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What is most striking about Palestinian identity is its derivation from, and sustained grounding in, Jewish sources. Like other Middle Eastern Muslims, Palestinians claim Ishmael, Abraham’s son by his servant Hagar, as the ancestral link to “their” patriarch Abraham. They have adopted the biblical Canaanites, displaced according to the biblical narrative by the conquering Israelites, as their own victimized ancestral people. Their insistent claim of a “right of return” to Israel for Palestinian refugees mirrors more than a century of Zionist yearning; it also emulates the Law of Return passed by the Knesset (1950) assuring to every Jew the right to immigrate to Israel.
In a grotesque inversion, Palestinian teen-agers have compared themselves to Anne Frank, suffering from the “Holocaust” that Israelis have inflicted on them. In this mendacious historical travesty Palestinians have become the new “Jews,” victimized by Israeli “Nazis.” A year ago the Mavi Marmara flotilla to Gaza was designed to replicate the rickety refugee ships, most famously the Exodus, that tried to bring desperate Jews to Palestine before and after World War II. It succeeded in casting the Israeli navy in the role of the malevolent British military forces that had turned Jewish refugees away from their promised land.
Recently an Israeli Arab Member of the Knesset (how many Jews are members of Arab parliaments?) introduced a bill to deny government funding to any group refusing to recognize that Israeli independence was a nakba (catastrophe) for Palestinians. Any resemblance between “nakba denial” and Holocaust denial is, of course, purely intentional (and surely preposterous).
But a people without its own national history must relentlessly plunder Jewish sources to persuade a gullible world audience that Palestinian victims are the rightful inheritors of Jewish traditions and land. So the Palestinians, in a fitting expropriation, cast themselves as Jacob, stealing Esau’s birthright.
By now, Palestinians have updated the world’s 2,000-year-old “lethal obsession” with Jews. Like the ancient Romans, they seek to obliterate the Jewish name and historical presence from the biblical homeland. The Palestinian usurpation of Jewish identity is now widely applauded by nations that indifferently witnessed the annihilation of European Jewry. Gullible allies (including Jews) in trendy intellectual, academic and media circles have made the very idea of a Jewish state anathema.
To be sure, there already is a Palestinian state – in Jordan (part of Mandatory “Palestine” until the partition of 1922), with a majority Palestinian population.
There is another de facto Palestinian state in the Hamas fiefdom of Gaza.
Still another Palestinian state, wrapping itself in the mantle of Jewish history in the biblical Jewish homeland, would climax a brazen pattern of national identity theft – and confront the State of Israel with lethal danger.
Jerold S. Auerbach is the author, most recently, of “Brothers at War: Israel and the Tragedy of the Altalena,” published in May by Quid Pro Books.