Palestine – Obama Chooses Zionism Over Rejectionism…writes David Singer

April 8, 2013 by David Singer
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Veteran Israeli peace activist and former Knesset member Uri Avnery points out in his latest article “Obama’s Empathy Deficit in Palestine” that there are  two completely divergent Jewish and Arab narratives driving each other’s current claims to the territory once called Palestine.

“Our conflict is tragic, more than most. One of its tragedies is that neither side can be entirely blamed. There is not one narrative, but two. Each side is convinced of the absolute justice of its cause. Each side nurses its overwhelming sense of victimhood.”

Avnery is very upset that President Obama had apparently chosen to empathise with the Jewish narrative during his recent visit to Jerusalem, Ramallah and Amman.

“The trouble with Obama is that he has completely, entirely, totally embraced one narrative, while being almost completely oblivious to the other. Every word he uttered in Israel gave testimony to his deeply-rooted Zionist convictions. Not just the words he said, but the tone, the body language, all bore the marks of honesty. Evidently, he had internalized the Zionist version of every single detail of the conflict.”

The reasons Avnery attributes for Obama empathising with Israel are shallow and misconceived.

“It was really amazing. He must have studied us thoroughly. He knew our strengths and our weaknesses, our paranoias and our idiosyncrasies, our historical memories and dreams about the future.

And no wonder. He is surrounded by Zionist Jews. They are his closest advisors, his friends and his experts on the Middle East. Even from mere contact with them, he obviously absorbed much of our sensitivities.

As far as I know, there is not a single Arab, not to mention Palestinian, in the White House and its surroundings.”

This shabby explanation indicates little understanding of the multitude of advice that is received by any President from a variety of sources and the need for the President to ultimately sort the wheat from the chaff.

Avnery’s outburst regrettably leaves his readers in the dark by failing to actually quote President Obama’s carefully crafted remarks:

“For the Jewish people, the journey to the promise of the State of Israel wound through countless generations. It involved centuries of suffering and exile, prejudice, pogroms and even genocide. Through it all, the Jewish people sustained their unique identity and traditions, as well as a longing to return home. And while Jews achieved extraordinary success in many parts of the world, the dream of true freedom finally found its full expression in the Zionist idea – to be a free people in your homeland.”

It is indeed this Zionist idea that has been rejected both by Avnery personally and by the Palestinian Arabs in their narrative.

The Palestinian Arab narrative ignores Obama’s sweep of history – starting its narrative from 1948 by characterising  the conflict as the “Israeli – Palestinian conflict”  – thus allowing such narrative to completely ignore a host of critical events that occurred between 1917-1947.

This rejectionism is clearly evident in article 20 of the 1968 PLO Charter:

Article 20: The Balfour Declaration, the Palestine Mandate, and everything that has been based on them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of their own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong.”

The Palestinian Arab narrative conveniently ignores the fact that the two-state solution was first suggested in 1922 and actually proposed and rejected by the Palestinian Arabs in 1937, 1938 and 1947.

The Palestinian Arab narrative has no memory or remorse for the Arab riots in 1920 and 1929 that targeted and slaughtered Jews or the 1936-1939 Arab revolt which wrought similar havoc on Jews living in Palestine during those turbulent years.

Starting from 1948 the Arab narrative can avoid confronting the reality that Winston Churchill told a delegation of Palestinian Arabs leaders in 1921 urging him to halt Jewish immigration to Palestine:

“It is manifestly right that the Jews,who are scattered all over the world,should have a national centre and a National Home,where some of them may be reunited. and where else could that be but in the land of Palestine, with which for more than three thousand years they have been intimately and profoundly associated?”

The flawed Arab  narrative also avoids accepting responsibility for the Arab pressure put on Great Britain to severely curtail Jewish immigration to Palestine between 1939 and 1945 – resulting in hundreds of thousands of Jews perishing at the hands of the Nazis when their lives might have been spared had Great Britain ignored such inhumane Arab demands.

The Arab narrative has always rejected – and will continue to reject – the will of the international community expressed in the 1920 San Remo Conference and the Treaty of Sevres, the 1922 Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the 1945 United Nations Charter.

Avnery’s dismay at President Obama’s adoption of the “Zionist idea” is explained on Avnery’s own website –

“After some years of sporadic political activity, in 1946 Avnery founded the Eretz Yisrael Hatzira (“Young Palestine”) movement, also known as the “Bamaavak (Struggle) group” from the name of its publication, which he edited. This group provoked an unprecedented uproar because of its contention that the Jewish community in Palestine constituted a “new Hebrew nation” within the Jewish people, and that this nation belongs to Asia and is a natural ally of the Arab national movements.”

From Avnery’s viewpoint the Jewish community in Palestine in 1945 had no biblical or historical connection with Palestine – or any right to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in Palestine – despite the League of Nations imprimatur to do so.

Avnery’s rejection of the Zionist idea identified with the viewpoint of the Arab population of Palestine in 1945 – whose opposition to Jews immigrating to Palestine had been violently resisted ever since the Allied Powers decided in 1920 that Arab self- determination should occur in 99.99% of the liberated Ottoman Empire – whilst Jewish self-determination should take place in Palestine – the remaining 0.01%.

President Obama has indeed empathised with the Jewish narrative – which dates the “Jewish – Arab conflict” as having begun in 1880 – not 1948.

Until both narratives at the very least commence from an agreed starting date – one can confidently predict that any talk of peacefully resolving the ongoing and unresolved conflict is a complete waste of time.

Hopefully President Obama has taken the first step to ram this message home.

David Singer is a Sydney Lawyer and Foundation Member of the International Analysts Network


15 Responses to “Palestine – Obama Chooses Zionism Over Rejectionism…writes David Singer”
  1. Liat Nagar says:

    I, too, think that Obama was mugged by reality. I was surprised to hear him speak in the way that he did in relation to Jews and the land of Israel, because everything I’d seen and heard before appeared contrary to that, and his appointments of particular aides and the likes of Chuck Hagel (I hope I have his name right here) also added to this impression. I personally feel that Obama’s actual sympathies lie elsewhere entirely, so it will be more than interesting to see how his attitudes continue to play out from here. He is such a ‘charmer’, charming most he comes into contact with, and I must admit to being somewhat affected by that myself! however never at the expense of trusting where I shouldn’t and not being able to see unpalatable truths.

    The time frame the Palestinians choose to use to validate their offensive is mightily ridiculous, and should be obvious to anyone considering it, which just goes to show that most people see what they want to see. In regard to history and people, would anybody in their right mind commence their family tree research at the year 1947?

  2. Ben David says:


    It is correct that Obama and his administration have a sympathy for the general Zionist narrative but if you think for one moment that he sympathises with a narrative that would ever see the old San Remo 1920/Treaty of Sevres/1922 Mandate/Article 80 argument as a basis for supporting WB settlements, you are dead wrong. On this particular issue, he supports the Palestinians and although he couldnt get beyond the word “counterproductive” in his public statements on the settlements, every Israeli knows that in terms of Obama’s person view, this was the understatement of the century.

    • david says:

      Ben David

      President Obama gave the clearest indication yet just two weeks ago in Jerusalem that he wiil stand behind the letter given by President Bush to Ariel Sharon on 17 April 2004 which included the following Presidential commitment:

      “As part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338. In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.”

      The right of Jews to live in Judea and Samaria was legally sanctioned by article 6 of the Mandate for Palestine and preserved by article 80 of the UN Charter,

      350000 Jews are not going to be sent packing from there – and Abbas and his cronies will have to accept that reality if they truly want to see a two-state solution.

      The provisions of the Bush letter are very clear on this issue.

      Having already been offered – and rejected – up to 95% of the West Bank in 2000 and 2008 – Abbas is only going to see future offers get less and less the longer he procrastinates in getting back to the negotiating table.

      • Ben David says:


        From memory we’ve been round the houses on this one before. It may well be that from a purely practical perspective the Obama administration comprehands that moving 300,000 Jews out of the WB would be a bridge too far for Israel (I have heard Palestinians say that they bitterly acknowledge this fact as well), but, when it comes to its official position, the US and the Int community do not for one moment accept that the settlements are legal whether under Art 6 of the Mandate, Art 80 of the UNC or otherwise and nor does the Bush letter purport to suggest this.

        If the offer of 95% were back on the table the Pals may well be fools to reject it – but there are no indications that offer will ever be made again or what conditions would undermine it. To the contrary, as Isr happily creates further illegal facts on the ground and is forced to widen security zones to protect them, its offers will have already diminished, and so too its standing in the eyes of the US administration.

  3. Danny says:

    Two flaws:

    1. There is Jewish history and there is Arab narrative.

    2. Even if there is an agreed starting date, Arab Muslim culture – pride, honour and the quran itself – cannot free that culture to accept an independent Jewish state with Jews not living as dimhis.

    To quote Churchill again and at length:

    “How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy ……………

    Individual Muslims may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it.

    No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.”

  4. EthanP says:

    That there are two distinct narratives makes peace difficult but not impossible. What makes peace impossible at this time, and for the past 65 years is the Palestinian demand, NEVER recinded, that Israel cease to exist. Those that claim Israel make tough decisions forget that they already have. Israel has proven she can make peace, Egypt and Jordan. The Palestinians have proven they can’t live with anyone, Jordan, Lebenon, and Kuwait.

    • david says:

      Ethan P

      The Palestinian Arab demand to deny the Jews a national home in their ancient, biblical and legally sanctioned homeland has been ongoing for over 95 years – not 65 years.

      In not facing up to their intransigence and rejectionism during those extra 30 years (not to mention the enormous opportunities missed by them between 1948-1967 and the offers made to them in 2000 and 2008) – the Palestinian Arabs have dug themselves into a hole which seems to be getting deeper with every passing day.

  5. ben E says:

    There are two narratives and they do not stand side by side peacefully but are in conflict the one thta is valid and true emerges and the false narrative is defeated in any principled debate. There has been a jewish presence in Palestine for centuries – and in Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, India and China. It just proves the presence of Jewish communities in the countries – not provide a justification for colonisation and dispossession. The ZIonist narrative has been exposed repeatedly, including the historiography of Joan Peters- several times.

    • david says:

      ben E

      Go tell your arrant nonsense to the League of Nations which in 1922 unanimously endorsed recognition of the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.

      Erase from your memory that the United Nations unanimously endorsed this decision when adopting article 80 of the 1945 UN Charter.

      You are an example of how successful this Arab campaign of propaganda and deception has been.

      The Arab narrative starting from 1948 is a monumental hoax.

      Until the Arabs honestly face up to what happened to the Ottoman liberated territories following the end of World War 1 – no hope of a peaceful resolution to the conflict between Jews and Arabs is likely to eventuate.

      Of course the Arabs would want to white out what another American President Woodrow Wilson said on 3 March 1919:

      “I am persuaded that the Allied Nations,with the fullest concurrence of our own Government and people are agreed that in Palestine shall be laid the foundation of a Jewish Commonwealth.”

      The Arabs would be unwilling to acknowledge that on 21 September 1922 President Warren G Harding signed the joint resolution of approval to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

      President Obama is not the only President to have been proud to endorse Zionism.

      The Arabs are not interested in wanting to discuss any such events, the two-state solution rejected by them on many occasions prior to 1948, their abominable conduct .visited on Jewish immigrants until Jewish independence was finally achieved in 1948 or their lobbying of the British to severely curtail Jewish immigration to Palestine between 1939-1945.

      Everything that happened before 1948 is to be forgotten as though it never occurred.

      Regrettably Arab unwillingness to face up to their failed policy of rejectionism since 1917 continues to be a major and fatal impediment to ending a conflict that started long before 1948.

      • ben eleijah says:

        hello david please quote from the Leagu of nations resolution. Incidentally it was an imperial club to give a patina of legitimacy to the Sykes picot accord and the betrayal of Arabs. The British colonialists used the excuse of the mandate to colonise Palestine and the Zionist to collaborate in the brutal suppression of Palestinian freedom movements.

        And the GA resolution on partition had no Palestinian or Arab consultation nor was it placed for a referendum. There 60 GA resolutions on Palestine all of which Israel ignores on the excuse that GA resolutions are not enforceable, except the one it chose to unilaterally use as a cover for displacement and massacres.

        • david says:

          ben eleijah:

          1. Quote from Mandate document unanimously adopted by all members of the League of Nations that you requested:

          “Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country”

          2. Enough of the imperial club and all the rubbish you sprout. The Arabs got 99.99% of the liberated Ottoman Empire and the Jews 0.01%.

          3. Of course the GA Resolution was non- binding. That is why it needed acceptance by both Jews and Arabs to become effective. The Jews agreed and the Arabs refused – with disastrous results for the Arabs and the six Arab armies that invaded Palestine to drive the Jews into the sea..

          4. Yes – GA Resolutions are non-binding.

          Happy Israel 65th Independence Day.

  6. Paul Winter says:

    This article has a number of flaws, the greatest on being that it talks about two narratives, when in point of fact there is a Palestinian narrative which was and is still being created as a counter to Jewish and general history. That much was admitted by Zuhair Mohsen and subsequently confirmed by Azmi Bishara and Fathi Hamad.

    Then there is archeological and genetic evidence on top of history. Every point that supports the existence of the Jewish people is countered by a narrative the Arabs invent. And then they go about destroying evidence like their excavations do on the Temple Mount. They ignore the immigration of Arabs to that part of the former Ottoman Empire that was being developed by Jews. They are an ancient indigenous people that has been colonised by some people claiming some connection with the Jews of the past, but for UNWRA purposes a residency from June 1946 to May 1948 makes you a mative whose refugee status is inherited.

    There is also a flaw in ignoring not only that the Arabs – the same people who dominate from Iraq to Morrocco – sided with the Axis powers. That the Jews were willing to accept partition while the Arabs rejected it. That the Arabs launch war after war and when that fails they try war by other means. And all the while they claim that Judaism is only a religion, but insist that anyone who opposes Islam is a racist, implying that mohammedanism is a race and the only one entitiled to rule on lands captured by the Arabs.

    Obama did not embrace the Jewish narrative; he was simply mugged by reality, at least on the surface. He still managed to coerce Bibi into saying sorry that Jews didn’t let jihadi criminal kill them and he is sending Kerry to make peace; again. The fact is that Obama has appointed aides that are hostile to Israel, his Jewish side-kicks were anti-Zionistic and he appointed a number of Arab and jihadi sympathisers to top jobs.

    The PA has only itself to blame. After kicking Israel around during his first term, the thanks he got was Arab non-cooperation and back-sliding. Obama coould hardly have done anything other than face the fact that his community organising does not work with the mob he favours.

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