Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D., a Freedom Center Journalism Fellow in Academic Free Speech and President Emeritus of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, is the author of Jew-Hatred Rising: The Perversities of the Campus War Against Israel and Jews.
On May 16th, you and some other members of The Squad, including Representatives Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, McCollum, and others, introduced a loathsome resolution, H. RES. 1123, which had as its purpose “Recognizing the Nakba and Palestinian refugees’ rights” and to “commemorate the Nakba,” the catastrophe you assign to Israel’s creation, “through official recognition and remembrance.” According to your baleful resolution, the Nakba not only took place at Israel’s founding “but [refers] to an ongoing process of Israel’s expropriation of Palestinian land and its dispossession of the Palestinian people that continues to this day.
This resolution is yet another manifestation of your narcissistic victimology, a corrosive point of view in which the very creation and continued existence of Israel, according to you, is an ongoing tragedy because, in your contorted view, Israel’s “violence and war crimes are an ongoing and ever-present assault on the existence and humanity of the Palestinian people. The Israeli apartheid government’s ongoing ethnic cleansing seeks to degrade Palestinian humanity and break the will of the people to be free.”
Your resolution reiterates the historically inaccurate and delusional claim that Jews have no indigeneity to the territories that became current-day Israel, that all of historic Palestine is somehow “Palestinian land,” and that the millions of Palestinian refugees created by your people’s repeated rejection of offers of statehood—in 1937, 1947, 1967, 2000, and other occasions—is the sole reason that you continually look backward, wishing history had unfolded differently. As a result, you have allowed millions of Palestinians for decades to languish, wretched and stateless, in refugee camps—all the while blaming Israel for their circumstances and ignoring the fact that your leaders’ own bad decisions and truculence have resulted in this human tragedy.
Your irrational focus on the predations of Israel and its essential illegitimacy for a host of reasons you and your fellow bigots regularly trot out leads you to ignore any of the tragedy, loss, and suffering Israelis endured as a result of Arab aggression and the Palestinian’s refusal to ever acknowledge the Jewish state, starting with the War of Independence in 1948. Palestinians and their supporters continually describe how they wish to “liberate” Palestine and rid it of its annoying Jews. But your vision, of course, does not mean transforming Palestine into a democratic, open society where members of three major faiths can live freely and practice their religions openly. Liberating Palestine for you and your people would be more in keeping with the type of liberation that Transjordan’s Arab League effected when they burned and looted the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem in 1948; expelled and killed its hapless Jewish population; destroyed some 58 synagogues, many hundreds of years old; unearthed gravestones from the history-laden Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives and used them for latrine pavers; and barred any Jew from praying at the Western Wall or entering the Temple Mount. Remember, too, that in the war of Israel’s independence—a war begun by your Arab supporters to strangle the Jewish state at birth—Israel lost some 6000 of its citizens, one percent of its then-population (equivalent to the U.S. losing 3,300,000 lives in a conflict).
So, the Nakba which you launched and now complain you suffered—and continue to suffer—alone had Jewish victims as well.
The most delusional aspect is the resolution’s absurd call for the 5-6 million Palestinians who you consider to be refugees to return to their homes. In other words, as is characteristic of the Palestinian’s monomaniacal irredentism, rather than populate a new Palestinian state as was envisioned by the League of Nations and later the United Nations, you believe that Palestinian refugees (including their descendants) should return to present-day Israel, subsuming the Jewish state.
The demand for a right of return, a notion which Palestinians and your supporters refer to as “sacred” and an “enshrined” universal human right granted by UN resolutions and international law, in fact, has, as you as a government official should know, no legal or diplomatic standing at all, and is part of the propaganda campaign that is based on the thinking that if Israel cannot be eradicated by the Arabs though war, it can effectively be destroyed by forcing it to commit demographic suicide.
In the first place, it uses the fraud you propagate that the Palestinians were “victimized” by the creation of Israel, that they were expelled from a land of “Palestine” where they were the indigenous people “from time immemorial,” as historian Joan Peters put it in her book of the same name.
More importantly, far from being either a “sacred” or, for that matter, legal right, the right of return is a one-sided concoction that deliberately misreads United Nations resolutions for political advantage, and conveniently embraces only those portions that fit the intent of Arabs to make good on their intent to “drive Israel into the sea.” In continually repeating the lie that they are victims of the “Zionist regime” and that they were expelled from a country of their own and condemned to unending refugee status, the Palestinians—and their enablers like you—have prolonged the myth of victimhood.
There is some irony in the fact that you Palestinians have repeatedly violated both the spirit and intent of UN resolution 194, that particular UN resolution containing a reference to the concept of ‘return’ to one’s country, although two key points are characteristically ignored by you and others pointing to this source as justification for asserting a legal claim. First, Resolution 194 was the product of the UN General Assembly and “is an expression of sentiment and carries no binding force whatsoever,” meaning that it is meant to make recommendations but not law. What it did suggest, however, was that “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property . . . .”
That permission, as you conveniently see fit to ignore, is modified by two conditions —that the refugee wishes to return, and that he wishes to live at peace with his neighbors,” something which you people, even now, have clearly never seen fit to do, preferring to whine about Israel’s existence and the absence of Palestinian self-determination—something of your own making.
Legal scholars also point out that international law grants the right to leave or return to one’s country only to individuals, not as a collective right as you Palestinians claim. More importantly, no population of refugees has ever presumed that the right of return—if such a right even exists—could be claimed, not only by the original refugees but also by all of their descendants. The demand made by you in this resolution that the 6-7 million descendants of the original Palestinian refugees —children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren—be allowed to return to Israel, to homes they have never lived in or seen and which may or may not even exist any longer, is not only a delusional fantasy that will never be agreed to by Israel but has no validity in international law, especially since the refugees were never citizens of Israel in the first place.
And the drafters of the UN resolution were very careful to not specify which refugees were referenced there. You and your fellow travelers assume it described Arabs, but there is another significant aspect of the “refugee” problem from the 1940s that those demanding a right of return for Palestinian refugees conveniently forget: some 850,000 Jews, some of whom had lived in Arab lands for 1000 years, were expelled and all their wealth (estimated to be about ten times that of the Arab Palestinians) was confiscated in response to and as punishment for the creation of Israel.
As is typical of your analysis of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, all nuance and context are conspicuously absent in your discussion, and neither you nor other pro-Palestinians recognize the lost possessions, homes, property, and citizenships of Jews in 1948—itself a cultural, social, religious, and ethnic catastrophe of equal or greater proportion than the one you valorize. And, unlike the Palestinians, those 850,000 Jews did not languish as victims for generations in refugee camps and whine about a right of return, or reparations, or the injustices that had been done to them, choosing instead to settle in Israel or to the United States or elsewhere and move forward even as history had dealt them a catastrophic set of circumstances.
Of course, your resolution also completely omits the rather significant fact that The Arab-Israeli War of 1948 was initiated, not, as you claim, by random and murderous Zionist militias, but because of the attack on nascent Israel by five invading Arab armies, intent on driving every Jew into the sea and killing the rest in what they described as a glorious war of extermination. Your Nakba mourns the fact that those genocidal campaigns failed.
Had you and your people accepted United Nations Resolution 181, which would have created a Palestinian state at the same time the Jewish one was created, and not instead launched a war to destroy Israel altogether, you would now be celebrating 74 years of statehood instead of recalling the self-inflicted Nakba which is the actual source of the refugee problem. The real catastrophe is that Arab leaders, in their obsession to not acknowledge the Jewish sovereignty of Israel, preferred to create a refugee crisis and use it for decades as a moral cudgel with which to batter Israel. Why should the U.S. Congress now acknowledge and affirm the disastrous decisions made by your genocidal leaders who were, and are, so opposed to a Jewish sovereignty that they were willing to sacrifice generations of their own people rather than recognize and tolerate Israel next door?
In 2016, as you recall, you made a grotesque comment in a podcast in which you claimed that There’s always kind of a calming feeling I tell folks when I think of the Holocaust . . . and the fact that it was my ancestors—Palestinians — who did so “ in the name of trying to create a safe haven for Jews . . ,” reflecting your delusional belief, first, that Palestinians did anything to benefit Jews crawling out of the ashes of the Holocaust, and, second, that a Jewish connection to Palestine only began when European Jews began arriving after World War II. Jews had built a temple in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel and spiritual home of Judaism, over 1600 years before the ascent of Islam, and the area you inaccurately refer to as the West Bank comprises Judea and Samaria, named after Jews and where Jews have lived since biblical times. Contrary to your reckless and ahistorical claims of indigeneity, there was never a nation called Palestine, a people called Palestinians, or any Palestinian sovereignty that was recognized as having a unique language, culture, ethnic connection, government, constitution, or even history. But Jews have had an uninterrupted presence and attachment to Palestine and Israel for 3000 years, a point obvious to any sentient observer of history and fact, not someone, like you, who invents a narrative to advance your cause.
And when did the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem become Palestinian land? The answer is: never. In fact, when Israel acquired the West Bank, Gaza, and other territories in 1967 after being attacked by Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, the Jewish state gained legally recognized title to those areas. Israel’s recapture of those territories in 1967 made the Jewish state what is referred to as the High Contracting Party of those territories, both because they were acquired in a defensive, not aggressive, war, and because they were part of the original Mandate and not previously under the sovereignty of any other High Contracting Party.
That means that when you and your fellow travelers hector Israel about the alleged illegality of Jewish “settlements” in Judea and Samaria, you are making claims that have no basis in fact or law. The more serious question for you is, why, of all people on earth, are Jews the only ones who are regularly denounced for living in a certain neighborhood, especially since it is land on which Jews have lived for millennia? Wars have consequences, and if you start a war over territory and lose it in that conflict, you cannot expect to dictate what the victor now does with that property. And the fact that Israel has repeatedly offered to relinquish its rights to the West Bank, as it did with Gaza, and give it to your people for your new state—and that all those offers were refused because it would mean the continued existence of Israel as a Jewish state—signals to the world that your obsession with the Nakba actually has more to do with genocidal Jew-hatred and bigotry than it does with Palestinian self-determination.
You may see the creation of Israel as a Nakba but that is not how it is seen by the 6.8 million Jews who live there or the twenty percent of its population of non-Jews who have more civil and human rights in Israel than they would in any surrounding Middle East country. You may feel there was immense tragedy and displeasure at a Jewish state’s creation, but while you were promoting another violent “Day of Rage” in the streets or your leaders were squandering, as they did in 2019, $343 million of foreign aid to pay terrorists who had murdered Jews and their the families gruesome bounties in a “pay to slay” program, Israel continued to build its explosive and innovative economy: in 2021, Israeli startups, for example, raised some $26 billion and that same year 57 Israeli companies went public, raising $4 billion in the process. Even with the horrors of their recent past in their rearview mirrors, Israelis move on with their lives, and have built a viable state in which innovation, freedom, democracy, and human rights are available to all.
“We can ignore reality,” observed Ayn Rand, “but we cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.” You can promote and live by your Nakba notion—a fable that, in ignoring history and fact, absolves your people of all blame and ascribes all of it to Israel—or you can begin looking forward with confidence and optimism that the chains of your alleged oppression can only be thrown off by yourself.
But do not ask the American people to enshrine in law the self-delusion and Jew-hatred that has long impeded your own self-determination and made you victims of your own corrosive and hateful ideology.