Once the initial outrage begins to subside, a storm of lies will quickly emerge justifying the barbaric Hamas attack against Israel on Saturday, one of the holiest days in Judaism.

Some have already been told.

Many media outlets have repeated the Hamas claim that what its leadership calls operation “Al-Aqsa Storm” is a response to Israeli attacks on women, the desecration of the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, and the ongoing security siege of Gaza.

In a protest called “All Out for Palestine,” New York City’s Democratic Socialists of America declared they were “in solidarity with the Palestinian people and their right to resist 75 years of occupation and apartheid.”

The anti-Zionist group IfNotNow argued the attacks can be justified by decades of Israeli oppression.

Such rhetorical canards will reach a fever pitch as Israelis fight back against this heinous and unprovoked invasion of their sovereign country, a deadly assault accompanied by the willful slaughter of hundreds of men, women, and children, the largest number of one-day terrorist murders since the Holocaust.

Many of these claims hide behind deeply flawed and biased reports from seemingly respectable international organizations. For example, a Feb. 2022 Amnesty International report claimed “Israeli authorities must be held accountable for committing the crime of apartheid against Palestinians.”

The “apartheid” claim is laughable given that Israeli Arab citizens are the freest and comparatively most prosperous in the undemocratic and steeply wealth-stratified Middle East.

More important still, is whether the ethnic group called the “Palestinian people” deserves special recognition and treatment based on historical and cultural realities: Israel is routinely termed an illegitimate entity by its many enemies, a charge almost never made about “Palestine” and the “Palestinians.”

It is often claimed that the Palestinians had a country of their own in the past that was lost or stolen from them.

In fact, since the destruction of the second kingdom of Judea (the southern half of the so-called “occupied territories”) in the second century AD, the land the Roman conquerors re-named Syria Palaestina has been governed by one foreign power after another. For nearly 13 centuries from 638 to 1917 (when the British took charge following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire headquartered in Turkey), no separate administrative or socio-cultural entity called “Palestine” existed.

Nor are the Palestinians an ancient people, as old as or older than the Jews.

Before the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan to divide Palestine into two states, one for the Jews and one for the Arabs, the latter rarely regarded themselves as a distinct people with a separate Palestinian identity. Indeed, in 1937, mid-way through the British Mandate, a local Arab leader told the Palestine Royal Commission, “There is no such Country [as Palestine]. Palestine is a term the Zionists invented! Our country for centuries was part of Syria.”

During the British Mandate (1922-1948), it was the Jewish people who were called Palestinians. It was the Israeli capture of the West Bank from Jordan in the Six-Day War in 1967, not some ancient sense of nationalism, that gave birth to an organized demand for an autonomous Palestinian state. And it was not until 1988 that the Palestine Liberation Organization declared its aim of creating a Palestinian Arab state separate from the neighbouring Arab states.

It is also false to say the Palestinians are a distinct people. 

There is no unique and separate Palestinian language, religion, nationality, or culture. The people who have recently begun calling themselves Palestinians are the Arab Muslim descendants of numerous localized lineages, clans, and tribal groups. A strong sense of pan-Arab identity and belief in Islam, not some fictitious ethnic identity, are what has always united the “Palestinians.”

The claim that all the Palestinians want is a state of their own separate from Israel is disputed by the new 2017 Hamas Charter which neither recognizes the existence of Israel nor repudiates its goal of “liberating all of Palestine.”

The explicit aim of the Palestinians and their Arab supporters has always been to appropriate the whole of what they call “occupied Palestine” — all present-day Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza strip — and “drive the Jews into the sea.”

Activists who support this goal routinely say Jews have a flimsy claim to a homeland in the Middle East.

In fact Jews have three ironclad claims to Israel: a religious one based on the will of God, as expressed in many places in the Old Testament; the 1917 Balfour Declaration which called for a revitalized Jewish homeland; and the 1947 United Nations vote to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab sections.

From the beginning of recorded history to the present, Israel has been the only indigenous sovereign state west of the Jordan River. Conversely, the Arab-speaking residents of modern Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip whose ancestors have lived there for hundreds of years never composed a locally controlled sovereign nation.

Hymie Rubenstein is editor of REAL Indigenous Report and a retired professor of anthropology, the University of Manitoba.


  • Hymie Rubenstein

    Hymie Rubenstein is a retired professor of anthropology at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada who is now engaged in debunking the many myths about Canada’s Indigenous peoples.