Saturday, December 10, 2011

Reuters marks Palestinian nationalism beginning in 1834; Jewish nationalism in 1947

Reuters quotes Newt Gingrich, as interviewed by The Jewish Channel:
"I think that we've had an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs, and who were historically part of the Arab community. And they had a chance to go many places, and for a variety of political reasons we have sustained this war against Israel now since the 1940s, and it's tragic"
Gingrich's statement is of course, entirely accurate: the Palestinians are indeed part of the community of 350 million Arabs of the Middle East, identical to that population in terms of ethnic origin, religion, language, and culture.  There aren't any genetic or ethnographic distinctions to be drawn between the Arabs of Ramallah and the Arabs of Damascus for example.  And this is readily admitted by the Palestinians themselves.

For Reuters correspondents however, stating the obvious when it comes to their pet Palestinians is a bit like chumming red meat in shark-infested waters and Steve Holland predictably takes the bait:
(Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich thrust himself into controversy on Friday by declaring that the Palestinians are an "invented" people who want to destroy Israel. [...]
Most historians mark the start of Palestinian Arab nationalist sentiment in 1834, when Arab residents of the Palestinian region revolted against Ottoman rule.
Israel, founded amid the 1948 Arab-Israel war, took shape along the lines of a 1947 U.N. plan for ethnic partition of the then-British ruled territory of Palestine which Arabs rejected.
Holland offers no citations to support his claim on the origins of Palestinian nationalism and in fact, misrepresents the nature of the Arab revolt in 1834 which was inspired not by nationalist fervor, but by resistance to conscription in the Ottoman-Egyptian military.

What really makes the 1834 revolt significant in terms of motivating a people to seek sovereignty, is that it marked widespread Palestinian Arab pogroms against the Jewish communities in Jerusalem and the Eastern Galilee.  Temporarily absent the protections afforded by Ottoman rule, Jewish property was looted and Jews were beaten to death in the streets.

Holland ignores this inconvenient history along with the realities of more than three thousand years of Jewish sovereignty in the land, the Balfour declaration in 1917 calling for a modern Jewish state in Palestine, and the Palestine Mandate resolved by the League of Nations in 1922 confirming Balfour.  Rather, the Reuters correspondent leaps to the United Nations partition plan in 1947 and juxtaposes this historically recent event with the historically reconstructed Arab revolt in 1834 to suggest that Palestinian nationalism is actually older than Jewish nationalism.  A very neat trick.

Holland then completes his dubious tale with this whopper:
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has long forsworn violence against Israel as a means to secure an independent state, pinning his hopes first on negotiations and more recently on a unilateral bid for statehood via the United Nations.
As we've noted too many times to recount, Abbas has made clear (in Arabic) that his regime's partial suspension of terror against Israeli civilians is merely tactical and temporary and may resume anytime  it once again becomes opportune.

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