Trading ‘67 for ‘48: Why Abu Mazen’s Tantrum Matters

Here’s a story you might have missed because you were busy with President Shithole or Aziz Ansari and Schroedinger’s sexual assault:

The head of the Palestinian Authority has finally lost it.

Mahmoud Abbas, known as Abu Mazen, is currently entering the 13th year of the 4-year term as head of the Palestinian Authority to which he was elected in 2005. For the uninitiated, Abbas helped to fund the 1972 Munich Olympic Massacre of Israeli athletes, and is a proponent of holocaust denial.

Abbas’s speech to the Palestinian Central Council yesterday contained two noteworthy developments.

Addressing President Trump, Abbas used the phrase “Yekhreb Beitak,” literally translated “may your house be demolished.” In Palestinian Arabic, the phrase can mean anything from a harsh to a casual insult. Additionally, there’s a double entendre, as the word for “house” is shared by Arabic and Hebrew, and alludes to the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem- the existence of which Abbas denies.

While it’s noteworthy that the recipient of $712M in US foreign aid ($350M of which was used to pay terrorists and their families) called the President a derogatory name, the more noteworthy development is that he reverted to the Palestinian trope that Israelis are European colonialists.

This is significant, not only because he is denying archaeological evidence of a 3000 year old Jewish presence in Israel & Jordan as well as the expulsion of 800,000 Jews Arab Countries when Israel was founded. This is significant because it perpetuates a Palestinian myth which rejects the basis for a two-state solution.

The Palestinian narrative of Israel as European colonialists has several layers of appeal for Palestinian nationalism;

  1. It validates Palestinian history while denying Jewish history. Under this theory Jews are not a nation or a race, but a predominantly European religion. This, again, ignores evidence of ancient Jewish presence in Israel, and the expulsion of Jewish natives of the region from states including Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Bangladesh, Bahrain, and Jordan.
  2. It views suspiciously Europeans creating artificial Arab nation states in the region via the Sykes-Picot agreement. It is critical to contextualize Palestinian Holocaust denial in this view. The Holocaust, in this view, was a European hoax- the big lie- designed to justify Jewish European Colonialism as required by Sykes-Picot. (This was the subject of Abbas’s Doctoral Thesis)
  3. This view argues that Zionism- like all other colonialist occupations in human history- will end with the occupiers returning to their homeland, and the natives retaining control of their indigenous land. This belief is not about land captured in 1967, but about the founding of Israel in 1948, and its existence thereafter. It was the basis for founding the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1964, three years before there was any occupation. Put another way, this belief is about Jaffa and Haifa, not Hebron and the Etzion Bloc.

(Of course, Israeli nationalists have their own set of flawed narratives- perhaps the subject for another post.)

In the best-selling book “Catch 67,” Michah Goodman frames the two-state solution as a trade of 1967 (Israeli relinquishes control of the Judah and Samaria) in exchange for 1948 (Palestine relinquishes the right of return).

This is Goodman’s argument in the original Hebrew. The book has not yet been translated to my knowledge.

Goodman argues that the Palestinians are “trapped” because the trauma of 1948 is greater in the Palestinian psyche than the military loss in 1967, and, moreover, Islamic law prevents them from agreeing to permanent recognition of a foreign power in once-Islamic ruled territory.

Perhaps that is why Abbas never even responded to Olmert’s detailed peace maps in 2008.

By reasserting that Jews are occupiers in the region, not just in the territory conquered in 1967 (False), Abbas sows the belief that the colonialists will go back to where they came from (Where exactly? Morocco and Tunisia?), and Palestinians will one day return to Jaffa and Haifa. Moreover, he proves Goodman’s thesis that Abbas can never trade 1967 for 1948.

It is, therefore, no wonder that both the Israeli right and left are so concerned with Abbas’s recent comments.


Following the 1967 war and the UN adoption of Security Council resolution 242, Israel authorized negotiations based on land for peace with its Arab neighbors. The Arab League responded with the Khartoum Resolution and it’s famous “three nos”: No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel.

Palestinians were prevented from obtaining citizenship, land, education, or healthcare in Arab countries, officially “in order to preserve the Palestinian entity and Palestinian identity,” and practically, to preserve political pressure on Israel, at the expense of the Palestinians.

While the UNHCR- The UN organization responsible for resettling all non-Palestinian refugees- has resettled over 4 million people, UNRWA- The UN’s Palestinian-only refugee organization has not resettled a single refugee, and has transferred refugee status to third generation Palestinians, even those permanently resettled abroad. They fund schools that incite against Israel, they house Hamas militants, and they are accepting donations!

As a result, the Palestinian population has jumped from 1M to 5M people, in just 70 years, quite a trick while subject to occupation and “genocide.”

The US plans to defund UNRWA.

The Palestinian middle class is exploding in new cities like Rawabi.

Saudia Arabia has floated the idea of Abu Dis as the capital of Palestine.

Egypt thinks it should be Ramallah.

The Arab League boycott is effectively over. They are far more concerned with Iran that Al Quds.

BDS is failing.

President Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Hammas no longer wants political control of Gaza.

Abu Mazen is 82 years old.

A Palestinian leader hasn’t been this isolated since… No, even after President Clinton blamed Arafat for the collapse of Camp David talks Arafat had the backing of the Arab League and the Arab street.

Abbas has neither.

A Palestinian leader has never been this isolated, and he has nothing to gain by moving the ball forward. He seems to have finally decided to burn it all down.

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