NOTES ON THE WEST & PALESTINIAN NATIONALISM
Since the beginnings of Palestinian nationalism, the movement for Palestinian self-determination has been overpowered by its most extremist, antisemitic factions. In the 1920s and 1930s even, there were a number of Palestinian nationalists who, while anti-Zionist, were moderates in that they could conceive of sharing the land with Jews. These moderate voices quickly got crushed by the N@zi Mufti and his ilk. As in, they and their families were murdered.
Post-1948, Palestinian nationalism, sponsored by nations still at war with Israel (e.g. Egypt), and compounded by UNRWA’s indoctrination, pretty much became indistinguishable from violent terrorism, often aimed at Israeli civilians (e.g. the fedayeen attacks of the 1950s, a long series of plane hijackings, Munich Massacre, Ma’alot Massacre, etc). There was no moment of reckoning, no moment to think about productive state-building rather than destruction. And that’s not to say that those voices didn’t exist. They did. But they were not the face of the movement.
When Arafat “officially” agreed to renounce terrorism in 1988, it was seen as a betrayal, and other violent and virulently antisemitic groups, more prominently Ham@s, became “representative” of the Palestinian liberation movement. To this day the (supposedly non-violent) Palestinian Authority lacks legitimacy with the loudest voices in Palestinian nationalism.
We’ve known about this situation in the Palestinian Territories forever, but the issue is that now in the west, these extremist, violent, virulently antisemitic factions of Palestinian nationalism have become the only “acceptable” form of Palestinian nationalism. Today, according to activists in the west, if you don’t stand fully behind groups like Ham@s, you are not a “true” ally to the Palestinian cause. That’s terrifying.
But it gets worse. Because now, with the misappropriation of “intersectionality,” we are told that if we don’t stand for Palestinian liberation, we also don’t stand for climate justice, feminism, LGBTQ+ rights, Black liberation, etc. Anyone that knows what Ham@s does — destroy the environment, treat women like crap, throw gay folks off buildings, keep Afro-Palestinians in a neighborhood quite literally called “slaves” (Al Abeed) — knows this is all bullshit. But the problem is most westerners are so ignorant about the issue that they know none of this. They just know that if they don’t support Palestinian liberation — this violent, extremist, virulently antisemitic face of Palestinian liberation — then they don’t stand for human rights.
For Jews (at least Jews who know what’s going on), this is fucking terrifying. And for the Palestinian cause, it’s unfortunate. Because sensible Palestinian voices certainly exist, Palestinian voices committed to the betterment of their people, rather than to genocidal antisemitism, but they’re shunned, both in the Palestinian Territories and in the west — they are not the “acceptable” face of the movement.
Today, you apparently are not allowed to divorce Palestine — this virulently antisemitic, genocidal faction of Palestinian nationalism — from any other social justice cause. So now we have progressives and social justice activists of all backgrounds marching, supposedly, for Palestinian rights…but do they even know what they're saying?
INTIFADA, INTIFADA OR GLOBALIZE THE INTIFADA
The Second Intifada was a five-year-long Palestinian suicide bombing campaign that claimed the lives of over 1000 Israelis, 80 percent of them civilians.
Palestinians used a variety of tactics during the Second Intifada, including stabbings, drive by shootings, missiles, hand grenades, land mines, car bombs, and, most notably, 141 suicide bombings between 2000-2005.
The overwhelming majority of suicide bombings targeted crowded civilian spaces, including restaurants, hotels, malls, markets, public transportation, and more. It’s important to note that specifically targeting civilian spaces is a war crime under the Geneva Convention. Some of the Palestinian suicide bombers were children and pregnant women. The youngest attempted suicide bomber was 14, but he was disarmed by soldiers before causing any harm. Oftentimes, the bombers would put nails in the explosives to cause as much damage as possible.
WHAT YOU ARE ACTUALLY SAYING
You are calling for global (“globalize”) terrorism (“Intifada”) against Jews.
From a Palestinian liberation perspective, asking to globalize the Intifada is truly asinine. The Intifada led to some 2700 Palestinian deaths, the vast majority of the checkpoints, and the West Bank separation barrier, which some people dub the “apartheid wall.”
FROM THE RIVER TO THE SEA
The Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea roughly constitute the borders of what is now Israel and the Palestinian Territories. “Palestine will be free from the river to the sea” is a common rallying cry at pro-Palestine protests, though it’s a bit of an absurd one, as far as decolonization goes, to begin with: the modern borders of Israel and the Palestinian Territories are quite literally a British invention from 1917. Translation: we want what the Jews have. Similarly, “We don’t want no two states, we want 48” is just as ridiculous: what you are saying is that you want Palestine to be a British colony again, because that’s what it was in 1948.
The first threats to drive Jews into the sea date back to 1948. The founder of the Muslim Brotherhood (incidentally, where Ham@s came from), the Iraqi representative to the United Nations, and the then president of Egypt all made such threats.
In 1968, after Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Six Day War and the Palestine Liberation Organization magically decided to amend their 1964 Charter to say that the West Bank (of the Jordan River) was now rightfully Palestinian territory, “from the river to the sea” became a rallying call. It was adopted by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, known mostly for its series of civilian plane hijackings, and is now in the amended 2017 Ham@s Charter.
WHAT YOU ARE ACTUALLY SAYING
“From the river to the sea” is a call for the ethnic cleansing (or worse) of Jews from what now constitutes Israel and the Palestinian Territories. It’s not a call for a binational state with equal rights for all. We know this because both the Palestinian Authority and Ham@s have made it abundantly clear that not a single Jew will reside in a future Palestinian state.
KHAYBAR, KHAYBAR YA YAHUD
In 627, Muhammad besieged the city of Medina. In this atmosphere, tensions mounted between Muhammad’s Muslim followers and the Jews. While initially the Jews tried to remain neutral, they later tried to enter into negotiations with Muhammad’s enemies. Subsequently, they were charged with treason.
All of the men in the Jewish Qurayza tribe — as many as 700-900, according to the eighth century Islamic historian Ibn Ishaq — were beheaded. All of the women and children were taken prisoners and sold into slavery. The Qurayza tribe was completely exterminated, save for some that were able to flee.
Following the genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Jewish tribes from Medina, Jews in Khaybar united with non-Muslim Arabian tribes to protect themselves from Muslim attacks. This alliance violated the Charter of Medina, drawn up by Muhammad a few years earlier. According to Islamic sources, Muhammad had a prophetic vision that the Jews were conspiring to kill him. As such, Muhammad and his followers attacked the Jews of Khaybar.
The attack ended in the defeat and surrender of the Jews.
WHAT YOU ARE ACTUALLY SAYING
You are threatening to repeat the genocide that exterminated the majority of Jews living in the Arabian Peninsula. The phrase “Khaybar, khaybar ya Yahud, Jaish Muhammad, sa Yahud” translates to “Jews, remember Khaybar, the army of Muhammad is returning.”
WHO ARE YOU MARCHING WITH?
As the saying goes, “tell me who your friends are and will tell you who you are.” These latest pro-Palestine protests have seen no shortage of ISIS flags, Al Qaeda flags, and Nazi symbolism. Is this really the company you want to keep?
Somehow you’ve been duped into believing that the extremist, genocidal, virulently antisemitic face of a movement which stands against everything you purport to stand for is the only way to prove to your social circle that you stand for everything you stand for.
And yes, it’s true. None of us are free until all of us are free (coincidentally, a phrase coined by a Zionist). But you are uplifting voices who do not want all of us to be free — certainly not Jews, women, LGBTQ+ folks, Black folks, Indigenous folks (especially in the Middle East!), etc. There has to be a way to support Palestinian liberation without enabling these fascist, extremist, genocidal, antisemitic factions of Palestinian nationalism.
These people do not care about you. They do not stand for what you stand for. They are duping you, driving you into their cause to incite animosity and violence toward the world’s Jews.
There are two options here:
(1) You have no idea what you are chanting, in which case, why are you chanting it? Because your friends are doing it? Because that is the only way to be a good leftist?
(2) You do know what you are chanting, in which case you are a virulent antisemite.
You tell me. Which one is it?
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