In a week when Netanyahu's government has decided to build more houses in a disputed section of Jerusalem, one can understand the exasperation of commentators like Steven Friedman (‘Talk Rights, not real estate', Sunday Times, 15 November, 2009).
But in his eagerness to advance his ideological agenda and to squeeze extra mileage out of the apartheid association, Friedman does not so much distort history as to ignore it altogether. Serious scholars talk of "two nationalisms" because that is indeed an important element in the Israel-Palestinian conflict; important but far from the only component.
Jewish nationalism was born and constructed in the nineteenth century out of despair at the failure of Jewish emancipation and burgeoning European antisemitism. It focussed on the historic land of Israel where Judaism was born and where it had maintained a continuous presence over the millennia.
Palestinian nationalism which arose in the inter-war years was an offshoot of an earlier and wider Arab nationalism. Although influenced by cultural diffusion from the West, it has recently become infused with powerful Islamist elements, represented in the rise of Hamas.
But Palestinian nationalism only became a significant factor when it appeared that the Jews had gained a foothold on a small stretch of the vast Arab territories dominated by Western powers in the early years of the twentieth century. In response, regional Palestinian loyalties were elevated to the ranks of a true nationalism to oppose Jewish settlement.
Even so this development was only taken seriously when Arab, not Palestinian, forces failed to dislodge the Jewish state in 1967 from the Middle East. Thus began the potent narrative of "occupation" and human rights taken up by the camp of which Friedman is a representative.