The Guardian, Independent, and Sunday Times recently reported on threats by the Palestinian Authority to sue Britain over the 1917 Balfour Declaration which expressed British support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”.
Though each publication acknowledged that such legal threats have no chance of succeeding, all included – and failed to challenge – a quote by Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki which falsely casts themselves as a native people, while portraying the Jews as interlopers and agents of European imperialism:
“…based on this ill-omened promise [Balfour] hundreds of thousands of Jews were moved from Europe and elsewhere to Palestine at the expense of our Palestinian people whose parents and grandparents had lived for thousands of years on the soil of their homeland.”
First, note how Malki used the words “were moved”, rather than “moved” to erroneously suggest that Jews were sent by foreign governments as part of a colonial project, when in fact Jews emigrated on their own – from Europe and the Middle East – to escape antisemitism and genocide.
Malki also includes the completely ahistorical assertion that Palestinians “had lived for thousands of years on the soil of their homeland”.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
When Jews began to immigrate to Palestine in large numbers in the 1880s, fewer than 250,000 Arabs lived there, and the majority of them had arrived in recent decades. While Jews had maintained physical, spiritual and emotional ties to their historic homeland for several thousand years, the great majority of the Palestinian Arabs living in what became Israel (the reborn Jewish state) in 1948 were not indigenous to ‘Palestine’. They were, Middle East Historian David Bukay has written, relative newcomers to the area from surrounding Arab lands and were “either late immigrants or descendents of persons who had immigrated into Palestine in the previous 70 years”.
In testimony before the Anglo-American Committee in 1946, Palestinian-Arab leaders only claimed a connection to the land – of any sort – dating back no further than the 7th century – the period of conquest by Muhammad’s followers.
Such rewriting of history by the PA is of course nothing new. As Palestinian Media Watch continually documents, the Palestinian denial of Jewish history and the invention of Palestinian history represents the foundation of their political ideology.
Having erased Jewish [connection to the land], the PA fills the historical void by fabricating the ancient histories of Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims. PA academics claim that Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims all populated the Land of Israel in Biblical times and even earlier. These fictions are all historically impossible, as the name “Palestine” as a replacement for the Land of Judea/Israel was coined by Rome only in 136 C.E., Islam was established only in 610 C.E., and Arabs first arrived in Israel with the Muslim invasion in 637 C.E.
Inventing thousands of years of history when none existed is accomplished through numerous distortions and lies, including changing the Biblical Canaanites into Arabs, changing Biblical Israelis, Judeans and Hebrews into Arabs and Muslims, changing the religion preached by Moses from Judaism into Islam, and changing Jesus into a Palestinian who preached Islam and not Christianity.
As we approach the Balfour Declaration’s centennial, we can likely expect more faux history of the region and more British media reports which fail to critically scrutinize such erroneous Palestinian claims.