No Palestinians, no problem
The online activists of the There Is No Such Thing as a Palestinian movement marshal torrents of evidence and arguments to back their claims, but the one fact that matters, escapes them altogether: It's not our decision.
If the Internet is any measure, there are four major denominations of Diaspora Jewry: Reform, Conservative, Orthodox and There Is No Such Thing as a Palestinian.
You won't find this last group on synagogue signs. It has no rabbinical seminary. It lacks a headquarters in Manhattan, or a place with the Conference of Presidents. But if single-minded zeal counts for anything, its place as a denomination is assured.
Its bedrock article of faith is this: The concept of a Palestinian people is artificial, a grand lie foisted on a gullible and guilt-plagued international community.
The seductiveness of this lies in its simplicity. Remove the Palestinians from the equation, and the equation is solved. No more guilt. No more dilemmas. No land to divide. No rights to share. No Middle East conflict.
How very elegant. Just decide that there are no Palestinians, and the problem vanishes. The magic trick to end all magic tricks. Instant transfer.
No Palestinians, no Palestine - no problem.
Well, maybe one. The online activists of the There Is No Such Thing as a Palestinian movement marshal torrents of evidence and arguments to back their claims, but the one fact that matters, escapes them altogether: It's not our decision.
It's not for Jews to decide whether Palestinians have valid claims to peoplehood, to cultural uniqueness, to calling themselves whatever they like.
There are millions of people here and abroad whose whole lives are about being Palestinian. There are millions of people here and abroad who know they are Palestinian just as they know how to breathe.
It's not for Jews to decide that the people who call themselves Palestinians are insufficiently distinctive, insufficiently venerable, insufficiently homogeneous, insufficiently honest about their own ancestry, ancient history and modern plight, to legitimately qualify as a people.
There's a name for denigrating an entire people, denying them so much as a right to having a name. It's called racism. It is racist to tell an entire people that their culture is not a true culture, that their identity is not an identity - that they do not, in fact, exist.
To deny their existence is to deny the legitimacy of their pain, their aspirations, their longing, the facts of their history, none of which make for a comfortable fit with the history that Zionism originally wrote for itself.
Palestinian deniers may sincerely believe that the Palestinian national narrative is based on half-truths, imagined truths and flat-out untruths.
Palestinian deniers may have sincerely decided that this disqualified them from recognition as a true people. But it's not their decision to make.
No one should know this better than the Jews. No people on earth has been negated, delegitimized, in so many ways, for so many centuries, by so many other peoples, as we have.
When the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and his boss, Yasser Arafat, declared that the Jews had no verifiable ties to the Temple Mount, they were doing their jobs - but it was none of their business.
Just as it is none of our business to tell Palestinians who they are and who they are not.
The Middle East conflict will not be solved by a parlor trick. Any magician can tell you. You can't make someone disappear simply by shutting your own eyes.