There are alternative narratives and then there are alternative universes. The first might employ fabricated ideas and “facts,” but the latter is a complete departure from anything like reality.
Welcome to the alternative universe of Palestinian “sovereignty.”
There have been many stories on the recent Jerusalem Day festivities, in particular the unprecedented number of Jews who ascended the Temple Mount and, of course, the annual Flag March, which, despite grave forebodings and threats from the likes of Hamas, took place with a minimum of confrontation and an abundance of joyful celebration.
It is no surprise that Palestinian Authority officials were not impressed by the show of support and love for Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem.
It is extraordinary, however, that they also asserted that the Palestinian people “have proven today that sovereignty in Jerusalem is Palestinian sovereignty despite all the practices of the occupation and the racist settlers.”
What can this possibly mean? Granted, the statement was made by the P.A.’s “governor of Jerusalem,” who has one of the cushiest jobs in the world, given that he doesn’t have to do anything except make non-existent trains run on time. It should be a surprise that he had time to warn against attempts to “Judaize Jerusalem.”
Of course, other officials opined in a similar fashion. P.A. Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh provided the memorable insight: “Jerusalem has been and will remain through the years and forever the capital of the state of Palestine” and “attempts to change its features and impose illusory sovereignty on it will not succeed.”
If someone said such things in New York, they would have been straitjacketed and carted off to Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital.
Why are these statements important, even a cause for concern, given that they are divorced from reality?
I would suggest that it is precisely because they are so delusional. They serve to open even wider the Pandora’s Box of “whatever I say is real is, in fact, real.”
This is dangerous because the P.A. and Hamas do a masterful job of pushing the narrative that they are a benighted, oppressed people of eternal victims torn from their ancestral roots by heartless “settlers” who make Vladimir Putin look cuddly.
And large swaths of the world, who know nothing other than that the “victims” are always in the right and Jews always up to no good, believe them.
Left unchallenged and unchecked, a great number of people worldwide could accept the P.A.’s delusional view of the situation as the normative context of the conflict. These people can then influence their own governments to oppose Israel and support various Palestinian governmental entities.
The real concern, then, is that a great many people are unwilling to learn, discern, analyze and evaluate our situation. It is much easier to just believe what the “underdog” has to say.
Realistically, though, what can come of such a delusional mindset?
H.L. Mencken, the cynical 20th century American journalist and commentator, once famously said, “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.” I would suggest that no one is about to go broke overestimating the willingness of the Palestinians to depict an alternative universe in which their control of Jerusalem is blocked and thwarted by settler thugs.
We have heard rumors, for example, that the EU plans to construct a contiguous belt of structures that will link eastern Jerusalem (which includes the Old City) with Palestinian-controlled areas. Part of the reason for this is likely that the EU has adopted the Palestinians’ delusional claims. The Europeans believe that they will build on what is already “Palestine”—or, at least, ought to be “Palestine.”
It is difficult for rational people to understand true irrationality, so I suspect that the Israeli leadership laughs off the sheer lunacy of the Palestinian vision. But there is a method to the Palestinians’ madness, which is to formulate a false reality that the rest of the world buys into, and then insists Israel buy into it as well.
One of the challenges of true sovereignty is to do whatever it takes in order to protect that sovereignty. Israeli leaders will have to learn how to expose the delusions of the Palestinians and disabuse the world of their fantasies.
We have no choice but to enter their alternative universe and bring it back to reality.
Douglas Altabef is the Chairman of the Board of Im Tirtzu, Israel’s largest grassroots Zionist organization, and a director of both the Israel Independence Fund and B’yadenu. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.