Struggling to Define Palestine: Rewriting History on the Taxpayer Dime; Just Pretend Pesky Israel Doesn't Exist

Article excerpt


The U.S. government, via the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has provided support for a glossy 39-page Palestine Guide Book. Just released by the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Tourism, it declares on its first page, Palestine lies between the Mediterranean Coast and the Jordan River. Not until Page 10 are we informed - under the heading Country - that Palestine comprises the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

No discrepancy here. Rather, a clear message is intended: While the country is restricted to certain areas, historical Palestine, to which Muslim Arabs lay claim in its entirety, is much larger. That impression is reinforced by the Historical Map of Palestine on the last page, which shows Palestine from the river to the sea.

Under Capital, there is a single word: Jerusalem. This flies in the face of the official Palestinian Authority (PA) position that it seeks East Jerusalem as its capital.

What the PA offers here, as fact, is a vision of the country that it anticipates soon will be. Yet its underlying premise - that all area beyond the Green Line belongs to the Arabs of Palestine and will soon make up their state - is fallacious. That this booklet is founded on factual misrepresentations should not surprise. The PA is well-acquainted with the psychological truism that a lie told often enough will be believed.

A backward look provides insight into where the fallacies lie:

The League of Nations' 1922 Mandate for Palestine - allocating Palestine for a Jewish homeland - incorporated as integral parts both the West Bank and Gaza. As the mandate has never been superseded in international law, they remain areas to which Israel retains considerable claim.

When Israel declared independence in 1948, the Arab League attacked. At the war's end, Jordan controlled the West Bank, and Egypt controlled Gaza. Palestinian Arabs controlled neither of these areas. The line behind which Israel found herself - roughly what is called the Green Line - was not a final border, but an armistice line, understood by written agreement to be temporary.

After the Six-Day War of 1967, during which Israel secured control of the West Bank and Gaza, the U. …