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July 29, 2007: Narratives

July 29, 2007

Narrative is the politically correct buzz word these days: There’s your narrative (version of events) and there’s mine. No absolute truth. No documented history. One narrative is to be respected as much as another, is as valid as another.

This take has generated much difficulty for Israel . For our truth has gotten lost in a revisionist, relativist take on matters. As Assaf Wohl wrote recently in YNet, "For some reason, whenever I hear the word ‘narrative’ I immediately sense the stench of lies tickling my Jewish nostrils. I found this word too often in articles written by those ‘new historians,’ who in order to advance their anti-Israeli and post-Zionist ideas invented the term ‘narrative.’"

And unfortunately we have not been forceful enough in responding and defending our position. In fact, the opposite seems to be occurring. There is a current dispute in Israel about the fact that the concept of Nakba (catastrophe) is to be introduced into textbooks in Israel for the Arab populace: While Jews were celebrating their Independence, the Arabs marked this day as the Nakba, it explains. The argument being advanced is that this dovetails with the version of events the students are being taught in their homes and mosques, confirming their reality as one narrative — although not the Jewish narrative. But their "reality" is distorted and it perhaps falls to the schools in particular to present the facts.


The concept of "narrative" is also at the forefront of an article that ran today in The New York Times. It describes a letter sent by "several dozen evangelical clergy and activists" to President Bush, urging him to promote a two-state solution. Only then could "justice" be done, you see, for, according to this letter, both Israelis and Palestinians have rights to the Land going back "millennium."

But this simply is not true. And, as always, it is important for us to speak out forcefully in defense of the truth. Arabs are latecomers to the Land, and never had a nation in the area known as Palestine. Only the Jews did: the Land is a Jewish heritage. In fact, the very areas that are being claimed by the Arabs now — eastern Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria — represent the true heart of our Jewish presence here. Anyone who takes the time to tour this area (and I urge everyone to do so!) comes away impressed with the evidence of that presence. If justice is truly to be done on this issue, it means acknowledgement of our rights to this Land. The notion that "justice" requires a balance between competing positions is a fallacious one.

I will add here that there is considerable evidence for the fact that many so-called Palestinians moved into Palestine within the early part of the 20th century, from places such as Syria, having come as migrants seeking work when the Jews began to develop the land.

For further information I invite you to visit the "Background Information" page of my website, where you can access information both on ancient and modern history in this land.



It should be noted that these evangelicals do not represent the mainstream position of evangelical Christians with regard to Israel, even if the Times saw fit to give their letter major play. Protests have come from several quarters. John Hagee’s group, Christians United for Israel, is planning on sending its own letter to Bush to refute the earlier letter; Hagee’s letter will say that the claim that Palestinians have an historical connection to Israel is "absolutely incorrect." Hagee is on the mark.


In a briefing done for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs , Dan Diker visits this same issue of narrative and how we’ve fallen on our faces with regard to defending our positions. In writing about "Why Israel Must Now Move from a Concessions-Based Diplomacy to Rights-Based Diplomacy," Diker explains:

In spite of generous territorial concessions , Israel is not receiving international support, but, instead, faces an increased challenge internationally to her existence. This is happening because with Oslo Israeli diplomacy was focused on helping the Palestinians achieve what they — the Palestinians — claimed were their "legitimate rights." This was a tacit recognition of the Palestinian narrative — accepted in the hope that this position of granting concessions would lead to peace. But in the process, the Israeli narrative was lost.

We spent painful years pretending that the Palestinians had "rights" that they don’t have. And as we failed to defend the rights we do have, the world forgot about them. The world? Our own head of state. Diker presents the following example among many.

In June, the Guardian ran opposing op-eds by Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and Palestinian Prime Minster Haniyeh.

Haniyeh spoke of rights: "My people will…remain rooted in their land, whatever the price, and pursue their legitimate right to resist the occupation." Their land. Their legitimate right.

All Olmert did was lament the poor response Israel was receiving from the Palestinians with regard to concessions made: "In the face of concessions that have threatened our own domestic consensus, the constant refrain has been the Palestinian refusal to end its violent attacks on our citizens." In spite of this, Olmert concluded with a restatement of his position that "Israel is prepared to make painful concessions to pay the price for a lasting and just peace that will allow the people of the Middle East to live in dignity and security."

It’s all about what we will give. No refutation of Palestinian claims and no statement of our own rights. This is a serious, serious business.

See the entire briefing at:





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