Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Palestinian Narrative: A Rational Examination, Part 1

The Palestinian File

It has been said that whoever controls history, controls the present; this is undoubtedly true when it comes to the land of Israel and its history. Equally important is to have a compelling narrative of events; since today few care about history, most individuals receive their information from news sources, the majority inadequately knowledgeable about the past. This is notably true when it comes to the Palestinian narrative, which the international media has swallowed whole, without much analysis or questioning. So much for "truth in journalism." In Part 1 of this article, Salomon Benzimra presents the facts as they are known; you decide for yourself after considering and weighing the evidence.

by Salomon Benzimra

To ponder the Arab-Israeli conflict in its present form, it is necessary to understand the Palestinian narrative. This narrative, introduced over forty years ago, is sometimes viewed as the source of the conflict and has received broad support in the Arab world, in European capitals and in international institutions. But does it conform to the historical and legal evidence?

We shall review the genesis of this narrative, its evolution in the 1970s, its inherent contradictions, and its brilliantly choreographed implementation. We shall also briefly describe the steps required to restore factual truths and ensure a lasting peace in the region.

But first, we shall say a few words about political narratives in general. Political narratives share the general characteristics listed above. This process was extensively used during the latest American elections. Many inaccuracies were stated by both presidential candidates but, regardless of the strenuous work of a multitude of fact checkers, the power of narratives was such that the message proved its effectiveness in shifting opinion. Cartoonists, satirists and comedians—Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert among others—were left to fight those narratives with ridicule.

More specifically, the long-running Palestinian narrative was aptly analyzed by Shelby Steele, a distinguished Fellow at the Hoover Institution, during a counter-conference held in New York on the day of the infamous Durban III conference at the UN (September 22, 2011).

The acquiescence from the West explains why the Palestinian narrative has remained largely unchallenged. Besides the guilt-ridden attitude of the West due to its colonial past, Europe, in particular, was harshly affected by the oil shock of 1973-74; subjected to Arab blackmail through the Euro-Arab Dialogue; and fully aware of the latent threat posed by the growing, radicalised Muslim component of their population.

Shelby Steele suggested that the only way to fight such a forged narrative is to create the conditions required to operate a change from within the Palestinian society. Obviously, this is a long-term proposition. There may be a better way, once we understand the genesis of the Palestinian narrative.

In the wake of the Six Day War, the Soviets were dumbfounded by the poor performance of their military equipment in the hands of the Arab armies of Egypt and Syria. To preserve their influence in the region, they brought the Palestinians to the forefront of the Arab war against Israel. The Soviet KGB delegated this task to their Romanian counterpart, under the command of Ion Mihai Pacepa, who later defected to the West and wrote a book about his covert activities.

Bombastic declarations (“throwing the Jews into the sea”) were deleted from the traditional Arab discourse and replaced by a “national liberation” philosophy, centered on Marxist ideology, where imperialism, colonization, oppression, victimization, racism became the prevailing concepts, to be hammered relentlessly into the consciousness of the world at large.

These concepts appear repeatedly in the newly formulated PLO Covenant of 1968, which the KGB helped to draft. Contrary to popular belief, the PLO Covenant has never been amended after the Oslo Accords of 1993, in spite of Yasser Arafat’s written commitment to Yitzhak Rabin. This Covenant remains the foundational document of the PLO and its offspring, the Palestinian Authority.

The Soviets relied upon the automatic Palestinian support from the UN General Assembly, through the overlapping membership of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (which includes the Arab League), the Non Aligned Movement, the Soviet bloc and Eastern Europe, and the African Union.  The UN did not waste any time in implementing the Soviet plan through a series of General Assembly Resolutions, beginning in December 1969.

For the first time, the notion of a hitherto unheard of “Palestinian people” entered the international lexicon, with its “inalienable self-determination” (Res. 2535B) and entitled to pursue its “liberation any means at their disposal” (Res. 2649). The latter phrase tacitly condoned terrorist acts, given that resisting a struggle for liberation is itself a “criminal act”! This was tantamount to legitimizing Palestinian terror and delegitimizing Israeli self-defense. Such a lopsided concept is reflected in the judicial travesty of the advisory opinion issued by the International Court of Justice in July 2004, which denied Israel the right of self-defence, as recognized in Article 51 of the UN Charter.

Strengthened by these UN Resolutions, Arafat formulated his “Phased Plan” and was later welcome at the podium of the UN, which rewarded him with Resolution 3236. This resolution essentially substituted Palestine to Israel, a recognized member of the UN. Another shameful act followed a year later with the infamous Resolution 3379, equating Zionism with racism, and the creation of the CEIRPP which continues to propagate the most glaring anti-Israel falsehoods to this day.

For a more detailed exposé of the pro-Palestinian slant at the UN and its nefarious impact on the Middle East conflict, please read this article posted in The American Thinker. After the resounding Arab defeats of 1948 (Israel’s War of Independence), 1967 (Six Day War) and 1973 (Yom Kippur War), the Arab countries lost all hope of destroying Israel. They resorted to war by other means and they focused on the “Palestinian cause,” headed by Yasser Arafat.

The “Phased Plan” formulated by Arafat in 1974 has been followed closely ever since. The first objective was to acquire any territory from which attacks against Israel could be launched. The Oslo Accords provided this opportunity with Jericho and Gaza first transferred to Palestinian control, then Hebron and, eventually, about 45% of Judea and Samaria—the so-called “West Bank.”

The first “intifada” of 1988 was followed by a bloody succession of suicide bombings and terrorist attacks in the 1990s. The second “intifada” erupted in 2000. It was premeditated and launched in the wake of the Camp David peace proposals which were squarely rejected by Arafat.

The third phase of the plan is ongoing, as attested by several looming threats, chief among them the ominous nuclear capabilities of Iran; the missile arsenal of Hezbollah; the fanatical jihadists of Hamas; the instability of the neighbouring Arab countries; and the relentless anti-Israel campaigns of Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) coupled with the incessant delegitimation of Israel in campuses.

Following Arafat’s exploits in hijacking airplanes, assassinating the U.S. Ambassador in Khartoum, and murdering Israeli athletes in Munich and school children in Ma’alot, the leader of the PLO was welcomed at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in November 1974. Under the kindly gaze of Secretary General Kurt Waldheim, and wearing a pistol holder on his belt, Arafat delighted the naive, impressed the politically obtuse and bamboozled those who should have known better.

His long, ranting speech—7,800 words—is peppered with the Marxist keywords he absorbed from the KGB. Referring to Zionism, terms such as colonialism, imperialism and racism appear repeatedly—32, 19 and 17 times, respectively. Normally, such a vitriolic tirade spewed by a leader of a terrorist organization against a UN-member (Israel) would have thrown him out of the hall of the General Assembly. Instead, Arafat got a standing ovation and, a week later, the UN rewarded him handsomely.

The reward came in the form of UNGA Resolution 3236, which encapsulated the whole web of fabrications concocted since 1969 in previous resolutions. Some observers believe that if the General Assembly had the power to eradicate Israel from the UN, it would have done so immediately after Resolution 3236 was passed. Resolution 3236 figures prominently in the letter addressed by Mahmoud Abbas to UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon on September 23, 2011, as supporting evidence for Palestinian statehood.

The supreme irony of the Palestinian narrative lies in the Arab denial of the very existence of a “Palestinian people” and of a separate Arab national entity called “Palestine.” Since the 1950s—and even during the British Mandate period— prominent Arab leaders have overtly admitted the fictitious national character of the “Palestinians,” which they use only as a weapon against the existence of Israel.

The examples listed above are just a few among prominent Arab leaders. More recently, in 2009, Azmi Bishara, a former Israeli MK, ridiculed the notion of a “Palestinian people” in Hebrew and in front of an Israeli television panel. What is most astounding is that the supporters of the “Palestinian cause” in Europe, in the media and in academia choose to ignore these denials.

To spread the Palestinian narrative as broadly as possible, and especially among the uninformed masses who prefer simple sound bites to elaborate Marxist constructs, the message focused on a single word: occupation.

“Occupation” is a term that everyone can understand. It has no redeeming value; only pejorative connotations. All occupying powers left their colonized territories in the second half of the past century. Therefore, presenting Israel as the last remaining occupying power casts a permanent blemish on the Jewish state. “Occupation” is often expanded into the “illegal occupation of Palestinian territories,” a four-word expression which contains three falsehoods, readily apparent when the following questions cannot produce a cogent answer: a) Occupied from whom? b) When did the territories become ‘Palestinian’? c) What makes this so-called occupation ‘illegal’?

Part 2 will post tomorrow.

Salomon Benzimra is a chemical engineer based in Toronto, where his professional work includes process design of water-pumping stations, energy systems and project economic analysis. He is interested in Middle East politics, and, accordingly, he co-founded Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights (CILR), which has been in existence since 2009. In November 2011, CILR presented the legal rights of Israel in a concise, comprehensive handbook, available in Amazon-Kindle edition.
Copyright ©2013. Salomon Benzimra. All Rights Reserved.