This week I spoke on the Berkeley campus. A transcript of my remarks follows below the video.
I’m on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley, where conservative speakers are being systematically censored by violent protests designed to prevent them from speaking. I am on Sproul plaza in the centre of the campus, where free speech was supposedly enshrined back in the sixties but where it is now appallingly being suppressed.
This is the campus where conservative views are called fascism and shouted down. As you can see from these posters on this campus noticeboard.
This is where Jewish students in particular are being intimidated by threatening pro-Palestinian demonstrators. I was originally asked to speak at Berkeley Hillel, the Jewish student centre here. But remarkably, even that was considered too dangerous for me.
So I spoke instead to Jewish students at another, more discreet centre. These students had to be personally coaxed to attend my meeting – because Jewish students at Berkeley are now too frightened for their own safety to attend pro-Israel presentations. That is the truly shocking state of affairs in this prestigious seat of learning today.
I was invited to speak to Jewish students here in order to provide facts about the Arab-Israel dispute that even many pro-Israel people may not know. So this is what I told the students.
Should we support a two-state solution? If the Palestinians were to accept a state of Palestine living in peace alongside the State of Israel, whose existence as a Jewish state they would accept, I would certainly accept that and I guess most Israelis would accept it too. But when you look at certain facts, which most people either deliberately ignore or suppress or don’t even know, you realise the question itself is a tremendous red herring.
First fact. The two-state solution is actually part of the problem. It is not a modern solution at all. It dates from before the State of Israel even came into being.
In 1922 the British accepted a Mandate to administer Palestine and to settle the Jews throughout that land. When they found themselves up against sustained Arab terrorism against both themselves and the returning Jews, the British offered the Arabs in 1937 a slice of Palestine, to create an Arab state alongside the Jewish homeland.
The Arabs refused, as they have refused every such subsequent offer of a state alongside Israel — offers made in 1947, 2000 and 2008. While the Jews have accepted every such proposal for a two-state solution, the Arab response has been instead to wage yet more war or terrorism against the Jews.
But the point is that the two-state solution was always from the start an attempt to appease terrorism. The British response to the Arabs’ murder campaign was in effect to reward them for it — by offering them part of the Jews’ own legal entitlement to the land, and thus breaking the terms of the Mandate.
Obviously, if you offer an aggressor a reward for his aggression — and break your own legal obligation in order to do so — you get not peace but… more aggression. So it has proved ever since. In other words, far from being a solution to the Arab-Israel impasse, the proposal for a Palestine state has actively incentivised yet more war and terrorism. To understand the present, we have to understand the past.
Second fact. By making this two-state offer, the British reneged on their Mandate obligation to settle the Jews throughout Palestine — in what is now the State of Israel, the West Bank or the disputed territories, and Gaza. Yes, all that territory. Why were the Jews alone given this right to settle from the river to the sea? Because it was the historic homeland of the Jewish people going back to ancient times. The unique Jewish entitlement to Israel is not just a Biblical story but historical fact.
The Jews are in fact the only people for whom the land of Israel was ever their national homeland. They first entered the land around 1300 BCE as a bunch of tribes. By 1000 BCE they established a united monarchy under King David, ruling themselves independently for more than 400 years – more than a millennium before Islam was even invented in the seventh century and before the Arabs invaded.
Even after the Jews were conquered and exiled from this their homeland, they maintained a continuous presence there throughout the centuries of Roman, Arab, Christian and Ottoman occupation, with Jewish majorities in several towns. From the mid 19th century onwards, there was a Jewish majority in Jerusalem. That was why in 1922 the British White Paper said Jews were to be settled in their historic homeland — because it had been theirs alone. It said:
“It is essential that it [the Jewish community] should know that it is in Palestine as of right and not on sufferance. That is the reason why it is necessary that the existence of a Jewish National Home in Palestine should be internationally guaranteed, and that it should be formally recognised to rest upon ancient historic connection.”
In other words, the Jews are the only existing indigenous people of the land of Israel — which was for a while called Palestine.
So what about the Palestinians? Weren’t they there first, as they always tell us? Well, no.
Third fact. There was never a Palestinian nation or a Palestinian people. No Arabs ever considered themselves to be Palestinians. They thought of themselves as part of an Arab nation. There was no identification with the land known as Palestine. After all, the name itself was entirely artificial. Judea, the land of the Jews, was only called Palestine by the conquering Romans who wanted to erase its Jewish identity.
When in the 1920s the League of Nations decided to resettle the Jews in the land, the Arabs living there at the time considered themselves pan-Arab or southern Syrian. There was NO distinctive culture, language, literature, history or tradition based on the area known as Palestine, other than that of the Jews.
Many people who lived there then weren’t even Arabs at all. A 1920 British government handbook noted: ‘The people west of the Jordan are not Arabs but only Arabic-speaking. The bulk of the population are fellahin… [agricultural labourers of diverse backgrounds]. In the Gaza district they are mostly of Egyptian origin; elsewhere they are of the most mixed race.”
Many of those who now claim Palestinian ancestry going back through the centuries are instead the descendants of those who poured into Mandate Palestine in the 1920s and 1930s, many of them illegally, on the backs of the returning Jews who were seen as bringing work and prosperity with them.
There’s no such thing as Palestinian national identity, and the Arabs have always admitted this. In 1937, the Syrian leader Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi said: “There is no such country as Palestine. Our country was for centuries part of Syria. ‘Palestine’ is alien to us. It is the Zionists who introduced it.”
In 1946 the Arab historian Professor Philip Hitti observed: “There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not”.
In 1977 Zahir Muhsein, a member of the PLO executive committee, said: ”The Palestinian people does not exist…Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct ‘Palestinian people’ to oppose Zionism.”
The so-called Palestinian agenda always been to destroy the Jewish homeland. Which is why Mahmoud Abbas says the Palestinians will never accept Israel as a Jewish state. Which is why their maps and insignia depict Palestine as incorporating the whole of Israel. Which is why they teach their children to hate Jews, steal their land and destroy the Jewish homeland. To understand the present, we have to understand the past.
Fourth fact. The British Mandate for Palestine originally also included what is now Jordan. But in 1922 Britain decided to give that territory to the Hashemite dynasty, and so some three-quarters of the original land for Jewish settlement was hived off to become Trans-Jordan.
But that still left the area that is now Israel, the West Bank and Gaza where the Jews had the legal right to settle. And in international law, those Mandate terms have never been rescinded. The UN charter says all agreements entered into by its predecessor, the League of Nations, remain in force. So although obviously the situation on the ground has changed, the Jews retain their unique legal, moral and historical right to settle all of this land.
Everyone talks about “occupied Palestinian territory”. There is no occupied Palestinian territory because there never WAS any Palestinian territory. There was instead merely a legal no-man’s land beyond the 1948 ceasefire lines, which marked the end of the Arab war to destroy the fledgling state of Israel in 1948. Until 1967 that no-man’s land really was illegally occupied by Jordan, one of the countries that tried and failed to destroy Israel in the Six-Day War.
UN Resolution 242, which was passed at the end of that war, entitles Israel to remain in control of this no-man’s land while it is still being used to mount attacks upon Israel. Which it still very much is: and that’s the only reason why Israel’s military is in the West Bank at all.
Israel’s right to be in these disputed territories is therefore backed up by international law both as a means of self-defence and because the Jews are entitled to live there as of right. This has been noted by various distinguished legal authorities, and no amount of statements that Israel is in illegal occupation or building illegal settlements can alter what is said in the relevant treaties and international conventions which support its legal right to settle that land.
Thus doesn’t mean Israel should continue to keep all of it. But that’s a quite separate issue. What it does mean is that Israel has law, justice, history and morality on its side.
Fifth fact. Many believe that Israel was only established for Jewish European refugees after the Holocaust. I’ve already said the decision to restore the Jewish homeland for its true indigenous people was in fact taken in the 1920s. What is not generally acknowledged, however, is that the majority of Israelis aren’t European at all.
Some 20 per cent of them are Israeli Arabs, Israeli citizens with equal rights to everyone else. In addition, more than half the population are Jews from the Middle East, the families of those who were ethnically cleansed from the Arab world after 1948. More than 850,000 Jews were driven out from countries such as Syria, Trans-Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. Some of these Jewish communities had existed for more than 2,500 years before the creation of these modern Arab states.
These are the majority of Israel’s refugee population: Jewish refugees from Arab racism. So if you think the Palestinians are entitled to get their claimed family homes back in Jaffa and Haifa, then you must also think that more than half Israel’s population are entitled to claim their family homes back from Iraq, Egypt, Morocco, and so on.
The fact is that some three quarters of Israelis are not white Europeans at all but people who came from the developing world. So if you think that colonialism is crime that can only be committed by white-skinned westerners, then clearly darker-skinned Israel cannot be guilty of colonialism at all, can it? Israel is instead the victim of Arab colonialism.
Sixth fact. Mahmoud Abbas says not one Jew should remain in Palestine. “In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli — civilian or soldier — on our lands,” he said. Well, some 20 per cent of Israelis are Arab citizens. Why can’t there similarly be a Jewish minority in a state of Palestine? No reason at all other than plain bigotry.
The claim that there can’t be a state of Palestine unless the Jewish settlers are removed is simply racism. And all those people in the west who say the settlers are the reason there isn’t a state of Palestine and they must be removed are also promoting the same racist ethnic cleansing.
These western progressives are also supporting a police state: even the supposedly moderate Palestinian Authority locks up and tortures journalists and other dissidents. And these western progressives are also supporting a regime which pumps out Nazi-style antisemitic propaganda: grotesque blood libels and caricatures portraying Jews with fangs dripping with human blood and as a demonic conspiracy to control the world.
Yet not a peep of protest about any of this from those in the west who wrap themselves in keffiyehs, proclaim Palestinian rights and terrorise those who stand up for Israel. As on this very campus where I am now.
So we all have a choice. We can support the racist, colonialist, anti-democratic Palestinian agenda based on a police state, the oppression of gays and women, the goal of occupying the Jews’ own country, antisemitism, racist ethnic cleansing and the expropriation not just of a people’s land but their own history.
Or we can support Israel, the only country in the Middle East where Arabs and Muslims, women and gays have political and religious freedom, which stands for upholding democracy, law, justice and human rights and which genuinely wants coexistence rather than conflict.
A two-state solution would be lovely, but it just isn’t going to happen for the reasons I have set out. So you may ask, what’s the alternative? At present, as you know, the argument is between those on the one hand who want a two-state solution and on the other those wanting Israel to annexe Judea and Samaria. Well, I think both alternatives are beside the point. They’re both viewing the situation through the wrong end of the telescope.
Before you can get to a solution you must correctly state the problem. Both the two-state and the “greater Israel” solutions are essentially an answer to the question, “Where should Jews and Arabs live in this land in relation to each other?” This is not the question that should be asked. Because it rests on the premise that this dispute is over the division of the land between two peoples with legitimate claims to that same land. But that’s not true. It’s an attempt by Arabs with no legal, historical or moral claim to the land to exterminate the legitimate homeland of the Jewish people.
Exterminating a country is a non-negotiable agenda. And you must never negotiate with non-negotiable agenda. That’s surrender. We don’t think we should negotiate with al Qaeda or Isis. We understand these agendas brook no compromise, that they are totally beyond the pale and so they must be defeated.
To achieve a just solution to the Arab war against Israel, the first and overwhelming priority is to stop the Arabs from trying to exterminate Israel. Those behind that agenda should be treated as political and diplomatic pariahs, entitled to absolutely nothing until they abandon it. The reason why the Arab war against Israel goes on and on is that for almost a century the so-called civilised world has instead rewarded and incentivised it.
That’s got to stop. And that won’t happen unless the world acknowledges the truth about the Arab-Israel conflict. Which is why it’s so important that the best-educated amongst us understand the war of delegitimisation against Israel in the west promotes the Arab extermination agenda, and that they should stand up instead for truth, justice and history.
That’s what I told around 100 Jewish students here on the Berkeley campus — at a meeting necessarily conducted in conditions of some secrecy to protect our safety. This is what I’d like to say to many more students. Sadly, I won’t be given the chance because I’d almost certainly be howled down. But it’s what all students on this campus and throughout the west need to hear.