The Palestinian war on history


A quiet war has been raging for years and few but researchers in the field have paid it any attention. This war is a “war of history” that the Palestinian Authority has been waging against the State of Israel.

The scandal surrounding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remark recently that Jerusalem Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini planted the idea of exterminating the Jews in Hitler’s head can be considered a mild revision of history when compared with what is currently happening in Palestinian society, in a blatant, intentional manner.

One of the main staples of the Palestinian Authority’s policy is the rewriting of the history of the Land of Israel. Thus, Jewish history is wiped and replaced with a fabricated, ancient Muslim-Palestinian history that supposedly pre-dates the Jews. Before the establishment of the state, the Zionist narrative rested on the Bible as a source of legitimization for establishing a Jewish state here. When David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, was asked by the Peel Commission why he — a native Pole — was demanding rights to this land, he replied: “The Bible is our mandate. Our historic right has existed since the dawn of the Jewish people.”

To counter this narrative, the Palestinians have, for years, cultivated the “Canaanite myth.” On Palestinian television programs, the Biblical Canaanites are morphed into Arabs who have lived in this land since 7000 BCE and to this day. After all, even the Bible says that the Canaanites lived in this land before the Israelites and Abraham came along. Incidentally, in these Palestinian documentaries, Abraham is turned into a Muslim who built Al-Aqsa mosque. Moses becomes a Muslim who shepherded the Muslims out of Egypt, and Jesus is not a Jew but a Palestinian.

Jerusalem, and at its heart the Temple Mount, is a historical and archaeological battleground where antiquities proving the Jewish link to the land are systematically destroyed. The Palestinian response to existing Jewish artifacts is that they are forged. According to official Palestinian Authority documents, the Temple Mount is an exclusively Muslim territory that includes the Western Wall, which, according to Islamic tradition, is where the Prophet Muhammad tied his winged horse Buraq during his Night Journey from Mecca to Jerusalem.

Let us focus on slightly more modern history: Palestinian Authority textbooks detail the events of World War II but conspicuously leave out any mention of the Holocaust. In fact, the term Holocaust is reserved by the Palestinians for what Israel has done to them. So-called Palestinian historians have argued on broadcast television that Auschwitz and Dachau were “disinfection sites,” where Jews were simply disinfected, and that early Zionist leaders collaborated with the Nazis to get rid of handicapped and disabled Jews.

According to the Palestinians, the ones who were burned in the crematoria were not the Jews in Europe but rather Palestinian children in Israel. These are widely held beliefs, attributed to the highest-ranking clergymen in the Palestinian Authority. They can be found in school textbooks. They are broadcast on Palestinian Authority television, not just Hamas networks. The rewriting of both Jewish and Palestinian history has one very clear goal: It serves to negate Israel’s right to exist and as a basis for refusing to recognize it.

There are a few reasons why all this is largely ignored by the Israeli public. One reason is the mental exhaustion in Jewish society, which has become a post-Zionist society seeking only to live in peace. But in these days of increased terrorism, where the slogan “there is no solution to lone-wolf attacks” is heard incessantly, it would be wise to think about the collective atmosphere these lone-wolf attackers come from and about the narratives they are taught from infancy.

It is very hard to fight lies, because those who want to believe them will continue to believe them even when presented with historical facts and scientific proof to the contrary. However, what we can do is to reinforce the historical and Zionist awareness among our own children in our Jewish schools so that at least we know why we are fighting.

Dr. Nesia Shemer is a lecturer in the Middle Eastern Studies Department at Bar-Ilan University.