The Palestinian Identity

Statement by Zuheir Mohsein, Member of the Supreme Council of the PLO:

"There are no differences between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. We are all part of one nation. It is only for political reasons that we carefully underline our Palestinian identity, because it is in the interest of the Arabs to encourage a separate Palestinian identity in contrast to Zionism. Yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity is there only for tactical reasons. The establishment of a Palestinian state is a new expedient to continue the fight against Zionism and for Arab unity

Trouw (Dutch newspaper) March 31, 1977

One always finds in Palestine Arabs who have been in the country only a few weeks or a few months...Since they are themselves strangers in a strange land, they are the loudest to cry: 'Out with the Jews!...Amongst them are to be found representatives of every Arab country: Arabs from Transjordan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Egypt, the Sudan and Iraq.

(Ladislas Farago, Palestine at the Crossroads (New York: Putnam 1937) p17

The Jordanian Foreign Minister said (Adwa'min pp. 4-5):

Jordan is Palestine and Palestine is Jordan, and Jordan hails every Palestinian who seeks to do his duty to his cause and his country

Declaration of the 8th Palestinian National Congress

Jordan is linked to Palestine by a national relationship and a national unity forged by history and culture from earliest times.  The creation of one political entity in East Jordan and another in Palestine would have no basis either in legality or as to the elements universally accepted as fundamental to a political entity.

(R. Hamid (ed.) Muqararat al-majlis al-watani al-filastini 1964 Resolutions of the PNCs 1964-1974, Beirut, PLO Research Centre, 1975, p178 Declaration of the 8th Palestinian National Congress)

This (Jerusalem) for them (the Arabs) was not in 'Palestine'.  For the Arabs (And the Turks) the whole of the region lying between the Taurus Mountains and the confines of Egypt, and between the Mediterranean and the edge of the desert, was 'Syria' a term which had been in use since remote antiquity.

(Sir Geoffrey Furlonge, Palestine is My Country, The Story of Mussa Alami (New York, 1969) p. 7

Abdul Malik Dahamshe, an Israeli Arab Knesset member, said
at a solidarity visit in Damascus, Syria [David Makovsky, Jerusalem Post,
January 24, 1995]:

Palestine and Syria are one homeland. The Arab people will win by the
sword; the victory will be won by the Jihad of the Arab world.

Dennis Ross in his Chapter, the Beginnings of Palestinian Nationalism in his book, The Missing Peace, Wrote:

In Jaffa in May 1919, a Christian-Muslim assembly had convened and demanded a cessation of Jewish immigration, a prohibition on Jewish land purchases, and a representative government of Muslims, Christians and Jews - something that would preserve a permanent Arab majority and Jewish minority.  But the assembly was not calling for an independent Palestine; on the contrary, its resolution declared that Palestine was part of Syria and that the government should have autonomy in "Greater Syria under the rule of Prince Faisal."


Statement by Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi to the Pell Commission in 1937

    There is no such country as 'Palestine'; 'Palestine' is a term the Zionists invented!"

Arab MK, Abdul Darawshe said [Jerusalem Institute of Western
Defence, Bulletin 3, August 15, 1997]:

There is no difference between one Palestinian and another. We are all
Palestinians and we are all Syrian Arabs.

Statement by Ahmed Shuqeiri, to the UN Security Council in 1949

It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria

Salah Khalaf (Abu Iyad) number two in the PLO leadership (Al Sachrah, Kuwait, Jan. 6, 1987)

    We will take Palestine and turn it into a part of the greater Arab nation.

The following is a letter submitted to the New York Times in 1975 which the New York Times did not see fit to print (Arthur Kahn and Thomas Murray, The Palestinians: A Political Masquerade, Published by Americans For A Safe Israel)

Dear Sir:

    Your newspaper frequently uses the term "Palestinian" to describe a section of the Middle East population which is Arab, to differentiate it from Israeli Jews.  As the holder of a Palestinian Identity Card and a Certificate of Discharge from a Palestinian Unit of the British army, I find this practice annoying and certainly untrue...

    We Palestinian Jews wore the uniform of the British Army, and on our shoulder epaulettes the single word, "Palestine" in English.  We tried to get permission to wear Hebrew insignia, fly the Jewish flag and be recognized as Palestinian Jews, but-no, Palestinian meant Jew and Arab, and who cared if there were fewer than 3000 Arabs as compared to 36,000 Jews in khaki?  In British army nomenclature, the equivalent of a GI is BOR, meaning British Other Rank.  We were formally known as POR , Palestinian Other Ranks.

    So we fought the war as Palestinians, set up the Jewish Brigade as Palestinians, and I'll be damned if I agree that only Arafat and his assassins are Palestinians.

    As a Palestinian, I was arrested by the British on suspicion of smuggling immigrants into the country.  As a Palestinian, I had the honor of commanding the 329th Palestinian Companyof the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (all Jews).  There were no equivalent Arab units.   Once a British general said to me, "Migawd| I have so many things to dislike you for, for being a Jew, American born, a Palestinian-and you don't even know how to handle a knife and fork!

    So cut it out, please. Call them what you will, but not Palestinians.

                                                                                    Yours truly,
                                                                                    Joe Criden

Palestine has never an autonomous entity.   There is no language known as Palestinian.  There is no distinct Palestinian culture.  There has never been a land known as Palestine governed by Palestinians.   Palestinians are Arabs, indistinguishable from Jordanians (another recent invention), Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqis, etc.

Keep in  mind that the Arabs control 99.9 percent of the Middle East lands.  Israel represents one-tenth of one percent of the landmass.  But that's too much for the Arabs.  They want it all.  And that is ultimately what the fighting in Israel is about today...No matter how many land concessions the Israelis make, it will never be enough.

From Myths of the Middle East, Joseph Farah, Arab-American editor and journalist, WorldNetDaily, 11 October 2000

by Boris Shusteff
P.O. Box 35661
Houston, Texas 77235-5661

    The Arab-Israeli conflict is so replete with lies, fictions, myths and half-truths that one might write a book just enumerating them. The hard facts that used to be common knowledge at the beginning of the twentieth century are today completely distorted and obfuscated. One of these myths pertains to the "struggle" of the "Palestinian people" for self-determination. The common misconception in this case is that Israel "owes" the Palestinian Arabs a state. Therefore the terrorist activity of the Arabs is to a certain extent excusable, since they are "fighting for their rights." However, nothing can be more remote from the truth. In reality, any land to which the Palestinian Arabs can claim any rights is already held by other Arabs. And the "struggle for self-determination against Israel" is simply a way for the Arabs to murder and maim more Jews.

    The point of this discussion is not to prove or to disprove the existence of the so-called "Palestinian people." For our purposes it is sufficient to know that Palestinian identity did not exist before World War I, as convincingly demonstrated Professor of history Rashid Khalidi, himself a Palestinian Arab. He admits that "Palestinian identity" was the last garb that the Arabs of Palestine tried on when all other possibilities where exhausted. It was shared "by a relatively restricted stratum, and among them as well as among the rural and illiterate majority of the population, the new sense of Palestinian identity competed and overlapped with Ottomanism and Arabism, as well as older religious, local and family loyalties" (1).

    The term "Palestinian entity" was introduced by the Arabs for the first time at the Arab League meetings in 1959. However, it was not recognized by the world and was not even mentioned in UN Resolution 242 after the Six-Day War. Moreover, the confusions associated with it became obvious during the voting for UN General Assembly resolution of November 5, 1970. "Among the aspects of this resolution, which split the United Nations and indeed the Arab world itself and marshaled the support of only 57 out of 127 UN members, was the reference to 'the Palestinians' as 'an indispensable element' of a Middle East Settlement" (2).

    All this points to the fact that at the time of the distribution of formerly-Turkish territories, which encompassed the whole area of the Near and Middle East there was no distinctive "Palestinian people." Julius Stone wrote in 1970 a must-read paper entitled "Self-determination and the Palestinian Arabs." His arguments are so clear and convincing that it is most effective simply to quote him in abundance. He explains that "it twists and parodies both history and justice to present the Palestine issue as a struggle between the Jews of the world on the one hand, and the Arabs of Palestine on the other, in which the Jews seized the major share" (2).

    Stone continues,

The struggle was rather between the Arabs of the Middle East region (including some hundred thousand living in Palestine) and the Jews of the world, in which the Arabs took the lion's share from which in due course a dozen and more Arab states emerged. Neither at the time of distribution, nor for decades later, moreover, was there any identifiable Palestinian Arab people, much less any center of Arab cultural or political life in Palestine" (2).

    Reverend James Parkes reminded in his book "Whose Land?" that during the time of the Islamic conquest Palestine was never exclusively Arab or Muslim. Its Christian and especially Jewish elements of population were always present. The Jews never completely left it, even at the height of persecution and destruction. Parkes writes that,

Jewish settlement had always been accepted by Moslem rulers until the end of the nineteenth century; and the Jewish population of the country had always been as large as its political and economic conditions made possible.

    Therefore, at the end of the World War I, "when conditions made it possible," Jewish nationalism, or Zionism, proudly raised its head. This occurred at the time when a distinct "Palestinian people" did not exist. As Stone puts it,

It is clear that Jewish nationalism and Arab nationalism, each embracing its own cluster of scattered populations, each sharing specific cultural, religious, traditional, and historical experiences deeply rooted in the Middle East region, came simultaneously as claimants, the former to the part, the latter to the whole, of the territories liberated by World War I from the Turkish sway (2).

    Stone clarifies further that "in historical fact the Arab claimants after World War I embraced Arabs of the WHOLE ARERA of whom… the Arabs in Palestine were merely a peripheral and in no way a 'distinctive' segment, whose interests as such were taken into account" (2). This statement completely coincides with Khalidi's comment that "Arab nationalism appeared to be the obvious successor to Ottomanism as the hegemonic ideology throughout the former Arab provinces of the now-defunct Ottoman Empire" (1).

    Even if we assume, as Stone writes, that a specific "Palestinian" consciousness associated with the idea of establishing a "Palestinian entity" has recently arisen, "this factor could not now be a decisive one for judging the rights and wrongs of events which took place half a century or even a generation before, in 1917 or 1922, or 1948" (2). Actually the Arab falsifiers of history have been trying to eliminate the element of chronology from it. If we compare the situation to a sport, it is as if in the middle of the game one team puts an extra player on the field. However, whereas in hockey, for example, this leads to a penalty for the offending team and a power play for the opposing team, in our case the Arabs instead of receiving punishment demand a reward for the "extra player." Stone writes,

A nationalism hypothetically just emergent cannot be treated as if it had emerged decades before, for the purpose of facilely overriding entitlements then fixed and acted upon. To ignore chronology in such a way would be an arbitrary reconstruction of events and rights of peoples… (2).

    Stone emphasizes several times that the Arabs and the Jews came forward with their claims to the land simultaneously. Therefore it is absolutely wrong to say that the Jews "invaded" a previously Arab estate.

    During the time of land distribution, on January 3, 1919, Feisal, Emir of Mecca, one of the most prominent and influential Arab leaders, signed an agreement with Dr. Chaim Weizmann, the leader of the Zionist movement. The agreement specified conditions for the establishment of the Arab and the Jewish states. Although ten years later, when he became King of Iraq, Feisal was "unable to recall" the conditions stipulated in the agreement, the fact relevant to this discussion did not change. In all the articles of the agreement the future Jewish state was called "Palestine." Thus Article 2 of the Agreement stated, "Immediately following the completion of the deliberations of the [San Remo] Peace Conference, the definite boundaries between the Arab State and Palestine shall be determined by a Commission to be agreed upon by parties hereto."

    This fact is extremely important. It proves without the shadow of doubt that at the time of the Peace Conference, when the Jewish and the Arab sides came forward with their claims, the Arab claimants identified the Jewish side with Palestine. Thus confirming again that a separate "Palestinian people" did not exist at the time. The emergence of Palestinian nationalism - a new Arab claimant - many years after the fact of the original land distribution, does not give it any right whatsoever to demand its "share" from Israel. The part of land that the Palestinian Arabs might lay their claim to has been, for more than 80 years, firmly in Arab possession. The Arab share of the land that was distributed at San Remo is a hundred times bigger than the sliver of Jewish land. The lands of Judea, Samaria and Gaza were from the very beginning incorporated into the Jewish share of the land and were never destined to become part of an Arab state. By ignoring this truth the Arabs mix up two issues that must be clearly and thoroughly divided. Only by establishing a firm divide will it be possible to find a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The issue of Palestinian Arab self-determination has nothing to do with the Arab murderous policy towards the Jews. When the Arab terrorists brutally murder the Israeli Jews they commit acts of despicable barbarism, nothing else.

    Arab terror must be viewed completely outside of the context of the struggle of the Palestinian Arabs for self-determination. It then becomes obvious that terror against Israel is unleashed simply for the sake of murdering Jews and destroying a sovereign state. Thus, Israel and the world community are obliged to declare War on terror against Israel just as they have declared it on terror against America. The PLO, Fatah, Tanzim, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and their infrastructure must be completely destroyed. Terror should be unequivocally condemned and ruthlessly rooted out. The Palestinian Arabs, manipulated and deceived by their leaders for several decades, must learn the unfortunate truth: they cannot legitimately lay claim to a single inch of Judea, Samaria or Gaza, nor any of Israel proper, since these territories, according to international law, were already allocated to the Jews in 1920. They have as much right to this land as they do to America, Russia, Spain or Germany. If we are to forget that the Palestinian Arabs already exercised their right to self-determination on the territory of Jordan, we might speak of the need to give the Palestinian Arabs one more chance. However, it should be an internal issue for Arabs, and the Jews and Israel should have nothing to do with it.

1. Rashid Khalidi. Palestinian Identity. Columbia University Press, 1998.
2. Julius Stone. Self-Determination and the Palestinian Arabs. From the book "Israel, the Arabs and the Middle East," Bantam Books, 1972.

2002   February 21, 2002

What is a Palestinian? What's the definition?

Well, here are a few possibilities:

    Before 1948 and the creation of the new state of Israel, the term generally referred to Jews, ironically enough. The Jerusalem Post was called the Palestine Post. Since most of the people living in the region then, as now, were Jews, it was only natural to think of Palestinians as Jews.

    As I've written before, there never has been an autonomous, self-governing Arab state in the history of the world never.

    There is no distinct Palestinian Arab culture or language. Most of the people we call Palestinians today actually have their roots in other Arab countries.

    The United Nations and others tried to address the definition of a Palestinian early in the refugee crisis. There were various efforts. Sometimes, according to Joan Peters' milestone book, "From Time Immemorial," the U.N. categorized as Palestinian anyone who had been in the region for two years or even less.

    The Arab population of the region continually climbed along with the Jewish population as economic and living conditions improved. Workers came from Egypt and Jordan and even non-Arab countries to capitalize on the opportunities Jewish immigration brought.

    There were some 50 different languages spoken among the "Arab" population in pre-1948 "Palestine." By definition, Arabs speak Arabic. These non-Jewish Palestinians who spoke languages other than Arabic were, in most cases, as new to the area as any recent Jewish immigrant.

    The so-called Palestinian leadership, from Arafat on down, are known for inventing the most creative stories about their families' long histories in Palestine. They tell you where they went to school. They tell you where they lived. They recall fond memories of the scents and flavors of Old Jerusalem. Yet, when you dig beneath the surface, you find most of the stories are fanciful myths worthy of the spinners of Arabian Knights legends.