The Palestinians’ idea of a final solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to obliterate Israel’s existence as a Jewish state. The Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, and his Hamas rivals share that same vision.
Accordingly, the Palestinian negotiators at the ‘peace’ conference in Annapolis have refused to start negotiating a two-state solution that recognizes Israel as the homeland for the Jewish people, living side by side in peace and security with a separate homeland state for the Palestinian people.
Their chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said, "We will not agree to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. There is no country in the world where religious and national identities are intertwined."
Really? Has he looked around at the 20-odd Arab states in Israel’s neighborhood, especially Saudi Arabia where Islamic law defines the country’s identity and no Jew is allowed to even set foot on its ‘holy’ soil?
Hamas is forthright about its intent to create one Islamic state governed by strict Sharia law in which Jews would have no home at all. The so-called ‘moderate’ Palestinians are more devious. They argue that the idea of a Jewish state, which underlies Zionism, is incompatible with human rights treaties and international law. They pretend that Jews will be welcome in a pluralistic Palestinian society governed by majority rule.
This is where the United Nations comes in. It provides the Palestinians a loud megaphone on the world stage to proclaim their cause of Israel’s injustices against humanity. Aside from the Security Council, where the United States fortunately has a veto, the United Nations has turned into a vast propaganda arm of the Palestinians and their advocates in the fifty-six member Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). The OIC keeps the UN funding spigot for the Palestinian cause wide open, through the automatic anti-Israel majority of undeveloped countries that they can summon in the General Assembly through threats, cajoling and quid pro quos.
Thus, the UN Human Rights Council has only one permanent agenda item – Israel – and has launched a series of special ‘investigations’ of Israel’s ‘human rights abuses’. The General Assembly passes scores of resolutions denouncing Israel’s handling of the disputed territories. There is an agency devoted exclusively to Palestinian refugees, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. The UN also provides funding out of its regular budget for the duplicative and entirely biased work of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Division of Palestinian Rights, the United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine and the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories. These UN bodies have in turn provided forums for and published the anti-Israeli diatribes of hundreds of non-government organizations. The UN budget for 2006-2007 expanded the UN’s Palestinian propaganda apparatus, and even more is expected in the next budget.
In short, the United Nations is used to foster the de-legitimization of Israel as a Jewish outlaw regime. The UN is on the side of those who proclaim that Zionism is as bad, if not worse, than South Africa’s apartheid regime and deserves the same international condemnation as South Africa did in the form of sanctions, boycott and divestment. It promotes a narrative of the long-suffering Palestinian people as stateless refugees oppressed by a non-democratic, racist Jewish state.
Several key facts are left out of this fictional Palestinian narrative. First and foremost, the very essence of the Jewish state – based on reason, openness and a democratic system of government that believes in freedom of conscience – stands in sharp contrast to the absolutist, repressive strains that permeate the closed societies of its Islamic neighbors.
Then there is the history of the conflict that the Palestinian narrative so conveniently ignores. The Palestinians could have had their own independent state sixty years ago if the neighboring Arab countries had not forcibly rejected the UN’s original plan for partition of the British Mandate territory of Palestine into a Jewish state, an Arab state and a small internationally administered zone including the religiously significant towns of Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The Palestinians are still refusing any such solution today.
In the days after the General Assembly vote approving the partition plan, various Arab attacks left Jews dead and wounded. There were shootings, stonings, bombings, arson and rioting, including attacks on the consulates of Poland and Sweden who had voted for partition. Little has changed. If the Palestinians do not get everything they ask for, they immediately resort to violence.
The Palestinian narrative on the refugee situation is also misleading. As documented by eyewitnesses and by statements of Palestinian and other Arab leaders themselves at the time, most Palestinians who left their homes in 1948 did so voluntarily. They were following the advice of the Arab leaders who promised that they would only have to be away from their homes a few days until the Jews were driven into the sea. For example, the Jordanian newspaper Falastin wrote on February 19, 1949:
“The Arab States encouraged the Palestine Arabs to leave their homes temporarily in order to be out of the way of the Arab invasion armies.”
As one refugee was quoted as saying, “The Arab governments told us: Get out so that we can get in. So we got out, but they did not get in.”
The 156,000 Palestinians who did stay behind and their offspring became full Israeli citizens, with voting rights and representation in the government irrespective of their minority non-Jewish status. Arabs have been elected to the Knesset, served on the Israeli Supreme Court and held other high government positions. If their rights are violated, they have recourse to the Israeli courts to seek redress. Arab citizens living in Israel share nothing in common with the blacks who lived in apartheid South Africa, no matter how hard the Palestinian propagandists insist otherwise. The blacks living in apartheid South Africa were excluded altogether from any participation in governing the country in which they made up the majority of the population. They lived and worked under strictly segregated conditions with no legal recourse for the wrongs that were inflicted on them daily.
As for the refugee situation, there were more Jewish refugees who were forcibly expelled from the Arab countries than there were Palestinian refugees who had left behind their homes in Israel. According to United Nations statistics, 856,000 Jewish residents fled their Arab homes in 1948 as compared to an estimated 711,000 Palestinian refugees who fled Israel in 1948. Many more Jews were forced out of Arab lands since. In Egypt, for example, there were around 75,000 Jews living there in 1948. Today, there are no more than 100. There were around 135,000 Jews living in Iraq in 1948. Today there are around 15. There were about 35,000 Jews living in Libya in 1948. Today there are none. The United Nations has not spent a dime on Jewish refugees from the Arab countries, while the annual budget for taking care of Palestinian refugees through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency is approaching a half billion dollars a year.
Few of the estimated 711,000 Palestinian refugees who fled in 1948 are still alive. Yet, in an exception to the normal definition of who qualifies to be considered a refugee, the United Nations has characterized all of the descendants of these refugees as refugees themselves. This redefinition has swelled the total number of Palestinian refugees to more than 4 million. Rather than be accepted as full citizens by their Arab ‘brothers’ in the surrounding Arab states, they live on the UN dole as stage props for the Palestinians’ melodramatic narrative of suffering at the hands of the Israelis.
All we hear about in the Palestinian narrative is the right of return for these descendants to move back to the homes of their parents, grandparents or great grandparents in Israel proper. We hear nothing about the right of Jewish refugees and their descendants to return to their centuries-old Jewish homes in Egypt, Iraq, Libya and other Arab countries. Indeed, if we were to apply the UN’s open-ended definition of a Palestinian refugee to the Jews forced out of Arab lands, the descendants of Jews whom Mohammed forcibly expelled from the Saudi peninsula should be allowed the right of return to their ancestral homelands in Mecca and Medina.
The Palestinian narrative goes on to portray the Israeli control of the West Bank and Gaza after the 1967 Six Day War as an apartheid regime in the extreme. To the contrary, Israel afforded substantial individual autonomy to the Palestinians living in the territories it won from Jordan and Egypt. Arabs were permitted to visit and pray at their holy sites in Jerusalem – a right that the Jordanians refused the Jews when they controlled Jerusalem. Palestinians from the territories were offered jobs in Israel, with pay and benefits comparable to Israelis with similar jobs. They were allowed to attend schools and universities and to obtain medical treatment in Israel where Jews received their education and medical treatment. Obviously, none of this was true for the South African blacks living under South Africa’s whites-only apartheid regime, where racial segregation in every sphere of the black residents’ lives was the law.
Moreover, there were few Israeli barriers, checkpoints or impeded movements of people and goods within the West Bank to speak of until the Palestinian terrorists ratcheted up their suicide bombings and other violence against Israelis - particularly after the Second Intifada in 2000. The West Bank’s economic output had grown by more than ten percent annually in the four preceding years, 1996 to 1999 – nearly three times the rate of growth for Israel itself. Palestinians were prospering as they never had before. Yet they created the conditions that ended such prosperity and the chance to build their own state in peaceful co-existence with Israel, including open trade between the two states.
Israel began building its continuous security fence in 2003 to protect its citizens against waves of suicide bombings within Israel proper that the Palestinian terrorists refused to stop. This was 36 years after Israel assumed control of the West Bank. Since construction of the fence began, the number of attacks has declined by more than 90%. The UN International Court of Justice’s decision declaring this security fence illegal omitted any recognition of the terrorist attacks that provoked Israel’s action in the first place. It twisted international law to conclude that Israel was only entitled to defend itself against armed attacks by another member state, not against non-state terrorists. The murders of Israeli women, children and the elderly were implicitly regarded as the legitimate acts of freedom fighters.
In short, Israel responded with harsh defensive measures only after suffering a barrage of murderous terrorist attacks against its most vulnerable civilians and gaining no peace in return for the territories that it did turn over to the Palestinians. Yet Israel’s exercise of its inherent right of self-defense is turned into a violation of the UN’s version of international law. Meanwhile, the Palestinians are deemed entitled to full rights and privileges of self-determination with no obligations or accountability of their own.
For centuries Jews have been persecuted for simply being Jewish in nations all over the world where they were a minority. That includes the vast Muslim lands that surround Israel today. Yet the Palestinians are gaining traction on the world stage with their claim that it is somehow a violation of universal human rights for Jews to live securely in a state that retains its Jewish character, while respecting the rights of minorities, on the one sliver of land where they have significant historical ties that long pre-date Islam.
There is room in this Palestinian narrative for only one multiethnic, multi-religious and multicultural Palestine that would supposedly embrace Arabs and Jews with equal human rights for all. If this sounds too good to be true, that is because it is too good to be true. Jews will not stand a chance in such a refashioned unitary Palestinian state. The track record of every Islamic majority country in the Middle East – with the possible exception of Turkey – is the egregious mistreatment of religious and ethnic minorities, especially Jews. A unitary Palestine will follow down the destructive road of that erstwhile multiethnic, multi-religious and multicultural flower in the Middle East – Lebanon. But by that time, the world community will have moved on.
Playing on the sympathies of human rights activists and the far left, Palestinians and their supporters are promoting the designation of 2008 as a year of Commemoration for Al-Nakba (what the Palestinian propagandists characterize as the catastrophe of Palestinian ethnic cleansing and dispossession that purportedly resulted from the UN General Assembly’s approval of the 1948 partition plan). The commemoration will begin with the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on November 29, 2007, the thirtieth such day since the General Assembly declared this day of solidarity in 1977.
The United Nations has already started to provide forums to promote the year plus commemoration of this fictional narrative. On August 30-31, 2007, for example, the United Nations International Conference of Civil Society in Support of the Palestinian People, held at the European Parliament headquarters in Brussels, declared that
“60 years is enough! End the dispossession; bring the refugees home!”
This conference carried the UN imprimatur and featured speakers from the UN Secretariat and the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. Its results were published in an official UN document.
Going beyond Jimmy Carter’s disgraceful labeling of Israel’s defensive policies in the disputed territories as apartheid, the conference adopted a Plan of Action that applied the apartheid label to Israel proper as well and that proclaimed the following:
“We condemn the rising triumphalism that marks so much of U.S., Israeli and European celebration of Israel’s independence, and we are building a campaign of education and mobilization to mark 2008 as a year to commemorate Palestinian dispossession and expulsion, and a year committed to reversing those 60-year-old losses. In particular we call on the United Nations, the European Union and the Non-Aligned Movement to mark November 29, 2007 as an international day to commemorate the 1947 Partition Resolution and its consequences.
Finally, we commit ourselves, and call on global civil society, to join Palestinian communities inside Israel, in exile and the Occupied Palestinian Territory in mobilizing for a year of educational and campaigning work beginning on November 29, 2007. That year will include May 15, 2008, as a day of global mobilization to commemorate the Nakba, and the continuing dispossession and denial of Palestinian rights.’’
Among the events planned by Palestinian advocates for 2008 in the United States is a ‘Wheels of Justice’ bus tour, intended to bring alleged eyewitness accounts of Israeli ‘apartheid’ to hundreds of colleges and universities, over 200 middle and high schools, and hundreds of churches and other venues in virtually every state. Several groups are also busy planning a central mass mobilization in New York City in May 2008, no doubt intended to coincide with and drown out Israel’s sixtieth anniversary of its independence.
Things will get even worse in 2009. That is when a follow-up to the UN’s 2001 “World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance” will be held in Durban, South Africa. The infamous 2001 conference had degenerated into a hatefest against Israel and the United States. Planning is already underway for the follow-up Durban conference, to be funded out of the UN’s regular budget. It is not hard to predict where it is headed, considering that Libya is chairing the planning committee and its vice chairpersons include representatives from Cuba and Iran.
Every Senator and member of the House of Representatives should be petitioned to support legislation that cuts off U.S. funding for the 2009 Durban conference along with the Human Rights Council and any UN body providing support to the 2008 Commemoration for Al-Nakba.
It is time for the voices of reason to speak out loud and clear. The David Horowitz Freedom Center’s Islamo-fascist education campaign provides a model for action. But we must do more. Let’s start with a Wheels of Truth bus tour in 2008 that shadows the Palestinians’ bus caravan of lies. Huge pro-Israeli rallies in New York and other key cities around the world should be organized for May 15, 2008 to counter the Palestinians’ Al-Nakba rallies scheduled for that day. Groups like StandWithUs and Arabs for Israel can help lead this counter-offensive.
StandWithUs has put together a compelling 45-minute film, Tolerating Intolerance: Hate Speech on Campus, which profiles the rise of toxic, anti-Israel speeches being given at U.S. colleges and universities. They have also developed on-campus programs and information to help students stand up against anti-Israel speakers.
Arabs for Israel is another group that stands up for Israel. They state on their website their belief as Arabs and Muslims that Arabs “can support the State of Israel and the Jewish religion and still treasure our Arab and Islamic culture.” They cite verses in the Koran supporting the right of the “children of Israel” to "dwell securely in the land of promise."
The Jewish state of Israel provides the Palestinians with a role model of pluralism and democracy to emulate, not a target to destroy. As the Arab-American writer and founder of Arabs for Israel, Nonie Darwish, put it, “Israel’s hand has been extended towards us for a long time. Let us not ignore it any longer.” The Palestinians who prefer the destruction of Israel and the death of Jews to their own freedom, happiness and prosperity have nobody but themselves to blame for their current plight.
 These quotes and others by Palestinians and other Arabs as well as eyewitness reporters are compiled in Battleground: Fact & Fantasy in Palestine by Samuel Katz (Bantam Books, first published in 1973)
 Israel’s Security Fence by Mitchell Bard, The American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (August 28, 2007).