Ziyyad Bandak, the advisor on Christian affairs to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, recently claimed that the Israeli occupation is the longest ‘occupation’ in history[i]. There are three problems with this statement.
- If we were to agree that Israel is indeed occupying a foreign country, it would be from 1967-2014, forty-seven years.
- China has had control over Tibet since 1950.
- The Ancient empires, such as Rome, occupied foreign lands, such as Israel, interestingly, for 600 years! Don’t forget the former British Empire which had a presence in India from 1612 until the 20th Century.
- And we cannot forget that the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) occupied Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait, and historic Palestine (the region) for 500 years!
- Kurdistan has been occupied by some entity since the 7th Century! That is over 1,300 years! Their land was occupied by Arabs, the Seljuk Turks, the Mongols, the Safavid dynasty, and, beginning in the late 13th century, the Ottoman Empire[ii]. Then Turkey, Iraq and Iran!
- Israel is not occupying Palestine because of some imperialist plan (if so, we would have never given back the Sinai to Egypt  or Gaza to Hamas  or South Lebanon to Hezbollah !), but because in 1967 JORDAN ATTACKED ISRAEL in the middle of the Six-Day-War. Jordan, not some fictitious Palestinian state, controlled the West Bank and Old Jerusalem since the British left the region in 1948. There was no country called Palestine (not them, not ever!).Jordan lost the land in a battle she started. Israel kept the land for her security. In Israel we are not stupid and do not brush away the concerns of millions of Arabs who live in that area, but to call it a classic occupation is erroneous. Here, we refer to the area as ‘Disputed Territories’. It can hardly be described as a land grab when you were attacked! We captured the land after the third major war with our unfriendly neighbors.
- Ziyyad Bandak’s willingness to throw out false information is a trick from Arafat’s playbook. Arafat was a master at knowing how to lie about things no one will check, but simply receive and quote. Ziyyad himself may believe this information to be true, as he himself has probably never taken ten minutes—as I just did—to use Google and verify his claim.
No, the Israeli ‘occupation of Palestine’ is not the longest in History—not even close—in fact is not even an occupation. Palestinian revisionist historians get a free pass from the press who seem too lazy to fact check.