By: Jonathan Feldstein
Israel’s former Prime Minister, Golda Meir, once said that there would only be peace when the Arabs loved their children more than they hated ours. Unfortunately, that is still true. However, there is an early 21st century addendum made no less true by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ recent diatribe at the United Nations: there will only be peace when the Arabs change their narrative so theirs is not mutually exclusive to, a rejection of, and in existential conflict with ours. Conflicting narratives are one thing, but when one narrative exists exclusively to destroy another’s, there’s no moving forward.
This was on full display at the UN as Abbas was welcomed by leaders of other nations commemorating what they call the “Nakba,” the catastrophe of Israel’s birth and very existence 75 years ago.
Forget the fact that there were no Palestinian people as a distinct ethnic Arab group before the 1960s, and that was only created in order to use as a wedge to unite the Arab world to destroy Israel. Forget the fact that at the time, “Palestine” was occupied by Jordan and Egypt respectively, and that the Palestinian Arabs were not granted citizenship or equal rights in these two respective Arab countries.
As much as these are historic facts that the world has overlooked in a knee-jerk response for supporting the Palestinian Arabs’ narrative, Abbas repeated and doubled down on ridiculous historical revisionism by claiming that the Jewish people have no legitimate history in, or claim to, Jerusalem and its most sacred site, the Temple Mount. It’s just a foolish lie, but one the world has bought into for decades.
He may not agree with or like the truth and may have to say that Israel is the bogeyman because that is the cornerstone of Palestinian Arab identity, but it is beyond ridiculous to suggest that the Jewish people are not indigenous in the Land of Israel. This is true long before the name “Palestine” was introduced by the Romans 2000 years ago as a way to demean the then conquered Jewish population, and long before the unique Palestinian Arab ethnic identity was created following Israel’s restoration of sovereignty and independence in 1948.
Perhaps Abbas is not as well-read as he is well-rhetoriced. He’s probably never heard of much less read Mark Twain, who documented his trip to the Holy Land in a well-known book, “Innocents Abroad.” 100 years before the reunification of Jerusalem, Twain visited and wrote: “Of all the lands there are for dismal scenery, I think Palestine must be the prince… Renowned Jerusalem itself, the stateliest name in history, has lost all its ancient grandeur, and is become a pauper village; the riches of Solomon are no longer there to compel the admiration of visiting Oriental queens; the wonderful temple which was the pride and the glory of Israel, is gone… Palestine is desolate and unlovely. And why should it be otherwise?… Palestine is no more of this work-day world. It is sacred to poetry and tradition — it is dream-land.”
In a few sentences, Twain affirmed the unbreakable Jewish connection to the Land, and that it was desolate under then Ottoman control. Perhaps Abbas doesn’t like Biblical facts and prophecies of the Land blossoming again when the Jewish people would return (which it has), but Abbas denies that it has even blossomed from its desolate state 150 years ago.
“The Israelis and Zionists continue their false claims that Israel made the desert bloom. Palestine was a desert, and they made it blossom, a paradise…They lie, lie and lie until people believe.”
Interestingly, Abbas borrows Biblical quotes along with Holocaust analogies when it suits him. He had the hubris to say, “The early Zionists falsely claimed that Palestine was a land without people, but this was never true,” Abbas said, and then adding his own commentary of the Torah, added that the Palestinians were descendants of the biblical Canaanites, allegedly proven “in religious scriptures, including the Torah.”
Even Twain, who started off as a comedy writer, would not be able to control himself from laughing at Abbas’ foolishness.
But if Twain were not credible, all Abbas has to do is look to one of his own. In an interview with The Atlantic, Palestinian Arab writer Edward Said once candidly noted, “the whole of Palestinian nationalism was based on driving all Israelis out.” So, if that’s the case, there could not have been “Palestinian nationalism” before Israel, and that today it remains an identity singularly invented to destroy Israel.
With a PhD in Holocaust denial, “Dr.” Abbas is never one to miss a good Holocaust analogy, contradicting history, and also his own thesis by verifying the atrocities of the Holocaust. At the UN, Abbas declared, “They lie and lie just like Goebbels…until people believe.”
Archeologist and theologian Abbas also declared, “There is no proof of Jewish ties to the area of Aqsa Mosque compound (the Temple Mount) in Jerusalem. They [Israel] dug under al-Aqsa… they dug everywhere, and they could not find anything.” He added, “the ownership of al-Buraq Wall [the Western Wall] and al-Haram al-Sharif [Temple Mount] belongs exclusively…to the Islamic Wakf alone.”
Strangely, Abbas also repeated the claim that “Palestinians” don’t have freedom of worship in the Aqsa Mosque, the Temple Mount, when it’s in fact Jews and Christians who are barred from praying there.
As much as Palestinian nationalism is rooted on driving Israeli out, their modus operandi has been to blame others rather than taking responsibility. This week, in his crosshairs at the UN were the US and the UK who Abbas blamed for the permanent displacement of what he alleged was close to a million Palestinians during Israel’s War of Independence. They “bear political and ethical responsibility directly for the ‘Nakba’ of the Palestinian people because they took part in rendering our people a victim when they decided to establish and plant another entity [the Jewish people] in our historic homeland.” He accused their doing so for “their own colonial goals and objectives.” He blamed the UK for issuing the 1917 Balfour Declaration recognizing the Jewish right to a homeland, but conveniently overlooked the British White Paper two decades later, limiting Jewish immigration to Mandatory Palestine while they were trying to flee the Nazi death camps.
Abbas shined as an old fool in the UN’s spotlight, but the UN member states who sponsored his diatribe and bothered to listen, much less embrace it, are no less foolish. This would be a great stand-up comedy routine were it not so sad, and not coming from a man who is in his 19th year of a four-year term and who has not held an election in nearly two decades.