I’m storing this hear as another example of why Israel isn’t “occupying” Arab land. It helps to gather all of this evidence together to counter the heinous lies being told about the Jewish state and the Jewish people. Here’s a quote:
The media, and even academic publications, are replete with claims that Israel is “occupying” what they refer to as “historic Palestine,” meaning Israel, Gaza, and Judea and Samaria (or, in their terms, the West Bank). It is ineffective to try to engage in long discussions of history and facts showing that it is the Jews who are indigenous to the land. We all know that feelings speak louder than facts, and pro-Palestinian propagandists use emotion in a way that has so far stymied Israeli attempts to set the record straight.
We also know that one picture is worth a thousand words.
And now we have that picture – it is a map, in fact. A map of approximately 700 ancient Israelite settlements and holy sites all across the entire historic Land of Israel. Two hundred additional sites that have been discovered by archaeologists but not yet identified will also be added to the map.
There is no place in Palestine for two races. The Jews left Palestine 2,000 years ago. Let them go to other parts of the world where there are wide vacant places.” –Amin al-Husseini, 1936
And that, in a nutshell, is why there will never be a two-state solution, not because Jewish Israel hasn’t been bending over backwards trying to agree to one, but because the Arab leadership will never accept it. They never have from the start.
By the way, just because I stuck in that link from ForeignPolicy.com doesn’t necessarily mean I agree with their opinion. It was just handy.
I’ve decided this will be the fourth and last installment in my “Israel is Jewish” series. Here are the other three:
So let’s talk about “the occupation.” In order for the Jews to “occupy” Arab “Palestine,” there had to be an Arab Palestinian people in the first place. Were there ever such a people?
Before that, going to the quote from Amin al-Husseini, did the Jews completely abandon “Palestine” for a full 2,000 years?
As it turns out, there has always been a Jewish presence in the Land, regardless of who the conqueror was at the time. Sometimes the population was larger than others. Sometimes Jews were allowed to return to their Land in great numbers. There was even a time when the Jewish population started planning the construction of a third Temple. Other times, they were driven out so that only a few thousand remained. But they remained.
So what about the Arabs? Were they the ones in charge? Depends on who you ask. The site ancient.eu covers some of it, but not in enough detail, at least not during the time frame I’m examining.
After the Romans, there were the Byzantines. Then starting in the Middle Ages you had the Rashidun, Umayyad and Abbasid periods, the Fatimid period, the Crusader period, the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods, and then there was the Ottoman period.
That ended only with British rule. During that time, while the Jews always clung to their Land as their ancient inheritance, from an Arab perspective, it was simply a part of southern Syria and they, the Arabs, were whoever the conquerors were. For instance, from the 15th century onward, they were Ottomans, not Palestinian Arabs. If anything, they would have more identified as Syrians.
So at no time did “Palestinian Arabs” come on the radar until the 20th century, and it wasn’t seriously considered and then claimed until after the Six-Day War in 1967, nearly 20 years after the formation of modern Israel.
Even in the early 20th century, before World War Two, the Zionists who had planned a Jewish return to “Palestine” were determined to displace no Arabs at all, and sought only to live in unclaimed land, mainly the Negev which was an unpopulated desert.
As I said before, if the Arabs had accepted the British partition plan in 1948, they would have had a “Palestinian homeland” and there would have been exactly zero Palestinian refugees. However, instead, they decided to wage a “Civil War” against their Jewish neighbors the day the State of Israel was born, and after the British mandate ended, many other Arab nations came across the border for the purpose of making sure a Jewish state would never exist.
Up until the late 1960s, the concept of a Pan-Arabism was one of the primary forces behind opposing the continuance of Israel. While the concept of an “Arab Palestine” didn’t exist as such, the Arab nations believed that the entire Middle East should be one, single Arab domain. No room for other people groups, particularly Jews.
Only after 1967, when the Pan-Arab dream was abandoned, did the Arabs in and near Israel consider themselves “Palestinian.”
So you see, it’s pretty hard to say that the Jews displaced Palestinian Arabs when such an entity did not exist. Also, even after the 1948 war, there were still Arabs in abundance who hadn’t left and they were welcomed in Israel.
The history is long and complex, but the Jews have always been willing to share. The Arabs, or at least their leadership, were absolutely opposed.
In his book, Brog coins the phrase, the “Five Nos.” There were the five primary occasions where Palestinian Arabs were offered deals that included their own sovereign land, each offer being sweeter than the last. Each and every time, they said “No.”
Camera.org says the Palestinians said “No” only three times:
The original UN Resolution 181, the Partition Resolution, passed in November 1947, called for the creation of a Jewish state and an Arab state in the land which at that point was controlled by the British-run Palestine Mandate. We know about that one. The Arabs decided to kill the Jews instead.
In the summer of 2000 US President Bill Clinton hosted intense peace talks at Camp David between Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and Israeli leader Ehud Barak, culminating in a comprehensive peace plan known as the Clinton Parameters, which was similar to the later Olmert Plan, though not quite as extensive. Despite the vast concessions the plan required of Israel, Prime Minister Barak accepted President Clinton’s proposal, while Arafat refused, returned home, and launched a new terror campaign against Israeli civilians (the Second Intifada).
In 2008, after extensive talks, then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and presented a comprehensive peace plan. Olmert’s plan would have annexed the major Israeli settlements to Israel and in return given equivalent Israeli territory to the Palestinians, and would have divided Jerusalem. This was the single most generous offer Israel could possibly make and Abbas still said “No.”
Brog is counting the 1937 partition plan based on the Peel Commission’s recommendation that less than 20% of Palestine be set aside for the Jews. In spite of the inequity of the offer, the Jews jumped at the chance. Not so the Arabs.
He also adds the aftermath of the 1967 Six-Day War. In spite of the security concerns, Israel returned the Sinai to Egypt and the Golan to Syria. Israelis were divided on whether to return the West Bank to Jordan or to empower the Palestinian inhabitants to govern themselves.
These dreams of peace were quickly dashed. In late August 1967, the Arab League met in Khartoum, Sudan, and adopted a hard anti-Israel line. Among the resolutions these Arab states approved was one specifying that there would be “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it.” The West Bank Arabs who had been negotiating with Israel decided to fall in line and their talks ended.
It seems that as far as establishing an Arab Palestinian “homeland,” the Arabs are their own worse enemies, at least as long as they are determined to be the enemy of the Jews.
It’s interesting to note that at the 2000 Ehud Barak, Bill Clinton, Camp David peace summit, time after time Yasser Arafat continued to say “No” to each offer, without proposing a counter-offer or giving any details about why he was refusing. Brog records:
Arafat didn’t accept Barak’s offer. Nor did he make a counteroffer. He simply let the clock run out. At the close of the summit, President Clinton “blew up” at Arafat, shouting at the Palestinian leader that he had “been here fourteen days and said no to everything.”
Based on both ancient and modern claims, the Jews do have a right to their historic lands, and even though they have tried again and again to broker a peace with the Arab population, offering them exceedingly generous deals. They have said “No,” just “no.” After Arafat, Abbas followed suit, saying “no” with no counter-offers and no explanations.
However, this series is going to end differently than I expected. I just learned that Israel and United Arab Emirates strike historic peace accord. I want to be excited. I want to say “at last.” But everything I know about the history of Palestine going back two thousand years, or even just going back a century, tells me it’s not going to be that easy. After all of the conflict and enmity between Arabs and Jews in the Middle East and the absolute Arab refusal to accept a Jewish homeland within their midst, how is it ever going to be that easy?
It’s not. To quote the FT.com article:
But the move has infuriated the Palestinians. The Palestinian leadership rejected the “surprising” announcement by the US, Israel and UAE, calling it “an assault on the Palestinian people and an abandonment of the rights of the Palestinians and the holy sites”.
See? Told you.
So, when various civil rights groups in the U.S. vandalize synagogues and Jewish businesses, painting “Free Palestine” on those structures, and perhaps feeling justified in attacking American Jews as if they are somehow responsible for the so-called “occupation,” they are most likely operating in ignorance of the facts. If they choose to ally themselves with Arab terrorists groups such as Hamas, then maybe they understand things all too well, more’s the pity.
I know none of this will convince those who have already been convinced by decades of anti-Israel propaganda, and centuries if not millennia of hatred against the Jewish people. Anti-semitism seems to be the only form of bigotry that’s acceptable when all other forms are not.
The ancient Israelites were slaves in Egypt approximately 3,500 years ago and they were reportedly enslaved for 430 years. They have suffered unspeakable losses for those thousands of years, so you’d think anyone else who feels the need to rise up against the inequities of their background would study that history and find kinship, rather than ignoring that history and condemning the Jews and their right to exist as a nation.
Addendum 8-19-2020: You see, this is exactly why the Palestinians will never consent to a two-state solution. Their leaders say any cooperation with Israel is treason, probably punishable by death. The Palestinians’ own leadership is their worst enemy, not Israel.
“Criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic, and saying so is vile. But singling out Israel for opprobrium and international sanction out of proportion to any other party in the Middle East is anti-Semitic, and not saying so is dishonest.” –Thomas L. Friedman, 2002
To back up a step, I created this series, which includes Is There a Palestine and Israel is Not Apartheid, in response to certain actions committed during the recent protests/riots here in the U.S. Namely that synagogues and Jewish businesses have been vandalized with the phrase “Free Palestine” being prominently included in the “message.”
As the quote above suggests, you can criticize Israel as a nation and not be anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish, but the relentless and narrowly focused allegations against the Jewish state and their “crimes” against the Palestinian people, including refugees, ignores the reality that there are many more displaced people groups all over the world. We rarely or never hear of them, and according to what I’ve read so far, the Palestinian Arabs and their experiences are hardly unique historically and in the current world.
Brog tells some of the history of “Jewish Arab” nationalist Albert Memmi. As a marginalized Jew in Arab Tunisia, his efforts helped free Tunisia from French rule, but then the Arabs turned around and exiled him from his homeland because he was Jewish.
As early as 1969, Memmi was calling for a Palestinian homeland, but the irony of that cry is one had existed twenty years prior. On November 29, 1947, according to the author:
…the United Nations voted to partition Palestine into two states – one Jewish and one Arab.
In a 2011 Op-Ed piece for the New York Times, PLO President Mahmoud Abbas wrote a passionate plea to the United Nations to create a Palestinian state that for decades Israel had denied them. But such a state did exist as a legally recognized entity, just as much as “Jewish Palestine” did.
In his essay, Abbas said that the Jews started the 1948 war in order to oust the Arabs from their land. That’s a lie (politely, we’re supposed to say it’s the “Palestinian narrative”)
The 1948 War began as a civil war, with Palestine’s Arabs attacking Palestine’s Jews in an effort to prevent the creation of a Jewish state.
It wasn’t about Jews taking away and occupying Arab land. The conflict, the real conflict is and always has been preventing, and now, destroying every bit of the Jewish state in the Middle East. It’s about eradicating Israel from the face of the Earth.
In 1969, in the aftermath of 1967’s “Six Day War,” Albert Memmi called for a Palestinian state to be created alongside Jewish Israel, and considering himself both Arab and Jewish, he was sincere. However, as Brog says:
From the start, Palestinian leaders linked their national liberation to the destruction of Israel. The Palestinians did not seek a state alongside the Jewish state; they demanded a state that would replace the Jewish state. In doing so, they were setting the stage for endless conflict.
But let’s go back to 1947-48 for a minute. You might be saying to yourself that by carving Palestine up in two (it’s actually more complicated than that), wasn’t it the United Nations who stole Arab land?
We could argue about the historic right of the Jews to the Land as I did in Part One and Brog does say that has to be considered in light of the lack of a Jewish presence in Palestine for so long, but remember, lands, borders, and people groups had been shifted around for centuries.
Brog covered some historical ground about World Wars One and Two, and how in their aftermath, whole populations were moved hundreds of miles away from lands they’d occupied for nearly a thousand years. Then there were the massive reshifting of national boundaries as well as the creation of brand new countries. So whether you agree or not that the Jewish state should have been created by the U.N., it was hardly a rare or unique event.
When the British Mandate for Palestine was officially ended on May 15, 1948, the civil war between Jewish and Arab Palestinians “went international,” with Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, and Iraq all attacking the tiny, newborn Jewish state.
Now, here’s the kicker:
The Arab states did not invade Israel to help the Palestinian refugees (as Abbas’s essay erroneously claimed). It was the Arab invasion that produced the Palestinian refugees. Had the Arabs accepted the UN Partition Plan and agreed to the creation of the Jewish state, there would have been a Palestinian state back in 1948. And had the Arabs accepted the partition of Palestine, there would not have been so much as one Palestinian refugee.
There’s a lot more to this history of course, and I certainly encourage you to get a copy of Brog’s book (I found one at my local public library) to discover the rest.
Now let’s return to the title of this write up. “The Creation of the Palestinian Refugee”. They weren’t oppressed and didn’t exist as refugees until the surrounding Arab nations attacked Israel and attempted to destroy them. It was the consequences of that war which created these refugees.
There’s a reason they still exist. Most refugee populations dwindle as time passes. Although there are hundreds of different people groups who have been displaced and have refugee status, the Palestinians are unique in a single detail.
After the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the United Nations established a new organization dedicated exclusively to the Palestinian refugees: the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). UNRWA defines a “Palestine refugee” as anyone who was displaced by the 1948 War plus the “descendants of Palestine refugee males, including legally adopted children.” In other words, Palestinian refugees pass their refugee status to their children in perpetuity.
It’s even worse than that because any Palestinian refugee who obtains citizenship in another county is still considered a refugee…forever. Brog continues:
For example, there are approximately two million Palestinian refugees currently living in Jordan. They are all counted as refugees even though over ninety percent of these individuals are full Jordanian citizens.
The only refugee population on Earth that grows in size over time and continues to exist generation after generation, at least based on what I’ve read so far, are Palestinian refugees.
According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, the Arab population in 2019 was estimated at 1,890,000, representing 20.95% of the country’s population. The majority of these identify themselves as Arab or Palestinian by nationality and Israeli by citizenship.
Arab citizens of Israel, or Arab Israelis, are Israeli citizens who are Arab. Many Arab citizens of Israel self-identify as Palestinian and commonly self-designate themselves as Palestinian citizens of Israel or Israeli Palestinians.
So, Palestinian refugees can live in Gaza or the West Bank, they can become full citizens of Israel (and we saw in Part Two that Arab Israeli citizens enjoy the same rights as Jewish citizens), and as we’ve seen, an additional nearly two million are citizens of neighboring Jordan.
Brog says according to the UNRWA website, when the agency began operating in 1950, there were about some 750,000 Palestinian refugees. As of the publication of his book a few years ago, that number had exploded to 5 million refugees eligible for services. He concludes this point with:
If Palestinian refugees were defined the same way as all other refugees, the number of Palestinian refugees in 2014 would be closer to 30,000.
There’s a very strategic reason for the continued existence and population growth of the “Palestinian refugee” and it seems to be to continually outrage people in many other nations on how Israel has oppressed its refugee population for decades. The goal, although the “outraged” are probably not aware of this for the most part, is to reduce and eventually eliminate the Jewish nation of Israel.
So, when (probably) well meaning U.S. protesters torch synagogues and physically assault elderly Jews men on the street, all in the name of “Freeing Palestine,” I think they are simply another expression of folks who have bought a fantasy and ignored the facts. To be fair, we all practice bias confirmation, and you would say I’m doing that right now.
On the other hand, anyone with a library card and who can read can educate themselves.
David Brog is scrupulous to point out that Israel is not a perfect nation and that Jews have committed injustices against Arabs. That said, the injustices much of the world believes Israel is guilty of aren’t factual.
I’m not writing this series to come up with some “magic” answer. People a lot smarter than I am have been approaching that for a long time. I do want to remind people, or maybe inform people for the first time, that what you see in the news and what’s actually happening are sometimes, maybe often, two different things.
Just because someone paints “Free Palestine” on the side of a Jewish deli, or breaks the windows, or assaults the proprietor, doesn’t mean they’re being just. In fact, quite the opposite. They’ve just been fooled.
In Part One of this series, I covered pretty effectively not only that the long-term history of Israel from ancient times was undeniably (even though people deny it all the time) Jewish, but whatever you want to call “Palestine” is not and never has been Arabic.
I know a lot of people don’t like to face that because of the common and mistaken idea that the Arabs were living in Palestine until the Jews came and subjugated them in 1948. However, that’s not objective history, but propaganda.
Apartheid (Afrikaans: “apartness”) is the name of the policy that governed relations between the white minority and the nonwhite majority of South Africa during the 20th century. Although racial segregation had long been in practice there, the apartheid name was first used about 1948 to describe the racial segregation policies embraced by the white minority government. Apartheid dictated where South Africans, on the basis of their race, could live and work, the type of education they could receive, and whether they could vote. Events in the early 1990s marked the end of legislated apartheid, but the social and economic effects remained deeply entrenched.
In fact the term is totally embedded exclusively in the history of South Africa. So much so, that a search of Google (at least a casual one) doesn’t easily turn up a list of other nations that practiced the same policies.
So why do people call Israel (which obviously is not South Africa) “apartheid?”
If being an apartheid state means committing inhumane acts, systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over another, then Israel is guilty, a United Nations panel has determined in a new report.
The findings from an Arab-led group were not cleared or fully backed by U.N. leadership and do not set new policies toward Israel. Yet they reflect another attempt to use a U.N. forum to denounce Israel and seek to put its Western allies on the defensive at a time when some have questioned Israel’s hard-line approach, including expansion of settlements in the West Bank.
Okay, the allegation already sounds a tad suspicious. I mean even the U.N. didn’t fully endorse it.
Actually, I looked pretty hard, but it was difficult to find a reputable source that supported the idea that Israel was apartheid. The Guardian published an op-ed piece last year who sees similarities between Israel and South Africa based on experience of fighting South African apartheid:
As a Jewish South African anti-apartheid activist I look with horror on the far-right shift in Israel ahead of this month’s elections, and the impact in the Palestinian territories and worldwide.
Israel’s repression of Palestinian citizens, African refugees and Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza has become more brutal over time. Ethnic cleansing, land seizure, home demolition, military occupation, bombing of Gaza and international law violations led Archbishop Tutu to declare that the treatment of Palestinians reminded him of apartheid, only worse.
That statement was to some degree based on a 2014 Haaretz article where Desmond Tutu said that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians reminded him of Black South Africans.
Incidentally, this is also probably the attraction of America’s Black Lives Matter to the Palestinian “cause” if we can believe they are all the same thing.
But as we’ve seen, apartheid isn’t simply racial or ethnic differences or tensions.
I have now lived in Israel for 17 years, doing what I can to promote dialogue across lines of division. To an extent that I believe is rare, I straddle both societies. I know Israel today – and I knew apartheid up close. And put simply, there is no comparison between Israel and apartheid.
The Arabs of Israel are full citizens. Crucially, they have the vote and Israeli Arab MPs sit in parliament. An Arab judge sits on the country’s highest court; an Arab is chief surgeon at a leading hospital; an Arab commands a brigade of the Israeli army; others head university departments. Arab and Jewish babies are born in the same delivery rooms, attended by the same doctors and nurses, and mothers recover in adjoining beds. Jews and Arabs travel on the same trains, taxis and – yes – buses. Universities, theatres, cinemas, beaches and restaurants are open to all.
They go on to state:
However, Israeli Arabs – Palestinian citizens of Israel – do suffer discrimination, starting with severe restrictions on land use. Their generally poorer school results mean lower rates of entry into higher education, which has an impact on jobs and income levels. Arab citizens of Israel deeply resent Israel’s “law of return” whereby a Jew anywhere in the world can immigrate to Israel but Arabs cannot. Some might argue that the Jewish majority has the right to impose such a policy, just as Saudi Arabia and other Muslim states have the right not to allow Christians as citizens. But it’s a troubling discrimination.
A major factor causing inequity is that most Israeli Arabs do not serve in the army. While they are spared three years’ compulsory, and dangerous, conscription for men (two years for women) and annual reserve duty that continues into their 40s, they do not receive post-army benefits in housing and university study.
How does that compare with the old South Africa? Under apartheid, every detail of life was subject to discrimination by law. Black South Africans did not have the vote. Skin colour determined where you were born and lived, your job, your school, which bus, train, taxi and ambulance you used, which park bench, lavatory and beach, whom you could marry, and in which cemetery you were buried.
Israel is not remotely like that. Everything is open to change in a tangled society in which lots of people have grievances, including Mizrahi Jews (from the Middle East) or Jews of Ethiopian origin. So anyone who equates Israel and apartheid is not telling the truth.
If I were to stop here, we could reasonably conclude that Israel is not a perfect country, and yes discrimination does exist, but the nature of that discrimination does not resemble apartheid.
The article concludes:
So why is the apartheid accusation pushed so relentlessly, especially by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement? I believe those campaigners want Israel declared an apartheid state so it becomes a pariah, open to the world’s severest sanctions. Many want not just an end to the occupation but an end to Israel itself.
Tragically, some well-intentioned, well-meaning people in Britain and other countries are falling for the BDS line without realising what they are actually supporting. BDS campaigners and other critics need to be questioned: Why do they single out Israel, above all others, for a torrent of false propaganda? Why is Israel the only country in the world whose very right to existence is challenged in this way?
No such [apartheid] laws exist in Israel, which in its Declaration of Independence pledges to safeguard the equal rights of all citizens. Arab citizens of Israel enjoy the full range of civil and political rights, including the right to organize politically, the right to vote and the right to speak and publish freely. Israeli Arabs and other non-Jewish Israelis serve as members of Israel’s security forces, are elected to parliament and appointed to the country’s highest courts. They are afforded equal educational opportunities, and there are ongoing initiatives to further improve the economic standing of all of Israel’s minorities. These facts serve as a counter to the apartheid argument, and demonstrate that Israel is committed to democratic principles and equal rights for all its citizens.
Moreover, Israel’s acceptance of a two-state solution as the outcome of bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations belies accusations that Israel’s goal is the persecution of Palestinians.
The Algemeiner presents eight critical points about why Israel is not apartheid, and even an op-ed piece by The Los Angeles Times declares “Israel isn’t, and will never be, an apartheid state”.
The evidence I’m presenting may not be exhaustive, but it is extensive, and you’ll need to click the links I’ve provided to get the full context.
The term “apartheid” is being aimed at Israel in an attempt (and a seemly successful one, oddly enough) to stir up an emotional, rather than a reasoned response, to Israel, painting them with the same broad brush as South Africa so that no one will have to consider anything except how they felt about the injustices against the black majority population by the white minority.
Even though the two nations and their bodies of law are not similar, some people will believe anything they hear because they want to. It confirms their biases that at least Israel, if not the Jewish people as a whole, are unjust and even criminal.
Like I said, it’s not like Israel is completely free of discrimination. But that doesn’t make them apartheid.
In Part One, I established the historic right of the Jews to the land of Israel, and that the Arabs did not have such an historic claim. Just now, I addressed why Israel is NOT an apartheid state. In Part Three, I’ll talk about why Israel is not “occupying Arab land.”
This morning I lamented how I consider the Black Lives Matter organization and movement as antisemitic and anti-Israel, based on the erroneous belief that Israel is an apartheid state and an occupier of Arab (Palestinian) land. Since the riots and protests began here in the U.S., I’ve been searching for a way to express how wrong that is, but for a lot of reasons, I haven’t been able to get a handle on it.
Then after receiving an email from a Jewish friend of mine who lives in Israel, and reading the contents, I realized why. The topic is huge and multidimensional. I’d never cram what I want to say into a single blog post, which is why it will have to be a series. I have no idea how it will end, but I do know how it will begin.
It will begin with this idea that there is and always has been this “thing” called “Palestine” that somehow supersedes the Biblical and historical land of “Israel.”
Let’s start with Palestine. Where did it come from?
Palestine, area of the eastern Mediterranean region, comprising parts of modern Israel and the Palestinian territories of the Gaza Strip (along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea) and the West Bank (the area west of the Jordan River).
Oh really? How did that happen? The same source says:
The word Palestine derives from Philistia, the name given by Greek writers to the land of the Philistines, who in the 12th century bce occupied a small pocket of land on the southern coast, between modern Tel Aviv–Yafo and Gaza. The name was revived by the Romans in the 2nd century ce in “Syria Palaestina,” designating the southern portion of the province of Syria, and made its way thence into Arabic, where it has been used to describe the region at least since the early Islamic era.
I don’t completely trust the Encyclopedia Britannica because they’re dancing around the facts. When did the Romans rename ancient Israel “Palestine” and why? They don’t say, so I had to look elsewhere.
A derivative of the name Palestine first appears in Greek literature in the 5th Century BCE when the historian Herodotus called the area Palaistine. In the 2nd century CE, the Romans crushed the revolt of Shimon Bar Kokhba (132 CE), during which Jerusalem and Judea were regained and the area of Judea was renamed by the Roman Emperor Hadrian Palaestina in an attempt to minimize Jewish identification with the land of Israel.
Bingo! The Romans deliberately renamed Israel as “Palestine” to insult and demean the Jewish people and the Jewish right to their own land. We also understand from those two articles, that “Palestine” didn’t always exist as an Arab nation and in fact, wasn’t a nation, Arab or otherwise, at all. Not until it was “invented.”
Okay, I get it. Nations are invented entities. Once upon a time there was no such thing as the United States of America, and if you go back in time far enough, anything you call a country didn’t exist.
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 BCE the Mediterranean coastal plain that is now Israel and Gaza.
Did you get that? “rolling or migratory” people. And “Aegean people – more closely related to the Greeks and with no connection ethnically, linguistically or historically with Arabia – who conquered in the 12th Century BCE the Mediterranean coastal plain that is now Israel and Gaza.”
So “Palestine” isn’t and never has been an “Arabic” nation…ever. Those original people were more related to Greeks, but does that mean “Palestine” is Greek? No, that’s nuts. The root for what some people now call “Palestine” came into being because that area was conquered about 3,300 years ago.
Now, the Bible pictures an Israelite-Jewish population and government there starting in the 12th century BCE and continuing until the end of the Bible’s history about 800 years later. But how do we know if this is true? As scholars, we can’t just say, “The Bible tells us so.” We need to see evidence that could be presented to any honest person, whether that person be religious or not, Jewish or Christian or from some other religion or no religion, or from Mars.
Yes, exactly, and that’s the hard part. I could cite Jewish and Christian sources all day long, but at the end of the day, critics could say those sources were so biased that they’re telling lies. I could call the sources who say that a Jewish Israel never existed the same thing. So what now? Let’s see if this article’s author Richard Elliott Friedman has an answer:
In the first place, the land is filled with Hebrew inscriptions, so I begin with that. These are not just an occasional inscription on a piece of pottery or carved in a wall. Nor should we even start with one or two of the most famous archaeological finds. Rather, there are thousands of inscriptions. They come from hundreds of excavated towns and cities. They are in the Hebrew language. They include people’s names that bear forms of the name of their God: YHWH.
Click the link to get the entire context, but the point is that not only do we find artifacts from ancient times that testify to a Jewish Israel, but from the lands around it. Ancient nations and people groups recognized the Jewish people as having occupied and possessed Israel for many hundreds if not thousands of years before anything like “Palestine” was manufactured.
When scholars refer to “ancient Israel,” they often refer to the tribes, kingdoms and dynasties formed by the ancient Jewish people in the Levant (an area that encompasses modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria).
They presuppose that somehow, nations like Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria, plus the increasingly unlikely “Palestine,” can undo, unroll, or unwrite the existence of both ancient and modern Israel, the Jewish Israel.
The article goes on to say:
Scholars draw largely on three sources to reconstruct the history of ancient Israel — archaeological excavations, the Hebrew Bible and texts that are not found in the Hebrew Bible. The use of the Hebrew Bible poses difficulty for scholars as some of the accounts are widely thought to be mythical.
If you don’t believe in the Hebrew God and His miracles, naturally the Bible isn’t going to be considered an authoritative source. I mentioned that before.
But to continue:
The earliest mention of the word “Israel” comes from a stele (an inscription carved on stone) erected by the Egyptian pharaoh Merneptah (reign ca. 1213-1203 B.C.) The inscription mentions a military campaign in the Levant during which Merneptah claims to have “laid waste” to “Israel” among other kingdoms and cities in the Levant.
The article concludes:
In the millennia afterward, the Jewish diaspora spread throughout the world. It wasn’t until the establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948 that the Jewish people had a homeland again.
You might consider this source a tad more objective, since it’s not Jewish, which is why I included it.
Just for giggles, I read a Quora.com source asking “Does Palestine exist, or is it Israel?”
A lot of people responded since, after all, it is a hot button topic. One person named Shira Barabi answered on February 9, 2019. Please note that English is probably not this person’s main language:
As a israel , Palestine does not exist.
The civilians of so called Palestine are arabs who live in Israel.
This whole concept of another land for the arabs started in 1948 , after Israel declared independence. We had a civil war and won. Actually , we won several wars between us and the surrounding arab states.
So , why is Palestine still a concept? After being ” founded ” in 1988 ( that’s right. 40 years after israel was formed ) there has been total chaos for owning that little piece of land. Obviously , if you choose to take israel’s side then you’re a heartless Zionist that kills innocent children.
Believe it or not , but I live next to an Arab village ( I am a Jew-Moroccan so we settled here ) and every time there’s a terror attack that hurts innocent citizens there are fireworks and parties until the sunrise. Seeing that as a little child made me lose empathy.
We fight for a home constantly. Nobody wants us obviously and we have to fight for the little we have. I still find it petty for the Arabs to want it so badly and be willing to kill so many for it while they obviously have quite a few of their own.
We have offered many peace arrangements to this so called state that doesn’t even have a territory and they were sadly all dismissed. How can we get to peace when they want to eat the whole cake?
I personally think this conflict is absurd. How can people keep calling an official state another name? How is this even normal? Can you imagine calling the USA another name just because some citizens of a minority decide that they want it all to their selves? Can you imagine negotiating with such an absurd group? That’s why I can’t take Palestine supporters seriously. Take a flight to Palestine , I dare you. You will soon find out that it’s Israel.
Let’s embrace what it is. A little country surrounded by enemies and STILL surviving. Thriving! Sadly to the rest of the world , we have god on our side. we were raised in an environment where we were hated. We always had. There is only israel. As it is on all the documents. As it is on the Bible. As it is until the day the world will go down in flames.
That’s not scientific or historical or authoritative, but I kind of like it so I put the quote here.
Going back to evidence, if it does exist and it’s uncontroversial, why does anyone doubt?
Both The Times of Israel and Arutz Sheva chronicle Arab efforts to deliberately destroy artifacts supporting the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, the very center of religious life for Jews in the City of David.
The existence of a living Jewish people in a functioning Jewish state threatens the very raison d’être of Islam, which came into being to render Judaism obsolete. For that reason, Arabs and Muslims will never accept Israel as the Jewish State.
So there are nationally, ethnically, and religiously based reasons for many people to object to admitting that the land of Israel is Jewish and not Arabic, that religiously it has been the only nation established by the God of the Hebrews rather than being Islamic.
“Progressive” Europeans, Canadians, and United States citizens, among others, are such a gullible breed. Historically, the world has used the Jewish people as the cause of pretty much everything bad and they are still at it. I guess that’s why it’s so easy for them to believe that Israel is an “apartheid state” and “occupiers” when the evidence is plain that they’re not. Also, according to an image I posted this morning, the British really did establish a Palestinian state. It’s called “Jordan.”
I’ve given you enough to digest for the time being. I welcome comments, but I keep a tight rein on what I do and don’t allow. I’m okay with disagreement, but personalizing conflict here is not permitted. I don’t know what Part 2 will be like exactly. I do know that when Black Lives Matter claims the “Palestinian people” are victims of racism just like African Americans and other people of color, if they’re basing that claim on historical evidence, they are not just wrong, they’re bigoted.
This is a topic that’s been burning a hole in me for a long time. Now, because the whole Black Lives Matter antisemitism is taking off (no one dares question their bigotry for fear of being called “racist” … go figure), hate of Jewish people and Israel has resurfaced with a vengeance. I’ve wanted to do a detailed study of exactly why the allegations against the Jewish people and Israel are false, but a number of different factors have gotten in the way. I saw the image above on twitter. It’s a beginning.
"When you awake in the morning, learn something to inspire you and mediate upon it, then plunge forward full of light with which to illuminate the darkness." -Rabbi Tzvi Freeman