Palestinian statehood bid based on irrational worldview, flawed interpretation of history.
by Asaf Romirowsky
Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found are a great way to understand the Palestinian narrative. Specifically, Carroll uses time and space as the plot device while drawing on chess imagery, mirror themes, opposites and time running backwards. As such, it provides the perfect “logic” to the irrational Palestinian worldview and interpretation of history as they attempt to achieve statehood through unilateral declaration of independence at the United Nations this month.
This is the same historical read that has convinced Palestinians that it is Israel and the West that created the Arab-Palestinian refugees, rather their own Arab leaders who did indeed put them in this state intentionally. Today, the perfidy of Palestinian society lies in its division, dysfunctionality, and complete denial of the reality it lives in.
The historical truth is that the notion of an independent, sovereign Palestinian state existing alongside Israel has never been part of the Palestinian worldview. The Palestinians have also always rejected the notion of a single bi-national state.
Palestinian society has never seen Jewish sovereignty or Israel's existence as a “right.” The only right in the Palestinians’ narrative of the conflict is their own connection to the land. They do, however, see Israel as a temporary military fact. But believe there will come a day, the narrative goes, when they will be able to defeat the Israelis. Their recent appeal to the UN is a new and cynical turn that should not mask the history of rejectionism.
In November 1947, United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 recommended the creation of separate Jewish and Arab states. Palestinian representatives and Arab states rejected this recommendation and consequently launched a war against the Jewish community. A close look at the General Assembly’s final tally in 1947 highlights this rejectionism when 33 countries voted for partition, 13 against and 10 abstained. The countries that rejected co-existence with the Jews and blocked Arab-Palestinian statehood overwhelmingly came from the Arab/Muslim world: Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey and Yemen.
Talk is cheap
The reality is that a unilateral statehood bid is yet another Palestinian halo of “normalcy” that undermines every accepted model for peace even according to UN standards. Unilateralism was never accepted as the modus operandi, but rather, mutually agreed upon concessions by the parties as illustrated by UN Security Council resolutions 242, 338, the Oslo Accords and the Roadmap for Peace.
Talk is cheap. Land and lives are precious. If the Palestinians genuinely want to talk about statehood they need to come to terms with accepting and recognizing Israel and first get their own territories under control, stop firing rockets at Israeli towns, and start creating a decent civil society.
Pragmatically, the larger issue of Palestinian statehood raises a basic question - do Palestinians really want a state and are they prepared to take responsibility for their own people under such a rubric? In accordance with reality of Through the Looking-Glass, where time and space can be turned around, the answer would be yes, but at the expense of Israel’s creation to begin with.
Asaf Romirowsky is a Philadelphia-based Middle East analyst and an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Forum
More Quotes About "Palestine"
"There is no such country as Palestine. 'Palestine' is a term the Zionists invented. There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria. 'Palestine' is alien to us. It is the Zionists who introduced it".
- Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, Syrian Arab leader to British Peel Commission, 1937 -
"There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not".
- Professor Philip Hitti, Arab historian, 1946 -
"It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria".
- Representant of Saudi Arabia at the United Nations, 1956 -
Concerning the Holy Land, the chairman of the Syrian Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in February 1919 stated:
"The only Arab domination since the Conquest in 635 c.e. hardly lasted, as such, 22 years".
"There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent (valley of Jezreel, Galilea); not for thirty miles in either direction... One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. For the sort of solitude to make one dreary, come to Galilee... Nazareth is forlorn... Jericho lies a mouldering ruin... Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and humiliation... untenanted by any living creature... A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds... a silent, mournful expanse... a desolation... We never saw a human being on the whole route... Hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil had almost deserted the country... Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes... desolate and unlovely...".
- Mark Twain, "The Innocents Abroad", 1867 -
"In 1590 a 'simple English visitor' to Jerusalem wrote: 'Nothing there is to bescene but a little of the old walls, which is yet remayning and all the rest is grasse, mosse and weedes much like to a piece of rank or moist grounde'.".
- Gunner Edward Webbe, Palestine Exploration Fund,
Quarterly Statement, p. 86; de Haas, History, p. 338 -
"The land in Palestine is lacking in people to till its fertile soil".
- British archaeologist Thomas Shaw, mid-1700s -
"Palestine is a ruined and desolate land".
- Count Constantine François Volney, XVIII century French author and historian -
"The Arabs themselves cannot be considered but temporary residents. They pitched their tents in its grazing fields or built their places of refuge in its ruined cities. They created nothing in it. Since they were strangers to the land, they never became its masters. The desert wind that brought them hither could one day carry them away without their leaving behind them any sign of their passage through it".
- Comments by Christians concerning the Arabs in Palestine in the 1800s -
"Then we entered the hill district, and our path lay through the clattering bed of an ancient stream, whose brawling waters have rolled away into the past, along with the fierce and turbulent race who once inhabited these savage hills. There may have been cultivation here two thousand years ago. The mountains, or huge stony mounds environing this rough path, have level ridges all the way up to their summits; on these parallel ledges there is still some verdure and soil: when water flowed here, and the country was thronged with that extraordinary population, which, according to the Sacred Histories, was crowded into the region, these mountain steps may have been gardens and vineyards, such as we see now thriving along the hills of the Rhine. Now the district is quite deserted, and you ride among what seem to be so many petrified waterfalls. We saw no animals moving among the stony brakes; scarcely even a dozen little birds in the whole course of the ride".
- William Thackeray in "From Jaffa To Jerusalem", 1844 -
"The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is of a body of population".
- James Finn, British Consul in 1857 -
"The area was underpopulated and remained economically stagnant until the arrival of the first Zionist pioneers in the 1880's, who came to rebuild the Jewish land. The country had remained "The Holy Land" in the religious and historic consciousness of mankind, which associated it with the Bible and the history of the Jewish people. Jewish development of the country also attracted large numbers of other immigrants - both Jewish and Arab. The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts... Houses were all of mud. No windows were anywhere to be seen... The plows used were of wood... The yields were very poor... The sanitary conditions in the village [Yabna] were horrible... Schools did not exist... The rate of infant mortality was very high... The western part, toward the sea, was almost a desert... The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many ruins of villages were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria, many villages were deserted by their inhabitants".
- The report of the British Royal Commission, 1913 -