Indeed, the Palestinians deny that the Jews ever lived in Israel. That is why Yasser Arafat could not even admit that Jesus was a Jew; rather, according to Arafat, "Jesus was a Palestinian." To acknowledge that Jesus was a Jew would mean that Jews lived in Israel thousands of years ago, in a Jewish state, moreover -- long before Muslims existed, long before Arabs moved there, and millennia before anyone called himself a Palestinian.
In the Palestinian president's speech to the United Nations last week, this denial of Jewish history was reaffirmed. Thus, in a speech about Israel and the Palestinians, he never once uttered the word "Jew" or "Jewish."
Here is an example of Abbas's Jew-free view of the history of Israel/Palestine:
"I come before you today from the Holy Land, the land of Palestine, the land of divine messages, ascension of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the birthplace of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) ..."
No mention of Jews. Apparently, only Christians (Does Abbas know that Jesus was a Jew?) and Muslims have lived in "the Holy Land." And for Abbas, the Holy Land is not Israel, it is Palestine. That it was the Jews who made that land Holy is a fact of history denied by the Palestinians.
Israel, in the Palestinian view, is an Israeli state, not a Jewish state.
As Israel's ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, wrote in The Washington Post this past Friday:
"Two Israeli peace proposals, in 2000 and 2008 ... met virtually all of the Palestinians' demands for a sovereign state in the areas won by Israel in the 1967 war -- in the West Bank, Gaza and even East Jerusalem. But Palestinian President Yasser Arafat rejected the first offer and Abbas ignored the second, for the very same reason their predecessors spurned the 1947 Partition Plan.
Each time, accepting a Palestinian State meant accepting the Jewish State, a concession the Palestinians were unwilling to make.
That is the issue. Not settlements. Not boundaries. The Palestinians, like most of their fellow Arabs and like many Muslims elsewhere, have never acknowledged that the Jews came home to Israel because they have never acknowledged that the Jews ever had a national home there. And they don't even acknowledge that the Jews are a people.
Do the Palestinians want peace? I have no doubt that they do. Just not with the Jewish state.
Dennis Prager hosts a nationally syndicated radio talk show and is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He is the author of four books, most recently "Happiness Is a Serious Problem" (HarperCollins). His website is DennisPrager.com.
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