To prevent Israelis from feeling guilty about colonizing the Palestinians, Zionists like Smotrich deny that they even exist.
There is no such thing as a Palestinian because there is no such thing as the Palestinian people, according to Israel’s finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, a descendant of colonists from the Ukrainian town of Smotrich. A thunderous round of applause followed his comments.
Smotrich claimed that he and his family are the “real Palestinians,” referring to the Palestinians as an “invented people.”
This has always been a popular claim made by Israeli officials and the American Jews who support them.
Smotrich is hardly the only current Israeli leader who makes this assertion. Benjamin Netanyahu, the current prime minister, tweeted in 2019 that there was no connection between the ancient Philistines and the contemporary Palestinians, whose ancestors arrived in the Land of Israel from the Arabian Peninsula thousands of years later. Netanyahu is a descendant of Polish colonists who changed their names from Mileikowsky to “Netanyahu.”
Netanyahu has more recently claimed that when European Jews started their colonization project in Palestine, the nation was “empty for all intents and purposes.”
Golda Meir, a Ukrainian colonist and leftist who served as Israel’s socialist Labor Party prime minister, stated to the London Sunday Times in June 1969, “There were no such thing as Palestinians,” to dispel any misconception that this is a specialty of the Israeli right. That’s what she explained “It was not like there was a Palestinian group in Palestine seeing itself as a Palestinian group and we came and tossed them out and removed their country from them. They were not real.”
But where did these Jewish colonists from Ukraine and Poland learn to make such assertions? The quick response is: from Protestant Zionists in Britain.
In one of his well-known evangelical books, Alexander Keith, a Church of Scotland evangelical clergyman who believed in the “restoration” of European Jews to Palestine, wrote in 1843 that the Jews were “a people without a country; even though, as will be shown later, their own land is largely a nation without a people.”
Keith had been to Palestine two times, in 1839 and 1844. Throughout the remainder of the 19th century, many Protestant Zionists in England and the United States adopted his phrase, which was later adopted by the Jewish Zionist movement as its mobilizing slogan.
Israel Zangwill, an Englishman, was the first Jewish Zionist to promote the slogan “a country without a people…for a people without a country” in Palestine in 1901. He later supported the “transfer” of Palestinian Arabs outside their country to make room for the colonizing Jews after admitting that there was a people in Palestine.
Zionist ideologue Nahum Sokolow cited British Protestant Zionist Sir B Arnold, who in 1903 wrote a column for Jewish readers, to demonstrate the Palestinians’ lack of nationhood. “Palestine has a thin population. You have a country, the inheritance of your fathers,” he continued. “No nation can claim the name of Palestine,” Arnold concluded. a jumble of languages and tribes; “there is a country which happens to be called Palestine, a country without a people, and, on the other hand, there exists the Jewish people, and it has no country,” Chaim Weizmann, the head of the Zionist Organization, reiterated Zangwill’s Protestant Zionist formulation in 1914.
In his notorious November 1917 Declaration, the antisemitic and evangelical Protestant Zionist British foreign minister Arthur Balfour followed suit by referring to the hundreds of thousands of indigenous Palestinians as the “existing non-Jewish communities” whose “civil and religious rights” were not to be violated, but who clearly had no national rights at all.