TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA — May 23, 2021 — As hundreds die in Gaza once more, one cannot help feeling the pain of the Palestinians. They bury their dead children with no end in sight. Another ceasefire may come into effect soon, but will not end their multi-generational misery as a people without a state.
The tragedy of the Palestinians is not that they don’t have a state of their own (which they deserve), but that they are being held hostage by a leadership that, decade after decade, does not learn the lessons of their accumulated defeat and humiliation.
When the United Nations voted in 1947 for a partition of British Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state with Jerusalem under UN governance, the Arab leadership rejected that division and invaded the Jewish state the following year. Arab forces from Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Transjordan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen all attacked the newly created Israel and were defeated.
Palestinians are held hostage by a leadership that doesn’t learn from decades of accumulated defeats.
Imagine if the Arabs had accepted the partition. Palestine would today be a modern state and the thousands who have died in the repeated folly of war as a ‘jihad’ against the ‘Yahud’ (Jews) had a chance to excel instead of being scattered across the globe.
As if the 1948 war wasn’t enough, Arabs tried to wipe out Israel from the map again in 1967 and 1973, losing both times despite invoking Allah as their inspiration and invoking the false memory of Prophet Muhammad slaughtering Jews himself. (My book The Jew is Not My Enemy refutes this concoction that defiles the memory of Muhammad, but is beseeched to justify Jew hatred.)
What sort of a political leadership keeps repeating the same mistake every few years and hopes that the dead bodies of the people they claim to represent will win them sympathy as they invoke victimhood?
In my opinion, the Palestinian cause was dealt a mortal blow once Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat signed a peace accord with Israel, followed by Jordan. The only course left open was the path of the Camp David agreement and the Oslo Accord.
But that was not to be. The once mighty Labour Party of Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Perez that worked towards peace with the Palestinians has diminished in its reach resulting in a rise of Benjamin Netanyahu and those on the political right.
On the Palestinian side, President Mahmoud Abbas who led Fatah after Yasser Arafat, was elected for four years but is still in office after 16 years. And when elections were scheduled for later this year, Abbas cancelled that election and all hopes for a change.
In Gaza, the terrorist group Hamas killed members of Fatah and established a dictatorship of Islamists. Hamas has made common cause with the Iranian ayatollahs hell bent on eradicating the last Jew in the region as an Islamic cause.
This brings me to the Islamic angle of the dispute that attracts Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Pakistani mullahs asking their leader to nuke Israel.
Our holy book the Quran is explicit. Moses is quoted as saying to the Jews: “O my people! Enter the Holy Land which God has written for you, and do not turn tail, otherwise you will be losers.” (5:20-21)
This verse alone should have settled the issue from an Islamic perspective. The Jews were asked by Moses to enter the ‘holy land’ and not leave it.
What about Jerusalem?
Prophet Muhammad himself rejected Jerusalem as the direction for Muslim prayer when he made a dramatic move in mid-prayer by turning his back to that city and instead turned to Mecca as the centre of Islam.
Moreover, Jerusalem has never served as capital of a sovereign Muslim state, not under any Arab or Turkish caliphate, not even by the Kingdom of Jordan who had control over it until 1967.
It was the Arabs who invaded and occupied Jerusalem in 636 AD under the armies of Umar, the second caliph of Islam. It was the invading Arabs who built the Al Aqsa (named retroactively) Mosque on top of the Jewish Temple. And it was the Umayyad caliphs who built the Dome of the Rock as an alternative to the Kaaba in Mecca, which was under a dissident caliph.
Then there is the claim that the Prophet’s steed Buraq carried him from Mecca to Jerusalem and into the heavens to meet Allah.
As a 10-year-old I once asked why Allah chose a horse to fly the Prophet; why not a swan or an eagle? The punishment I received for asking this question still hurts.
To suffice, the Palestinians deserve a state based on the Oslo Accord, but not because Allah promised this land to them. They need a state because that will bring peace to the land Moses led his people to, where Jesus walked and “died for our sins,” and where Muhammad’s steed supposedly rested before his long flight into space to meet God.
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Tarek Fatah a founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, a columnist at The Toronto Sun, and is a Robert J. and Abby B. Levine Fellow at the Middle East Forum. Originally published under the title”Palestinians Die as Hostages of Hamas” by The Toronto Sun on May 19, 2021