Several years ago, I received an offer to teach a course funded by a Jewish millionaire at the University of California, Berkley. The man had donated to the faculty, and in return it promised to take in a staff member for a short period of time.There have been transfer supporters in Israel over the years, very few voices which hardly received any support in the Knesset. Ideas of moving a population have always been raised on the backdrop of peace agreements and always in regards to Jews. The Arabs never faced eviction.
The idea was to put a number of pro-Israeli lecturers in the lion's den – a liberal university with strong anti-Israeli organizations. There are quite a few Jews and Israelis on US campuses, but most of them don't want to or can't carry Israeli PR on their shoulders.
This week, Omri Meniv reported on Channel 10 News about a new course at UC Berkley on the "history of colonialism in Palestine" and how to de-colonialize. In other words, how to turn the great Israel into a Palestinian state with no Jews in it, all across the land.
This perception the cleaning of Jews from the Land of Israel has existed since the start of Zionism. The 1929 Palestinian riots took place following Mufti Amin al-Husseini's demand to kill Jews. The Arab revolt was part of an ethnic cleansing attempt. The War of Independence and the Six-Day War were the result of a desire for ethnic cleansing. The charter of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (which was founded in 1964, three years before the "occupation") and the Hamas charter are a clear expression of that aspiration. So were voices heard during the first, second and third intifada.
That's the truth. While Theodore Herzl, Ze'ev Jabotinsky and David Ben-Gurion were contemplating the possibility of living alongside the Arabs on the same piece of land, local Arab leaders (who were given a Palestinian identity by Zionism) were speaking about ethnic cleansing, and sometimes even about genocide.
Netanyahu's 'ethnic cleansing' video
Those who argue that in some of the wars Arabs fled and were expelled from their homes are correct. It was part of survival. Their Nakba is our victory. Without that loss, the State of Israel would not have been established. Without the partial separation between the people, life would have been much more complicated.
Looking at what is happening in Palestinian society today, not much has changed. Ethnic cleansing is still part of the national narrative. It's the only thing that Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in Ramallah have in common, and even that is'nt strong enough to create unity there.
In recent years the term "ethnic cleansing" has been used as an anti-Israel PR tool. Israel is trying to regulate the Bedouins in the Negev? Libels around the world speak about ethnic cleansing. A battle against illegal Palestinian construction in Judea and Samaria? Ethnic cleansing, according to BDS activists. Sometimes it seems that saying Israel is carrying out a genocide (and such claims are being made) is too unfounded, so they use a different term.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's "ethnic cleansing" video took a lot of truth and a little demagogy and put them together. That's the way to convey messages successfully. Netanyahu is a PR expert: Let him be the foreign minister, our ambassador at the United Nations or the information minister, and you'll get accurate videos which will raise an interest. But Netanyahu is the prime minister, and as such he does not say much apart from PR.
Whoever embraced him for this video failed to notice that it conceals the possibility of the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jewish communities, only if the Palestinians agree, and those who attacked him failed to notice the exact same thing.
The video demonstrates why a peace agreement cannot be signed with the Palestinians. The message is: "There is no one to talk to." Netanyahu spoke the truth as the national PR person. The question is; what is he saying as prime minister? What's next? Will we continue treating every community in Gush Etzion as depending on High Court decisions? Will we continue limiting our world view to videos?