Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not alone in seeking to wipe Israel off the map. But while he races to acquire the tools to do so, the Palestinian Arab Diplomatic Mission to the UK beat him to it, until last week displaying on its website a map aimed at tourists which did not identify Israel- from the river to the sea – at all.
The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority assailed the “Discover Palestine” promotion, featuring the entire area painted in the colors of the Palestinian Arab flag, as “misleading.” Empowered this year to cover marketing claims made by institutions on their own websites, the agency forced the mission to remove the offending material, as well as other misleading information. In the meantime, the mission is seeking legal advice.
This episode – and the website – is more telling, though, than a simple marketing miscommunication. Such maps are commonplace in Palestinian Authority schools, and betray the real attitude of the Palestinian Arab leadership: there is no place for Israel in their vision of peace.
Closer scrutiny of the same website reveals how embedded this perspective is. There is an ad for tours of “historic Palestine,” which include Ein Gedi, Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee, all of which are within Israel’s internationally-recognized borders. (Haifa and Jaffa were also claimed as part of “Palestine” on the tourist maps, and had to be removed.) Another promoted organization provides educational tours for foreign youth, and lists several past events, including an exhibit a few years ago entitled, “Commemorating the 58th Anniversary of the Nakba: ‘We will be back.’’’
Nakba, the familiar Arabic term meaning “catastrophe,” is used to refer to the flight of many Arabs from within the nascent Israel’s borders as the fledgling state fought its War of Independence, launched by its Arab neighbors in a bid to destroy it. However, “Nakba,” the website explains elsewhere,”is not simply a historical event but an ongoing process” to dispossess the Arabs, a process masked by “the Zionist master discourse…[which] transformed an ancient religious biblical tie into the basis for European settlers to substantiate a purported ‘return.’’’
The mission’s diminishment of the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel (to delegitimize the Jewish state), the insistence on the Palestinian Arab right of return (to destroy it demographically), and the unabashed ejection of Israel from the map entirely (the ultimate ambition) represent three stages in their war.
The Palestinian Arabs are free to conjure up whatever collective narrative they fancy – that is a universal prerogative – but the United Kingdom, the European Union, the United States and others need not fund such corrosive activity.
More to the point, though, this episode, like the many before it and the many to come, demonstrates that the claims of the Palestinian Arabs are irreconcilable with any peace agreement Israel can (and has) offered, and that their aspirations simply cannot be squared with the reality of a Jewish and secure Israel within any borders west of the Jordan. “We will be back,” they say, meaning to finish: “and you will be gone.”