Almost 80 years ago, The Palestine Post saw fit to quote from an article published in a local Arabic-language newspaper, Al Difa’a. The occasion was the visit of Malcom MacDonald who, at the time, was Great Britain’s Colonial Secretary and thus, in charge of policy as regards the British Mandate.
In its item on that newspaper’s editorial, published on Aug. 10, 1938, the Post noted that upon his arrival, MacDonald had spoken of the need for “justice for the two peoples” in the country, a phrase that raised ire in the editorial offices of Ad Difa’a. The paper objected to this expression, and it seems in rereading the report, a bit a déjà vu is obvious.
The Arab journal, close to the politics of the Mufti at the time, declared that there was actually only one people in the country, and that Palestine belonged to the Arabs. Oh, there was a “minority” of Jews, but they were only a group of immigrants that England had introduced by force.
Continuing to elucidate the Arab nationalist outlook, there could be no two homelands in the country and that, Al-Difa’a wrote, was the kernel of the dispute (“conflict” was the later term introduced).
That same edition of the Post carried other news: Hayim Goldenberg of Givat Shaul who had been shot and severely wounded by Arabs had died of his injuries; an Arab gang near Nablus had been engaged by British forces; a bomb had gone off in Jaffa’s shuk; and bombs were thrown at the Haifa-Tiberias bus in an attempt to kill Jews.
The political and diplomatic landscape really has not altered significantly since then. Except for the fact that the Zionist movement, specifically the Yishuv at that time, overcame Arab opposition during that 1936-39 period of terror, as it did the terror of 1920, 1921 and 1929, and in-between. It won Israel’s War of Independence 1947-49 after the undergrounds won their War of Liberation against the oppressive British Mandatory regime 1940-47. And the State of Israel overcame the period of the fedayeen in the 1950s, the PLO in the 1960s and 1970s, then Fatah, Hezbollah and Hamas, and the first and second intifadas.
Parallel to Prince William’s visit and its insult to Jerusalem, there is another round of Trump administration peace-making. They are emphasizing the need for economic betterment. Some commentators want rather a stress on the political element. However, a political situation, which has been impossible because of extreme Arab positions since 1920 have remained unchanged, maybe economic improvement is best. Why not try it?
But it seems the Palestinian Authority Arabs continue to be out-of-touch as they have for a century. As are those who support them.
P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh was quoted Saturday by WAFA as insisting that “the right address for achieving a just and lasting peace that cannot be bypassed, neither regionally nor internationally, is the Palestinian decision-maker represented by President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian leadership.” He accused the U.S. team of being “aimed at splitting the Palestinian homeland” when the P.A. would like, if not to jeopardize the secure existence of Israel, then to split Israel and force it back, in stages, to the 1947 lines.
In a Twitter post, U.S. negotiator Jason D. Greenblatt tweeted,
“Hamas and the P.A., who have been fighting one another for over a decade, are each cynically claiming that the U.S. is trying to divide Gaza and the West Bank, instead of acknowledging that we are trying to help the Palestinians in Gaza. What hypocrisy.”
Meanwhile, Saeb Erekat told the Voice of Palestine on Saturday that the American administration must
understand the need to stop pursuing imaginary political alternatives and projects aimed at splitting the Palestinian homeland to prevent the establishment of our Palestinian state. (original Arabic here)
From MacDonald and before to Kushner and Greenblatt, the essence, or to quote Al-Difa’a, the “kernel” has remained unchanged. Indeed, Kushner intuitively indicated that when, in an Arab-language interview, Kushner urged the Arabs of the Palestinian Authority:
Don’t allow your grandfather’s conflict to determine your children’s future.
Will Abbas, Erekat and Rudeineh listen?
Yisrael Medad is an American-born Israeli journalist and author.