Nissan Ratzlav-Katz

Abu Mazen the Mushriq

Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas told the United Nations Security Council on 20 February that the Palestinians are actually Canaanites.

Let’s humor this Arabian Nights-style dream. The Palestinian lineage would stretch back to before the Children of Israel entered Canaan after the Exodus from Egypt.

That poses a wee problem for Abu Mazen as a Muslim.

The Koran, Surat al-Ma’ida (also known as chapter 5) describes Allah’s order to possess the Land of Israel and dispossess its Canaanite residents:

“And when Moses said to his people, ‘O my people, remember the favor of Allah upon you when He appointed among you prophets and made you possessors and gave you that which He had not given anyone among the worlds. (verse 20)

“‘O my people, enter the Holy Land which God has prescribed for you, and turn not back in your traces, to turn about losers.’” (21)

“They said, ‘O Moses, indeed within it is a people of tyrannical strength, and indeed, we will never enter it until they leave it; but if they leave it, then we will enter.’” (22)

“Said two men from those who feared [to disobey] upon whom Allah had bestowed favor, ‘Enter upon them through the gate, for when you have entered it, you will be predominant. And upon Allah rely, if you should be believers.’” (23)

“They said, ‘O Moses, indeed we will not enter it, ever, as long as they are within it; so go, you and your Lord, and fight. Indeed, we are remaining right here.’” (24)

Pretty parallel to the Biblical account. But let’s see what Islamic scholars say.

One of the most important commentaries on the Koran is by Abu Jaafar Muhammad Al-Ṭabari (839–923 CE). Al-Tabari says Allah gifted the Land of Israel to the Jews “as settlements and dwellings, in place of the oppressors who are in it.” That would be, of course, the Canaanites.

Ismail Ibn Kathir, considered by many an authoritative Koran exegete (1301-1373), points out that Allah condemns the Children of Israel for their “refusal of jihad and disobedience of their Messenger, and dereliction of duty in fighting the enemies.” That would be, of course, the Canaanites.

If Abu Mazen is correct, then, he is a remnant of a people Allah utterly rejected as inheritors of the land in favor of the Jews. His claim to the land is therefore opposed to Allah’s law. He is, in Muslim terms, a mushriq.

Of course, we Jews need not depend on the Koran at all for this clear understanding. In fact, the same chapter of the Koran tells us Jews don’t need the Koran:

“But how is it that they come to you [Muhammad] for judgement while they have the Torah, in which is the judgement of Allah? Then they turn away, after that; but those are not believers.” (43)

(Note: Muslims apologists say the Torah was corrupted and that is why the Koran is still needed. But the Koran itself has Allah asking why the Jews bother coming to Muhammad when they have the Torah. Which would imply that it is not corrupted, after all. Did Allah lose the plot here or what? But I digress….)

“Indeed, We sent down the Torah, in which was guidance and light. The prophets who submitted [to Allah] judged by it for the Jews, as did the rabbis and scholars by that with which they were entrusted of the Scripture of Allah, and they were witnesses thereto. So do not fear the people but fear Me, and do not exchange My verses for a small price. And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed – then it is those who are the disbelievers.” (44)

So Abu Mazen is a mushriq. But also a fool.

During his UN address he claimed Palestinians had established an advanced civilization, with “institutions, schools, hospitals, cultural organizations, theaters, libraries, newspapers, publishing houses, economic organizations, businesses, and banks with wide regional and international influence. …Before and after the Balfour Declaration issued by the British government in 1917.”

Well, he is sort of right. Except anything “Palestinian” at the time he is referring to was understood to mean “Jewish”. That includes the Palestine Symphony Orchestra, the Palestine Post, the Palestine Currency Board, the Palestine Brigade during World War II, songs about Palestine, etc.

So, is Abu Mazen claiming to be a Jew or a Canaanite? I am confused. Or he is.

About the Author
Nissan Ratzlav-Katz is an experienced marketing communications professional, as well as a published columnist and former senior opinion page editor. He can be reached at
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