A Little History Lesson, Suckers

Shlomo sand
Shlomo Sand
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Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked and United Arab List MK Mansour Abbas in the Knesset at a hearing on the Citizenship Law, on Tuesday.
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked and United Arab List MK Mansour Abbas in the Knesset at a hearing on the Citizenship Law, on Tuesday.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Shlomo sand
Shlomo Sand

On Tuesday, during a discussion about the law preventing Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza married to Israeli citizens from living permanently in Israel, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked said to the Arab MKs who refused to support the law: “I’m proud that my party is building settlements in the Land of Israel … a little history lesson. You were the ones who started the War of Independence, suckers. You thought you would win – you lost. Your problem. Face the consequences.”

I have always thought that anyone can teach a history lesson, not just those with academic credentials. But if the subject of history has never been a science, Jewish history resembles astrology far more closely than astronomy. The “Land of Israel” has existed, as we know, since the Neolithic period, and the “Jewish people” have existed since the second millennium BCE. Therefore, the “land” belongs to the “people,” and anything they do in their territory is legitimate: land confiscations, hiring Jews exclusively, ethnic separation in kibbutzim, settlements, laws that violate civil equality and more.

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Anyone who reads the Bible will be surprised by the infrequent use of the term the “Land of Israel,” which does not always clearly refer only to the land of the northern Kingdom of Israel, and on the other hand, the prevalent use of the “Land of Canaan,” which is applied to the territory that stretches between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. “The people of Israel,” just like “The Jewish people,” does not appear at all in the Book of Books.

For Zionism, since its inception, “Greater Israel” included Palestine and Jordan (up to the Hijaz railway) and while the Zionist left reluctantly agreed to give up “territorial integrity,” the right, to which Shaked considers herself an heir, still adhered to the idea that “Two banks has the Jordan – this is ours and that is, as well.”

Concerning the definition of belonging to “the Jewish people,” both the left and the right accepted the ethno-religious criteria: being born to a Jewish mother, or converting according to Jewish religious law. And the land belongs to this human, almost “genetic” ethnos, forever, and not to anyone else.

But we should return to Shaked’s history lesson. It was not just the Arabs who refused to accept UN General Assembly Resolution 181, the partition plan. The Zionist right also rejected it. They considered the division of the homeland a historic crime that must be vehemently opposed. Therefore, the outbreak of hostilities, despite their fears, was, in the end, perceived as an act of liberation. But why did the Arab suckers refuse to accept the plan?

In 1947, there were 1,250,000 Arab natives and 600,000 Jews – the vast majority of them immigrants – living in British Mandatory Palestine. The Arab state was supposed to include 38 percent of the area, and the Jewish State 62 percent (including the arid Negev). This division was contrary to any geopolitical logic. The territory of the Jewish state was supposed to include 497,000 Arabs alongside 598,000 Jews.

In 1947, a moment before the great decolonization, the United Nations still despised the non-white inhabitants of the planet and made its decisions accordingly. Moreover, most of the Western countries, headed by the United States, refused to accept Jewish refugees and preferred to inflict them on the Arabs.

The suckers thought that this division of their land and subjecting them to Jewish rule was unfair, and therefore refused to accept it and started a war. Would Shaked have accepted the partition plan had she been an Arab?

The interior minister obviously cannot picture herself as an Arab, even for one moment. She has absolutely no universal-comparative outlook. She is amazingly similar to those Frenchmen, Germans or Poles who were unable to picture themselves as Jews, and ended up doing their part in the creation of modern history’s disasters.

But this isn’t really a history lesson – it is perhaps more of a study in ethics.

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