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November 12, 2007

Erekat Invents New Facts


Palestinian official Saeb Erekat today rejected Israel's pre-Annapolis summit demand that the Palestinians recognize the country's existence as a Jewish state, telling Radio Palestine: "There is no country in the world where religious and national identities are intertwined."

Erekat is not known for hewing closely to the facts. After an Israeli military operation in Jenin in April 2002, during which approximately 50 Palestinians, mostly combatants, and 23 Israeli troops were killed, Erekat falsely claimed that "the camp was totally destroyed," that "there is no longer a refugee camp there [in Jenin]," and estimated that the number of Palestinian dead "will not be less than 500."

His comments today might not be as damaging is his April 2002 accusations; but they are just as false.

In fact, "religious and national identities are intertwined" in many countries. The State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report, for example, notes that the Evangelical Lutheran Church is the official state religion of Denmark and Norway, and "enjoys some privileges not available to other faiths." In Greece, the Constitution establishes the Eastern Orthodox Church as the "prevailing religion." The official titles of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran begin with "The Islamic Republic of...," a point reinforced in those countries' constitutions. The Jordanian constitution describes that country as an "Arab State" and notes that "Islam is the religion of the State." The Saudi constitution states that "Saudi Arabia is a sovereign Arab Islamic state with Islam as its religion." And numerous other states describe themselves in a similar manner.

It is hard to believe that Erekat is not familiar with the constitutions of neighboring Arab and Islamic states. But he need not look even that far for an example of a country where religious and national identities are intertwined

The Palestinian Basic Law, which acts as a provisional constitution, asserts that "Islam is the official religion in Palestine," and that "The principles of Islamic Shari'a shall be the main source of legislation."

The more recent Palestinian draft constitution similarly notes that Islam will be the official religion of any future Palestinian state.

Posted by GI at November 12, 2007 11:26 AM


Mr. Erekat does not have to look far for an example of religion and national identity being intertwined. As reported by the New York Times on May 6 1997:

The Palestinian Authority announced today that Palestinians who sell land to Israelis will face execution.

''The death penalty will be imposed on anyone who is convicted of selling one inch to Israel,'' the authority's Justice Minister, Freih Abu Medein, said in an interview. ''Even middlemen involved in such deals will face the same penalty.''

Since no Jews are allowed to be subjects of the Palestinian Authority and since the death penalty was intended for Israeli Arabs and since the edict presumably applies to selling to American Jews as well, it seems clear that the Palestinian Authority is using the death penalty to keep areas under its control Judenrein. That seems much more like using state power to intertwine religion and nationalism than anything Israel is doing.

Posted by: mickey at November 12, 2007 05:26 PM

Can someone please explain why it matters? Shouldn't the PA has zero influence over Israeli laws and internal affairs?

Posted by: Robby at November 14, 2007 11:46 AM

To mickey, thank you for the excellent argument and links. To robby, it matters because a deadly serious fight is being waged over whether Israel has the right to exist, and the weapon against Israel is the kind of falsification mickey has refuted. As an Italian author says, 'Words are stones.'

Posted by: Jared Israel at March 12, 2008 04:21 PM

Oops, I should have said, 'To GI and mickey, thank you for the excellent arguments and links.'

Posted by: Jared Israel at March 14, 2008 02:24 PM

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