By ALI SALIM, GATESTONE—
The world watches while the Palestinian Authority is actively promoting a campaign for an academic boycott and economic sanctions to be imposed on Israel, evidently backed by veiled threats from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
First, every Muslim knows that the Jews in Israel are the descendants of the ancient Hebrew nation known as the Israelites, we also recognize the fact that the Jews have been connected to the blessed land of Palestine for thousands of years, even before the Romans conquered Judea and changed its name to Palestina, as attested to by history. The ties of the Jews to the Holy Land have been documented by all the sacred books, including the Holy Qur’an.
Now, while the Jews are determined that the Palestinians recognize the State of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish People, the Palestinian Authority [PA] unfortunately rejects this demand. High-ranking PA figures claim that the Jews do not have religious or historical claims to the Holy Land. The Jews took the land by force, they say, and therefore want to reinforce their tenuous link to it by having the Palestinians recognize the State of Israel as the Jewish national state.
The real reason for their refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish country, however, is that the rais [chief], President Mahmoud Abbas, the man who claims to be the leader of the Palestinian people, has never abandoned the demand for the return of the Palestinians to “Palestine,” that is, the entire State of Israel, so that it might be destroyed.
The Palestinian rais also interferes personally in the affairs of the sovereign State of Israel, especially in matters concerning Israeli Arabs. As part of the negotiations brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Abbas demanded the release of Palestinian terrorist operatives holding Israeli citizenship. He claimed he refused to recognize the State of Israel as a Jewish state because he felt responsible for the rights of the 20% of Israeli citizens who were Palestinian Arabs.
He uses that claim, however, to hide his true intentions. If Mahmoud Abbas really wanted to found a Palestinian state bordering on the State of Israel, he would have been only too happy to accept the suggestion made by Israel’s Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, and rushed to absorb Israel’s Arab citizens along with their lands and assets as part of the exchange of territories and population demanded by the peace agreement. In that way he could have increased the size of Palestine, liberated the Israeli Arabs from the Israeli regime that Palestinians call “the rule of occupation and apartheid,” and brought more territory and citizens to his new country.
The truth, however, is that what President Mahmoud Abbas is really planning to establish is a Palestinian state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, by flooding the State of Israel with Muslim Palestinians as part of the so-called “return” of the Palestinian refugees. He does not want an Israel next door to the Palestinian state, and therefore refuses to recognize it as the national homeland of the Jews.
In reality, the Jews of Israel do not need recognition from the Palestinians; the Palestinian people itself is new, having been created only recently, and barely meets international criteria for the definition of “a people.” Very few Palestinians have been there for many generations. Most of them are from various isolated families, tribes and groups with no common history. Either they came with invading armies, or were imported as cheap labor by the Turks and British, or wanted to profit from the economic advances made by the Jews who had returned to rebuild their homeland. Others fled to Palestine from neighboring Arab countries because they were involved in blood feuds and feared for their lives.
The random collection of people who arrived from around the Arab-Muslim world and gathered in the Land of Israel, especially during the past two centuries, was ruled by different occupiers, primarily the Ottoman Turks. The population was divided and riven by disagreement, and came to look upon itself as a national group only at the beginning of the 20th century. The Jews have had a common identity for nearly three thousand years. Unlike the Jews, the Palestinians are not documented in the Holy Qur’an or the Old and New Testaments. There is no documentation of their presence in Palestine, in the history books of the ancient or modern world or in books written by travelers who came from overseas over the centuries, such as Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad.
The Jews in Israel have a number of reasons for demanding their country be recognized as their national homeland. For the Jews, Palestinian recognition of the State of Israel as the national homeland of the Jews means the end of the conflict. They want to be sure that a Palestinian state bordering on Israel is the Palestinians’ final demand and that they accept the fact of Israel’s existence. They want to be sure the Palestinians will not try to use force or subterfuge to change the Jewish majority in Israel. They want to be sure no attempt will be made to force Israel to accept the return of the grandchildren and great grandchildren of Palestinian refugees who have already been settled in the neighboring countries and should remain there with their Arab brothers even after the regimes have stabilized in the wake of the Arab Spring. The end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict basically means mutual recognition.
The Palestinians, on the other hand, find it difficult to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish nation in Palestine. They claim that the demand was never made of the Egyptians or Jordanians before they made peace (treaties with those two countries dealt mainly with territory). As far as they are concerned, as soon as the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, their claims and the demand for all of the land of Palestine, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea will no longer be considered legitimate. The Palestinians demand a state for themselves, and also demand to settle their citizens in Israel, the neighboring Jewish state. This hypocrisy increases exponentially when the Palestinians claim Israel is a country of discrimination, occupation, apartheid and oppression. If this is so, why do they insist so strongly on the “right of return” and not rush to welcome their refugees with open arms into the newly liberated state of Palestine?
The core of the problem is that Palestinian recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish People would not only end the dream of the return to Palestine, but also of the destruction of Israel currently being implemented through the incitement and terrorist campaign waged by the Palestinians in their institutions, mosques, schools, terrorist organizations and foreign propaganda centers — one facet of the myth being constructed of the existence of the “Palestinian People.” Recognition would also give Israel Islamic legitimacy.
Since the Nakba in 1948, the “expulsion” from Palestine, the Palestinians have been constructing their legacy. Their strategic intention is to perpetuate the conflict, not end it. That is also the strategic intention of the Israeli Arabs, who insist on preserving their “national Palestinian identity” while living in Jewish Israel, enjoying the rights and privileges of people in a democratic society, and at the same time hoping for its destruction, and sometimes actively participating in terrorist activity against it.
The real reason Mahmoud Abbas wants control of the Jordan River bridges and crossings, and refuses to leave them in Israeli hands, is that the Palestinians in the West Bank want to duplicate the terrorism of the Gaza Strip — smuggle in arms and establish terrorist squads as they did during the 1970s. They want to pave the way for waves of mujahideen to flood the West Bank and blow up Israeli civilians along the country’s eastern border in the vain hope that Israel will finally be destroyed and a Palestinian state will be established “from the River to the Sea.” Crossings left in Israel’s hands would incidentally mean not only greater security for Israel, but for Jordan as well.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, in January 2012. Ali Salim writes that boycotting Israel is a strategy backed by many “bogus-moralists” in Europe, even though it causes increased joblessness among Palestinians. (Image source: European Union)
During the first and second intifidas [uprisings], when the Palestinians boycotted Israeli-manufactured goods and refused to work for Israelis, we thought the boycott would destroy Israel’s economy, but the result was that we hurt only ourselves. Goods made in Israel were smuggled into the occupied territories and sold at exorbitant prices, many times what they cost in Israel; and when Palestinian construction workers stayed home, the Israelis began using industrial building methods, so now the workers are still at home.
I worry that the Palestinians are irresponsible and gambling with their fate and with their children’s future. Instead of recognizing Israel as the Jewish state as part of a package deal of mutual recognition leading to a life a peace, they are trying to force the world unilaterally to recognize a Palestinian state.
The danger is that when the Israelis realize that the Palestinians manipulators do not have any real intention of forging a peace agreement, Israel will withdraw from territories it does not want to rule, as it did in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians will receive far less from Israel than they could have achieved through dialogue, and will spend the rest of their days living as bad neighbors in a state of hopeless, eternal conflict.
A boycott of Israeli universities — with laboratories responsible for so many Nobel Prizes and the creation of such stunning advances for the good of all humanity — will not reduce Israeli academic excellence. The people who will suffer the most again are the thousands of Palestinian breadwinners who currently work in Israel’s factories and fields, both in Israel itself and in the West Bank — yet another example of the West’s duplicitous crocodile tears in pretending to care about the Palestinians but in reality, not a jot. The resulting joblessness can only breed even greater unrest, moving both parties farther away from peace — a strategy doubtless backed by many of these bogus-moralists in Europe from the outset.
If I were an Israeli, I would insist on Palestinian recognition of the State of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish People. This Palestinian recognition would make it accepted as a religious duty for the entire Islamic nation to make peace with Israel, and make it possible for an independent, flourishing Palestinian state to be established on Israel’s eastern border.