Palestinian Identity: Beginning A Serious Study
In a discussion about a supposed long-standing Palestinian identity, a Facebook friend asked me to provide him with primary sources that would allow him to re-examine his assumptions. I decided to look into academic studies that might help shed light on this topic.
The first article that I opened was a paper written by George Washington University’s Anthropology Department faculty member, Ilana Feldman. Published in 2008, it was called: “Refusing Invisibility: Documentation and Memorialization in Palestinian Refugee Claims“.
On the second page of the article, Feldman makes the following statement:
That first sentence, “Before 1948, Palestine was recognized as a state”, has no reference to back up where she gets this ridiculous idea from. (I somehow doubt that she included Jordan in this “already recognized Palestine”.) But let us leave historical falsification aside for a moment and play a what-if game.
What if this statement was true? Then, if it was also true that the “acknowledged Palestinian nationality” included both the Jews and the Arabs in the “country” as she suggests, that would mean that the 1948 war was a civil war fought by one part of the “country” against the other. The Arab population of this “country” was backed up by its older brothers, neighbouring Arab countries, in its fight to gain sole control of the so-called “already recognized Palestine”. Everyone knows that the Arabs lost. The winning Jews decided to rename the “already recognized Palestine” and call it Israel, as is the right of winners, no?
Unfortunately, Gaza fell to Egypt and Judea & Samaria (J&S) was captured by Jordan. That means that part of the “already recognized Palestine” fell under Egyptian and Jordanian occupations. Jordan annexed J&S and renamed it “The West Bank”, something even other Arab countries acknowledged was illegal. That would mean, therefore, that when Israel won the Six Day War in 1967, she actually released Judea & Samaria from Jordanian occupation and Gaza from Egyptian occupation, and reunited these regions with the “already recognized Palestine” that the Jews-who-had-won-the-1948-civil-war called Israel.
That also means that the “once-acknowledged Palestinian nationality” is now the Israeli nationality and includes the Jews and Arabs who live here, including those in Gaza and J&S. Oh! If only we had understood that in 1967. It would have meant that we could have avoided all the subsequent confusion and all this talk about Two State Solution when there was always only one state – the “already recognized Palestinian nationality” that included Jews and Arabs and that the Jews renamed Israel.
In conclusion: Feldman writes that “Palestine” was already a state before 1948 in an ineffective attempt to declare that the Arabs have the right to a sovereign state called Palestine. In other words, she distorts history for political purposes. Unfortunately for her, her logic does not hold water. Unfortunately for the rest of us, when academics lie and when academic journals publish their lies, non-academics believe the lies: in this case, the lie that a Palestinian national identity existed before Yasser Arafat made it politically expedient and fashionable to believe it did.
Who Is Ilana Feldman?
For academic transparency, Feldman should make a note in all of her publications that she was one of the driving forces behind the academic boycott of Israel on the part of the American Anthropology Association (or the journals that accept her material should insist on it). All of her academic writings should be read keeping that bias in mind and with a willingness to parse her works to make sure they make logical sense.
And I openly confess my own bias to be Zionist. I have no problem with anyone parsing out my writings and pointing out to me my errors in logic and other weaknesses.