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the pulpitIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

The Palestinians’ appropriation of history is a vital tool in their war against the Jews

While Israel has the firepower and the might, it has no clear plan or strategy to end the conflict through the defeat of its enemies.

Palestinians hold flags during a rally in support of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank town of Tubas, Sept. 27, 2020. Photo by Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90.
Palestinians hold flags during a rally in support of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank town of Tubas, Sept. 27, 2020. Photo by Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90.
Alex Nachumson
Alex Nachumson

The use of tropes and the appropriation of history have frequently been used by totalitarian regimes to inspire their people to strive for victory.

The Nazis often used medieval Norse imagery and mythology, as well as the construction of the idea that they were descendants of a pure Nordic race, to promote their ideology. They further developed the idea of Aryanism, an ideology of racial superiority whereby the Aryan people required a separate and expanding territory—Lebensraum—for their growth and development.

At the center of Lebensraum was the concept of liberating conquered lands of all non-Aryan people, chiefly Jews, in the name of  a purified state for the development of the “master race.” It was settler colonialism at its most racist and genocidal, and it was all backed by a self-created pseudo-history.

Now, another people seek to purge territory of Jews in the name of settler colonialism, and rewrite history to try and justify its violence.

According to Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), the Palestinian Authority has long created a fictitious history for itself. The P.A. claims Palestinians to be unique in the annals of history, being the only people to have defeated many of the greatest empires.

At the recent Palestinian Martyrs’ Day ceremony in Ramallah, P.A. Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, speaking in the name of P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas, said that the Romans, Greeks, Persians, Pharaohs, Hyksos and Tatars were all defeated by the Palestinians.

“We have defeated all the invaders who passed through the land of Palestine,” Shtayyeh reportedly said, according to PMW. “On behalf of the Martyrs, we will defeat this hated occupation [Israel] that will leave our land.”

It is well known and not in dispute that a distinct Palestinian identity is little more than 100 years old. Such attempts to insert themselves into millennia of history would be merely amusing if it didn’t preface the real intentions behind the falsification.

In effect, the Palestinian leadership is trying to justify its long war against the Jews and goad it into thinking of itself as a victorious people who defeated all empires.

This is nonsense, of course, but, as was the case of the Nazis, the Palestinians’ intent is more important than their actual history.

Like the Nazis, the Palestinian leadership is appropriating history to justify its current actions; and like the German National Socialists, the Palestinians see one people in the way of their creating a purified territory.

The Jewish people have unfortunately long played the role as the “other,” the one that should be discriminated against, ghettoized, expelled and massacred, whether in Europe or in the Middle East and North Africa.

In every iteration, Jews were singled out as an element that had to be harassed, debased or set apart. This exponential hatred of Jews was what enabled and led to the Final Solution.

The Palestinian demand that the Jewish state be defeated and expunged is just a new version of an old theme. Neither the Jews, Jewish collectivity nor Jewish self-determination have a place in the world, the Palestinian narrative asserts. This threat should be taken as seriously as that of the Nazis.

The difference between then and now, of course, is the fact that we Jews have returned to sovereignty in our indigenous and ancestral homeland, and we have a strong army. However, our motivation to fight, defeat and destroy settler colonialism and attempted genocide remains lacking somewhat.

Firstly, because we simply do not recognize it as such. We listen or read these comments, and we shrug our shoulders or snicker about these crazed fantasies. We do not seek to understand the Palestinian motivation.

But such words should trouble us, not just because they are about the destruction of our nation and genocide, but because they demonstrate that the Palestinians understand the concept of victory.

These are not mere fighting words; they express an intention and a fantasy that need to come to fruition. Every attack against the Jewish state should be seen through the prism of this fantasy, whether n the form of rockets from Gaza or terrorists from Judea and Samaria.

These violent actions are not just part of an ongoing conflict; they are integral to a war against the Jews, in the hope that the State of Israel can be destroyed by the death of 1,000 cuts.

The appropriation of history is a vital weapon in this battle, because, like the Nazis, the Palestinian paint their war as good and righteous and the Jews as undeserving of safety or protection. Victory will be theirs, they contend, because history has shown that they will ultimately win, regardless of time and the strength of the opponent.

This conflict will not be won by Israel, because it barely knows it is fighting such a battle, and because it does not appear to have the same capacity to imagine ultimate victory. Imagination and ultimate military aims are significant tools for the victorious.

While Israel has the firepower and the might, it has no clear plan or strategy to end the conflict through the defeat of its enemies. While its enemies might lack the weaponry, they possess the motivation to continue fighting.

The Palestinians hold their collective gaze on ultimate victory through a deconstruction and appropriation of history, which means the end of the Jewish state, whereas Israel has no conceptualization of what its own version of ultimate victory looks like.

This is one of the central reasons why the conflict continues.

Alex Nachumson is an IDF Military Commander (Res) and CEO of Mivtachi Israel, an organization of former senior IDF Officers, and an adviser to the Israel Victory Project.

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