Maps Used To Brainwash Israelis About Palestine
Maps Used to Brainwash Israelis about the Non-existence of Palestine
By Genevieve Cora Fraser
Early one morning about a month ago I was awakened from a sound sleep by the phone ringing. Quite groggy, I listened to the voice of a stranger on the other end who identified herself and then insisted that I take down her address and phone number. She explained that she and her husband would like me to visit them to take me under their wing, so to speak. They were quite concerned about a letter to the editor I had written that appeared in the local paper. The letter focused on Freedom Summer 2004 in Palestine where Palestinians are mobilizing with the participation of international supporters to draw attention to the true nature of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Bottom Line: The woman had called to inform me that there is no Palestine. In fact, Palestine never existed, and therefore there is no such thing as a Palestinian. Therefore, my letter to the editor was merely perpetuating the myth of Palestine and as a result did a great disservice to the Jewish community who were being badgered with complaints about their mistreatment of these people that didn't exist. I thought I must be still asleep for this has been an on-going nightmare. I have received emails from around the world with the same theme. But as the woman continued with an urgency that bordered on the comic if it weren't so tragic, I interrupted to respond.
I was tempted to say that if Palestine and Palestinians don't exist then Palestinian suicide bombers do not exist either. But I refrained, fearing a lecture on the victimization of Israel by Arab/Muslim intruders with nary a concern about the daily onslaught of the Israeli military on the "non-existent" Palestinian civilian population. Instead I directed the conversation to United Nations Resolution 181 proposed in 1947 which Israelis and their supporters enjoy referring to when pointing out that the Arabs voted against it. This proves they were opposed to the creation of Israel in the first place, they opine. "Of course the Palestinians and the Arabs were opposed to the divvying up of their territory. They're no dummies," I plan to say to the next person who says this to me. "To make matters worse, the proposed 55 to 45% ratio was an obvious corporate take-over!!" I also avoided directing the conversation to this argument.
Instead, I suggested that she and her husband were perhaps confused about the non-existence of Palestine and Palestinians and they should look up the actual text of Resolution 181 which speaks of the "future Government of Palestine" and the creation of "Independent Arab and Jewish States and the Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem." I reiterated that this resolution which called for Jewish and Arab states was proposed for existence WITHIN Palestine. Get it? The resolution was about the future government of PALESTINE. It did not say there is to be NO Palestine, nor did it deny the existence of Palestine. And when Ben-Gurion declared the creation of the Jewish state WITHIN Palestine, he used these exact words, "We hereby proclaim the establishment of the Jewish State in Palestine to be called the State of Israel."
The woman remained unfazed in her denial of the existence of Palestine and Palestinians, even after mentioning that in my medieval studies involving the Knights Templar and the Crusades there are many references to Palestine and Palestinians. Clearly, she and her husband were overly influenced by Golda Myer's declarations about a so-called land without a people for a people without a land, I reasoned. Their denial may also have roots in the now discredited book published in 1984, Joan Peters' "From Time Immemorial," I thought. This tome claimed that there were no Palestinians with a life in Palestine before 1948, and therefore no such thing as Palestinian history. Apparently, the great Palestinian educator and writer Khalil Sakakini 1878 - 1953, plus scores of other Palestinians of note, never existed, if one is to believe Peters and the millions of Israelis and their supporters who deny the existence of an ancient and gifted people they have no interest in learning about.
Since that unfortunate phone conversation I have come upon a new source for the Israeli popular denial of Palestine and Palestinians which frankly strikes me as symptomatic of a will-to-genocide. Take a look at their maps. Yes, maps! The Israeli government has been playing around with their maps since 1967. The result has been what Professor Oren Yiftachel of Ben-Gurion University, a political-geographer and urban planner from Beer-Sheva, refers to as 'spatial socialization' which is used to buttress Israel's claim to Palestine.
At the "3rd International Conference on An End to Occupation, A Just Peace in Israel-Palestine," recently held in Brussels, Professor Yiftachel displayed Israeli maps that show Israel without any, or often only scant and distorted, indication of the existence of Palestinians and Palestine. Through an analysis of maps, or what he refers to as a geographer as a 'cartographic discourse,' Yiftachel claims that Israeli school children are exposed to maps showing Ramallah and other Palestinian cities within certain Israeli districts.
"Zionists and Jews throughout the world use propaganda maps that instill 'spatial socialization' along with claims to rightful ownership of the entire 'Eretz Yisrael' where Palestinians and Palestine are presented as illegitimate or incidental," Yiftachel said. "These maps are props that pretend to present the objective reality but are actually a form of brainwashing." He cited Israeli policy where in 1967 cartographers were asked not to show the green line; by 1978 it was illegal for Israeli map makers to display the green line. Yiftachel also showed brief examples of Palestinian maps which claim the entire land, causing what he termed 'an asymmetric dialectic' of spatial claims and action, including violence and terror, legitimized on territorial grounds.
Professor Yiftachel has also published "Ethnocracy: The Politics of Judaizing Israel/Palestine" and "From Fragile 'Peace' to Creeping Apartheid: Notes on the Recent Politics of Israel/Palestine." Both articles can be found on the World Wide Web.