Op-Ed: Confusing The World With the Facts on "Palestine"
Eli E. HertzEli E. Hertz is the president of Myths and Facts, an organization devoted...
The Arabs invented a special national entity in the 1960s called the Palestinians, specifically for political gain. They brand Israelis as invaders and claim the geographic area called Palestine belongs exclusively to the Arabs.
The word Palestine is not even Arabic. It is a word coined by the Romans around 135 CE from the name of a seagoing Aegean people who settled on the coast of Canaan in antiquity – the Philistines. The name was chosen to replace Judea, as a sign that Jewish sovereignty had been eradicated following the Jewish revolts against Rome at that time.
In the course of time, the Latin name Philistia was further bastardized into Palistina or Palestine. During the next 2,000 years, What had been renamed Palestine was never an independent state belonging to any people, nor did a Palestinian people, distinct from other Arabs, appear during 1,300 years of Muslim hegemony in Palestine under Arab and Ottoman rule.
Palestine was and is solely a geographic name. Therefore, it is not surprising that in modern times the name ‘Palestine’ or ‘Palestinian’ was applied as an adjective to all inhabitants of the area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River – Palestine Jews and Palestine Arabs alike. In fact, until the 1960s, most Arabs in Palestine preferred to identify themselves merely as part of the great Arab nation or citizens of “southern Syria.”
The term ‘Palestinian’ as a noun was usurped and co-opted by the Arabs in the 1960s as a tactic initiated by Yasser Arafat to brand Jews as intruders on someone else’s turf. He mendaciously presented Arab residents of Israel and the "Territories" as indigenous inhabitants since time immemorial. This fabrication of peoplehood allowed Palestinian Arabs to gain parity with the Jewish people as a nation deserving of an independent state.
Historically, Before the Arabs Fabricated the Palestinian People as an Exclusively Arab Phenomenon, No Such Group Existed
Countless official British Mandate-vintage documents speak of ‘the Jews’ and ‘the Arabs’ of Palestine – not ‘Jews and Palestinians.’
Ironically, before local Jews began calling themselves Israelis in 1948 (the name ‘Israel’ was chosen for the newly-established Jewish state), the term ‘Palestine’ applied almost exclusively to Jews and the institutions founded by new Jewish immigrants in the first half of the 20th century, before independence.
Some examples include*:
• The Jerusalem Post, founded in 1932, was called the Palestine Post until 1948.
• Bank Leumi L’Israel was called the “Anglo-Palestine Bank, a Jewish Company.”
• The Jewish Agency – an arm of the Zionist movement engaged in Jewish settlement since 1929 – was called the Jewish Agency for Palestine.
• The house organ of American Zionism in the 1930s was called New Palestine.
• Today’s Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, founded in 1936 by German Jewish refugees who fled Nazi Germany, was called the “Palestine Symphony Orchestra, composed of some 70 Palestinian Jews.”
• The United Jewish Appeal (UJA) was established in 1939 as a merger of the United Palestine Appeal and the fundraising arm of the Joint Distribution Committee.
Encouraged by their success at historical revisionism and brainwashing the world with the ‘Big Lie’ of a Palestinian people, Palestinian Arabs have more recently begun to claim they are the descendants of the Philistines and even the Stone Age Canaanites.
Based on that myth, they can claim to have been ‘victimized’ twice by the Jews: In the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites and by the Israelis in modern times – a total fabrication.
Archaeologists explain that the Philistines were a Mediterranean people who settled along the coast of Canaan in 1100 BCE. They have no connection to the Arab nation, a desert people who emerged from the Arabian Peninsula.
Contradictions abound, Palestinian leaders claim to be descended from the Canaanites, the Philistines, the Jebusites and the first Christians. They also co-opt Jesus and ignore his Jewishness, at the same time claiming the Jews never were a people and never built the Holy Temples in Jerusalem.
There Has Never Been a Sovereign Arab State in Palestine
The artificiality of a Palestinian identity is reflected in the attitudes and actions of neighboring Arab nations who never established a Palestinian state. It also is expressed in the utterances and loyalties of so-called Palestinians.
Only twice in Jerusalem’s history has it served as a national capital. The first time was as the capital of the two Jewish Commonwealths during the First and Second Temple periods, as described in the Bible, reinforced by archaeological evidence and numerous ancient documents.
The second time is in modern times as the capital of the State of Israel. It has never served as an Arab capital for the simple reason that there has never been a Palestinian Arab state.
The rhetoric by Arab leaders on behalf of the Palestinian Arabs rings hollow, for the Arabs in neighboring lands, who control 99.9 percent of the Middle East land, have never recognized as a Palestinian entity. They have always considered Palestine and its Arab inhabitants part of the great ‘Arab nation,’ historically and politically as an integral part of Greater Syria.
The Arabs never established a Palestinian Arab state when the UN offered a partition plan in 1947 to establish “an Arab and a Jewish state” (they did not term it a Palestinian state, it should be noted). Nor did the Arabs recognize or establish a Palestinian Arab state during the two decades prior to the Six-Day War when area of Judea and Samaria ("West Bank") was under Jordanian control and Gaza was under Egyptian control; nor did the Palestinian Arabs clamor for autonomy or independence during those years under Jordanian and Egyptian rule.
Well before the 1967 decision to create a new Arab people called ‘Palestinians,’ when the word ‘Palestinian’ was associated with Jewish endeavors, Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, a local Arab leader, testified in 1937 before a British investigative body – the Peel Commission – saying: “There is no such country [as Palestine]! Palestine is a term the Zionists invented! There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries, part of Syria.”
*Ed. Note: P.E.F., originally the Palestine Endowment Fund established in 1922 by Justice Brandeis and other prominent Jews whose site declares it was established to facilitate grants to approved Israeli charities, is based in New York and is now called P.E.F., Israel Endowment Funds.