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‘An Arab is an Arab’

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“An Arab is an Arab,” said my close acquaintance, when we were discussing the renovation of my brother’s house in the kibbutz, where the contractor was a Palestinian.

The sentence might seem neutral at first. And yet it holds a myriad of insinuations, prejudice and ideological supremacy which deserves to be analysed in historical perspective.

The term “Arab” was used already by the British in their Mandate period of 1923-48, where they had two “ethnic” definitions, one referring to the indigenous population of Palestine, termed “Arabs”, and another for the overwhelmingly newcomer population, termed “Jews”. Already here, if one cares to scrutinize, we approach some revealing truths:

Jews had existed in Palestine for many centuries, as a small minority. There had been peaceful coexistence in Palestine between Muslims, Christians, Jews and others during and before the four-century long Ottoman rule. “Jew” was not juxtaposed with “Arab”. In fact, there have been, and still are, many Arab Jews. But few of them define themselves in that way nowadays (prominent examples are the late author Naeim Giladi and author Sami Michael), because the State of Israel, following the British model, had “monopolised” the term “Jew” as an ethnic term, under the false premise that it IS an ethnicity, and thus could not be merged with another assumed ethnicity – “Arab”. Defining oneself as “Arab” whilst one was a Jew, would thus associate a person with the “others” – something which many Jews were wary of doing.

Here we already see the British acceptance of a Zionist idea – that Jews are an ethnic homogeneous “nation”. The British accepted the idea that Jews were not merely a religiously defined people, but an ethnically defined people. As opposed to this, they regarded the local Palestinian population under one ethnic-linguistic term: Arabs – despite Palestinian religious diversity, dialect and traditions, which differ from other Arabs.

The British perception is based upon the notion that Jews, as they mostly perceived them (and as the Zionists mostly perceived themselves to begin with), were Europeans, more like themselves than the “Arabs.”

Thus the separation into two classifications, “Jew” and “Arab,” also reveals that the case of Palestine and Israel is really a case of European colonialism in its outset, rather than a dispute amongst two ethnic groups which appeared at roughly the same time. The Balfour Declaration, which Zionists love to refer to as part of an ostensible internationally approved legitimacy for a “national home” in Palestine, was written in 1917, when Britain had no power over Palestine. Not only did it thus not have a mandate or authority to promise such a thing – its doing so shows beyond doubt its bias towards the Jews in the future Mandate of Palestine, from the outset.

The term “Arab” was devoid of national cohesion in the locality of Palestine, thus basically suggesting that the whole region was one big mishmash of “Arabs”. Whilst one could supposedly suggest that “Jews” didn’t imply locality either, the fact of the matter is that in the paradigm of Palestine, “Jews” was a term used to designate the overwhelmingly European newcomers in that locality – the Zionist settlers.

Israel was happy to take up the terms from the British. After all, they were made with the exact same prejudicial view that the Zionists had held. When declaring the State of Israel, Israel did not define a new nationality, “Israeli”. In fact, no such nationality exists until this very day. Whilst the international community is fooled to believe there is such a nationality (in Israeli passports, the standard nationality is marked as “Israeli”), inside Israel it does not exist. In Israeli ID cards, “Nation” is taken as an ethnic heritage matter. Thus there are some 130 “nationalities” that one may be registered under, amongst them “Jewish” and “Arab”. Only citizenship is defined as ‘Israeli’, the nationality is regarded as a separate issue. Those few Israelis who have sought to have their nationality registered as “Israeli” in their ID cards have received the standard answer from the Ministry of the Interior: “it has been decided not to recognise an Israeli nationality”.

The purpose of such a system is obvious as an extension of the idea of “the Jewish State.” For Israel to be the state of all Jews worldwide, it must reserve their supposedly “ethnic” privilege under a “nationality” which is separate to the citizenship definition. Not doing so would imply that Israel is the state of its citizens. But it is not. It is self declared as the state of the Jews – the Jewish State.

So the term Arab was the parallel term in this binary perception– it supplied Jewish Israelis with the terminology by which to refer to the “others”. The “others”, the indigenous population, would not be called “Palestinians”, for that would suggest a national cohesion and relationship with the locality which Israel coveted. Calling them “Arabs” would conveniently rob them of this relationship and make it morally easier to dispossess them: Zionist apologia often repeat the claim that “they (the Palestinians) have 22 other ‘Arab’ countries to go to, whilst we (the Jews) have only one”…

At first, the Palestinians were not very robust in their accentuation of their Palestinian nationality. After all, the Spring of Nations in the mid 19th century was a mostly European appearance, and the accentuation of separate national definition was not as much of a passion in the Middle East as it was for Europeans. Despite existing Palestinian national awareness before Zionism and milestone events defining national coherence such as the Palestinian revolt of 1834, in 1948, the Palestinians had mostly found themselves in a state of shock, trying to recover from the violent dispossession that had befallen them, which was very much affecting them on the personal basis. It would take nearly two decades before Palestinian national awareness and leadership (albeit mostly as an exiled nation) would gain thrust, notably in the establishment of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation in 1964.

In the meanwhile, Israel was happy for this dispersion. It was Israel’s goal to disperse the Palestinians in favor of Jewish-Zionist cohesion and consolidation in historical Palestine.

In 1969, Former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir famously said in an interview published in the Sunday Times and Washington Post:

“There were no such things as Palestinians. When was there an independent Palestinian people with a Palestinian state?…It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist.”

If one wanted to be apologetic, one could attempt to see Meir’s comments as a mere reference to national definition, as I have heard even liberal Israelis seek to do. But as mentioned, the view of the nationality and local connection as “non-existent” played a part in the Israeli-Zionist ideology of dispossession.

Israeli Palestinians, that is those who were referred to as “Israeli Arabs” after the declaration of the state, were considered to be more the latter, “Arabs”, than the former, “Israelis”. Between 1948 and 1966 they were subject to a military regime. Those were Israeli citizens, yet for all practical purposes, they were considered a hostile, alien population.

These people were not regarded by Israel as “Palestinians”. To do so would be to recognize the paradigm of colonisation. And for the most part, Israeli Palestinians also regarded themselves as Arabs. The Israeli ‘divide and rule’ strategy worked at first. But with the process of strengthening national awareness, and a growing realisation of the historical paradigm of dispossession and oppression, Israeli Palestinians began increasingly to define themselves as Palestinians, in recognition of their relationship to the rest of the Palestinian people, in the realisation that they were merely the calculated minority that was allowed to remain.

The number of Palestinian Israelis defining themselves as Palestinians has thus grown in the years. According to recent polls by Prof. Sammy Smooha of Haifa University cited in Haaretz in 2014, 22% of “Israeli Arabs” call themselves Arab-Palestinians with no Israeli association at all. Another 45% call themselves Palestinian-Israelis. Only 32% define themselves as what the Jewish majority likes to call them – Israeli Arabs. In other words, two out of three Palestinians who are Israeli citizens consider themselves Palestinians.

This of course plays into the Israeli accusations, repeated often and mainly in times of clashes, that the “Arab population is a fifth column”.

Israel has been applying the term “Palestinians” considerably in media and discourse in the wake of the Oslo accords of 1993 and 1995. This was also a convenience for Israel in that the Palestinian “state”, which was regarded as “less than a state” by all Israeli leadership, including Rabin just before his assassination in 1995 , provided the possibility of limiting the terminology of “Palestine” and “Palestinians” to a set of Bantustans scattered across some 40 percent of the West Bank which remains under “Palestinian authority”. This definition would also provide Israel with terms by which to divide the Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories from the Israeli Palestinians – a separation which, as mentioned, many Palestinian Israelis refuse to accept.

Whilst Israel continues to expand its settlements and further dissect the West Bank, whilst strangling Gaza with a de facto siege and blockade for the last decade after Israel’s ostensible “disengagement” in 2005, the question becomes, when “There is no more Palestine. Finished…” (to cite Moshe Dayan’s quote to Time Magazine in 1973) will come to be realised, not only in ideology and definition, but in reality.

Palestinians obviously seek to prevent this catastrophe from happening. It would be a final manifestation of the Nakba, the “catastrophe” of 1948.

Meanwhile, for most Israeli Jews, the gradual dispossession of historical Palestine and Palestinians through various means of violence is an apparently “acceptable evil” – or even right. It is even possible to shut one’s eyes and pretend to be a liberal, whilst the Israeli military machine continues its work. For it does not need overt support, it works on its own.

Whilst Israel and Israelis thus regard some of the Palestinians as “Palestinians”, mostly for purposes of political correctness, the term “Palestinian” generally evokes an unease in colloquial talk. Here is another personal experience:

A few years ago, I was at a dinner with musicians after performing a concert which I had conducted. Three of us had Israeli attachment (citizens or expatriates). One of us, I knew, was teaching some Palestinian students. When I asked him about it at the table, he said “P-a-l-e-s-t-i-n-i-a-n-s” with a nasal voice and a twist of the face, which was full of ridicule and disdain. We were supposed to laugh. Another person did – I didn’t. I cut it short and left.

That approach, and the first mentioned “an Arab is an Arab” are the more honest expressions of attitude that Israelis will often express amongst themselves, doing the “dirty laundry” at home. Naturally, towards the “international community” they will often make effort to appear more neutral, more technical.

In the end, for most Israeli Jews, an Arab is not a Palestinian. An Arab is an Arab.

Jonathan Ofir

Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.

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38 Responses

  1. Stephen Shenfield on January 31, 2016, 12:43 pm

    For most of the pre-state history of the Zionist movement all Zionists were Ashkenazim (European Jews). Like most Ashkenazim, they had hardly any awareness of Arab or other non-European Jews or of the role of Arab culture in the history of Judaism (e.g. the fact that the famous Jewish scholars of Moorish Spain wrote and spoke in Arabic). Golda Meir even thought that all Jews come from a Yiddish-speaking background. The same distorted vision was characteristic of the British and other Europeans and Westerners. The Jews that the anti-Semites wanted to get rid of were European Jews, and the Jews that the Zionists wanted to turn into a nation in Palestine were European Jews. After 1948 they hoped to fill up the lands vacated by the Nakba with more Russian Jews from the USSR and were very disappointed when they had to make do with Arab Jews instead.

    All this fits your thesis very well. However, your view of British perceptions is oversimplified. The British DID use the term “Palestinian” during the Mandate, and they used it to refer to ALL the residents of Palestine, including both Jews and Arabs. At the time, moreover, the Jews, even the Zionists, accepted the word and applied it to themselves. They called themselves Palestinian Jews. So despite the Zionist-Arab conflict there was at that time a general Palestinian identity that encompassed both communities. It even had some practical manifestations, such as a certain amount of joint trade unionism and the Arab-Jewish municipal administration in Haifa. Of course, this joint identity was not strong enough to survive the British withdrawal and after 1948 it disappeared down the memory hole together with its linguistic expression in the word “Palestinian.” But it did exist. And it can exist again.

    • Mooser on January 31, 2016, 12:58 pm

      “They called themselves Palestinian Jews. So despite the Zionist-Arab conflict there was at that time a general Palestinian identity that encompassed both communities.”

      “Despite the Zionist-Arab conflict there was at that time…” Oh, please. The “Zionist-Arab conflict” was the “general Palestinian identity that encompassed both communities” as it spread.

      “Of course, this joint identity was not strong enough to survive the British withdrawal…”

      Oh no, I’m doing the ‘hyena’ thing again, and scaring the cats, gotta go.

      • Stephen Shenfield on January 31, 2016, 5:28 pm

        True. Conflict also ties people together into a perverse sort of community. But conflict wasn’t the whole story. How, for instance, could the British administration have functioned if there was nothing but conflict between its Palestinian-Arab and Palestinian-Jewish employees? I know that what I an saying is hard to believe from where we stand now, but study the sources from that period and you’ll see I’m not wholly wrong.

      • Mooser on January 31, 2016, 6:12 pm

        “I know that what I an saying is hard to believe from where we stand now, but study the sources from that period and you’ll see I’m not wholly wrong “

        You are right. Well, if any of those nice Zionists are still around, maybe they should run for Prime Minister.

        Why is it always our right to babble on about what things may have been in the past, before the irrevocable present, instead of taking responsibility for what we have done? Are we entitled to innumerable do-overs? Immune to the consequences for what’s already, irrevocably done?

      • Mooser on January 31, 2016, 6:24 pm

        “Conflict also ties people together into a perverse sort of community.”

        I won’t make the obvious Warsaw Ghetto, concentration camp, or Holocaust references.

    • Zofia on February 1, 2016, 5:46 pm

      You are mixing 2 different things with each other. Using the name Palestine by Zionists doesn’t mean they were using the same national narrative and had the same goals as Palestinian Arabs- fyi they definitely did not! In fact Zionists later opposed the name, since they figured the British- as the Balfour Declaration stated- weren’t going to create a state for the Jews, but a state for all of its residents. Also they didn’t want to associate themselves with Arab Palestinian nationalism, because they were getting more and more aware of it and wanted to distinguish their own nationalism from the Palestinian one.
      Zionists wanted a state for Jews. There was a time though, that there was a discussion about a federation with other Arab states- short lived. Some Zionists even accused each other of treason because of that.
      About Arab-Jewish relations in Haifa or economic relations in general read Zachary Lockman “Comrades and Enemies: Arab and Jewish Workers in Palestine, 1906–1948” or “Arab workers and Arab Nationalism in Palestine: A view from Below” in: Rethinking Nationalism in the Arab Middle East, ed. James Jankowski, Israel Gershoni- about how Zionists used Palestinian workers to gain their own goals.

      The local Jewish-Arab relations are a different subject:
      Ammiel Alcalay, “After Jews And Arabs: Remaking Levantine Culture”
      Menachem Klein, “Lives in Common: Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem, Jaffa and Hebron”
      M. Campos, Ottoman Brothers: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Early Twentieth-Century Palestine
      More on Zionist-Palestinian relations, for example:
      Y. Ben-Bassat, E. Ginios, Late Ottoman Palestine: The Period of Young Turk Rule, I.B. Tauris, London 2011
      Rashid Khalidi, Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness

  2. Herchel on January 31, 2016, 2:10 pm

    “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 Arab unity. 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 to Haifa and Jaffa. While as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.”

    (PLO executive committee member Zahir Muhsein, 1997)

    • annie on February 1, 2016, 12:08 am

      hershel, i found that 1977 quote here it gives the source as “James Dorsey, “Wij zijn alleen Palestijn om politieke reden”, Trouw, 31 March 1977.” but offers no link.

      however, we’re in luck because this wiki page does source the original dutch from that very same source above, which i was able to translate in google english.

      the last sentence:

      De Palestijnse staat zou het recht hebben om op te treden namens alle Palestijnen in de Arabische wereld en elders. Als wij eenmaal al onze rechten in geheel Palestina hebben verworven, moeten wij de hereniging van Jordanië en Palestina geen moment uitstellen.”

      translates on google as:

      The Palestinian state would have the right to perform., on behalf of all Palestinians in the Arab world and elsewhere If we have once acquired our rights in all of Palestine, we have to postpone the reunification of Jordan and Palestine for a moment.

      there are other differences too, like the author James Dorsey, speaking at the beginning vs quoting Mohsen. but more significantly was this

      Mohsen trained as a teacher but lost his job in 1957 after being arrested for “subversive activity”. He subsequently spent time in Qatar, from where he was eventually deported as a result of his political activity, before making his way to Damascus where he helped form as-Sa’iqa.[3]

      Mohsen rose to the position of heading as-Sa’iqa thanks to his close links to Assad, who after taking power in Syria purged the movement of its leftist elements (bringing it ideologically closer to Fatah) and appointed Mohsen as its General Secretary.[4]
      Political views[edit]

      Mohsen essentially followed the line of as-Sa’iqa’s Syrian Ba’athist ideology (Mohsen himself being al-Saiqa’s leader under the control of the Ba’athist government of Syria under Syrian leader Hafez al-Assad), which interpreted the Palestinian question through a perspective of pan-Arab nationalism – despite the fact that in some respects this contravened the PLO charter, which affirms the existence of a Palestinian people with national rights, corresponding with this it is noted that hostility existed between the main Fatah faction of the PLO under Yasser Arafat and the Syrian Ba’ath party of Hafez al-Assad (which in turn supported Palestinians like Zuheir Mohsen and the Ba’athist al-Saiqa faction of the PLO) on this issue.

      also, it doesn’t mention he was on the PLO executive committee, it says he was a member of the National Command of the Syrian Ba’ath Party.[1] and a Palestinian leader of the pro-Syria as-Sa’iqa faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) between 1971 and 1979. where do you read he was on the executive committee? besides daniel pipes?


      The journalist Robert Fisk was to claim that al-Saiqa, under Mohsen, was to employ its energies “almost exclusively against their brother Palestinians”,[6] stating that in June 1976 he saw “the PLO in open combat within West Beirut against al-Saiqa, who had attacked Arafat’s forces on orders from Damascus.”[7] Mohsen’s militia has also been accused of being amongst the main perpetrators of the January 1976 Damour massacre, while some Lebanese Christian sources have suggested Mohsen led the attack on the town.

      • echinococcus on February 1, 2016, 1:14 am


        That machine translation expresses the exact contrary of what the text says. It should be
        “we must not delay the reunification of Jordan and Palestine even for a moment”.
        And “perform” in the line above it should be “act”, and “all our rights”.

    • Mooser on February 1, 2016, 11:43 am

      Uh, “Herchel”, could I introduce the radical idea that maybe, just maybe, your judgements on Palestine-Israel issues are tainted by self-interest?
      I know, I know, our ethical history, our history of being persecuted, yeah, yeah, but maybe you might think about it. We Jews aren’t immune to it, you know.

      • Herchel on February 1, 2016, 12:57 pm

        Self-interest is a far more noble influence on one’s political judgments than anti-Semitism.

        Perhaps you could at least at least pretend to address the substance of the quote I cited like the original responder? In the meantime, please spare me the “We” card Judenrat.

    • eljay on February 1, 2016, 12:29 pm

      || Herchel @ January 31, 2016, 2:10 pm ||

      As long as the state/s is/are secular and democratic and justice, accountability and equality are advocated, exercised and upheld, it doesn’t matter whether:
      – Palestinians live in Palestine, Jordanians live in Jordan, Israelis live in Israel and Lebanese live in Lebanon; or
      – all four groups choose democratically to unite and live in one “Unified State”.

      Either way, a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” has no business existing.

  3. RoHa on January 31, 2016, 2:39 pm

    Let us suppose, for one giddy moment, that it is true that there was no independent Palestinian people considering itself as a Palestinian people, and that there was no Palestinian state.

    Could someone please explain to me why that would make a difference?

    There were people living in Palestine, native to Palestine, and the Zionists came and threw them out and took their country away from them.

    Those people were wronged.

    I cannot see how not considering themselves members of a “people”, or not having a state, in any way mitigates, let alone excuses, that wrong.

    • Mooser on February 1, 2016, 11:32 am

      “Let us suppose, for one giddy moment, that it is true that there was no independent Palestinian people considering itself as a Palestinian people, and that there was no Palestinian state.”

      That’s right, I’m supposed to be contemptuous of the Palestinians because they weren’t organized into a totally military and fascist society, unified by a hatred of outsiders, and which killed, on order of the Palestinian government every single outsider who came there? And of course, to prevent infiltration, should have expelled the resident Jewish population.

      We are supposed to hate the Palestinians because they didn’t do what the Zionists did? Not gonna work, sorry.

      I’m with you, “RoHa”, I don’t see why the failure of the Palestinians to be as brutal and murderous as Zionists should be held against them.

  4. JLewisDickerson on January 31, 2016, 6:03 pm

    RE: The term ‘Arab’ was used already by the British in their Mandate period of 1923-48, where they had two ‘ethnic’ definitions, one referring to the indigenous population of Palestine, termed ‘Arabs’, and another for the overwhelmingly newcomer population, termed ‘Jews’. Already here, if one cares to scrutinize, we approach some revealing truths . . .” ~ Jonathan Ofir

    MY COMMENT: Yes, as a matter of fact, when speaking before the Peel Commision in 1937, Churchill referred to the ‘Arabs’ of Palestine as “the dog[s] in a manger” (with no crib for a bed, I assume)!


    When Britain lost control of Egypt in 1956, Prime Minister Anthony Eden said he wanted the nationalist president Gamal Abdel Nasser “destroyed, murdered, I don’t give a damn if there’s anarchy and chaos in Egypt.” Those insolent Arabs, Winston Churchill had urged in 1951, should be driven “into the gutter from which they should never have emerged.”

    SOURCE –

    I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of American or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.” ~ To the Peel Commission (1937) on a Jewish Homeland in Palestine

    SOURCE –

    What about Gandhi’s nemesis, Winston Churchill? Today we only remember his heroic opposition to Nazism. But while he was against gassing and tyranny in Europe, he was passionately in favour of it for “uncivilised” human beings whose riches he wanted to seize. In the 1920s, Iraqis rose up against British imperial rule, and Churchill as Colonial Secretary thought of a good solution: gas them. He wrote: “I do not understand this squeamishness… I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes.” It would “spread a lively terror”. He was quite clear about why Britain should do this. He explained: “We have engrossed to ourselves an altogether disproportionate share of the wealth and traffic of the world… mainly acquired by violence, largely maintained by force.”

    SOURCE –

  5. talknic on January 31, 2016, 6:40 pm

    If you examine the Israeli narrative on the issue of Arabs/Palestine, it never seems to add up.

    E.g., “20% of the Israeli population was Arab”

    By 1950 the population of Israel was estimated to be about 1,370,000

    There were approximately 156,000 non-Jewish Israeli citizens who were not dispossessed from within the borders of the territory proclaimed by the Israeli Government and recognized as the State of Israel on the 15th May 1948 effective at 00:01 (ME time) and;

    there were an additional 500,000 Arab Jewish refugees from the Arab states. Many of whom were cared for by UNRWA until 1952/3 when the Israeli Government took over that responsibility.
    That’s approximately 656,000 Arabs of a population of about 1,370,000. Which is about 47%

    This figure does not yet include the non-Jewish Israeli Arabs who were dispossessed by 1950 and it does not yet include the indigenous Arab Jews of Palestine.

    By simple maths we can see the Arab population of Israel in 1948 was well in excess of 50%. A large number of Israeli Jews today are of Arabic descent. Arab DNA is deeply and inescapably embedded in the Israeli population

    20% Arab? The closer you look the more bullsh*t you find

    If the truth be known, there are Jews and non-Jews the Zionist Movement‘s state and that state wants rid of the latter

  6. gamal on January 31, 2016, 7:54 pm

    the meaning of Arab identity in the MENA region: unity, peace and integration

    this is simple though you may discern the issues ( he mentions Leila Murad, for that alone he earns a link, i never did like ya methal al watniya)

    and long live the Aramean peoples front, concern about Arabness from another perspective, who needs peace when those atavistic Assyrian urges overtake one.

  7. gamal on January 31, 2016, 10:41 pm

    Asad Abukhalil on fragmenting the Arabs

  8. gamal on January 31, 2016, 11:14 pm

    this is the relevant non-background one, reforming the Arab

  9. Boris on January 31, 2016, 11:47 pm

    In her “Eichmann in Jerusalem”, which was published in 1964, Hannah Arendt referrers to Zionists as “Palestinians”. I don’t think anyone could accuse Madame Arendt as being pro-Zionist.

    This clearly shows that since at least 1964 the definition of who is a “Palestinian” has drastically changed.

    From what I can see this identity was created in late 60’s in order to undermine the legitimacy of the only Jewish state.

    Now, talk among yourselves …

    • annie on February 1, 2016, 12:19 am

      From what I can see this identity was created in late 60’s in order to undermine the legitimacy of the only Jewish state.

      so how would you account for all the passports for everyone who live in palestine pre israeli state? do you also think the british invented the term palestine?

    • RoHa on February 1, 2016, 4:46 am

      “From what I can see this identity was created in late 60’s in order to undermine the legitimacy of the only Jewish state.”

      I will ask again. What difference does it make?

      There was a native, Arabic-speaking, population living in Palestine. The Zionists drove most of them out and took their land. This was a crime, an evil act, no matter what the members of the population called themselves.

      And as an incidental question, why “only”? Would it make a difference if there were forty-two Jewish States? Would the evil be greater or lesser?

    • talknic on February 1, 2016, 4:57 am

      @ Boris

      “From what I can see this identity was created in late 60’s in order to undermine the legitimacy of the only Jewish state “

      When the only thing you look at is Zionist crap, that’s all you’ll see

      League of Nations Mandate for PALESTINE

      Article 7 of the League of Nations Mandate for PALESTINE ” The Administration of PALESTINE shall be responsible for enacting a nationality law. There shall be included in this law provisions framed so as to facilitate the acquisition of PALESTINIAN citizenship by Jews who take up their permanent residence in Palestine. ”

      PALESTINIANNationality Law was passed in 1925.

      Palestine was a Nation in 1925. It had a defined territory, laws and International trading partners, its own currency.

      The State of Israel didn’t exist until, according to the provisional Israeli Government, precisely 00:01 May 15th 1948 and it was limited by proclamation and International recognition to the territory ” within frontiers approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its Resolution of November 29, 1947″ and for the first few months Israel used the PALESTINIAN pound as its official currency

      Take your Ziodrivel elsewhere pal, it’s boring

    • YoniFalic on February 1, 2016, 6:05 am


      From what I can see this identity was created in late 60’s in order to undermine the legitimacy of the only Jewish state.

      The typical racist bigoted crap that we expect from bigoted ethnic Eastern Europeans.

      Racist genocide-supporters get away with spewing such dreck because Westerners generally don’t read Arabic, but the literature of Palestinian (فلسطيني) identify goes back to the 1890s, and if one bothers to check Arabic literature from before that period one finds a unique Palestinian (مقدسي) identity. Now some might argue that مقدسي only applies to Jerusalemites but historically in the Ottoman Empire the Sanjak of Jerusalem was a region and not a city while Arabic texts often refer to a region by the main city.

      In the earlier Medieval period مقدسي seems to have more of the sense of Holy Lander. It makes sense because Palestinians unlike the racist genocidal E. European invaders, who must be removed, descend from the native Judean population of the Holy Land.

      Note that the usage of Jerusalem to refer to the whole Holy Land is hardly unknown to religious Jews, who refer to the Jerusalem Talmud and generally not to the Palestinian Talmud even if Neusner seems to prefer the latter designation.

      The Jerusalem Talmud was not even redacted in Judea but in the Galilee.

      In any case there is no sense to the belief that E. European racists get to steal Palestine because the natives don’t have a separate national identity.

      By Wilsonianism the natives got to decide the character of the country democratically. Racist E. Europeans have no right whatsoever to the country and should get out.

      • dgfincham on February 6, 2017, 10:29 am

        There is a book by Haim Gerber, a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, called “Remembering and Imagining Palestine” which traces the development of the distinct Palestinian identity from the time of the Crusades, as well as discussing the later development of Palestinian nationalism.

    • eljay on February 1, 2016, 9:27 am

      || Boris: … From what I can see this identity was created in late 60’s in order to undermine the legitimacy of the only Jewish state. ||

      There’s nothing legitimate about an oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and religion-supremacist “Jewish State”, so there’s nothing to undermine.

      || … Now, talk among yourselves … ||

      And you keep muttering to yourself.

    • Mooser on February 1, 2016, 11:39 am

      “From what I can see this identity was created in late 60’s in order to undermine the legitimacy of the only Jewish state.”

      I really don’t care what religion Israels styles itself with, identifies with. That’s their problem.

      But if one “Jewish state” isn’t enough, start a couple more, for back-up.

    • Zofia on February 1, 2016, 5:02 pm

      @”Now, talk among yourselves …”So you are running away from discussion? I will deal with Arendt in a sec, but first I must say it is funny that you wrote: “From what I can see this identity was created in late 60’s”- most Zionists say that it was 1948 [to deny the fact that Palestinian nationalism was in development since XIX/XX], some radicals say it was in 1964 when PLO was created [what creation of PLO has to do with development of Palestinian identity, which even Israeli scholars argue it is in development since XIX/XX century- fyi all national identities are in constant development, as research on nationalism itself shows us, read for example Craig Calhoun “Nationalism”], but you went and wrote even late 60’s ;p
      Below I give you links to my other posts on the subject, which contain comments and literature about Palestinian and Zionist nationalism.

      Did you read Arendt’s book yourself? Or any other of her writings for that matter? What you wrote is completely wrong. She advocated a binational solution to Palestine – a single political commonwealth with two national identities, integrated in a federation with other countries in the region. As Eric L. Jacobson adds: “In the crucial period leading up to the establishment of the State of Israel, Arendt became increasingly disillusioned with theJewish Agency and the Zionist movement for failing to organize a Jewish response to Nazism (a Jewish Army) and rejecting the Palestinian right to a homeland”. Read his article ” Why did Hannah Arendt Reject the Partition of Palestine?”. She was well aware of the Arab Palestinian nationalism and what Zionism wanted to do. She didn’t argue that there was 1 Palestinian identity there! She argued for BINATIONAL solution to Palestine- do you see the difference now or not?
      He also writes: “Arendt’s critique of Zionism point to the question of why Zionism failed to achieve natural allies and sought instead partnerships with the lions. Its national idea, she wrote, was largely influenced by German nationalism, itself missing a vital element found in the national revolutions of France, Italy and also America: the concept of the sovereignty of the people”.
      Links about the development of Palestinian identity since XIX/XX century [before masses of Zionists immigrated to Palestine] are below. Palestinian nationalism developed because of the rise of the so called Islamic renaissance; Arab nationalism; Ottoman nationalism and of course it was the outcome of local interactions and socio-political and cultural environment. PLO could be created and work among Palestinians because of the already existing Palestinian nationalism- it didn’t create it! Nationalism is not an easy process that can be ad hoc created and then magically work…. the same goes for Zionism and any other nationalism in the world.
      For example:

      1.Baruch Kimmerling and Joel Migdal, The Palestinian People: A History: Baruch Kimmerling
      2.H. Gerber, Remembering and Imagening Palestine, Palgrave Macmillan, New York 2008
      3.And his “‘Palestine’ and Other Territorial Concepts in the 17th Century.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 30 (1998)
      4.Doumani, Beshara, “Rediscovering Ottoman Palestine: Writing Palestinians into History.” Journal of Palestine Studies 21(2) (1992)
      5.Doumani, Beshara, Rediscovering Palestine: Merchants and Peasants in Jabal Nablus, 1700-1900 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995)
      6.R. Khalidi, Palestinian Identity
      7.J. Bussow, Hamidian Palestine: Politics and Society in the District of Jerusalem 1972-1908
      8.A. Manna, Ottoman Period, Late, [in:] Encyclopedia of the Palestinians…,ed.Ph. Mattar
      9.B. Abu-Manneh, The Rise of the Sanjak of Jerusalem in the Late Nineteenth Century.
      10.Weldon C. Matthews, Confronting an Empire, Constructing a Nation. Arab Nationalists and Popular Politics in Mandate Palestine.
      11. M. Campos, Ottoman Brothers: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Early Twentieth-Century Palestine, Stanford University Press, Stanford 2011
      12.Y. Ben-Bassat, E. Ginios, Late Ottoman Palestine: The Period of Young Turk Rule, I.B. Tauris, London 2011
      13.L Fishman, The 1911 Haram Al-Sharif Incident: Palestinian Notables Versus The Ottoman Administration, “Journal of Palestine Studies”, vol. XXXIV no.3, 2005
      14.Ben-Bassat, Yuval. “Rural Reactions to Zionist Activity in Palestine before and after the Young-Turk Revolution of 1908 as Reflected in Petitions to Istanbul
      15.Ben-Bassat, Yuval. “Mass Petitions as a Way to Evaluate ‘Public Opinion’ in the Late Nineteenth-Century Ottoman Empire? The Case of Internal Strife among Gaza’s Elite,” Turkish Historical Review, 4 (2013)
      16.Ben-Bassat, Yuval- Petitioning the Sultan: Protests and Justice in Late Ottoman Palestine

      About Zionism:
      1.Kimmerling B., The Invention and Decline of Israeliness: State, Society, and the Military, University of California Press, 2001
      2.Ohana D., The shaping of Israeli identity: myth, memory, and trauma, Routledge
      3.Orr A., Israel: Politics, Myths and Identity Crises, Pluto Press, 1994 4.Oz A., The Sabra: the creation of the new Jew, University of California Press, 2000
      5.Piterberg G., The Returns of Zionism: Myths, Politics and Scholarship in Israel, Verso, 2008
      6.Shabi R., We Look Like the Enemy: The Hidden Story of Israel’s Jews from Arab Lands, Walker & Company, 2008
      7.Sternhell Z.,The Founding Myths of Israel: Nationalism, Socialism, and the Making of the Jewish State, Princeton University Press, Nowy Jork 1999 8.Yehuda N., Masada Myth: Collective Memory and Mythmaking in Israel, University of Wisconsin Press, 1995
      9.Yehuda N., Sacrificing Truth: Archaeology and the Myth of Masada, Humanity Books, 2002
      10.Zerubavel Y., Recovered Roots: Collective Memory and the Making of Israeli National Tradition, University Of Chicago Press, 1995
      11.Ammiel Alcalay, “After Jews And Arabs: Remaking Levantine Culture” 12.”Lives in Common: Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem, Jaffa and Hebron”

      In short: you wrote nonsense.

  10. Kay24 on February 1, 2016, 7:11 am

    Despite the bravado, it seems BDS is hurting the zionists, at least in the academic world in Israel:

    Israeli Academics Feel Shunned as Boycott Movement Gains Steam
    Although the movement ostensibly targets universities, not individuals, Israeli academics say they are often snubbed at the personal level.
    read more:

  11. ritzl on February 1, 2016, 11:14 am

    Israel is a giant Jerry Springer show.

    Jer-RY! Jer-RY! Jer-RY!… as the audience derisively chants as the little white-hooded toddler pristenely unselfconciously says “I hate niggers!”

  12. Brewer on February 1, 2016, 3:08 pm

    The British, and their colonial offspring, have always had a penchant for racist epithets – “wog”, “coon”, “Abo”, “Hori”. I have always viewed “Arab”, when applied to Palestinians, as just another one of these.
    Zionists adopted it with relish as it supported the silly theses of Meir, Peters etc. which were built on one outstanding Historical misconception – the Roman expulsion of Jews from Palestine around 70AD. This is a firmly embedded myth.
    So far as I have been able to ascertain, the “Great Jewish Revolt” was really a fiasco. It was not a general revolt but a series of terrorist style skirmishes, perpetrated by a loony bunch – Zealots and the Sicarii (who didn’t seem to care who they killed, Jews, Romans or Greeks). Both groups were opposed to the Jewish establishment who did not revolt.
    Their one victory against a small Roman Garrison went to their heads (God on their side they thought) so the Romans bottled them up in Jerusalem and laid siege.
    During the siege, the factions took to fighting among themselves, one group destroyed the food stocks (to encourage God to intervene) then quite possibly having set the Temple on fire themselves to cover their escape through the tunnels beneath (because God didn’t intervene), they legged it to Masada and did a Jim Jones.
    There was no subsequent expulsion of Jews – the Sanhedrin was set up about 70 miles from Jerusalem where it remained for 300 years.
    Virtually the only good thing that resulted was a group who modelled themselves on the rebels nearly two millennia later – Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
    “Although the myth of an exile from the Jewish homeland (Palestine) does exist in popular Israeli culture, it is negligible in serious Jewish historical discussions.” – Prof. Israel Bartal, dean of the humanities faculty of the Hebrew University.

    I am often perturbed that very few people seem to grasp what is, to me, a very obvious fact. The Palestinians are the descendants of the people (including Jews) who inhabited the area in Roman times who, in the words of Geneticist Ariella Oppenheim, were “Christianized, Islamized and eventually culturally Arabized.

    • rosross on February 1, 2016, 7:49 pm

      The Middle East has long been a melting pot. Just as Europe has been. No doubt some Palestinians are descended from the varied tribes who inhabited Canaan and then Palestine millenia ago, but not all.

      And really, it does not matter. Many religions have inhabited the area and the ancient religions of Egypt, Greece, Rome have all had an impact and been taken up on many counts by younger religions like Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

      Followers of the Great Goddess, Isis, Mithras, Pales, Minerva, Jews, Christians, Moslems and many others, have inhabited the region, for varying lengths of time, but no religion constitutes a nation and none get land rights so the religious connections are all a bit pointless.

      If religions did get rights to land where their religion was invented then Jews would have rights to a bit of Iraq; Christians rights to a bit of Palestine, etc. etc. but they do not, so rumination is also pointless.

      The only issue here is that there is a group of people, the Palestinians, numbering nearly six million under occupation and another 8 million in the diaspora, who had their land invaded, occupied and colonised by Europeans some 70 years ago, and they have been and are, denied justice and freedom.

      If Israel had done what every other coloniser has done, created one state with equal rights for all, we would not be having this conversation, but Israel has refused, on the grounds of religious bigotry and has maintained occupation and created an apartheid State, in the name of that religious bigotry and that cannot and will not be tolerated in a modern world.

      Whether a Jew, Christian, Muslim, Rastafarian can trace links to a land back decades, centuries or millenia is meaningless. Whether a Palestinian, Israeli or anyone else can do the same is also meaningless.

      The only thing that matters is in a modern world, ending occupation, colonisation and apartheid by Israel and the subjugation and abuse of the Palestinian people.

    • gamal on February 1, 2016, 8:27 pm

      “in Roman times who, in the words of Geneticist Ariella Oppenheim, were “Christianized, Islamized and eventually culturally Arabized.”

      Philip Weiss interviewed Dr. Ghada Karmi. She once took part in a panel discussion program chaired by Jon Snow(?) in the 90’s (?) about negative perceptions of Islam and Arabs, its very funny, Dr. Karmi is superb in it.

      I dont recall all the participants there was Shmuely Boteach, a masked Iranian, perhaps MEK, an Algerian and one other Arab I think and a couple of foreign office types MI5/6 a very famous woman, not Manningham-Buller but like her though,

      at one point this woman says to the Algerian, after admitting along with her male colleague that they were unaware that the then current military rulers of Algeria had fought with the French against the FLN, (there was wide scale slaughter there at the time if you recall the 90’s)

      anyway she said to the Algerian “You used to have a different identity before the Arab conquest, couldn’t you go back to that”

      someone should interview Dr. Karmi about it, as Islam and Arabness are again being used to frame the destruction of the Arab world around taming Islam and rolling back an ultimately illegitimate Arab identity, his reply was a classic, covered the whole simple issue in a few words.

      “culturally Arabized.” if so then we can reverse it, we have the technology, what the fuck is a Phoenician though? or Hittite or what have you.

  13. rosross on February 1, 2016, 7:40 pm

    The use of the term Arab by Israelis is done to deny the existence of the indigenous people of the land they have colonised, the Palestinians.

    It may have been effective in the past but in recent times more and more people know that the people living under Israeli occupation, colonisation and apartheid are Palestinians.

    Arab is a culture not a race or a nationality and unless one is to call the Israelis European, also a culture, not a race or nationality, which is the origin of most, the comparison of Israeli and Arab is incorrect. And of course nearly a quarter of Israelis are of Palestinian/Arab origin.

    Just as if you are talking about Jews the comparison must be with other religions and in the case of the Palestinians that is Christian or Muslim. The accurate terms are Israeli and Palestinian but Israelis avoid this painful truth because it acknowledges the reality of the Palestinians.

    The Zionists, a largely secular, or non-practising group of Jews, since secular Jew, like secular Christian is an oxymoron and impossible, laid the foundation for the erroneous belief that Jews constitute a nation or people beyond religious metaphor.

    Jews, like all religions comprise all races and dozens of nationalities, something which cannot be avoided by any religion which takes converts, which all do, whether forced or voluntary.

    Anyone spending time in Israel is quickly aware of the varied races which make up the Jewish Israelis, and the even greater diversity of immigrant nationality and cultures.

    The use of the term Arab for Palestinians is part of the propaganda and it is important to avoid its use or to point out that it is incorrect to talk about Jews, most of whom do not live in UN mandated Israel or Occupied Palestine, never did and never will, and Arabs, most of whom do not live in UN mandated Israel or Occupied Palestine, never did and never will, when the people involved are Israelis and Palestinians.

  14. Boo on February 2, 2016, 10:40 am

    “Arab” can perhaps be considered a superset of “Palestinian”, which in no way invalidates the more precise designation of Palestinian.

    “Palestinians” can also be considered a subset of “Semites”, much to the chagrin of those who’d like to monopolize the definition of anti-Semitism.

  15. Jerry Hirsch on August 2, 2019, 11:44 pm

    Google translates the last sentence as,

    The Palestinian state would have the right to act on behalf of all Palestinians in the Arab world and elsewhere. Once we have acquired all our rights in all of Palestine, we must not delay the reunification of Jordan and Palestine ”

    I would think in four years Google’s newer translation would be more accurate and it appears to match Dorsey’s.

    Do you have the rest of Mohsein’s Dutch interview?

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