Sunday, September 25, 2011

A 63 year occupation?

Benny Begin

On Friday, Sept. 16, in Ramallah, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas explained his decision to ask the U.N. Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state: “The Palestinian people have been abused for 63 years, generation after generation, under occupation.” The Palestinian news agency WAFA reported a slightly different version in English: “We are going to the U.N. in order to put an end to 63 years of injustice, during which the people of our nation live under an occupation.” Mistakes happen. We all become confused sometimes with the passing of years. But a week earlier, on Sept. 5, as reported by The New York Times, Abbas told a meeting of Israeli “intellectuals” that “we are going to the U.N. in order to complain that we have lived under occupation in Palestine for 63 years.” Oy, another mistake. But here is what Abbas told the Egyptian newspaper Al-Youm al-Sabea on Aug. 27: “We are the only nation to still be under occupation after 63 years.”

The magic number here is 63. But what does he mean? Could it be, as some try to reassure us, that his calculations connect the Israeli occupation of the last 44 years with the preceding occupation of the “West Bank” by the Jordanian Hashemite kingdom? Examine this: the Hashemite military incursion into Judea and Samaria in May 1948, as part of the effort to abort the newly born state of Israel, was welcomed by the Palestinians. The Jordanian occupation continued for 17 years, between April 1950 -- the date that Judea and Samaria were annexed by the Hashemites -- until June 1967. Alternatively, the occupation lasted 18 years, since the ceasefire of April 1949. In both cases, the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria have been under occupation for 61 or at most 62 years, so why does Abbas insist on saying it has been a 63-year occupation? Is it a coincidence that this is the number of years that the state of Israel has existed?

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The answer can be found on the children's television programs broadcast by the official (and only) Palestinian Authority channel, whose broadcasts are translated by the Palestinian Media Watch organization. Here is an example from Aug. 25:

Moderator: Have you visited the occupied cities since 1948?

Child: I was in Hebron.

Moderator: No. Hebron is a city we are allowed to enter. The occupied cities -- such as Lod, Ramle, Haifa, Jaffa, Acre -- have you visited there?

Child: I was in Haifa and Jaffa.

Moderator: Tell us, are they beautiful?

Child: Yes.

Moderator: We hope that every Palestinian will be able to go to the occupied territories that we don't know and have never been able to see.

Another example was seen in a documentary aired on the Palestinian Authority television channel three weeks ago that said: “Haifa is a famous Palestinian port. Haifa enjoyed a high status among Arabs and the Palestinians, especially before it was occupied in 1948.”

You have to see it, even if you don't want to believe it. Abbas has not made a mistake in his calculations: Since the establishment of the state of Israel and the occupation of Lod, Ramle, Haifa, Jaffa and Acre, it is true that 63 years have passed. Abbas is not confused at all. He is the head of the PLO, the organization for the liberation of Palestine from Jewish presence. As far as he is concerned, the Palestinians in the Galilee and the Negev have been occupied for 63 years.

As long as they convince their children that the Jews are just another religious group and do not constitute a nation, and they teach the next generation that the Jews have no right to exist as sovereigns in some part of Palestine, even based on the 1949 armistice lines, there can never be a peaceful border. A majority at the U.N. supporting the PLO will only encourage their leadership to maintain their tough stance. It has been made clear, yet again, that the abandonment of the cradle of our people in Samaria and Judea will not bring about peace, but rather just the opposite.

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