Wall Street Journal

Notable & Quotable: Max Singer on Truth and Mideast Peace

Senior Fellow, Co-Founder, and Trustee Emeritus
Palestinians protest the proposed U.S. peace plan in Gaza City, Jan. 31.
Palestinians protest the proposed U.S. peace plan in Gaza City, Jan. 31.

__From Refute Palestinian Lies to Promote Mideast Peace by Max Singer, a founder of the Hudson Institute, The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 7, 2018. Singer died Jan. 23 at 88:__

The U.S. has already acted to gain recognition of three key truths that had long been diplomatically ignored: Jerusalem is the capital of Israel; very few of the Palestinians that the U.N. Relief and Works Agency supports are actually refugees; and the U.N. has been unacceptably biased against Israel.

Now the U.S. can tip the political balance toward peace and stability by insisting on two other truths. First, despite widespread use of the term in diplomatic documents and debate, there is no such thing as “occupied Palestinian territory” because there has never been a Palestinian territory to occupy. As some Palestinians point out, they have never had a state of their own. This is far more than a game of semantics. If the land was Palestinian, then Israel could have stolen it. If the land isn’t Palestinian, then Israel couldn’t have stolen it. It’s critical that the U.S. actively combat the falsehood that Israel exists on stolen Palestinian land.

The second falsehood is married to the first. The Palestinians not only claim that all the land is theirs, they also deny any Jewish connection to it. During the failed Camp David talks in 2000, Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat stunned President Clinton by asserting the Jews had no connection to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the place where the first and second Jewish temples stood.

Mr. Clinton may have been surprised, but the Palestinian denial of any historic Jewish connection to the land is nothing new, and it continues. Since the Palestinians know that hardly anyone outside the Arab world who would agree with them, they rarely say it in English. . . .

Palestinian denial of this history has consequences. If the Jews had no connection to the land, recognizing Israel would be a capitulation and a humiliation. But because the Jews, like the Palestinians, have legitimate claims, peace with Israel can be based on an honorable compromise.

The U.S. should demand that Palestinian leaders recognize the Jewish connection to the land, no less than Israelis recognize the Palestinian presence and demand for statehood. The denial of Jewish history leads to the denial of Israel’s right to exist. So long as this continues, it is the Palestinians, not the Israelis, who are refusing to accept a two-state solution—and the U.S. should say so.

The truth is important, but it may not be enough. The U.S. should launch a diplomatic campaign to persuade other nations and international bodies to set the record straight. It’s important to explain that parroting Palestinian falsehoods harms the cause of peace.

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