Letter: No Palestinian People? Some Arab & Jewish Leaders Agree

Dear Letter to the Editor:

In August 1977 Zahir Muhsein, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and a military commander of the PLO, in an interview with the Dutch newspaper, TROUW, declared the Palestinian people to be a propaganda invention. His exact words were:

“The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct ‘Palestinian people’ to oppose Zionism.

“For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we claim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan”.

The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process“, Robert Spencer, 2019, pp 95-96

Premier Golda Meir of Israel, in The New York Times, in 1976 declared “There are no Palestinian people.” She added that her opinion “was based on a lifetime of debates with Arab nationalists who vehemently excluded a separatist Palestinian Arab nationalism from their formulations.”

In 1956 Ahmed al-Skukeiri — later the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization (1964-1967) — told the United Nations Security Council: “It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria”.

In 1980 Abdul Hamid Sharif, the Prime Minister of Jordan, said: “The Palestinians and Jordanians do not belong to different nationalities.”

In 1981 King Hussein of Jordan said: “The truth is that Palestine is Jordan and Jordan is Palestine.”

Recently in a similar vein to all of the above,  Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said: “There is no such thing as Palestinian people”.

Can Zahir Mushein,  Premier Golda Meir, Ahmed al-Skukeiri and Bezalel Smotrich, Abdul Hamid Sharif and King Hussein — 4 high-ranking Arab political leaders  and 2 high-ranking Jewish political leaders  —  all be wrong?

Richard Sherman
Margate, Florida

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One comment

  1. Jack Frank Sigman

    Unfortunately, the facts on the ground have a different narrative and story reflects the existence of a Palestinian Arab people and for the purpose of ending the conflict, it does not matter from what date they can definitively state they are a people. The debate over a name does not change the issues.