Joan Peters
Joan PetersArchive: Women in Green

Joan Peters, whose classic work "From Time Immemorial" shows that most of the Arab populace in the Holy Land is based on relatively recent immigration – and has not been here since "time immemorial" – passed away this week at the age of 76.

A former CBS news producer of documentaries, Peters was best known for her 1984 book "From Time Immemorial" – 600 pages of research into the origins of the Jewish-Arab conflict over the Holy Land.

Peters had been an ardent civil rights advocate for blacks, and began researching the Arab issue in order to "expose the plight of Palestinian Arab refugees." Within a short time, she explained, she realized that the information she had discovered forced her to rethink her positions – and that it was not the Jews who had displaced the Arabs, but quite the opposite.

In a blunt review of the controversial work, author Saul Bellow summed it up succinctly: "Every political issue claiming the attention of a world public has its 'experts' – news managers, [etc.] The great merit of this book is to demonstrate that, on the Palestinian issue, these experts speak from utter ignorance. [Readers around the world], smothered by false history and propaganda, will be grateful for this clear account of the origins of the Palestinians."

To counter the Arab claim that the Jews are "newcomers" to Israel, compared to the Arabs, and have no rights here, Peters wrote, “The peoples who roamed the country in the 19th century… were not indigenous to the land… Of the sparse population who were later counted as 'original' settled 'Arabs' in the 19th century when the arriving Jewish immigrants united with the native Palestinian Jewish population, many were in fact imported Muslim peoples from Turkey and other lands." She adds that "Kurds, Turcomans, Naim, and other colonists arrived in Palestine around the same time as the Jewish immigration wave began…”

Possibly the most important quote that she helped make famous was that of Zuheir Muhsein, the late Military Department head of the PLO and member of its Executive Council. He told the Dutch daily Trouw in March 1977, "The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity... Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people... to oppose Zionism." 

She also showed how UNRWA perpetuates the refugee problem and uses the refugees themselves against Israel.

Funeral services for Joan Peters will be held this morning, Thursday, at Anshe Emet Synagogue in Lakeview, Chicago. She is survived by her husband, Dr. William A. Caro, daughter Lori and two stepsons, Mark and David.