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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The flip side of "Jordan is Palestine"

A lot has been said recently to ensure that Jordan is never to be considered a part of a Palestinian Arab state.

Jordan itself has reacted strongly to the suggestion by MK Aryeh Eldad that Jordan should become the Palestinian Arab state, given that most of its population is Palestinian. Israeli president Shimon Peres publicly distanced himself from the idea as well, and Israel even sent a delegation to Jordan to calm Jordanian fears.

What I find more interesting is that the Fatah platform explicitly rejects the concept as well:
Emphasis on the rejection of ...advocacy of the alternative homeland ...in Lebanon [or] Jordan.
I can certainly understand the Hashemite kingdom's rejection of the concept, but why don't Palestinian Arab leaders want to see some part of Jordan or even Lebanon become a part of an Arab Palestine?

Historically, for the most part the East Bank was considered part of Palestine as was most of Lebanon. I'm not talking about the Sykes-Picot agreement; I'm talking about how most people would define Palestine before Balfour. As I've shown before, the Encyclopedia Britannica from 1911 describes both sides of the Jordan as being Palestine, with the East Bank being called "Eastern Palestine" and encompassing some 3800 square miles.

Arabs also considered the East Bank of the Jordan and Lebanon to be a part of Palestine. The Crusaders' "Kingdom of Jerusalem" included parts of the East Bank. Palestine never extended nearly as far east as British Transjordan did but the populated areas closer to the river were usually considered part of Palestine since the area was renamed by the Romans.

Not only that, but Palestinian Arabs carved out their own statelet in Jordan before September 1970 as well as their own autonomous areas of Lebanon in the 1970s and part of the 80s. It would be hard to imagine that the radical leaders at the time were not thinking that they were liberating parts of Palestine when they were fighting the Jordanians and other Lebanese factions.

The fact is that the Jordan River boundary was created by Western powers, not by the natives of the region, Jew, Arab or Christian. If Palestinian Arabs were to be honest in their characterization of themselves as having their own history separate from the rest of the Arab world, that history must include parts of Lebanon and Jordan.

It would seem exceedingly strange that their dreams to restore their homeland would not include their entire homeland.

Yet the Fatah platform is explicit that this is not the case. Why not? Why can they not dream of a return to this mythical area of Palestine in its entirety, even if it is not practical now?

The answer to that question is that the Palestinian Arabs are not dreaming of Palestine - they are dreaming about the destruction of Israel. They are not bothered that their territory is controlled by non-Palestinians but that parts of it are controlled by Jews. The borders that they draw for Palestine always coincide with the borders that happen to be under Jewish control.

Before 1967, they did not agitate to have the West Bank become independent from Jordan, because Jews did not control the West Bank. Except for a brief, embarrassing period in 1948 they did not try to create a state in Gaza either.

Their ambitions for territory always coincided with the land ruled by Jews, not with land ruled by Arabs (except for the examples given above in the 1970s and 1980s.)

The question is not whether Jordan or Lebanon should be the Palestinian Arab state. The question is why Palestinian Arabs themselves don't even consider the topic. The fact that they don't shows that their current claims are not based on historic rights or control, but simply on the negation of a Jewish political entity in the Middle East.