As long as Israel’s enemies are allowed to whitewash 3000 years of continuous Jewish national history in Israel and Jerusalem, genuine peace between Israel and her neighbors will remain a pipe dream.
Almost a century ago, the international San Remo Conference was held in Italy in April 1920. During this conference, the international community, led by the victorious allies of World War I, recognized the Jewish people’s national and historical rights in its ancestral homeland Israel. The importance of this largely forgotten conference cannot be overstated. Israel’s enemies frequently distort history by falsely presenting Israel as a “foreign imperialist implant” and a “compensation for the Holocaust.” In reality, the recognition of the Jewish people’s historical and national rights in Israel was part of a wider anti-imperialist new world order led by US President Woodrow Wilson after World War I.
This new world order recognized the national and political rights of nations worldwide. The same Arab world, which has frequently been depicted as a “victim of imperialism”, ironically gained far more from the San Remo Conference than the Jewish people did. The same international community that recognized the Jewish people’s rights to its tiny historical homeland recognized Arab political independence over much of the Middle East, including Syria and Iraq. At the time, international and Arab leaders saw no conflict between the reestablishment of a tiny Jewish state in the land of Israel and the establishment of neighboring vast Arab states. Emir Faisal, the head of the Arab kingdom Hejaz, welcomed the Jewish people’s return to its ancestral homeland Israel:
“We Arabs, especially the educated among us, look with deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement…. We will wish the Jews a hearty welcome home…. We are working together for a reformed and revised Near East, and our two movements complement one another. The movement is national and not imperialistic. There is room in Syria for us both. Indeed, I think that neither can be a success without the other.”
Merely a century ago, the international community understood a fundamental truth that has largely been lost today: “Palestine” is the Roman imposed term for the Jewish people’s historical homeland Judea. At the time, there were no calls for establishing a “Palestinian” Arab state because neither Arabs nor anyone else was aware of such a “nation”. Local Arabs identified either as Syrians or as part of the wider Arab world.
However, in an era where historical facts are increasingly out of fashion, false Orwellian “narratives” are widely embraced as “truths”. In a recent New York Times Easter Op-Ed, former New York Times writer and magazine editor Eric Copage wrote that Jesus “was most likely a Palestinian man.” This endemic anti-Israel “narrative” fiction is part and parcel of the wider leftist-led identity politics. In the piece titled “As a Black Child in Los Angeles, I Couldn’t Understand Why Jesus Had Blue Eyes”, Copage whitewashes Jesus’s Jewish identity in favor of siding with the global left’s favorite Third World “victims” – Muslim Arabs ideologically opposed to Israel’s very existence. While it is unlikely that Jesus was blond with blue eyes, Jesus was nevertheless a Jew born in Roman-occupied Judea. The late PLO terrorist chief Yasser Arafat disseminated the myth of Jesus as “Palestinian” decades ago. The goal of this powerful anti-Semitic history revisionism is simple: whitewashing 3000 years of continuous Jewish history and presence in the Land of Israel.
For decades, many Western “liberals” have praised the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the ultimate “freedom organization” opposing “Zionist occupation”. In reality, Soviet KGB created the terrorist organization PLO during the Cold War as a propaganda tool against Israel and the West. In a historic twist of irony, PLO – a violent poster child of Cold War Communist imperialism – is still embraced by the global left as a symbol of “anti-imperialism”.
The world has changed dramatically during the past century since the San Remo Conference in 1920. While the “Palestinian” Arab political identity is recent and shallow, many liberal critics claim that Israel and the Jewish people must join the international community in recognizing it. The reasoning behind this argument is that many new national identities have emerged worldwide during the last century. While this is true, “Palestinianism” is distinctly different from all other new emerging political aspirations. The main problem with “Palestinianism” is not that it is linguistically, culturally and religiously indistinguishable from the wider Muslim Arab world. The same is true for other recent artificial political constructs like Jordan, Syria or Iraq. In an official PA TV interview in 2017 coinciding with the hundredth anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, the Arab historian Abd Al-Ghani Salameh admitted that there was no “Palestinian people” in 1917.
“Before the Balfour Promise (i.e., Declaration) when the Ottoman rule ended (1517-1917), Palestine’s political borders as we know them today did not exist, and there was nothing called a Palestinian people….”
While virtually all other old and new national political aspirations worldwide have focused on developing a positive self-identity, “Palestinianism” has overwhelmingly defined itself through a total rejection of the Jewish people, recorded Jewish history and the existence of a Jewish nation-state within any borders. As long as Israel’s enemies are allowed to whitewash 3000 years of continuous Jewish national history in Israel and Jerusalem, genuine peace between Israel and her neighbors will remain a pipe dream. Against all odds, Zionism restored Jewish national freedom in Israel. In an era where nation-states are under attack, Zionism is a powerful force that connects the Jewish people’s promising future to its proud ancient past.
Daniel Kryger is a writer and a political analyst and a Fellow at the Haym Salomon Center.