President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500
In your Cairo speech [June 4, 2009] you referred to the West Bank as "occupied" by Israel. You implied that the Palestinian Arabs were being denied the sovereign rights to their homeland. But the West Bank was never a sovereign state to Palestinian Arabs. In the ancient world, Judea and Samaria belonged to what was then a sovereign Jewish state, a state from which the Jews were repeatedly driven by foreign conquerors: among them Babylonians, Romans, and Christian crusaders. However often they were driven from their ancient homeland, Jews always returned.
The millennial claims of the Jews contrast with the fact that the Palestinian people of today have no such historic claims. In fact, the Palestinians whose national identity you recognize did not exist before 1967. The West Bank was conquered in 1948 by Jordan, which subsequently annexed it and then later de-annexed it. It was de-annexed when the King of Jordan discovered he had added to his kingdom Palestinians who wanted to overthrow his monarchy. For the same reason, Israel does not want to add enemies to its body politic.
During the 19 years that Jordan controlled the West Bank, not a word was heard of a Palestinian people. After Israel's victory in 1967, Palestinian nationalism was a creation of the larger Arab world, which saw in a Palestinian state a platform from which to launch Israel's ultimate destruction. But they recognize that that victory will never come until America's support of Israel is sufficiently undermined.
To be sure, the idea of statehood for Palestinian Arabs has a history. It was proposed by the Peel Commission in 1937, in parallel with the then Jewish Homeland. It was proposed again in 1947 by the United Nations, which partitioned Palestine into two states. In both cases partition was accepted by the Jews and rejected by the Arabs. In 1948 the Arabs thought they could destroy Israel, and possess the whole of Palestine. Today they accept what they had formerly rejected, but only as a means to the same end: the destruction of Israel.
Harry V. Jaffa
Harry V. Jaffa (born 1918) is an author, Professor Emeritus at Claremont McKenna College, and distinguished fellow of the Claremont Institute, a California think tank. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Yale University and a Ph.D. from The New School. Jaffa's most noted book, Crisis of the House Divided examines the Lincoln-Douglas Debates.