David Bernstein posts a squib on Palestinians who are "obviously of African descent." The unspoken subtext is that they aren't "real" Palestinians.
I hate this. I hate this in all of its forms. I hate it when folks try and tell me that Jews don't really belong in the Middle East because they actually descend from Khazars. I hate it when people argue that Palestinians aren't a "real" people because they didn't have national ambitions until relatively recently. I hate it when Israelis are accosted as inauthentic because they have the "wrong" eye color. I hate it when people seem to think this entire conflict is properly resolved via an impossible historical inquiry into who got to the Holy Land "the firstest with the mostest".
It all just strikes me as incredibly primitive -- based on old-school notions of ancestral ties and bloodrights and purity that have no place in modern discussions. I'm a Levi, so I assume I descend from relatively deep Israelite strands. But who knows -- maybe there are some European converts in my family tree. So what? And if some persons with African blood identify as Palestinian and are so recognized by the Palestinian community -- good for them! It is sordid business, this attempt to police each other's racial authenticity for our own transparently political ends.
UPDATE: As per the comments, Professor Bernstein wishes to inform everyone that he does not, in fact, believe that origination has any legitimate bearing on the authenticity of one's national identity. The post he linked to put "Palestinians" in scare quotes, hence my confusion. Of course, Prof. Bernstein is not obligated to agree with every word of each post he links to -- though by the same token, he can't be too surprised when, absent a caveat, people assume he does agree with them (assuming the link was positive, as it was here).
However, that assumes that somewhere on the internet an indication of a contrary opinion by the author hadn't been expressed, and in this respect Prof. Bernstein would also like to draw attention to my inexcusable failure to do due diligence. For if I had only bothered to read the 19th comment from a post he wrote over two years ago, I would not have made the above error. I can only hope my readership forgives me for this horrific lapse in personal responsibility, and grants me another chance to prove my self-worth.
In any event, I'm glad that Prof. Bernstein and I are in agreement that the subtext of the linked-article is repellent, and I am equally glad that one less person than I had assumed bought into it. It is, after all, always a good thing when one finds one has overestimated the amount of wrongdoing in the world.