When is a Palestinian Not a Palestinian?

Palestinian dichotomy

15 July 2012

Arab or Palestinian

Do the Palestinians exist? I say, yes. Sometimes

We all seen it. The battle lines are drawn. The Destroy Israel Lobby claims that the the Palestinians have been around for ever. They have to say that, to trump three thousand years of Jewish claims. They present the Palestinians as the indigenous inhabitants, as if the world is so kind to the genuine indigenous. We know the groups preceding them – their names; when they came and when they disappeared from history. Some put out that Palestinians are descendants of the Philistines even though the Sea Invaders of the  Iron Age were almost certainly not Semitic but Aegean and have disappeared from history a minimum of 1,400 years before the Arabs invaded. Most preposterously,  Mahmud Abbas even invented a stone-age place for them  in human prehistory at around 7,000 BC. Suffice it to say that except for the Palestinians not one historian or ancient written source agrees.

On the other side are the deniers of Palestinian identity. Some of them are friends of mine. They provide evidence that the Palestinians are an invented people and even point to a date in the 1960s when it became useful to create them. Some Palestinians slip up and agree. They point to the impossibility of even defining the Palestinians other that those who, two years before Israel’s War of Independence, resided in the British Mandate of Palestine. That BTW included Jews until 1952 when Israel requested to have them removed from the lists.

Deniers, as these, refuse to even use the word Palestinian.

IMHO the ‘never-use-the-word-Palestinian’ crowd live in almost as much a dream world as the Palestinians themselves. That horse bolted on Sept. 13, 1993 when the Israeli government recognised the Palestinian people. Each of the 35 instances of use of the word Palestinian in the Declaration of Principles On Interim Self-Government Arrangements AKA the Oslo Accords made sure that particular gate can never be bolted. What we need is some guide for when to use ‘Palestinian’and when to use ‘Arab’ so as not to present the Destroy Israel Lobby with a semantic victory each time we speak or write. We need to recognise  historical accuracy and at the same time accept today’s realities.

My personal rules of thumb

  • Arab residents/citizens of the State of Israel are ‘Israeli Arabs’.
    • That is how they are described in all official Israeli docs.
    • It distinguishes them from Arabs living in the West Bank and Gaza.
  • Arabs before the 1960s are ‘Arabs’.
    • That is how they described themselves not as Palestinians.
    • Some thought of themselves as Southern Syrians.
  • When they are refugees they are ‘Arab refugees’ in 1948 and ‘Palestinian refugees’ today.
    • UNWRA only described them as displaced people without dividing them into ethnic groups.
    •  Today UNWRA calls them ‘Palestine refugees’.
  • Residents of the Palestinian Authority are ‘Palestinian’.
    • However dubious that might be by historical standards, Israel’s representatives accepted that in the Oslo Accords.
  • Residents of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, etc. are ‘Jordanians’, ‘Syrians’ or ‘Lebanese’ or simply ‘Arabs’.
    • Unless there is a need to distinguish them from other groups in those countries, such as Bedouin, Allawites, Shiites, etc.
  • All Palestinians are Arabs but not all Arabs are Palestinians.
The Government of the State of Israel and the P.L.O. team (in the Jordanian-Palestinian delegation to the Middle East Peace Conference) (the “Palestinian Delegation”), representing the Palestinian people, agree that it is time to put an end to decades of confrontation and conflict, recognize their mutual legitimate and political rights, and strive to live in peaceful coexistence and mutual dignity and security and achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement and historic reconciliation through the agreed political process. Accordingly, the, two sides agree to the following principles:
Oslo Accords 1993

These ‘rules’ are flexible. I am not always consistent. This isn’t technical writing and I like to vary my prose. I don’t get upset if someone breaks the rules. They are, after all, only guidelines.


About the 5-in-a-star

Is it possible for a nation or an ethnic group to be simultaneously defenseless, innocent victims and irresistible, Jihadi, Arab warriors? The Palestinians and their supporters seem to manage this dichotomy. Check out any page dedicated to Israel/Palestine in Facebook and you’ll find they-killed-Kenny illustrations of injured children accompanied by the inevitable ‘evil Zionists commit genocide’ labels. That the photographs of the atrocities are frequently archival, not what they say it is, photoshopped or staged is standard operating procedure. Those same Palestinians then have no problems making the most bloodthirsty threats about what millions of Arabs will do to destroy the Jews. As the Hamas Covenant says, even the trees and stones will call on the Muslims to kill the Jews hiding, presumably petrified with fear, behind them.

I chose the curved sword as the symbol of the Arab warrior and the baby bottle with teat as the symbol of the innocent child victim. Let’s ignore for a moment, the so-called demographic threat. Yassar The womb of the Arab woman is my best weapon Arafat didn’t practise what he preached in his personal life, anyway. The Palestinian flag is self explanatory, although I see this cognitive dissonance of refusing to accept that casualties, even collateral casualties are an inevitable result of making war, as as much an Arab quality.

Palestinians make war, lose wars and then complain about the consequences.

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About David Guy

B.A./B.C.A. (Communication and Media Arts) University of Wollongong, AUSTRALIA M.A. in Government (Diplomacy and Conflict Studies) Inter Disciplinary Center, Herzliya, ISRAEL Twitter @5MFI
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