Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday tweeted that the Palestinians’ connection to the Land of Israel is nothing compared to the 4,000 year connection that the Jewish people have with the land. He cited a recent article stating that Biblical Philistines had come from Europe, according to DNA uncovered in the coastal city of Ashkelon.
The Bible mentions a place called Caphtor, which is probably modern-day Crete. There’s no connection between the ancient Philistines & the modern Palestinians, whose ancestors came from the Arabian Peninsula to the Land of Israel thousands of years later. https://t.co/FKqqoQRWdx
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) July 7, 2019
His attempt to delegitimise the Palestinians’ right to their homeland was criticised by many as “race science”, which is often promoted by extreme right-wingers to justify ethno-nationalist policies.
race science is….a bad basis for politics.
— Aaron Bastani (@AaronBastani) July 7, 2019
Pretty sure he’s gonna start talking about skull sizes, brow ridges, and eye color next.
— ArizonaComrade (@ArizonaComrade) July 7, 2019
One Twitter user questioned the validity of Netanyahu’s “scientific” argument, comparing it to phrenology, the pseudoscience which involves measuring bumps on the skull to predict mental traits and has since been entirely discredited by scientific research.
Is this the same branch of science as phrenology?
— Faux Cousins (@DjukaMatauri) July 7, 2019
Another challenged Netanyahu on Israel’s policies towards Ethiopian Jews. Last week, an unarmed Ethiopian Jewish teenager was killed by an off-duty police officer, sparking protests by the community accusing the Israeli police of racism.
Except if those Jewish people, apparently, have roots in Ethiopia.
— Les White (@iconsilk713) July 7, 2019
Yet another Twitter user drew a historical parallel with apartheid South Africa, when white settlers would use similar arguments to justify the apartheid policies of forced population transfer and segregation. Others looked to Nazi Germany as a historical parallel, where eugenics and race science were used to justify the genocide of the Jewish people.
Apartheid South Africa also propagated the myth of "empty land," claiming that Europeans settled South Africa prior to the arrival of Bantu peoples. This meant that white settlers had a legitimate claim to their land, and this justified forced population transfer and segregation. https://t.co/4TgTFYlF73
— Michael Bueckert (@mbueckert) July 7, 2019
Some other national leader was really into this genetic purity stuff. What was his name?
— Stuart McC (@GreatEscapeGame) July 7, 2019
Writing no doubt with tongue planted firmly in her cheek, another Twitter user suggested the absurdity of Netanyahu’s argument by comparing it with the “connection” that Mongolians have to Hungarian territory because they lived there in the 1200s.
Someone alert the Mongolians. Based on Netanyahu's analysis, they might have a claim to Hungary. https://t.co/c3nk1PbCu0
— Lisa Goldman (@lisang) July 7, 2019
Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s son Yair was filmed speaking at an event for devout Christians in Alabama this weekend, trying to erase Palestinians’ identity by saying that they had originally migrated from other parts of the Middle East, as proven by such surnames as those which mean “Egyptian” and “from Aleppo”. Netanyahu Junior also faced criticism, and was compared to his father because of his extreme rhetoric.
#Netanyahu’s son, Yair, explaining to an evangelical crowd in #Alabama how there’s no such thing as a #Palestinian people‼️ This silly boy learned intensively from his father how to underestimate & cheat the minds of people, based on their ignorance of the history of the region. pic.twitter.com/exRTUb0yZH
— Dr. Basem Naim (@basemn63) July 6, 2019
He is known for his offensive behaviour on social media. Last December, Facebook banned him for 24 hours after he posted a series of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian posts which broke the social network’s rules on hate speech.
In April, he claimed that Palestine never existed because there is no “P” in the Arabic language, leading many people to criticise and mock him for his ignorance. In Arabic, of course, Palestine is pronounced “Filisteen”. And yes, there is an “f” in the Arabic language.