A New Peace Plan for the Middle East

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For the truth is that the Palestinians are not the “owners of history,” as per Abbas. On the contrary, as Joan Peters has indisputably shown in her magisterial From Time Immemorial, sifting through mountains of data, census statistics, official reports, internal memoranda, travellers’ narratives and archival material, the Palestinians are, to a considerable extent, a loose aggregate of settlers and immigrants to the area in dispute, a society comprised in large degree of comparatively recent arrivals. Seeking to reduce the importance of the Jewish claim to the land, British census reports during the Mandatory period were regularly falsified to create the impression of a massive and original Palestinian presence that did not exist. Data assembled from several credible sources, relying on economic developments, extrapolated migratory flows, imputation theory and growth rate differentials, as reported in The Middle East Quarterly (“The Smoking Gun,” Winter 2003), peg the figure of Arab immigration in the early part of the 20th century at somewhere between one third and one half of the population. Similarly, social historian Gad Gilbar in the essay collection he edited, Ottoman Palestine 1800-1914, attributes the remarkable urban growth of the Arab population to “immigrants from outside Palestine.” The analyses carried out in this volume are methodical, impartial and unfailingly scholarly.

It is evident, then, that a significant number of “Palestinians” migrated into the Holy Land from the surrounding Arab countries, mainly from what was then known as Greater Syria (i.e., Syria and Lebanon) when still part of the Ottoman Empire, and afterwards during the post-Balfour period. Many were unaccounted for; many others were registered by the British as “native.” But they are relative latecomers whereas the Jewish presence in the Holy Land is longstanding and inherent, not conditional. Historian Bruce Thornton in The Wages of Appeasement justly points out that “the professed concern for the dispossessed Palestinians” is only a pretext “based on an Orwellian rewrite of history that erases the 3,000 year presence of Jews in the Holy Land and makes the descendents of conquerors, occupiers, and immigrants the rightful possessors.”

Indeed, the popular history of Palestine as an indigenous “nation” may well be one of the biggest political and propaganda scams of all time as the veritable lies of yesterday become the counterfeit truths of today. Like Peters, Phyllis Chesler is not far off the mark when she writes that the Palestinians “are merely Arabs who once identified themselves entirely in terms of religion, tribe, clan, and ethnicity…Some grew up in Jordan, Syria, and Egypt, or lived there and elsewhere after 1948.” (Interestingly, major “Palestinian” figures such as George Antonius, Edward Said and Yasser Arafat were Egyptian. The identity switch turned out, as Daniel Pipes observes, to be “a good career move.”) The nebula of falsehoods in which the Palestinians have cloaked themselves and which the world has accepted—even many Israelis, principally those associated with the “peace” movement, dubious NGOs and the academic Left—must be dispelled.

In particular, the Palestinians must clean up their act. In return, Palestine will be rewarded with clearly demarcated borders, unimpeded commercial traffic, start-up industries thanks in part to Israeli entrepreneurial and technological contributions, entry into the United Nations, the dignity of becoming self-sustaining rather than the ignominy of living as leeches on Western munificence, growing prosperity for all its people and, of course, the myriad blessings of peace itself.

All that is required to establish this heretofore elusive peace is for the parties involved to adopt the correct perspective. Easier said than done, of course, but failing such a perspectival recalibration, peace will never be attained, only perpetual war punctuated by unstable truces. Applying the right coordinates to our view of the situation leads to certain inescapable conclusions. It is the Palestinians who should be offering concessions, not only the Israelis. It is a large proportion of Palestinians who are “settlers,” not only those Israelis who made aliyah or moved beyond the Green Line in what is historically their country. It is the Palestinians who “must act boldly to advance a lasting peace.” And it is the Palestinians who will find themselves the chief beneficiaries of an accord which provides for their own sovereign nation—a nation, be it remembered, which has no historical warrant whatsoever, since the Palestinians were never an independent, intact and coherent people, have no archeology or scriptural muniment to justify their tenure in the region, and cannot produce an attested lineage beyond the modern era. There is not a single documented allusion to a Palestinian nation in antiquity nor can it be located in the Koran or ancillary Writ.

Yet they will receive the gift of viable statehood if they are prepared to come to the negotiating table (and to do so with open minds), refrain from substituting myth for history, cease ill-advised building projects, barter land for peace and make whatever other concessions are mutually deemed to be necessary. The protocols of the discussion will be “reset” and the Israeli and Palestinian delegations trade, as it were, the sides of the table they sit at. The solution to the Israeli-Palestinian imbroglio is really quite discernible, at least in essence, even if the chances of it coming to pass, given the triple factors of international manipulation, Israeli petitioneering and Palestinian intransigence, are slim to nonexistent. Even so, what has up to now been taken for granted must be seen as an obscure and reflexive presupposition unsupported by the facts, a pre-judgment which has acquired the halo of a dogma. This is what has to change before a breakthrough can be made. The international community needs to understand that it has embarked on the wrong track. The Israelis must come to understand that they don’t have to pay. And the Palestinians need to wise up.

The Palestinians, as we have seen, have no historically and legally justifiable case, certainly nothing that approaches the Israeli gravamen. In any honest trial their deposition would be thrown out of court. Almost every Palestinian stipulation or exaction is precisely what Israel is entitled to from the Palestinians themselves. Nevertheless, they are there now and practical considerations call for the effort to create a Palestinian state. A unilateral declaration, as noted above, is a bad idea, not so much for Israel as for the Palestinians, since it will inevitably release new demons in the region and check the economic upsurge the Palestinians are currently experiencing. A bilateral, or multilateral, agreement is de rigueur if Palestine is to become an abiding reality.

Improbable as it may appear, or be, all that is needed to bring it about is a healthy infusion of truth, a proper set of working assumptions and the right frame of reference—presuming that the Palestinians really want a state and are not actually maneuvering to obliterate Israel as their overriding objective. The Palestinians are by no means “dispossessed,” they are more likely possessed by a profound compulsion to gain territory at Israel’s expense with a view to realizing total domination. “The Arabs now speak of a ‘Palestinian homeland’ and Palestinian self-determination,” writes Thornton in a brilliant recent essay, “The Teacher of Fools,” in order “to grind Israel down in a process of specious negotiation.”

But if they do seriously desire to establish a legitimate, independent state, then truth must out and the negotiating paradigm must be inverted. Otherwise, we may as well just write the whole thing off and let the status quo malinger in perpetuity, as it then surely will.

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  • StephenD

    What a treat to read the words of such a wonderful mind!
    Though I despise the UN I say if we must maintain our membership, David Solway should be our Ambassador!

  • ajnn

    solway gets the facts right, but the 'identity politics' wrong. the palestinian arabs have BECOME a people.

    • David Solway

      Dear ajnn

      You're right to an extent, but it was something of a recent historical accident and the element of immiscibility is still there. See my The Big Lie for a discussion of this development.

      David

    • ObamaYoMoma

      You are right to a certain extent. They are a people created out of whole cloth with the help of the Soviet KGB as a disinformation campaign to camouflage the Islamic world’s permanent and genocidal jihad of conquest under the cloak of nationalism. However, their national struggle for statehood has always been a lie, as their real motivation is to render Israel back to Dar al Islam via the imposition of Sharia.

  • BarKohkba

    Your tireless commitment to the truth and literary artistry is truly inspirational. But is not essays such as this an exercise in futility? The "Palestinians" have absolutely no intention of making peace with Israel. Their lies, propaganda, and pandering to century's old anti-Semitic rhetoric has actually been rewarded by the rest of the world. The only viable "2 State" solution would be Jordan and its 70 percent “Palestinian” inhabitants overthrowing their minority controlled kingdom (real apartheid, by definition) and subsequently absorbing the non-Jordanian “Palestinians". That will leave Israel to control ALL lands to the Jordan River and afford a contiguous Palestinian State. Gaza, will have to be dealt with by Egypt annexing the Strip and bestowing Egyptian sovereignty over the area. Gazan’s may be given the option of immigrating to Jordan or remaining in Egypt. Of course there is no incentive to exact a solution such as this for corruption, anti-Semitism, and Western acquiescence to fundamental Islamism has obfuscated the dispute to an irretrievable level.

  • sedoanman

    Israel should adopt the 58-State position, meaning the Arabs carve a Palestinian state out of their own territories. Maybe that will stop this comedy of errors.

  • Harold P

    David,
    I agree with everything you say, but you are preaching to the converted. The general population will not believe this, their minds have be poisoned against Israel and Jews. They see the Palestinians as oppressed people and the Jews as the oppressors. The poor Palestinians are the victims, no matter what they do and say. What is needed is columns like this to appear in the the main stream media where it will be read hopefully by the uncommitted who may come to believe that Israel is not the demon it is portrayed to be.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Israel is maligned in the World press but what's new in that, Islamist oil
    money has purchased the integrity of almost all media and thus the complete
    negativity of all things Israel. Muslims have been on the march in what we
    shall call the West, pushing Islam down peoples throats and cursing Israel
    all the way. Cowards not wanting to be targeted by Islamist thugs sell
    out Israel and as we see in America many leftist Jews stoop to this crass
    villiany also. Eventually the UN will call for the creation of the Palestinian
    State and when it does the UN should change its flag to one of red with a
    venimous snake in the center. The battle is good over evil and Islam is
    the enemy of us all. Hopefully we will get rid of Mullah Obama and elect
    a President and Congress that has moral strength………………..William

  • ObamaYoMoma

    I agree the truth needs to be exposed and that truth is the jihad of conquest the Islamic world is waging perpetually against not only the Jewish unbelievers in Israel but also against all unbelievers around the world as well such as the Hindu unbelievers in Kashmir and Jammu is permanent, the so-called Palestinian people are really the proxies of the Islamic world, and the jihad of conquest being waged perpetually against Israel is permanent and will continue to be waged perpetually against Israel as long as Israel continues to exist, regardless of any and all fake peace processes used to weaken Israel and to dupe gullible useful idiots or otherwise until the Western world wakes up and renders the Islamic world too weak to wage jihad against unbelievers.

    As a matter of fact, the greater global jihad at large being waged perpetually against all unbelievers around the world is also permanent and will also continue to be waged perpetually against unbelievers as long as unbelievers continue to exist that haven’t been forced to submit to the authority of Islam or otherwise until the West renders the Islamic world too weak to wage jihad against unbelievers.

  • Joseph Troll

    The Big Lie (Part 1)

    By Sharon Nader Sloan
    (Sharon Nader Sloan, Esq., is a Lebanese-American.)

    "The West Bank is occupied Palestinian land." This phrase is frequently repeated, as a given, by all the governments of the world and by the entire news media.

    This idea that the West Bank is occupied Palestinian land has been accepted by almost everyone. Yet it is, in fact, the greatest lie ever perpetrated on the whole of humanity.

    If you think this is an outlandish statement, please read on and decide for yourself.

    Palestinians claim that Palestine is their land, and that Jerusalem is their capital, and that Israel is occupying their land. To resist occupation, they assert the right to send suicide bombers into crowded bus stations, pizza parlors, etc., and kill innocent men, women and children. And all Arab and Muslim countries support them in their claims and actions against Israel.

    Because of this alleged occupation of Palestinian land by Israel, because of this alleged crime committed against their Palestinian brothers, all Arabs hate Israel and want to destroy it.

    To anyone who is familiar with the facts, and has an objective eye, all this must be fascinating. Because never before has a complete lie, on such a large scale, been so successful.

    First, if Arab animosity toward Israel is based on their love and support for their Palestinian brothers – and in wanting their Palestinian brothers to have their own state – where was that love and support before the Jewish state existed? Where were they when the kingdom of Jordan ruled Palestine? Why were they not accusing Jordan of occupying Palestinian land? Why did not the Arab world and the United Nations call on Jordan to stop occupying Palestinian land? Second, where were the Palestinians themselves, with all their grievances and claims, when Jordan occupied the whole West Bank, including Jerusalem?

    Did you know that? Did you know that for 19 years, Jordan occupied and ruled the whole West Bank, including Jerusalem? Why didn't they clamor for a Palestinian state then?

    All this time, did we hear a word about Palestine being occupied by the kingdom of Jordan? Did we hear anything about a Palestinian state? Or about Jerusalem being the capital of Palestine?

    No, we did not.

    Why not?

    Because there never existed a Palestinian state.

  • Joseph Troll

    The Big Lie (Part 2)

    And in the entire history of nations, Jerusalem was never the capital of any country other than that of ancient Israel and modern Israel. So how can there be a claim on Jerusalem as the capital of a state that never existed?

    One of the problems here is that so few people know the history of the world. Hence, lies and more lies, repeated often enough, are assumed to be facts.

    I have heard many scholars, including an Arab journalist, question the very notion of a Palestinian people. What, they ask, makes a people? Well, there are four elements that define a people: language, religion, culture and cuisine. For example, the Chinese and Japanese are both Oriental. Still, they are two different peoples, because they each have a different language, a different religion, a different culture and a different cuisine.

    The Palestinians speak the same language, follow the same religion, manifest the same culture and eat the same cuisine as all other Arabs. They are really Arabs who happen to live in a region called Palestine.

    Palestine is not – and never was – the name of a country, or the name of a people.

    It is the name of a region – just like Siberia is a region, not a country. There is no Siberian country, nor is there a Siberian people. It is a region. Just like the Sahara is a region, not a country. There is no Saharan country, nor is there a Saharan people. The Arabs living in that region are Libyans, Moroccans, etc. It is a region.

    Because Palestine is a region, not a country, England was able to carve out half of it and give it to the Arabs living on the other side of the Jordan River and call it the kingdom of Jordan. Because Palestine is a region, the United Nations was able to divide the rest of it between the Jews and the Arabs living there. Had the Arabs accepted the United Nations resolution, there would have been a newly created Arab state called Palestine. Instead, they rejected the United Nations compromise and went to war to destroy Israel. They lost the war. Hence, no Palestinian state.

    Here are some cold facts.

    King David built the city of Jerusalem, and King Solomon, David's son, built the holy temple. This commonwealth of Israel lasted for a thousand years. There was only one break, when, 400 years after King David, the Babylonian invaders occupied the land for 70 years. Then, with the help of Cyrus the Great of Persia – yes, Persia – Israel came back to the land, rebuilt the temple and ruled for another 600 years.

    Then, the Romans came and ruled the land, then the Crusaders ruled the land, then the Ottoman Empire ruled the land, then the British Empire ruled the land, then Israel returned to its homeland and built a modern Jewish state. It was never – repeat, never – a Palestinian state.

    So what is all this talk about occupied Palestinian land?

    They certainly have a right to live there freely and happily. Nobody wants to move them away from their land. But from where comes the right for a Palestinian state? Is it because they live there?

    Imagine if the Mexican-American community in California, whose numbers are greater than the number of Palestinians in the West Bank, decides tomorrow to claim that the United States is occupying their land, because they live there and they want their own Mexican state. Imagine if, when the U.S. government says, "No, you can live here, but you cannot have sovereignty, you cannot have your own state," they start sending suicide bombers, shooters, mortars, etc. into the rest of the country. What do you think would happen?

    This is precisely why there was never any suggestion of a Palestinian state – not under the Romans, not under the Crusaders, not under the Turks, not under the English and not under the Arab kingdom of Jordan – until after Israel was again established in its homeland.

    I believe it is the big lie of our generation, and we are all buying into it.

    Whatever you believe, don't you think these facts deserve to be raised when discussing Middle East policies?