Why Do I Even Bother with Palestinian Indigenous Indentity?

  • 1 minute read
  • • by Sharon Koifman
  • • September 30, 2022

Because this story of the ancient Palestinians might give the Palestinians their identity in the short term, but it is also what keeps them down in the long run.
It keeps them in the narrative that this other ethnicity (the Jews) stole not only their land but their identity, and that’s a very bad place to try and find a solution. This story is the tool of controlling bodies such as Qatar, Iran, Unrwa, and The Palestinian leadership to keep control of the Palestinian and keep them a multi-generational Issue. Tough Love is not easy, but the faster we snap them out of that, the faster we can move forward and discuss peace.

The main organization that I run is called Progressive Zionists.

Part of the movement of Progressive Zionists is not just about being an unapologetic Zionist but also being concerned with social justice. In that path, I’m required to be concerned not only for Jews and Israelis but the Palestinian people also. So for the longest time, I chose to avoid the topic of Palestinian ethnicity unless I could show that it exists. I spent 2 years looking for that Palestinian Arab identity, and I really did not find anything. Yes, I have managed to capture one or 2 occasions in the last 1500 years where a local Arab would call himself a Palestinian as a person that comes from the region of Palestine, but most of the time historically, when the term Palestinian was mentioned, they were actually referring to Jews.

I avoided this topic because one of the final steps we are trying to achieve here is to influence people into a peace-making solution. I didn’t believe that this could be achieved by taking away their identity.

My attitude was, ”hey, if the Palestinians feel they are indigenous to the area, fuck it; what do I care, as long as they don’t take my indigenous connection.” Yet, with years of experience as an activist searching for peace, I figured that the opposite was happening.

I realized that the story that there is some ancient Palestinian population that was connected strictly to the border between the Jordanian river and sea might empower them and gives the Palestinians their identity in the short term, but it is also what keeps them down in the long run. From a young age, Palestinian education teaches the kids that they are a unique ancient identity and the entire region from the river to the sea belongs to them, whereas Jews are some foreign invaders. In this clearly invented story, there is no compromise, and there is no win-win. In their minds, Jews took the land from this ancient Palestinian population, and even if we come to some kind of compromise, it will always come with a baggage.

Based on my research, the true story of the Palestinian people is essential for the well-being of the Palestinians more than anyone else. Playing this dishonest game is not only a major obstacle to peace, but it also keeps Palestinian suffering. It keeps them trapped in this vicious multi-generational refugee crisis.

As I explain in the fundamentals, after giving 80% of the region and calling it Jordan, the British Mandate of Palestine was divided between the Arabs and Jews of Palestine. The Jews accepted this awful partition with celebration, and the Arabs, under the pressure of Amin Al-Husyani, started a war with the intention of eliminating the Jews. Some of the local Arabs decided to relocate temporarily, and some Arabs were displaced as a reality of war. There were also Arabs that stayed and became Israeli citizens.

But what happened after was the true crisis.

The Arab refugees were displaced to the Jordanian region of the West Bank and the Egyptian Gaza region. None of the Arab attacking nations have ever absorbed the refugees. As the former Director of UNRWA, Ralph Galloway, said in 1958: They wanted to keep it an open sore as a weapon against Israel. Since then, the Palestinians have been kept in a unique situation where they are the only population to be refugees for multiple generations. From a young age, they are being brainwashed and trained to become soldiers.

The situation right now with the Palestinians is not much different than the one in North Korea, where they are completely controlled by their authoritarian regime. There is only one massive difference. It is as if the Korean dictator Kim Jung un not only managed to control his own people but to convince the world that South Korea was at fault for all his problems.

At the end of the day, I don’t want to take the Palestinian identity away. I truly believe that the Palestinians are here to stay and hopefully build a beautiful country of their own. Yet falling to this narrative that Palestinian are some kind of “ancient” indigenous nation distinguished from other Arab countries is actually the narrative of their oppressors, which helps to keep them down. Removing this idea might actually help them to move forward as a new nation deserving our sympathy and support.

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