“From beginning to end, the conflict with Israel is all about Islam,” writes world-renowned jihad watcher Robert Spencer in his latest superlative book, The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process. He documents in detail how jihadists and their allies worldwide have skillfully weaponized an invented Palestinian Arab identity against the Zionist struggle for a Jewish state.
Spencer dissects a decades-old “propaganda success that Josef Goebbels and the editors of Pravda would have envied,” namely the global myth that Palestinians are an “indigenous population.” So declare institutions like the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), while Palestinian leaders fantasize about a “link between the ancient Canaanites or Jebusites and the modern-day Palestinians.” In reality, Roman occupiers in 134 first derived the name Palestine after the “Israelites’ ancient enemies, the Philistines,” in order to eradicate the identity of defeated Jewish rebels. The self-named "Palestinians" descend from the Arabs who invaded in the 7th century.
In subsequent centuries most Jews entered diaspora exile, leaving their ancestral homeland to decay under largely disinterested imperialists such as various Muslim powers following seventh-century Arab conquest. Mark Twain's 1869 travelogue The Innocents Abroad thus states that “Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes.” Historian William B. Ziff wrote in 1938 that at the 20th century’s beginning Palestine's 40,000 Jews "and about 140,000 others of all complexions...had no other feeling for this pauperized, diseased-ridden country than a fervent desire to get away."
This wasteland transformed when Zionist Jews, beginning in the 1880s, sought to reestablish a Jewish state. Their regional development investment ironically increased the Arab population which came seeking employment. Particularly the League of Nations Palestine Mandate entrusted to Britain in 1922 as a “Jewish national home” on territory lost by the collapsing Ottoman Empire in World War I witnessed significant Arab immigration.
Egyptian, North African, Syria, and even Ethiopian names among Arabs evince immigration waves into what the British and Zionist institutions (e.g. the Palestine Post newspaper, now Israel’s Jerusalem Post) then called Palestine. “Most 'indigenous' people of Palestine, like Los Angelenos, seem to have come from somewhere else,” Spencer writes. Contrastingly, during this “period, the Arabs of Palestine generally considered themselves to be Syrians, and Palestine to be Southern Syria” and rejected any foreign Palestine designation.
After Israel, at a great price in Jewish lives, defeated Arab aggressors following its 1948 War of Independence, the Soviet Union promoted a Palestinian identity during the 1960s through groups like the 1964-founded Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). The PLO “counter[ed] the image of the tiny Jewish state standing virtually alone against the massive Muslim Arab nations,” Spencer writes. The PLO peddled the fiction of “Palestinians as a tiny indigenous people whose land had been stolen by rapacious, well-heeled, and oppressive foreigners.” Accordingly, today “it is commonplace to see traditional Arab dress, food, and customs described as ‘Palestinian,’” even though “they are just as Syrian, and Lebanese, and Jordanian as they are Palestinian.”
In contrasting reality, Spencer copiously cites Islamic canons that make Israel’s destruction a “religious imperative, even an act of worship.” “Islam’s doctrines of jihad, its deeply rooted anti-Semitism, and its supremacist political ideology” make it “impossible for the Palestinians to accept any peace agreement" with Israel. An “informed and committed believer will look at the Jews, and in particular at Zionism,” and see an “eschatological struggle against the great spiritual enemies of the Muslims.”
When not deluding innumerable “willfully ignorant and historically uninformed” policymakers globally, “Palestinian spokesmen have again and again made it clear” their obedience to Islamic doctrines, Spencer demonstrates. “Rule of Muslims by infidels” like Jews, for example, “is unacceptable under any circumstances” and “any land that has been ruled by the Muslims at any time belongs to the Muslims forever.” Particularly notable, the “Palestinian claim to Jerusalem is based not on political or even historical claims, but on an Islamic fable” of a seventh-century miraculous night journey by Islam’s prophet Muhammad. Already during new-born Israel’s 1948 fight for survival, Arab Muslim leaders “framed the conflict in exclusively Islamic terms” while jihadists journeyed from as far as Pakistan to destroy Israel.
Jihad ideology has “made certain that a Palestinian Arab state would be only a new jihad base,” as when Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, Spencer assesses. During the phony peace process that followed the 1993 Oslo Accords, PLO leaders like Egyptian-born Yasser Arafat repeatedly incited jihad despite contrary peace proclamations. Likewise exemplifying Muhammad’s canonical “War is deceit” dictum, “Palestinian leaders have refined lying during war into a fine art” in “wildly successful” worldwide propaganda offensives.
As Palestinian Arab society is unlikely to abandon jihad indoctrination, the “reality is that there is no solution” foreseeable for Israel’s conflicts according to Spencer’s “distasteful conclusion.” “Americans in particular like problems with solutions” and embrace the “prevailing assumption that if we just sit down and talk with one another, we will ultimately be able to find common ground.” Therefore numerous American presidents wanted “to win a Nobel by being the man who finally brought peace to the Middle East,” while an “army of the professional diplomats and foreign service ‘experts’...have expended massive amounts of time.” These policymakers should simply spare themselves the effort and humbly read Spencer’s sobering book.