“Both the Israelis and the Palestinian people have deep and ancient roots in this land,” President Joe Biden declared at his July 14 press conference in Jerusalem.
The first subject of the president’s sentence is obviously true. The second, however, is utterly false.
The Palestinian Arabs do not have “deep” or “ancient” roots in the Holy Land. Their roots are shallow, recent, and for the most part artificial.
There were less than 300,000 Arabs living there in the 1880s, and they did not call themselves “Palestinians.” They defined themselves as “southern Syrians,” or as members of particular clans.
As Jewish pioneers began developing the land in the decades to follow, illegal Arab immigrants flocked to the area from neighboring Arab countries, attracted by the prospect of jobs and higher living standards. The British authorities turned a blind eye to this mass Arab influx.
The British occupied the country colloquially known as “Palestine” during World War I. In 1922, they decided to partition the country. The Arabs were given the 78% on the eastern side of the Jordan River. It was called “Transjordan,” then later “Jordan.” The Arab residents weren’t magically transformed from “Palestinians” to “Transjordanians” to “Jordanians.” The arbitrary slapping of a name on a region did not change their identity.
It was only in the 1960s under the guidance of the Soviet Union that Arab propagandists began actively calling the Arab residents of the area “Palestinians.” Those terms had no historical basis and were invented to advance the anti-Israel agenda. The fact that the United Nations and the Western news media adopted that language did not make it legitimate.
By contrast, archaeologists almost daily dig up new evidence of the Jewish people’s very deep and ancient roots in the Land of Israel. There have been a slew of discoveries in the past few years demonstrating the historical Jewish presence in that region.
A 2,000 year-old ritual bath (mikveh) was uncovered in the Lower Galilee—meaning that the residents of that region were practicing the same religious rituals that Jews throughout the world practice today. Those Galileans were Jews. They weren’t “Palestinians.” The word “Palestine” had not yet been invented.
In the Givati Parking Lot excavation in Jerusalem, archaeologists discovered Hebrew-language inscriptions dating back 2,600 years. One was a stone seal with the words “belonging to Ikkar son of Matanyahu.” The other was a clay seal impression that read, “belonging to Nathan-Melech, servant of the king.” They weren’t in Arabic. And the names weren’t Yasir or Mahmoud.
Excavators from the University of North Carolina discovered two stunning mosaics at the site of a 1,600 year-old synagogue near Huqoq, in northern Israel. One depicts a scene from the exodus of the Jews from ancient Egypt. The other shows images based on verses in the Torah’s Book of Daniel. The mosaics do not show scenes from the Koran. There is nothing Arabic of Islamic or “Palestinian” about them.
New laboratory testing methods developed at Ben-Gurion University deciphered a description on a 3,000 year-old seal: it has the Hebrew words “L’Shema, ever Yerov’am,” that is, “Belonging to Shema, the servant [or minister] of Jeroboam.” That’s the Jewish king, Jeroboam II, who ruled in the Land of Israel nearly 3,000 years ago.
It’s no secret why the Biden administration chooses to promote the falsehood that the Palestinian Arabs have “deep and ancient roots” in the land. It’s central to the argument that a Palestinian Arab state should be established in Judea-Samaria, alongside Israel’s old nine-miles-wide border.
In fact, President Biden said so himself. His “deep and ancient roots” remark was literally in the same sentence as his call for “a two-state solution for two people.”
It sounds fair. It sounds reasonable—until you know a bit about the history and realize that the Arab side has had a sovereign state in eastern “Palestine” for the past century. And until you realize that the Arabs in Judea-Samaria do not have “deep” or “ancient” roots, and that many of them are illegal immigrants or the descendants of illegal immigrants. And, of course, until you realize that creating a second Palestinian state today means reducing Israel to just nine miles wide.
I understand why Palestinian Arabs have had to invent a history in the Land of Israel, since they don’t have an actual history there. I understand why Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas told the United Nations Security Council on February 20: “We are the descendants of the Canaanites that lived in the land 5,000 years ago and continuously remained there to this day”—a laughable lie that has been discredited by every archaeologist, anthropologist, and historian worthy of the name.
How sad, though, that the president of the United States would stoop to making claims that lend a hand to such outrageous historical revisionism.
Stephen M. Flatow, is an attorney and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is the author of “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terrorism.”