Why the Palestinian “refugees” are not refugees

Sol Stern has written the best brief account I’ve ever read of the origins of the Palestinian “refugees.” It shows the change over time of the way the story is presented in the west, as the truth that was understood at the time the “refugees” were created has become a tissue of lies.  It’s called The Nakba Obsession and it’s in the summer issue of City Journal. I’ll give you the beginning here; if you’re interested in this subject, read the whole thing.

A specter is haunting the prospective Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations—the specter of the Nakba. The literal meaning of the Arabic word is “disaster”; but in its current, expansive usage, it connotes a historical catastrophe inflicted on an innocent and blameless people (in this case, the Palestinians) by an overpowering outside force (international Zionism). The Nakba is the heart of the Palestinians’ backward-looking national narrative, which depicts the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 as the original sin that dispossessed the land’s native people. Every year, on the anniversary of Israel’s independence, more and more Palestinians (including Arab citizens of Israel) commemorate the Nakba with pageants that express longing for a lost paradise. Every year, the legend grows of the crimes committed against the Palestinians in 1948, crimes now routinely equated with the Holocaust. Echoing the Nakba narrative is an international coalition of leftists that celebrates the Palestinians as the quintessential Other, the last victims of Western racism and colonialism.

There is only one just compensation for the long history of suffering, say the Palestinians and their allies: turning the clock back to 1948. This would entail ending the “Zionist hegemony” and replacing it with a single, secular, democratic state shared by Arabs and Jews. All Palestinian refugees—not just those still alive of the hundreds of thousands who fled in 1948, but their millions of descendants as well—would be allowed to return to Jaffa, Haifa, the Galilee, and all the villages that Palestinian Arabs once occupied.

Such a step would mean suicide for Israel as a Jewish state, which is why Israel would never countenance it. At the very least, then, the Nakba narrative precludes Middle East peace. But it’s also, as it happens, a myth—a radical distortion of history.

Hat tip: Ron Radosh

Newt Gingrich gets that sharia is the enemy

In a piece titled It’s About Sharia: Gingrich resets our national security debate, Andy McCarthy reports in National Review today on a speech Newt Gingrich gave at the American Enterprise Institute. A link to the video of the speech is here.

We should thank Gingrich because he has crystallized the essence of our national-security challenge. Henceforth, there should be no place to hide for any candidate, including any incumbent. The question will be: Where do you stand on sharia?

The former speaker of the House gets the war on terror. For one thing, he refuses to call it the “war on terror,” which should be the entry-level requirement for any politician who wants to influence how we wage it. Gingrich grasps that there is an enemy here and that it is a mortal threat to freedom. He knows that if we are to remain a free people, it is an enemy we must defeat. That enemy is Islamism, and its operatives — whether they come as terrorists or stealth saboteurs — are the purveyors of sharia, Islam’s authoritarian legal and political system.

He specifically talked about stealth jihad.

The single purpose of this jihad is the imposition of sharia. On that score, Gingrich made two points of surpassing importance. First, some Islamists employ mass-murder attacks while others prefer a gradual march through our institutions — our legal, political, academic,  and financial systems, as well as our broader culture; the goal of both, though, is the same. The stealth Islamists occasionally feign outrage at the terrorists, but their quarrel is over methodology and pace. Both camps covet the same outcome.

. . . . Islamists devoutly believe, based on a well-founded interpretation of Islamic doctrine, that they have been commanded by Allah to kill, convert, or all who do not adhere to sharia — because they regard Allah as their only master (“There is no God but Allah”). It is thus entirely rational (albeit frightening to us) that they accept the scriptural instruction that the very existence of those who resist sharia is offensive to Allah, and that a powerful example must be made of those resisters in order to induce the submission of all — “submission” being the meaning of Islam.

McCarthy points out that Gingrich didn’t talk much about how to win the war, which Gingrich said could be even longer than the Cold War. This is the point on which I worry. I think Gingrich’s strength is analyzing problems, getting to the heart of the matter. I am not convinced that he is tough enough to lead such a war. Look how he collapsed in the face of attacks by Democrats when he was Speaker of the House. He did a great job leading the Republicans to win the majority, and a pretty poor job of cementing his victory and overcoming his foes. I think the following is McCarthy’s opinion, not his reporting on Gingrich’s speech:

Debate over all of this[how to win]  is essential. The crucial point is that we must have the debate with eyes open. It is a debate about which Gingrich has put down impressive markers: The main front in the war is not Afghanistan or Iraq but the United States. The war is about the survival of Western civilization, and we should make no apologies for the fact that the West’s freedom culture is a Judeo-Christian culture — a fact that was unabashedly acknowledged, Gingrich reminded his audience, by FDR and Churchill. To ensure victory in the United States we must, once again, save Europe, where the enemy has advanced markedly. There is no separating our national security and our economic prosperity — they are interdependent. And while the Middle East poses challenges of immense complexity, Gingrich contended that addressing two of them — Iran, the chief backer of violent jihad, and Saudi Arabia, the chief backer of stealth jihad — would go a long way toward improving our prospects on the rest.

Most significant, there is sharia. By pressing the issue, Newt Gingrich … gives us a metric for determining whether those who would presume to lead us will fight or surrender.

I went to Gingrich’s website to see his positions on sharia-related matters. He’s solid. Here’s a recent article, No Mosque at Ground Zero, which includes this vital point:

In a deliberately dishonest campaign exploiting our belief in religious liberty, radical Islamists are actively engaged in a public relations campaign to try and browbeat and guilt Americans (and other Western countries) to accept the imposition of sharia in certain communities, no matter how deeply sharia law is in conflict with the protections afforded by the civil law and the democratic values undergirding our constitutional system.

He goes through a number of cases, many of which we’ve reported here, of stealth jihad and authorities backing down in the fact of Muslim demands. And he closes with these words on the ground-zero mosque:

We need to have the moral courage to denounce it. It is simply grotesque to erect a mosque at the site of the most visible and powerful symbol of the horrible consequences of radical Islamist ideology. Well-meaning Muslims, with common human sensitivity to the victims’ families, realize they have plenty of other places to gather and worship. But for radical Islamists, the mosque would become an icon of triumph, encouraging them in their challenge to our civilization.

Apologists for radical Islamist hypocrisy are trying to argue that we have to allow the construction of this mosque in order to prove America’s commitment to religious liberty. They say this despite the fact that there are already over 100 mosques in New York City.

In fact, they’re partially correct—this is a test of our commitment to religious liberty. It is a test to see if we have the resolve to face down an ideology that aims to destroy religious liberty in America, and every other freedom we hold dear.

I’ll be interested to see if he develops some specific policies on how to combat stealth jihad. Will he know the refugee resettlement program has to be reformed to keep out jihadist, stealth and otherwise? Will he make recommendations on immigration policy? (Maybe he has; I haven’t researched this.) Will he call for changes in our federal, state and local laws to make it possible to treat Islam as a political movement rather than a religion? We’ll see.

One last comment. Gingrich apparently didn’t touch on this, and neither does McCarthy. But I think it’s important to use the power of Christianity’s message to convert as many Muslims as possible. I’ve read of large numbers of Muslims in the Middle East being converted, some of them secretly. The message that resonates with Muslims is this: Islam is about hate and revenge and punishment. Christianity is about love and forgiveness.

A religious tactic like this would be difficult for a politician to promote. But I believe it is the key to the war. One reason communism collapsed when it did is that the people who lived under that system had lost all their faith in it. It was rotting from within. And our government had helped that happen, in a variety of ways. I’m not sure how such a missionary effort to Muslims could be official policy. Maybe it has to be done entirely privately. But it must be done, and I would like commentators like Andy McCarthy to include this as one tactic in the war.