literature has sprouted in recent decades to propound the notion of a
"Palestinian people" and its real or imagined anguish, agonies, and
grievances. Eliyahu Green examines a specimen of the genre, a book by B.
Kimmerling and J. Migdal. Green finds the book marred by conceptual
confusion, as well as significant omissions and evasions, plus serious
falsehoods, which provide a tableau of a useful past for this "people",
a somewhat romanticized view of a distinct "Palestinian people", related
to the Arabs yet somehow separate. Conceptually, the authors do not
clearly or reasonably explain that this is indeed a distinct people or
nation, nor precisely how the notion of a distinct "Palestinian people"
developed, nor do they explain what they mean by people or nation in
authors do show that in the nineteenth century and up to the First World
War, the Arab-Muslim upper class in the country was integrated into the
Ottoman political system. Yet Kimmerling and Migdal insinuate that this
integration was limited to Eretz-Israel itself, avoiding the rise to
high Ottoman imperial posts of certain local Arabs, chiefly of the
Husseini and Khalidi clans. It seems that it simply would not do to show
that some "Palestinians" were imperialists. That might spoil the useful
tableau of the past. For the same reason, they severely minimize the
Holocaust participation of Arabs in general and the Palestinian Arab
leadership in particular. On this issue the Hebrew edition of the book
is a slight improvement over the English one. Further, the authors
disregard considerable evidence showing a consistent - though often
surreptitious - British anti-Zionist, pro-Arab policy, although Britain
had accepted an international obligation to foster development of the
Jewish National Home. They also misrepresent British policy towards Amin
Husseini and conceal George Antonius' British loyalties. Yet the Hebrew
edition omits the silly claim in the English one that the British left
Eretz-Israel out of fear of a renewed Arab revolt.
in its superficiality does not ask why the Palestinian Arab refugee
problem was preserved and perpetuated by the international community
while much larger refugee problems from the same period were solved long
helps to provide the "Palestinian people" with a useful past.