The Palestinian Narrative
To ponder the Arab-Israeli conflict in its present form, it is necessary to understand the Palestinian narrative. This narrative, introduced over forty years ago, is sometimes viewed as the source of the conflict and has received broad support in the Arab world, in European capitals and in international institutions.
But does it conform to the historical and legal evidence?
We shall review the genesis of this narrative, its evolution in the 1970s, its inherent contradictions, and its brilliantly choreographed implementation. We shall also briefly describe the steps required to restore factual truths and ensure a lasting peace in the region.
But first, we shall say a few words about political narratives in general.
Political narratives share the general characteristics listed above. This process was extensively used during the latest American elections. Many inaccuracies were stated by both presidential candidates but, regardless of the strenuous work of a multitude of fact checkers, the power of narratives was such that the message proved its effectiveness in shifting opinion. Cartoonists, satirists and comedians - Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert among others - were left to fight those narratives with ridicule.
More specifically, the long-running Palestinian narrative was aptly analyzed by Shelby Steele, a distinguished Fellow at the Hoover Institution, during a counter-conference held in New York on the day of the infamous Durban III conference at the UN (September 22, 2011). See main points above.
The acquiescence from the West explains why the Palestinian narrative has remained largely unchallenged. Besides the guilt-ridden attitude of the West due to its colonial past, Europe, in particular, was harshly affected by the oil shock of 1973-74; subjected to Arab blackmail through the Euro-Arab Dialogue; and fully aware of the latent threat posed by the growing, radicalised Muslim component of their population.
Shelby Steele suggested that the only way to fight such a forged narrative is to create the conditions required to operate a change from within the Palestinian society. Obviously, this is a long-term proposition. There may be a better way, once we understand the genesis of the Palestinian narrative.
In the wake of the Six Day War, the Soviets were dumbfounded by the poor performance of their military equipment in the hands of the Arab armies of Egypt and Syria. To preserve their influence in the region, they brought the Palestinians to the forefront of the Arab war against Israel. The Soviet KGB delegated this task to their Romanian counterpart, under the command of Ion Mihai Pacepa, who later defected to the West and wrote a book about his covert activities.
Bombastic declarations ("throwing the Jews into the sea") were deleted from the traditional Arab discourse and replaced by a "national liberation" philosophy, centered on Marxist ideology, where imperialism, colonization, oppression, victimization, racism became the prevailing concepts, to be hammered relentlessly into the consciousness of the world at large.
These concepts appear repeatedly in the newly formulated PLO Covenant of 1968, which the KGB helped to draft. Contrary to popular belief, the PLO Covenant has never been amended after the Oslo Accords of 1993, in spite of Yasser Arafat's written commitment to Yitzhak Rabin. This Covenant remains the foundational document of the PLO and its offspring, the Palestinian Authority.
The Soviets relied upon the automatic Palestinian support from the UN General Assembly, through the overlapping membership of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (which includes the Arab League), the Non Aligned Movement, the Soviet bloc and Eastern Europe, and the African Union.
The UN did not waste any time in implementing the Soviet plan through a series of General Assembly Resolutions, beginning in December 1969.
For the first time, the notion of a hitherto unheard of "Palestinian people" entered the international lexicon, with its "inalienable rights... to self-determination" (Res. 2535B) and entitled to pursue its "liberation struggle...by any means at their disposal" (Res. 2649). The latter phrase tacitly condoned terrorist acts, given that resisting a struggle for liberation is itself a "criminal act"! This was tantamount to legitimizing Palestinian terror and delegitimizing Israeli self-defense. Such a lopsided concept is reflected in the judicial travesty of the advisory opinion issued by the International Court of Justice in July 2004, which denied Israel the right of self-defence, as recognized in Article 51 of the UN Charter.
Strengthened by these UN Resolutions, Arafat formulated his "Phased Plan" and was later welcomed at the podium of the UN, which rewarded him with Resolution 3236 (see the next two slides). This resolution essentially substituted Palestine to Israel, a recognized member of the UN. Another shameful act followed a year later with the infamous Resolution 3379, equating Zionism with racism, and the creation of the CEIRPP which continues to propagate the most glaring anti-Israel falsehoods to this day.
For a more detailed exposé of the pro-Palestinian slant at the UN and its nefarious impact on the Middle East conflict, please read this article posted in The American Thinker.
After the resounding Arab defeats of 1948 (Israel's War of Independence), 1967 (Six Day War) and 1973 (Yom Kippur War), the Arab countries lost all hope of destroying Israel. They resorted to war by other means and they focused on the "Palestinian cause", headed by Yasser Arafat.
The "Phased Plan" formulated by Arafat in 1974 has been followed closely ever since. The first objective was to acquire any territory from which attacks against Israel could be launched. The Oslo Accords provided this opportunity with Jericho and Gaza first transferred to Palestinian control, then Hebron and, eventually, about 45% of Judea and Samaria - the so-called "West Bank."
The first "intifada" of 1988 was followed by a bloody succession of suicide bombings and terrorist attacks in the 1990s. The second "intifada" erupted in 2000. It was premeditated and launched in the wake of the Camp David peace proposals which were squarely rejected by Arafat.
The third phase of the plan is ongoing, as attested by several looming threats, chief among them the ominous nuclear capabilities of Iran;; the missile arsenal of Hezbollah; the fanatical jihadists of Hamas; the instability of the neighbouring Arab countries; and the relentless anti-Israel campaigns of Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) coupled with the incessant delegitimation of Israel in campuses.
Following Arafat's exploits in hijacking airplanes, assassinating the U.S. Ambassador in Khartoum, and murdering Israeli athletes in Munich and school children in Ma'alot, the leader of the PLO was welcomed at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in November 1974. Under the kindly gaze of Secretary General Kurt Waldheim, and wearing a pistol holder on his belt, Arafat delighted the naive, impressed the politically obtuse and bamboozled those who should have known better.
His long, ranting speech - 7,800 words - is peppered with the Marxist keywords he absorbed from the KGB. Referring to Zionism, terms such as colonialism, imperialism and racism appear repeatedly - 32, 19 and 17 times, respectively. Normally, such a vitriolic tirade spewed by a leader of a terrorist organization against a UN-member (Israel) would have thrown him out of the hall of the General Assembly. Instead, Arafat got a standing ovation and, a week later, the UN rewarded him handsomely.
The reward came in the form of UNGA Resolution 3236, which encapsulated the whole web of fabrications concocted since 1969 in previous resolutions. Some observers believe that if the General Assembly had the power to eradicate Israel from the UN, it would have done so immediately after Resolution 3236 was passed.
Resolution 3236 figures prominently in the letter addressed by Mahmoud Abbas to UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon on September 23, 2011, as supporting evidence for Palestinian statehood.
The supreme irony of the Palestinian narrative lies in the Arab denial of the very existence of a "Palestinian people" and of a separate Arab national entity called "Palestine." Since the 1950s - and even during the British Mandate period - prominent Arab leaders have overtly admitted the fictitious national character of the "Palestinians," which they use only as a weapon against the existence of Israel.
The examples listed above are just a few among prominent Arab leaders. More recently, in 2009, Azmi Bishara, a former Israeli MK, ridiculed the notion of a "Palestinian people" in Hebrew and in front of an Israeli television panel.
What is most astounding is that the supporters of the "Palestinian cause" in Europe, in the media and in academia choose to ignore these denials.
To spread the Palestinian narrative as broadly as possible, and especially among the uninformed masses who prefer simple sound bites to elaborate Marxist constructs, the message focused on a single word: occupation.
"Occupation" is a term that everyone can understand. It has no redeeming value; only pejorative connotations. All occupying powers left their colonized territories in the second half of the past century. Therefore, presenting Israel as the last remaining occupying power casts a permanent blemish on the Jewish state. "Occupation is often expanded into the "illegal occupation of Palestinian territories", a four-word expression which contains three falsehoods, readily apparent when the following questions cannot produce a cogent answer: a) Occupied from whom? b) When did the territories become 'Palestinian'? c) What makes this so-called occupation 'illegal'?
There is hardly a declaration, interview or article issued by a Palestinian Arab official which does not insert the word "occupation", regardless of the context. Unfortunately, these statements are rarely, if ever, challenged by posing the three questions mentioned above.
This false notion of "occupation" - which runs against its proper definition in international law - is at the source of the new anti-Semitism, conveniently disguised as anti-Zionism. The so-called "occupation" supports all the ongoing anti-Israel activities: "Israel Apartheid Week", BDS movement, Gaza flotillas, etc. I submitted an article on this topic to the CPCCA in August 2009.
Branding the false notion of "occupation" has had a nefarious effect, as depicted graphically above.
"Occupation" triggered a growing slanderous cycle against Israel. The characterization of Jews as "alien foreigners" in the Land of Israel was followed by accusations of "stealing the land", building "illegal" settlements, pursuing an "imperialist project", launching aggressive actions against the Palestinians in "violation of international law", and creating in Israel a "Nazi-Apartheid state."
Even reputable media organizations, like The New York Times, continue to promote one or more of these falsehoods with impunity. We are witnessing an Orwellian pattern where language corrupts thought. Regrettably, no Israeli government has vigorously challenged these false accusations.
In a nutshell, the Palestinian narrative is based on a fictitious people (whose existence is widely denied by Arab leaders) who claim self-determination and sovereignty in a land which has been stolen, occupied and colonized by foreign imperialists through the racist Zionist movement.
One could hardly imagine a more mendacious construct. And yet, it has been accepted, promoted and staunchly defended by the media, by international institutions, by academia and even by Western diplomats and heads of government.
Fortunately, the tide is turning. The truth is slowly being restored by some witty satirists (Pat Condell), by distinguished international lawyers (Howard Grief), by a number of organizations in Israel, Europe and North America and, most importantly, by the political landscape of the State of Israel.
At the heart of this struggle against falsehoods, we believe that the relevant historical facts and legal documents must be spread to the widest audiences possible, Stressing Israel's Legal Rights is the best - perhaps the only - way to counter the entrenched Palestinian myth of "occupation." This is where Canadians for Israel's Legal Rights (CILR) have focused their efforts for several years.
A summary of Israel's Legal Rights is presented on the following pages, with an introduction on the Ottoman Empire up to its collapse in 1918.
The map shows the full extent of the Ottoman Empire. Starting in 1300 in a small portion of western Anatolia, it expanded considerably in the next three centuries to finally include all the colored areas, the different colors reflecting the various periods on conquest.
At its apex, the Ottoman Empire spread from central Europe to south-western Arabia and from the Persian Gulf to Algeria. The Ottoman Turks were finally stopped in their advance at the gates of Vienna in 1683. During the 18th and 19th centuries, they gradually lost all they're European and North African
On the eve of World War One in 1914, the Ottoman Empire was reduced to the territories shown within the red line when it joined the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria) against the Allied Powers (mainly France and the British Empire but also Italy and Japan among others). The United States entered the war in Europe in 1917 but did not fight the Turks in the Middle East.
By the end of the war in 1918, Turkey had lost all its possessions in the Middle East. The Ottoman Empire collapsed, together with the German, Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires, the latter through the Bolshevik revolution in 1917.
(This slide briefly summarizes in graphic form the Legal Rights of Israel under international law)
Before the end of WWI, the British Government issued the Balfour Declaration (Nov. 1917) in support of a Jewish National Home in Palestine. It was an expression of British foreign policy but it was also welcomed by various other governments. Two months later, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson presented his Fourteen Points in Congress (Jan. 1918), where he advocated the creation of an "Assembly of Nations" and the right of peoples to "self-determination" in order to promote world peace.
After WWI, the Supreme Council of the Allied Powers (Britain, France, Italy, Japan and the U.S.) convoked the Paris Peace Conference (Jan. 1919). The League of Nations was created, governed by a Covenant which instituted the Mandates System for the benefit of peoples aspiring to sovereignty, thus fulfilling President Wilson's wishes. The Covenant of the League of Nations was included in Part I of the Treaty of Versailles which determined the fate of post-war Europe under international law.
The disposition of Turkish territories in the Middle East took place in San Remo, Italy, in April 1920, under the authority of the same Supreme Council (the U.S. acting as an observer). The San Remo Resolution combined Article 22 of the Covenant to the Balfour Declaration, thus making the latter a binding act of international law with regard to the Jewish National Home in Palestine under a British Mandate. The San Remo Resolution also allocated Syria (later split into Syria and Lebanon) and Mesopotamia (Iraq) to French and British mandates, respectively. Two years later, the Mandate for Palestine was confirmed by the Council of the League (July 1922) and approved by its 52 members.
The importance of the San Remo Conference cannot be overstated.
For the first time in history, Palestine became a legal entity in 1920, notwithstanding the wishful thinking of the Arabs who now call themselves "Palestinians." The Jewish people became the national beneficiary (self-determination) of the trust awarded to the British under the Mandate, a "sacred trust of civilization" according to Article 22 of the Covenant of the League. Sovereignty of Palestine (de jure) was vested in the Jewish people but was kept in abeyance for the duration of the Mandate. The acquired legal title in Palestine by the Jewish people cannot be revoked by the League or its successor, the United Nations.
San Remo also marks the end of the longest colonization period in history. After 1,850 years of Jewish exile from Palestine - and a concurrent succession of foreign occupiers from the Romans to the Turks - the Jewish nation was reconstituted - and a concurrent succession of foreign occupiers from the Romans to the Turks - the Jewish nation was reconstituted in San Remo (not "created") and the Jewish State was proclaimed 28 years later.
To mark the 90th anniversary of the San Remo Conference, a two-day commemoration was jointly organized by the European Coalition for Israel (ECI), based in Brussels, and Canadians for Israel's Legal Rights (CILR) of Toronto. After a series of lectures, the celebration of the event was held at the site where the San Remo Conference took place, as shown in the picture above.
This document was issued by WAFA, the official press agency of the Palestinian Authority, on the 91st anniversary of the San Remo Conference. It expresses the serious concern that the Palestinians have with the implications of San Remo.
As usual, it seems that no official Palestinian document can be free of falsehoods. It is not the "Zionist gangs" who viewed the San Remo Resolution as the "Magna Carta of the Jews." It was British Foreign Secretary Lord George Nathaniel Curzon - not exactly an ardent Zionist - who aptly coined this phrase in the early 1920s to highlight the inalienable rights of the Jewish people in Palestine.
Lord Balfour, British Foreign Secretary during World War One, was a staunch pro-Zionist Christian.
His support for the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine was also driven by several political considerations. He feared that the German Kaiser Wilhelm II, with whom Britain was at war at the time, would issue a similar declaration to entice Jews in Allied countries. Also, Balfour's idea was to rally American and Russian Jews to influence their governments in the Allied war effort.
The Balfour Declaration received support from U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, French Prime Minister George Clemenceau, and even Arab leader Faisal ibn-Hussein. Ironically, some of the most virulent opponents to the Balfour Declaration were among British Jews, led by Sir Edwin Montagu.
The Palestinian narrative reflects the real aspirations and objectives of the Palestinian Arabs. This narrative is echoed in their three foundational documents: the Fatah Constitution (1964), the PLO Covenant (in its final version of 1968) and the Hamas Charter (1988).
A cursory reading of these documents - which have never been amended, contrary to popular belief - shows clearly that peace is not what the Palestinians intend to achieve. In their various iterations, these three documents call for the eradication of Israel through armed aggression, the use of violence as a strategy and not as a mere tactic and, in the case of Hamas, a relentless, genocidal campaign against Jews, peppered with Islamic overtones.
Regrettably, these objectives and their malicious intent have remained largely unreported in the mainstream media. After twenty years of a lame "peace process", Israelis, together with a growing number of Jews and many groups worldwide, are beginning to have second thoughts about the idyllic project of creating "two states living side by side in peace and security."
Historians will wonder why it took so long. In the early stages of the Oslo process, the structural flaws of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations were detected by some bright analysts. Boston University Professor Angelo M. Codevilla was one of them. As early as 1997, he highlighted the inherent incompatibility of objectives pursued by the two parties and he characterized the whole process as "a pernicious utopian virus."
Some fundamental changes in dealing with peace in the Middle East are necessary. Indications are that the Israeli Government will be receptive to the recommendations of the Edmund Levy Report, which casts a new, truthful light into the nature of the Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria and the legality of Jewish settlements. New developments in this area may be expected after the Israeli elections of January 22, 2013.
Finally, in November 2011, CILR presented the legal rights of Israel in a concise, comprehensive handbook, available in Amazon-Kindle edition:
In 2018, Canadians for Israel's Legal Rights published the second edition of The Jewish People's Rights to the Land of Israel, and the new version is available now on Amazon.