Jews and Arabs fail to view each other realistically. Most Jews see the Palestinian Arabs as either desert barbarians eager to cut the Jews’ throats (the Arabs would actually find that pleasant, but they do not consider it a primary objective worth dying for), or ultra-civilized rational automata ready to give up their pride and national aspirations in the course of the peace process. Arabs envisage Jews as an especially evil image of themselves, which boils down to ruthless, unprincipled pursuit of self-interest. That makes the Arabs expect the Jews to rebuild the Temple. In the 1920s, Palestinian notables discredited each other by accusing each other of complicity to sell the Dome of the Rock to Jews. In 1967, Waqf was putting numbers on the stones of Al Aqsa to re-assemble them in Jordan after victorious Jews cleansed the place. Rebuilding the Temple seems impossible to Jews, but Arabs accepted such an outcome as plausible. The world did not care when Jordan made the Western Wall off-limits to Jews after 1948, and would be similarly unconcerned with Jews ending the Arab pilgrimage to the Aqsa. Modern Jews proclaim that boycotting Arab labor is immoral, but only a few decades ago even the Jewish socialists demanded Jewish labor; what was on their minds? Educating Jews in the spirit of proletarianism, or squeezing the Arabs out? We don’t know. Arabs expect the Jews to act cruelly; the false stories of Dir Yassin created a benchmark for judging all subsequent Israeli punishment raids. Israeli actions that fall short of the purported Dir Yassin brutality imbue Arabs with a sense of relief, make them feel unpunished, and provoke further attacks.

Palestinian Arabs came to resemble the Jews in several secondary respects. Almost immediately after the nationalist term “Palestinian” was coined in the early twentieth century, Palestinian nationalism was threatened. Just like Assyria resettled foreigners in Samaria to stamp out the place’s Jewish identity, so the Europeans pushed their Jews into Palestine. Like Jews, Palestinians experienced a history of betrayal. Palestinian refugee camps have bred generations of Arabs who dream about returning home with the intensity of Jews hoping to return to Jerusalem—and will accept no settlement which deprives them of that dream. In practical terms, the Arabs are not tremendously committed to settling Palestine, but Jews, too, seriously discussed having their state in Uganda, and many live now in Canada. In the absence of employment, Palestinian refugees crave learning—a recreational activity for them, but one that differentiates them from other Arabs. Palestinian Arab refugees—different and somewhat militant—face hostility from the Arab nations they live among comparable to European anti-Semitism. The Palestinian Arab Diaspora has a short history of discrimination and persecution. Palestinian Arabs lost their real estate to Jews just like the Jews lost theirs to Europeans. Jews and Palestinian Arabs share superficial similarities, and similar peoples’ clashes are especially bloody: witness the First World War.

Britain was equally hostile to both, playing them one against another to further its own imperial interests. Pro-Jewish governors such as Herbert Samuel (a Jew) proved hostile to Jews, and pro-Arab viceroys such as Allenby benefited the Jews. The British (Herbert Samuel the Jew) appointed Jew-murderers to the highest positions (Husseini became mufti despite his role in the Nabi Musa massacre two years before), but also flirted with Zionist leaders who proclaimed the goal of dispossessing the Arabs of their country. Following the Western Wall massacres (after the Jews put chairs in front of the Wall without Arab authorization), the British restricted Jewish immigration and land purchases instead of punishing the Arabs, but reversed that policy in MacDonald’s letter a year later.

Governments ignore past grievances. Just as the Israeli government now looks at Russia with awe, so the Palestinian Authority approaches Britain. In its turn, Britain ignores its past troubles with Palestinian gangs, and supports the Palestinian Authority.