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The War of Narratives - Bringing truth to the Middle East crisis

By       Message Dan Lieberman       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   2 comments

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The Narrative Challenge

The war of narratives shaped itself as a "slam dunk" win for the Palestinian people and had the potential to change the lineup of forces in the struggle for a just solution to the Middle East crisis. After all, unlike the Zionists, the Palestinians are a singular people, speak a common language, have common customs, and lived a shared history. They inhabited the area for centuries, if not for millennia, and tilled and watered the land to which th ey had legal title. Western nations restructured the Middle East , denied the Palestinians a country, and placed them in a British mandate. Refusal to agree to surrender any of their lands to the UN Partition Plan led to the catastrophe in 1948 (Al-Nakba), which left them stateless and subject to Israeli occupation and oppression. As a community, the Palestinians are now headed toward destruction.   Can they prevent that destruction by winning the war of narratives?

A Palestinian Negligence
Despite their more compelling narrative, the Palestinians have been unable to successfully articulate their experiences or implement a powerful rebuttal to Israel 's narrations, and Israel has prevailed in the war of narratives, a feat that defies the possible. Adding to the failure is the perplexing manner by which Palestinian institutions and persons unknowingly validate portions of the Zionist narrative and its falsifications of history. As an example, this excerpt appears on the website of a Palestinian "think tank" in Washington, DC.

"The Canaanites were the earliest known inhabitants of Palestine. They became urbanized and lived in city-states, one of which was Jericho. Thus Jericho is considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on earth.

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"The Israelites, a confederation of Hebrew tribes, defeated the Canaanites, but found the struggle with the Philistines more difficult. The Philistines had established an independent state on the southern coast of Palestine and controlled the Canaanite town of Jerusalem. The Philistines were superior in military organization to the Israelites [and] severely defeated them about 1050 BCE.

"David, Israel 's king, united the Hebrew tribes and eventually defeated the Philistines. The three groups assimilated with each other over the years. The unity of Israelite tribes enabled David to establish a large independent state, with its capital at Jerusalem. However, that did not last long as that state split into two: Israel in the north and Judea in the south."

Unknowingly, The Palestinian "think tank" has published a dubious biblical history, which Israel 's propagandists use to advantage. History and archaeology contest the presentation:

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(1) Jericho, one of the earliest cities, no longer existed at the time of the later Canaanites (it eventually recovered), which means it was not continually inhabited, and there was no Jericho for Joshua, and probably no conquest by a Joshua of other tribes.
(2) The Exodus, Conquest, and lives of David and Solomon are myths. If a David and/or Solomon existed, they were minor chieftains and not leaders with a capital in Jerusalem.

The Exodus and lack of proof of its occurrence
Although the ancient Egyptians kept meticulous records, no manuscripts, drawings, or documents describe Hebrew slaves in Egypt or an exodus. Besides, Egypt was not, as Rome, a slave state and only kept foreigners captured in war as slaves. If they wandered 40 years in the barren desert, would not the 100,000-plus Hebrews have left some traces for future verification -- pottery shards, implements, shreds of garments, or weapons? If they had the latter, which they needed for conquest, how were they obtained or forged? Lastly, because the earliest examples of written Hebrew date from the 10th century B.C. would not the Hebrews, after being captive in Egypt for centuries, have spoken and written a Middle Egyptian language? What language did they speak?

Did Joshua assault Jericho?
Archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon, in her book Digging up Jericho: The Results of the Jericho Excavations, 1952-1956, Praeger, New York, estimated the city was destroyed before 1550 BC, 150 years prior to Joshua's supposed arrival, and remained dormant until the 11th century B.C. Radiocarbon tests by Hendrink J. Burns, Tell es-Sultan (Jericho): Radiocarbon results of short-lived cereal and multiyear charcoal samples from the end of the middle Bronze age, Jacob Blaustein, Institute for Desert Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, confirmed Ms. Kenyon's conclusions.

If Joshua did not conquer Jericho, was there any conquest?
The most definitive rebuttal to biblical history before the 9th century B.C. comes from recognized Tel Aviv University archaeologists Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, who documented their explorations in The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts, Simon & Schuster, 2002.

Their archaeological diggings demonstrated that "the Israelites were simply Canaanites who developed into a distinct culture. Recent surveys of long-term settlement patterns in the Israelite heartlands show no sign of violent invasion or even peaceful infiltration, but rather a sudden demographic transformation about 1200 BCE in which villages appear."

Finkelstein and Silberman continue with discoveries, which "suggest that Jerusalem was sparsely populated and only a village during the time of David and of Solomon. During the time of Solomon, the northern kingdom of Israel had an insignificant existence, too poor to be able to pay for a vast army, and with too little bureaucracy to be able to administer a kingdom, certainly not an empire." It was not until the eighth century B.C., 200 years after David, that Jerusalem began to grow.

Control of Jerusalem
Jerusalem's status is furiously debated in "balanced" discussions. Israel demands total control of a "united city," which it claims is essential to its heritage, and Palestinians are willing to defer to Jerusalem becoming a shared city. In these "balanced" meetings, the Palestinians cannot gain the offensive, and are unable to obtain a reply to a simple question: Why are Jews allowed to settle in East Jerusalem and reclaim a few dubious properties, while Palestinians are not allowed to settle in West Jerusalem and regain multitudes of usurped properties?

Examine the Holy Basin. The Holy Basin contains well-marked Christian and Muslim institutions and holy places that have had historical placement for more than a millennium -- Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Al Asqua Mosque, Dome of the Rock, and Mosque of Omar.

Although Hebrews had major presence in Jerusalem during the centuries of biblical Jerusalem, which included rule by several kingdoms and control by the Hasmonean dynasties, their control and major presence were interrupted between the kingdom and dynasty and became insignificant after 70 A.D. Commentary has enabled the more than two thousand years of lack of control and presence to seem as if they never happened, and that today is only a short interval from the ancient years of King Hezekiah. Centuries of Christian and Crusader rule and more than one thousand years of Muslim rule are less noted, and their tremendous constructions and creations in Jerusalem are downplayed. The Christian and Muslim everythings become nothing and a minor Hebrew something becomes everything. Myth replaces reality. Ethereal spirituality replaces physical presence.

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Some remains of Jewish dwellings, burial grounds, and ritual baths can be found, but few, if any, major Jewish monuments, buildings, or institutions from the Biblical era exist within the "Old City" of today's Jerusalem. The oft-cited Western Wall is the supporting wall for Herod's platform and is not directly related to the Second Temple. No remains of that Temple have been located.

The Western Wall, which erroneously entered the vernacular as the Wailing Wall by someone during the 19th century, is considered to be close to the "holiest of the holies," the most revered site in Judaism. According to historian Karen Armstrong, in her book Jerusalem, Ballantine Books; April 29, 1997, Jews did not pray at this part of the Western Wall until the Mamluks in the 15th century allowed them to move their congregations from a dangerous Mount of Olives and pray daily at the Wall. At that time, she estimates that there may have been no more than 70 Jewish families in Jerusalem.

This portion of the Western Wall lacks absolute proof of its being close to the "holiest of the holies," and therefore has religious significance by default -- there is no other readily apparent religious construction from the ancient Hebrew's Jerusalem. Or, is it significant because Israel wants control of part of the wall that surrounds the Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif, a site it hopes to control one day?

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Dan Lieberman is the editor of Alternative Insight, a monthly web based newsletter. His website articles have been read in more than 150 nations, while articles written for other websites have appeared in online journals throughout the world(B 92, (more...)

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