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The Palestinian Museum=Empty. A void.

Not so long ago the Palestine Museum opened with some fanfare in what seems to be an impressive building. However – there are no exhibits. That may be temporary, but it’s certainly symbolic: an empty museum for a people without national authenticity or history to exhibit, that didn’t exist until the 20th century, when artificially created as a political and propaganda tool against Israel.

The museum’s website has a short introductory video, starting: “Thousands of years ago… in a place we now call Palestine”. But what was it called then, thousands of years ago?


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The video mentions a culture, that grew there “into one of the most influential cultures the world has ever seen”. What culture is that?

Then the video jumps millennia to “the 20th century” when “the fabric of this vibrant nation was torn apart by dispossession and forced exile.” What happened between “thousands of years ago” and the 20th century?

Which “vibrant nation”? Entering the 20th century, the under-populated, under-developed land was divided into several backwater districts of the Ottoman Empire province of Beirut, and then the British Mandate came, not much of a “vibrant nation”.

The land was indeed “torn apart” by the Arab decision to annihilate the Jews rather than accept the compromise suggested by the UN General Assembly. However “forced exile” is flagrantly false: most Arabs fled on their own from the war they started. In addition, many Arabs left under Arab leadership orders, instructing them to make way for the Arab armies. Once the Jews were annihilated, they were told, they’d return home.

So – it’s an empty museum, except for some falsehoods.

But what was one to expect: an admission that the name of the land was Israel, Judah and Judea? That the influential culture is called Judaism? That the war was started by them and that they fled because of their war?

For that, the museum would have to admit the truth. If that were to happen, three things would then follow:

a) Confessing that their moral, historical and legal claims were all… empty, because the land of Israel was in fact the homeland of a vibrant, influential culture – Jewish culture;
b) Abandoning a false victimhood, admitting their responsibility for the war and the resulting refugee problem which persists to this day because they choose to do so, preferring spurious political gains rather than alleviating human suffering;
c) Once those recognitions took place – there could then be real peace with Israel.

Perhaps, sadly, those are goals that the museum and its masters cannot contemplate.

Another big empty is the modern, newly built Arab town of Rawabi north of Ramallah. It’s meant to be a showcase, classy, modern, forward looking city, of forward looking professional people. The city contains 25,000 apartments units in buildings covered with Jerusalem stone, making it look like a Jewish city in Samaria or Judea. Yet, only 600 apartments have been sold with just 200 families living there. Two years ago, also, only 600 apartments had been sold. Where are all the buyers? Well – Jews can’t buy; it’s closed to Jews, only Arabs can buy. So why don’t they?

The simple answer is that there aren’t as many Arabs in Judea and Samaria as is falsely claimed; there are about one and a half million less Arabs living here than is commonly claimed. Another possible explanation came to me from an Arab contractor who works in Jewsih communities in Judea and Samaria. He told me how he visited Jordan. He insisted that life was much better in Judea and Samaria; in Jordan there were few rich people and mostly poor or lower middle class people, whereas here most people were middle class; in Jordan most people don’t own their homes, they rented, whereas almost all Arabs in Judea and Samaria own their homes. So why sell a home in order to buy an apartment?

An empty museum, an empty city, perhaps the donor nations to the Palestinian Authority should buy the apartments for the “refugees” still in camps. But perhaps the problem, again, is that then there would be less victimhood to claim.

At any rate – I’m fully privileged to belong to the Jewish nation, whose full history started here thousands of years ago and has brought so much positive influence to the world.

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Dovid Ben-Meir made aliyah after high school in Chicago. He received smicha, from the Chief Rabbis of Israel, Rabbi Avraham Shapira and Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu. He served as the rabbi of a "garin torani" - a group of families that moved to Eilat and were active in Jewish education in the city. A teacher and Rav in several yeshivot, he guides occasionally both in the Western Wall Tunnels and at the site of Ancient Shiloh. Together he and his wife Chana have children and fifteen grandchildren, all of whom live in Israel.