and military personnel alike during the Second Intifada. While it is true that the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin would have negatively impacted Arab confidence in Oslo, it is just as true that Israel demonstrated her good faith by evacuating every last Israeli soldier and civilian from the Gaza Strip and by pledging to recognize a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem should the peace process continue. So, why make this claim in spite of all the evidence to the contrary? It has been said that honor culture (a culture that relies on extra-judicial violence and the threat of the same to enforce claims and to deter enemies) is to blame, but a better theory may be that the Palestinianist rejection of peace is, in reality, an Islamist rejection of the same for it is Islamism that most informs Palestinianism and it is Islamism that holds that Islam forbids the Islamic world from entering into that peace. A hudna or temporary peace? Certainly, but a permanent peace? Never.
The realization that a rejection of peace with Israel, which is to say peace with Jewish self-determination in the region, is a matter of course and even a matter of faith among Islamists coupled with the realization that Palestinianism is little more than a vehicle for Islamism can be a hard pill to swallow. It becomes less so when one explores the timeline of Arab nationalism in the region. That timeline begins with Haj Amin Al-Husseini, the man who was installed as the Grand Mufti (chief Islamic jurisconsult) of Jerusalem in 1921 and who is pejoratively known as Hitler’s Mufti. Much has been said about the Mufti’s relationship with Hitler, which was supposedly based upon a shared desire to extend the Shoah or Holocaust to Palestine, but all of that has the effect of drawing attention away from the relationship that did the most to shape and determine the political beliefs of Al-Husseini and thus the political beliefs that comprise the Palestinian national movement, for it was al-Husseini who groomed Yassar Arafat to lead that movement into a new century and who lent Arafat all of his credibility.
I’m speaking, of course, of the Mufti’s intimacy with the Muslim Brotherhood. In its role as the foremost Islamist organization in the Muslim world, the Brotherhood tirelessly promoted the Mufti to its members and supporters during the war years and beyond. Those members included Arab heads of state who, after the war, were able to compel the French to release al-Husseini from house arrest (it was really more of a protective custody necessitated by the need of the French to strike a deal with the influential Mufti lest he turn on them in the way he turned on the British). Once free, al-Husseini was brought to Cairo, which was then a place where, for the most part, the Brotherhood could do and say as it liked. Hassan Al-Banna, who led the Brotherhood’s Egyptian branch did just that when he brazenly declared that an unshackled Mufti would “continue the struggle” against the Americans, the British, and the Jews now that Hitler and Mussolini were gone. And continue that “struggle” he did.
Before and after the war, al-Husseini fomented anti-Jewish pogroms in the British Mandate of Palestine that would give way to a full-blown civil war and Arab insurgency, which he also agitated for. That war forced the British to abandon Palestine and obliterated any hope for the creation of a state wherein Jews and Arabs could enjoy equal shares of power and benefit from a politics not determined by ethnic and religious conflict. But, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but bends, or rather can be bent toward justice, this had the effect of justifying the Zionist effort to carve a new state out of the Territory of Palestine wherein Jews could, after millennia of exile and persecution, once again be free and enjoy some measure of security.
Were it not for the Cold War and the attention given to the Soviet-PLO relationship, the true beginnings and thus the true nature of Palestinian nationalism might be better understood for it was the Mufti, a man who collaborated openly with the Nazis and the Brotherhood alike, who breathed life into what his apprentice, Yassar Arafat, would recast as the “Palestinian national struggle.” Arafat gave credence to that struggle by inventing an “ancient Palestinian people” who, in Arafat’s imagination, could lay claim to every dunam of the land. Arafat became expert at disguising the Islamist and supremacist tendencies of that struggle by playing the role of the tough, but erudite secularist and righteous anti-colonialist when speaking to the English, Dutch or French press and then only sharing his true thoughts and intentions, which were frequently bloody, with the Arab press. Sadly, for Arafat, this Janusian communication strategy ceased to bear fruit when Hamas, which is the Brotherhood by another name, could not be convinced to go along with his plan to weaken Israel via the concessions that Arafat believed would ultimately include the re-partition of Jerusalem and an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank. Rather than allow Oslo to proceed, Hamas and its affiliates launched the wave of bombings and melee terror attacks known as the Second Intifada. Arab support for that intifada laid bare Arafat’s failure to sell his strategy, which was to trick Israel into bringing about her own destruction, to the Arab public. And thus, hard-line Islamists were able to perpetuate status quo, the status of Gaza notwithstanding, at the cost of hundreds of innocent Arab and Jewish lives.
This brings us back to the present – a present wherein the status quo is still with us and wherein Islamists clothed as pro-Palestinian activists would see Israel collapse under its growing weight. And it may be that Israel will soon be forced to shoulder that weight without, or with reduced help, from the U.S. and the West in general. Not because those activists were able to make Israel a pariah, but because America’s as well as the West’s ability to project power abroad is waning. What the Islamist does not realize is that this would be to Israel’s benefit. Why? Not just because Israel is socially, politically, and technologically capable of shouldering that weight, but because the growth and endurance of pro-Palestinian activism is dependent upon the subconsciously held belief that the West is paternally obligated to steer the affairs of the Near East and make it more Western, or progressive in character. As the West continues to turn inward, this belief will be exercised with decreased regularity until it ceases to be exercised at all. That is not to say that Islamism and its cloak, Palestinianism, are no threat at all.
It bears repeating that the more immediate threat may be to the cultural fabric of the West, which is to say, to the ability of the average Westerner to discern right from wrong and good from evil using a cultural framework that centers and even sanctifies the individual and that would never sacrifice the essential rights of one human collective, which is really a collection of individuals, in order to appease another collective. And when one pulls back the curtain on Palestinianism, one discovers the Islamist desire to do just that with regard to Jews living in their ancestral homeland. For that reason, seeing Palestinianism with clear eyes is the duty of any person who would see the experiment that is individualism continue and thereby bear the fruit that we call human rights, which may be cultivated and enjoyed by any people who generally think as Elie Wiesel, the author of Night thought when he declared, “No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them.”
Three Recent Events Exemplify a Century of Extremist Leadership + Racist Lies
This past month, three things occurred in the context of the Israeli and Palestinian Arab conflict that help to exemplify both the root of the conflict and why, absent a titanic shift in the way Palestinian Arabs view the conflict and Israel, there can be no comprehensive resolution to the conflict.
These three things were:
Israel’s three-day war with Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).
Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah Party praising an attack at a bus stop near the Western Wall in Jerusalem, where the attacker opened fire on unarmed civilians and injured eight people, including a pregnant woman.
The same Mahmoud Abbas in Germany refusing to apologize for his role in the murder of eleven Israeli Olympians during the 1972 Munich Olympics and accusing Israel of committing “50 Holocausts” against the Palestinian Arabs.
At the outset, it is important to clarify why I write “Palestinian Arab” and not just “Palestinian.”
The reason is that history matters (especially when discussing the history of a conflict and its source), and the history of the word “Palestinian” is that until the end of the 19th century, when people referred to “Palestinians,” they were referring to Jews. This is why the 18th century German philosopher Immanuel Kant described Jews as “the Palestinians among us,” and it is why until the very middle of the 20th century the only people living in the land of Israel who generally referred to themselves as “Palestinians” were the Jews living in British-controlled Palestine. This is not to say that since 1948 (the time of Israel’s declaration of independence from British rule), that the Palestinian Arabs have not developed and coalesced around a Palestinian identity. It is, however, clear that they don’t have a monopoly on that identity, and certainly not on its history.
PIJ opposes any relations with Israel and its Jewish citizens—other than those designed to try to violently destroy them. In line with its anti-Semitic and genocidal raison de’etre, PIJ’s number one sponsor and financial lifeline is the Iranian Mullahcracy. Iran is another Islamist supremacist fundamentalist theocracy, which not only brutalizes and terrorizes its own people, but just like PIJ, is committed to violently wiping Israel and its 9 million citizens (and in particular its 7 million Jews) off the map.
In fact, even after it became clear that the Palestinian Arabs’ leadership and their various media and social media arms were trying to blame Israel for the PIJ-misfired rockets that were landing in Gaza and killing Palestinian civilians, including children, much of the mainstream media refused to condemn PIJ and even repeated the bogus claim that Israel was to blame for the results of PIJ’s misfired rockets.
“Heroic Operation” – to shoot at an unarmed pregnant woman
A few days after a ceasefire was entered into between Israel and PIJ, a Palestinian Arab terrorist, Amir Sidawi, opened fire on a random group of Jews at a bus stop. He shot eight people, including among his victims a 35-year-old pregnant woman he critically injured, whose child is still – as I write this – fighting for his life.
Following up on the complete absence of any moral compass demonstrated by the actions of Islamic Jihad, the terrorist attack at the Jerusalem bus stop, and the reactions to both of those by sadly almost all Palestinian Arab groups and leaders, we had the Mahmoud Abbas “50 Holocausts” moment in Germany.
In the same country where, within living memory, the “Final Solution” was planned and implemented, the head of the Palestinian Authority was being feted by the current German government and given the incredible respect of sharing a podium with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
But after being asked the to be expected question about whether he was ready to apologize—50 years after the fact—for his role in the murder of eleven Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, Abbas did not respond with an apology (for being an accomplice to the mass murder of athletes attending the Olympics), but rather with the claim that Israel has committed “50 Holocausts” against the Palestinians.
Of course, since in the entire approximate 100-year history of the Arab-Israeli conflict around 17,000 Palestinian Arabs and 26,000 Israelis have been killed (mostly in armed conflict and in Israeli responses to terrorist and rocket attacks from armed Palestinian Arab groups), the claim that Israel has committed even one “Holocaust” (where more than 6 million Jews—one-third of the worldwide Jewish population—were intentionally murdered in barely 5 years) would be an extraordinarily immoral comment bearing no relationship to the truth, or respect for facts or history. But “50 Holocausts”? That represents a worldview that is beyond malignant. Beyond out of touch with reality. Rather, one that is informed by antisemitism while completely unhinged from both reality and human decency.
Sadly, the fact that the Palestinian Arabs’ “moderate” leader and supposed “partner for peace” with Israel is that unhinged from reality and engages simultaneously in Holocaust denial, Holocaust inversion, and blood libeling the one Jewish state (as he claims Israel has done something 50 times worse than the worst crime of the Nazis) should surprise no one.
At the same time that Abbas has repeatedly been the invited and honored guest of world leaders since his last election as the Palestinian Authority president, Abbas has also repeatedly trafficked in the worst antisemitism, revisionist history, and Holocaust denial and inversion. In 2018, Abbas blamed Jews for 6 million of them being murdered, claiming that “Jewish behavior and not anti-Semitism” caused the Holocaust. In 2015, Abbas asserted that Jews have no right to go to the holiest site in Judaism (the Temple Mount), and actually referred to Jews “defiling” the site with their “filthy feet.”
Abbas also heads up a Palestinian Authority dictatorship that not only praises terrorist attacks; it has a literal Jew-murder incentive program (colloquially known as “Pay to Slay”), which rewards those who murder Jews in acts of terrorism with lifetime salaries that are often eight times what the average high school teacher makes in Ramallah. Abbas’s Palestinian Authority is also a Der Sturmer-like fount of Jew-hatred and antisemitic revisionist history. From promoting Henry Ford and Nazi-type claims about Jews controlling banks and foreign governments, to claims that harken back to medieval times about Jews “harvesting organs” and poisoning wells, there seems to be no antisemitic line the Palestinian Authority and its “moderate” leader are not willing to cross.
This is why these three events: PIJ’s unvarnished antisemitism and Islamist Supremacy, as well as the world’s reaction to it; the continued glorification of even the most heinous act of terrorism (shooting an unarmed pregnant woman in her stomach); and Abbas’s “50 Holocausts” libel and the world’s feigned outrage—as they keep touting Abbas as a moderate, and sending billions of dollars to the PA—exemplify the root of the conflict and why there cannot be a foreseeable near-term resolution to it.
As long as the most “moderate” of Palestinian Arab leaders engage in Holocaust denial; promote anti-Semitic canards; and deny any Jewish historical connection to the land of Israel—all while they praise and reward the murder of Jews—peace is simply not possible.
The modern inception of this conflict was in the 1920s. At that time, there were two principal heads of the two most powerful Palestinian Arab families who were vying for effective control of the Palestinian Arab cause and narrative. The first was the Ragheb Nashashibi, the then mayor of Jerusalem, as determined by the British Mandate. On the other side of this divide, was Haj Amin el-Husseini, the head of the Arab Higher Committee and the Mufti of Jerusalem (also as determined by the British).
Ragheb Nashashibi at that time represented a far less virulent and aggressive response to Zionism. He represented a then influential voice of compromise, and notably supported the partition proposed by the Peel Commission: a proposed partition plan by the British, which if it had been implemented would have led to a sovereign Jewish state, and would have likely saved hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Jews, who ended up being murdered in the Holocaust.
Haj Amin el-Husseini, in sharp contrast to Nashashibi, opposed all compromise (all “normalization”) and regularly incited violence against Jews by telling outrageous lies, which used classic antisemitism to foment hatred of Jews and to deny the Jewish people any right to exist as a sovereign people in any part of their indigenous land. For Husseini, the conflict had less to do with land and who had sovereign control of which parts, and far more to do with hatred of the Jewish people, and a fundamentalist duty to destroy the Jewish people, which is why, shortly after 1937, he became an honored guest of Hitler in Berlin and a Nazi collaborator.
Just like the violence so often incited against Jews in Israel over the past 15 years by the “moderate” Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, this broadcast began with a lie: “A large number of Jews residing in Egypt and a number of Poles, Greeks, Armenians, and Free French have been issued with revolvers and ammunition” to fight “against the Egyptians at the last moment, when Britain is forced to evacuate Egypt.” The broadcast by Husseini continued:
“In the face of this barbaric procedure by the British we think it best, if the life of the Egyptian nation is to be saved, that the Egyptians rise as one man to kill the Jews before they have a chance of betraying the Egyptian people. It is the duty of the Egyptians to annihilate the Jews and to destroy their property. … You must kill the Jews, before they open fire on you. Kill the Jews, who have appropriated your wealth and who are plotting against your security. Arabs of Syria, Iraq, and Palestine, what are you waiting for? The Jews are planning to violate your women, to kill your children and to destroy you. According to the Muslim religion, the defense of your life is a duty which can only be fulfilled by annihilating the Jews. This is your best opportunity to get rid of this dirty race, which has usurped your rights and brought misfortune and destruction on your countries. Kill the Jews, burn their property, destroy their stores, annihilate these base supporters of British imperialism. Your sole hope of salvation lies in annihilating the Jews before they annihilate you.”
In 1942, the democracies of the world at least treated Haj Amin el-Husseini and those who trafficked in his lies like the extremist Jew-hating racist supremacists they were. Today, out of convenience or moral cowardice, as much of the media ignore the virulent and open Islamist supremacism by groups like Islamic Jihad, most world leaders pretend there is a meaningful difference between Mahmoud Abbas and his Holocaust-denying antisemitism and exploitation of antisemitic canards, to the extremism of Haj Amin el-Husseini. They pretend that there is a credible difference between the “moderate” Palestinian Arab leadership and the views and lies of an outright Nazi collaborator; a man who is widely credited with being the godfather of the Palestinian Arab nationalism, as well as of the collective Palestinian Arab rejection of any right of the Jewish people to have any sovereignty and self-determination in their indigenous land. A rejection grounded in lies, revisionist history, and outright antisemitism, which has fueled this conflict for over a century.
But while Mahmoud Abbas and his cronies may wear nice suits and occasionally say in English some nice words about peace, their actions and claims—as illustrated by these three events and sadly many others—demonstrate that when it comes to the possibility of peaceful coexistence, any differences between Husseini and Abbas are meaningless.
Moreover, until the democracies of the world recognize that the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict—both in the 1930s under the leadership of Husseini, and today under Abbas—remains the antisemitic view of the Jews as being a “dirty race” that should be “killed” and who somehow brought the Holocaust upon themselves with their “behavior,” as they commit far worse horrors than the Nazis themselves; and refuse to tolerate such views and thereby further enable the perpetuation of these sick beliefs among most of the Palestinian Arab leaders writ large, peace will never be possible. Impossible that is, absent a self-imposed titanic shift among the Palestinian Arabs themselves, a shift, which would include a return to Nashashibi’s pragmatism, and even more importantly, the complete rejection of Husseini’s Nazi-collaborating antisemitic legacy, as perpetuated presently by all of the Palestinian Arab leadership, from Abbas to Hamas to Islamic Jihad.
Recently President Biden made a trip to the Middle East to visit both Israel and Saudi Arabia. In truth, the stop-off in Israel probably wasn’t meant to accomplish much, but Biden was forced to make sure he stopped, make some promises, shake some hands, and then move on. Why was he compelled to stop for a visit? Back in June of 2009, then-President Obama made a similar trip to the Mideast, first to Turkey, after which he flew straight to Egypt, bypassing Israel entirely. President Obama’s failure to stop for an official visit – as would have been expected if Israel was America’s greatest Mideast ally – was a glaring omission on the presidential travel itinerary, and wasn’t missed by the world press or Israel. Much ink was spilled voicing speculation about this apparent diplomatic snub. Instead of visiting a long-U.S.-allied nation, Obama flew straight to Egypt where he gave a speech at Cairo University titled, “A New Beginning” in which the U.S. president excoriated Israel in front of the Muslim world for her policies, miscasting Jewish and Israeli history to fit the Arab rejectionist narrative. Israel was furious not only at the snub, but at the ahistorical comments.
This time, Biden’s team wasn’t going to repeat Obama’s diplomatic faux pas and cause controversy in an election year. Instead, Biden landed at Ben Gurion Airport,where the Israeli leader of a caretaker government tried to make nice to an unpopular US president. And why is Biden unpopular with Israelis? For four reasons. First, Biden announced his plans during the election season to lift sanctions on Iran, a nation that poses an existential threat to Israel. Second, Biden promised to restore money to the Palestinian Authority, funds President Trump had previously cancelled due to Palestinian incitement to murder innocent Israelis. This reward money for murder is popularly known as the “Pay-to-Slay” policy. Third, Biden promised the Palestinians that the U.S. would re-open the U.S. consulate to the Palestinians in Jerusalem, Israel’s holiest city and Israel’s sovereign capital. Fourth, Biden reiterated U.S. support for a “Two-State Solution,” a diplomatic dead end in view of its repeated rejection by the Palestinian Authority.
The first issue, sanctions on Iran, seems to be taking care of itself since Biden can’t offer the Mullahs enough to get them to play, “Let’s make a deal.”
The third issue, opening a Palestinian consulate in the heart of Israeli’s capital needs the agreement of the Israeli government, which is not likely to happen in view of strong objections from the Israeli electorate. After 74 years of Palestinian terrorism, Israelis don’t want the PA claiming a foothold in their capital city, once half-occupied and ethnically cleansed by Arab armies. If the United States wants a “Palestinian” consulate opened, the proper address is Ramallah.
Biden’s current dilemma is fulfilling a campaign promise to restore funding to the Palestinian Authority when the law forbids it. Taylor Force was an American graduate student and army veteran visiting Tel Aviv as part of his university’s study group examining global entrepreneurship. His killer was a Palestinian terrorist from the West Bank city of Qalqilya who stabbed Force to death and wounded 11 others in his attack. The deceased terrorist’s family was rewarded with a lavish monthly stipend by the Palestinian Authority, well above the average Palestinian monthly income. This is part of the PA’s policy to incite its residents to murder and then reward the murderers killed or imprisoned for violent attacks on Israelis.
After the terrorist attack, in 2018, Congress passed the Taylor Force Act, an act cutting off funds in order to cripple the incentivizing of terrorism using American taxpayer money. The Taylor Force Act unambiguously states that American funding would not be restored unless and until the PA stops paying stipends to terrorists and their families. It is a law that prohibits “certain economic support assistance that directly benefits the Palestinian Authority (PA) from being made available for the West Bank and Gaza unless the Department of State certifies that the PA, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and any successor or affiliated organizations:
are taking steps to end acts of violence against U.S. and Israeli citizens perpetrated by individuals under their jurisdictional control, such as the March 2016 attack that killed former Army officer Taylor Force;
have revoked any law, decree, or document authorizing or implementing a system of compensation for imprisoned individuals that uses the sentence or incarceration period to determine compensation;
have terminated payments for acts of terrorism against U.S. and Israeli citizens to any individual who has been fairly tried and imprisoned for such acts, to any individual who died committing such acts, and to family members of such an individual;
are publicly condemning such acts of violence and are investigating such acts.
The Palestinian Authority’s promise of enriched monthly stipends to the imprisoned or their families for acts of violence, coupled with a drumbeat of incitement to kill from official PA channels, is what is driving terror attacks against Israelis or anyone in Israel. Such lavish rewards are an attractive incentive for the poor, uneducated, and/or ideologically brainwashed who feel aggrieved by their economic situation. Today a Palestinian in debt, or angry that he can’t find work, finds a simple solution in becoming a murderer. Jobs are scarce in the PA since money is allocated by allegiance rather than need, so an act of terror not only gains family honor, but wealth, making the killer’s family financially stable or even well off for decades. For example, back on July 31, 2002, four terrorists bombed the student cafeteria at Hebrew University, killing nine people and injuring more than 100. The terrorists were found, arrested, tried, and convicted of the murders and are serving life sentences. On July 31, 2022, on the anniversary of their terror attack, they were notified that their monthly stipend would increase by 14 percent from $2,251 to $2,572 a month with an additional $96 added because they are residents of Jerusalem.
In 2020 the PA transferred 597 million shekels ($181 million) to the families of Palestinian terrorist prisoners and the families of deceased “martyrs.” The payment was made despite the PA’s claim of a severe budget deficit. In order to circumvent accountability and avoid sanctions, PA terror stipends are now made through ATMs in post offices, circumventing Israel’s order banning banks from handling accounts of terrorists and their families.To put these incentives in perspective, one must know what the average minimum wage is in the territories. Acts of terror are rewarded depending on the numbers of dead and injured Israelis. The more people killed, the longer the prison sentence, then the larger the stipend awarded to the terrorist and or his family.
Since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, the U.S. has given the PA billions of dollars, yet they are still claiming financial dependency. In 2016, the monthly salaries and benefits to terrorists in Israeli custody or if deceased, to the terrorist’s family, amounted to $300 million annually. Such lavish financial rewards clearly demonstrate the PA’s institutional commitment to sponsoring terror against Israel.
Was it necessary for Congress to pass the Taylor Force Act to end U.S. funding of terrorism? Yes. Because the United States has no interest in becoming an accomplice to Palestinian terrorism by funding the same.
Was the Taylor Force Act’s mandated cuts in aid to the PA effective in stopping or slowing Palestinian acts of terror? Yes. In 2020, the last year of President Trump’s presidency, a fiscal year when nothing was given to the PA, terror-related deaths decreased. Yet in 2021, the first year of the Biden presidency, President Biden and the State Department’s Ned Price announced that they would restore funding to the PA. Not surprisingly, PA “open season” on Israelis started anew, terror attacks increased, and the numbers of murdered Israelis rose. In 2022 from January to August, 19 more Jews have been killed, in slightly more than half a year. These numbers tell the tale; cut the funding for rewarding terrorism, and there is less terrorism; without the financial incentive to kill Israelis, there are fewer attacks.
Bewilderingly, Biden has made restoring funding to the PA a top priority of his administration. Since assuming office last year, the president has made good on his campaign promise to fund the PA. For example, on July 14th, the White House announced that it would give the Palestinian Authority $316 million in order to “restore relations between the U.S. and Ramallah.” This gift does not include $201 million to the UNRWA, in addition to already budgeted amounts, in order to restore services to the Palestinian people in order that—in Biden’s words—“they can live in dignity” for a total UNRWA pay-out of $618 million.
The entire point behind U.S. and European support all these decades for the Palestinian Authority was to help a proto-state transform itself into a functioning independent state with democratic institutions and become self-sustaining. It is time to rethink this. Instead of creating an independent democratic state, the Western powers have funded a warlord mafia controlled by an autocrat who oversees his oligarchy of loyalists, kept in power by their armed factions, enriching a select few and their extended families but leaving the majority of Palestinians in an oppressive police state with few options for individual advancement. The economy is stagnant, with tens of thousands of Palestinians seeking work in better-paid Israeli jobs; infrastructure is so poor that much of it is supported by Qatar, UAE, US Aid, or EU and Saudi funding. This is not “living in dignity” – this is going nowhere, with little hope for a free and economically stable society.
Billions have found their way into the Palestinian coffers since Oslo and nothing ever seems to get better. “Palestine” is essentially a welfare state, dependent on the largesse of foreign donors despite decades of money being poured into it. With such a circumscribed future, it is no wonder than some Palestinians, persuaded that killing Jews is both honorable and remunerative, resort to terrorism.
Is this good for the future of the Palestinian people? No. Acts of terror that are rewarded by the Palestinian state do not change attitudes in Israel for the better, but instead harden them, empower the political right, and mute the voices for dialogue and negotiation. Acts of terror will not end the occupation, will not strengthen a Palestinian government, will not aid the emergence of a viable Palestinian state in the future. Instead, they delegitimize the very idea of a Palestinian state, creating the impression that terrorism, ultranationalist or irridentist or religious, is rewarded by the governing authorities of the Palestinian people and that the world might be better off treating the PA as a rogue sponsor of terror, much as it treats Iran, Russia, and North Korea if it continues to encourage and reward terror and mass murder while spurning dialogue and negotiation.
According to laws passed in 2004 and amended in 2013, Palestinians and Israeli Arabs who are convicted of terrorism are entitled to monthly stipends. Men who have served at least five years in Israeli jails, and women who served at least two, are entitled to these “salaries” for life. Those imprisoned for three to five years receive $570 per month. Someone sentenced to 30 years or more is entitled to $3,400 per month. The more heinous the crime, the more money a prisoner receives.
These are people who engaged in terrorism, murder, and attempted murder, while the PA refuses to fund infrastructure projects, modernize hospitals, or create jobs. This money allocated to killing Israelis increases annually, while Palestinians continue to live in “refugee camps” on the UNRWA dole, inside a Palestinian Authority that refuses to create a dignified, democratic, viable future for them.
I have always tried to be someone who bases my opinions on empirical facts, things I can prove. I try not to ever form opinions based on feelings or on what someone tells me I am “supposed to believe.” There is a time and place for faith-based beliefs, but they should never overrule facts and evidence.
I have great antipathy toward causes that rely on me disbelieving my “lying eyes,” and frankly when I am told that something is simply true because someone said so, my aversion to going along with the mainstream kicks in.
I am a Native Canadian and an activist; this means that my first exposure to anything regarding the Israeli/Arab conflict was incredibly biased toward the Arabs. I was taught that the evil white European Jews conquered and colonized the poor pitiful Palestinians, stealing their land and their sacred places, and that the Arabs were just like me, victims of settler colonialism who had their basic indigenous rights stolen from them. This, of course, plays well to someone who was fighting European supremacist ideology and colonialism.
The problem is that it requires one to be completely ignorant of the facts and history, and it relies on not being challenged. If one is willing to suspend factual analysis, then one can maintain the blissful ignorance required to support the “Palestinian” cause while being against colonialism. If one is educated in the actual history, suddenly the house of cards topples, usually in a pretty spectacular fashion.
Most Native Canadians were raised Christian, but a massive part of colonization is the “mainstreaming” of the colonizers’ religion, language, and culture. This means that the colonizer always imposes its foreign and alien method of interacting with the Creator, its foreign and alien tongue, and even its basic culture and beliefs, on those they colonized. Native Canadians all speak English (or French), and we were almost all converted to Christianity. Why? It is a central part of colonization. Remember this, I will be coming back to it.
I think it was this basic education in Christianity that actually opened my eyes to the ridiculous nature of the “Palestinian” narrative. After all, if one reads the Old Testament, it is basically stories about Jews living on Jewish ancestral land. Palestinians and indeed, Arabs, are never mentioned in the Bible, which is odd given that they supposedly preexist the Jewish connection to the Holy Land. If their claims were true, they would be mentioned at least a few times even if it was not complimentary. This was what made me start asking questions about “Palestinian indigenous status,” a claim that almost every Palestinianist makes with a straight face, yet none can seem to defend. The so-called pro-Palestinians are averse to being challenged on these points; while they love to use the language of anti-colonialism, they are in fact supporters of colonialism because they are attempting to justify Arab colonialism by inverting the actual history.
Colonization is basically when a group of people come from somewhere else, conquer the locals, and impose their society, culture, beliefs, and language on the people who are already there. They then use the resources, settle the land under their own methods, and slowly (sometimes not so slowly) replace, assimilate, or destroy the local culture, language, and belief systems.
The Palestinian “narrative” is that they are a tiny, oppressed minority who had their ancestral land stolen by a larger, more powerful group who viciously and violently oppresses them and attempts to destroy their land and sacred places.
How then do the Jews fit the characterization of colonizer? They are not in fact Europeans, at least not according to the Europeans. They are a displaced indigenous people who have returned to their ancestral land where some of them had never left. Jews do not force Judaism or Hebrew on anyone, as is the case with all occupiers and colonialists. The vast majority of their stories literally occur in the lands called Judea and Samaria, and their religious sites, including the three most sacred places – the Temple Mount, The Cave of the Patriarchs, and Tzfat – are in Israel. Hardly what you would expect from a colonizer? Jews number approximately fifteen million people worldwide, with about seven million in Israel. The surrounding Arab population, who are the children of the Muslim conquerors and those they conquered, number over four hundred million people.
However, the Palestinians themselves often contradict their own narrative by self-identifying as Arabs, who are the majority in the Middle East by a significant percentage. Arabs who are, in fact, indigenous to the Hejaz, or the “Arabian Peninsula,” violently colonized the entire region beginning in the 7th century CE. Arabs who have destroyed many antiquities and sacred sites of indigenous peoples and to this day build mosques on top of the sacred places of those they have colonized.
If you ask a “Palestinian” where his most sacred place is, he will tell you that according to Islam, his religion, (which comes from the Hejaz) his most sacred place is Mecca, which is in fact in the Hejaz. He will tell you this in Arabic, which is his language and is NOT local. Oddly enough, when you pay attention, these facts directly contradict their narrative in its entirety, not a single part of their narrative holds up even to the most minor scrutiny. The so-called violent oppression is revealed to be almost benign in comparison to places where actual oppression exists. Israel treats the Arabs pretty well, especially considering the incessant terror attacks upon Jews and non-Muslims on a regular basis.
The “Palestinians” cannot seem to decide if they want to be powerful and dominant or perpetual victims and underdogs so they simply rely on their supporters, never questioning these contradictory “narratives.” Their language vacillates between threats of “destroying Israel and pushing the Jews into the sea” (a common theme) or crying about how Israel doesn’t respect their basic human rights. Arab members of the Knesset talk about how oppressive “APARTHEID Israel” is, while walking around without fear and collecting salaries from the state they want to destroy. If Israel was as oppressive as they claim, one would think they would be more careful and moderate in their criticism.
The truly bemusing thing is not just the patently ridiculous claims of denying Jewish connection to Jewish ancestral land, but that people do not actively call out the nonsense. The Palestinian board of tourism once claimed that “Palestinians” had “1 million years of history” in the land of Palestine. Rather than call out such nonsense, their supporters ignore it. When they are caught lying or faking oppression with their pathetically made videos (which seems to be almost weekly), they are almost never called out even when the lack of truth is obvious. This leads them to make more and more ridiculous claims; after all, if nobody ever calls them out, why wouldn’t they?
One of the most dramatic political shifts that occurred during the latter half of the 20th century was the change in the attitude of the Western left towards the Arab-Israeli conflict, and their near universal adoption of the Palestinian-Arab narrative, particularly their claim to perpetual victimhood, complete purity, and total righteousness. These changes occurred in three distinct phases — during the Six-Day War and its immediate aftermath, after the two Intifadas, and with the development of modern day “Pallywood” propaganda in the early 21st century, which most notably began with the Muhammad al-Durrah incident.
The Western left remains obsessed with condemning Israel, above other nations, for engaging in nothing other than self-defense, despite the massive number of conflicts in the world. David Ben-Gurion declared the reestablishment of the State of Israel on 5 Iyar 5708 / May 14, 1948. What could possibly be more progressive than an indigenous people once again reclaiming national sovereignty in their historic homeland after two thousand years? Initially, the Western left was supportive of the early state, especially since the Yishuv leading up to this time was of a socialist, community-minded bent, heavily focused upon rebuilding the land through kibbutzim, or collective farming communities.
Immediately after Ben-Gurion’s declaration, all of Israel’s neighboring Arab countries attacked the new state militarily, along with Iraq and Yemen. Israel won the war and maintained its independence. The underdog overcame great odds.
Israel is still a tiny country of roughly nine million people, outnumbered in population by a factor of about 45-to-1, by the same countries that tried to wipe them off the face of the earth. Israel possesses well under one percent of the land in the region, has no desire for expansion. In fact, Israel has often tried to trade even more of its land for peace, to no avail.
So what has changed? Why has the clear underdog, simply fighting for its survival, suddenly become Goliath in the eyes of the Western left? How did “Palestinianism” take such a strong hold upon those who profess to support social justice and all the rest of the nice-sounding buzzwords of the progressive movement?
In the days leading up to the first week of June in 1967, Egypt, under their Soviet-supported president Gamal Abdel Nasser, closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, ejected United Nations military observers from the buffer area in which they had been charged with keeping the peace since the 1956 Suez Canal crisis, and began building up a large and threatening military presence of their own right on Israel’s southern border.
In response, Israel took the initiative and, refusing to wait for the inevitable invasion, set their own timeline and wiped out the Egyptian Air Force in a matter of hours while also taking control of matters on the ground. Other neighboring Arab states, including Egypt’s two primary allies, Jordan and Syria, soon entered the fight. The war ended in six days. It was a swift and stunning Israeli victory that resulted in the liberation of Judea and Samaria, which had been occupied by Jordan since the end of the 1948 War of Independence. That traditional Jewish heartland had been ethnically-cleansed of all Jews during that period, as had the eastern section of Jerusalem, in which Jews have lived for much longer than the English people have lived in London, or the French people have lived in Paris, and certainly far longer than today’s American people have lived in Washington.
Taking a brief step back, it must be noted that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was founded at the behest of the Soviet KGB three years prior to the Six-Day War, in 1964. Arguably the PLO could not have thrived in its current form under the guise of the Palestinian Authority, without funding and support from the Soviet Union. The USSR took up, and helped manufacture, the “Arab-Palestinian” cause after Israel ultimately proved unwilling to be a Soviet client state. However, it was the period following the 6-Day War that the Western left slowly switched sides and bought into the Arab narrative of colonial victimhood before the bayonets of militaristic “white Jews.” The “progressive paradox” here in which non-Native American Western leftists who, for example, live on Lenni Lenape lands in places like New Jersey, while criticizing Jews for living in their historic and indigenous homeland, should not be ignored.
Asking exactly what the PLO was seeking to “liberate” at that time, when the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan could have allowed the Palestinian-Arabs to create a state of their own in Judea and Samaria, would be a fair question. Yet the authorities of the Kingdom never allowed the Palestinian-Arabs the right to self-determination, because it has always been pretty obvious that the entire point of this exercise is to delegitimize the very existence of the one tiny Jewish state in the world, not to make Jordan smaller.
So now we come back to the question of why, and how, the Western left began to sympathize with those who targeted civilians and supported suicide bombers? The “underdog” status had swiftly changed, and Israel began to lose sympathy for because she was succesful at self-defense.
In return, the Palestinian-Arabs invented car-suicide bombings, such as the 1993 Beit-El attack. From there, they went on to become ever-more inventive right up until the 2001 Jerusalem Sbarro suicide bombing, which resulted in the deaths of 15 people. 7 children were murdered, as was a pregnant woman. The Western left didn’t care. And the woman who was behind it, Ahlam Tamimi, now lives free as a celebrity in Jordan, even though the United States currently seeks her extradition to face charges for the murder of 15-year old Malki Roth in that terrorist attack.
This is tragically the new normal. The left does what it does, with little consistency or principle, at least when it comes to the issue of Jewish rights in the Land of Israel.
Stepping back in time, and we note that that the German left, in particular, possessed a serious motivation to not replicate the sins of their previous generation. Nevertheless, there was a homicidal attack upon Jews in Germany during the 1972 Olympics in Munich, which ended up with two Israelis immediately murdered, and nine others held hostage and tortured before also being killed, not long after the world “promised” that this would never happen again.
So how did we end up with “Palestinianism” as the overwhelmingly accepted narrative amongst the Western left?
It is due to the lies and foreign-sponsored terrorism of people, “Palestinian” or otherwise, who are trying to snatch away the rights of the Jewish people to live freely in their indigenous homeland.
The false “Palestinian” narrative needs to be challenged. The Palestinian-Arabs are people who need to be respected and accepted in their host countries, which have constantly engaged in discrimination against them. They are not indigenous to the Land of Israel, however.
This is a fact that the Western left needs to understand. We need to recognize, acknowledge and accept the basic fact that the Jews have a right to a nation in the Land of Israel. Arabs are indigenous to Arab lands, particularly Saudi Arabia. Both peoples should live together in peace. But we don’t need the Western left to continue to pour fuel on the fire as they toast their marshmallows while cheering on an endless conflict between both peoples. One in which they ultimately have no stake other than demonstrating their virtues and righteousness to each other, while both peoples continue to suffer.
Palestinianism is more than a collection of political beliefs. It is a closed system of memes, including a historical narrative, a Cause to which its believers aspire, and an idiosyncratic language in which familiar words have special meanings. In those ways, it is similar to Marxism—which is not surprising, considering its origin. Palestinianism is neutral on the religious-secular axis, although it has adopted elements of Islamic belief where they have proven helpful to advance the Palestinian Cause. Adherents of Palestinianism include those who self-identify as Palestinians, as well as many on the Western left (especially in academia) who support the Cause.
Palestinianism had its origin in the 1960s, when it was created by the cognitive warriors of the Soviet KGB. The Soviets had had an interest for some time in opposing U.S. and British influence in the Middle East, which they did by supporting Arab nationalists like Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. With the decline of pan-Arabism, Palestinianism provided a cause that the Soviets could use to unite all the Arabs of the Middle East against the West. It also provided a reason to oppose Israel. Although Stalin had initially hoped that Israel would join the socialist camp, it became clear to the Soviets by the mid-1950s that Israel was moving more and more in the direction of the West.
Until this time, most of the Arabs of “Palestine,” that area that had been part of the British Mandate, insofar as they had any national feelings at all, had generally seen themselves as belonging to “southern Syria” (although a specifically Palestinian nationalism did exist to a small extent in the early part of the 20th century, particularly among Christian Arabs.)
This was a time of worldwide decolonization, and the KGB promoted the idea that the conflict between the Jews and Arabs for sovereignty in Palestine (or Eretz Yisrael, depending on your point of view), was actually a struggle of national liberation by an indigenous Palestinian people against European colonialists (the Jews!), despite the fact that about half of all Israelis came from the Middle Eastern and African diasporas.
The Soviets had always used race as a point of leverage in their psychological warfare against the U.S., correctly seeing the exacerbation of race-based resentments as highly effective in creating division and strife among the population. During the 1970s, they introduced the racial element into the Arab-Israeli conflict, as exemplified by the passage of the “Zionism Is Racism” resolution at the UN in 1975. The absurdity of this contention—both Jewish Israelis and Palestinian Arabs come in all colors—did not prevent the wide acceptance of the idea that the political and national conflict was basically racial. At the Durban Conference on Racism in 2001, NGOs funded by European governments and left-wing charities promoted the idea that Israel was guilty of apartheid. The fact that it proved necessary to invent a new meaning for the word before it was even possible to argue the question was apparently considered irrelevant by them.
The Palestinian Arabs suffered a severe blow to their honor when they lost the military struggle for sovereignty in 1948. The fact that most of them fled and were not allowed back after the war—a not uncommon result of warfare—was perceived and represented as a tragedy of historic dimensions. But unlike other groups who experienced similar tragedies, the Palestinian Arabs, with the help of the Eastern Bloc and the Arab nations, managed to establish a UN-sanctioned, permanent, steadily growing, reservoir of stateless “refugees.” Permanent institutions were put in place in the UN to ensure the growth of the “refugee” pool, to prevent their resettlement, and to promulgate the Palestinian narrative.
The pivotal event in the Palestinian historical narrative is the loss of the land they suffered in 1948, the Nakba. It is true that some Arabs were expelled from their homes by the IDF, but the majority left of their own accord, encouraged by both Arab and Jewish propaganda, fearing the imminent violence, and following the example of wealthy Arabs, who chose to sit out the destruction of the new Jewish state in their comfortable summer homes. It is also true that most of those who fled were not allowed to return or to claim their property. But what happened to the Arabs of Palestine is common for a losing side in war. After WWII, at least 12 million ethnic Germans fled or were expelled from Central and Eastern Europe. Jordan completely ethnically cleansed Judea, Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem of Jews after 1948. Some 800-900 thousand Jews fled or were expelled from Arab countries at that time as well. Had the Arabs won the war, the Jews of Israel would certainly have faced a similar fate.
But unlike the ethnic Germans or the Jews of the Middle East, the Palestinian Arabs did not accept—or more precisely, their own leaders and the Arab nations did not allow them to accept—resettlement or almost any amelioration of their condition. And so, the reversal of the Nakba, the “return to their homes” of the more than 5 million descendants of the original 600,000 refugees became a fundamental part of the Palestinian Cause.
The Palestinian Narrative also extends into the past. It insists that a Palestinian people has inhabited the land for hundreds, possibly thousands of years. Some Palestinians, like the late diplomat Saeb Erekat, claim that they had been in the land from the time of the Canaanites or Philistines. The Jews, on the other hand, are said to be recent European immigrants who displaced them by guile and by force. In reality, while some Arab families have a history in the land of more than several hundred years, most go back no farther than about 1830, when Muhammad Ali invaded what were then Ottoman provinces on behalf of Egypt. And a large number of them only migrated from neighboring countries after the Zionist and British development of the land in the early 20th century made it economically attractive. After the war, Palestinian refugee status was granted to by the UN to anyone who could show that they had lived in Palestine for as little as two years prior to 1948.
Along with the arrogation of aboriginal status to Arabs, the Narrative denies it to Jews. It denies the historical provenance of Jews in the land, sometimes claiming that there was no Jewish temple in Jerusalem, or that today’s Jews are Khazars that have no connection with the Middle East (an anti-Semitic canard that is easily refuted by genetic evidence). Palestinian Arabs have destroyed archaeological evidence of ancient Jewish presence in the land, even on the Temple Mount.
The Principles of Palestinianism
To the Palestinians, the Nakba is the most important event in their history, as important as the exodus from Egypt is to the Jews. Palestinians (and Barack Obama) sometimes compare it to the Holocaust. Much is derived from it. It is considered a wrong that cannot be righted in any way other than by its reversal, that is, the “return” of the “refugees” and the repossession of all of the land. And because the narrative says that the refugees were expelled violently, then violence is justified to reverse it. Palestinian honor cannot be regained by diplomacy or compromise. Palestinianism only accepts the two-state idea as a temporary expedient toward its ultimate objective of reversing the Nakba. And even then, it rejects the idea of “two states for two peoples,” insisting that the “return” of the descendants of the 1948 refugees “to their homes” must accompany the re-partitioning of the land.
Postcolonial ideology has also found its way into Palestinianism, in particular in connection with violence. The doctrine that it is moral, indeed praiseworthy, for a colonized people to resist colonization by any means necessary, is used as a justification for terrorism against Israeli civilians. Indeed, involvement in terrorism and support for it is a sine qua non for success in Palestinian politics. For this reason, Mahmoud Abbas is praised for saying that he will never stop paying imprisoned terrorists and the families of “martyrs,” even if there is no money left for anything else.
Another consequence of the Nakba is that by virtue of their infinite victimization, nothing negative about Palestinian culture, or anything bad that happens to them, can be construed as their fault. So the rampant corruption in the Palestinian Authority is explained as a consequence of Israel’s influence. The prevalence of domestic abuse of Palestinian women is said to be because the men are traumatized by “the occupation.” The collapse of a waste treatment pond in the Gaza strip, which inundated nearby areas with human excrement and resulted in several deaths, was blamed on Israel’s “blockade” of Gaza (rather than the embezzlement of international donations intended for sanitary facilities by Hamas), and so on.
Like Marxists, Palestinianists believe that history is on their side. They point to the various regimes that have controlled the land over the centuries, Romans, Crusaders, Turks, British, and say that it is a matter of time before Israel, too, collapses.
Before the 1960s, the Palestinian Arabs could be described as a mixed population of Arabic-speakers, mostly Muslims, and mostly non-indigenous (although again, some Palestinian Arab families did have long histories in the land). But although it makes me unpopular among my right-wing friends, I would say that since that time, the experience of their struggle with Israel and their self-definition as “Palestinians” has made them a people. It is extremely important to understand the fundamental role of the conflict in the development of a specifically Palestinian identity. To be Palestinian is to oppose Israel and to resist – by any means necessary – the occupation of “Palestinian land,” from the river to the sea. This has important consequences for the future of the conflict.
The Cult-like Nature of Palestinianism
Palestinianism as an ideology is in a certain way like Marxism or Scientology. When Palestinianists are confronted with clear-cut facts (like the historical and archaeological evidence of the presence of Jews in the land for thousands of years), they nevertheless find it possible to deny or ignore them. Palestinian film director Mohammed Bakri made a documentary about the “Jenin Massacre” in 2002, which accused Israel of destroying buildings that didn’t exist, murdering hundreds of Palestinian civilians (in fact, about 50 Arabs, almost all of them terrorists, were killed), and so on. Bakri was sued for slander by Israeli reservists whom he had accused of war crimes. When confronted with the facts, he claimed that he was an artist and not a historian, and that his film expressed the deeper truth about the events. The narrative always trumps the facts.
Like Marxism, Palestinianism has a special language. For example, in ordinary English one can occupy a house or a country. But in Palestinianism, Israel “occupies” the “Palestinian people.” The implication is that Israel can “occupy” Gaza without having a single soldier or settler there. There is the word “resistance,” which has connotations of French partisans blowing up Nazi ammunition trains, but in Palispeak means bombing a pizza restaurant in Jerusalem or a disco in Tel Aviv. Another one is “nonviolent popular resistance” which means murdering random Jews with knives or automobiles rather than guns or bombs.
The Psychological Function of Palestinianism for the Western Left
One can more or less understand why Palestinian Arabs find Palestinianism useful in their struggle against Israel. But what do left-leaning students and academics get out of it? There are several things that I can see. One, especially in Europe, is that it is an outlet for anti-Semitic impulses that have been repressed when they are directed at individual Jews. It’s tacky to hate Jews, but hating Israel is considered virtuous. Another is the intersectionalist Left’s adoption of “Palestine” as one of its causes. In order to be accepted by the crowd – and in universities especially, the crowd leans left – one must espouse all of its causes, including Palestinianism. It’s easy for an American student, far from the action, to virtue-signal by adopting the Palestinian cause as his or her own.
Palestinianism is an internally consistent system, which is disconnected from both historical and current reality. Originally created by the Soviet KGB as a weapon of cognitive warfare, it has morphed with the times, like the anti-Semitism to which it is closely related. The objective of Palestinianism, the Palestinian Cause, is the replacement of Israel by an Arab state, the violent expulsion of the Jews, and their replacement by the descendants of the Arab refugees of 1948. The adoption of Palestinianism as an essential part of the identity of the Arabs of Eretz Yisrael, means that there can be no compromise solution to the conflict. It implies that the Palestinian people is the enemy of the Jewish people in the land, making the conflict a zero-sum game. Ultimately, it means that the conflict will continue until one of the two peoples will remain in the land, and the other will disappear.
In an age defined by activism, with calls for dismantling the patriarchal and oppressive ties to the past, BDS has become a rallying cry on campuses for many as a means to achieve that goal. Students are driven to become involved and protest what they deem is an “apartheid” state, full of racist, hateful, genocidal, and war crime actions. With an appeal to their moral consciousness for a desire to end the horrific crimes of humanity and secure human rights and world peace, students are drawn to get involved.
However, there are many problems with this scene. The BDS movement uses carefully worded language to cover up its anti-Semitism and the desired goal of the destruction of Israel. The rise of BDS on campus has marginalized Jewish students and raised the rate of anti-Semitic incidents by more than 90 percent, with more 200 incidents. If so, how can so many students be swept up in such a movement and ideology?
BDS, and its popularity on campus, is the product of a larger issue, namely anti-Zionism being a form of anti-Semitism. The BDS movement is seen as being humanitarian, advocating for the Palestinians who are supposedly suffering under the “oppression” of Israel and denied their homes. Its proponents use language to falsely compare the situation in Israel with that in apartheid South Africa, drawing inspiration to end “Israeli Apartheid.” It calls on the world to end Israel’s “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians, a claim that can easily be disproven when properly researching Israel’s actions. In the United States, the civil rights movement and all it stands for has been used as a means of advocating for humanitarian efforts around the globe, particularly in Israel. As such, people get swept up into activism, joining the BDS movement with the belief that it is truly a peaceful means of advocating for necessary social change and protection of a people wrongly mistreated.
Yet this perception is dangerous, for the BDS movement ultimately calls for the end of Israel. Its founder, Omar Barghouti, has been heard saying things like “we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine” and “Israeli Jews are colonial settlers… Colonizers are not entitled to self-determination.” In doing so, he rejects all historical claims of Judaism to Israel, delegitimizing the right of Jews to live in Israel. The demands BDS list on its website, such as ending occupation, providing rights to Arabs, and “promoting the right of Palestinian Refugees to return” are carefully worded in a way that seem honorable and moral, but when examined spell out the destruction of Israel. In addition, it creates false comparisons to arouse the sympathies of Western students who are unaware that the situation in Israel is NOT parallel to that of the civil rights movement in the U.S., or the end of apartheid South Africa.
BDS has become more prominent on campus due to the student organization Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which joined student governments throughout the West to promote BDS and petition school boards to adopt BDS in order not to be complicit in the oppression of the Palestinians. They are extremely vocal, and have managed to get approximately 47 universities to adopt such measures in the name of furthering humanitarian efforts. Members are known for chanting “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” an open call for the end of Israel. What’s disturbing is that many students join in, not paying attention to the words and not seeing that if all the land between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea is “free,” that leaves no room for Israel, and calls for “freedom” beyond what SJP and BDS claim to be the occupied territories, namely the Judea and Samaria, Gaza, and Eastern Jerusalem. If this is so, how can SJP claim to be humanitarian? How can the complete destruction of Israel be justified? And how does that fit in with SJP claims that they “will continue to fight against white supremacy, Zionism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, sexism, capitalism, militarism, imperialism, homophobia, transphobia and all other political institutions that continue to oppress marginalized folks.” Advocating for the destruction of Israel, even in a roundabout way, does not help secure peace in the Middle East, and goes against their very claims for not being anti-Semitic and seemingly open to a two-state solution.
In addition to SJP, professors are openly voicing their thoughts on Israel, using their positions to become political advocates and shame Israel and students who support it. This creates an environment of fear and suppression, where students cannot voice their own opinions due to their grades taking a severe hit or being ostracized and labeled as racist and complicit in genocide. One example is when professors refuse to write letters of recommendations to students affiliated with Israel study abroad programs due to academic boycotts of Israel. SJP, and at times faculty, call on universities to take a firm stance on the conflict and Boycott, Divest, and Sanction Israel in order to end the continued perpetration of Israel’s alleged crimes. This is wrong, for universities are meant to be academic spaces that facilitate discussion and education about various topics, not forcing one perspective under threat of harassment, and alienating and condemning all Jewish students in the process.
These factors make it difficult for Jewish students to involve themselves in student organizations or engage in civil and nuanced discussions on the subject, for being anti-Zionist has become a prerequisite for any form of advocacy. You want to be an environmental activist? Denounce Israel. A feminist? Denounce Israel. It is an all or nothing situation, where students say, “how can you be a feminist when you condone Israel’s actions and allow its continued oppression of Palestinian women? You can’t!” It doesn’t matter that the situation is complex, that there is a whole historical, religious, political context, and that even Zionists might disagree with the actions of the Israeli military. It’s all or nothing, much like the overall political atmosphere on campuses. It becomes very difficult to defend oneself, for a common tactic by SJP is to lump the conflict with all other conflicts such as the BLM movement and Native Americans and others in order to show that they are all a larger universal problem and you cannot stand for one without standing for all. For students who wish to learn more about Israel or go on birthright, a free trip to Israel designed to educate students about their Jewish heritage, they might find their campus Hillel facing pressure from SJP to end these trips due to their ties with Israel. One’s connection to Israel, regardless of its nature, can ruin academic and career prospects, and this is before any outright attacks and extreme forms of harassment.
Jewish students face a harder time, as they are viewed as guilty by association. If you are Jewish, you are Zionist, and therefore are responsible for Israel’s actions, as if a 19-year-old college student has any say in the decisions of the Israeli government. It is often difficult for such students to defend themselves against the numerous accusations, for they view themselves as not knowledgeable enough to debate the topic and factually back up their support or disapproval of Israel. More frequently, this plays out in student governments, where Jewish members are harassed until they resign. The rhetoric against them often includes things like “Even if all the orgs on campus that are Jewish are also Zionist, that’s not an excuse for you to join. That’s still blood on your hands!” Or an anti-Zionist might say, “a woman with years of internalized racism, classism, and Zionism behind her should not be given the luxury of being a [USC] student.” SJP and Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE) have been known for more extreme tactics to raise awareness of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and shock people into joining. These include mock checkpoints to mimic security measures taken in Israel, mock eviction notices on student dorms, and swastikas on Jewish students’ doors. When responses include declaring such statements and actions as anti-Semitic, the tables are turned with arguments that the Jewish students were harassed for their racism and Islamophobia, not their Judaism. Even in general conversations, these arguments are used whenever a student tries to point out the more nuanced nature of the conflict and raise legitimate arguments regarding the flaws in Palestinian leadership, the past refusals for a two-state solution, ongoing terrorist actions, and how such behaviors contribute to the conflict. Such a mention that Israel is not solely to blame is then translated into “you are perpetuating Islamophobia” and “you blame the oppressed for their oppression, therefore you are just as horrible as any colonizer and white supremacist, therefore you are a hater.”
Further complicating the matter is SJP’s arguments that accusations of anti-Semitism are thrown around to silence them, denying them the right to the freedom of speech or to criticize what they see as Israel’s harmful actions. While for many, this is true, there is a fine line between genuine criticism and a disguise of anti-Semitism. While people should be able to speak freely about their opinions regarding the complex nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and have the freedom to criticize Israel, what is problematic is SJP’s convenient lack of acknowledgement of any Jewish right to self-determination and a safe space to call home, free from anti-Semitism and persecution. By calling the entire land “Palestine,” they remove any possibility of legitimacy for Israel’s existence, thereby denying the viability of a two-state solution for the region. SJP is also known for reworking a definition of Zionism in order to leave out the historical realities of its development, and how it was greatly shaped by the aftermath of the Holocaust. Rather than Israel having been built to allow Jews to return to their homeland, which has been archaeologically and historically verified, as well as provide a safe space for Jews where a holocaust would never be able to happen, Zionism is vilified as a white colonialist movement bent on taking over a land and displacing its native inhabitants. By using language of white colonialism, with all its implications of expansionism, oppression, and subjugation, there is a deliberate misleading of well-meaning individuals who understand the implications of white colonialism, but are not aware of the political and religious realities of the Middle East.
Even my own university, Rutgers-New Brunswick, known for a robust Jewish community and only mild cases of anti-Semitism, has felt the ramification of SJP’s actions. In May 26, 2021, during the Gaza War, the university issued a statement that “we call out and denounce acts of hate and prejudice against members of the Jewish community and any other targeted and oppressed groups on campus and in our community.” SJP quickly issued a scathing response, expressing “deep concern” that the university “conveniently ignores the extent to which Palestinians have been brutalized by Israel’s occupation and bombing of Gaza” and that the statement “neglected to use the words ‘Palestine’ or ‘Palestinian…’ this refusal to acknowledge and affirm the existence of Palestine, and thus the Palestinian faculty and students at Rutgers university, reveals the university’s inability to stand in genuine solidarity with the Palestinian members of its university.” The fact that condemning anti-Semitism on campus should be equated with, and dependent on, taking a political stance regarding Israel, perpetuating and funding any alleged crimes, or a form of discrimination toward another minority group is outrageous. It demonstrates the lie that SJP and BDS stand against anti-Semitism, as well as other forms of discrimination, racism, and bigotry. Regarding the complaint that Rutgers used “the Middle East and Hamas” rather than “Palestinians,” the school was remaining out of the conflict and not choosing sides in what is a nuanced conflict. It attempted to remain neutral and only speak about how the conflict was directly impacting the university community rather than issue a broader statement on world politics. In response to these complaints, the university stated its desire to affirm “all identities… the impact of our message fell short of that intention. In hindsight, it is clear to us that the message failed to communicate support for our Palestinian community members. We sincerely apologize for the hurt that this message caused.” The university later issued another statement, clarifying that it would not “apologize for standing against anti-Semitism” and then listing all forms of hatred and racism the university condemns. SJP’s response is one problem, but the fact that the university caved and apologized for not being inclusive enough while condemning anti-Semitism is a much greater one, demonstrating how SJP conflates multiple issues into one and creates an all or nothing environment.
Ultimately, BDS on campus is harmful to Jewish and Zionist students, as well as anyone interested in having a genuine and nuanced discussion on the matter. It uses misleading language, falsely comparing the conflict to those of white colonialism and white supremacy, denying any form of legitimacy for a Jewish state or the possibility for a two-state solution. As long as members of organizations such as BDS, SJP, and SAFE are active on campuses and push such rhetoric, and at times harass Jewish students, those campuses become an impossible space for Jewish students to thrive within. Where polite and impactful dialogue is stifled, the community cannot contribute in any meaningful way to a viable path to peace in the Middle East.
I am not a creature from another planet, as you seem to believe. I am a Jerusalemite-like yourselves, a man of flesh and blood. I am a citizen of my city, an integral part of my people. I have a few things to get off my chest. Because I am not a diplomat, I do not have to mince words. I do not have to please you or even persuade you.
I owe you nothing. You did not build this city, you did not live in it, you did not defend it when they came to destroy it. And we will be damned if we will let you take it away.
There was a Jerusalem before there was a New York. When Berlin, Moscow, London, and Paris were miasma forest and swamp, there was a thriving Jewish community here. It gave something to the world which you nations have rejected ever since you established yourselves – a humane moral code.
Here the prophets walked, their words flashing like forked lightning. Here a people who wanted nothing more than to be left alone, fought off waves of heathen would-be conquerors, bled and died on the battlements, hurled themselves into the flames of their burning Temple rather than surrender, and when finally overwhelmed by sheer numbers and led away into captivity, swore that before they forgot Jerusalem, they would see their tongues cleave to their palates, their right arms wither.
For two pain-filled millennium, while we were your unwelcome guests, we prayed daily to return to this city. Three times a day we petitioned the Almighty: “Gather us from the four corners of the world, bring us upright to our land, return in mercy to Jerusalem, Thy city, and dwell in it as Thou promised.” On every Yom Kippur and Passover, we fervently voiced the hope that next year would find us in Jerusalem.
Your inquisitions, pogroms, expulsions, the ghettos into which you jammed us, your forced baptisms, your quota systems, your genteel anti-Semitism, and the final unspeakable horror, the Holocaust (and worse, your terrifying disinterest in it) – all these have not broken us.
They may have sapped what little moral strength you still possessed, but they forged us into steel. Do you think that you can break us now after all we have been through? Do you really believe that after Dachau and Auschwitz we are frightened by your threats of blockades and sanctions? We have been to Hell and back – a Hell of your making. What more could you possibly have in your arsenal that could scare us?
I have watched this city bombarded twice by nations calling themselves civilized. In 1948, while you looked on apathetically, I saw women and children blown to smithereens, after we agreed to your request to internationalize the city. It was a deadly combination that did the job-British officers, Arab gunners, and American-made cannon. And then the savage sacking of the Old City – the willful slaughter, the wanton destruction of every synagogue and religious school, the desecration of Jewish cemeteries, the sale by a ghoulish government of tombstones for building materials, for poultry runs, army camps, even latrines. And you never said a word.
You never breathed the slightest protest when the Jordanians shut off the holiest of our places, the Western Wall, in violation of the pledges they had made after the war- a war they waged, incidentally, against the decision of the UN. Not a murmur came from you whenever the legionnaires in their spiked helmets casually opened fire upon our citizens from behind the walls.
Your hearts bled when Berlin came under siege. You rushed your airlift “to save the gallant Berliners”. But you did not send one ounce of food when Jews starved in besieged Jerusalem. You thundered against the wall which the East Germans ran through the middle of the German capital- but not one peep out of you about that other wall, the one that tore through the heart of Jerusalem.
And when that same thing happened 20 years later, and the Arabs unleashed a savage, unprovoked bombardment of the Holy City again, did any of you do anything? The only time you came to life was when the city was at last reunited. Then you wrung your hands and spoke loftily of “justice” and need for the “Christian” quality of turning the other cheek.
The truth – and you know it deep inside your gut – you would prefer the city to be destroyed rather than have it governed by Jews. No matter how diplomatically you phrase it, the age-old prejudices seep out of every word. If our return to the city has tied your theology in knots, perhaps you had better reexamine your catechisms. After what we have been through, we are not passively going to accommodate ourselves to the twisted idea that we are to suffer eternal homelessness until we accept your savior.
For the first time since the year 70, there is now complete religious freedom for all in Jerusalem. For the first time since the Romans put a torch to the Temple, everyone has equal rights (You prefer to have some more equal than others.) We loathe the sword – but it was you who forced us to take it up. We crave peace, but we are not going back to the peace of 1948 as you would like us to.
We are home. It has a lovely sound for a nation you have willed to wander over the face of the globe. We are not leaving. We are redeeming the pledge made by our forefathers: Jerusalem is being rebuilt. “Next year” and the year after, and after, and after, until the end of time – in Jerusalem!
Stanley Goldfoot Founder Editor The Times of Israel
I go over my list again and again in my head. Is my gas tank filled up with gas? Do I have my emergency resources binder? Is my crisis cell phone charged? Did I put a change of clothes for an adult and a child in my trunk? This is the checklist that many who work in domestic violence crisis response go over when it’s our turn to be “on-call.” We have to make sure that we’re ready to respond at the drop of a hat, no matter the time of day or night. We are trained to make the first statement to the caller, “If you’re in immediate danger, call 911.” I have worked with hundreds of clients, all of whom were seeking safety from abusive partners. Their safety has always been at the center of my advocacy.
Recently, I learned that an area non-profit working in domestic violence discouraged, in the name of “defunding the police,” women of color from calling 911. Nothing could be more harmful to their interests. Yet that’s where today’s progressive ideology seems to have taken us.
Those working in the field of domestic violence are tasked with listening to clients, letting them take the lead on their decisions, all the while keeping them informed of their rights, possible impacts, and available resources. Victim and survivor advocates have to be flexible, knowledgeable, and empathetic to each caller while being acutely aware of the dangers they face. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), domestic violence hotlines receive more than 20,000 phone calls every day in the United States. Sometimes callers are seeking information and resources so they are better able to assess their options. Many times, however, they are looking for immediate support to extricate themselves from a violent and dangerous situation.
Everyone working in the field knows that it is our duty to inform victims to call 911 immediately if they are in danger. We rely on law enforcement for their immediate physical safety.
But the defund the police mantra has apparently gotten a segment of our field off track and off mission. As someone who has direct professional experience working with nonprofits focused on assisting those impacted by domestic violence in the Philadelphia metro region, I was astounded to read that a major domestic violence nonprofit was engaging in divisive race ideology that negatively impacts the ability of employees to engage in this highly stressful work. Forcing staff to sign statements, as this nonprofit did, that “all white people are racist and I am not the exception,” in no way furthers the cause of eliminating domestic violence or makes it so individuals no longer live in fear of family violence. Women Against Abuse claims to offer “quality, compassionate, and nonjudgmental services” to those impacted by domestic violence. Compelling staff to sign statements of racial guilt, however, only foments divisiveness and instability in a highly demanding environment for employees and clients alike.
And if that isn’t bad enough, the same nonprofit discouraged victims, specifically Black women, from contacting law enforcement when they are in danger. As a Black woman who has advocated for victims and survivors, I find that especially horrifying. When a victim of domestic violence reaches out for help, their race is not something that an advocate, attorney, or therapist should take stock of in order to do the job. Law enforcement offers some sense of safety from that violence no matter the victim’s race. The idea that clients would be told to steer clear of the police in life threatening situations is mind bogglingly dangerous and averse to their interests.
Moreover, given the less than stellar relationship between law enforcement and those working in the domestic violence prevention and response field, more, not less, funding is necessary for law enforcement. Sure, there are times when police officers do not act in a manner that respects the position they hold. There have been countless times when domestic violence victims go to the police for help and are dismissed, the danger they’re in not taken seriously. Such miscarriages of duty call for more funding for training, not less. We need law enforcement to take the dangers of domestic violence seriously and respond appropriately when a victim reaches out for help, not leave the scene.
For all of those proudly chanting “defund the police” I have one question: Who do you want to respond when a victim is locked in her bathroom, trying to escape her abuser? Who should show up at her home when her abuser has a loaded gun and is threatening to shoot her? Do you honestly believe that I, as a social worker, will be able to de-escalate a potential perpetrator who is exhibiting homicidal intention and brandishing a gun? Are you willing to put me and my fellow social workers in harm’s way just to score political points and gain social clout in progressive circles? Or are you just virtue signaling, hijacking a movement that rightfully desires police reform, in order to further your own agenda?
Have social movements toward progress gotten so shallow that they ignore the disenfranchised in favor of the privileged few who have never needed to call 911 because someone is threatening to kill their children? What I come away with is that the Defund the Police movement did not consider the impact their ideology has on victims, and organizations that claim to advocate for victims have no business going along with such dictates.