Western and Israeli propaganda never tire of telling the world of the age-old Israeli quest for peace, and how much Israel longs to be accepted by Palestinians and the rest of the Arab peoples as a Jewish state – an oasis of European civilisation lodged smack in the middle of the Arab world.
Indeed, the racist wisdom of former Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban (born in South Africa as Aubrey Solomon Meir) that Palestinians “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity” for “peace” was recently reiterated by US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner.
Kushner, speaking of Trump’s “deal of the century”, declared on CNN that if Palestinians reject the plan, “they’re going to screw up another opportunity, like they’ve screwed up every other opportunity that they’ve ever had in their existence”. Kushner, a primary author of the plan, must be forgiven for his lack of originality, as Zionists, who exhausted the colonial lexicon, have run out of racist cliches and are doomed to repeat them ad nauseum.
Taking Every Opportunity
What Eban and Kushner meant when they spoke of opportunities was the opportunity for Palestinians to surrender all their rights to the Zionist Jewish colonisation of their homeland, end their resistance once and for all, and grant legitimacy to the Zionist theft of their country. The recently released Trump plan does not mince words at all on this: “Palestinian leaders must embrace peace by recognizing Israel as the Jewish state, rejecting terrorism in all its forms.”
In contrast, we are told that the peace-loving Zionists have not missed a single opportunity for peace, by which it is meant that they have accepted every opportunity and proposal that granted legitimacy to their ongoing theft of Palestinian lands.
As a matter of fact, not only have the Zionists not missed these opportunities, they have instigated them, proposed them, planned them and executed them.
The Zionist colonisation of Palestine has taken every opportunity since its inception to tell the Palestinian people that Jews are superior to them, that Jewish colonial rights to Palestinian lands are superior to any rights that the indigenous Palestinians think they have, and that the only option available to Palestinians that Zionists would accept is full surrender to Jewish colonisation.
Anything short of this will be condemned by Israel and its European and North American allies, alongside a global campaign to delegitimise any rejection of Israel’s colonial theft of Palestinian land as outright “antisemitism”.
Legitimising Land Theft
Zionists helped write, and then accepted, the Balfour Declaration of 1917, in which the British foreign secretary dismissed the indigenous people of Palestine as irrelevant to the plan to establish a Jewish “national home” in their country. Zionists also supported the British colonial mandate over Palestine, which sponsored the establishment of the Jewish settler-colony on Palestinian lands.
Indeed, the Zionist leadership accepted every act committed by the British that denationalised tens of thousands of Palestinians (through the Palestine citizenship law of 1925) and transferred “state” lands to Jewish colonists.
When the British Peel Commission proposed taking more than one third of Palestine and giving it to Zionists, calling for the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from the invented “Jewish” part of Palestine, Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion celebrated.
When the United Nations, under US pressure and manipulation, issued its Partition Plan in 1947, granting 55 percent of the land of the Palestinians to Jewish colonists, the Zionists immediately accepted it and proceeded to expel the Palestinian inhabitants.
This readiness to instigate, propose, accept and create opportunities to steal more land, legitimise that theft, and expel more Palestinians continued unabated after 1948. After the final conquest of the remaining parts of Palestine in 1967 and the expulsion of more Palestinians, Israel sought more opportunities to keep its stolen land – and to keep Palestinians away from it.
Indeed, when former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat ceded Palestinian rights to independence and statehood at Camp David, the Israelis who imposed these conditions readily accepted the deal. When a defeated Palestine Liberation Organisation offered its surrender at Oslo in 1993, relinquishing the rights of Palestinians to their lands and country, the Israelis who drafted the agreement also readily accepted it.
Sealing All Previous Deals
As for the Trump deal – which the Israelis coauthored, and which hopes to seal all previous deals, calling further for the denationalisation of Palestinian citizens of Israel who live in what is known as the Triangle area inside Israel – the Israelis immediately jumped at this opportunity to rid themselves of more Palestinians.
What the Israelis never accepted, and cannot accept, is the right of Palestinians to their lands, to statehood and to independence – let alone the rights of those whom Israel expelled to return and reclaim the land and property that Israel confiscated, or the Palestinian right to equality, currently denied by a battery of Israeli laws that grant colonial and racial privileges to Jews.
That Israel has never missed any opportunity to deny the Palestinian people their rights, and accepted every opportunity to steal their land, is a fact the Israelis never deny. That Israel demands that the Palestinians recognise its right to oppress them by granting Israel legitimacy is also a fact that the Palestinians understand well, but have always rejected.
Whereas Palestinians have “missed every opportunity” to recognise the right of their oppressors to oppress them, Israel has never missed a single opportunity to demand that they do so. Trump’s “Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People” is simply the latest version of this colonial and racist demand.
Joseph Massad is Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History at Columbia University in New York. He is the author of many books and academic and journalistic articles. His books include Colonial Effects: The Making of National Identity in Jordan, Desiring Arabs, The Persistence of the Palestinian Question: Essays on Zionism and the Palestinians, and most recently Islam in Liberalism. His books and articles have been translated to a dozen languages.