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A Century of Palestinian Rejectionism and Jew Hatred (Encounter Broadsides) Paperback – September 13, 2011
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
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of Israel kicks off with Mahmoud Abbas's tale published in the New York Times;'The Long Overdue Palestinian State' shows that The NY Times hasn't progressed morally since Walter Duranty won a Pulitzer Prize for writing stories sympathetic to Stalin,while Stalin was deliberately starving millions of people to death in the Ukraine in the thirties.After kicking off with Abbas's delusions(the schmuck says elsewhere that the new Palestine will be Judenrein),Stern moves through the various orchestrations of British self interest and Jew hatred,corrupt and otherwise war criminal Jew hater's such as the Mufti of Jerusalem and his association with his buddy Hitler and obviously Abbas's perpetuation of the Nakba myth that Jews victimized Arabs-and not in reality,the other way around.In 'a blast from the past',Stern brings in IF Stone for the finale;Stone was probably the original Noam Chomsky;a "self-hating Jew",probably a KGB agent,whom non-Jewish novelist James Michener labelled anti-Jewish;nevertheless,for a brief period,Stone-in the Howard Cosell tradition-'told it like it was'-and while writing factually about the conflict during the '48 War for Independence era,didn't write-or otherwise blame Israel for Arab refugees.And Stern concludes,that Abbas shouldn't be taken seriously until he tells the now approximaely four million refugees,Israel isn't morally obligated to take them back(they'd just be seriously meshugena),that peace negotiations will be about the '67 war,Haj Amin Al- Husseini(the Mufti of Jerusalem) was a war criminal,and the Palestinians are their own worst enemy.
Stern's pamphlet has two aims. First, he wishes to establish that a New York times op-ed by the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, is based upon "blatant lies". Furthermore, he argues that the story of the Israeli-Arab conflict is a century of "Palestinian Rejectionism".
So what are the lies? Stern's sole critique is of Abbas's description of his family's flight from Safed in 1948. Safed, now a city in Northern Israel, had about ten Arabs for each Jewish resident in 1948, and yet was included in the Jewish zone of the 1947 UN partition plan. Following the partition decision, Safed's and neighboring Arabs attacked the Jewish quarter and shelled it. Israeli forces counter attacked and took over the city in May 1948. Most of Safed's Arab population fled Safed, fearing Jewish retribution for previous massacres against the Jews. This was not an unreasonable fear: the massacre of Arab civilians in Deir Yassin took place only a month earlier.
Abbas's op-ed describes these events thus: "Sixty-three years ago, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy was forced to leave his home in the Galilean city of Safed and flee with his family to Syria " Is this a fair and balanced description of the events? Not particularly. But surely, it is not an unusually dishonest statement for a politician.
In trying yo make his case for Palestinian rejectionism, Stern revives a version of the fiction that Zionism was the process of giving "A Land without a people to a people without a land". It is true that after the First World War, Palestine was far less populated than it is now; Only about 700 thousand people, and only a tenth of them Jews. But this does not mean that there was "plenty of room"; Many US states are considerably less densely populated than that, yet surely citizens would object vehemently if a foreign ethnic group would come to settle in, say Utah, even though the population density of mandatory Palestine was roughly the same as that of the present day Beehive State.
It is also true that Palestinian nationalism is a creature of the 20th century, and it arose to a great extent in response to the Zionist immigration. But Nationalism in general was a 19th century European phenomena that spread to the rest of the world in the 20th century. European Jews have adopted their own Nationalism only a few short years before the Palestinians had; The first Zionist Congress took place only in 1897.
The Palestinians naturally did not appreciate the waves of immigrants coming to the land; Consider the general opposition to foreign immigrants in all countries, and add to that the fact that the Zionists immigrants actively planned to take over the territory. The Palestinian reaction was sometimes violent; Palestinians massacres of Jews, especially in 1929, were notorious.
Predictably, Sol Stern focuses on the preeminent pre-1948 Arab leader, Mufti Al Huseini. Al-Husseini was initially a British client, but soon started to disassociate himself from His Majesty's Government on account of its continued support for Jewish immigration. Political survival among the Arabs probably would have pushed any Palestinian leader into a collision course with the British authorities. When that inevitably happened, Al Husseini cast his lot with his enemy's enemy - Hitler's Germany. He made rabidly anti-Semitic remarks, was clearly enamored with Fascism and Nazism, and some Nazi influenced propaganda is apparent in Islamist groups to this day.
Husseini's antisemitism and pro fascist ideologies are despicable, but they were not unique. In the 1930s and early 40s, fascism had quite an appeal, and not just in Germany and Italy. Sol Stern does not mention the Lehi (known by the British as the "Stern Gang"), a proto-fascist Jewish terrorist organization that wanted to negotiate with Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany (one of Lehi's members, Yitzhak Shamir would later become Israel's seventh Prime Minister). Nor does he mention the "Transfer agreement", a collaboration between the Jewish institutions and the Nazis which encouraged Jewish immigration to Israel.
By the middle of the 1930s at the latest, there was already a critical mass of Jews in Palestine: Palestine's Jews were better organized, better led, more educated and better armed than their Arab neighbors. With the benefit of hindsight, the Palestinians would have been better off had they accepted one of the partition plans offered, in the 1930s or 1940s. Yet recognizing a harsh reality is not easy, and the Palestinian political class, new and inexperienced, was not that foresighted. But can they reasonably be blamed for that? They naturally considered the Jewish immigrants foreign invaders, and wanted to send them back to wherever they came from.
But a "Century of rejectionism" is not a couple of rejected offers between 1939-1947. Stern's account skips ahead to the year 2000, by passing the bloody history in between . In 2000, Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat rejected a peace proposal offered by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and endorsed by US President Bill Clinton. The exact details of the 2000 summit are still in dispute, but there is little doubt that Arafat came to meeting against his will, having lost all confidence in Barak and in political circumstances which made making a deal very difficult. Arafat might have transcended all the obstacles and agreed to a deal nonetheless. But he did not have it in him. There's plenty of blame to go around in the failure of the Camp David negotiations.
In 2005 Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided, as Stern accurately states, that it was against Israel's interests to maintain physical presence in the Gaza strip. Stern is seriously bewildered that Palestinians did not appreciate this - his phrase - "Generosity". Of course not - Israel has left Gaza not as part of a negotiated settlement, but as a response to a violent terrorist campaign. The natural conclusion among Palestine's militants was that Israel couldn't be reasoned with, it had to be forced (Not that they were inclined to reason with Israel to begin with).
Further negotiations ensued between the Administration of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and Palestinian President Abbas. Unlike the Camp David negotiations, which are heavily contested but on which a great deal of material is available, the Olmert-Abbas negotiations are shrouded in mystery. The exact nature of the proposals and counter proposals is unclear. It is possible that negotiations failed because Palestinians refused to give up on the right of return. But this is not a well documented claim. What is certain is that Olmert's administration, although it governed from 2006 to 2009, was very weak after the disastrous performance of Israel in the Second Lebanon War of the summer of 2006. Perhaps Abbas felt that it was impossible to deal with a lame duck Prime Minister. Or perhaps the offer made by Olmert was not as generous as it is now portrayed. Maybe George W. Bush's administration was unable to support both sides in the necessary concessions. The question is still very much open.
Stern does not discuss the negotiations, or rather lack thereof, during the Nethaniahu years, from 2009 to the present. But only days ago, the former head of Israel's internal security agency (the equivalent of the British MI5) Yuval Diskin, publicly stated what everyone knows - that the current Israeli leadership is uninterested in negotiations with the Palestinians, and that their reluctance is the chief cause of the lack of progress right now.
There is a great deal of rejectionism and hatered on both sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict. I don't know how it can be solved, but surely seeing it in its full complexity, and not in Black and White, is a necessary step.