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Who Are The Palestinians?
Lebanese American Sharon Nader Sloan is a real estate attorney practicing in Los Angeles. Her family is from Beirut, Tripoli and Hasroun, Lebanon. She wrote in 2002, "The ideas that the West Bank and Gaza are occupied Palestinian land, and that the Palestinian people are fighting for their land, have been accepted by most of the governments of the world and by most of the media in the world." But, should they be? Here's what she says:

The fact simply is that there are no Palestinians. These people are Arabs like all other Arabs, and they happen to live in a region called Palestine. They are not a separate people.

What makes a separate people? Religion, language, culture, garb, cuisine, etc. The Arabs in Palestine speak the same language, practice the same religion, have the same culture, etc., as all the other Arabs. The few minor differences that exist between them are like the minor differences that exist between the American Northerners and Southerners, Easterners and Westerners... but they are still all Americans. People in the south of France are quite different from the people in the north, but they are still all French. These inconsequential differences do not make a people.

The Arabs living in Syria or Jordan, etc., are also the same Arabs, but they are each a separate nation because they each have a separate country. The so-called Palestinians want a separate country because they claim to be a separate nation. They are not. They were never a separate people before the new state of Israel. How did they become one now?

Because of these lies, the so-called "Palestinians" feel justified in sending suicide bombers to kill women, children, babies, old men, old women and noncombatant citizens. Because of these lies, the United Nations and the media of the world are condemning Israel who is acting less harshly than any other country would act in retaliation for such heinous attacks. What is the United States doing in Afghanistan, a totally foreign country? Killing Afghanis. Why? Because they attacked us on Sept. 11. I understand this. But why do they not understand that that is exactly what Israel is doing, only on a much smaller scale?

Ask yourself this: Should the use of terror ever be rewarded? When is the use of terrorism justified as a military tactic? As a political tactic? As an economic tactic? What implications does this hold for future conflicts?

Let us examine the truths here:

Arab "Palestinian?" with Flag of "Palestine?"1) There never was a Palestinian state or a Palestinian nation. There are no Palestinian people, per se. Rather, these are Arabs living in a region that historically has been called many things, including "Palestine."

2) Israel did not go to war against a Palestinian state and occupy its land. Rather, Israel was attacked by six Arab countries at once. She defended herself, defeated her attackers, and won the so-called territories, not from the Palestinians, but from Jordan and Egypt.

3) Jerusalem was never the capital of any state but Israel. It was certainly never the capital of a country that never existed. Why should the Palestinians get any part of it? Because they want it? Because they have terrorists?

4) Jerusalem, under the current Israeli control, is a free and open city. Israel, as a democracy, guarantees freedom of religion within its borders. Contrast this fact with areas that have come under Palestinian occupation. What percentage of Christians have left in recent years because they cannot stand the harassment and persecution?

5) Most Arabs living in Palestine today are not indigenous to the region. It was not until after the Jews had changed deserts and swamps into a productive and thriving land that the Arabs started migrating there. Arafat himself was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt. Did you know that?

The belief that giving the Palestinians a state will bring peace is a delusion. The truth is that they want it all. The short-term goal is a state consisting of the West Bank and Gaza. The long-term goal is a state which includes all of "historical Palestine," including Jordan.

How do I know this?

The late Faisal Husseini, Arafat's Jerusalem representative, a man who was cultured, sophisticated and considered the most moderate of all the Palestinians, shortly before his death on May 31, 2001, expressed his true feelings in an interview with the popular Egyptian newspaper el Arav. Husseini said: "We must distinguish the strategies and long-term goals from the political-phased goals which we are compelled to accept due to international pressures." But the "ultimate goal is the liberation of all of historical Palestine." Explicitly he said: "Oslo has to be viewed as a Trojan Horse."

He even added and clarified that it is the obligation of all the Palestinian forces and factions to see the Oslo Accords as "temporary" steps, as "gradual" goals, because in this way, "We are setting an ambush for the Israelis and cheating them." He also differentiated between "strategic," long-term, "higher" goals, and "political" short-term goals dependent on "the current international establishment, balance of power" etc.

All of historical Palestine! Does not this include all of Israel and all of Jordan?

The entire piece is at the link above.

Posted by aalkon at August 7, 2006 10:10 AM

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Wow, the fact that she says all Arabs are culturally similar or that the differences are as small as the differences between the American south and north greatly diminshes her credibility. There are quite a few cultural similarities between Arabs, but those are akin to cultural similarities between Europeans.

Egyptians view themselves and different Arabs different than Libyans, Morrocans and Algerians to their west and see themselves completely differently than the Gulf states. Not to mention the local dialects are very different in pronunciation and many of the words. Most of the nations have completely seperate histories dating back thousands of years. The Carthaginians were in North Africa, the Egyptians in the center, Phoenicians in Lebanon, Babylonians in Iraq, Bedouin tribes on the peninsula, etc.

To use Arab immigration in the area as support for the illegitimacy of a state is ludicrous. Jewish purchase of land made up only 1/8 of modern Israel, not to mention the domination of Ashkenazi in early poitical Israeli history to the detriment of the Mizrahi.

Israel has two options regarding the Palestinians: Govern over the whole of the West Bank and Gaza and give the Palestinians full rights as citizens. This is unplatable for Israel due to demographic concerns (even if they did it as a grouping of federal states rather than as a single state). The second is to give them their own state to govern over. Other than that, they have the status quo, which is a horrible price to pay for all sides involved. I wish to know those that don't think Israel's problems will go away with seperate or a unfied state think the solution is.

Posted by: Mo at August 7, 2006 4:02 AM

There are no Palestinian people

That brings to mind the statement of Slobbo Milosevic's army "There never were any muslims in Srebrenica". This after the majority of the male muslim population was murdered, the majority of the female muslim population raped, and all the mosques demolished.

Sharon Sloane's essay is the purest Israeli political propaganda and I'm amazed Amy found it worthwhile to give it a wider readership.

Posted by: Stu "El Inglés" Harris at August 7, 2006 8:28 AM

"There are no Palestinian people."

I've also been told that the Holocaust never happened.

Posted by: Lena at August 7, 2006 9:32 AM

Actually, Jews in the area had "Palestinian" marked in their passports before Israel's statehood in 1948. I'm not all rah-rah Israel/keep clinging to that little Delaware of land til everybody dies. Remember, I'm the person who yesterday posted that the Israelis should all move to Baja to stop the bloodshed.

Why is this "pro-Israel propaganda"? If the Palestinian Arabs wanted to live in peace with the Jews, like the Druze do, do you think there'd be an ounce of conflict? They want to run all the Jews into the sea or want them otherwise dead, and have been quite open about saying so. If not for that, there would be no "Palestinians," just a bunch of Arabs living in peace in Israel.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 7, 2006 9:51 AM

So who were those people living in that land for the past 2,000 years? And Jerusalem is a holy city not only to Jews and Christians, but Moslims as well. Seriously, this sounds like the arguments used against the Native Americans here: "Well, they didn't build strip malls and condos so they didn't really own the land."

This goes back to some Old Testament thinking that "God" gave them that land and if there happened to be people already living there, well, I guess some godly genocide was going to have to happen.

Posted by: Russputin at August 7, 2006 10:42 AM

I don't dispute that, Russ. And I think this will not end until there's either nuclear war or the Jews go elsewhere. Of course, as an atheist, I don't think irrational attachment to a bunch of biblical stories is reason to cling to land until every life on it or around it is obliterated.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 7, 2006 10:53 AM

I would be shocked if the Jews chose by themselves to leave Israel. Let's be honnest here; the Jews have been the "Whipping Boys" of europe for the last two millenias. They trived by knowing how to play the "Game". Having a higher education and bonding with their community became their salvation. After 1945, they rapidly learned that they would'nt get any help for the rest of the world, so they make a stand in Israel. So, yeah, I think it will take nuclear weapons to get them out of the middle east. It will also kill a lot of Muslims but it never stopped terrorists before...

Posted by: Toubrouk at August 7, 2006 12:32 PM

Sloane is either a disconnected idiot, or blinded by her own doctrine. Her article is so full of false facts and obviously propagandist that it bears little or no credibility. As for her statement that all Arabs are the same, maybe she should look up the word "tribe" -- and it -- that'd be a start.

Posted by: LA Frog at August 7, 2006 11:39 PM

If I'm wrong, I'd like to know, but is this the piece you're talking about?

It can't be this:

Can it?

Eek, here's a pleasant little piece:

A Second-Class People

Under Islam, Christians are considered dhimmi, a tolerated but second class who are afforded protection by Islam. Dhimmitude is integral to Islam; it is a "protection pact" that suspends "the [Muslim] conqueror's initial right to kill or enslave [Jews and Christians], provided they submitted themselves to pay tribute."2

However, the reality of Christianity under Islam has often been difficult. "Over the centuries, political Islam has not been too kind to the native Christian communities living under its rule. Anecdotes of tolerance aside, the systematic treatment of abusive and discriminatory by any standard....Under Islam, the targeted dhimmi community and each individual in it are made to live in a state of perpetual humiliation in the eyes of the ruling community."3 As described by a Christian Lebanese president, Bashir Gemayil: "a not a full citizen and cannot exercise political rights in any of the countries which were once conquered by Islam."

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 8, 2006 12:36 AM

PS Best not to put three links in a piece like I did, or take out the html (they go to my junk folder -- I forgot). If you get a comment notice (the comment is moderated or something like that) after posting a bunch of links, just e-mail me so I make sure it gets saved and published.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 8, 2006 12:38 AM

The claim that there never was a Palestinian people and they should just move is one of the oldest pro-Israel propaganda tropes in the book. If there never were a Palestinian people, then it means they have no legitimate claim to the land. Then it follows that there is no moral basis behind their claims for right of return or land in the West Bank. This is akin to saying that Columbus discovered America and it was just empty, uninhabited land.

Also, there are extremists on both sides that do not want peace. Who assasinated Rabin? It wasn't a Muslim. Why is there a refusal to halt settlements in the West Bank? These settlements and expansions of current settlements are seen as a continued land grab and only serve to inflame the local populace more. Your posts have been laying the fault entirely at the feet of the Palestinians, when both sides are culpable. Despite your Golda Mair quotes.

Posted by: Mo at August 8, 2006 12:41 AM

Oh, please. David Ben Gurion's passport said "Palestinian." There were Palestinian Jews and Palestinian Arabs. The Arabs who are there now are there because they thought the Jews would die and they could return and claim their homes.

I don't give two flying fucks about anybody's claim to the land. The Israelis would live in peace with these people same as they do with the Druze, but for the fact these people want them dead. I'm not racist, but a rational pragmatist. I think the Israelis (many of whom are secular and thus not as nuts as most of the Arabs, more of whom, I'd venture, believe, without evidence, in god) should move -- see my comment about Baja above.

There's really no peaceful end to this that anyone can see, and thus, it makes no sense to cling to this tiny piece of land until all the children are killed. I'm a pragmatist, and one who values human life far behind most religious nutters -- which is why I don't believe in capital punishment or think this land battle makes sense anymore.

Nobody's saying these people don't exist.That would be ridiculous. Maybe all of you are those who believe in propaganda?

Here's more on the Palestinian thing. Feel free to find and point out specific errors in it if you find them:

On May 14, 1948 the "Palestinian" Jews finally declared their own State of Israel and became "Israelis." On the next day, seven neighboring Arab armies... Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Yemen... invaded Israel. Most of the Arabs living within the boundaries of the newly declared "ISRAEL" were encouraged to leave by the invading Arab armies to facilitate the slaughter of the Jews and were promised to be given all Jewish property after the victorious Arab armies won the war. The truth is that 70% of the Arab Palestinians who left in 1948 – perhaps 300,000 to 400,000 of them – never saw an Israeli soldier! They did not flee because they feared Jewish thugs, but because of a rational and reasonable calculus: the Jews will be exterminated; we will get out of the way while that messy and dangerous business goes forward, and we will return afterwards to reclaim our homes, and to inherit those nice Jewish properties as well. They guessed wrong; and the Arab Palestinians are still tortured by the residual shame of their flight. Their shame is so great because in their eyes running from Jews was like running from women. So much for the blatant lie about Jews throwing out all the [Palestinian] Arabs!

The remaining 30% either (1) saw for themselves that these Jews would fight and die for their new nation and decided to pack up and leave or (2) were driven off the land as a normal consequence of war.

When the 19 month war ended, Israel survived despite a 1% loss of its entire population! Those Arabs who did not flee became today's Israeli-Arab citizens. Those who fled became the seeds of the first wave of "Palestinian Arab refugees."

The Arab propagandists and apologists almost never mentioned that in 1948, Arab armies launched a war against a one-day-old Israel. Instead he focused on the main consequence of that war: the creation of Arab refugees, stating that Israel "short of genocide" expelled 800,000 of them. This not only disagrees with UN estimates of a bit over 400,000 refugees but also ignores the fact that most of the Arabs/Palestinians were encouraged to leave by the Arab World itself!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 8, 2006 5:18 AM

And check out this other bit from the link above, supporting my point about the Israelis being willing to live in peace:


Israel was responsible for bringing about some of its own problems. The Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were packed and ready to leave following their 1967 defeat. Suddenly the victorious one-eyed IDF General Moshe Dayan persuaded them to stay. This singular act stunned no one more than the Arab enemy himself who could not believe such an incredible manifestation of Jewish madness! After all, the Arabs knew what THEY would have done to the Jews if they had won! Dayan's plan was to educate them, offer them modern medical treatment, provide them with employment both in the West Bank, Gaza AND inside Israel Proper itself ... living amongst each other in hopes of building bridges to the Arab world. Israel is now paying dearly for this typically naive "Leftist" gesture. That "bridge" led to two Intifadas and world-wide Arab-Palestinian terrorism. From a frightened and defeated enemy, these "Palestinian" Arabs under Israel's jurisdiction turned into a confident, hateful and dangerous enemy now on their way toward forming a terrorist state determined to destroy Israel!

Note: When people say Jordan (first called Trans-Jordan) is an Arab-"Palestinian" State, they are correct! Jordan accounts for 3/4 of Palestine's original land mass. Though they may call themselves "Jordanians," they are culturally, ethnically, historically and religiously no different than the Arab-"Palestinians" on the "West Bank." Even the flag of Jordan and the flag of the proposed 2nd Arab-Palestinian state on the West Bank / Gaza look almost identical. So, if the Arab-Palestinians and Jordanians think of themselves as one and the same, why should WE fall for the lie that the Arab Palestinians west of the Jordan River are any different from the Jordanian Arabs on its eastern shore?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 8, 2006 5:21 AM

I'm very familiar with the declared war on Israel and disagree with it. I also disagree with the attempts to drive it to the sea. I am also aware that all people living in what is now Israel and the West Bank were called Palestinians. I was merely saying the fact that the "there's no such thing as Palestinians" line is a common use of Zionists (the political movement, not a blanket label) as a justification for their actions.

Yes, many people left the land, but to say 70% left because they never saw an Israeli soldier (the number seems questionable to me, but I have no sources) does not mean they left to grab land. There are lots of people that would leave a war zone before it gets hot. That's generally the safest time to get out with your skin.

Could one not use the example of Israeli Arabs living in peace and safety within the borders of Israel as a sign that they are also willing to live in peace? Considering most of the attacks come from people that are given squalid conditions, little political power and see what small land they have parceled off being picked apart. This is not to say there won't be violent militants, but their power and popularity will dimish once the Palestinians have something to lose. Right now they have nothing to lose. When anyone or thing has nothing to lose, they tend to get vicious.

I'd open up Baja to Palestinians that want an opportunity at a new life in a peaceful environment. Heck, give them a plot in the Southwest, so they don't have to deal with a corrupt government. I'm sure there'd be plenty of takers on that.

Do you consider biological attacks a "normal consequence of war"? Keep in mind, Dr. Milstein is one of the most respected Israeli military historians and not a wack job.

"It is believed that one of the largest BW operations was in the Arab coastal town of Acre, north of Haifa, shortly before it was conquered by the IDF on May 17, 1948. According to Dr. Uri Milstein, an Israeli military historian, the typhoid epidemic that spread in Acre in the days before the town fell to the Israeli forces was not due to wartime chaos but rather the result of a deliberate covert action by the IDF--the contamination of Acre's water supply."

Posted by: Mo at August 8, 2006 6:02 AM

The Jewish portions of Israel that aren't squalid aren't squalid because the Jews are builders.

That Milstein piece above isn't evidence. And nobody's saying everything the IDF does is nice. But, check out CNN, and all the Israelis lamenting Arab loss of life. You see any Arabs sad that Jewish children are dying? In fact, the other day, I saw a piece where a little Arab girl, about 8, was all excited about the Jews being killed. Creepy.

Read above about how Muslims see Christians. The Jews don't even proseletize.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 8, 2006 6:20 AM

Milstein is the foremost expert on the War of Independence and that isn't the only instance involving bio warfare or terrorist tactics by the IDF.

I'm very familiar with how Muslims, both moderate and extreme see Christians, considering I grew up in a Muslim household (I'm an apostate). Four of my dad's closest friends from his childhood in Egypt are Christian. Muslims and Christians live peacefully together for the most part in Egypt. When I was in Cairo two years ago, I saw more Christmas decorations and hear more Christmas carols than I did in any mall in the US. It's not the same in some rural parts, but they live in harmony side by side and have for centuries.

Are there hateful elements? Yes and unfortunately they're armed. They're also able to rally support due to actions from Israel. Is it justified? No. But to say Israel isn't squalid because the Jews are builders shows an ignorance of the situation of the area. That's like saying the white parts of Detroit that aren't squalid aren't squalid because white people are builders.

Is it creepy when Israeli children are smiling and writing messages on shells to fire into Lebanon? The blame doesn't just fall to one side here and the disproportionate attack on Lebanon for the actions Hizbollah has lead to an order of magnitude more deaths in Lebanon than in Israel.

Posted by: Mo at August 8, 2006 6:53 AM

I don't trust experts, I trust evidence. And I'm not suggesting the Israelis are always angels.

I grew up with Chaldeans, and had a close Lebanese friend when I lived in New York. I worked as an intern with Helen Thomas, who's of Lebanese extraction. And I have a friend who's from Iran (he calls himself "Persian" as many Iranians in the US do, to distance themselves from the repressive religious nutter regimes.) They're all nice people. And so what?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 8, 2006 7:06 AM

Sorry, but what societal advances have come out of the Arab world in modern times? Precious few. Where's the science, the technology, the artistic and architectural advances, the great literature?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 8, 2006 7:08 AM

What a cop out. You throw me statements with unattributed statements like "The truth is that 70% of the Arab Palestinians who left in 1948 – perhaps 300,000 to 400,000 of them – never saw an Israeli soldier!" with the production qualities of a late 90s Geocities site as fact. When I respond with a statement by a historian whose bias would otherwise lead him to the opposite conclusion, who has done primary research that contradicts your belief you respond with, "I don't trust experts, I trust evidence."

I find that a funny statement from someone with zero scientifiic background and research who makes claims that her opponents are irrational fools, yet relies on the work of experts. Unless you've done research on evolutionary biology and atmospheric science on the side that I'm unaware of.

As for arab advancements in literature, art, etc in recent times:
Alfred Camus of Algerian descent, educated at the University of Algeria.
Naguib Mahfouz, winner Nobel Prize Literature in 1988, Egyptian, great guy and old family friend.
Ahmed Zewail, winner 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Adbus Salam a Pakistani won the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics for work in electroweak theory (technically not Arab, though)
Gulf Arab states have made significant advances in water desalinization technology

That's a decent start.

Posted by: Mo at August 8, 2006 10:27 AM

Also, Persians aren't Arabs. Never have been. They're a completely different culture, language and history. It's not a line to distance themselves from Arabs any more than someone saying they're Japanese is different culturally than Chinese.

Your point about your friends is irrelevant, since we know that the US is open, tolerant society where people of different races, religions, cultures can freely and peacefully interact. I made my statement in reference to Muslims and Christians getting along peacefully in Egypt for centuries.

Also, check out some of the modern architecture in Dubai, it's absolutely stunning.

Posted by: Mo at August 8, 2006 10:42 AM

Alfred Camus of Algerian descent...

Albert. But yes.

Posted by: Stu "El Inglés" Harris at August 8, 2006 10:54 AM

The Arab civilization is one of the most ancient in the world. They may not have the same values that we have, and some may not think much of ours -- the way you don't think much of theirs -- but it's their values, and culture. Yes: culture. Dismissing this, or refusing to recognize it, is just throwing oil on the fire.

One of the biggest problems in today's world is the West's lack of understanding/empathy for other cultures -- while the East has a pretty good grasp of ours. Our shortcoming, not theirs. We simply have bigger, better organized firepower, but that's not the solution.

Posted by: LA Frog at August 8, 2006 10:55 AM

> Dubai, it's absolutely stunning.

Amazing what you can do with an limitless blend of petrodollars and slave labor.

But wait! There's trouble in paradise:

"Reports from those who have wandered through the island's giant homes describe them as cheaply finished and set uncomfortably close to one another."

"[T]he sprawling island, with its dredges, highway overpasses and construction cranes has become a major eyesore for resort hotels on Dubai's once idyllic natural beaches."

Posted by: Crid at August 8, 2006 10:56 AM

Only 30% of their GDP is from petroleum and natural gas. They're intelligently diversified their economy to include heavy industry, finance, and a whole lot of other things (including fisheries, it's a fascinating country). And their labor is not slave labor, considering that one of the Phillipines major source of income is their citizens working as temp labor and sending cash back.

Not to mention that your link talks about problems in one (albeit large) resort in the entire nation.

Ooops. My bad, thank you.

Posted by: Mo at August 8, 2006 11:10 AM

I share your fascination with the place. Let's tidy up our wording. It's ricidulous, absolutely preposterous, to imagine that this brand new Vegas on the Gulf is happening for any reason but that surrounding oil oligarchies need a handy playground, as if there were simply a local talent for "finance." "Slave" labor may have been aggressive wording on my part, but let's not pretend they're unionized.

Palm Jumeirah is not just a 'large resort'. It's a fascinating attempt to bring some global sophistication to monied Arabia by attracting British footballers and their Spice Girl wives as investors in what was recently worthless real estate. For all its problems, I had high, silly hopes for Dubai. A licentious playground in the region could dilute their religious craziness. When staying at the Burj Al Arab, tou can see the shores of Iran across the Gulf. And then you can go down the to lobby and have dinner and drinks with a Jewish woman wearing a low-cut blouse. The Middle East needs more of that. So it's sad to hear that the first of these island neighborhoods is going to be dense and slummy.

Posted by: Crid at August 8, 2006 12:25 PM


> As for arab advancements in
> literature, art, etc in recent
> times:

How many of those names made their mark in Arab countries and contexts?

When Arafat got sick, he went to Paris, not Islamabad

Posted by: Crid at August 8, 2006 12:36 PM

Could that have had something to do with the fact that his wife was French?

Posted by: Stu "El Inglés" Harris at August 8, 2006 12:45 PM

The word "Palestinian" does not appear in 800 years of Arab literature. It is never used to describe the region formerly known as Israel.

During hundreds of years of Ottoman Turkish control, what is now Israel and Jordan was truncated horizontally into different sanjaks (administrative regions) - the south was governed out of Alexandria and Fostat, the central area was governed out of what is now Iraq, and the northern region was governed out of Beirut, Damascus, and sometimes Antioch.

So, no unified ethnic identity.

Click here for a map (notice that it's from NPR, hardly a pro-Israel source):

As late as the 1930s, when the British held hearings about how to partition the land, the Imam of Haifa (a port city on the mediterranean) insisted "we are Iraqis" - because the term "Palestinian" was then associated with the Zionists - and his people had been governed for generations by the Iraqi sanjak. The Iraqi army was one of the invading Arab armies that tried to destroy Israel in 1948.

The term "Palestinian" was used exclusively by Christians as a less specifically "Jewish" term for "the Holy Land". The British resurrected the term when they captured the territory from the Turks after WWI - it was very convenient for them to have a "neutral" term that did not direct attention to the Jewish connection to the land.

The "Palestinians" of the West Bank are culturally indistinguishable from the Arabs of Jordan - and many still have relations with Jordanian clans. The majority of traffic across the Israeli-Jordanian border consists of "Palestinians" attending their second-cousin's clan festivities in Jordan - evidence that most of the "Palestinians" are the children of recent immigrants to the region, drawn by the labor opportunities of the British railroad and, later, the Jewish building boom.

Similarly, the most popular last name in Gaza is "Al-Masri" which means "the Egyptian".

British immigration records show that most "Palestinians" were not in what is now Israel before the 20th century.

One of the most important ethnic markers in the Arab world is the spoken dialect - written Arabic is relatively uniform, but the spoken dialects distinguish ethnic/geographical groups.

Guess what - Gazans and West-Bankers don't speak the same dialect! This was a major stumbling block for Yasser Arafat, who was raised in Egypt and spoke that dialect.

Maybe that's why there was no "uprising" or calls for "independence" when Jordan and Egypt controlled parts of "Palestine" for decades.

There never was a state called Palestine, or an ethnic group of Arabs who called themselves Palestinians.

There alrady exists a "Palestinian" state - a state whose population is overwhelmingly from this ethnic group.

It's called Jordan.

More myths and facts:

Posted by: Ben-David at August 8, 2006 1:03 PM

> Could that have had something to
> do with the fact that his wife was
> French?

Probably not. Again, why didn't he want a doctor from Tripoli? Or Riyadh? Or Damascus? Or even his native Cairo?

On the other hand, is there something instructive in the fact that his wife was French?

Ben-David: All very interesting, but not on point. This is not going to get any better.

Posted by: Crid at August 8, 2006 1:11 PM

Whoops, wrong thread.

Listen, there's no doubt that as a raw element in humanity, Arabs are as fast and deep a people as any. But their culture isn't bringing out their best, and it's we ought to be able to say so

Posted by: Crid at August 8, 2006 1:13 PM

Does our culture bring out the best? Puh-leaze!

Posted by: LA Frog at August 8, 2006 1:33 PM

> Click here for a map (notice that it's from NPR, hardly a pro-Israel source):

For those who didn't bother to click, the title of the map is "Palestine in the Ottoman Empire, Around 1900". Ooops...

> The "Palestinians" of the West Bank are culturally indistinguishable from the Arabs of Jordan

The nation of Jordan was invented in 1950.

Posted by: Stu "El Inglés" Harris at August 8, 2006 1:45 PM

> Does our culture bring out
> the best? Puh-leaze!

And yet, you live here, doncha?

Yes, it does bring out the best. And it pays them! That's why the Arabs come to it too, both as vendors and consumers.

Or is there some culture you think does a better job?

Posted by: Crid at August 8, 2006 3:28 PM

"Unless you've done research on evolutionary biology and atmospheric science on the side that I'm unaware of."

Read Jerome Barkow's review of my "How To Build A Better Meme" presentation at Rutgers at the Human Behavior & Evolution Society Conference. He praises it in three pages in his most recent book.

I don't know much about climatology -- which is why my posts on global warming are rather spare, but about evolutionary psych, I know my shit.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 8, 2006 3:42 PM

"The Arab civilization is one of the most ancient in the world"

-- and they remain that way.

Yes, as Crid acknowledged, they're building Vegas in Dubai. But, where are the medical discoveries and all the rest? I'm waiting! In the mean time, maybe I'll read up on the 16-year-old girls being put to death by the Iranians, and how few rights Saudi women have.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 8, 2006 3:47 PM

> And yet, you live here, doncha?

Yes, and I love this country -- but I don't drink the Kool Aid.
Same with my own.

Posted by: LA Frog at August 8, 2006 5:06 PM

Yet again, non-responsive. Who does it better?

People are so afraid of being called foolish that they're afraid of making any judgment at all. Since their own survival brings pain, their fantasies describe a nation where life has no sorrow.

So then you ask them what that land is called. And all the sudden it gets real quiet.



Posted by: Crid at August 8, 2006 6:49 PM

Bad dum Pum! Her name's Amy! She's here all week! Try the veal!

Posted by: Crid at August 8, 2006 6:51 PM

(Sorry, that sarcasm was for the line "and they remain that way." It's amazing how people want to think there's an alternate route to modernity besides the rule of law, democracy, suffrage, separation of church and state, etc)

Posted by: cRID at August 8, 2006 6:54 PM

> Since their own survival brings pain, their fantasies describe a nation where life has no sorrow.

Crid: wake up. Fantasyland does not exist -- not even in America. I don't believe there's a perfect system anywhere. But I do believe that you can benefit from learning from other cultures and systems, and apply some critical analysis to your own. Your line about the Arab culture not bringing out the best can be applied to any culture if you want to convince yourself that you're superior to anyone else. It's pretty lame, and you're too smart for that.

> People are so afraid of being called foolish that they're afraid of making any judgment at all.

I don't think it applies to this blog. You don't need to read between the lines to note that there's plenty of strong argumentation, yet without too much fundanut B.S. -- a welcome balance.

> Yet again, non-responsive.

I don't believe in hammering my viewpoint to people who don't share it. Sometimes, you just have to agree to disagree -- and let go, while respecting the other's right to his/her own different opinion [and maybe take some of it into account]. That's got nothing to do with non-responsiveness; it's debate -- and democracy. Stubborn self-righteousness, or refusal to look at things from other people's points of view [even if it's to disagree in the end], just makes for sterile, boring conversation. I think we've exhausted this one, so I'll sign off before we bore everyone else to death.

Posted by: LA Frog at August 8, 2006 7:51 PM

> I don't believe there's
> a perfect system anywhere.

"bring out the best in people"

> sign off before we bore
> everyone

Too late! I chased the sane ones off in '03

Posted by: Crid at August 9, 2006 1:06 AM

"where are the medical discoveries and all the rest? I'm waiting!"

I threw out a list of top scientists, thinkers and writers that are internationally recognized for their discoveries. Rather than acknowledge that I answered your first question, "Where's the science, the technology, the artistic and architectural advances, the great literature?" you simply keep moving the goalposts back. I'm not going to play along.

I didn't ask about your experience in evolutionary psych, but biology and climatiology, which you also speak a great deal about.

As for why Arafat went to a French hospital you have discovered the great secret that rich countries have better medical. Rich Canadians often come to the US for medical care.

Do the system of governments in the Middle East prevent their best from coming out? Yes (many of these governments are propped up by the US). Would they be much better if they were freer and had more economic opportunities? Absolutely. Do (major) flaws in a system of government that lead to these flaws necessarily reflect general depravity and worthlessness in culture? No. The Soviet Union killed more people than anyone else, started proxy wars globally and did all sorts of nasty things. Was Russian culture or communism blamed?

The problem in the Middle East is religious fundamentalism. This is a problem no matter the religion. If there were nations of Jews and Christians trying to follow their holy books to a T, they would be nasty and barbaric as well. And every culture has entered periods of religious fundamentalism at one point, even the West. Had the West not, they would have never needed to translate the Greek classics from Arabic to understand them.

Posted by: Mo at August 9, 2006 4:42 AM

List? I don't see any list. Because there isn't one. The people you strain to include don't do their work in Arab countries. For example, this guy's at Cal Tech:

Albert Camus? Um, he's long dead. And from Algeria.

Naguib Mahfouz's Nobel in literature was for work done three decades earlier.

Face it, Arab countries are too busy chopping off people's hands and stoning them and all the rest to create anything much of value. There are those discoveries or bits of literature here and there...but usually, the discoverers or creators have to "get out of Dodge." I'm no racist. I don't think any people are inherently stupid or uncreative. I just think the primitivity of Islamic countries prohibits growth and substantive contributions to society.

FYI, I've been seriously studying evolutionary psych for about seven years, and I have reviews from some of the top profs in the field. I'm even mentioned favorably in the book of Jerome Barkow, as I wrote above. He, with Leda Cosmides and John Tooby is one of the parents of what evolutionary psych is today. I don't know climatology, so I don't talk about it.

I read the same journals and go to the same conferences as the top people in the field. They know me, they're friends with me, and they respect me, far as I can tell. I don't brag about my knowledge because I'm secure enough in it that I don't have to. But there's a little snack for you.

About all those Arab discoveries...where's the list? Recent, please.

And FYI, I was a bit involved with Marlon Brando and Carl Hodges in a salicornia project (saltwater farming). Most people have no idea how much Marlon knew about science, or how interesting a mind he had. Here's a link about salicornia that mentions Carl.

Here's another:

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 9, 2006 8:39 AM

> rich countries have better medical.

Either way you're begging the question. Why can't these countries generate wealth to fund excellence, and if they do, where's the excellence?

> Was Russian culture or
> communism blamed?


God DAMN, boy. (Broke the resolution to not use caps for emphasis... Sorry)

Posted by: Crid at August 9, 2006 10:03 AM

Just curious-
From 1948 until 1967, the West Bank and Gaza were not under Israeli control, but Jordan and Egypt. Why wasn't a Palestinian state formed then?

Posted by: Richard Davis at August 11, 2006 1:06 PM

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