Israel's Netanyahu denies Palestinians exist in soft ball Jordan Peterson interview

Israel's Netanyahu denies Palestinians exist in soft ball Jordan Peterson interview
The returning PM is on a Western media blitz with popular show hosts more concerned about selling his book than asking rigorous questions.
3 min read
08 December, 2022
Netanyahu has repeatedly denied the existence of the Palestinian people [Getty images]

Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has again denied the existence of the Palestinian people, calling their historic land a "barren mess - a ruin" before the creation of Israel.

The man primed to be the next Israeli premier alleged that Palestinians only lived in what is now Israel because farms and factories built by Jewish settlers in the 19th century attracted migrant workers from neighbouring Arab lands. 

These spurious claims have been repeatedly made by right-wing Israelis to justify the existence of Israel following the mass ethnic cleansing of Palestinian villages, but have been completely dismissed by respected historians and sociologists.

"They reconstructed history and said they've been here for centuries - no they haven't, they weren't there at all," claimed Netanyahu in an interview with contrarian US pundit Jordan Peterson published on Tuesday

He then described the 1948 creation of the state of Israel - known to Palestinians as the ‘Nakba’ - as a moment when Jews said to Palestinians "we now will live together". 

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forcibly expelled from their homes during the Nakba and many others were killed in massacres.

Palestinians have slammed Netanyahu's repeating of spurious ahistorical narratives, which they said tries to wipe out the memory of historic Palestine.  

During the interview, Peterson let Netanyahu reel off long unfounded claims that Palestine was a "barren land, an empty land" that inherently belonged to Israel. 

Palestinians have documented harrowing first-hand accounts of the Nakba, when Zionist militias forced out populations from villages and towns in lands that later formed part of the state of Israel.

Millions of victims of this ethnic cleansing and their descendents now live in the West Bank and Gaza, Syria, Lebanon and other countries, many still holding the keys to homes they were forced to flee in 1948 and 1967.

Israel routinely weaponises archaeology and ancient history to deny any Palestinian connection to the land, and therefore political rights, to their homes.

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Netanyahu also spoke fondly of his friendship with Saudi blogger Mohammed Saud - whom Netanyahu called the “Saudi Likud branch manager”.  

In 2019, the pro-Israel blogger was chased out of al-Aqsa by Palestinians during a tour sponsored by Netanyahu. 

When asked about the Abraham Accords, Netanyahu said: "Getting a peace treaty with the UAE was a 15-foot putt. Getting a peace treaty with the Palestinians is like a 150-foot putt through a brick wall." 

Peterson smiled and nodded sycophantically as Netanyahu chuckled at his own apparent witticism. 

Peterson framed the conversation as a "one of the markers for the development of a new kind of political dialogue", because he can "sit with a political leader and have a genuine conversation".

Others described Peterson's exchange with Netanyahu as sycophantic.

The right-wing leader was not pressed on charges of corruption or the new government he is set to establish with extremist allies, some of whom have called for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the past.