Professor Paul Eidelberg
August 9, 2009
Contrary to a well-orchestrated myth propagated by the Arab world as well as by western opinion-makers, the self-styled “Palestinians” do not comprise a people. There is no such thing as a Palestinian language or a Palestinian culture. Professor Efraim Karsh quotes the eminent Arab-American historian Philip Hitti, who in 1946 described the common Arab view: “There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not.”
The so-called Palestinians consist of a variety of Arab tribes and clans hailing from all parts of the Middle East and North Africa. Their organization is called the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Notice, however, that the PLO was created by Egypt in 1964, hence before Israel regained possession of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. What is more, the PLO, now called the “Palestinian Authority”, is a consortium of terrorist groups whose constitution explicitly calls for Israel’s destruction.
To speak of the right of the Arabs in question to a “Palestinian” state is to assume they are qualified for independent statehood. John Stuart Mill would disagree. In his classic Representative Government, Mills maintains that certain people may lack the moderation which representative government requires of them. Mill was not aware of “Palestinians” who exalted suicide bombers and used their own children as human bombs to kill Jews. Yet, in words that resemble the characteristics of these Arabs he writes:
A rude people, though in some degree alive to the benefits of civilized society, may not be able to practice the forbearance which it demands: their passions may be too violent, or their personal pride too exacting, to forego private conflict, and leave to the laws the avenging of their real or supposed wrongs. In such a case, a civilized government, to be really advantageous to them, will require to be in a considerable degree despotic: one over which they do not themselves exercise control, and which imposes a great degree of forcible restraint upon their actions. A people must be considered unfit for more than a limited and qualified freedom … who will not co-operate actively with the law and the public authorities in the repression of evil-doers.
The eminent historian Paul Johnson said in effect that any state that cannot live in peace with its neighbors and wages war against them cannot expect total independence. The mere fact that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu qualified his (unwise) support of a Palestinian state by stipulating that it must be demilitarized clearly indicates that, for him, the principle of national self-determination is not an absolute.
No people have a right to form a state or elect a government that threatens the peace and security of another people. As Abraham Lincoln put it: “[One] cannot say any people have a right to do what is wrong.”
It follows that the principle of self-determination is not self-justifying. Its justice depends on consequences, namely, whether its application will result in the establishment of a just form of government.
This understanding was still alive at the end of World War II. Neither the German nor the Japanese people were permitted to establish any form of government they desired. To the contrary, American and British statesmen in those days deemed it both reasonable and just to impose on Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan a parliamentary form of democracy in which the principle of self-determination is meaningful and continually operative.
Recall that Hitler called for the self-determination of the Germans in the Sudetenland. England complied at Munich, which doomed democratic Czechoslovakia. One may compare the Sudeten Germans to the “West Bank” Arabs. In the name of self-determination, the United States and Europe favor an Arab Palestinian state in the historic heartland of the Jewish people, a state which, in alliance with Iran could doom Israel.
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That Benjamin Netanyahu yielded on this issue has cheered the Arabs. It should horrify the Jews. He has transformed the myth of the Palestinians into a lethal truth.
© 2009 Paul Eidelberg - All Rights Reserved
Internationally known political scientist, author and lecturer, Eidelberg is the founder and president of The Foundation for Constitutional Democracy with offices in Jerusalem.
Prof. Eidelberg served in the United States Air Force where he held the rank of first lieutenant. He received his doctoral degree at the University of Chicago. He designed the electronic equipment for the first brain scanner at the Argonne Cancer Research Hospital.
Before immigrating to Israel in 1976, Prof. Eidelberg wrote a trilogy on America’s founding fathers: The Philosophy of the American Constitution, On the Silence of the Declaration of Independence, and a Discourse on Statesmanship.
In 1976 he joined the faculty of Bar-Ilan University in Israel. He has written several books on the Arab-Israel conflict and on Judaism. Demophrenia: Israel and the Malaise of Democracy analyses the mentality of Israel’s ruling elites. Jewish Statesmanship: Lest Israel Fall, which has been translated into Hebrew and Russian, reveals the flaws inherent in Israel’s system of governance and how they may be remedied. A Jewish Philosophy of History investigates the world-historical events leading to the rebirth of Israel in 1948.
His latest publication, The Myth of Israeli Democracy, provides an abbreviated version of a Constitution which shows how to make Israel a genuine democracy based on a Jewish conception of freedom and equality.
is on the Advisory Council of the Ariel Center for Policy Research,
which has published many of his policy papers. In addition to writing
more than 1,000 articles for newspapers and scholarly journals in the
U.S. and Israel, he has a weekly program on Israel
Prof. Eidelberg has been lecturing throughout Israel and the United States. He conducts seminars on constitutions, diverse parliamentary electoral systems, Jewish law, and related topics at the Jerusalem center of the Foundation for Constitutional Democracy.
Web site: Foundation for Constitutional Democracy