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OPINION: 75 Years On, the Dead End of Palestinian Grievance

Nov. 29 will mark 75 years since United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181, which endorsed the establishment of neighboring Jewish and Arab states in the Holy Land. 

One of the U.N.’s most significant decisions, it helped restore a sovereign country for Jews in the ancestral land from which they were exiled by the Romans, who renamed the territory Syria Palaestina. 

For Palestinian Arabs, the plan offered something even more groundbreaking: the creation of a Palestinian country for the first time.

But it is only Israelis who will soon celebrate the 75th anniversary of their country’s birth–and its hard-won success. Palestinian leaders will do what they’ve always done: bemoaning the deferral of Palestinian nationalism’s stated primary objective and incriminating Israel in it. 

Often, this incrimination takes the form of delegitimization – by presenting Israel as a foreign, “colonial” entity and by vilifying Israel as evil.

Palestinian advocates frequently promote a map showing Israel’s share of the land expanding from 1948 until today, while Palestinians’ has diminished. The message is clear: Zionist territorial gluttony is boundless – and Palestinians are nothing but dispossessed underdogs.

Appearances, however, can be deceiving. Palestinian activists, now with the help of an automatic U.N. majority maintained by nearly 60 Arab and Muslim governments, have perfected the craft of political polemicizing.

Beyond the decades and centuries omitted from Palestinians’ visual synopsis of Israeli-Palestinian history is all that it obscures even during the period it highlights. 

After all, it was the Zionists who, in 1947, embraced Resolution 181’s two-state vision–even with Jews offered but a small fraction of their small homeland, and no share in its beating heart, Jerusalem. 

The Arab side refused and fought repeated wars to eliminate Israel–gradually losing territory in the process.

Arab governments declined to establish a Palestinian state even when they fully controlled the West Bank and Gaza Strip from 1949 until 1967. The Palestine Liberation Organization was founded with a charter plotting Israel’s total destruction.

In 1967, the Arab League declared, “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it.”

It was Palestinians who in the 1980s launched the first violent “intifada” against Israel and sparked Israeli-Lebanese warfare by attacking Israel from Lebanon.

Fanatic Palestinian groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad – proxies of Iran, which pledges “death to America, death to Israel” – sought to undermine reconciliation with waves of suicide bombings in the 1990s. The atrocities came following the Oslo Accords, which afforded almost all Palestinians self-rule.

At talks at Camp David in 2000, a dovish Israeli government extended an unprecedented offer of Palestinian statehood in nearly all the so-called “occupied territories” – compromising even on Jerusalem and Judaism’s single holiest site, the Temple Mount. 

Palestinians balked–causing then-President Bill Clinton to tell PLO leader Yasser Arafat, “I’m a colossal failure, and you made me one”–and began an even deadlier intifada.

Later, in 2005, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon initiated a complete, unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, including every single Jewish settlement community. Within months, Hamas violently seized the territory and escalated incessant terrorism from it.

In 2008, Sharon’s successor, Ehud Olmert, went even further than the Camp David proposals. 

Mahmoud Abbas, Arafat’s replacement, declined to accept or even make a counteroffer. 

Instead, Abbas has given speeches maligning Israel as an “apartheid” state and explicitly tried to “internationalize” the conflict by weaponizing U.N. bodies against Israel.

He has also invented a way for Palestinians to have their cake and eat it too, by having the U.N. recognize in 2012 a not-yet-existent “State of Palestine” even as Palestinians evade all the responsibilities of a state by asserting they remain wholly under occupation. 

Palestinian rulers endemically glorify violence against Jews but Abbas insists that Israel–with its two million Arab citizens–is “racist.” 

He also decries the failure of Resolution 181 to deliver Palestinian statehood while continuing to reject the critical other half of the resolution’s program: Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.

Abbas claims that Israel’s Jewish identity makes it inherently discriminatory. He has expressed no similar concerns about the dozens of countries whose flag features a crescent or a cross.

In 1947, two years after the Holocaust, desperate but visionary Jews grasped a modest opening for a better future and made something of it, building a thriving, democratic state despite all odds–and peace with multiple Arab and Muslim countries. 

This Nov. 29, the U.N. will mark its annual day of solidarity with Palestinians – the only such day for a particular people–and Palestinian representatives will again rue the lot of their constituency. 

If that lot is to change, Palestinians’ approach must too. Seventy-five years of grievance, aggression, and maximalism have yielded little. 

Over the next 75 years, a path of compromise and cooperation can reap far greater dividends. We’ve seen Israel do it.

But are Palestinian leaders interested?

Philly Officials Draw Ire for Participating in Pro-PLO Event

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney joined members of the City Council, state Sen. Nikil Saval, and state Rep. Danilo Burgos last week to stand beneath Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) flags in celebration of the United Nations international day of solidarity with the Palestinians.

Prior to the rally, which took place on the first day of Chanukah, the Israeli consulate in New York sent Kenney a letter asking him not to attend.

“The Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the Zionist Organization of America views it as reprehensible that some Philadelphia politicians sought to undermine the Jewish community earlier this week by participating in an event that garnered support for a movement that is designed to destroy the only Jewish state, Israel. It is reprehensible that the city would host such an official event and shocking and disgraceful that officials who represent all Philadelphians would attend it and participate in it,” the ZOA said in a press release.

Over the years, the PLO, a terrorist organization, has murdered thousands of Israeli Jews and scores of Americans, said Steve Feldman executive director of the ZOA’s Greater Philadelphia Chapter.

“Why any of these individuals would want to support a movement or a cause that has one of its outcomes and agendas to harm another people is troubling?” Feldman asked.

Some are Democratic Socialists whose party is anti-Israel and supports the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement against Israel. There are also PLO members who use the chant, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” a call for the destruction of the state of Israel.

Other participants, who are traditional Democrats, might not be aware of the implications.

Burgos counted himself in the latter camp. He said he thought he was just supporting the “Palestinian community here in Philadelphia,” he explained when asked why he participated in the event.

Kenney did not reply to a request for comment from the Delaware Valley Journal. However, he told the Forward that Philadelphia’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (OIA) and the Office of City Representative (OCR) have been in discussions with representatives of the local Palestinian community to host an event that recognizes their contributions to the city and region. The Palestinian Day of Solidarity resulted from those conversations and is not a statement on international affairs or the ongoing Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

“I participated in the event as I have done for countless events recognizing our ethnically and religiously diverse communities,” the mayor said, pointing out that he also attended an event on antisemitism.

Saval, and council members Kendra Brooks, Jamie Gauthier, and Maria Quinoñes Sanchez also declined to respond when contacted by Delaware Valley Journal.

A reporter at the event tweeted that Saval, while speaking at the podium, referenced a “right of return” of Palestinian-Arabs to Israel — which Feldman described as a known demographic ploy to destroy Israel. Saval also mentioned the “occupation” of Palestine, a “demonstrably false canard,” said Feldman. And Saval quoted a poem by Mahmoud Darwish (who was a member of the PLO), and then called out: “Free Palestine.”

“There never was an Arab nor Muslim state in the region called Palestine prior to the amputation of 78 percent of the designated Jewish homeland to create the nation of Jordan,” the ZOA release said.

Gauthier tweeted, “We stand with our Palestinian neighbors. We see you, we value you, and we empathize with your struggle — to resist occupation and oppression, & to be recognized as a people.”

Brooks tweeted, “Today we recognize that our struggles are interconnected and we celebrate the beauty, richness, and diversity of our wonderful city.” On Facebook, she posted: “It is equally important that we advocate for the fair treatment of our Palestinian neighbors at home and abroad so that all people may live with dignity, safety, and sovereignty. We must recognize that the history into the present moment of Palestine is marked by struggle. For decades, Palestinians have faced discrimination, displacement, violence, and occupation.

“As a Black woman, I know that a threat to the rights and dignity of any people is a threat to us all. Because I know that our struggles are intertwined, I know that so too is our fight for liberation. And I know that when we lead with solidarity, we win. To all of our Palestinian friends and neighbors: may we all know freedom and justice in the new year ahead. Thank you for being a part of our beautiful city,” Brooks added.

Kenney may not have mentioned any geopolitical issues, but the picture of him with a backdrop of PLO flags was a victory for PLO propaganda, critics say.

And the fact that elected Philadelphia officials stood under the PLO flag should trouble Jewish residents and business owners, said Feldman, who is also concerned that other Jewish leaders have not rebuked Kenney and the other officials for attending the Palestinian event.

“The acceptance of this by Jewish leaders is very troubling. I have not seen a public statement condemning this by any other Jewish organization or other organizations,” Feldman said. “All decent people should be condemning anybody who calls for ending the Jewish State of Israel and establishing a state of Palestine.”

“People are being taken in, hoodwinked by propaganda and lies,” said Feldman. “The bigger and more outrageous the lie, the more it is repeated.”

Days after the Palestinian event, the city’s director of commerce, Michael Rashid, resigned after allegedly making antisemitic remarks to employees. Rashid said he apologized to Jewish leaders for “inappropriate” comments.

In a statement Sunday, Kenney said, “I’ve accepted Mr. Rashid’s resignation today in light of his inappropriate comments. The work of the Commerce Department is far too crucial—and it’s important that the department stays focused on its mission of supporting Philadelphia’s business community at this critical time as we continue to recover from the devastating impacts of the pandemic. The city is committed to ensuring a fair and inclusive working environment where the values of respect and dignity are upheld.”


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