Mordechai Kedar is an Israeli scholar of Arabic culture and a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University, Israel. He holds a Ph.D. from Bar-Ilan University in Arabic Studies. Kedar is an academic expert on Arab societies. He served for twenty-five years in IDF Military Intelligence, where he specialized in Islamic groups, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic press and mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena. He is one of the few Arabic-speaking Israeli pundits seen on Arabic satellite channels defending Israel.
I believe in the creation of eight emirates for the Palestinians. The Arab world today is divided sharply and roughly between two kinds of states: those states that are failing and those states that are successful. Failing states include: Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Algeria, Sudan and Libya. Successful states are the Emirates in the gulf, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman. The failing states are all conglomerates of tribes, ethnic groups (Arabs, Kurds and Turkmans), religious groups (Christians, Muslims, Alawis, Druze and Yazidis), and sectarian groups (Sunna, Shia and Christian denominations). People are much more loyal to the tribe, ethnic, religious or sectarian group than to the state in which they are citizens. This is why those states (Iraq, Syria…) are viewed by most of their citizens as an enemy. Those states try to impose state law and the state mindset on a people who are loyal to a different framework and a different set of rules, laws, traditions, and habits. This is the problem of all these countries—the state is the enemy of the majority of the citizens because they don’t belong to the same group which took the country by force. On the other side, you have successful states (Kuwait, Qatar and the seven Emirates of the gulf). These countries are stable, rich, and life there is heavenly. Not because of oil. Dubai has relatively no oil, while Iraq and Libya—which are hell—have much oil. The basic difference between the successful countries and the failures is that the successful countries are based on one single tribe (and I ignore in this description the foreign citizens who come to make money, or Bengalis who come for construction and leave after a year). Kuwait is based on one tribe, al-Sabbah. Qatar is based one tribe, al-Thani. Abu Dhabi is based on one tribe, al-Nihyan, and so forth. Each tribe is one “al,” which means one tribe. The citizens see the state as legitimate because it belongs to them, and the leadership is legitimate because it is the leadership of the tribe. No one fights anyone else. So even with minimal oil, Dubai makes money because they are a stable society. In Iraq, Libya, and in other failed states, society is heterogeneous and people are fighting each other with or without reason.
The question for Israel is: which paradigm should Israel follow when it comes to the Palestinians knowing that the Palestinians are also a tribal society, more or less like the emirates in the gulf. There is much evidence of it, i.e. patterns of match-making, blood revenge, honor-killing and conflict-resolution. If you establish one state with all of them together, this state will end up like Syria, Iraq or Libya. If you follow the Emirates paradigm, they will end up like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, etc.—internally successful and externally peaceful. The modern Middle Eastern states did not create peoples. There is no Syrian people, because if there was one, they wouldn’t fight each other as viciously as they do now. Most of the people in Syria remained loyal to traditional frameworks (the tribe, ethnic, religious, or sectarian group)—not the state. Same with Iraq, Yemen, Sudan and Algeria. This is the sad reality of the Middle East and I am not sure that Israel should contribute another failing state destined to these atrocities. Israel should rather follow the successful paradigm—the emirate paradigm—which would be based on the clans of their cities. Every city has different clans and these different clans don’t meet each other, and they don’t marry each other. Everyone in that city feels at home, while if they move, even to a neighboring village or city, they would feel like a stranger.
The emirates would include: Hebron, Jericho, Ramallah, Tulkarem, Qalqila, Nablus, Jenin, Gaza (an emirate which has existed for 10 years already). The rural area surrounding the emirates would become part of Israel and the villagers there would be offered full citizenship.
Jerusalem is the Jewish historic capital, and forever it should remain that way. Arabs who live in Jerusalem are not arranged by a clan system, and they can become Israeli citizens. Anyway, most of the polls indicate that Arabs who live in Jerusalem do not want to become part of any Palestinian entity.
There are people who try to equate my plan to the Bantustans of South Africa, in spite of the big differences between Israel and the South Africa. However, unlike the whites in SA who had no historic roots in Africa, the Jewish people are the historic owners of the Land of Israel. Additionally, when people see how the Palestinian Emirates provide excellent life for their citizens, just like the Gulf emirates, there will be no credibility to this “Bantustan” allegation.
In addition, whoever blames Israel for dividing the Palestinian dream into emirates should direct this allegation to Hamas which in 2007 established a separate state in Gaza.
For more information, see: www.palestinianemirates.com
All of the Jewish towns and communities which were built in Judea and Samaria on land which is not owned by Arabs should be there forever. Why not? Land, whether pieces of lands or properties, owned by Arabs, should be honored—nobody should take them, nobody should confiscate them, and nobody should build on them. However, Jews should be able to purchase land in Judea and Samaria exactly as Jews have the right to purchase lands everywhere else in Israel.
Jewish communities not on private land should remain forever, including if a Palestinian state is formed. Since Israel is legally in Judea and Samaria based on the San Remo convention of 1920, they are built on state land, so there is no reason to erase communities which are built and located on state land.
If a Palestinian state is created in Judea and Samaria, the decision should be left to those who live in those communities. I am not the one to determine whether they should live under Arab rule. Because, as you know, even Arabs don’t want to live under Arab rule. They run away to Europe, America, and many other places as long as it is not the Middle East under Arab rule.
Palestinians should have emirates with Israel surrounding the emirates. Since Israel would surround the emirates, I don’t expect big problems from a security standpoint because Israel controls whatever comes in. Most likely they wouldl live in peace with us because they need Israel for everything. And peace in the Middle East is only given to an invincible state. The weak cannot survive—only the invincible survive.
If the Palestinians are peaceful, they will be able to move wherever they want. They will have access to the sea, harbors, airport, Jordan, wherever they need. Based on agreements of course—like everywhere else in the world. They could have their own airports, but Israeli security demands would need to be answered.
The basic difference between this scenario and the situation today is that around 90% of the Arabs who live in Judea and Samaria would be independent and living in states with full citizenship of these states.
The future of Jerusalem is just like its past—Jewish. No division. Jerusalem was divided for 19 years from 1948-1967 and the Eastern part was under an illegal, illegitimate, and unrecognized Jordanian occupation. Israel liberated its ancient capital from the Jordanian occupation in 1967, and liberated it should remain forever. Jordanians were shooting from the city walls to the Western part of the city during the whole 19 years of the occupation and nobody in the world can guarantee that if other Arabs would get Jerusalem in a peace settlement, this scenario of shooting at Jews from the city walls would never repeat itself. Jerusalem was under the Jordanian occupation and the Jordanians never thought even once about giving this city to the Palestinians. The Jordanians during those 19 years were denying the existence of a Palestinian people, and therefore they never thought about establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank with Jerusalem as its capital as they demand today. What made the change? Why, when they could, did they not establish a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital as they claim that it should be today? The whole thing about Jerusalem is only because we liberated our ancient capital. They want to extract the heart of the Jewish people by taking Jerusalem from Israel, as a way to deny the Jewish right to and connection with this country, and to combat the mere existence of the state of Israel for the Jewish people.
Jews have the right to pray everywhere in the world. No state bans Jews from praying in any place. It is absolutely illogical and unacceptable that Jews are denied the right to pray anywhere, especially in the holiest place for Judaism, the Temple Mount. Even the Jordanians, in the maps which they drew before the Six-Day War named the Temple Mount “Mount Moriah,” admitting that this is the Jewish temple. In Arabic there is a saying “liars should have a good memory.” Apparently, their memory is very weak. In all the excavations, books of history talk about the Jewish history of this country. Even Jesus Christ, who preached in Jerusalem more than 600 years before Islam came to this world, was born Jewish, grew up as a Jew, preached to his Jewish brethren, and was crucified as a Jew in Jerusalem. Muslims today deny both the Jewish and the Christian connection to Jerusalem. So should Christians support the Islamic lies about Jerusalem?
The Israeli authorities now divide the time between Muslims and Jews by allowing Jews to enter the Mount on any day except Fridays and during the month of Ramadan. Whenever Jews are allowed, Muslims are as well. There is no moment in which Jews are allowed to pray and Muslims are not. Every Jew who goes to the Temple Mount is watched carefully by Muslim guards to make sure he doesn’t pray, while Muslims have all the rights to pray and do as they like. This is a clear discrimination against Jews and this discrimination received a seal of approval by the supreme court, even though this court allegedly believes in equality.
Also, there is clear discrimination against Jews by allowing Jews to only come to the Mount from one gate. This makes very long lines, and many cannot enter the Mount because of this (hours of waiting in the sun). Muslims can use nine of the other gates and don’t wait one second. Jews are searched, Muslims are not. This is discrimination against Jews exercised by the Israeli police.
I am for the situation at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron where both Jews and Muslims are permitted to pray, and on Jewish holidays only Jews have access while on Muslim holidays only Muslims have access. However, the Muslims take this example as a negative precedent.
The problem of the refugees was created by the Arab countries during the 1948 War. That war erupted after six Arab armies invaded the State of Israel one day after Israel was established. If there was no invasion, there wouldn’t have been a war, and there wouldn’t be refugees. The Arab invasion caused the refugee problem, and therefore, since the Arab countries are responsible for the creation of this problem, they are responsible for the solution. Israel was the victim of that war and therefore Israel has no responsibility for the problem which the Arabs caused. The same rule is in Europe. Germany caused the Second World War. This is why Germany solved the problem of the German refugees from the Sudetenland (area in Czechoslovakia with German speakers who were expelled after World War II). Germany solved the problem on German soil, and today there are no refugees because they were absorbed by their brethren who were responsible for their agony. The same rule should be implemented here. The brethren of the Arabs in Israel who were responsible for the 1948 War should solve problem, just like the Germans did.
In addition, Israel is more than willing to compensate those who lost property in that war. This is the civilized way to solve problems, rather than creating new problems [with Palestinian refugees returning] in order to solve old problems. This, again, is based on European precedent. The European Court of Human Rights decided that the Greek refugees who were forced to flee from the Turkish part of Cyprus in 1974 have no right of return, but are entitled to compensation. If they can be compensated, the same rule should be applied here. Israel will let back Palestinians when the Czech Republic lets back the Sudeten people.
Also, many of the so-called Palestinians are not originally Palestinians. They carry names until this very day which testify that they are foreigners who came from all over the Middle East and beyond. Even from Bosnia. They came to work here in the Jewish communities starting in the 1880s, just like they emigrate today to Europe and other parts of the world to work. Their names testify to where they came from—Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, North Africa, Bosnia and many more places. So, by return, I support their right to return to the original places that they came from. This is the real right of return.
Many original Palestinians remained in Israel and they comprise the Arab sector in Israel, which includes 20% of Israel’s citizens. Palestinian refugees are the responsibility of the Arab countries which invaded Israel in 1948.
I don’t believe in the word narrative. I believe in facts. The Jewish claim to this country is based on facts, while the Palestinian claim is based on lies. There is no such thing as a narrative— there is truths vs lies, falsification of history and creation of a new people which had no existence until the mid 1900s. The British Mandate revived the name Palestine, which was given to this country by Hadrian, the Roman Emperor in the second century in order to denigrate Jews who rebelled against him in 136 CE. In order to punish them, he named it according to their enemy, the Philistines, who were not Arabs. They were Greek. Meanwhile, this name was almost abandoned. The British renewed it when they came here and established the Mandate of Palestine in 1923. So, Arabs who lived here adopted this epithet of Palestinians because of this mandate.
Arabs who lived in the Land of Israel (between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean Sea) have never referred to themselves as Palestinians. Between 1517 and 1917 they were Ottoman citizens of Arab ethnicity, and the area was called Sham, or Greater Syria, including what today is Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel. The British and French divided the area to states artificially, but none of these states created a nation. Ethnically, all the citizens of these states are Arabs.
In Jordan, because people who lived in cities and villages didn’t want to associate with the Kingdom of Jordan, they continued to call themselves Palestinians. This is one of the reasons why 80% of Jordanians still call themselves Palestinians. To be called Jordanian means that you are a Bedouin, and for them it is some kind of insult to be viewed as a Bedouin.
With regards to the “Palestinians” being indigenous, for many, their names testify that they are not indigenous. There is a big family in Qalqilya named al-Horani. This means they came from Horan, which is an area in present day Syria. Within Israel there is al-Masri (Egyptian). There are many other names that testify that they are not originally from here.
The ones who were here for longer can have the Emirates in the cities. But look, not every group has a state in the world. Many democratic states have minorities, and in some states minorities have autonomy. How much autonomy varies from place to place. The Arab emirates are emulating the same paradigm as the minorities of almost every state in the world. Therefore, the situation of Palestinians living in Israel is similar to the many other countries in the world that have minority groups living in them.
Zionism is the Jewish national movement. Most other nations in the world have a national movement and it is as legitimate as every other national movement. Those who deny the right of the Jews to be a nation and to have a state on their ancient soil are Jew haters because they want to deny Jews a right from which they would give to any other nation in the world.
In summary, many muslims—Palestinians and others—do not want Israel to exist altogether, and do whatever they can in order to hurt it. Unfortunately, there are some people who sympathize with this Arab/Muslim desire and take part in acts against Israel in various arenas, including the academic, political and public.
BDS is a movement that is trying to eradicate Israel altogether. They are following exactly what the Arabs did from 1948 until the mid 60’s, when Arabs boycotted companies which dealt with Israel. They also boycotted companies which worked with companies that worked with Israel—a secondary boycott. Companies like Toyota, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Coca Cola did not work in Israel until the ‘70s and even into ‘80s because of the Arab boycott. The anti-Jewish boycotters of Israel combined with the Arab/Islamic immigrants in America and Europe are trying to do it again. We already experienced this boycott—it is nothing new and it doesn’t work. As a matter of fact, I know about people who buy Israeli products simply because of the boycott. It is a kind of protest against the boycott in which they specifically and deliberately buy Israeli products. Many of them make sure products are made in Jewish companies which work in Judea and Samaria because they support the Jewish claim to that part of the country—the birthplace of the Jewish people.
Apartheid is a sheer lie. There is no apartheid in Israel. Arabs have the same healthcare system, the same school system and the same transportation system as Jews. Nothing that existed in the South African apartheid regime exists in Israel. So to equate Israel with South Africa is a sheer lie. With regards to the West Bank, Judea and Samaria did not get annexed. When these areas will be annexed (rural areas according to my approach), Palestinians there will be offered full citizenship and will live under Israeli sovereignty just like the Arabs in the Galilee and the Negev who are full citizens of the State right now.