I’ve done some real soul-searching recently. By that, I mean trying to balance my understanding of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. My understanding of the Israeli narrative is deep and personal, so recently I endeavoured to understand the Palestinian narrative on the matter. In order to do this, I went to the Hamas-run “Palestinian Info Center” in the hope that I’d get some background on their perspective so I might understand their claim better.
I went straight to the page “the History of Palestine”. The introduction was not meant for ‘any’ target audience- only Muslims. It was not only historically dubious, but most disturbingly it was rich in anti-Semitic allegations.
1. Theological Inferiority of the Jews
When they encounter the contemporary Jewish allegation of their right to Palestine, many historians engage themselves with archaeology and with the people who had settled, ruled or passed through Palestine and how long the rule of each one lasted. They eventually come up with the conclusion that the Jewish dominion over Palestine throughout history was so short in time and limited in place compared with the Arab and Muslim dominion.
The Holy Qur’an has sufficiently provided us with the ways to identify the Jewish manners and has warned us regarding their debauchery and immorality. But their prophets and their virtuous followers are something else. Prophets are the best examples of all human beings. They should not be abused and most certainly God Almighty should not be abused. We should not follow the deviated stories of the Children of Israel, which abuse both prophets and God.
The deviated Torah and the Talmud, for instance, say that God (the Most High, Exalted and Great) plays with whales and fish for three hours every day.
The Jews have deviated from the Torah or the Old Testament, and they follow the path of the deviated Torah as seen in their manners, debauchery and immorality, under the pretence of what they had attributed falsely and untruly to their prophets. Historians, especially the Muslim ones, should not embark rashly in their search into Palestine’s history accusing God’s prophets and messengers, as the Jews did in their fabrications, in order to prove other prophets’ rights in Palestine..
Part one, using religion as a historical claim. The opening is a theologically infused anti-semitic rant. Half of the introduction relies on demonising the Torah and Talmud, the Jewish scriptures, without any sources to back up claims such as G-d setting play-dates with fish and whales at Seaworld. The other half is about how Jews are ‘debauched and immoral’, as well as ‘deviated’. The claims made about the Talmud are unsubsantiated and have no sources whatsoever. For that matter, it doesn’t quote the Quran either.
2. Palestinians are from the Arab Peninsula, one way or another?
Reliable historians believe that the Ammonites, the Canaanites, the Yabousians and the Phoenicians had come from the Arab peninsula and that the majority of the current population of Palestine, especially the villagers, are the offspring of those old tribes and peoples or the Arab and Muslims who settled there after the Muslim Conquest.
Wait, what? There is no source whatsoever proving that the Canaanites or any of these people come from the AP, unless Mesopotamia (Iraq) is part of the Arab Penninsula which I would call an enormous geography failure. And the Muslim conquest was in 628CE, so there was more than an extensive gap between the Canaanites and the Arabs coming. Unless the person who wrote this pseudo-history was actually trying to say that the Palestinians are all from the Arab peninsula in some way, shape or form. Which is a very dubious claim for a ‘Hamas Historian’ to make, and sounds more like a member of the Israeli far-right talking.
3. ‘Palestine’ magically appeared one day
In the archeological inscriptions, the name of “PLST” was mentioned and, accordingly, those peoples were called “Palestians” and then the letter “n” was inserted in their name (maybe because of the plural). So they became the “Palestinians”….Although the Palestinians had been mixed with the people, they gave this land their name, so, it was called Palestine.“
This is a gross leap. The name “PLST” is from the Semitic root P-L-SH (פלש) which means “to divide” or “to invade”. Words with this root worked in Aramaic, Hebrew and Phonecian. The name was given to the Phillistine Kingdoms in Gaza- invaders and the historical enemies of the Israelites. To add to that, actual historians assert that the Philistines were not at all part of the Canaanite population, but possibly Indo-Europeans from Greece or Asia Minor which also undermines the argument. The name Syria Palestina was given in around 135CE by Emperor Hadrian, which I mention later…
4. Suddenly, the Romans left and the Arabs came afterwards.
“…the Early Iron Age witnessed the beginning of the Jews entering Palestine and the emergence of the Kingdom of David and Solomon (peace be upon them) between 1004 BC and 923 BC. This period was divided into two kingdoms: the Israel Kingdom (923 BC-722 BC) and the Judah Kingdom (923 BC-586 BC). Each one ruled over a limited part of the land of Palestine. From 730 BC, Palestine, in general, was under the Assyrian dominion, which came from Iraq, till 645 BC. Thereafter, the Babylonians were the successors in dominion till 539 BC. The Assyrians and the Babylonians exchanged the domination over Palestine with Egypt. Then, the Persians invaded Palestine and ruled it from 539 BC to 332 BC. After that, Palestine entered the Greek Hellenistic Age. It was ruled by the Ptolemaics till 198 BC and was followed by Seleucias till 64 BC, at which time the Romans came and dominated over Palestine. After the division of the Roman Empire, Palestine was still influenced by the Eastern Roman Empire “Roman State”, with Constantinople as its capital. Thereafter, the Muslim Conquest took place and gave it its Arab-Islamic character.
Erm. This misses out a pretty important fact. There was a High Priest (Cohen Gadol) in Israel up until about 70CE. There was a Temple too. All of that has been ignored, as if the Jews did not exist in the Land of Israel for all that time. So if the Kingdom of David emerged at 923 at the latest, Jews had a serious presence and relative autonomy over the region for over 900 years. For the sake of accessibility, I remove religion from the argument and nor will I be arrogant enough to pretend that I know Islam and I have the authority to criticise their theological claims- I am speaking historically. And in that case, that means that for at least 900 years that Jews practiced Judaism in the only independent Jewish homeland in history. That is well after 64BC.
Herod’s Temple was destroyed in 70CE by the Romans. Yet even as late as 132CE there was the Bar Kochba Revolt and for around 3 years (132-135CE) there was Jewish rule in Israel, and a Jewish majority in Israel. Now when the revolt was finally surpressed in 135CE, the entire region was renamed by Emperor Hadrian for the purpose of removing Jewish identity in the region due to their rebellious character. It was renamed from “Judea”, a name that existed for hundreds and hundreds of years, to “Syria Palestina”. It was called ‘Syria Palestina’ because the name was applied to the entire geographical region which today includes Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and also Syria. Jews were banned from entering Jerusalem (as well as all circumcised people) on pain of death.
Despite this, Jews remained in Israel until Emperor Julian in 361 gave Jews the freedom to worship and relieved taxes. All the way up until 614, when the Jews and Persians worked together to reestablish Jewish control for another 3 years over the city of Jerusalem (until the Persians betrayed the Jews). Then in 638 when the Muslim Arabs came, there were between 100,000 to 300,000 Jews in the area. These Muslim Arabs were tolerant and the Caliph Umar even encouraged 70 Jewish families to move into the city of Jerusalem.
But here, with the statement “thereafter (the Roman Empire), the Muslim conquest took place” any history stops there and then conveniently spends the rest of the page wittering about how debauched Jews are and how Jews killed the prophets, et cetera. To skip to the Palestine Information Center conclusion…
1. The Muslims have remained the inhabitants of Palestine up until the present.
2. God had promised to give the Holy Land to the Children of Israel when they were following the straight path of God and the prophets were their guides. However, when they changed their attitude and rejected and disbelieved in God, this right was rescinded.
3. Muslims are more entitled to the heritage of the prophets of the Children of Israel. The call for Islam by Muslims is a continuation of the call by the previous prophets. The truth to which the prophets had devoted themselves to realize is the same truth that the Muslims are devoted to realizing.
4. The dominion of the Children of Israel had never, at any time, included the whole of Palestine as it is known in its current boundaries. The period of their domination with complete independence was so short in comparison with the history of Palestine. Even when they had two kingdoms, they were subordinates most of the time to other powers stronger than they were.
5. The self-rule that the Jews enjoyed after they had captured Babylonia was weak and restricted to the Jerusalem area and its suburbs. After that, they enjoyed a limited independence during the Maccabee epoch.
6. After their being dispersed throughout the world owing to their evil doing, the relation of the Jews with Palestine had discontinued, without interruption, for 1,900 years.
And here is my conclusion.
1. Whoever wrote the ‘Ancient History of Palestine’ skipped a hell of a lot of important history and fails to explain what happens between 64BCE and the Muslim conquest in 632CE. That’s a long time where a lot of things happen, and this time period is distorted to try and extend the time-frame of the land having a ‘Muslim Arab character’.
2. Any serious, legally relevant historical claim does not put all of it’s money on the commentary of religious texts on the claims of another religious text. The Jewish people and nation have more than enough evidence to back their historical claim to the land of Israel, such as archaeology and language. The fact that traditions from ancient Israel survive, manifested through the language and traditions of the Jewish people are yet carried all the way to this day make the Jewish stake to the land stand without even mentioning the biblical claim to Israel.
3. The dominion of Syria Palestina stood over Syria and Jordan which are both now Arab Muslim states. For the most part of history, Judea was a Jewish land.
4. The Jews never ‘captured’ Babylon, Alexander the Great did. And again, the Jews still lived in the area as a majority up until the Bar Kochba revolt and long afterwards.
The ‘History of Palestine’ page on the PIC quotes Gustav le Bon to close.
“The psychological temper of the Jews always remained very close to the most primitive nations. The Jews were stubborn, were dupes and simpletons, were rude like beasts and acted like babies … You could not find a nation like the Jews who lacked the sense of artists.”
Gustav Le Bon inspired Hitler’s writing of Mein Kampf with his works, was a proponent of Eugenics, a proponent of propaganda as a means of mind control, and stood against Dreyfus during the time of the Dreyfus affair, riding the anti-semitic wave that the it bought. A good person to quote from judging from the essence of the paper.
Although the points made by the document were invalid, I did learn one thing. If this is what the ‘Palestine Information Center’ writes in English to convince English-speaking Muslims, imagine what is written in Arabic and what is taught in schools in Gaza. If this is the kind of claim that Arab children are taught, the kind of perception of Jews they are given that is so riddled in Jew-hate and Muslim theological supremacism, no wonder there is so much hate in Gaza against both the Jewish state and the Jewish people.
If nothing else, this is what I learnt. Even if the narrative is crazy, it’s a start to explaining crazy behaviour.