Robert Spencer Explains How Palestinians Were Created by KGB
Barry Nussbaum: Welcome to ATP Report. I'm Barry Nussbaum. We are continuing our discussion with Jihad Watch editor and founder Robert Spencer. We're talking about his new book on the Palestinians and why there has not been peace in the Middle East. Robert, thanks for coming back.
Robert Spencer: Always great to be here. Barry, thank you.
Barry Nussbaum: Terrific. So, we were talking in the last episode about this invented nationality of various Arabs from numerous countries that have now taken on the name Palestinian. It started, as you mentioned, in the 1960s as a creation of the KGB propaganda arm. And they picked an Egyptian terrorist by the name of Yasser Arafat to be the prominent leader of these new people. So, let's start with this, Robert. How in the world did various Arab tribes that live throughout the Middle East come to be known as Palestinians and take on a nationality and a history and a nationhood idea when there was none there before?
Robert Spencer: It really couldn't have happened without the international media and without, unfortunately, a great many heads of government and heads of state. Probably the worst mistake, I would say, in the entire history of Israel and the history of this conflict is the Israeli government acknowledging the existence of a thing called the Palestinian people. And that first came at the Camp David Accords in the late 1970s, when Menachem Begin, the prime minister of Israel, met with the president of Egypt Anwar Sadat and U.S. President Jimmy Carter at the presidential retreat, Camp David in Maryland. Very famous occasion. Many people hailed it as the beginning of genuine steps toward peace, which, of course, has not in the slightest degree materialized. But Sadat is hailed as a hero, Begin, as a hero to a lesser degree, to be sure. There's the Begin Sadat Center in Jerusalem that's devoted to furthering the cause of peace. But Begin was pressed at the Camp David Accords as I show in the book to agree to the terminology of a Palestinian people in the accord, in the agreements that they all three signed. And he initially resisted, but it was really two against one. Not many people realize this, but it was not a fair negotiation at Camp David. Carter came in determined to make sure that Sadat got everything he wanted and Begin very early on told his associates there that Carter was just parroting the Egyptian demands. And so, one of the main accomplishments that have been little noted of that agreement was that the Palestinian people became officially recognized.
Barry Nussbaum: Let's talk about that. I mean, it's no secret to the world that President Carter, during his one term in office, thank goodness it was only one, really took sides and it was obvious. And even to this day in his late 90s, whenever anyone asks him, or he feels so inclined, he bashes on Israel as the oppressor state. It's no secret. So, when you go back to that famous handshake at the White House, the first deal was announced. What was that deal, Robert?
Robert Spencer: The deal was essentially forcing Israel to make massive concessions in return for promises that turned out to be empty or largely empty. What happened was after the 1973 war, Israel controlled most of the Sinai Peninsula, which was, of course, Egyptian territory as well as, of course, Judea and Samaria, which is known as the West Bank more commonly today, which had been under the control of Jordan, but was never part of Jordan, was part of the Ottoman Empire and part of the British Mandate for Palestine that was calling for the setup of a Jewish homeland. So, it was perfectly reasonable to say that that was completely Israeli land, as well as the Golan Heights, which had been taken from Syria. The Golan Heights is a very steep escalation that is a geographical escalation from Israel proper in the northern and the Galilee area. And Syrians used to stand on the top on those heights and shoot Israeli farmers and shoot at the Israelis in the lowlands. And so, it was a simple, very clear matter of national security to secure the Golan Heights after an aggressive war in which the Syrians declared war on Israel and the Israelis were not at all at fault in waging the war. But at the Camp David Accords, Israel was compelled to give up Sinai, return it to Egypt, and the steps were set into place for the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, which came about in the 90s on the West Bank and in Gaza, although Gaza is not a breakaway part of the Palestinian Authority under the control of the Jihad terror group Hamas. But anyway, in return for that, there was this peace treaty with Egypt. Now, it's true that Egypt has not attacked Israel ever since this has been signed. But at the same time, violent anti-Semitic rhetoric and anti-Israel rhetoric is very, very common in Egypt. And these ideas have consequences. This kind of thing is almost certain to break out in violence at some point. And the Sinai has become a hotspot for ISIS, the Islamic State and a way for the Gaza and Jihad terrorists to get supplies and weapons and so on. So, this is what Camp David did, in return for Egypt being willing to be paid by the United States, not to attack Israel, Israel made massive concessions that directly harmed its national security. And that's really how all these peace processes have gone.
Barry Nussbaum: When you go to these places, and I've been there and filmed there. It's astounding that Israel was able to survive, literally survive without those territorial cushions. For example, you mentioned the Golan. When you stand there and look south into Israel, you can pick off farmers off their tractors with a rifle. The Syrians used to be up there with mortars and periodically lob mortar shells down into the Galilee, blowing people off their tractors and their homes and schools as if it was shooting at clay pigeons. I can tell you, having been there and everyone that has been there and looked down on Israel has said there's no chance that ever goes back to Syria. Even though it's my understanding on several occasions, that territory was offered to Syria when the elder Assad was still running the show. And thank goodness he said no.
Robert Spencer: Yeah. You know, it's incredible. As I go through the various peace processes in the book, I get to the early 21st century and Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who actually offered the Palestinians so-called ninety-seven percent of the territory they were demanding, and that included the Golan. It was not just some parts of Jerusalem. That was the only part that he was holding out on a little bit of the West Bank. They would have gotten it all back. And you're right, I've been in that area as well, ate at a delightful restaurant north of Lake Tiberius. It was very crowded, and there was all sorts of life. And it was sort of amazing to think about how this would never have been possible because of the threat that this area had been under before the Golan went to Israel. Also, when you go up into the Golan Heights and look down into Syria, you also see the Syrian town of Quneitra, which is absolutely uninhabited. It was a war zone during the 1973 war. And the Syrians have decided to leave it uninhabited as a monument to the alleged Israeli atrocities. Now, there weren't really any Israeli atrocities. It was just caught up in the war because it was a border town. But the fact is, I think well, this just shows the hypocrisy of the whole enterprise. If they don't have enough room in Syria, let them deal with Quneitra first and re-inhabit it and bring a hundred thousand people there. And then we can talk about whether you still need room and you have to have this little sliver of the Golan Heights. It's astonishing. I think some of these people who are so upset about Israel do not look at the map and see how small Israel is in comparison to its massive Muslim Arab neighbors. And that's actually a whole other line of inquiry, Barry, that we could get into this time. And that is why the other state, the Muslim Arab states, which are not made up of people who are ethnically different from the Palestinians, why haven't they just let the Palestinians come in and live there?
Barry Nussbaum: So that's later in our questions in another episode. I can tell you, having been on the Golan, right on the Syrian border in a live-fire zone, filming up there with my daughter a year and a half ago, it was interesting. As you pointed out on the Israeli side, there are farms that are incredibly productive, producing produce that goes all over the Middle East and Europe. And literally on the other side of the fence, it looks like a desolate ghost town. And on the occasion that we were there, we literally saw two villages shooting at each other. And our guide, who is an Israeli captain, explained that one village was controlled by al-Qaida and the other group was sympathetic to the Syrian government. And periodically, they shoot mortars at each other. And these were two hundred yards apart. I mean, its literally tribal warfare going back centuries that when the army is gone, they just kill each other. It is as if you drew a line on a map, and you said on the south side it's going to be green with crops and cows and people and schools. And on the other side, it's going to look like, well, the videos we see coming out of Syria, it's a desolate wasteland with no civilization controlled by the people with the most guns.
Robert Spencer: That's an extraordinarily important point, Barry. And it is an indication of the power of ideas because what you have there is land on both sides of that line drawn on the ground. You have land that is pretty much the same on either side. It's not as if one area is rich and the other is barren. It's not as if the desert stops at the border. The reality is that you have people with two very different belief systems and very different understandings of how the world does work and should work. And that makes all the difference. And nobody seems to be interested in acknowledging that either. But clearly, the ideals upon which the Jewish state of Israel are founded are ones that make for human prosperity and wealth, and the ideals that govern the people of Syria in all their various factions make for more human misery.
Barry Nussbaum: Thanks for joining us on ATP Report and a special thanks to our favorite scholar and friend of the show, Robert Spencer. Be sure to go out and check out his new book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.com as well. And in the meantime, take out your cell phone loyal viewers and type in truth, T-R-U-T-H and send it to 88202. You'll be subscribed to our text messaging service. You'll always get our shows on a daily basis, and you won't have to pay for it. For ATP Report, I'm Barry Nussbaum.