Another Tack: The owners of history

Not a peep of protest could be heard when Abbas intoned: "Oh, Netanyahu, you are incidental in history; We are the owners of history."

1948 Arab attack Safed_521 (photo credit: Toldot Milhemet HaKomemiyut)
1948 Arab attack Safed_521
(photo credit: Toldot Milhemet HaKomemiyut)
The remarkable ease with which the world hails Palestinian figurehead Mahmoud Abbas as a “man of peace” beggars the imagination. This has become so axiomatic that even Israel’s most forthright headliners hesitate to depart from the bon ton, lest they be judged as “anti-peace.” And so falsehoods become entrenched as self-evident truths.
Elements of this travesty are paradoxically consistent. After all, Abbas (Abu Mazen) is nothing if not a consummate counterfeiter, who honed his craft at Moscow’s Communist-era Russian University for Friendship between People (a.k.a. the People’s Friendship University of Russia, also a.k.a. the Patrice Lumumba Friendship University).
As befits Friendship U’s academic ambiance, Abbas specialized in revising history, an endeavor which in 1982 ripened into a PhD dissertation that both denied the Holocaust and yet blamed Zionists for it. Two years later, Dr. Abbas further expanded and embellished his “research.” He never apologized nor retracted a single nuance of his learned treatise. Nonetheless, political correctness stringently prohibits discussion thereof.
The emboldened manufacture of lies is graciously overlooked because it’s too troubling to debunk cock-and-bull chronicles and expose the faithful followers of fanciful fabrications as fools. Harping on misrepresentation is impolite, uncool and so yesterday. Best leave the sham undisturbed or – better yet – enshrine it.
Accordingly, not a peep of protest could be heard anywhere when the “man of peace” diplomatically intoned: “Oh, Netanyahu, you are incidental in history; we are the people of history. We are the owners of history.” Abbas’s “we” refers to Palestinians. Local Arabs – among them itinerant migrants from Syria, Egypt, Libya and the Maghreb – became acquainted with the name Palestine (minted by the Romans to humiliate defeated Judea) when the British Mandate introduced it here. They vehemently rejected the moniker which until 1948 applied to Jews only.
Then tactics changed. King Hussein explained why at the Arab League summit in Amman in November 1988: “The appearance of a distinct Palestinian national personality comes as an answer to Israel’s claim that Palestine is Jewish.” In so many words, said the Hashemite monarch, the Palestinian identity is an artificial propaganda ploy.
But the lie spawned vibrant offshoots of amazing variety and boundless scope for expansion. Hence scholarly Abbas could proclaim a couple of weeks ago that not only do Jews have no history whatsoever in this land (an extraordinary assertion in itself), but Palestinian-Arab history here dates back to 7000 BCE, i.e., 9,000 years! Brazenly trampling chronology and fact, Abbas (on whose capacity for veracity hinge all peace deals) contended in his recent New York Times op-ed that “shortly after” the 1947 UN Partition Resolution, “Zionist forces expelled Palestinian Arabs to ensure a decisive Jewish majority in the future state of Israel, and Arab armies intervened.” He himself, he wrote, was forcibly driven out as a child from his native Safed.
The aggrieved victim pose becomes a basic Arab tenet – the crucial justification for terror and for refusing to relinquish the so-called “right of return” by Arabs to what are described as homes which violent interloping Jewish conquistadores usurped. Biased world opinion willingly falls for the Palestinian freedom-fighter fable.
But foolhardy carelessness – or trust that nobody listens to intra-Arab discourse – occasionally pulls off the painstakingly painted mask. On July 6, 2009, Abbas waxed nostalgic on Al-Palestinia TV and inadvertently let the truth slip out.
When he was 13, he recalled, his well-off family made a calculated decision and “left at night, heading to the Jordan river...Eventually we settled in Damascus... My father had money, and he spent his money methodically. After a year, when the money ran out, we began to work.
“People were motivated to run away...They feared retribution from the Zionists – particularly from the Safed ones. Those of us from Safed especially feared that the Jews harbored old desires to avenge what happened during the 1929 uprising. This was in the memory of our families and parents... They realized the balance of forces was shifting and therefore the whole town was abandoned on the basis of this rationale – saving our lives and our belongings.”
So here it is from the mouth of the PA’s head honcho himself. He irrefutably verifies that nobody expelled Safed’s Arabs.
Their exile was voluntary, propelled by their extreme consciousness of guilt and expectation that Jews would be ruled by the same blood-feud conventions that prevail in Arab culture. Misguidedly, they anticipated that Jews would do to them precisely what Arabs had done to Safed’s Jews. If that was their premise, they indeed had grounds for panic.
The “uprising” Abbas alluded to was one among the serial pogroms instigated by infamous mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, who’s still revered throughout the Arab world. An avid Nazi collaborator, he spent World War II in Berlin. The Allies declared him a wanted war criminal postwar.
In August 1929, Husseini rallied Arabs to slaughter Jews on trumped-up allegations of Jewish takeover attempts at the Temple Mount. Sixty-seven members of Hebron’s ancient Jewish community were hideously hacked to death. That was the most notorious massacre, but others were perpetrated throughout the country.
In the equally ancient Jewish community of Safed, 21 were butchered no less gruesomely (a cat was stuffed into one grandmother’s disemboweled abdomen). A child and a young woman due to be married the next day were cold-bloodedly murdered by Arab constables whom British mandatory officers had assigned to watch over the majority of Safed’s Jews when they sought safety in the police courtyard.
The British proposed that all Safed Jews be evacuated “for their own safety,” as was the case in Hebron. The offer was flatly refused. Thereafter, principally during the 1936-39 mufti-led rampages, the Hagana and Safed’s own IZL cells protected the town’s 2,000 Jews.
SUCH WAS the uprising for which Abbas’s kinfolk assumed they deserved just reckoning. Ironically Jews were alarmed by the Arab exodus, figuring it presaged a formidable onslaught by invading Arab armies (which indeed came).
In many areas (Haifa, for instance) Jews pleaded with local Arabs to stay. But Arabs in Safed and elsewhere – heeding their leaders’ exhortations to pull out and hounded by fears arising from their own vengeful traditions (but not Jewish ones) – did what was prudent in light of their surmise that Jews would behave according to Arab codes.
On the eve of the April 16, 1948, British withdrawal from Safed, the mandatory authorities turned over the town’s police stronghold and Mount Canaan’s military fort to the Arabs. They offered to escort all Jews out of town “for their own safety.” As in 1929, the Jews refused unequivocally, though memories of the horrific carnage should have inspired more dread among them than among the fleeing Abbases.
Why wasn’t Abu Mazen’s pivotal testimony accorded due resonance in the media?
Perhaps because it’s too troubling to debunk cock-and-bull chronicles, expose the faithful followers of fanciful fabrications as fools and altogether veer into that undesirable zone of the impolite, uncool and so yesterday. Perhaps preserving the myth of Jewish culpability is too enticingly de rigueur, a hallmark of enlightenment.