Abu Nowar's voluminous tome illustrates the dual denial in which the Arabs are living: denial of Jewish history and their own. This particular case is the more disturbing given that the author was a lifelong friend of Jordan's King Hussein, the monarch who maintained extensive relations with Israel and who had urged the author "to publish the whole truth based on both historical facts and ‘adherence to the dignity of history.'"
Abu Nowar does not succeed in achieving this goal. The chapter on Jewish history from antiquity to the present day is a travesty that anachronistically looks at biblical times in terms of the contemporary Arab-Israeli conflict. Thus, the author describes the ancient Israelites as barbaric and savage occupiers—"without culture and civilization"—of a prosperous and thriving country with which they had no connection whatsoever. "The settled and civilized people of Canaan surrendered to the Israeli nomadic raiders after suffering countless massacres in their villages and small towns," he writes. "Thereafter, the Israeli warlords divided the occupied areas between themselves and controlled the inhabitants of Canaan as landlords rather than landowners … Meanwhile the people of Canaan, the original people of the land, continued to live as sedentary farmers as they had done for the previous 3,000 years. In spite of all the massacres they inflicted on Canaan, the Israelites were never at any stage the sole inhabitants of the land."
The historical implications could not be clearer, as no term has dominated Palestinian discourse more than "occupation." Abu Nowar extends its use back to antiquity to deny any Jewish attachment to Palestine: "It was certainly not the land of their forefathers, because they only forced their rule over it as occupiers, not as landowners, for a short period of history." Nor do the Jews have any legal or moral claim to statehood since they "were never a separate nation during the previous 1,800 years [but rather] national citizens of more than fifty countries." In short, the Jews have no stronger historical claim to Palestine than to any other parts of the world in which they lived during the past millennia.
Abu Nowar's description of contemporary history is equally erroneous. He presents the mandatory era (1920-48), against all evidence, as a period of persistent British support for Zionism coupled with repression of the country's Arab population. The outbreak of hostilities in late November 1947 is not an Arab backlash to the United Nations partition resolution that month but the latest chapter in a long and uninterrupted series of Jewish terrorism dating back to the end of World War II. There's not a word about Arab violence.
The description of Jordan's participation in the 1948 war is equally remote from reality. Wanting to portray King Abdullah I, the kingdom's founder, as an ardent Arab nationalist, which he was not, the author presents his intervention in Palestine in 1948 as a move to defend the hapless Palestinians from the predatory Israelis—rather than the king's latest bid to incorporate Palestine into the Greater Syrian empire he had long been striving to establish. He makes no mention of Abdullah's secret contacts with the Zionist movement beginning in the early 1930s, including his two famous meetings with Golda Meir in November 1947 and May 1948. Ignoring these episodes, rather than explaining them on the basis of the Jordanian archives, offers yet another sad testament to the pervasive culture of unaccountability and self-denial plaguing Arab life.