The truth about 'Palestine'
Op-ed: Revisionist Arab narrative of Mideast conflict premised on deception rather than facts
"Don't ask me nothing about nothing about nothing, I just might tell you the truth." The iconic song writer Bob Dylan penned these lyrics in the mid 1960s. In light of the recent comments by presidential candidate Newt Gingrich regarding the "Palestinians," Mr. Gingrich might feel inclined to invoke Dylan's lyric to those who took issue with his comments.
When it comes to the Middle East conflict, it seems the "truth" depends on who's talking.
A simple explanation of the facts can go a long way to identify whose version of the "truth" is accurate.
When it comes to the Arab narrative and the name "Palestine," and "Palestinians," there's more than enough "truth" that can be proven to be untrue. For example, if you ask what and where is "Palestine," virtually every enemy of Israel, including Mahmoud Abbas, will tell you it includes the entire land area which the rest of the world calls Israel.
In fact, "Palestine" refers to a coastal section of land in the area of today's Gaza Strip that was inhabited by the ancient Philistines who were not native to Israel or the region. Most scholars believe they migrated from Greece or Crete. The ancient Philistines were enemies of Israel. The biblical giant Goliath, whom King David slew, was a Philistine.
The name "Palestine" is from the Latin name "Philistia." It came to be known as such after the unsuccessful Jewish revolt led by Bar Kochba in 135 AD.
Then Roman Emperor Hadrian, in an effort to wipe out any symbols of Jewish presence, renamed the Kingdom of Judea Philistia He did this specifically to insult the Jews, since the Philistines were their enemies.
For the record, there isn’t, nor has there ever been a sovereign nation called Palestine.
Truth routinely sacrificedAs recently as the Six-Day War there were no specific people known as "Palestinians."
Walid Shoebat, a former Muslim terrorist who at that time lived in the area that became known as the "West Bank," (another invented term) said "how can I go to bed as a Jordanian one day, and wake up the next day as a Palestinian?" He is referring to the day before and the day after the start of the Six-Day War.
So where does the name "Palestinian" come from? Many will tell you the champion of this remaking of the Arab image is the late Yasser Arafat. He founded the "Palestine" Liberation Organization PLO in 1964 and began using the term "Palestinian" in order to legitimize his effort to portray the "displaced" Arabs from the 1948 War of Independence as unique with an ethnicity and culture of their own. His effort was motivated by the intentional refusal of surrounding Arab countries to absorb them. It is these people who eventually became known as "Palestinian refugees."
Another reason for inventing the term is well described by then-PLO Executive Committee member Zahir Muhsein. In a 1977 interview, 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 there is no difference between Jordanians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for our political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since the Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct ‘Palestinian people,’ to oppose Zionism.”
So when Mr. Gingrich says the Palestinians are an "invented people," it seems clear he is basing his comment on facts that ironically are supported by the "Palestinians" themselves. Not surprisingly, he has been attacked for speaking the truth, especially by the Arab world. However, other Republican presidential hopefuls also attacked him. Why?
It seems the Middle East conflict is an environment where "truth" is routinely sacrificed in the name of diplomacy. Yet where has diplomacy gotten us? It seems diplomacy has simply given the Arabs the opportunity to continue reinventing the "truth" in order to maintain their agenda of hatred and de-legitimization of Israel.
I suggest it is for this reason Mr. Gingrich felt compelled to say enough is enough, it's time to speak the truth. I find his comments starkly refreshing and long overdue. If nothing else, his sober remarks may serve as a much needed reminder that when it comes to the Arab revisionist narrative facts don't seem to alter their agenda. Maybe it's time the rest of the world started taking note of just who is and who isn't telling the truth.
"Don't ask me nothing about nothing….."