Do the Palestinians Have a Legitimate Claim?

by Jim Fletcher

I remember several years ago, while researching a book, that I came upon some interesting facts concerning Arab claims about Palestine.

You remember Palestine, don’t you? It was a regional name at one time for the Holy Land, so named in the second century by the Romans, who wished to erase any memory of the Jews from the land.

Today, Palestine exists in the minds of the Arabs, and in the salons of Europe and America. Sadly — very sadly — Palestine also exists in the dreams of the Christian left, particularly in America.

More than a decade ago, I began to listen to the “Palestinian narrative,” the story created by PLO intellectuals like Edward Said. The narrative said that the Palestinians had been expelled from the land by expansionist Jews. The story goes that the Palestinians, descendants of the ancient Canaanites (get it? That means they were there before the Hebrews) were the rightful heirs to the land.

By the way, it has never mattered to the diplomatic and religious elites whether this story is true or not. Its real value lay in the possibility that enough people would believe it and force Israel back to the borders it had before the Six Day War.

So it was that as I researched this narrative, I happened upon a website maintained by the Palestinian Authority — the provisional government of the Palestinian Arabs. The PA had its roots in the Reagan administration, when the Americans and Europeans found the serial killer, Yasser Arafat, wandering the desert and decided to give him a bath and a hot meal and trot him out as some kind of “peace partner” for Israel.

On this particular website, which no longer exists, I happened upon some “historical evidence” for Palestine. Mind you, I’ve been in Israel several times and have never even once happened upon a Palestinian archaeological site. Yet on this site was “Palestinian currency.” Upon closer examination, it was paper money issued by the British Mandate authorities around the time of World War II. On the currency was writing in English, Arabic, and…Hebrew.

I suppose Uncle Yasser’s minions wanted people to simply look at the images of currency, think, “Oh, yes, Palestinian money; they once had a thriving presence and culture there,” and leave it at that.

I didn’t leave it at that. I realized that the few pitiful scraps of evidence that the Palestinians had cobbled together to form their vaunted narrative was in fact the Wizard behind the curtain, pulling levers as he fooled people outside.

My point in all that is this: leaving aside biblical history for a moment — since employees of the UN, U.S. State Department, and British Foreign Office would laughingly dismiss it — we can in fact troll through secular history and discover just how valid is the Palestinian claim to the land.

(An important aside: the Palestinians have for 20 years claimed publicly that they want a state of their own “beside” Israel; they want to establish Palestine. In point of fact, they want all the land; they want Israel to disappear. They are disingenuous, diabolically so, when claiming to want to live in peace with their Jewish neighbors.)

It is an historical fact that the United Nations voted to partition what remained of Palestine (after Transjordan, now known simply as Jordan, was established in 1946 on most of Palestine) in November, 1947. It is almost too obvious to mention the fact that the Palestinian Arabs (in those days, “Palestinians” were simply people who lived in Palestine, Jews and Arabs) rejected the proposal.

Six months later, Israel was established while the Palestinian Arabs — the Barney Fife of the Middle East, constantly shooting themselves in the foot — watched in frustration. A full-scale war of extermination, against the new Jewish state, was launched by five Arab armies; by the following year, the state of Israel had a toe-hold and continues to thrive to this day, despite the constant threats from the Arabs.

So it is that I’ve noticed a powerful fact in all this, one which I alluded to before. Nowhere will you find “Palestinian” ruins, cultural references, or written records. In large part, this is due to the fact that the Palestinians were an invention of the wider Arab community, which sought a political battering-ram against Israel.

Oddly enough, the effect has worked, which is utterly bizarre. Imagine if you will that a small group of people traveled to Moscow and said they were the Scythians, and demanded large chunks of Russian soil as a sovereign homeland.

For one thing, further imagine the reaction of Russia’s latest czar, Vladmir Putin! He’d make short work of the erstwhile modern Scythians; they’d never see another sunrise.

The Scythians, like the Canaanites, long ago disappeared from the historical stage.

Yet this is in effect what the Palestinians demand of the Israelis. I am also confident that if for some reason it would have served Uncle Yasser to claim to be descended from the Anasazi Indians of North America, he would surely have employed that whopper.

Point being, the Palestinians of today are Arabs. There was never an ancient, sovereign nation of Palestine. But that’s not even the most important aspect of the latest dispute in the Middle East. The issue is, there are 22 (mostly large) Arab states in the region. There is one tiny Jewish state. Do you think it’s fair to halve Israel in order to create “Palestine”?

I don’t.

Problem is, the UN does.

It is incumbent upon pro Israel Christians to continue to further Israel’s cause, to stand up for the Jewish state’s legitimacy. Part of that effort as I always rant, is to educate the pro Israel community.

So it is that I most highly recommend a new book by Dr. Alex Grobman, The Palestinian Right to Israel. Don’t let the title fool you; this is the best defense of Israel’s position I’ve read in years. In a manner very friendly for a lay audience, The Palestinian Right to Israel is a superb addition to your pro Israel library. Grobman lays out the historical case for both Jewish and Arab claims to Palestine.

Read it with relish and you’ll discover just how legitimate are the Palestinian claims.

by Jim Fletcher