Palestinians tell the Guardian: Israeli occupation took root not in 1967, but 1300 BC

The root of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict – and ‘the occupation’ of the West Bank – does not date back to 1967.

No, for the Palestinian protagonists in the latest article by the Guardian’s Giles Fraser, you have to go back much, much further in time – to roughly 1300 BC.

Giles Fraser

Fraser, an Anglican priest and regular Guardian contributor, seems unburdened by even a hint of cognitive dissonance while recounting the following bizarre conversation, in the context of noting the new Exodus film by Ridley Scott (Palestinian Christians find no cry for freedom in the Exodus story, Jan. 2).

We were sitting in a cafe in Ramallah, close by the Kalandia checkpoint. Despite the fact that my Palestinian friends were constantly on the lookout for hermeneutic resources that might aid in the struggle against Israeli occupation, they seemed extremely reluctant to align themselves with liberation theology.

It was only when we started talking about Moses that the scales fell from my eyes. From a western perspective, the Exodus story is the primary text of the biblical cry of freedom. The African slaves who sang spirituals in the cotton fields of America would link their suffering to that of the Jews under Ramses II. Thus, for instance, they sang: “Go down, Moses, Way down in Egypt’s land, Tell ole Pharaoh To let my people go.”

But from a Palestinian perspective, one person’s liberation is another’s slavery. The very story African slaves told each other as the story of their anticipated liberation is, according to Palestinians, at the root of their current occupation. The slaves come out of Egypt and into a land promised them by God. And, for Palestinians, this promise is responsible for their military subjugation, for walls and settlements. 

First, it’s actually not clear how this argument works.

Are Fraser’s friends implicitly suggesting – as pro-Palestinian activists sometimes do – that Palestinians are descendants of the ancient Canaanites?

No, more likely it’s just a more modern Palestinian lamentation over the fact that subjugated, cleansed and enslaved Jews – those who weren’t extinguished like millions of their co-religionists in the first half of the 20th century – escaped the yoke of their European and Arab oppressors and sought safety in their ancient homeland.

Of course, Fraser would never dream of suggesting to his friends that if their more recent (actual) descendants had been a bit more humane, and agreed in 1947 – as did Zionist leaders – to fairly partition the land into Jewish and Arab states, the 1948 War would never have occurred, there wouldn’t be even one Palestinian refugee and the State of Palestine would be 66 years old.

Nor would the Guardian contributor ever dream of pointing out that Arab leaders failed to establish an independent Palestinian state in the Jordanian-occupied West Bank and the Egyptian-occupied Gaza prior to 1967, or that the occupation resulting from the Six Day War wouldn’t have occurred in the first place if Arab leaders cared as much about Palestinian Arabs as they did about eliminating the Zionist entity.

And, Giles Fraser would never ask Palestinians why their leaders rejected multiple Israeli proposals for Palestinian statehood, and suggest that the “walls” they complain about – Israel’s security fence – may have something to do with waves of Palestinian suicide bombers in the early 2000s deployed for the purpose of killing innocent civilians and scuttling any further attempts to achieve a lasting peace.

Of course, any such questioning of the Palestinian narrative or raising the slightest challenge to even the most absurd historical claims – such as an Israeli occupation stemming from the Jews’ exodus from Egypt! – is as anathema to the Guardian Left view as treating Palestinians as moral agents who are free to make choices about whether to pursue war or peace, and can decide to abandon the self-destructive scapegoating in which all of their misery is the result of the eternal Jew. 

30 replies »

  1. This has a whiff of Sabeel about it and fails just as miserably. No doubt this shyster would consider himself a good Christian.

  2. Take a look: Meet the Arab Christians who want to fight for Israel

    Do you think it’s pro-israel or balanced acticle?

    Here is pure lies about Jewish state bill :

    “The bill to designate Israel as “the nation state of the Jewish people” is supported by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and would deny collective national rights to the Arab minority and strip Arabic of its status as one of the country’s official languages.”

    • Why do they want to practice collective national rights in Israel? They have 23 countries for that. They want Palestinian state and bi-national Israeli state.

    • It’s balanced and objective, which makes it pro-Israel.

      Israel is the only country in the region that grants full national and civil rights to the Arabs. That’s ironic since all of the other countries in the region are Moslem or Arab or both.

      Israel has supported a 2-state solution since 1937. Arabs have opposed it for the same period of time. The Arab leadership has leveraged Israel’s dedication to universal rights for all its citizens, using it to radicalize and empower the supporters of Arab terror in its quest to rid Israel of Israelis. This has pushed Israel into its current situation where, in order to survive, it must officially make Israel “the nation state if the Jewish people.”

      Apparently, the Arab leadership rather see the Jews evicted from their own country than see Arabs live under an umbrella of human rights in ANY country in the region, including Israel.

      • cernan sixty eight

        I am puzzled by your statement above:
        ‘Israel has supported a 2-state solution since 1937’.

        Do you mean the Jewish leadership in Palestine between 1937 and the establishment of Israel in 1948? I am not critical of your position but I think your statement above needs clarification.

        • I don’t know about ‘Israel [sic] in 1937’, but the Yishuv was more positive about the Peel plan than the Arabs were.

  3. OK. If the Jews “occupied” Israel, in 1300 BCE, then the Jews must have been in Israel for the past three millennia (as opposed to the “Pal” Arabs who immigrated there in the first half of the 20th Century).

    Doesn’t that weaken, not strengthen the Arguments against Israel’s right to exist inside Israel?

    It certainly does explan why, right before to the First Aliyah began, Jerusalem was already 65% – 80% Jewish. (Note: Immediately after the Jordanian occupation of “the West Bank” in 1949, the Jewish capital of Jerusalem became “Judenfre” — 100% of Jews expelled.)

  4. “To fairly partition the land” — exactly.
    And to share it where Jews can live in Eretz Israel, and others of any and all faiths can worship — or not worship — any god.

  5. “Despite the fact that my Palestinian friends were constantly on the lookout for hermeneutic resources that might aid in the struggle against Israeli occupation”

    Translation into plain English: They’ll use anything, anything at all to push their anti Israel agenda.

  6. Moses, the Zionist war criminal….

    The Guardian is just about to announce that Judaism is a colonial enterprise and the slave revolt Moses led was a racist attack on innocent and mystical Egyptians who had darker skin….

  7. Sharing the land is a win-win situation. But Islam demands a win-lose ‘final solution’.
    As an Anglican priest, implicit support for the annihilation of an entire people should prick Fraser’s conscience, at least.
    Also, if the Arab armies that attacked Israel the day after her reconstitution as a modern state had stayed at home, there would be 5 million plus Arabs living in Israel today! Wouldn’t he be happy with that outcome achieved by living in peace?

    • “As an Anglican priest, implicit support for the annihilation of an entire people should prick Fraser’s conscience” – not sure how that follows.
      Disclaimer: Obviously, he is not an antisemite …
      – but plenty of Anglican, Methodist etc priests (and Catholic, and Russian and Greek Orthodox etc) are.

  8. Eh? Nowhere in the article is it suggested that the occupation of the Palestinians began in 1,300 BC!

    Why demonise Fraser for something he never said?!

  9. The idea that ‘Palestinians’ existed before the Jewish people or that Palestine and Palestinians go back to Antiquity is one that is being peddled from many different sources at the moment as if it is part of a conscious campaign rather than random opinions.

    The Nov/Dec edition of ‘Archaeology’ the bi-monthly magazine of the Archaeological Institute of America (a highly reputable publication) appears to have editorial staff who have decided that Palestinians existed thousands of years ago. Here is what they say under ‘Letters’.
    ‘We received several letters [none of which they published] questioning the use of ‘Palestinian’ to describe one of the ethnicities present in ancient Arbela (“Erbil Revealed,” Sept/Oct 2014). The term, when used in the context of ancient history, applies to a people mentioned as early as the twelfth century B.C., in Egyptian chronicles. In the eighth century B.C., the Assyrians called the region between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea Palashtu or Pillistu. Other versions of this designation include Palaistine, found in Herodotus in the fifth century B.C., and the land of the Philistines mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. The people in Arbela identified in the article as Palestinians, therefore, were likely part of this ancient group.’ (end of quote.)

    A post-graduate student in a university Archaeology or History department writing an essay on the subject using these vague terms of reference and citing no exact primary or even secondary sources would most likely get a ‘fail’ mark and rightly so. As ‘Archaeology’ magazine did not publish any of the letters that complained about the article I can only conclude that they don’t want their version of Palestinian history to be questioned.

    • I have nil formal training in archaeology, but even I could tell those people that Eretz Pleshet doesn’t and never did mean what they are trying to make it mean.

  10. To be fair to Father Giles, I saw the film “Exodus: Gods and Kings” and thought it was directed as a warning to the World against the evil Jooos. It portrayed G-d as a petulant, vicious, vengeful 10-year-old kid, dwelt uncomfortably long on images of Rameses weeping and looking devastated while holding his dead first born son (all the first born who died on screen were young children, naturally) wrapped in a shroud (does that image seem familiar at all?), asking Moses – “Is this your G-d? A babykiller!”

    At no point does the film explain that Moses begged Rameses to “let my people go” after each plague. It only shows two occasions – one before any plague, and one before the 10th. The rest just come mercilessly one after the other, and are seen to affect all the innocent, poor farmers and fishermen in Egypt. Collective punishment, disproportionate response, anyone?

    Moses and Aaron (or it may have been Joshua) even have a discussion on the shores of the Red Sea in which Moses expresses concern for the future conduct of the Hebrews. He says something like “Look at them. There are so many. What happens when we stop running?”

    Pharoah made a speech that should the Hebrews go to Canaan, they’ll be going to a land already teeming with tribes of various types (so even then, they were a colonial occupying army). This reminded me very much of that old “really, I mean the best for Israel” line that many antisemitic trolls trot out when they tell Israel to concede everything for some phantom “peace”.

    The film also depicted Rameses reluctantly hanging a few innocent Hebrews and explaining that they brought it on themselves by not snitching on Moses.

    My friend summed it up – when you leave the cinema feeling sorry for Rameses and angry at Moses, you know something is wrong.

  11. Ultimately the strongest argument for Israel’s continued existence involves the fact that it exists. The fact that a prosperous community of six and a half million Jews have built a first world state in the middle east, ought to count for something. At what point does Israel acquire a right to self determination?

    To support BDS you would essentially have to believe that Jews shouldn’t have rights.