By Hugh Ash
TOMORROW Jewish people the world over celebrate Passover, commemorating how Moses led the enslaved Israelites out of Egyptian bondage towards the Promised Land.
The unleavened bread, matzo, they’ll eat during the festival meal is symbolic of that exodus. So, too, are the bitter herbs that recall the cruelty, humiliations and injustices meted out by Pharaoh’s taskmasters.
Jesus and his disciples were partaking of exactly this ancient ritual in what Christians recall as the Last Supper.
Except it didn’t happen, because the bible is bunkum, according to one popular, Arab narrative. And Jews have no more right to claim Israel as a homeland than Native American Mohicans, Australian Aborigines or Bushmen of the Kalahari.
Conversely, if you don’t buy that hogwash, there’s the contradictory, ‘We-were-first’ porkie, as propounded by Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian’s chief negotiator, who says he’s ‘the proud son Canaanites’, around when Joshua brought Jericho’s walls tumbling down.
Except he isn’t. Nor, for that matter, are the vast majority of Palestinians.
For the record, genealogists show Erekat belongs to a Bedouin tribe, which originated in pre-Saudi Arabia. A branch began to settle about 200 years ago in the Ottoman province that became the post-WW1 British Mandate of Palestine, so his roots in the biblical soil hardly scratch the surface.
In fact, most Palestinians are descendants of late-19th/early-20th Century immigrants from Sudan, Libya, Egypt, and Jordan, lured by the opportunity to trade with Zionist settlers, who made the desert bloom in territory Mark Twain described as ‘desolate and unlovely’, when he toured the Holy Land in 1867.
Even Yasser Arafat was no son of ancient Palestine, not simply because no such nation existed, but he was born an Egyptian, in Cairo, on 24 August, 1929. There’s no disputing, however, Arafat was the wellspring of the litany of so many great Palestinian myths, tall tales his Palestinian Authority (PA) successor, Mahmoud Abbas, continues to peddle to those gullible enough to listen – principally the West-hating neo-Left, whose boycott, divestment and sanction movement (BDS) is a handy means for many to cloak their anti-Semitic bile under the veil of trendy anti-Zionism.
So, the ‘revised’ history of the Middle East’s most intractable problem is an amnesiac’s dream, neatly forgetting the host of treaties that created a Jewish state, three unprovoked wars Israel won against seemingly insuperable odds and the land-for-peace deals it concluded with Egypt and Jordan.
Selective memory also overlooks the 19-year timeframe, after Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, when the West Bank and East Jerusalem was grabbed by Jordan and Egypt annexed Gaza.
Despite appalling abuse by their Arab brethren, during that interim there was hardly a peep about Palestine statehood, largely because the Jordanians and Egyptians never recognised Palestinians as a people, didn’t assimilate them, but merely pilfered the land.
Only after the Israel’s 1967 Six Day War victory did the Arabs wake up to the potential of Arafat’s invention of Palestinian nationalism, though his stock tactics of terror attacks and airline hijacks initially won few admirers.
But, in 1968, Soviet KGB spinmeisters turned truth into fiction and created Pallywood, in which Arafat was transformed into the Middle East’s Che Guevara. And, instead of a plucky, little Jewish state defying the might of a genocidal Arab world, the conflict was ‘re-spun’ to present it as the struggle of a powerless, indigenous people – the ‘Palestinians’ – to free themselves from imperialist US lackeys, the despised Israelis.
Thus, Arafat became a master of deceit, waving the olive branch at the West and the AK47 at his followers. Feted on the world stage, he was regularly offered the chance of a state on a plate by Israeli leaders, but his customary reply was to crank up bloody insurrection.
With the venal warlord dead – and the secret of a missing $1.3-billion of US and European Union largess buried with him – Abbas continues his old boss’s ploy of negotiate, obfuscate and infuriate, always scuppering talks and pinning failure on Israel.
Last week he succeeded again, forcing John Kerry, America’s latest peace-broker, back to Washington, smarting at being taken for a sucker after nearly nine months of intense, shuttle diplomacy, in which the PA played him like a yo-yo. Angry his place in history was ebbing away, the US Secretary of State’s knee-jerk reaction was to fault Israel – just as Abbas intended – only to embarrassingly backtrack by laying blame on both sides.
Meanwhile, most sane folk yearn for a two-state solution and wonder why the Palestinians have spurned the offer more times than Mickey Rooney, who died last week, aged 93, and had wives – eight at the final count.
But, as the late Abba Eban, Israel’s eloquent Foreign Minister, noted, apropos Arafat, ‘He never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.’
Ditto Abbas, who’s done zilch to advance the peace process and who threw a grenade into the works by breaking off face-to-face talks and scorned Kerry’s plea to extend the pow-wow beyond its over-optimistic 29 April deadline.
Furthermore, he incensed Israel by announcing he’d sign 15 UN treaties – it’s reckoned the PA is already in breach of 11 of them – thus reneging on his vow to seek statehood only via bilateral negotiations.
With the goalposts suddenly moved, Israel premier, Benjamin Netanyahu, retaliated by shelving the release of the fourth tranche of 104 hard-core terrorist prisoners, some of them Israeli-Arabs – a new PA condition never in the script – who’d murdered and maimed thousands.
Much to Kerry’s chagrin, Netanyahu also approved housing tenders for a Jerusalem suburb, already earmarked as part of a land-swap deal.
In reality, though, Abbas was simply indulging in more Pallywood petty-fogging, before being caught with a smoking gun by outing his aims at a recent Arab League summit.
With rare candour, he stated: ‘No’ to recognition of a Jewish state; ‘No’ to renouncing Palestinians’ right of return to their ‘ancient’ homeland; and ‘No’ to Israel extending its territory beyond the 1948 truce borders (a.k.a. the ‘Auschwitz Lines’)
Those words dealt Kerry a killer blow. Because if the US envoy didn’t know it before, he knows now that Abbas will only accept a Palestinian state if it includes all of Israel, too.
To read more of Hugh Ash’s comments, follow his prize-winning, online blog – View From The Mallorca Pier – at hughash.wordpress.com