Somebody seems to have nuked jonmos's writeup claiming that Palestinians don't exist, which is a shame, because it was a well-expressed -- if IMHO flawed -- viewpoint. But the quotes remain:
Palestinians are descended for the most part from the original Arab groups who bought their refugee status and represent a diverse discontented group from around the world.
The above is the most bizarre conspiracy theory I have heard in a long
time (and I've heard plenty). If I read that right,
you are claiming that the Palestinians
I'd prefer to start with UNRWA
's own definition (emphasis mine):
Under UNRWA's operational definition, Palestinian refugees are persons
whose normal place of residence was Palestine
between June 1946 and May 1948,
who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of
the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict.
Got that? No residence in Palestine, no refugee status.
Also note that UNRWA was founded in 1949 for the sole
purpose of taking care of the refugees.
The term "Palestine" is a Roman invention, and a Palestinian
might as well come from anywhere.
Nope. UNRWA uses the term as a reference to
Mandatory Palestine, as in the British Mandate before 1948,
an area with strictly defined boundaries (which largely correspond
to Israel's present-day borders, mind you).
All the people living in the
area, be they Jews, Christians, Muslims, Druze or Samaritans,
"Israel" is a Hebrew term loaded with Jewish religious
connotations and it has now been adopted as the name of the Jewish state,
along with the word Israeli for those living in the state,
so these days the term "Palestinians" refers to the
former and current inhabitants of the region who are not citizens of
What jonmos is saying is a popular extrapolation of
the historical fact that many Arabs did immigrate to
British Palestine at the turn of the 20th century,
some of them illegally. There were many well-paying
jobs available working for Jewish settlers in
construction, farming, etc, and these were a major
draw in an otherwise economically depressed region.
However, there was also a lot of Jewish immigration
going on at the same time, much of it equally illegal
from the British POV, especially towards the end
of the Mandate when the authorities started clamping
down on it. Is there really a qualitative difference
between the two?
Surely (the Jews) have as much right as anyone else within the
land that is definately theirs.
As for the historical justification of the Palestinian and Jewish claims,
Golda Meir famously stated that there are no Palestinians, and it
is quite true that there has never been a specifically "Palestinian"
state. The towns of what is now Israel and the Occupied Territories
have always belonged to one empire or another. The area was already
its conquest by the Israelites c. 1200 BC, and it was to be
reconquered again and again, twice by the Jews, the other times by
the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans,
the Byzantines, the Arabs, the Crusaders, the Mamluks,
the Ottomans... and throughout these thousands of years of warfare,
people, the people we now call the Palestinian people, lived here,
assimilating influences and immigration from here and there.
The First Aliyah, on the other hand, only started in 1882, and
the only thing that separates the Jewish claim to the land from all the
others is religion, a religion which, needless to say, the other
claimants disagree with.
However, the Israelis -- to use your term -- had fate on their side, and now
Israel is a fait accompli, wrested by the Jews as their
homeland with blood, sweat and tears. But the only way they will
ever be able to live in peace with their neighbors, that lovely word
bandied about so much, is to acknowledge that the creation of their
state led to the dispossession of 3.9 million people
(the number of UNRWA-registered Palestinian refugees in 2001).
The Palestinians are not a product of a
conspiracy theory, they are not an anti-Semitic plot,
they are a bunch of ordinary people who have gotten royally fucked over
by everybody during the last 50 years -- not just Israel, but Egypt,
Jordan, Syria, even the PLO itself. They may not have had much
of a collective identity before, but that doesn't lessen their individual
claims to the lands they have lived on for millenia, and through their
shared hardship they have become one nation. Closing your
eyes and pretending they are not there will not make them go away.
The Israeli people will have to learn to live with them, or
ObDisclaimer: I am not Israeli, not Jewish, not
Palestinian and not Muslim. I have spent a lot of time in
both Israel and Palestine, and have seen life from both sides of the
And cheers to Albert Herring, ariels,
and Spackle for wise comments and improvements.