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Losing The Debate


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Recently, a weekly television program that focuses on Israel featured a debate between a young woman from an Arab-American organization and the show’s host, who in real life is a prominent attorney and real estate developer. A second guest, a reporter from a local Jewish newspaper, joined the host in attempting to rebut the young woman’s pro-Palestinian arguments.

It was a rout: the woman won hands down.

She won because she spelled out her positions in an articulate, methodical fashion, while the two men were defensive, short on facts, and generally reduced to raising their eyebrows or shaking their heads. When the woman stated that Israel has no constitution, the host insisted, repeatedly and wrongly, that Israel does have one. When the woman contended that Palestinians have deep historical ties to their ‘homeland,’ neither fellow offered a rejoinder.

The program, far from being an anomaly, was only the latest instance of an increasingly common phenomenon: scrupulously polite, inexplicably passive pro-Israel debaters coming off second-best in a public forum. And it’s not as if the facts backing Israel aren’t accessible on countless websites and in books such Mitchell G. Bard’s remarkably comprehensive Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israel Conflict (the entire text of which can be found online at
www.JewishVirtualLibrary.org).

Here is how Bard, in a few cogent paragraphs, dispatches the myth that ‘Palestine was always an Arab country’:

“No independent Arab or Palestinian state ever existed in Palestine. When the distinguished Arab-American historian, Princeton University Prof. Philip Hitti, testified against partition before the Anglo-American Committee in 1946, he said: “There is no such thing as ‘Palestine’ in history, absolutely not.”

“Prior to partition, Palestinian Arabs did not view themselves as having a separate identity. When the First Congress of Muslim-Christian Associations met in Jerusalem in February 1919 to choose Palestinian representatives for the Paris Peace Conference, the following resolution was adopted: “We consider Palestine as part of Arab Syria, as it has never been separated from it at any time. We are connected with it by national, religious, linguistic, natural, economic and geographical bonds.”

“In 1937, a local Arab leader, Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, told the Peel Commission, which ultimately suggested the partition of Palestine: “There is no such country [as Palestine]! -Palestine” is a term the Zionists invented! There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria.”

“The representative of the Arab Higher Committee to the United Nations submitted a statement to the General Assembly in May 1947 that said “Palestine was part of the Province of Syria” and that, “politically, the Arabs of Palestine were not independent in the sense of forming a separate political entity.”

“A few years later, Ahmed Shuqeiri, later the chairman of the PLO, [said]: “It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria.””

But one need not limit oneself to compilations of quotes by admittedly subjective parties in order to penetrate the fog of Arab deception. Just the other day, while sorting through some dusty volumes on a long-neglected bookshelf, the Monitor came upon a collection of interviews conducted by the Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci which included a 1972 session with Yasir Arafat. This is all one needs know to grasp the sea change in Palestinian propaganda:

Fallaci: “But what does Palestine mean”…The Turks were here, before the British Mandate and Israel. So what are the geographical borders of Palestine””

Arafat: “….From an Arab point of view, one doesn’t speak of borders; Palestine is a small dot in the great Arabic ocean. And our nation is the Arab one, it is a nation extending from the Atlantic to the Red Sea and beyond….”

Later in the interview, when Fallaci again brought up the matter of borders, Arafat reiterated: “I repeat that borders have no importance. Arab unity is important, that’s all.”

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press.


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