Last month, the Jerusalem Post published a series of three articles by Martin Sherman, entitled Notes to Newt (Part 1): Uninventing Palestinians, Notes to Newt (Part 2): Rethinking Palestine, and Into the Fray: Palestine: What Sherlock Holmes would say. As you might have guessed from the titles, in these he suggests:
- The Palestinians are not a real people with an authentic nationalism, but rather “historically fictitious [and] politically fraudulent.” Here, of course, he is taking his rhetorical lead from Newt Gingrich’s mind-numbingly stupid comments on the issue.
- Instead, Palestinians are simply generic Arabs, whose identity was manufactured as a weapon against Israel-an “artificially contrived invention.”
- Because of this, the Palestinians have no real claim to rights of self-determination or an independent state. Rather, Israel should retain permanent control of the West Bank and Gaza.
- But what of all those pesky indigenous pseudo-Palestinians that actually live in the occupied territories, forming the overwhelming majority of the population? Sherman suggests a sort of voluntary ethnic self-cleansing whereby Israel would offer “generous monetary compensation to effect the relocation and rehabilitation of the Palestinian Arabs residents in territories across the 1967 Green Line, presumably mostly – but not necessarily exclusively – in the Arab/Muslim countries.” (He proposes getting rid of UNRWA too, but that’s really a side issue to Sherman’s advocacy of an Arab-free Palestine.)
My point in highlighting this series is not to express surprise at Sherman’s views on the subject—after all, he is a former Secretary-General of the ultra right wing Tzomet Party in Israel, which has previously advocated the “transfer” of Palestinians from Palestine. I didn’t particularly want to waste time pointing out the very obvious political and moral deficiencies in his views—it is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel, and in any case Hussein Ibish already did an excellent job of demolishing his arguments shortly after they appeared. I won’t even point to the supreme irony of Sherman himself originally being an immigrant to Israel from South Africa. (OK, well too late, I just did.)
Rather, I wanted to comment on the fact that the Jerusalem Post saw fit to publish this not once, but three times. Can you imagine a mainstream newspaper in the US featuring a series of op eds suggesting that the American government pay Blacks or Hispanics to leave the country (presumably on the basis of their ties to Africa or Latin America), so as to maintain White territorial supremacy? Or a major Canadian paper allowing a contributor to suggest that the “problem” of native populations in Canada be resolved by creating financial incentives for them to move to Russia (after all, they all came here via the Bering Land Bridge, didn’t they) and thereby create more space for immigrant groups? Not even a British tabloid would offer a member of the British National Party three opportunities to outline an equally repugnant demographic policy in the UK context , although it might hack their voicemail. If someone suggested that the Saudis pay Israeli Jews to leave Israel for their pre-1948 countries of origin, it would be widely labelled stupid and/or anti-Semitic (as indeed it would be).
The historical and demographic parallels are very poor ones, of course, but the racism inherent in Sherman’s piece is quite clear. That it apparently is considered acceptable (if marginal) discourse is—well, depressing.
And with that, happy New Year from the PRRN blog!