Why I Don’t Care Where Yasser Arafat Was Born And Why You Shouldn’t Either
Let’s get serious . . . it really doesn’t matter where Yasser Arafat was born. When we talk about peoplehood we are not talking about where one’s parents happened to be geographically when one took one’s first breath. So please stop using the fact that he was born in Cairo as if that disqualifies him from having called himself a “Palestinian”! Or as if that is how you are going to debunk the idea of there even being a “Palestine”.
Actually, Yasser Arafat’s pedigree seems intact: his father was from Gaza and his mother from Jerusalem. So even though Arafat himself was born in Cairo, his family roots to at least one generation previous were in the part of the Ottoman Empire that was called, by the time Arafat set foot on the planet in 1929, the British Mandate of Palestine.
Furthermore, so many of our own people were not born here. Golda Meir was born in Poland and grew up in the States. David Levy is from Morocco. And what about all the Jewish immigrants coming here to the present day? They are members of the Jewish people who have every right to live in Israel as full citizens the moment they get off the plane. The Israel haters use this against us, claiming that Israel is a European colonial imposition of foreigners that has pushed aside the “indigenous Palestinians”.
Therefore, when you retort that Arafat was not “really” a “Palestinian” because he was born in Cairo you are missing the point entirely. And shooting yourself in the foot at the same time.
It is not a matter of where someone was born, but a matter of peoplehood. We Jews are A PEOPLE with a country: an ancient kingdom and now a modern state. The Palestinians Arabs can make no such claim; there never was a country called Palestine, never a kingdom called Palestine, never a dominion or realm called Palestine, never even a city-state called Palestine. (And the only people referred to before 1948 as Palestinians were the Jews.) That is a huge difference and that is the crux of the matter.
When I argue that there is no such thing as a Palestinian nation, that it is a modern invention whose sole purpose is to wipe Israel off the map, someone who calls himself or herself a Palestinian will come back with the silly remark: “So then right now you are talking to a ghost?” or “Are you telling me that I don’t exist?”
Nobody is denying the existence of individuals. This is not about individuals. This is about “A People”.
Unfortunately or not, the way recent history has evolved, there now seems to be a Palestinian Arab people. This was accomplished by forcing them to languish as refugees, all the while promising them greatness if they could help get rid of the Jews. And this artificial identity was reinforced by international recognition of their (imaginary) peoplehood, including on the part of Israel (BIG mistake).
We have no idea how stable this newfangled “people” is. We have no idea whether or not they would remain a “people” if they were successful in their dastardly goal of destroying Israel. Maybe they would and maybe they wouldn’t. After all, nations have risen and fallen throughout history, our own cycles of sovereignty and expulsion a case in point and modern Syria another case in point.
The thing is that this new Palestinian nation never existed before Israel bruised the Muslim ego. Muslim Arabs are not particularly known for their tolerance (sorry, I know it’s not PC to say so), and we ruffled their feathers unbearably when we refused to just die, either in Hitler’s gas chambers or under the Mediterranean Sea into which we were supposed to have allowed ourselves to be pushed. So they picked a convenient name that they could claim as their own — because we rejected it as rightly not ours — and then they inflated it all out of proportion and meaning as if there really had been an indigenous Arab Palestinian people before we Jews reclaimed our sovereignty. (Some even tried to claim to be Canaanites, but that didn’t fly.)
So when you are debating and claiming that there is no such thing as a Palestinian nation, please, just leave Arafat’s birthplace out of the equation. It is absolutely irrelevant and a distraction.