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Switch to Forum Live View Early Palestinian Identity and Golda
2 years ago  ::  Apr 29, 2012 - 1:56AM #1
habesor
Posts: 5,687
An article from Atlantic Monthly , written by Albert Clay, in 1921 was cited on another thread. I wanted to answer there but decided that the discussion was bound to go off topic so I started this new thread. Golda Meir has been quoted and misquoted in a statement that she made asserting that when she arrived in Palestine, there was no Palestinian national identity among the Arab population. Though I'm sure if Albert Clay was alive today, he would oppose Golda's position. However, reading through his contemporary observations it seems to me that what he writes supports Golda's assertions far more than it contradicts them. There are some other interesting elements in the article that should be discussed, including what is and is not "political Zionism", and I suppose we will. I don't have the time now to really do more than state the basic thesis above. Here is the article in question and I suggest that we all read it.

www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/192... 

Habesor
 
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2 years ago  ::  Apr 29, 2012 - 4:52PM #2
KindredSai
Posts: 5,670

Habesor,


We have been through amany a time.


First and foremost Golda Meir cited this:


"There is no such thing as a Palestinian people... It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn't exist."



Now you can debate all you want about whether she implied a national identity, but this would also be a demagogic lie too for Palestinian nationalism existed prior to 1948 and the British Mandate of Palestine had a Palestinian nationality for both Jews and Arabs as well as Greeks and Turks.

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2 years ago  ::  Apr 29, 2012 - 10:01PM #3
Shusha
Posts: 4,614

KSai,


The quote in its entirety is this:


There were no such thing as Palestinians. When was there an independent Palestinian people with a Palestinian state? It was either southern Syria before the First World War, and then it was a Palestine including Jordan. It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist.



If we are going to discuss the quote, let's at least be honest about what the quote says.

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2 years ago  ::  Apr 30, 2012 - 1:43AM #4
habesor
Posts: 5,687

Once again, I must apologize because I am working under a severe time constraint. So, though I have much more to say about the aricle by Clay, cited in the OP, it will have to remain for later.


First, I would assert that Golda's comments, as quoted correctly and not misquoted, indicate that she is talking about the lack of national identity of the population that were resident in the mandate at its beginning. That would have been contemporary with the time the article by Clay was written. So it would be interesting to see how Clay describes that population to see if such a description implies a Palestinian national identity held among the rank and file Arab residents. Clay addresses this (and I will be cherry picking from his article so please feel free to cherry pick in response) first as follows: 


"True, nomads are found in Palestine, as everywhere throughout the Orient; but to foist upon the intelligent public the idea that the population of this land is made up of Bedouins, or even of Arabs, is a deliberate attempt to deceive it."


This is rather odd description of the Arab population and the denial of its Arabness is rather even more odd, but in and of itself doesn't indicate a lack of Palestinian national identity. However Clay goes on to write:


"The inhabitants of the land should be called Syrians — or Palestinians, if Palestine is to be separated from Syria. True, there are many Arabs living there, more, for example, than Greeks, Germans, or Latins, because of the proximity of Arabia; but these are not the real Palestinians, nor do they represent the bulk of the substantial part of the nation."


Clay, continues with the assertion that these are not Arabs and elsewhere insists that such a label is used as part of the Zionist propaganda line, an assertion that would probably surprise many Arab nationalists since the arrival of George Antonius. I will come back to this later. But what seems obvious to me is that the residents are Syrians or Palestinians depending upon how the great powers divide the territory should call into question the strength and clarity of the population's national identity. Certainly to a Jewish nationalist, like Golda, who was intensely concerned about building such a national identity among Jews, the absence of this self identification among the Arab population would be both striking and seen by her as critical.


Clay went on to make the following comment:


"When the whole population of Palestine became Mohammedan, there is little doubt that a large percentage of the Jews were also forced to accept this faith; their descendants are now classed by the Political Zionists as ‘Arabs.’ The Yemenites, who we know migrated from Arabia, and who in every respect resemble the Arab in physique, appearance, and bearing, they, none the less, call Jews, because of their faith. Then, also, in such Christian cities as Bethlehem and Ramallah a type is seen that is distinctively European, and doubtless largely represents remnants or descendants of the Crusaders, or of Christians who migrated to the Holy Land in the past centuries. Moreover, the Palestinian or Syrian is a composite race, largely Semitic, which has developed from the association of the different racial elements inhabiting the land for at least five thousand years past. And while the Arabs have in all periods filtered in from Arabia, and the language, as in Egypt and Mesopotamia, is Arabic, it is a deliberate misrepresentation to classify the inhabitants as ‘Arabs.’" 


Again, in my opinion, these comments cannot possibly be interpreted as illustrating a strong Palestinian nationalist feeling among the population and most definitely not as Palestinian Arab nationalism is described today; and, in addition, certainly not an Arab nationalist self identification.  Arab nationalists were certainly on the scene but obviously they had not had an impact on the general population or on Clay. Palestinian Arab nationalists came along much later, and that, of course, was Golda's point.


This does not end my comments, but I must stop here. I would appreciate any replies, especially from those who disagree with my analysis.


Habesor



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2 years ago  ::  Apr 30, 2012 - 6:38AM #5
NahumS
Posts: 1,761

Apr 29, 2012 -- 4:52PM, KindredSai wrote:


Habesor,


We have been through amany a time.


First and foremost Golda Meir cited this:


"There is no such thing as a Palestinian people... It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn't exist."



Now you can debate all you want about whether she implied a national identity, but this would also be a demagogic lie too for Palestinian nationalism existed prior to 1948 and the British Mandate of Palestine had a Palestinian nationality for both Jews and Arabs as well as Greeks and Turks.





There may have been Arab nationalists in Mandatory Palestine, but there was certainly no joint Jewish and Arab nationality, nor would that include Turks or Greeks (nor German Templars). Jews called themselves Palestinians, and Arabs called themselves .... Arabs. But this is not the point.


The State of Israel did not supplant a multi-ethnic state called Palestine. Such a state never existed. British Palestine was a Mandate - control granted by the League of Nations in 1920 to establish a Jewish National Home.


Britain ceded the larger portion of their Palestine mandate to the Hashemites to create trans-Jordan - to fulfill Arab national aspirations. The fulfillment of their mandate to create a Jewish National Home was at best partial - while limiting land sales to Jews and Jewish immigration even while European Jewry was being slaughtered. At the same time Arab immigration to Palestine was virtually unimpeded.


Why were the British so remiss in fulfilling the mandate that they were given? Two simple reason: Arab oil and Arab violence.


 


 

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