Here are four simple questions that demand answers in the ongoing discussion about Palestinian Arab rights, wants and needs:
There’s lots of criticism of Israel for being an ethnically-based nation state. But the proposed ‘Palestine’ is defined as an Arab state, and if you ask Hamas, a Muslim Arab state. Why isn’t this also a problem for the critics of Israel?
Over and over again, it’s made clear that every last Jewish settlement must be evacuated from land that will become part of ‘Palestine’. Palestinian Arabs also vehemently reject any population exchange proposal, insisting that they will never give up their right to live anywhere between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. In fact, such proposals are not taken seriously by most Israelis, who believe that they would violate the rights of Israeli Arabs. So isn’t the Palestinian demand for a Jew-free state a racist or antisemitic one?
Arab supporters claim that Israel ethnically cleansed its territory of Arabs in 1948. In reality, almost of the Arabs that left did so voluntarily, as a result of the war which can reasonably be blamed on the Nazi Mufti, al-Husseini, and the territorial ambitions of Egypt and especially Jordan (see Efraim Karsh, Palestine Betrayed). Some Arabs, particularly those in the villages along the Tel-Aviv – Jerusalem road, were forcibly removed from their homes. But every last Jew that lived in the area conquered by Jordan, including East Jerusalem, was expelled at gunpoint. Here’s a contemporary photo:
Palestinians and their supporters continually complain about ‘settlers’ in ‘Arab East Jerusalem’. But given the above, we have to ask: what makes East Jerusalem ‘Arab’?
Palestinian Arabs claim that they are a ‘people’ with a long history who were dispossessed from their land by the Zionists and now are fighting to get their rights back. But there was never a Palestinian state and wasn’t even a geographical entity corresponding to ‘Palestine’ until the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. True Palestinian nationalism — as opposed to more general Arab nationalism — didn’t develop at all until the first part of the 20th century by the earliest estimates (Segev), and didn’t become a force among the Arabs living in the region until 1967. So isn’t it a reaction to the Jewish state?
These and similar questions make Palestinian advocates furious, since by (their) definition Zionists are evil colonialist, racist oppressors and the Arabs are morally superior oppressed third-world victims. We are not allowed to make comparisons like this. But if one believes in human rights, self-determination, etc., then they should be answered.