Ed. Note: This is part one of a two-part article originally titled “Eighteen Questions to Ask the Next Secretary of State. The author, Dr. William Welty, is the Executive Director of the ISV foundation and also serves as Research Analyst in Advanced Communication Technologies and Adjunct Professor of Middle Eastern Studies on the faculty of Koinonia Institute. The opinions expressed in the article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Koinonia Institute.
Ever since President Jimmy Carter left the White House, the conservative, evangelical Christian community in the United States has experienced one frustration after another about the so-called Two State Solution being proposed as a misguided means to solve the Israeli-Arab conflict in the Middle East. “The Palestinians need their own home!” say the pro-Palestinian factions, who also just happen to be virulently anti-Zionist (read that “anti-Israel”, or more accurately, “anti-Semitic”) in their true nature.
All of the discussions about a so-called “Two State Solution” for the “Palestinian Problem”—all of them!—are founded on a single presuppositional error. That error concerns the very definition of the term “Palestinian” with respect to the people and the term “Palestine” with respect to the land. So let’s try to shed some light on both of these terms by asking some fundamental questions that could have been asked and should have been answered decades ago by just about any entry-level Department of State bureaucrat who fancied himself on a career track to diplomatic stardom. The way America’s foreign policy has degraded since President Carter left office makes me wonder if anybody has ever bothered to ask the questions that we’ve posited below.
For example, if the term for the people called “Palestinians,” and if the term being used to describe the piece of real estate now being called “Palestine”, have any existential validity on any level of discussion at all, then…
1. When Was Palestine Founded?
By way of contrast, anybody who has completed even just an entry-level education in all things related to the Middle East knows that Israel came into existence on 14 May 1948. Muslims throughout the area celebrated this happy event by invading the nascent country in a heartbeat. But God intervened and Israel’s defense forces beat the tar out of the invaders. But can anyone name the date on the calendar on which Palestine came into existence? America has its July 4, 1776. Israel has its May 14, 1948. Nobody can point to a specific date when Palestine was founded. That’s because it never was.
2. By Whom Was Palestine Founded?
America has its Founding Fathers. So does Israel in its modern status. But can anyone tell us who the founding fathers of Palestine were?
3. What Were Ancient Palestine’s Borders?
Some modern states come into existence as a result of military alliances or treaties following international conflicts. America’s northern border was largely determined by a parallel of latitude a couple hundred years ago. Its southern border largely follows the Rio Grande for part of its length. North and South Korea are separated at a specific parallel of latitude, as will be Israel’s territorial borders during the future Millennial Reign of Christ. (You can read about the future borders of Israel in chapters 40–47 of the book of Ezekiel in the Bible.) But can you name the borders of Palestine? The most common answer you’ll hear is the duplicitous response, “Palestine consists of the territories illegally occupied by Israel.”
4. Where was the Capital of Palestine?
The anti-Semitic press has reported for years that the Arabs claim Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. Trouble is, no Arabs living there before Israel got control of the city after the six-day war in 1967 ever bothered to make that claim. Now Jerusalem is claimed as the Palestinian capital as a means to create a bargaining position to solicit concessions from the Israeli and American governments.
5. What Are Palestine’s Major Cities?
Name a single major city of Palestine…just one! I can name several Israeli major cities. Like Tel Aviv and the port at Haifa. Caesarea and Tiberius come to mind, too. But I challenge you to name even two major Palestine cities.
6. Upon What Was Palestine’s Economy Based?
Israel’s economy is broad-based. For one thing, it’s the bread basket of the Middle East. Its technology sector is second only to Silicon Valley for being state-of-the-art. In fact, as a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgment of this rivalry, Israel’s technology sectors are concentrated in an area of Israel its residents have labeled “Silicon Wadi,” a sly reference to the seasonal rivers or brooks that are scattered throughout the land. But on what industry (other than fomenting rebellion and murder) is Palestine based?
7. What Is Palestine’s Form of Government?
Does Palestine have a constitution such as America has? Or even a set of Common Laws such as characterized England of years past? Other than imitating western-style governments by creating the appearance of democracy while incubating graft and corruption to make these crimes involve from petty larceny into an elegant art form, I defy to you write me a cogent description of Palestinian governmental authority other than that the guy with the most guns and suicide vests wins the election debate.
8. Antecedent to Yasser Arafat, Can You Name Even One Palestinian Leader?
The closest you can come to naming even a post-Arafat Palestinian leader is to name the mayor of a “Palestinian”-controlled enclave within Israel, if you don’t count that sham of a Parliament that passes for Muslim-style democracy in “Palestinian”-controlled areas of Israel.
9. What was the prevalent religion of the country of Palestine?
Israel’s is Judaism, in its multi-faceted complexity. But the rest of “Palestine” is an uneasy symbiotic relationship between Catholic traditions, Eastern and Greek Orthodox traditions, with not a few Christian groups, along with various sects of Islam.
(This article will be continued next week in its second and final part.)
- Obama raises possibility of allowing U.N. vote on Palestinian statehood
— Los Angeles Times
- How John Kerry Built an Israel-Palestine Peace Plan—and Watched It Crumble
— New Republic
- Two-State Illusion
— New York Times
- ‘UN resolution on Palestinian state is dangerous – even if US plans to veto it’
— Jerusalem Post
- Vatican Formally Recognizes Palestinian State by Signing Treaty
— New York Times