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April 2, 2019       Share:    


Is It Islamophobic to Deny that "Palestine" Exists?

(JNS) Jonathan S. Tobin - Kalman Yeger, a member of the New York City Council, is in trouble for denying the existence of a country named "Palestine." Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Mayor Bill De Blasio asserted that if Yeger didn't retract his comments, he should be booted off the council's Committee on Immigration. Prior to 1948 and the birth of Israel, the only group that answered to the name "Palestinians" were Jewish residents of the British Mandate for Palestine. Non-Jews who lived there considered themselves Arabs, not Palestinians, because there had never in history been a separate Palestinian Arab political entity or, prior to the birth of modern Zionism, a national movement that represented the ambitions of such a group. It was only after the birth of Israel that the Arabs embraced the name "Palestinian" and claimed that the country was "Palestine." The reason why "Palestine" isn't a country is that Palestinian identity has been inextricably tied to denying the right of the Jews to a state in the same country. When people like Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, and the BDS movement they support say "Palestine," they are not referring to a separate state next door to a secure Jewish state. They are, instead, referring to their hope of replacing the State of Israel with a Palestinian state that will deny the right of the Jews to self-determination. Opposing that ambition is not Islamophobic or even necessarily rooted in hate against Palestinians.

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