Modern Reality - Part II
Throughout history every civilization and culture has developed, embraced, and passed down some type of Myth, Legend, Folklore, Fairytale, or Tradition. Oftentimes they start out with some aspect of truth but the truth becomes compromised and then secondary to the magnificence of the story. In modernity we have several fantastic theories that are widely accepted as science and taught as an established fact but are merely presumption. The first example I am speaking of is Evolution. The second one pertains to a people recognized and accepted by the world as the Palestinians. The significance of these so-called people has intrigued nearly every nation on the face of the Earth today. The accepted and modern myth of the Palestinian people is that they are believed to be the ancestral progeny to an exclusive race of people. It is further believed that they were displaced by Jews when Israel was recreated in 1948. These “displaced” people have a legitimate fight against the “illegal” occupiers, known as Israelis. Israel and the Palestinian people dominate the news with stories of their struggle to live peaceably with one another. The struggle of “David versus Goliath” is oftentimes used by the media, and with those sympathetic to the Palestinians, to depict the oppressive occupiers, Israel, against the weaker subdued Palestinians suffering under Israeli tyranny.
Shades Of Confusion
“Every generation grows ever more venerable – the more remote its origin, the more confused that origin is. The reverence due to its increases from generation to generation. The tradition finally becomes holy and inspires all”; Nietzsche, All Too Human. Though the definite origins of the word "Palestine" have been debated for years and are still not known for sure, the name is believed to be derived from the Egyptian and Hebrew word peleshet. Roughly translated to mean "rolling" or "migratory," the term was used to describe the inhabitants of the land to the northeast of Egypt, the Philistines. The Philistines were an Aegean people – more closely related to the Greeks and with no connection ethnically, linguistically, or historically with Arabia, who conquered in the 12th Century B.C. the Mediterranean coastal plain that is now Israel and Gaza.
A derivative of the name "Palestine" first appears in Greek literature in the 5th Century B.C. when the historian Herodotus called the area "Palaistinē.” In the 2nd Century A.D., the Romans crushed the revolt of Shimon Bar Kokhba, A.D. 132, during which Jerusalem and Judea were regained and the area of Judea was renamed Palaestina in an attempt to minimize Jewish identification with the land of Israel. The Roman Emperor Hadrian ruled that Jewish traditions, such as circumcision, the Sabbath, reading the Law, and Judaism itself, were deemed forbidden. Bar Kokhba garnered 200,000 men to oppose Roman occupation and after four years of bitter fighting Rome brought in their reinforcement legions to suppress the Jewish uprising. Rome regained political power and as many as 580,000 men were killed between Romans as well as Jews. Afterwards, Hadrian changed the name of Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina. Although many Jews were scattered after Roman rule ostracized Jews from the providence, a remnant of Jews remained. The fact that Jews successively lived in their land was recognized by the British Royal Commission report in 1937, “Always . . . since the fall of the Jewish state some Jews have been living in Palestine . . . Fresh immigrants arrived from time to time . . . and settle mainly in Galilee, in numerous villages spreading northwards to the Lebanon and in the town of Safad and Tiberias.”
Under the Ottoman Empire (1517-1917), the term Palestine was used as a general term to describe the land south of Syria; it was not an official designation. In fact, many Ottomans and Arabs who lived in Palestine during this time period referred to the area as "Southern Syria" and not as "Palestine."
After World War I, the name "Palestine" was applied to the territory that was placed under British Mandate; this area included not only present-day Israel but also present-day Jordan.
Leading up to Israel's Independence in 1948, it was common for the International Press to label Jews, not Arabs, living in the mandate as Palestinians. It was not until years after Israeli independence that the Arabs living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were called Palestinians. In fact, Arabs cannot even correctly pronounce the word Palestine in their native tongue, referring to this area rather as “Filastin.”
The word Palestine or “Filastin” does not appear in the Koran. The term peleshet appears in the Jewish Tanakh no fewer than 250 times. (JVL)
Historians like Professor Bernard Lewis have pointed out, “From the end of the Jewish antiquity to the beginning of the British rule, the area now designated by the name Palestine was not a country and had no frontiers, only administrative boundaries; it was a group of provincial divisions, by no means always the same, within a larger entity.” Throughout history the land recognized as Palestine was never an independent nation. The Arabs never named the land to which they now claim rights. More particularly, they referred to the land as part of pan-Arab nation, as a Muslim community or Southern Syria. The latter was used as a tactical ploy spelled out in the 1919 Arab Covenant proposed by the Arab Congress in Jerusalem. However, in the same year the General Syrian Congress had the opposite view. They expressed the need to call Palestine, Southern Syria, “We ask there should be no separation of the southern part of Syria, known as Palestine. . . .” In 1956 a Saudi Arabian United Nations delegate asserted that, “It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria.”
The population of non-Jewish peoples that resided in Israel-Palestine throughout history was a mixture of ethnicities from surrounding nations. The area was best described as a “Melting Pot” of Bedouins from Asia Minor, Syria, Arabian Peninsula, Asia, and North Africa. There never existed a peculiar people recognized as Palestinian; a people that had its own government, economy with unique coinage, language, or military force. The modern Palestinian myth is just that, a myth. Modern Palestinians is a strategy birthed out of tradition from the lineage of Islamic hatred towards Jews.
The Actual Past
The only ethnic Arab empire to rule over Israel-Palestine was the second Islamic Caliphate, known as the Umayyads, under the leadership of Muawiyah. This short lived rule lasted from A.D. 661 to A.D. 750. Future rulers and empires that governed Israel-Palestine were not Arab by ethnicity. The defeat of the Umayyad Empire was by another competing Islamic empire known as the Abbasids. The Abbasids were made up of Persians, Turks, Circassians, and Kurds. What made these diverse ethnicities cohesive was not their progeny but their common Islamic faith. After the Abbasids Egypt gained control of the area until the Byzantine invasion in A.D. 904. The Seljuk Turks took possession one hundred years later followed by the European Crusades. Saladin of Damascus, a Turk, conquered Israel-Palestine in 1070-1080. The Kharezmians, instigated by Genghis Khan, invaded and slaughtered Jerusalem’s population in 1244. The Mongols were next in history with the Ottoman Empire taking reign two hundred fifty years afterwards in 1516. For the most part the Ottoman Empire ruled until the conclusion of WWI. According to Historian Professor Bernard Lewis the expression “Arab Identity” derives from the “impact of the West . . . in the last fifty years . . . It is that which regards the Arabic-speaking peoples as a nation or group of sister nations in the European sense, united by a common territory, language and culture and a common aspiration to a political independence.” So who really is considered as a Palestinian by the Pan-Arab world? Among the people who have been counted as “indigenous Palestinian Arabs” are Balkans, Greeks, Syrians, Latins, Egyptians, Turks, Armenians, Italians, Persians, Kurds, Germans, Afghans, Circassians, Bosnians, Sudanese, Samaritans, Algerians, Motawila, and Tartars.
Palestinian Mythical Prominence
In next month’s article we will examine the rise of Zionism and the repopulating of Israel-Palestine. While we look forward to that discussion we will now briefly look at the former leader of the Palestinian people, Yasser Arafat; this self-proclaimed leader of a nonexistent ethnicity of people proves the indigenous Palestinian race never existed prior to his leadership. The “bomb shell” that blows up the idea of an indigenous Palestinian people, is Yasser Arafat was an Egyptian! The Palestinian Liberation Organization, PLO, was formulated by another Egyptian, Gamal Abdel Nasser, President of Egypt 1954-1970. His objective was to restore the pan-Arab territorial continuity by uniting the pan-Arab nations to join in the elimination of Israel. Their embarrassing failure and ultimate defeat in 1967 left little hope in accomplishing their goal. The rise of Arafat brought hope to a hopeless situation for the Muslim nations. Arafat became the champion of a cause. He created and gained the sympathy of the world through propaganda to accept him as a mediator of peace, and a representative of a people, recognized now by the world as suffering under the tyranny of Israel. The world today, including the USA, accepts the myth of a Palestinian people who deserve a nation. The reality is they had an occasion to become a nation in 1947. The “two state solution,” a conclusion made in 1937 in Britain by the Peel Commission, was offered and voted by the United Nations in 1947. The representatives of the Palestinians rejected their opportunity and instead embraced the greater goal of the pan-Arab Islamic nations to destroy the Jews. If it wasn’t for God’s protection the Jewish inhabitants in Israel would only be a story in Islamic books of Allah’s great victory.