Daniel Swindell

The Arab World is Guilty of Indigenous Reversal

And if all others accepted the lie which the party imposed – if all records told the same tale – then the lie passed into history and became truth. “Who controls the past,” ran the party slogan, “controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” George Orwell, “1984”

Many Pro-Palestinian and Arab activists claim that the Palestinian situation is the same as the situation of Native Americans. According to this narrative, the Palestinians are indigenous to the land of Israel; and they had a nation which existed prior to the creation of modern Israel in 1948 until the Jewish people arrived like the Pilgrims and stole their nation. That is, the Palestinians are the indigenous natives, and the Jewish people are the European colonists. These Palestinian activists portray their struggle as interchangeable with the Native American struggle against colonialism in order to justify their aggression against the state of Israel.

However, these claims are based entirely on a revision of history. The reality is that Jewish people are indigenous to the land of Israel; in contrast, Palestinian national identity emerged after the creation of modern Israel. Palestinian nationalism was forged by Arab opposition to the existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East. In actuality, this is a form of propaganda, in which the indigenous Jewish people are replaced with the descendants of Arab colonists. This should be considered indigenous reversal.

This essay is longer than the average blog in order to offer more information. My purpose is to: 1) show examples of the false claim that Palestinian Arabs predate the Jewish people, 2) demonstrate that Palestinian nationalism emerged in the 1960s, 3) refute their message. My hope is that by learning about the authors behind the original arguments, people will be better equipped to refute their propaganda.

What do these activists claim?

The American news website, “ThinkProgress” produced an article summarizing the major claim of these activists titled, “The Struggle for Indigenous Rights Extends to Palestine.” The article stated, “The 1917 Balfour Declaration announced an intent to establish a Jewish state in Palestine, but indigenous Palestinians largely opposed this establishment.” Further, “But the struggle of indigenous activists isn’t limited to the Americas. Much as the Native Americans view Columbus Day, the Palestinian people view the creation of the state of Israel.” Professor Rashid Khalidi said that the Balfour Declaration was, “a declaration of war by the British Empire on the indigenous population of the land it was promising to the Jewish people.”

The most famous Arab-Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish wrote a poem called, “The Penultimate Speech of the Red Indian,” in which he wrote, ““Let’s give the earth enough time to tell – the whole truth about you and us.” The Standing Rock Indian Reservation is located in North Dakota and South Dakota. In 2016, there was an attempt to build a pipeline through the area, which sparked protests by the Native American inhabitants. During the Standing Rock protests, some activist created the slogan: From Palestine to Standing Rock. A group of artists in Gaza produced a video called, “We stand with Standing Rock.” Israa Suliman, a writer in Gaza, published a letter to accompany the video, “My ancestors… were the indigenous people, just like you. And they suffered the same fate as your people.”

James Zogby, founder of the Arab American Institute, described a speech he gave at the protests: “I spoke of this shared history of dispossession and dispersal, noting that just as it is imperative that we, as Americans, recognize that our nation was born in original sin—the crime of ethnic cleansing committed against the indigenous people we found on this land—we must acknowledge that this was true of Israel, as well.”

Former Professor Steven Salaita, a leader in the movement comparing Palestinians to Native Americans, wrote a book called, “Inter/Nationalism: Decolonizing Native America and Palestine.” The description for the book reads: “Inter/Nationalism seeks to lay conceptual ground between American Indian and Indigenous studies and Palestinian studies through concepts of settler colonialism, indigeneity, and state violence. By establishing Palestine as an indigenous nation under colonial occupation, this book draws crucial connections between the scholarship and activism of Indigenous America and Palestine.”

Generally, Palestinian leaders claim that they are modern descendants of the Canaanites. Based on this, activists claim that Palestinians have the true indigenous rights to the land instead of the Jewish people. For example, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas assertion: “We said to him [Netanyahu], when he claimed the Jews have a historical right dating back to 3000 years B.C.E., we say that the nation of Palestine upon the land of Canaan had a 7,000-year history. This is the truth that must be said: Netanyahu, you are incidental in history. We are the people of history. We are the owners of history.”

At the same time, Jewish people and the State of Israel are described as a foreign settler colonist movement, that came and stole the indigenous lands. Which is why Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation said, “It’s hard not to think about the experience of Native Americans and Palestinians as a similar and shared experience given the histories.”

Palestinian Lutheran Pastor Mitri Raheb attempts to prove that Palestine is an ancient nation in his book, “Faith in the Face of Empire.” Raheb says, “As a Palestinian, the history of my country can be traced from primeval times until the present.” Raheb argues that most westerners divide the history of the land of Israel (or what he calls Palestine) into two sections: the period of the Old Testament followed by the period of the New Testament. Raheb proposes that this is a completely false division of history, because it ignores the continuous presence of the nation of Palestine. And, this continuous nation has been occupied by different empires for twenty five hundred years.

He writes, “The emergence of five regional powers around the first millennia BC and the development of those powers later into formidable empires have shaped the fate of Palestine throughout the last twenty hundred years as an occupied territory and a battlefield for competing empires. The occupation of Palestine by Israel today is thus another link in a long chain of uninterrupted occupation. Such occupation is the defining feature of of our history, beginning with the Assyrians (722 BC), the Babylonians (587 BC), and the Persians (538 BC), followed by the Greeks (333 BC), the Romans (63 BC), the Byzantines (326), the Arabs (637), the Tartars (1244), the Mamluks (1291), the Mongols (1401), the Ottomans (1516), the British (1917) and the Israelis (1948/67).” Thus, Rehab concludes that Palestine has been a nation for over twenty five hundred years, and during that time it has been occupied by successive empires, and that modern Israel is just another foreign occupier.

Raheb also proposes that the Palestinians have survived as distinct ethnic identity during this time period. He interprets a Bible verse as one of his ‘proofs.’ He writes, “starting with the Assyrian Exile, only a small minority was deported, and only a small percentage decided to leave. The vast majority of the people remained in the land of their forefathers (2 Kgs 25:11.) They remained the Am Haaretz, the native “People of the Land,” in spite of the diverse empires controlling that land. That is why in this book I choose the people of the land as the description for the native inhabitants throughout history, for it is they who are the enduring continuum.”

To the contrary, this verse specifically refers to the Israelites who remained in their land after the Assyrian captivity; therefore, it cannot refer to the Palestinians. Without actual proofs, the Palestinian claim remains the same – that there has been a distinct Palestinian ethnic identity which has existed since at least the time of the Assyrians.

So really, these Palestinian activists are making two distinct claims: First, they claim that there was a nation of Palestine before the creation of modern Israel in 1948. Second, they claim that there was Palestinian ethnic identity which was entirely different from the Arab ethnic identity before the creation of Israel. These are two separate claims, because a group can have an ethnic identity and not necessarily be a nation, or vice-versa. For example, the Kurdish people constitute a completely distinct ethnic identity from the rest of the Arab world, but do not have a nation. On the other hand, Jordanians are ethnically Arabs, and they are now a nation.

The history of both claims needs to be examined on their own merits. But, are these Palestinian ethnic and national claims true? In reality, it is fairly easy to evaluate the validity of these claims. Simply establish a criteria of “indigenous,” and then compare the history of the formation of Jewish identity to that of the formation of Palestinian identity.

Jewish people are indigenous to the land of Israel.

The word “indigenous” can be a bit tricky. First, the word is applied informally to the people who lived on continents before the arrival of the Europeans. In this case, the word, “indigenous” is used in informally to mean “non-European.” The word is particularly applied to any group of people who lived in places such as America, Australia, or Africa before the arrival of the Europeans. Second, on an individual level it can simply mean that a person was born in a land. Third, on a group level anthropologists attempt to create a set of conditions for when the term should apply to the formation of a people. José Martínez Cobo, who served as the UN’s special rapporteur on discrimination against indigenous populations, proposed the most widely accepted criteria to describe indigenous peoples.

According to Martinez Cobo’s definition, “Indigenous communities, peoples and nations are those which, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing in those territories.”

And, “a historical continuity may consist of the continuation, for an extended period reaching into the present, of one or more of the following factors:

(1) Occupation of ancestral lands, or at least of part of them;

(2) Common ancestry with the original occupants of these lands;

(3) Culture in general, or in specific manifestations;

(4) Language;

(5) Residence in certain parts of the country.”

In addition, an indigenous group might have created religious myths in the land, or a religious identity that places importance on spiritual ties to their ancestral lands. Some people mistakenly argue that Jews are not indigenous to Israel, because the Patriarch Abraham was born in Ur of the Chaldees, which is located in Iraq, and then migrated to Israel. However, this is a misunderstanding of the concept of indigeneity when applied to a group of people. Abraham migrated to the land of Israel as an individual, but from his offspring emerged the nation of Israel, as well as the Hebrew language and the religion of Judaism. The Jewish people are indigenous to the land of Israel, because their nation, language, and religion all originate in the land.

The name of the nation, Yisrael, is another name for Jacob, the grandson of Abraham.

The first Kingdoms of Israel and Judah emerged roughly in 1050–931 BCE, during the iron age. Jewish land was conquered by the Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans, and the majority of the Jewish people were exiled but a minority always remained. There is a false notion that the Jewish people left the land and then returned, but the Jewish people have never been fully removed from the land. Jewish people have maintained a continuous presence in the land for over 3,500 years. Perhaps the oldest graveyard still in use is located in Jerusalem on The Mount of Olives; it has been used as a Jewish cemetery for over 3,000 years. In fact, the Jewish people, who have always been in the land, are now part of a new chapter in their history – in re-established Israel. Thus, the Jewish people perfectly match Martínez Cobo’s definition: “Indigenous communities, peoples and nations are those which, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing in those territories.”

Another aspect of indigeneity is religious identity. Indigenous people have religious stories attached to physical locations in their ancestral lands and their own neighborhoods. The same is true for the Jewish Bible. The universal aspects of the Bible might cause people to forget that the stories took place in actual physical locations. The Patriarch Jacob had a dream where he saw a ladder reaching to Heaven from a rock at Bethel, a real rock where people still visit to this day. It is possible that Jewish people preserved their religious identity in the form of a demonstrable written history more than any nation in human history.

What is the etymology of the term, “Palestine?”

Now, contrast the Jewish historical connection to the land with the claim of the Palestinians. First, how and when did term Palestine emerge? The Aegean people who migrated to the area of Canaan were called in Hebrew, the Plištim, which translates into English as the Philistines, and Philistia refers to the land of the Five Lords of the Philistines. The etymology of the term is described in the Jewish Virtual library: “the name is believed to be derived from the Egyptian and Hebrew word peleshet. Roughly translated to mean rolling or migratory, the term was used to describe the inhabitants of the land to the northeast of Egypt – the Philistines. The Philistines were an Aegean people – more closely related to the Greeks and with no connection ethnically, linguistically or historically with Arabia – who conquered in the 12th Century BCE the Mediterranean coastal plain that is now Israel and Gaza.” The Philistines were bitter enemies of the Jewish people in the Bible. Eventually, the Philistines blended into other people groups and lost their identity.

In 132 CE, the Jewish people revolted against the Roman occupation and partially regained control of Judea. In 135 CE, the Roman Emperor Hadrian crushed the revolt and then called the territory Syria Palaestina. In choosing the name Palaestina, the ancient name of Philistia, Hadrian meant to erase the Jewish connection to the land. Jerusalem was renamed Aelia Capitolina to honor Hadrian and a pantheon of Roman gods.

In the 7th century the Arabs conquered the Levant and southern Palaestina. The Arabic language does not have the letter “P,” or a letter equivalent to “P.” So, the Arabs changed Palaestina to Falastin or Filastin. Centuries later, according to the Jewish Virtual Library, “Under the Ottoman Empire (1517-1917), the term Palestine …was not an official designation. In fact, many Ottomans and Arabs who lived in Palestine during this time period referred to the area as Southern Syria and not as Palestine.” The territory under the Ottoman Empire was enormous, with its capital in Istanbul. The empire’s administrative divisions were called Vilayets.

The Vilayet of Syria was governed from Damascus, but Jerusalem was made into an independent administration in 1872. The Sanjak of Jerusalem reported directly to Istanbul, rather than to Damascus. The district encompassed Jerusalem, Hebron, Jaffa, Gaza, and Beersheba. During the late Ottoman period, the Sanjak of Jerusalem, with the Sanjak of Akka (Acre) and the Sanjak of Nablus formed what was referred to as “Southern Syria” or, interchangeably, “Palestine.”

It should be noted that under the Ottoman Empire the people in that district were not called “Palestinians,” but generally referred to as Fellahin, which derives from the Arabic word for “ploughman.” Fellahin refers to tenant farmers and villagers, which differentiated them from the effendi – the land-owning class. Many people mistakenly believe that Palestine was an ancient nation, but Palestine was actually a geographic region created by the Romans, similar to titles for geographic regions such as Antarctica, Siberia, Sahara, or the Midwest. There were never nations called Antarctica, Siberia, Sahara, or the Midwest.

How did the idea of a nation called Palestine and a Palestinian ethnic identity emerge?

So, how and when did Palestinian identity emerge? The simple answer is with the creation of the Palestinian National Charter in 1964. It is likely that present day Arab-Palestinians have some ancestry that traces back to the Canaanites, but the truth is that they have mixed blood from many conquering nations who have arrived in the land. The real question is, can Palestinians identify as ethnic Canaanites? Can Palestinians trace their ethnic identity back to the ancient Canaanites or Philistines mentioned in the Bible? The answer is that present day Palestinians do not trace back to the Canaanites or Philistines. The Palestinians do not share the language, culture, or religion of the Canaanites. As a distinct ethnic group, the Canaanites disappeared from history around 1100 BCE; Philistine presence in history ended around 600 BCE. When the Assyrians, Babylonians, Romans, and Greeks arrived, they also left descendants, but none of the these peoples preserved a distinct identity in the land.

However, the advent of Islam changed everything. When early Arab-Islamic invaders came from the Arabian Peninsula as foreign colonizers to the Levant in the 7th century, they conquered the entire region and spread their own language, customs, and religion. The conquerors and their descendants intermarried with and eventually subsumed a number of indigenous populations, who were themselves biological descendants of previous conquering nations. Over time, the people living in the area took on the culture of the Arabs: they became Arabized. The Palestinians actually trace their ethnic identity back to an Arab-Islamic identity, not an ancient Philistine ethnic identity.

The idea of a nation called “Palestine” did not emerge until after the fall of the Ottoman Empire (1917). The Ottoman Empire encompassed the territory of modern countries such as Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and Iraq, as well as Mecca in Saudi Arabia. The Ottomans lost their empire in the aftermath of WWI. The French and British, with the help of the newly formed League of Nations, started drawing new borders and creating the modern Arab nations. To deal with the enormous territory, the League of Nations developed a system of mandates, which functioned like leases. The League of nations designated Britain and France to legally administer the mandates until the newly created nations in the territory of the former Ottoman Empire were able to function as states. The mandate system was supposed to differ from colonialism, with the governing country acting as a temporary trustees. This idea was summarized by President Woodrow Wilson when he said, “National aspirations must be respected; people may now be dominated and governed only by their own consent.”

In 1920, at the San Remo Conference, the League of Nations designated the area under the British Mandate of Palestine for settlement by the Jewish people. The territory was supposed to become a Jewish State when the Jewish people were able to achieve self-determination. The Europeans revived the Roman-Latin name for the territory. The Jewish Virtual Library recounts that; “After World War I, the name Palestine was applied to the territory that was placed under British Mandate; this area included not only present-day Israel but also present-day Jordan.” The Zionists’ aspirations were soon endorsed by the broader international community, and the Balfour Declaration was incorporated into the mandate for Palestine given to Britain by the League of Nations.

President Wilson stated, “In Palestine shall be laid the foundation of a Jewish Commonwealth.” French diplomat Jules Cambon aid that it would be, “a deed of justice and of reparation to assist, by the protection of the Allied Powers, in the renaissance of the Jewish nationality in that Land from which the people of Israel were exiled so many centuries ago.” In the 1920s, the entire international community understood that the Jewish people were indigenous to the land of Israel. But, after WWI, a campaign of propaganda was launched by the Arabs to deny the Jewish historical connection to the land.

The British Mandate for Palestine was the territory granted to the Jewish people for settlement, at first the mandate included the entire territory of Transjordan. However, in 1921, the territory of Transjordan was cut off to create the The Emirate of Transjordan, now the Kingdom of Jordan. The remaining area of the British Mandate for Palestine was a greatly reduced territory, what is today Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. From 1923-1948, all people born in the territory had “Palestine” stamped on their passports. Palestinian was a term that referred to Jews as well as Arabs at the time.

In 1919, the Arabs living in the area which had been under the control of The Ottoman Empire formed the Palestine Arab Congress as the central political organ of the Arabs living in the area of the British Mandate for Palestine. The first congress met with the express goal of preventing a Jewish State. The Arabs did something very interesting to further their cause. They did not claim that Palestine had always existed as an ancient nation, and that Palestinians were a distinct ethnic identity, and therefore it was unjust to destroy Palestine. Instead they claimed the exact opposite: they claimed that Palestine had never existed, and that they were ethnically Arabs. They alleged that Palestine had always been part of Syria, and therefore the French and the British could not take it away from Syria. The Congress sent a cable to the Paris Peace Conference, demanding the inclusion of Palestine as “an integral part of… the independent Arab Government of Syria within an Arab Union.”

In 1920, the French took control over Syria, the same year the second congress met, and the demand for unity with Syria was dropped, since the area was now under French control. At the same time, the Arabs who had been living in the area under the British Mandate changed their minds and argued that Palestine should not be part of Syria. Instead, they argued that it should be made part of the extensive independent Arab state promised to Sherif Hussein of Mecca in the McMahon-Hussein Correspondence. In 1936, a new group, the Arab Higher Committee, was formed. That same year, the Arabs led a revolt against the British. The British sent Lord Peel to find out the reasons for the unrest, which became known as the Peel Commission. To stop the violence, the Peel Commission recommended dividing the land, creating an independent Jewish State and an independent Arab State.

However, the Arab Higher Committee rejected the offer and did something very interesting to block the creation of a Jewish State. They argued that the idea of Palestine was created by the Zionists, because the land had always been part of Syria. The Peel Commission met with the general secretary of the Arab Higher Committee, Awni Abd al-Hadi, who testified, “There is no such country as Palestine. ‘Palestine’ is a term the Zionists invented. There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria. ‘Palestine’ is alien to us. It is the Zionists who introduced it.” The secretary of The Arab Higher Committee, basically the representative voice of the Arabs, declared that Palestine did not exist; instead it was a Zionist invention.

Ironically, there is quite a bit of historical truth in these words. Historian Daniel Pipes explained, “To start with, the very delineation of a territory called ‘Palestine’ in 1918 was a Zionist achievement; had Jews not pressed the British government to create such a unit, Arabic-speakers of the area would have continued to see themselves living in a Greater Syria or in an Arab or Muslim nation; there simply would have been no Arab feeling for Filastin.” Even historian Philip Hitti, born in The Ottoman Empire in 1886, asserted that, “There is no such thing as Palestine in history.” In 1956, The UN representative of Saudi Arabia stated, “It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria.” Moreover, King Abdullah I of Jordan wanted to unite Jordan, Syria, and the area of the Mandate of Palestine into one country which he called Greater Syria.

After the Fall of the Ottoman Empire the Jewish people were granted the right to self-determination by the League of Nations; national rights to be given to a group of people, and civil rights given to the individual. This decision did not leave the Arabs out in the cold. In fact, roughly 20 Arab States were created. The Arabs were not denied self-determination, instead they were given the lion’s share of former Ottoman lands. If the Arabs were going to claim that they had been dispossessed because the Jews were given a tiny sliver of land, they needed to create a new group of people with greater attachment to the land than the Jewish people. This newly invented entity was the Palestinian people, put forward to claim the right to self-determination instead of the Jews.

In 1948, Israel was re-created within a small section of the original borders of the ancient Kingdom. The 1948 War was waged by surrounding Muslim nations to prevent the Jewish people from sustaining a state. A by-product of the war was the creation of an Arab refugee problem. The Arab nations refused to recognize Israel as an independent state, thereby forestalling peace. At the same time, the refugees were denied citizenship by the nearby Arab countries to which they fled, leaving them in limbo.

In 1964, The Arab League Summit in Cairo created the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), which issued the Palestinian National Charter. The charter was supposedly designed to represent the refugees, but was instead primarily a tool of the Pan-Arab states to further their goal of retaking the land of Israel. The charter contained a contradiction. On the one hand, it attempted to fabricate a first ever country of Palestine and to posit an ancient and unique Palestinian ethnic group. At the same time, it identifies Palestinians first of all as Arabs committed to Pan-Arabism, which is the belief that Arabs constitute a single nation and should be politically united as one Muslim Arab state.

The 1964 PLO Charter was the first official document to declare that Palestine was a nation with borders. What were the borders? “Palestine, with its boundaries at the time of the British Mandate, is an indivisible territorial unit.” However, the charter did modify this claim. The concept of East Jerusalem came about in 1948 after the Jordanian army illegally occupied the Old City, while West Jerusalem was separated and remained under Israeli control. In 1964, Jordan controlled the West Bank of the Jordan river, and Egypt controlled Gaza, so the PLO stated, “This Organization does not exercise any territorial sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, (or) on the Gaza Strip.” Because Jerusalem is located in the West Bank, the Palestinians did not claim to own Jerusalem.

The 1968 PLO Charter is identical to the original 1964 charter, except for one change. During The 1967 War Israel gained control of Gaza and the West Bank, which includes the east side of Jerusalem, and the Old City. In response, the 1968 PLO charter defined all the territory of Israel, Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank, as the Palestinian homeland to be liberated.

In summation, Palestinian Arabs living under the British Mandate after the fall of The Ottoman Empire in 1917 did not claim to be a distinct nation from Syria until 1964, and they did not claim possession of Gaza and the West Bank until 1968. All of this means that the idea of a Palestinian national identity was formed about the time of the hippie movement.

In reality, the “Palestinians” are the descendants of a mixture of nations which had conquered the land. However, after the Arab-Islamic conquests of the Levant, they became primarily the descendants of Arab colonists, as well as adopting the cultural, religious, and ethnic identity of the Arabs. That is why there are no ‘ancient borders’ of the ‘nation of Palestine’ drawn by the PLO. Rather, the borders of Palestine were drawn by the League of Nations. And so, there was never a nation of Palestine but the PLO Charter attempted to create one after the creation of Israel. The PLO has not yet developed institutions for sovereignty in their territory, in contrast to the territory governed by the state of Israel. In other words, simply declaring Palestine a country did not make it happen in real life, and the borders remain just a pipe dream.

The creation of the Palestinians to counterbalance Zionism.

The PLO Charter interpreted the Palestinian question through the perspective of pan-Arab nationalism: “Palestine is an Arab homeland bound by strong Arab national ties to the rest of the Arab Countries and which together form the great Arab homeland.” The document also presented the definition of a Palestinian: “The Palestinians are those Arab citizens who were living normally in Palestine up to 1947, whether they remained or were expelled. Every child who was born to a Palestinian Arab father after this date, whether in Palestine or outside, is a Palestinian.” The definition of a Palestinian corresponded to the year prior to the creation of Israel. In other words, the definition of a Palestinian was created entirely in reaction to the formation of Israel! The Arab refugees were to be a foundation for the anti-nation to Israel. The creation of a Palestinian identity to negate Zionism was expressed by PLO leader, Zuheir Mohsen in a 1977 interview with the Dutch newspaper, “Trouw.”

“Between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese there are no differences. We are all part of ONE people, the Arab nation. Look, I have family members with Palestinian, Lebanese, Jordanian and Syrian citizenship. We are ONE people. Just for political reasons we carefully underwrite our Palestinian identity. Because it is of national interest for the Arabs to advocate the existence of Palestinians to balance Zionism. Yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity exists only for tactical reasons. The establishment of a Palestinian state is a new tool to continue the fight against Israel and for Arab unity. A separate Palestinian entity needs to fight for the national interest in the then remaining occupied territories.”

The Palestinians make two contradictory claims; they claim to be both Arabs and Palestinians at the same time. This contradiction was admitted by Professor Edward Said. In one article, Said wrote, “Zionists in and outside Israel will not give up on their wish for a separate Jewish state; Palestinians want the same thing for themselves.” Yet, in the very same article he wrote, “Palestinians want at all costs to preserve their Arab identity as part of the surrounding Arab and Islamic world.” The Palestinians claim two contradictory origins; they claim a distinct Palestinian indigenous origin in the Levant, while at the same time claiming to be part of the Arab world. However, Arabs are indigenous to the Hejaz, not the Levant.

The Palestinians want two contradictory benefits; they want to be given sympathy as a dispossessed indigenous minority, while at the same time they want to leverage power as part of the massive Arab world. As part of an Arab Muslim plurality, the Palestinians have already joined the Arab League, comprised of 22 Arab states, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, comprised of 57 states. All of the members of the Arab League band together to demonize, pressure, and combat Israel in the United Nations.

As a minority, the Palestinians garner international sympathy by portraying their situation as the same as the plight of Native Americans. There are great benefits to being both a minority and majority at the same time.

The Palestinians make two contradictory claims to the land of Israel. They claim ownership of the land as indigenous Palestinians, yet at the same time, they claim the land based on being part of the long-standing historical presence of Arabs in the land. So, which was one is it? Is their claim to possess Israel based on being indigenous Palestinians or being Arabs residing in the land ? Well, their answer seems to be, whichever one is convenient.

There are two types of rights, groups of people who qualify for self-determination are granted national rights, and civil rights are granted to individuals. If the Palestinians claim to be Arabs, then the Arabs do not have any claim to own the land of Israel. Furthermore, the Arabs already have self-determination in as many as 22 states. But, if the Palestinians claim to be distinct from the Arabs, they can then make up all sorts of false assertions. For example, that they pre-date the Jewish presence in the land and have a greater connection to the land, which allows them to claim the sole right to self-determination in “the land of Palestine” instead of Jews in the land of Israel.

The difference between the word, “Arab” and the word, “Palestinian” is the difference between who has the right to claim ownership in the territory, and who has a right to self-determination in the land of Israel. The difference between the two words is not just that Palestinians also self-identify as Arabs. Rather, it is the belief that Palestinians have an unequivocal right to the land and a state instead of Israel. This is why it is so important to understand how the term “Palestinian” was essentially reinvented for political purposes.

Conclusion: Palestinians are not indigenous to the land of Israel. Instead the Palestinians are essentially Arabs, who are indigenous to the Arabian Peninsula.

In Summary:

  • The President of the Palestinian Authority claims that the nation of Palestine stretches back in history 7,000 years ago.
  • Pastor Raheb claims that Palestine has existed for twenty five hundred years.
  • In 1919, the official representatives of the Arabs living under the British Mandate claimed that Palestine did not exist and that the land belonged to Syria.
  • In 1920, the Arabs claimed that the land belonged to an Arab state connected to Mecca.
  • In 1937, the Arabs claimed that Palestine was invented by the Zionists, because the land had always belonged to Syria.
  • In 1964, the Arabs claimed that Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem did not belong to the nation of Palestine.
  • In 1968, the Arabs claimed that the land of Israel, Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem did belong to the nation of Palestine.
  • In addition, Muslims rulers controlled Jerusalem for roughly 1,4000 years, but they never declared Jerusalem to be the capital of any Muslim state. Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Koran. The Jewish people regained their ancestral capital in The 1967 War and in response, Arab-Muslim leaders attempted to declare Jerusalem the capital of Palestine.
  • Today, the Arabs claim that the Palestinians are the original indigenous people, that Jerusalem is their ancient sacred capital, and that the Jews are European settler colonists.
  • Clearly, the historical claim changes based entirely on how it can be used as a tactic to deny Jewish people any ownership of the land.

The contention that the there was a nation of the Palestinians who preserved a distinct ethnic identity longer than the Jewish people, and who remained intact throughout the Assyrian, Babylonia, Greek, Roman, Arab, and Ottoman conquests, is pure fiction. There is no truth to this claim. The Bible mentions seven nations the Israelites encountered when they entered the land under Joshua’s leadership, but it does not mention the Palestinians. No archaeological coin, engraving, emblem, or jewelry mentions the Palestinians. Alexander the Great did not encounter them on his travels. No Roman source mentions them. Ironically, the Quran mentions the unique Jewish relationship to the land (Sura 5:21, Sura 26:59, Sura 17:104), but there is no reference to a Palestinian people dwelling in a land called Filastin during any period of Islamic history. No Ottoman source mentions them. There are no ‘Palestinian’ religious myths attached to the land. There is no such thing as a Palestinian language. There is no evidence one would expect that could prove the presence of an indigenous Palestinian people.

They do not appear in any source until after the advent of Zionism. They did not claim to have any national borders until about the time of the hippie movement, which means that Palestinian national identity is about as old as a Jimi Hendrix record. In other words, the claim that Palestinians are indigenous to Israel is simply false. Palestinian and pro-Palestinian activists have created some amazing disinformation. These propagandists have transformed a geographic term created by the Romans – Palaestina, which described a regional area that was never a nation – into the ‘ancient nation of Palestine.’ These activists use the appellation, Palaestina, which is found in ancient Roman texts. However, the term does not correspond in any way to the quite recent conceptualization of an Arab Palestine, which also transformed the Arab refugees of The 1948 War into an indigenous ethnic people – Palestinians purported to have existed for thousands of years. In truth, although empires came and went in the Levant, only the Jewish people, in and from the ancient land of Israel, have preserved their ethnic identity. Only the Jewish people have survived the test of time to be granted indigenous rights to the land.

In actual fact, Palestinians are chiefly descendants of Arab Muslim colonists, in the same way that white Americans are the descendants of European colonists. Additionally, the Palestinian assertion that they are comparable to Native Americans is about as historically accurate as Walt Disney’s “Pocahontas.” In contrast, Jewish people are indigenous to the land of Israel in the same way that Native Americans are indigenous to the land of America. This form of propaganda, in which the ancient indigenous Jewish people are reversed with the descendants of Arab colonists, should be considered indigenous reversal.

The recreation of Israel is similar to this scenario: a Native American people is given an independent state in some section of North American soil; for example, a territory the size of New Jersey is returned to the indigenous people of that area as their nation state. But, in this scenario, instead of celebrating the restoration of an indigenous people to their own piece of land, the Euro-American people claimed all Native American land for themselves, and spent endless years attempting to delegitimize and destroy the tiny Native American State. In truth, the modern recreation of Israel is not a form of colonialism. Rather, it is the defeat of over a thousand years of Arab-Islamic colonialism, and the reclamation by an indigenous people of their historical nation state, Israel.

About the Author
Daniel Swindell is a Zionist. He has a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Missouri, and has studied in Yeshiva.