There has long been a running joke that a book or museum of Palestinian history or culture is necessarily blank or empty. It is well-known that neither a Palestinian history nor an independent Palestinian culture exist.
Another well-known maxim is that Palestinian nationalism only exists in opposition to Jewish nationalism, and was only created with the advent and widespread acceptance of Zionism, the national liberation movement of the Jewish people to return to their indigenous and ancestral homeland.
Unfortunately for the Palestinians and their supporters, they have now basically admitted this is true.
According to a recent report, visitors to a Palestinian museum just north of Ramallah are invited to take part in an interactive exhibit called “The Intifada,” in which one can throw virtual rocks, seemingly at Israelis.
Apparently, the violent throwing of deadly weapons in the hope of killing someone is a central part of Palestinian identity.
While other cultures venerate their nation’s contributions to humanity—their technological advances, authors, entertainers and sportsmen and women—Palestinians see a potential murder and a war against innocent civilians as a supremely edifying aspect of national culture.
This should explain the roots of Palestinian rejectionism. This rejectionism is not a byproduct of experience or a founding myth, but the very essence of the Palestinian national movement’s ongoing existence.
Ever since the Jewish people started to return en masse to their homeland, the Palestinian reaction was not one of welcome, coexistence or even wait and see, but rather the initiation of a war that still continues today.
This war has come in various guises: direct deadly attacks, multi-army invasions, terrorism, economic boycotts, intifadas and BDS. The aim is the same, however—to end Jewish sovereignty and return the Jewish people to helplessness and second-class status.
Rock-throwing, therefore, is not an act of resistance, but of recolonization. It is an attempt to return to a time when Muslims ruled the entirety of the Middle East; conquering, subjugating and forcibly assimilating all local and indigenous people across the region.
The throwing of a rock comes with the intention to reverse the current situation and destroy the one nation and civilization that fought and won its homeland back from occupiers. This is the root of the continuing violence.
For the conflict to truly end, Israel has to defeat this violent Palestinian rejectionism to a point where the Palestinians understand that the current situation is permanent and will not be reversed.
The Palestinians revere sumud, meaning “steadfastness” or “steadfast perseverance,” which is a Palestinian cultural value, ideological theme and political strategy. It cannot be defeated with time, only by action.
One would think that losing multiple wars, being offered less and less to build a state and seeing friends around the world dwindle would wear down the Palestinian mindset towards ultimate victory over Israel.
They have not, so this mindset must be dealt the strongest possible blow.
This does not have to be via military defeat. It can be political, diplomatic, economic or a combination of all these factors. But it must have one simple goal: To disabuse the Palestinians of the idea that they can ultimately win, reverse the current situation and make the Jews once again submissive in their own homeland.
Israel’s decision-makers and opinion-shapers should not look at each Palestinian attack as separate or individual, but as part of an overall strategy of Palestinian rejectionism that must be defeated.
Active steps must be taken to convince the Palestinian leadership that they have been defeated. Only this can free Palestinian society from its obsession with destroying Israel.
The Palestinians can then build up their own polity and economic, civic and social institutions for the betterment of their people.
Then, in the future, the Palestinians can truly build a history and culture in order to give their people a better future, free of violence and rejectionism.
When the Palestinians can build a museum that doesn’t glorify murder and violence or entreat its visitors to try to kill Israelis, perhaps then we will know Israel has won.
We will also see a more peaceful region.
Alex Nachumson is a Major (Res.) in the IDF, CEO of Mivtachi Israel, an organization of former IDF officers, and advisor to the Israel Victory Project.