At the core of the leftist onslaught against Israel lies the belief that it is a “settler”, colonialist enterprise through which the Jews, with no historical claim to the land, turfed out the indigenous Palestinians whose home it had been since antiquity. In fact, the precise opposite is true: the “Palestinians” are the true settlers and colonialists while the Jews are the only extant indigenous people and the only people for whom the land of Israel was ever their national kingdom.
I wrote here recently about a JCPA paper, Who Are the Palestinians, in which Pinchas Inbari ridiculed the absurd claim made by some of them that they are the descendants of the Canaanites, whom Joshua conquered in the Bible when the Jews entered the land that became Israel.
Now a paper by Alex Joffe for the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies expands upon Inbari’s review to provide a magisterial demolition of this ludicrous attempt to write the Jews out of their own history.
“The idea of Jews as “settler-colonialists” , Joffe writes, “is easily disproved. “A wealth of evidence demonstrates that Jews are the indigenous population of the Southern Levant; historical and now genetic documentation places Jews there over 2,000 years ago, and there is indisputable evidence of continual residence of Jews in the region. Data showing the cultural and genetic continuity of local and global Jewish communities is equally ample. The evidence was so copious and so incontrovertible, even to historians of antiquity and writers of religious texts, some of whom were Judeophobes, that disconnecting Jews from the Southern Levant was simply not conceived of. Jews are the indigenous population.
“… Inbari’s review, along with many additional sources of information he did not address, demonstrates that modern Palestinians are, in fact, derived from two primary streams: converts from indigenous pre-modern Jews and Christians who submitted to Islam, and Arab tribes originating across the Middle East who migrated to the Southern Levant between late antiquity and the 1940s. The best documented episodes were the Islamic conquests of the 7th century and its aftermath, and the periods of the late Ottoman Empire and the British Mandate.
“… Echoing Inbari, it is not to be argued here that “there are no Palestinians” who thus do not deserve political rights, including self-rule and a state. To do so would be both logically and morally wrong. Palestinians have the right to define themselves as they see fit, and they must be negotiated with in good faith by Israelis. What Palestinians cannot claim, however, is that they are Palestine’s indigenous population and the Jews are settler-colonialists.
“Palestinian genealogies that show their own tribes originating outside the Southern Levant are prima facie evidence of Arab settler-colonialism. And while narratives of the Arab conquests of Byzantine Palestine and North Africa cannot be taken at face value, they are pure ideological expressions of settler-colonialism. In 634-37 CE, Muslim armies commanded by the Caliph Umar conquered the entirety of the Levant before invading Armenia and Anatolia in 638 and Cyprus in 639.
“… Over the centuries, other settlers migrated and were intentionally implanted, including, in the 19th century alone, Egyptians fleeing from and imported by Muhammad Ali from the late 1820s to the 1840s, as well as Chechens, Circassians, and Turkmen relocated by the Ottoman Empire in the 1860s after its wars with Russia. Tribes of Bedouins, Algerians, Yemenis, and many others also immigrated during that century.
“… In the longer term”, Joffe concludes, “facing certain truths will be necessary for Palestinians and Israelis alike. One is that rejection of Israel, at its core, is not a function of Palestinian nationalism and local identity but Islamic religious opposition to Jewish autonomy and sovereignty.”
And these truths are necessary for the west to face too. Problem is that, through a mixture of misplaced bullishness, craven timidity and their own ignorance of all this neither Israel nor diaspora Jews are prepared to make it do so.