Douglas Rushkoff on 19 Oct 2000 11:38:15 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Palestinians as Myth

Could this article from Worldnet Daily possibly be true? It's apparently by
an Arab-American journalist/commentator, whose columns are at

Myths of the
Middle East
Joseph Farah


I've been quiet since Israel erupted in fighting spurred by disputes over
the Temple Mount.

Until now, I haven't even bothered to say, "See, I told you so." But I can't
resist any longer. I feel compelled to remind you of the column I wrote just
a couple weeks before the latest uprising. Yeah, folks, I predicted it.
That's OK. Hold your applause.

After all, I wish I had been wrong. More than 80 people have been killed
since the current fighting in and around Jerusalem began. And for what?

If you believe what you read in most news sources, Palestinians want a
homeland and Muslims want control over sites they consider holy. Simple,

Well, as an Arab-American journalist who has spent some time in the Middle
East dodging more than my share of rocks and mortar shells, I've got to tell
you that these are just phony excuses for the rioting, trouble-making and

Isn't it interesting that prior to the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, there was no
serious movement for a Palestinian homeland?

"Well, Farah," you might say, "that was before the Israelis seized the West
Bank and Old Jerusalem."

That's true. In the Six-Day War, Israel captured Judea, Samaria and East
Jerusalem. But they didn't capture these territories from Yasser Arafat.
They captured them from Jordan's King Hussein. I can't help but wonder why
all these Palestinians suddenly discovered their national identity after
Israel won the war.

The truth is that Palestine is no more real than Never-Never Land. The first
time the name was used was in 70 A.D. when the Romans committed genocide
against the Jews, smashed the Temple and declared the land of Israel would
be no more. From then on, the Romans promised, it would be known as
Palestine. The name was derived from the Philistines, a Goliathian people
conquered by the Jews centuries earlier. It was a way for the Romans to add
insult to injury. They also tried to change the name of Jerusalem to Aelia
Capitolina, but that had even less staying power.

Palestine has never existed -- before or since -- as an autonomous entity.
It was ruled alternately by Rome, by Islamic and Christian crusaders, by the
Ottoman Empire and, briefly, by the British after World War I. The British
agreed to restore at least part of the land to the Jewish people as their

There is no language known as Palestinian. There is no distinct Palestinian
culture. There has never been a land known as Palestine governed by
Palestinians. Palestinians are Arabs, indistinguishable from Jordanians
(another recent invention), Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqis, etc. Keep in mind
that the Arabs control 99.9 percent of the Middle East lands. Israel
represents one-tenth of 1 percent of the landmass.

But that's too much for the Arabs. They want it all. And that is ultimately
what the fighting in Israel is about today. Greed. Pride. Envy.
Covetousness. No matter how many land concessions the Israelis make, it will
never be enough.

What about Islam's holy sites? There are none in Jerusalem.

Shocked? You should be. I don't expect you will ever hear this brutal truth
from anyone else in the international media. It's just not politically

I know what you're going to say: "Farah, the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of
the Rock in Jerusalem represent Islam's third most holy sites."

Not true. In fact, the Koran says nothing about Jerusalem. It mentions Mecca
hundreds of times. It mentions Medina countless times. It never mentions
Jerusalem. With good reason. There is no historical evidence to suggest
Mohammed ever visited Jerusalem.

So how did Jerusalem become the third holiest site of Islam? Muslims today
cite a vague passage in the Koran, the seventeenth Sura, entitled "The Night
Journey." It relates that in a dream or a vision Mohammed was carried by
night "from the sacred temple to the temple that is most remote, whose
precinct we have blessed, that we might show him our signs. ..." In the
seventh century, some Muslims identified the two temples mentioned in this
verse as being in Mecca and Jerusalem. And that's as close as Islam's
connection with Jerusalem gets -- myth, fantasy, wishful thinking.
Meanwhile, Jews can trace their roots in Jerusalem back to the days of

The latest round of violence in Israel erupted when Likud Party leader Ariel
Sharon tried to visit the Temple Mount, the foundation of the Temple built
by Solomon. It is the holiest site for Jews. Sharon and his entourage were
met with stones and threats. I know what it's like. I've been there. Can you
imagine what it is like for Jews to be threatened, stoned and physically
kept out of the holiest site in Judaism?

So what's the solution to the Middle East mayhem? Well, frankly, I don't
think there is a man-made solution to the violence. But, if there is one, it
needs to begin with truth. Pretending will only lead to more chaos. Treating
a 5,000-year-old birthright backed by overwhelming historical and
archaeological evidence equally with illegitimate claims, wishes and wants
gives diplomacy and peacekeeping a bad name.

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