Two New Palestinian Myths
Two new Arab myths have surfaced in the past week to complicate attempts by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to procure the resumption of the long-stalled negotiations between Israel and the PLO.
The first myth can be directly attributed to Mustafa Barghouti -- a presidential candidate for the now defunct Palestinian National Authority -- who was roundly defeated by Mahmoud Abbas when elections were last held in January 2005.
Interviewed by Arab American News (AAN), Mr. Barghouti was asked the following question:
AAN: What about the United Nations situation with Palestine being granted Non-Member Observer State status this past fall, any new developments?
Mr Barghouti gave this remarkable answer:
"Not new, but this achievement was very important from a symbolic standpoint, it also eliminated any Israeli claim that the West Bank and Jerusalem are disputed territory. Now they are part of an occupied Palestinian state..."
This is arrant nonsense.
According to Mr Barghouti, there is apparently no need for further negotiations to determine the sovereignty of these areas -- only a timetable for Israel to hand them over to the State of Palestine and to arrange for the uprooting of all 500,000 Jews presently living there.
If you believe this myth -- then you accept that
1. United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 are no longer of any relevance.
2. The 1948 armistice line is wiped off the map and negotiations to establish secure and recognised boundaries for the State of Israel can be shredded.
3. Article 80 of the United Nations Charter has become a footnote in history.
4. The Jewish claim to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in Palestine -- including the West Bank and Jerusalem --- as conferred by the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, is an anachronism.
5. The claimed right of return for millions of Arabs into the State of Israel remains unresolved.
6. The United Nations decision has unreservedly endorsed the PLO's stated policies of ethnic cleansing and apartheid in denying Jews any rights of residency or citizenship in the State of Palestine.
7. General Assembly Resolutions of the United Nations create binding obligations in international law.
Kerry's planned fortnightly shuttle from America to Jerusalem and Ramallah appears to be a waste of time unless this latest myth is quickly nipped in the bud.
President Abbas needs to immediately repudiate Mr. Barghouti's statement.
If Abbas refuses, Kerry should start to shuttle between world capitols seeking declarations unequivocally disavowing any support for the Barghouti myth.
Simultaneously with the Baghouti myth comes the news that the cornerstone for yet another myth: a new museum of "Palestinian culture, history and society" has been laid in Bir Zeit near Ramallah.
This will be no ordinary museum -- as project manager Omar al-Qattan reportedly explained:
"It will be more than a traditional building with archaeological relics. We are looking at an institution that will transcend all boundaries -- geographical and political"
Palestinian culture minister Siham Barghuti told AFP that the initiative was:
"A great achievement for the Palestinian people... The link between memory and everything related to it, to Palestinian history, and to having digital contact with Palestinians everywhere constitutes an important step"
The "museum" seems set to become the new repository for perpetuating the fiction of the existence of an indigenous "Palestinian people" or the "Palestinians" going back at least 3000 years to the Canaanites.
Featured exhibits in the museum will certainly not include:
• The Mandate for Palestine 1922 that made no mention of the "Palestinians" or the "Palestinian people" -- but pointedly only included the then Arab population of Palestine among the "existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine" and called for "safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of race and religion"
• The report of the Peel Commission 1937 which again omitted any mention of a Palestinian people -- but contained this statement which was accepted by the Jews but rejected by the Arabs:
"The problem cannot be solved by giving either the Arabs or the Jews all they want. The answer to the question which of them in the end will govern Palestine must be Neither. No fair-minded statesman can think it right either that 400,000 Jews, whose entry into Palestine has been facilitated by the British Government and approved by the League of Nations, should be handed over to Arab rule, or that, if the Jews should become a majority, a million Arabs should be handed over to their rule. But while neither race can fairly rule all Palestine, each race might justly rule part of it."
• Resolution 181 of the United Nations General Assembly dated 29 November 1947 which was also silent in acknowledging the existence of a Palestinian people -- but proposed the following recommendation that was again rejected by the Arab population of Palestine:
"Independent Arab and Jewish States and the Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem, set forth in Part III of this Plan, shall come into existence in Palestine two months after the evacuation of the armed forces of the mandatory Power has been completed but in any case not later than 1 October 1948. The boundaries of the Arab State, the Jewish State, and the City of Jerusalem shall be as described in Parts II and III below."
Jesus the Jew will no doubt be prominently featured as Jesus the Palestinian. Archeological relics will be conspicuously absent.
Until fact replaces Arab fiction and self-delusion, the conflict between Jews and Arabs will assuredly continue.