An Israeli Perspective – Part III – The Palestinian Myth

I am finally at the end of my story: the last Israeli Perspective – the myth. When I started on my Israeli journey I did not think that I would become an instrument or mouth piece for Israel or its people.  I had always wanted to go to Israel because of its Biblical and historical significance in the life of a Christian: me. Instead I found a story within several other stories that have never been told because through time and political upheaval, the truth has been  distorted into false “facts”. Since my return from Israel I have kept the Bible close as reference into the historical and political evolution of Israel. To some extent countries have always shaped their own destinies whether by natural evolution, war, or force of nature. Europe has morphed so often through myriad of wars and conflicts, that some of its countries’ borders have returned to what they had been prior to WW I. Israel is on a different level of evolution. In 1948, Israel managed to form itself into a country with much consternation and opposition from super powers like Britain. Britain stifled Jewish immigration because it determined that Jewish immigrants were evicting Arabs in the region. This was done despite historical data to the contrary; disproving this notion that Arabs in the region ever held a “state” or country. Arabs were transients who moved within areas and territories belonging to Judea, or pre-Roman Judea. Then how did we come up with a “Palestine” and an Arab identity of a Palestinian? How indeed!

Going back to pre-Roman times, the first inhabitants of Judea were the Canaanites.  These first inhabitants lived in  what eventually was Israel and who historians refer to as Phoenicians. Their language was close to Hebrew being  predominantly Aramean. They were not Arabs and did not speak Arabic. They were the forefathers of the Lebanese who still do not refer to themselves as Arabs.  As we move a few hundred years forward, we find the Peleshets whose name is derived from the verb “pelesh” or “to invade.” They were sea faring and came from around Asia Minor. They were eventually expelled from Egypt to the Mediterranean where after many defeats some ended up as King David’s bodyguards and dropped off from history entirely. But what about Palestine? How can there be a Palestine without a people called Palestinians? This is when the Romans “shaped” Israel’s destiny and Palestine was created.

Nobody liked to tick off the Romans because payback was generally dilapidating. There is no historical mention of Palestine until Hadrian, who,  because he became infuriated with the Jews and their revolts, decided to erase Israel or Judea, from existence. He despitefully gave the land the Latin name of Palæstina: the land of the Philistines. The Philistines had long been extinct from that region but common knowledge had it that they were bitter enemies of the Jews. It could be said that the Philistines had a commonality with the Romans by hating the Jews to the point of extinction. This brings us to the current world-wide spin and myth of the Palestinians as a nation. What nation? Can we trace any historical significance to a genre of people called Palestinians? The answer is; no. We can however determine when Palestine was created and by virtue of a Roman’s revenge; Jews in that region were the new Philistines or Palestinians. The derogatory labeling gives the current world-wide assumption that Palestinians have always been Arab an absurdity to the point of embarrassment by those who continually propagandize it.

While in Israel, I was fortunate enough to spend three wonderful days with a Jewish woman who against all common sense took it upon herself to learn as much as possible about Israel and Palestine. She took on the task because she wanted to understand why her people are targeted by neighbors, politicians, and in recent years: the United Nations. She found old books; some dating back to the late 19th and early 20th Century Israel. The books had “before” and “after” pictures of areas that were formerly desolate and are now inhabited by Israel and thriving. Most were pre-1948 Statehood pictures where the land was barren and a desert. On their return to the “Promised Land” Jewish settlers built Kibitzes  and inadvertently discovered ways to beat the often harsh conditions and “work” the land. There were no Arabs in these regions, Palestinian or otherwise. These pioneers created methods of irrigation, planting, reaping, and an agricultural haven in a desert that had been abandoned for years. Driving through Israel one wonders at the fields, palm trees growing dates, olive trees, banana trees, and fresh garden vegetables one puts in a salad every day. Is it a wonder that the surrounding States are envious of what Israel has managed to accomplish? But back to Palestine and Palestinians. Joseph Farah, an Arab author of “Myths of the Middle East” writes: “There has never been a land known as Palestine governed by Palestinians. Palestinians are Arabs, indistinguishable from Jordanians (another recent invention), Syrians, Iraqis, etc. ”  The incongruity of being called a Palestinian Arab is clearly defined in the word Palestine, because it is a Latin word not Arabic.

After the six-day war of 1967, the “Palestinian” issue was further exasperated by the conflict in the region, and a misguided United Nations definition of a Palestinian: an Arab who has spent at least two years in “Palestine” before 1948. This identification required no proof. It also extended to descendents of these “Palestinians”. Ironically: when politicians or the United Nations mention Palestinians, they only refer to  Arabs. They either fail to mention or are utterly ignorant of the regional history;  because as I mentioned before, the original Palestinians were the Jews in Hadrian’s time. Going through the Middle East in the late 19th and early 20th century was a desolate experience; especially for westerners. The area was what the Bible called the “wilderness.” In his 1867 “The Innocents Abroad”; Mark Twain bemoaned the fact that from  the Valley of Jezreel in Galilea, to Nazareth, Bethlehem, and Bethany, not a soul could be seen.  He further reiterated that although in some areas the land was fertile, only shrubs and weeds were  left to grow. He called it “a pity.” This is the area that the United Nations and pseudo intellectual political elites tell us should belong to Palestinian Arabs because they were “evicted” by the Jews. Really? When? Before Mark Twain? If the land had always belonged to these Arabs, why didn’t they work it and make it flourish as the Jews managed to do?  So when did these new “Palestinians”  live there? Why did they make a sudden miraculous appearance when Jewish settlers started to build a home and a State?

Israel does not want to evict Arabs, it wants to live in peace with Arabs. Israel has little beef with the “so called” Palestinians; it just wants them to honor and recognize Israel as a country and a State. Israel also expects the same considerations it gives other religions to be given to the Jews and Christians. Israel has little or no issues with Christian faiths; how come Muslims have a problem with Israel? Muslims can worship freely and have been allowed to build Mosques in areas long considered Christian Holy sites. So why the problem? Why the discrimination against Christianity and Judaism in a country that allows freedom of religion and respects it? Why not the reciprocation? Why is the Temple Mount in Jerusalem suddenly only sacred  to Muslims? Only since the 7th Century after the death of Mohammed has this particular site become a contention between Muslims, Christians, and Jews. Why? The huge Mosque sits on Mount Mariah; directly over the spot where Solomon’s Temple was built and destroyed several times over. Regardless: this site is first and foremost a Jewish place of respect and worship. Because it was also the site where the Temple was rebuilt and where Jesus actively visited; it is also a Holy site for Christians.  Why are Muslims allowed to restrict access to the other faiths and not respect their claim on the site?  Israel has minute discomfort with the Mosque on the Temple Mount, but it has a big problem that the rest of the world cannot worship either. This site is currently a “hot bed” for confrontation between Arab forces and Israeli forces who attempt to keep the peace. A  visit to the Temple Mount for non-Muslims can be as futile as chewing on water. As I went through security it reminded me of the days when we used to visit East Berlin during the Cold War. We were told not to recognize the East German authorities because they were not the legitimate “authority” in Berlin. We were briefed that if stopped by East German officials to demand  to see a  Russian official! Russia had control of that sector. However, that also sent a message to the self-proclaimed East German government that the civilized world did not recognize its legitimacy. The United Nations should implement the same concept with Arab authorities who refuse access or impose Muslim “conduct” on the Temple Mount. But that train has left the station a long time ago. The United Nations has given credence to the Palestinian myth and has become its surrogate puppet. The United Nations and other western leadership has bitten into the disingenuous claim that Palestinians have the “right” to claim Jerusalem as their capital because of Muslim Holy Sites. Really? Whether true or not, where is it written that Jerusalem was or has ever been a historically religious and significant site to the Arabs?

My journey through Israel took me through the truth. Not as written by someone else, but as I witnessed it through my own experiences and encounters with both Jews and Arabs. Those who really want peace in the region know the truth and speak it. Those who pander to an agenda for political gain; spin, twist, and conjure up history to satisfy a narrative. First and foremost; the truth lies in the Bible. Secondly; it lies in the millennia of archeological findings that support Biblical narrative historically and geographically.   Third; it lies in the Israeli Jew who through perseverance, tenacity, and faith in God, struggles to strike a balance between a normal existence and continual vigilance against the destructive elements of evil. The truth lies in logic and common sense and not the gradual distortion of history. The truth lies in the land: the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River, Caesarea, Tiberias, Nazareth, Bethlehem, Masada on the Dead Sea, and Jerusalem. With every step that I took in Israel I knew that under my feet was the truth. This was the truth of Solomon, David, Herod, Hadrian, and Jesus Christ. I started my perspective by saying that one cannot be a Christian without first being a Jew. I will end by saying that equally so: one cannot be a Palestinian without first owning up to being a Jew.

References:

(Myths, Hypothesis and Facts, Concerning the Origins of Peoples, The True Identity of the So-Called Palestinians. Retrieved 12/15/2016 from: http://www.imninalu.net/myths-pals.htm)

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