Thursday, November 6, 2014

Were the 'Palestinians' invented?

Were the 'Palestinians' invented?

I think that most of you can probably guess my answer to the question in the title. Yes, the 'Palestinians' were invented. Barry Rubin fact checks the ABC fact check of Newt Gingrich on the point (Hat Tip: Memorandum).
Gingrich said Palestinians are an “invented” people. ABC says: Not true.

I think Gingrich was basically correct, but that point isn’t so significant. There is a strong tendency of contemporary experts to argue that pretty much every nationalist is invented including the French, British, Italian, Polish, and German.

ABC says that the Palestinian Arabs began to have a consciousness in the 1890s. I cannot imagine what evidence would be brought to make that argument. The bare beginnings were around 1920 when actual groups began to form, though even then the “southern Syria” identity was strong. One is safer at putting the date in the late 1920s.

Yet again I don’t see this point as very significant. What’s important is whether a large portion of the people in question believe that they are a people. Moreover, the same “invented” charge has been made against the Jewish people, of course, by Stalin and of course by Arab and Islamist propaganda.

The fact that today, a Palestinian people does exist doesn’t give the Palestinians a right to invent history, of course. ABC News didn’t point out that they regularly claim a history of two thousand years or more. And Golda Meir was pointing to the fact that the dominant politics of the Palestinian movement certainly as late as 1945 was a pan-Arab nationalist one. If the “invention” of a Palestinian (Arab, Muslim) people is relatively recent, though, that does imply that they don’t have a claim to everything between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. And that’s what’s important.
I don't see any 'Palestinian' consciousness before 1967. Moreover, there are two key points that need to be made here: First, the 'Palestinians' didn't invent themselves. They were invented by the Arab countries.
In an interview given by Zuhair Mohsen to the Dutch newspaper Trouw in March 1977, Mr. Mohsen explains the origin of the 'Palestinians':
The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arabunity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct "Palestinian people" to oppose Zionism.
For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims toHaifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva andJerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.
Second, if the 'Palestinians' had a 'national consciousness' from the 1920's, why was there no demand for a 'Palestinian state' from 1948-67?