Righting Said's Palestinian Revisionism

Marc J. Rauch

After years of not being able to accept the humiliating loss to Israel in 1948, which was followed by the even more embarrassing defeat in the 1967 Six Day War, Arabs and their left-wing anti-American, anti-Semitic supporters worried about being tarnished as war mongers, murderers, terrorists and losers. Several of the more articulate individuals took to authoring books and essays in an attempt to rewrite history and disguise their true goals. Chief among these mis-torians is Edward W. Said.

Hiding behind the mantle of respectability as a Professor of English at Columbia University, Said has given the world several such revisionist works. Said's works mix highly subjective anecdotal narratives with factual distortions. One book in particular, The Politics of Dispossession, is his most vile attempt to corrupt history. The essays that make up the book represent the best example of his worst intentions.

Typically, Said's writings continuously rely upon about six points of contention concerning Palestinian Arab rights, his personal rights and victimization as a Palestinian "exile", and the history of the establishment of Israel. He'll approach the points from different perspectives or change certain details in a particular monograph, but the essential points remain. They are:

However, the information and facts contained in Said's position points are substantially and often completely wrong.

For example, the British did not promise independence and land to the Palestinian Arabs in exchange for Arab cooperation during World War I. The British made the promise of independence and land to the Arabs in general. There was never specific mention of a group called Palestinian Arabs, and there was never mention of the land to the west of the Jordan, north of Egypt, and south of Lebanon, as the sole land that would be given to the Arabs to conclude the deal. In addition, the promise was made to Sharif Hussein and his son, Feisal, who had no interest in the Arab people that lived in and around Jerusalem (those that are today known as "Palestinians"). The Husseins' only real interest was in themselves, their family, and their people from the Hejaz (the northern part of Saudi Arabia).

In any event, at the conclusion of the war Greater Syria and the Arabs were indeed liberated from Turk rule. Sharif Hussein, his sons, and the Arab people were given tremendously large tracts of land in the form of Iraq, Transjordan, Lebanon, Syria, and northern Arabia, which occupies more than one million square miles of land. The partition of Transjordan from historic Palestine (which was 75% of the specific land known as "Historic Palestine") could have and should have provided the Palestinian Arabs with far more land than they would ever need or want. So why wasn't the fight - the Palestinian Arab fight - with Jordan? The Hussein family has no business occupying that land; they had no logical or legal claim to it. Why don't the "Palestinians" go get it? In 1970, Yasser Arafat and the PLO tried to topple the Hussein government in Jordan and were savagely attacked by the Jordanian army, which resulted in the episode known as Black September. So why don't the "Palestinians" direct the Intifada against Jordan and insist on that territory? After all, Jordan has nearly 35,000 square miles of land. Israel only occupies about 8,000 square miles.

On point #2, the statements that the Arabs owned 94% of Palestine (the 25% of historic Palestine that remained after removing Transjordan) is entirely untrue. The British "owned" the majority of the land. They owned it by virtue of the Allied victory in WWI. Arabs never "owned" the majority of this land: certainly not for hundred of years or more - and they only obtained it then by force of arms from other people a couple hundred years before that.

Of the pre-Transjordan Palestine land that was owned by Arabs, absentee Arab landlords, not Palestinian Arabs, owned most. Jewish land ownership, even if it was only 6% of the total land, may have been equal to or even greater than the land owned by actual "Palestinian" Arabs. Both the British Peel Commission Partition Plan and the subsequent United Nations Partition gave land to the Jewish State based upon segments of the land that had a majority Jewish population. In the "55%" of Palestine that the UN Partition gave the Jews, they represented the majority in that territory. In the land that was designated to be an Arab State, the Palestinian Arabs represented a majority of that population. Maps from The Jerusalem Fund for Education and Community Development website (which is a Palestinian entity) clearly show this. They can be found at: http://www.palestinecenter.org/cpap/maps/hist_owners.html http://www.palestinecenter.org/cpap/maps /hist_partition.html The British may have given the Jews more of their public land, although there's no indication one way or the other. However, it's impossible to believe that the whole Middle East Conflict could have been avoided if the Palestinian Arabs would have received 55% of the land, and the Jews 45%.

Furthermore, in regard to revisionist contention that the land given to the Jews was "the best part of the country; it wasn't divided in that manner because of an inequity, but because the best part were the areas that were developed and cultivated by the Jews. Why would that be a surprise or subject to controversy?

On point #3, the "suddenness of the British departure and difference in size between the Israeli militia and the Palestinian Arab militia, Said's quantification of "suddenness" is always bewildering. For years, the British had expressed the desire to turn over land to the Jews per their promise to the Jews. They honored their promise to the Arabs (via their agreements with the Husseins), so it was long past due that they should honor the other commitment. At the conclusion of the UN vote for Partition, the British announced the date they were leaving Palestine. They turned over to the Arabs all the arms and weapons (tank, cannons, airplanes, rifles, etc.) that they didn't take with them, and gave none to the Jews. What was sudden or ill prepared about that? Said then makes the comparison of the two militias without any acknowledgement that the Palestinian militia was a part of the attacking force of five Arab nations - which greatly outnumbered the Israeli militia. Moreover, he purposely excludes telling his audience that the other Arab nations told the "Palestinian" Arabs that they didn't need to create a large "Palestinian" army because they (the other Arab nations) would bear the brunt of the fighting and killing. Said also always fails to mention that it was the Arabs that attacked the Israelis. At the time of the attack on May 15th, the Israelis had no tanks and or canons and only a handful of old airplanes. The "Palestinians" couldn't have been less equipped than the Israelis on May 15th by a ratio of 100 to 1, as the Israelis had virtually nothing with which to fight.

To Said's wildly ridiculous implication in point #4 that Ben-Gurion didn't declare the borders of Israel because he intended to grab more land, I would simply ask him or any other revisionist to point out where in the United States' Declaration of Independence is the statement of America's territorial borders. Perhaps Ben-Gurion didn't declare the borders in his speech because the UN Partition Mandate already made the borders quite apparent.

Point #5 is Said's usual complaint about Israel's discriminatory immigration and citizenship laws and the specific mention of his personal "right of return". At the time of Israel's Declaration of Independence, as well as at various times subsequent to the UN approval of the Partition plan, Israeli officials announced very liberal and benevolent policies for Jews and Arabs living in the Jewish lands. The Jews also openly declared their desire to live in peace and partnership with all of their Arab neighbors, including the Palestinian Arab State. However, I'm baffled as to why he believes he's entitled to Israeli citizenship or right-of-return. In his biographical materials Said states that he was born in Jerusalem. Jerusalem was supposed to be part of an international protectorate, not Israel. Five days after the Arabs attacked Israel, Jordan entered Jerusalem and remained there for the next twenty years. It seems to me that his anguish over citizenship should be directed at Jordan. However, the argument over Said's citizenship rights maybe irrelevant, since subsequent information reveals that he may not have been born in Jerusalem or any other part of Palestine, at all. It looks like he was actually born in or around Cairo, Egypt. The creation of a deprived and victimized fictional background is intended to make him a voice of authority with personal experience.*

On this same subject, I'd sure like to know why Yasser Arafat thinks he's a "Palestinian" Arab and entitled to anything in Israel or Palestine. He was born in Egypt in 1929, way before Ben-Gurion and the Israelis announced any rules for citizenship and right-of-return. Like Said, he's an Egyptian. His only real tie to Palestine is that his uncle was Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Palestine. The Grand Mufti was responsible for ordering the murderous riots against the Jews in the years leading up to World War II, and he spent the war years in Germany conspiring with the Nazis on the best ways to eliminate Jews. In addition, there's some evidence to show that Arafat's claim to family lineage with the Grand Mufti was also just an attempt to puff himself up. You know someone is a really bad person when they admit or try to find association between themselves and a Nazi thug.*

In point #6, Said claims that Israelis have killed "incomparably more Palestinians" than Israelis killed by Palestinians, in an attempt to portray Israel as the aggressor. But it doesn't fly. The reason for the difference in deaths (if his comparison is accurate) is due simply to the fact that Israel won the wars: winners often have fewer losses than do the losers. But the fact that Israel has always been victorious doesn't mean that they're the aggressors. It just means that they're better at fighting.

I once read a critique of Said's work that stated that he built his career arguing that there are no objective facts, only opinions and arguments. If true, it would explain why he and the other revisionists believe they can change the facts to suit their desired end result and arrive at the conclusions they have.


Armstrong, Karen. A History of God. 1993

Atlas of World History. Institute of Historical Research University of London, 1999

Bard, Mitchell, Ph.D. The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Middle East Conflict. 1999.

Beilin, Yossi. Israel, A Concise Political History. 1992

Bregman, Ahron, and Jihan El-Tahri. Israel and the Arabs. 1998

Dimont, Max I. Jews, God and History, 1962

Epp, Frank H. The Palestinians-Portrait of a People in Conflict. 1976.

Fromkin, David. A Peace to End All Peace. 1989.

Gervasi, Frank. The Case for Israel. 1967.

Levin, Aaron. Testament at the Creation of Israel. 1998.

Palestine Center: http://www.palestinecenter.org/cpap/maps/hist_owners.html

Palestine Center: http://www.palestinecenter.org/cpap/maps/hist_partition.html

The Lie That is The PLO. http://www.netanyahu.org/liethatisplo.html

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