The Short History of the Palestinians

The “Palestinians” are an “invented people,” in the opinion of Newt Gingrich, former US Speaker of the House, presidential candidate, best selling author, and bona fide historian (Ph.D. in European history – Tulane University). It’s a fact: the Palestinian Arabs simply have no history as a distinct people before the mid-20th century.

BIRZEIT, West Bank — When the $24 million Palestinian Museum celebrates its opening on Wednesday [5/18/16], it will have almost everything: a stunning, contemporary new building; soaring ambitions as a space to celebrate and redefine Palestinian art, history and culture; an outdoor amphitheater; a terraced garden. One thing the museum will not have is exhibitions. (

Sure, the Palestinian Museum plans to have exhibits, but there is little history besides obsolete keys to properties and Ottoman Empire documents to put on display. Where are the archeological remains of a Palestinian capital, the great Palestinian cities, the Palestinian monuments and buildings, the Palestinian stamps and coins, the Palestinian inscriptions, the mentions of the Palestinians in the annals of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia? There are none. All of these, in abundance, are to be found about the Israelites, as well as the many other peoples who inhabited this region in antiquity and some even to the present.

What about in the holy book of the Muslims, the Koran? Surely one can find evidence of the Palestinians and their capital Jerusalem in the Koran. But no, not one mention. In the Jews’ holy book, the Bible, there are innumerable mentions of the Israelites, Zion, and Jerusalem and other locations that are populated by Jews today.

The name “Palestine” was arbitrarily applied to the area in 135 CE by the Roman Emperor Hadrian, who renamed Judea, “Provincia Syria Palaestina,” in an attempt to erase the Jewish connotations of the region. The Romans had fought three bloody wars with the Jews, a rebellious people who dared to defy mighty Roman rule. The name Palaestina recalled the Philistines, or “Sea Peoples,” who populated the area before the Israelites entered the land. Eventually the name given by Hadrian was shortened, first to Palaestina, and eventually to the modern, anglicized version, “Palestine.” (

For decades the Arabs disdained the name “Palestinians” because they identified as tribal/family members first and as members of the Muslim Arab people second. During the British Mandate for Palestine period (1922-1948), the Jews – not the Arabs – adopted the designation “Palestinians,” also utilizing the term to describe Jewish institutions such as the Bank of Palestine and the Palestine Post (after 1948 renamed the Bank of Israel and the Jerusalem Post respectively).

More than a dozen years after Israel declared its independence in 1948, the Arabs living in the (Jordan-occupied) “West Bank” and those living in the (Egypt-occupied) Gaza Strip, began to think of themselves in nationalistic terms. The Arabs, many of whom were recent immigrants to the region, began to use the label “Palestinian” when the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization – 1964) was founded. The label was fully accepted after the Six Day War of 1967, when Jordan and Egypt were driven from all the area they occupied and the Arabs became subject to Israeli rule. To add weight to this decision, local Arab “scholars” began to trace the “Palestinian” lineage to the Philistines, a people who were displaced by the Israelites more than 3,000 years ago.

How does that stand up? According to most historians, the once-powerful Philistines gradually assimilated into the dominant Canaanite culture, eventually disappearing from the biblical record and from history. By 1100 BCE, the Canaanites themselves were reduced to a narrow territory by the sea in present day Lebanon. Some historians believe that the descendants of the Canaanites kept their independence, and as “Phoenicians,” founded the Carthaginian empire.

But there is no historical record detailing Philistine descendants retaining their identity as Palestinians and remaining in the Land of Israel. There is evidence that the influx of Jews to their homeland beginning in the late 19th century – joining those Jews who had never left or returned after 1492 (Spanish Inquisition) – attracted many Arab immigrants to Palestine. These Arabs came in search of work from North Africa, the eastern coast of the Mediterranean, Egypt, and Arabia. In the Yishuv (pre-state Israel), scores of thousands of itinerant Arabs found employment in the many Zionist projects of the Jews. (see Joan Peters’ invaluable book, From Time Immemorial)

Have the Palestinian Arabs accomplished their goal of creating a Palestinian people in need of a state? Yes, in great part by the use of mass terrorism to attract the world’s attention. As proof, in the waning days of December 2016, the UN Security Council all but unanimously passed Resolution 2334 (thanks to the US abstention.)

According to this non-binding resolution, Israel has no connection with the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, nor with the Temple Mount and its adjoining Western Wall or Hebron (Judaism’s two holiest sites), nor the entire hill country of Judea and Samaria (the ancient homeland of the Jews). But the resolution’s worst contention is that all Israelis living in communities beyond the 1949 ceasefire line are criminals!

This sorry resolution gives the Palestinian Arabs the legitimacy they seek while robbing the Jews of their history, as well as rocking the foundations of the Christian religion. The history of the “Palestinians” is an instant, made-up history. It is all the worse because it relies on robbing the Jews of their legitimate 4,000 year history in the Land of Israel. You can see the evidence up close and personal in the innumerable museums and sites in Israel. You might also visit the Palestinian Museum in Birzeit, where you can see: nothing.

About the Author
Steve Kramer grew up in Atlantic City, graduated from Johns Hopkins in 1967, adopted the hippie lifestyle until 1973, then joined the family business for 15 years. Steve moved to Israel from Margate, NJ in 1991 with his family. He has written more than 1100 articles about Israel and Jews since making Aliyah. Steve and his wife Michal live in Kfar Saba.
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