The Arab Narrative vs. President Trump

First published in American Greatness.

While liberal governments across Europe and liberal citizens across the United States were reacting angrily to President Trump’s travel ban for immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority had a more urgent concern: António Guterres.

Guterres, the newly installed secretary general of the United Nations, dared to acknowledge that Jerusalem “is holy to three religions today,” and even that “the temple that the Romans destroyed in Jerusalem was a Jewish temple.”

The common thread between these two events? Both are a threat to the efforts by many within the Arab world to invert fact and fiction.

By stating that Jerusalem was the site of the Jews’ Holy Temple, and a holy city to Christians as well, Guterres contradicted the rewriting of history well underway at the United Nations. As the Palestinian Authority’s minister for Jerusalem affairs Adnan Al-Husseini told China’s Xinhua news agency, UNESCO resolutions over the past year have stated that Al-Aqsa mosque is “purely an Islamic heritage.” Thus another Abbas adviser called Guterres’s acknowledgement of this true history “a strike to the credibility of the U.N. as a global organization,” while Al-Husseini termed the secretary general’s remarks “a violation to all human, diplomatic and legal rules” and even demanded that Guterres apologize to the “Palestinian people.”

George Orwell would beam with pride.

Speaking of the “Palestinian people,” why are the Arab states not addressing the Syrian refugee crisis in the same way they dealt with the Palestinian refugee crisis? Why are they not building refugee camps in safe areas, both inside Syria and in neighboring states, so these refugees might return to their homeland? Both Jordan and Lebanon have, after all, hosted Palestinian Arabs in similar camps for nearly 70 years.

There is no consistent logic to the different treatment of the two groups of refugees—or, at least, none that accords with the Arab narrative of a “Palestinian homeland.” This is not to say that there is no logical explanation, merely that the explanation entirely contradicts the things which the Arab states want liberal Americans to believe.

A Tale of Two ‘Refugees’

The reason why Syrian refugees are not awaiting a return to their erstwhile homes is quite simple: Syria is not, and has never been, the Arab homeland. Arabs stem from the Arabian Peninsula—an area of 1.2 million square miles, roughly four times the size of Texas, and twice the size of Alaska. Today, the Arabian Peninsula is home to the countries of Yemen, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, and, of course, Saudi Arabia.

Yet those comprise but a minority of the Arab states; the majority came under Arab control during a period of military conquest following the death of Mohammed. While some countries, such as Iran, Turkey and Somalia, adopted Islam separately from Arab control, they proved but the exception to the rule. Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Libya are referred to collectively as the “Maghreb,” the Arabic word for sunset, the western edge of the Arab caliphate. Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan were similarly acquired through violent military conquest—as was Palestine, until it was taken by the Ottoman Turks in 1516, and then the British in 1917. Contrary to the narrative of the “indigenous Palestinian,” Arabs came to Palestine to subjugate it in the name of Islam, and it has not been under Arab rule, save for a brief period in the 1830s, for more than 500 years.

“Palestine” is also merely the Roman name for Judea, the homeland of the Jews. While ethnically cleansing the natives from this desirable piece of real estate joining Europe, Africa, and the Arabian Peninsula, the Romans renamed the territory in order to divorce the land from its historic owners.

In 1945, Palestine was the target of the Arab boycott. The idea of an Arab Palestinian followed the creation of the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1964; the PLO’s goal, of course, was the destruction of the state of Israel. Zahir Muhsein, a PLO leader, told a Dutch newspaper in 1977 that the notion of a ”Palestinian people” was devised for the sole purpose of separating Judea from the Jews. Abbas himself, in a speech to the Jordanian Football Association, referred to Palestinian and Jordanian Arabs as “one people living in two states.”

So the idea of a “Palestinian refugee” awaiting a return to Palestine is no more real than the idea of a Syrian refugee awaiting a return to Syria. Both groups exist as political pawns, because the dream of a global Islamic caliphate has never died.

Arab Expansion, Jewish Expulsion

The Arab states expelled more than 90 percent of their Jewish inhabitants over the past century. Today we don’t call these persecuted Jews refugees—for the most part, we call them Israelis. It is not as if the Arab states lack the wherewithal to absorb their Arab brethren similarly, and enable them to build new homes and pursue careers in the large and oil-wealthy countries of their homeland. But that would not serve the goal of Muslim expansion.

The claim that a Palestinian state will afford Arabs living in the West Bank “self-determination” has a similarly tenuous tie to reality. Mahmoud Abbas is now in the 13th year of his four-year term, unwilling to call a new democratic election his party is certain to lose. Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, of course, meant the average citizen merely traded one military government for another. But while Israeli control brought vast improvements to infrastructure, the introduction of institutions of higher learning, and access to the best medical care available in that part of the world, the Hamas rulers divert needed resources to the construction of an extensive network of underground tunnels and the purchase of missiles and other weapons, all in order to murder the citizens of the previous, far more beneficent government.

The only Arab in that section of the world consistently able to vote in free and fair elections is a citizen of Israel. It is thus unsurprising that Israeli citizens of Arab-majority cities near the border of the 1949 armistice line overwhelmingly reject proposals that their homes be transferred to Palestinian territory in a proposed “land swap,” in exchange for Jewish-majority cities (called “settlements” in international parlance) on the other side of the line.

Thus President Donald Trump is correct in his dealings with both Israel and the “countries of concern” first identified by the Department of Homeland Security nearly one year ago under Obama. Far from being an “occupation” of the land of others, Jewish life in Judea corrects an historic wrong and reverses centuries of deliberate ethnic cleansing. And those of us living in the United States deserve to know that new immigrants are coming here, as our own ancestors did, seeking a life of liberty and the pursuit of mutual progress—rather than to hasten the expansion of the Muslim caliphate onto new territory.

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7 Responses

  1. Bob Miller says:

    Note the intense effort by Obama holdovers in the State Department with their media accomplices to delude us that the Trump “settlement” policy is the same as Obama’s.   We’ll all see how this plays out on the ground; no need to get caught up in their clever word games.

  2. Weaver says:

    I agree with most of what you said, and the main impediment to peace is undoubtedly Arab anti-Semitism, and the U.N. is blatantly anti Israel.

    However, most of your history and claims against the Arabs (some of which is questionable) is not immediately relevant to the matter at hand.

    The simple facts are:

    1. In 1967, Israel (justly) came to be in charge of land with about 700,000 Palestinians/Jordanians/Arabs living there. Quibbling with the technical meaning of “occupied” doesn’t help us here. What do you do with them? Just kick them out? They were living there – in far greater number than Jews – for hundreds of years.  The solution is not to act just as immoral as the Arabs do.

    (Incidentally, the official legal status of the WB is to be determined, so any expansion there – certainly the outposts – is illegal, just as Palestinian expansion would be.)

    I personally think the most feasible option is for Israel to withdraw to defensible borders and give the rest back to Jordan; it will be then be their problem. Many Israeli military commanders actually consider Israel’s 1967 annexation of the WB a mistake for this reason.

    2. We also have an unfortunate tendency to mindlessly support the settler movement, no matter what they do. Even though (a) the vast majority of gedolim were/are against it (b) their “hashkafa” is a bizarre messianic Zionism (many of them actually seem to be at-risk American teenagers) (c) most of Israel doesn’t support them (d) every U.S. administration since 1967 has been opposed to the settlement movement

    (Interestingly, when we refer to Zionists vis-a-vis their battles with the Torah world, they’re always “evil”, “secular”, and “anti-Torah”, but in the Arab/Israeli conflict, they suddenly turn into big tzaddikim who can do no wrong. A little subtlety of thought would go a long way here.)

    3. Speaking of Trump, he just came out yesterday and said that Israeli settlements are an impediment to peace.

    Again, Arab anti-Semitism notwithstanding, the question for us is: what can we practically do to lessen the conflict?

    • Nachum says:

      Your “facts” are nothing of the sort. Israel did not “annex the West Bank in 1967”; it never has (apart from areas around Jerusalem). So “many military commanders” can have no opinion on it. Probably 100% say it was perfectly correct for Israel to take it back then. Jordan does not want the West Bank and would almost certainly not take it if offered. Expansion in *occupied* territory is illegal; the West Bank is not “occupied” (“to be determined” is the American phrase, but it’s fair enough) and so settlements are not illegal.

      “Vast majority of gedolim” is another tricky phrase. Under your definition, I’d suppose the same “vast majority” would be against Zionism, period. You’d be hard-pressed to find a single “at-risk” American teenager among these folk. Trump specifically said that the settlements are *not* an impediment to peace. I could go on.

      Oh, and Arab anti-Semitism is *not* “notwithstanding.” It’s kind of the root of the whole problem.

    • Yaakov Menken says:

      Unusual as it may be, on this count I’m in total agreement with Nachum. Anti-Semitism is the entire issue. The 1949 armistice line was never a legal boundary, and to deny Jews the right to live in the “territories” is to endorse ethnic cleansing and genocide, as long as the victims are Jews.

      Whatever the gedolim may say about particular circumstances, there are entire charedi “settlements:” Betar Illit, Modi’in Illit, Tel Zion (near Kochav Yaakov, which is mixed), Immanuel, etc.

      In the past 20 years there has been minimal “settlement activity” outside existing settlements. When they were first built after 1967, no one, certainly neither the US nor UK architects of Resolution 242, thought them illegal or inappropriate in the least.

      Israeli leftists elevated Arafat, an unrepentant and genocidal barbarian, into a “hero of peace” worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize. This same moronic attitude dominates the idea that Israel is to blame for people who claim that “resistance is not terrorism” refusing to make peace… with any part of Jewish settlement in artzeinu hakedosha.

      • Nachum says:

        Thank you.

        Let’s be a bit clear here: Modi’in Illit and Betar Illit are full-blown cities. (There are only two other Jewish cities in Yehuda V’Shomron, Maaleh Adummim and Ariel, both of which *have* charedim, of course.) I sometimes wonder- going through them or, even more, Ramot and Gilo, which are the two largest neighborhoods in Jerusalem, if anyone who speaks blithely about “evacuating settlements” has ever actually been to these places and considered the sheer impossibility of moving, literally, hundreds of thousands of people. And while all of these are “close to the line,” so to speak, so long as a single Jew remains *over* the line- as all of these are- Abbas, and certainly whoever follows him, and leftists worldwide, will continue to use it as an excuse of intransigence and even violence. (And, of course, if chas v’shalom they ever *are* moved, you know he’ll find another. Highway 1 runs for a few hundred meters over the line. Want to move that too?) So why bother?

      • lacosta says:

        it does remain true that the O community [and the haredi community as well ] have no answer to weaver’s million dollar question—What do you do with them?       while the gemara is happy to leave a question as a Teiku,  there still needs to be a psak by poskim in those cases.   here too,  while  the community would like a Teiku solution , shev v’al taaseh doesnt seem to have time on its hands. and since the haredi gedolim seem to have allowed their housing crisis to be solved over the Green Line , they have effectively created 100,000 haredi ‘war criminals’  in the eyes of much of the world…

      • Lawrence M. Reisman says:

        Reb Yaakov:

        Be careful where you go with saying “The 1949 armistice line was never a legal boundary.”  That is exactly the argument used to keep foreign embassies in Tel Aviv.  We’re fond of pointing out that only two nations, Great Britain and Pakistan, recognized the legality of Jordan’s occupation of the “West Bank,”  but the same lack of legality applies to the Israeli occupation of WEST Jerusalem.

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