In 1967, in a war Israel launched, they occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and the Sinai at gunpoint.
Yet today, Israel continues to rewrite history, not just in the major theaters of rhetorical battle but even in the most mundane.
Last week, Israel’s fanatic sports minister Miriam “Miri” Regev asserted that the National Basketball Association (NBA) had committed a mortal sin by listing on their website a reference to the “occupied” Palestinian territories. The word is a remnant from a truth that Israel has waged a war to destroy, and a product of the Oslo and Camp David peace accords that Israel slaughtered in the 1990s.
Regev is a former Brig.-general in the Israeli army, where she served as one of Israel’s most vicious propaganda mistresses. She is currently a member of the Knesset for the ultra-anti-Palestinian Likud party and is Israeli Minister of Culture and Sport.
The NBA quickly surrendered to Regev’s historically false assertions. It issued an immediate apology, knowing there was no one to stand up in their defense of truth. It doesn’t matter whether the issue is bullying the NBA or erasing Palestinian Arab and Muslim rights, or the arrest of a courageous 16-year-old Palestinian girl, Ahed Tamimi, who was standing up on her own to armed Israeli soldiers, or even the murder of vast numbers of civilians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, both occupied by Israel in different ways.
Little by little, the failure of the Arabs and Muslims to move beyond their rhetoric is encouraging to Israelis like the propaganda-spouting Regev or her extremist boss, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
What Israel recognizes, and Arabs and Muslims do not, is that nothing is worth surrendering. The Israelis also recognize that the main battlefield for the control of the Western world’s influence is the US and the American people.
The NBA’s reference to ‘occupied’ territories on its website may seem unimportant, but if an organization as unrelated to the Middle East conflict as this can be bullied into submission, then the basis for more important battles can be fortified by Israel.
Most Arabs and Muslims reading this are wondering who cares what the NBA thinks. Who cares what the NBA website states about Palestine? But, if something as unrelated to the Middle East conflict as the NBA can be bullied into submission, then the basis for more important battles can be fortified by Israel. Anything and anyone can be bullied.
Unlike the Arabs and Muslims, nothing is too insignificant for Israelis to fight for or to defend. The Israelis’ strategy has always been to take whatever they can get because they have so much confidence in themselves that they can take a small strip of land and slowly and steadily apply their strategy to build upon it. As they have done for more than a century, since European Zionists took whatever land they could in Palestine to erect a formidable narrative of “facts” over the long haul.
Israelis don’t live in the past the way Arabs and Muslims do. They live in a confidence and surety of their own future. They see a small illegal settlement of immigrants from Europe, like Gilo in 1977, which turns into a major “Israeli city” that will expand even further into a larger ring of Jewish-only settlements stolen from Arabs and Muslims. The Israelis have a vision and a confidence that the Arabs and Muslims lack.
Arabs and Muslims should muster all their resources in fighting for the biggest issues, as well as for the smallest, seemingly insignificant tussles such as over an obscure fight to make an athletic association in the West edit its website.
The NBA not only quickly changed its website, but also issued a comprehensive and total apology.
Such an issue may seem insignificant, but it is not. It is only insignificant to those who might not recognize their own significance.
• Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian American columnist.