Things are seldom what they seem to be, but we live in an age that is unusual for the dominance that fiction and fantasy have in the public debate about so many key issues. The House of Representatives is about to impeach a successful and popular President on hearsay, innuendo, and outright falsehood; you must believe that men can become women and women men or face vilification and ostracism; and of course if you dare whisper even the smallest hint that Islam is not a religion of peace, even as the jihad body count steadily mounts, your public career will be over and your name ruined. But there is no area of national and international discussion so rife with rigidly enforced propaganda falsehoods than the conflict between Israel and the so-called “Palestinians.” In The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process, the historian and scholar of Islam Robert Spencer clears away the lies.
And there are so very many lies to clear away. The Palestinian Delusion begins by exploding the common modern-day claim that the Israelis are descendants of Europeans who have ties to the Middle East that are largely mythical at worst and far-distant ancient history at best. Spencer marshals a large body of evidence to show that not only were Jews always living in the land that is today the state of Israel, without interruption even after the Romans expelled them in the year 134, but that the Arab presence there began considerably later and was always sparse. In fact, the presence of Muslim Arabs in the geographical region known as Palestine only began to increase significantly after Zionist leaders began to exhort Jews to return to their ancestral homeland. With the Jews came jobs and opportunity; many, if not most, of the people known today as “Palestinians” only came to that area when it started to be settled by Jews in great numbers. Spencer proves this by reference to the names of the “Palestinians” themselves, which all too often betray an origin somewhere else.
The second great myth that The Palestinian Delusion explodes is that “Palestine” was ever the name of anything more than a geographical region. The claims that Israel is occupying “Palestinian” land are predicated on the assumption that there ever was Palestinian land in the first place. Spencer briskly traces the history of the region, showing that while the Romans renamed it Palestine, there never was a nation of Palestine at all, and the land that is supposed to be occupied by Israel today was actually designated by the League of Nations (and confirmed by the United Nations) to be the site of a Jewish national home. No one rightly owns “the West Bank” (another propagandistic neologism; it’s Judea and Samaria) and Gaza except Israel.
There is much, much more in this book as well. What I found most compelling, and most shocking as well, was Spencer’s account of the Camp David accords, and how rather than their being a quest for peace by three groundbreaking world leaders, they were actually a successful effort by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and his lackey, the man Sadat called “poor naïve Carter,” to browbeat Israeli Prime Minister Menahem Begin into making numerous concessions that were disastrous for Israel’s national security and its future. Spencer shows in shocking detail how Sadat was anything but the wise, courageous man of peace that he has become in international legend since the Camp David accords were concluded. As a young officer in the Egyptian army, he even wrote a love letter to Hitler — and his subsequent career shows that his overtures to Israel were motivated solely by a desire to obtain through negotiations what he could not get on the battlefield. Jimmy Carter was a willing, even eager stooge in this enterprise, and the “peace process” was underway.
Forty years later, we still don’t have peace, but few appear even remotely interested in questioning the premises upon which the whole endeavor is based. In The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Spencer does so. Jared Kushner and Donald Trump should read this book before making the smallest new overture to the “Palestinians.” If they did, and absorbed its important lessons, a great many lives and a good deal of time and money would be saved.