“Palestinian” Land, State, Nation and Country – the myth of “return”

Two days ago, I was banned for 7 days on Twitter in response to a venomous Arab Muslim tweet saying Israel had no place in the Middle East.

In response, I tweeted that there had never ever been either an Arab OR Muslim state nation or country called “palestine”. I added that there is no “state” of “palestine” now and, with Iran’s attempts at Levantine hegemony, there would, for Israel’s continuing security, most likely now never be an independent “palestinian state”, but, rather some sort of Arab Palestinian (sic) autonomous mandate. The reason given me for my suspension was that I had “hatefully targeted a specific group of people”.

Slightly non-plussed, I went back to my research to see how wrong I might have been in the eyes of the Twitter censors.

At the risk of boring those who know, the Romans renamed the entire region Syria-Palestina (named for the Philistines and Assyrians) after they destroyed the Second Temple so as to erase its Jewish roots. This was later shortened to Palestina and it eventually became known as Palestine. There was never any connection to the yet -to-happen Arab colonisation of the Levant.

Today, after the Jordanian land-grab and colonisation of 1948, “Palestinians” call Judea and Samaria (in Hebrew, Yehuda and Shomron) the West Bank. However, Jews derive the very name of their religion and peoplehood from the name Yehuda, the fourth son of Jacob whose tribe settled in that region. Yet, these ancient names were not exclusively used by Jews. In fact, the U.N. itself, in General Assembly Resolution 181 (1947), referred to the region as Judea and Samaria, as do all maps published before 1948.

Additionally, west of the Jordan River, 277 villages and sites- almost two-thirds of all sites-  had names that were similar to or the same as Jewish villages on the same sites during Second Temple times.

Hebron (Arabic: al-Khalil; Hebrew: Chevron, which means friend), located in the Judean Mountains, is the second largest city under Palestinian Arab control after Gaza and it is one of the four Jewish holy cities (the others: Jerusalem, Sefat, Tiberius). Most significantly it contains Judaism’s second most holy site, the Cave of Machpelah, purchased by Abraham. It is here that Judaism’s Patriarchs and three of its Matriarchs are buried. (cf. Jewish Virtuallibrary.org). Another large Palestinian Arab city, Nablus, whose  Hebrew name is Shechem, is actually derived from the Greek, Neopolis. 

Further, many of the Arab villages and towns in Judea/Samaria have names that are not only not Arabic, but also rarely appear in other Arab lands. Among such names are Kafr Yasif, Kafr Kana, Kafr yatta, Kafr Manda, Kaft Samia and others.

As an interesting aside,most Arab countries bordering Israel derive their names from the Hebrew Bible.  Lebanon: Levanon, means white in Hebrew, referring to the snow cover of the surrounding mountains. Syria: Siryon, in the Bible, is the alternate name for Mount Hermon. Jordan/River Jordan (Yarden in Hebrew) takes its name from the Israelite tribe of Dan, and means “descends from Dan.”  Gaza, Azza in Hebrew, is mentioned in Genesis and the Book of Judges with the Samson narrative.

As one can see thus far, there is no connection between what is today Judea, Samaria and Gaza to anything remotely connected to an “ancient indigenous” “palestinian” Arab OR Muslim history or culture.

As a clarification, my own research is not ‘post-modern’ in that I  do not believe that all accounts of the Israeli- “Palestinian” conflict should be seen as equally valid. There is a difference between those who make statements without apparent recourse to evidence and others who spend much time reading and checking their conclusions.

In searching for evidence of the Arab OR Muslim state, nation or country of “palestine” at ANY time prior to 1948, I come to Sachar’s 1977 study where he places the emergence of contemporary Zionist thought to the European Rabbis, Judah Alkalai and Zvi Hirsh Kalischer, who from the 1830s onwards stressed the need for Jews to return to the Holy Land as a necessary prelude to the Redemption and the coming of the Messiah. Sachar argues that such messianic exhortations did not immediately or widely take root among European Jews. However, he suggests that by the 1870s societies generally known as Chovevei Zion (‘Lovers of Zion’) had formed across Russia, which viewed Palestine as a site for national renewal
and a refuge from anti-Semitism. So much for the messianic aspect of the Aliyah.

But what of the Arab connection to Syria-Palestina? What of the Arab “palestinians” who had allegedly been the titled landholders of what is today Israel before the State’s declaration of independence? Berry and Philo (2006) state that the official Ottoman census of 1878 had put the total at 15,011 living among a combined
Muslim/Christian population of 447,454. Nowhere in the all-encompassing Ottoman Tanzimat of 1858 is the term “palestinian” mentioned. With the consent of Constantinople (for large sums of money…), Jewish settlements were built on land that was purchased from absentee effendi landlords. Often the locals who had tended the land were evicted with the help of Turkish police. Thus, the non-titled migrant Muslim and Christian Arabs of the Levant were themselves keen to throw off Ottoman rule in order to keep making a living.

To do this they then made a series of deals with the British to overthrow Constantinople and were rewarded with the creation of Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq; Muslim “nation” states all. The British also partially fulfilled their promise per San Remo and Balfour to create a Jewish homeland but then cut and ran when the promises they had made to everybody for the benefit of their own “spheres of influence” became impossible to reconcile. As well, the British Mandatory powers added to this confusion with their Article 46 of the 1922 order-in-council which in effect championed the benefits of bringing landed assets into a market economy while at the same time asserting rights of the state to as much agricultural land as it thought it could claim—redefining Ottoman legal categories when possible, deferring to local arrangements when necessary. This was further compounded by British definitions and locations of mulk and miri lands and only added to the general discomfiture.

By that same token, per the authenticity and/or validity of “palestinian” “land” claims, most of the mulk land was confined to urban sites, mostly buildings and gardens. It constituted a negligible fraction of the agricul­tural land in mandated Palestine. The owner of miri land did not hold the land by title deed but rather
by usufruct, which gave him the legal right to the land and to the profits
from it. He could not mortgage or sell it without the consent of the
state, which was obtained from the British Land Office. The Ottomans themselves kept a very tight reign on the administration of miri land providing as it did, valuable tax revenue for the central government in Constantinople. 

By 1918, after the defeat and breakup of the occupying Ottoman Turks, the economic outlook for the Levant’s rural Arab population, estimated at 440,000, was very uncertain. The cultivated land was not very fertile or sufficiently irrigated.  A severe
shortage of livestock had resulted from a prewar epidemic and Turkish
requisitioning of camels and sheep from 1914 to 1917. Conscription had depleted the agricultural labor supply. The massive destruction of olive trees by the retreating Turkish forces compounded the agricultural population’s woes. And unclear validity or absence of land titles hindered the granting of loans, particularly in the administrative turmoil created by World War I.

The severely damaged agricultural sector and diminished yields had resulted in a decrease in rental incomes and therefore less capital accumulation. No longer able to use the Ottoman modalities of operations, numerous Arabs in Mandate Palestine chose to sell land to individual Jews and immigrant Zionists as a convenient alternative for ready cash.

But, all said and done, even as late as end 1947, still nobody had yet heard of an Arab “palestinian” people whose state land had been “occupied” in order to create a Jewish state. In fact, nobody had ever heard of the “palestinian” people, their “land, nation, state or country” till 1964.

Nation building often involves the invention of foundation myths although these normally require a certain relationship to historic facts (Bukay, 2012). This is demonstrably not so in the case of the “ancient and indigenous” “palestinian” people. The Arabs of Judea and Samaria and Gaza calling themselves “palestinians” used  a different tack: stealing the enemy’s heritage, history, and values, and denying its legitimacy as a people and a state. Their objectives remain to disqualify Israel’s historical standing and to inherit its belongings by delegitimising and even dehumanizing its national identity and personality.

These self-same “palestinians” suffer no intellectual dissonance even when gainsayed by the Quran. The Qur’an declares that the Jews are the chosen people, exalted among the nations of the world. It clearly declares the Jews (Bnei Israel) as the only owners of the Land of Israel, which is al-Ard al-Muqaddasah; al-Ard al-Mubarakah; Ard Bani Israil (the sacred land; the blessed land; the land of the People of Israel), and they are not allowed to leave it, for otherwise they will be punished: “It is the promise of God, and God does not go back on his promise.” The Qur’an goes on to acknowledge that the Jewish first and second kingdoms existed but states that they were punished by God.  Nor do the ideological Muslim “palestinians” have any trouble reconciling the Quran’s description of the destroyed Temple of the Israelites;  the existence of which, though acknowledged by officials of the Islamic religious endowment authority (waqf ) in their publicity materials from the 1920s and 1950s, with the fact that Jerusalem and Judea are Arab Muslim heart land going back (in some revisions) 7,000 years…..

In brief, the area of Roman-named Palestine never became an independent state. In the 7th century, Muslim armies conquered it, precipitating battles with Christian crusaders for the “Holy Land”. In modern times, the province of Palestine
passed from the Ottoman Turks to the British who gifted 80% of British Mandate Palestine to the Muslim Hashemite clan from Saudi Arabia for helping defeat the Muslim Ottomans.

The “palestinians” have pulled a swiftie in calling ancient Judea “Palestine” and hide behind the reference to the “Roman designation” for the province as a cynical ploy to fudge the history of the Aegean Philistines 3200 years ago.

The “palestinians” have declared a state twice (in 1948 and 1988; in itself a giveaway for the conflicted and chaotic antisemitic goals of their leaders…), but on neither occasion to much institutional effect.

“Palestinian” Arabs, as opposed to Arabic-speaking residents, have not been in the area west of the Jordan River neither from the Islamic occupation, nor the Ottoman Empire, or even from British rule since 1917.

No Palestinian state has ever existed, and so, no “palestinian people” has ever been “robbed” of their land. Importantly, there is no Palestinian culture distinct from that of surrounding Arab ones; and there has never been a land known as Palestine governed by “palestinians” at any time in history.

For these reasons, the migrant Arabs who now call themselves “palestinians” have been driven to fabricate a past by denying and expropriating that of Jews and Israel.

And so, I re-iterate my tweet of two days ago: No Arab OR Muslim state, nation or country called “palestine” has ever existed. It STILL doesn’t. And with the advent of hegemonic Iranian initiatives in the Middle East, is now no longer likely to ever be created save for an autonomous and territorially contiguous Palestinian entity allied perhaps to Jordan. Those who perpetuate the lie of stolen “palestinian” land will die bitter.

There!

Fortunately, I cannot be suspended from my own blog.

Yet.

 

 

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