Just Who is a Palestinian?

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The Hamas Covenant of 2017 says:

“Palestine is the land of the Arab Palestinian people, from it they originate, to it they adhere and belong …”

Well, they do not. They conquered it. Islam proclaims a strange principle about land once conquered by Islam: once a piece of land has come under Islamic dominion, it is forever in the rightful possession of Islam. This is why Islam claims Spain and Southern France as their property. It is like saying: “I stole your car, therefore, I now legally own it.”

But who is a “Palestinian” anyway?

The term ‘Palestinian’ comes from ‘Palestine’, which comes from ‘Philistine’, which comes from the Latin “Palaestinae”, which comes from the word ‘Peleset’, which is the Egyptian name for one group of the so-called “Sea People”. Nine such groups are listed in Egyptian records in Medinet Habu and other places: the Denyen, the Ekwesh, the Lukka, the Peleset, the Shekelesh, the Sherden, the Teresh, the Tjeker, and the Weshesh.

The Sea People were a coalition of different ethnic groups hailing from different places around the Mediterranean and Southern Europe. We are almost certain that Sicily, Sardinia, Crete, and Cyprus were among the places from where they originated. The raids of the Sea People happened around 1200 – 900 BC. Not unlike the Vikings, they came from the sea in fast ships and assaulted the unsuspecting coastal population.

The Peleset probably originated from Cyprus. Before they attacked Egypt, they raided the empire of the Hittites in Anatolia, where they picked up the new technology of making and processing iron.

This was the time of the collapse of the bronze age, a period of radical change that was accompanied by natural catastrophes like volcanic eruptions, floods, and droughts. Food supplies were shrinking, and dire need pushed peoples out of their homelands and motivated them to seek other places that promised better living. The invention of iron and steel was a technological revolution that led to fundamental changes mainly in warfare, as it affected mainly the production of weapons and armor. Iron smithing gave the Peleset and their comrades a military edge. While most of the costal people and empires, including the Egyptians, still used bronze weapons, the Sea People used iron swords, spear tips, and body armor.

Around 1175 BC, the Peleset invaded Egypt in an attempt to conquer it. But the Egyptian army under Rameses III defeated the Peleset in the famous battle of the Nile Delta, forced them into the status of a subject people, and re-settled them in Southern Canaan, specifically in a region that is today’s Gaza including the cities of Ashkalon, Ashdot, and Joppa on the mediterranean coast, a southern area about 60 miles long and 3-5 miles wide.

Canaan was a stretch of land about the same as the state of Israel today and it was inhabited by people of different origins, including Syria, Assyria, and Anatolia, who did not have strong ethnic or cultural identities and were collectively known as the Canaanites. They spoke Semitic languages and lived in small city states.

All of Canaan was Egyptian interest sphere when in about 1405 the Jewish military leader Joshua began his invasion and conquest of Canaan by crossing the Jordan River and attacking the Canaan city of Jericho. The Peleset had entered Canaan because they were forced to do so by the Egyptians, while the Israelites entered it because they considered it the land their God had promised them. For the poor Canaanites this meant that they were ground up between the Peleset and the Israelites.

The period of the Judges, i.e., the period during which the Israelites did not have a king, lasted for not quite 200 years and the Israelites were not faring too well against the Peleset, who were apparently quite capable warriors. This may have been one reason why the Israelites wanted a king so badly. All of their adversaries had centralized governments. Only Israel was collectively led, and its leaders were not very talented generals.

Around 1020 BC, Saul became the first king of Israel, and he had great problems with the Peleset. When during Saul’s wars against them David emerged as a great warrior and capable military leader, Saul became jealous and tried to kill him while David operated as a mercenary for the Peleset for 19 months.

The kingdoms of David and Solomon lasted from 1077 through 997 BC and their combined effort finally pushed the Peleset almost into a vassal role. The military confrontations between the Hebrews and the Philistines, as the Peleset were called in the Bible, are sufficiently known. No need to repeat this here.

As the map shows, there were Phoenicians in the North, who lived in the city states of Tyre, Sidon, and Biblos. The territory occupied by the Phoenicians was about 10 times larger than the land assigned to the Philistines by the Egyptians. During the rule of Salomon, the Philistines were confined to the stretch of land between the four cities of Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, and Joppa and it was called “Philistia”. After Solomon’s death, his kingdom split into two separate Jewish kingdoms: Judah in the south and Israel in the north.

When the Assyrians arrived and conquered the land of Canaan in the 8th century BC destroying the states of both the Philistines and the Jews, about 50% of the Canaanites had already been killed by the Philistines and the remaining Canaanites were slowly but steadily interbreeding with the Philistines, which effectively deprived both populations of their ethnic and cultural identities. The culture and language of the Peleset are lost and their religion, mainly the cults of Ashera and Baal Zebub, were largely adopted by the population of the entire region including, much to Yehovah’s chagrin, by many Jews.

Around 600 BC came the Babylonians. They removed a large part of the Jewish population and re-settled them in Mesopotamia – from where they had originated in the first place. Remember, Abraham came from Ur in today’s Iraq! But they were eventually allowed to move back to Canaan. Then, around 539 BC, came the Persians.

In 330 BC, Alexander the Great destroyed the Persian Empire and Canaan and the Jews who lived there were subjected to a long period of Hellenization. Remember: Alexandria in Egypt was founded by the Greeks. Toward the end of the 2nd Century BC the Jewish Hasmoneans, aka Maccabees, conquered most of Palestine, then called Judea, plus part of the neighboring regions. However, with the rise of the Roman empire, the Hasmonean Jewish kingdom became a Roman vassal state and was formally annexed by Rome in 63 BC as a Roman province. Its official name was “Roman Judea”.

Plagued by constant insurrections and after several Roman-Jewish wars, Nero finally ordered his then general Vespasian to destroy Jerusalem and Titus later ordered the expulsion of the Jews from Roman Judaea. This expulsion was not a re-settlement like the one Rameses III had performed with the Peleset but more a systematic and methodical oppression that made it impossible for Jews to live in Judea and earn a living there. This policy forced the Jews out of Judea into the diaspora. The vast majority of Jews in the Middle East left the region and migrated to European countries.

In an effort to stick it to the Jews and to eradicate all memory of Canaan as a Jewish land Roman political propaganda renamed the province of Roman Judea after the Jews’ old enemy, the Peleset. The new name was “Philistinae”, which mutated into “Palestine”, and it stuck.

As in the 4th century AC the Roman Empire was Christianized, Palestine became a center of Christianity. Following the Muslim conquest of the Levant from 636 to 641, several Muslim dynasties succeeded each other as they wrestled over control of Palestine: the Rashidun, the Umayyads, who built the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the Abbasids, the Tulunids, the Ikhshidids, the Fatimids, and the Seljuks.

In 1099 AC, the Crusaders established the Kingdom of Jerusalem in Palestine, which the Ayyubid Sultanate reconquered in 1187. Following the invasion of the Mongol Empire, the Egyptian Mamelukes reunified Palestine under their control before the Muslim Ottoman Empire conquered the region in 1516 and ruled it as Ottoman Syria largely undisrupted through to the 20th century.

Palestine did not become Arabic and/or Islamic until 641 AC and it did not turn Islamic voluntarily but persuaded by the Islamic mission statement: convert or die! Alternatively, you could pay the jizya tax and accept a life as a second-class citizen.

During their time in the diaspora Jews were brutally persecuted. Pogrom after pogrom. No access to trade and industrial activities. Expelled from Egypt, Spain, France, England, Portugal, Austria, Lithuania, Russia, Switzerland, Morocco, Iran, Turkey, and Yemen. Accused of “poisoning the wells” when the plague struck Europe the Jews were unable to find a free and peaceful life in their “guest” countries. And finally, the Jews were bureaucratically mass-murdered by the German Nazis. This situation gave rise to the Zionist movement, which aimed at establishing a Jewish homestead, a land where Jews could live without persecution, in pride and safety.

During World War I the British government issued the Balfour Declaration, which recommended the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. “Makht zin” (Yiddish for “makes sense”), I am tempted to say, since the Jews had lived there in organized political units for over 2000 years.

The British captured Palestine from the Ottomans shortly thereafter. In 1922, the League of Nations gave Britain mandatory power over Palestine. But British colonial rule and Arab efforts to prevent Jewish migration into Palestine led to growing sectarian violence between Arabs and Jews.

Finally, the British had enough of it and announced their intention to terminate the Mandate in 1947. The United Nations General Assembly voted to partition Palestine into two states: one Arab and one Jewish. The Arabs rejected the Partition Plan, while the Jews accepted it, declaring the independence of the State of Israel in May 1948, when the British mandate ended.

Immediately, its neighboring Arab countries invaded the new Jewish state calling upon the non-Jewish population of Palestine (the British mandate) to leave, to move out of harm’s way with the prospect that they would soon be able to return, once Israel had been wiped off the map. Over 700,000 Arab Palestinians left laying the ground stone for the Palestinian refugee problem. However, Israel not only prevailed but it also conquered more territory than the UN had originally envisioned as Jewish land in the Partition Plan.

The Hamas covenant proclaims:

“The right of the Palestinian refugees and the displaced to return to their homes from which they were banished or were banned from returning to…”

Remember: it was the attacking Arabic countries in 1948 that told the Palestinian Arabs to leave, not the Jews.

And Hamas wants it all.

“Hamas rejects any alternative to the full and complete liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea.”

This leaves no place for Israel or any “two-state solution”, which is now touted by Xi Jinping as the “only way to lasting peace”. Hamas disagrees:

“A real state of Palestine is a state that has been liberated. There is no alternative to a fully sovereign Palestinian State on the entire national Palestinian soil, with Jerusalem as its capital.”

In other words: No two-state solution.

What I laid out above hopefully made it clear that there never was a Palestinian state or a Palestinian people. The Peleset, their society, culture, and language have long since disappeared in the fog of history. Palestine was a political propaganda term for Judea, introduced by the Romans. At best, it is a name for a geographical region like “Rhineland” or “Appalachia”. If applied in this manner, everybody who lives in the Rhineland is a Rhinelander, everybody who lives in Appalachia, is an Appalachian, and everybody who lives in Palestine is a Palestinian. That would make all citizens of Israel Palestinians. OK, Palestine to the Palestinians!

And have you ever thought about, why all these many large Arabic and or Muslim countries that surround Israel have steadfastly refused to accommodate their Arab Muslim Palestinian brethren? I think it is because they see them as a potential danger, a source of civil unrest and insurrection. A destabilizing element.

The Arab Palestinians in Gaza had plenty of time and money to build a peaceful Palestinian State. Instead, they built tunnels, piled up on rockets and grenade launchers, and kept bombarding Israeli cities and townships.

As I see it, a two-state “solution” is a fata morgana. It has not worked in the past; it does not work now, and it will not work in the future, because a mind filled with hatred, hostile religious ideology, and aggression is not well conditioned to create peace. And all the Arab states in the Middle East know that.

There is another angle to this. “Salaam” in Arabic does not mean what we Westerners mean by the term “peace”. For us, peace is a friendly, aggression-free solution to violent hostilities between foes, antagonists. For the Arab Muslim “salaam” refers to civil peace within the Muslim community, the “umma”. Peace in the Western sense, as peace between enemies, does not really exist in the mind of the Arabic Muslim. For the Muslim, there is only victory and defeat, domination and submission between enemies. For Hamas then, “peace in the Middle East” can only mean that either the Palestinians will defeat the Israelis or that the Israelis will defeat the Palestinians. Tertium non datur.

As I see it, Mr. Xi Jinping, there is only one way to lasting (Western type) peace in the Middle East and on earth in general: the complete elimination of Hamas and all other murderous, militant, aggressive, hate-based organizations, and ideologies. The world, nuclear as it is today, simply can no longer afford this kind of collective mental derangement.

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