This Land is My Land

In chapter 7 of the biblical book of Deuteronomy (Devarim) God instructs Moses about the land which He had promised to Abraham and his descendants.

He told Moses that there were seven “nations” (tribes of people) living there— Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites— all more powerful than the Israelites, but God promised to deliver them unto the Israelites and commanded them to utterly destroy them, make no agreements with them, and show them no mercy.

Because those tribes worshipped many gods and built idols of wood and sacrificial altars of stone, God did not want His people, the children of Israel, descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to be influenced by the pagans.

He therefore commanded that in addition to destroying the idol-worshipping people all their idols and alters were to be smashed into pieces and burned. Nothing was to be left of the idolatrous peoples.

We know that six of the seven nations disappeared. Only Canaanites remained living in the Levant (Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan) until they were defeated in battle under the leadership of Joshua who succeeded Moses. Nevertheless, Canaanite culture was popular and the Hebrews often went astray as recorded in the books of the prophets.

Of the Jebusites we remember that King David conquered them and made their capitol city, Jebus, into the eternal capitol of Israel and the Jewish people. He called his city Jerusalem.

In recent times, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, has claimed that the Palestinians are descended from the ancient Philistines. It is obvious that he does not know ancient history.

He was born on November 15, 1935 in the northern Galilee holy Jewish city of Tzfat (Safed) where he lived with his parents among Jewish neighbors. When he was 12 years old his parents fled with him to Syria during the 1948 war. His childhood among Jews in Safed should have given him a taste of the values Jews placed upon their ancient homeland. But it seems he was a poor learner.

He received a doctoral degree from Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow. The title of his thesis was “The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism” in which he blamed the Jews for bringing the Holocaust upon themselves and their cooperation with the Nazis. Once again, he proved to be a student ignorant of history…not only history from ancient times but history in his lifetime. His knowledge of history is limited to “fake news.”

He has no Philistine blood in his cold veins. He was born a Palestinian, quite far removed from Philistines. He is simply a Palestinian-born Muslim.

The Philistines were a Greek people speaking a Greek dialect whose origins were in Caphtor (Crete) on the Aegean Sea. They settled sailing to the coast of what later bore their name into five coastal cities—Ashkelon, Ashdod, Gaza, Ekron and Gath— on the southwestern corner of Canaan which, at that time, belonged to Egypt until the end of the 19th Dynasty.

They occupied the land during the reign of Rameses III of the 20th Egyptian Dynasty.

The name “Palestine” was created by the Roman emperor Hadrian after Israel’s defeat in the third rebellion against Rome in 135 of the Common Era. He changed the Hebrew name Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel, in an attempt to end the Jewish connection to their historic homeland.

Therefore, Abbas’ connection to the Greek-speaking Philistines is completely baseless.

The Arabs who lived in former Palestine rarely called themselves Palestinians, preferring their historic roots in southern Syria. The name Palestine became popular Arab usage after the Six Day War in 1967.

Most recently, Abbas made mention of his people’s descent from the biblical Canaanites, a people who lived in the lands of the Levant. They spoke various languages, in particular Hebrew, Moabite, Akkadian and Phoenician. The Arabic language had not been invented at that time.

Arabic became a spoken language only in the 7th century of the Common Era. It was introduced by the Father of the Arabic language, Jaibir ibn Haiyun and ultimately became the spoken and liturgical language of Islam.

The early Arabs in Palestine were those who migrated from Syria and the Mesopotamian region of Sumeria and Akkad.

There was never a Palestinian country or government in pre-State Israel. Modern Palestinians were under the rule of the British Mandate on both sides of the Jordan River.

In 1948 they were offered Israeli citizenship which most of them refused, fled the country for security among other Arab nations, and on occasion driven out by Israel’s military forces.

Twenty percent of Israel’s citizens today are Palestinian Arabs but, unlike President Abbas, none make claim to heredity from Philistines nor Canaanites.

Abbas should read the Five Books of Moses and the writings of Greek historians, all which are a disclaimer to his imagined ancient lineage.

He needs to understand clearly that this land is my land. This land is the land of the Jewish people in their sovereign homeland, the State of Israel.

It is the birthplace of our ancient people and the land in which our prophets preached and wrote God’s Words. Israel— birthplace of the religion of Judaism.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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