Photo: EPA
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. An utterly delusional ideology
Photo: EPA
Ben-Dror Yemini

Stop ‘understanding’ the Palestinians

Op-ed: Looking at a conflict requires us to understand the different sides, to understand the pain; but when it comes to the Palestinians, the more we understand them—the more we bolster their rejectionism and perpetuate their delusions.

The speech was loud and clear. It wasn’t just the “may your house be demolished” curse that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas fired at the leader of the strongest world power. It was the utterly delusional ideology, with false claims that only make the Palestinians sink deeper into a path of delusions and collapse.



The reactions were predictable: We have to understand him. He’s under a lot of pressure. He has no political horizon. The Palestinians are desperate. He didn’t really mean it.


We must admit that Abbas is simply a victim of the Palestinian propaganda machine’s amazing success. For decades, this machine is being promoted by a well-oiled system of propagandists who keep explaining that we must understand the Palestinians.


Abbas. A victim of Palestinian propaganda’s amazing success (Photo: AFP)
Abbas. A victim of Palestinian propaganda’s amazing success (Photo: AFP)


When rockets were fired from Gaza, Robert Fisk, who is considered one of Britain’s leading experts on the Middle East, rushed to explain that “the Palestinians in Gaza can say in many cases, 'Well, my grandson is firing a rocket at my town because before 1948 these areas would have been Palestinian property.’”


Prof. Oren Yiftachel of Ben-Gurion University explained that the rocket fire must be seen “as an attempt to remind the world, Israel, and also the Palestinian leadership, that the refugee problem is still alive and kicking.”


They are against terrorism, but they’re providing justifications for terrorism. Germans have been expelled from many countries too. And Poles. And Hungarians. And Ukrainians. And Turks. And Greek. And many other people. Tens of millions. Yet we haven’t heard about rockets being launched, and we definitely haven’t heard justifications for the rocket terror. Because most of Europe would have turned into a show of fire and flames and fireworks. But that’s the rationality that has taken over the progressive elites in the Israeli-Palestinian context. Irrationality, I mean.


And so it goes. They turned down the Partition Plan? Poor people. Why would anyone give up a room in their home just because someone invaded it? That’s a justification I’ve heard about a thousand times.


It’s true that when Zionism began, there was no “Palestinian home.” And it’s true that the Palestine Exploration Fund (PEF), which produced the most accurate maps of the 19th century in the 1970s, discovered that the area had been poorly populated. And it’s true that most of today’s Palestinians arrived as work migrants or refugees from nearby countries in the past few centuries (the Zoabi family, for example, arrived at the invitation of the Ottoman government in 1873). And it’s true that Hamas’ interior minister, Fathi Hamad, admitted that the Palestinians are actually Egyptians and Saudis.


But to hell with the facts, as long as Abbas can quote dozens of experts, journalists and academics who provide incitement and propaganda material for every delusional speech he makes.


When we ‘understand’ the claims about the Nakba, instead of saying that what happened to the Palestinians happened to tens of millions of people—we perpetuate the right of return illusion (Photo: AFP)
When we ‘understand’ the claims about the Nakba, instead of saying that what happened to the Palestinians happened to tens of millions of people—we perpetuate the right of return illusion (Photo: AFP)


Looking at a conflict, any conflict, requires us to understand the different sides. To understand the pain. But what applies to every conflict appears to be completely wrong when it comes to the Palestinians. The more we understand them, the more we bolster their rejectionism.


When we “understand” their claims about the Nakba, instead of telling them that what happened to them happened to tens of millions of people, and happened to Jews, even from Arab countries—we perpetuate the delusion of the right of return.


For years, they have been hearing the same chant from the Fisks and the Yiftachels. And if that’s what the world’s educated and enlightened people have to say, is there any chance that the Palestinians themselves give up the right of return fantasy? Does this “understanding” bring the chance for peace and reconciliation closer, or does it push it away?


When, for the sake of this “understanding,” they say we must understand what Jerusalem means to the Muslims in general and to the Palestinians in particular—although Jerusalem remained marginal and neglected under Muslim rule for centuries—they are helping inflate the lie. And when they spread the lie that the Palestinians are living under an oppression, which is similar to what happened at Auschwitz—it’s blood libel. Because under Israeli rule, the Palestinians have experienced huge growth in every possible area.


And no, terrorism isn’t justified, because the Palestinians have repeatedly received decent proposals for an agreement. They could have gained independence. They are the ones who have said no. And those who keep justifying them are justifying the continuation of violence and terror.


The public opinion in the free world is influential. It can and should have told the Palestinians and Israel: Get off your high horse. No more fantasies. There will be no return of Palestinians to Israel and no return of Jews to every hill in Judea and Samaria. But the understanding towards the Palestinians must stop—not to prevent an agreement, but on the contrary, to give it a chance.


פרסום ראשון: 01.17.18, 14:03
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