Friday, March 9, 2018

Pal-Arabs are counterfeit

Pal-Arabs are counterfeit

Why is there no ‘Palestinian’ rebel group mentioned in ancient Roman history, as for example the Jewish Zealots are?

By Victor Sharpe

Recently,  the Holocaust-denying head of Terror, Inc, known as the Palestinian Authority, one Mahmoud Abbas, upped his erstwhile mentor and arch terrorist, Yasser Arafat, by spewing yet another Arabian Nights hallucinatory diatribe at the United Nations Security Council. It went as follows:

“We are the descendants of the Canaanites that lived in the land of Palestine 5,000 years ago and continuously remained there to this day.”

We should remember that the grisly, blood soaked Arafat had claimed that those Arabs who call themselves Palestinians, were descended from the Philistines. But then the followers of the ‘religion of peace’ will tell you that even Adam was a Muslim. Loony tunes for loony people!

But let’s come back to reality and deconstruct the Arabs who call themselves Palestinians.
There is no such thing as a Palestinian people; no such thing as a Palestinian history; and no Palestinian language exists.

The present-day so-called ‘Palestinians’ are an Arab people sharing an overwhelmingly Muslim Arab culture, ethnicity and language identical to their fellow Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa, with few if any distinctions.  They are primarily the descendants of those itinerant Arabs who illegally flooded British Mandatory Palestine from Arab territories as far away as Sudan, Egypt, Syria and what was Mesopotamia (modern Iraq).  They were attracted during the early decades of the 20th century by new employment opportunities provided by the Jewish pioneers, whose heroic efforts were turning the desert green again and restoring centuries of neglect that the land had endured under a succession of alien occupations.

Britain, during its Mandate over the territory, turned a blind eye to the flood of illegal Arab aliens entering, while at the same time often arbitrarily limiting Jewish immigration into the ancestral Jewish homeland.  This was a betrayal of the Mandate given to Britain to facilitate a Jewish Homeland in the geographical territory known as Palestine.

Yasser Arafat, the Egyptian born arch-terrorist, was fond of creating the absurd myth that Palestinian Arabs were descended from the Philistines.

Canaanites, without doubt, are mentioned in the Bible as the first known inhabitants of the Land of Israel before the first Hebrews, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their wives, settled there, and before Moses brought their descendants back to the Promised Land during the Exodus from Egypt.

The Canaanites lived both along the coastal plain and in the mountain regions, which run like a spine down the biblical territory of Samaria and Judea.  Their language was similar to Hebrew and their territory stretched north into present day Lebanon and included the present day Golan Heights.

The Canaanites were finally subdued, decimated and  intermarried and no longer exist as a distinguishable people.

The ‘Philistines’ were non-Semitic peoples who had entered the land from their homes throughout the Aegean Islands in general and from Crete in particular.  These ancient Cretans arrived in Southern Canaan and along the Egyptian coastline and were known as ‘Pelestim and Keretim’ by the Hebrew tribes.

It appears that their first settlement may have been Gaza.  Later they settled in Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gat and Ekron: the Pentapolis.

Their territory was primarily along the coastal Mediterranean and they attempted at different times to invade Judah, but were turned back by the various Jewish Biblical heroes and finally defeated by King David. From that time onward, they were diminished as a threat and as a separate people, finally disappearing from history after King Hezekiah defeated them and Assyria exiled them. Any claim to lineage by the Arabs who call themselves ‘Palestinian’ is as absurd as that of links with the early Canaanites.

Moving fast forward to 73 CE, the first attempt of the Jews to reclaim their independence from the repressive yoke of Roman occupation ended when Jewish warriors and their families fled to the fortress of Masada from Jerusalem.  The Romans had destroyed the Jewish capital city Jerusalem, along with the Second Jewish Temple.  Masada is where the heroic last stand took place and where the surviving warriors and their families took their own lives rather than be sent as slaves throughout the mighty Roman Empire.

The Land where these stirring and epochal events took place was in the province known as Judæa.  There is absolutely no mention of any place called ‘Palestine’ before that time.

After the suppression of the Second Jewish Revolt in 135 CE against the continuing Roman occupation, the Emperor Hadrian replaced the name of Judea (Yehuda in Hebrew from which the name Yehudim, Jews, originates) with Syria-Palæstina after the ‘Philistines’ who were the ancient enemies of the Israelites.  Hadrian did so with the explicit purpose of effacing any trace of Jewish history.

No such name as Palestine occurs in any ancient document.  It is not written in the Bible, neither in the Hebrew Scriptures nor in the Christian Testament, not even in Assyrian, Persian, Macedonian, Ptolemaic, Seleucian or other Greek sources.  There is no ‘Palestinian’ people ever mentioned, not even by the Romans who invented the term. Yet, here again, the fantasist, Abbas, who ranted in the UNSC and then bid a hasty retreat, still claims Jesus was a ‘Palestinian.’

Why is there no ‘Palestinian’ rebel group mentioned, as for example the Jewish Zealots are? Why does every historic document mention the Jews as the native and aboriginal inhabitants, and the Greeks, Romans and others as foreigners dwelling in Judea while there is no mention of a ‘Palestinian’ people, neither as native or as foreigner?

What is more, there is no reference to any ‘Palestinian’ people in the Koran, although Muslims claim that their prophet was once in al-Aksa (meaning the farthest place) which Muslims, for political purposes, chose to be Jerusalem.

Saladin, a Kurd, knew the Jews and invited them to resettle in Jerusalem.  He had no trouble in recognizing Jerusalem as their capital city and the territory as their rightful Homeland.  But he did not know any so-called Palestinians and to claim that Palestinians are the original people of Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel, is not only counter to secular history but is also opposed to Islamic history.

The so-called ‘Palestinians’ who claim Jerusalem want it so that they can take it away from the Jews for whom Jerusalem, known also as Zion, is the eternal, 3,000 year old Jewish capital.

Perhaps what links the modern day Arabs who call themselves ‘Palestinians’ with the ancient Philistines is that both are invaders.

The Philistines wanted to take from the Israelites the Holy Ark of the Covenant, while today’s so-called ‘Palestinian Arabs’ want to take from the Jewish people the Holy City of the Covenant – Jerusalem.

So let me close, beginning with the words of a Christian Arab, Joseph Farah, in Myths of the Middle East.  Farah has made his home here in America and knows of what he 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.  Keep in mind that the Arabs control 99.9 per cent of the Middle East lands.  Israel represents one-tenth of one per cent of the landmass.  But that’s too much for the Muslim Arabs.  They want it all.  And that is ultimately what the fighting in Israel is about today….No matter how many land concessions the Israelis make, it will never be enough.”

In Their own Words
Pre 1967:

“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.” Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, Syrian Arab leader to British Peel Commission, 1937.

“There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not.” Professor Philip Hitti, Arab historian, 1946

“It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria.” Representative of Saudi Arabia at the United Nations, 1956

Concerning the Holy Land, the chairman of the Syrian Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in February 1919 stated:

“The only Arab domination since the Conquest in 635 CE hardly lasted, as such, 22 years.”

Post 1967:

“There are no differences between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese.  We are all part of one nation.  It is only for political reasons that we carefully underline our Palestinian identity….the existence of a separate Palestinian identity serves only tactical purposes.  The founding of a Palestinian state is a new tool in the continuing battle against Israel.” Zuhair Muhsin, military commander of the PLO and member of the PLO Executive Council.

“Never forget this one point: There is no such thing as a Palestinian people, there is no Palestinian entity, there is only Syria.  You are an integral part of the Syrian people, Palestine is an integral part of Syria.  Therefore it is we, the Syrian authorities, who are the true representatives of the Palestinian people.” Syrian dictator Hafez Assad to the PLO leader Yasser Arafat.

“As I lived in Palestine, everyone I knew could trace their heritage back to the original country their great grandparents came from.  Everyone knew their origin was not from the Canaanites, but ironically, this is the kind of stuff our education in the Middle East included.

“The fact is that today’s Palestinians are immigrants from the surrounding nations! I grew up well knowing the history and origins of today’s Palestinians as being from Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Christians from Greece, Muslim Sherkas from Russia, Muslims from Bosnia, and the Jordanians next door.

“My grandfather, who was a dignitary in Bethlehem, almost lost his life at the hands of Abdul Qader Al-Husseni after being accused of selling land to Jews.

“My father used to tell us that his village Beit Sahur (The Shepherds Fields) in Bethlehem County was empty before his father settled in the area with six other families.  The town has now grown to 30,000 inhabitants.” Walid Shoebat.

Reports from travelers to the Holy Land before its rebuilding by modern Zionism:

“There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent (valley of Jezreel, Galilee); not for thirty miles in either direction….One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings.  For the sort of solitude to make one dreary, come to Galilee….Nazareth is forlorn….Jericho lies a mouldering ruin….Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and humiliation….untenanted by any living creature

“… A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds….a silent, mournful expanse, a desolation….
“We never saw a human being on the whole route….Hardly a tree or shrub anywhere.  Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil had almost deserted the country… Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes….desolate and unlovely…” Mark Twain, “The Innocents Abroad”, 1867.

In 1590 a ‘simple English visitor’ to Jerusalem wrote: “Nothing there is to be seen but a little of the old walls, which is yet remaining and all the rest is grass, moss and weeds much like to a piece of rank or moist ground.” Gunner Edward Webbe, Palestine Exploration Fund.
“The land in Palestine is lacking in people to till its fertile soil.” British archaeologist, Thomas Shaw, mid-1700s.

“Palestine is a ruined and desolate land.” Count Constantine François Volney, 18th century French author and historian.

“The Arabs themselves cannot be considered but temporary residents.  They pitched their tents in its grazing fields or built their places of refuge in its ruined cities.  They created nothing in it.  Since they were strangers to the land, they never became its masters.  The desert wind that brought them hither could one day carry them away without their leaving behind them any sign of their passage through it.” – Comments by Christians concerning the Arabs in Palestine in the 1800s.

“The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is of a body of population.” James Finn, British Consul in 1857.

“The area was under populated and remained economically stagnant until the arrival of the first Zionist pioneers in the 1880’s, who came to rebuild the Jewish land.  The country had remained ‘The Holy Land’ in the religious and historic consciousness of mankind, which associated it with the Bible and the history of the Jewish people.

“Jewish development of the country also attracted large numbers of other immigrants – both Jewish and Arab.  The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts.  Houses were all of mud.  No windows were anywhere to be seen.  The plows used were of wood.  The yields were very poor.  Schools did not exist.  The rate of infant mortality was very high.  The western part, toward the sea, was almost a desert.  Ruins were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria, many villages were deserted by their inhabitants.” The report of the British Royal Commission, 1913.

That the world has fallen hook, line and sinker for duplicitous Arab propaganda speaks to the success of one of the biggest scams ever perpetrated. And Mahmoud Abbas is still at it!

Victor Sharpe traces the Israel-Islam conflict in his four-volume set  (previous volumes here) titled, Politicide, The Attempted Murder of the Jewish State, and provides the reader with an immense amount of information about the biblical and post-biblical history of the Jewish homeland: Israel.He is a prolific freelance writer with many published articles appearing in leading websites dealing with the threat posed by resurgent Islam not only to Israel but to Western and Judeo-Christian civilization.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Why do the Arabs hate the Palestinians so?

Why do the Arabs hate the Palestinians so?

The Arab world, for many reasons, is not at all interested in giving the Palestinian Arabs a state. The Palestinian Arabs don't really want one either, because why kill the "refugee" goose that lays the golden eggs?

By Dr. Mordechai Kedar

In Israel, and in much of the Western world, we tend to think that the Arab world is united in support of the Palestinians, that it  wants nothing so much as to solve the Palestinian problem by giving them a state, and that all the Arabs and Muslims love the Palestinians and hate Israel.  This, however, is a simplistic and partial point of view, because while It is true that many, perhaps even the majority of Arabs and Muslims hate Israel, there are a good many who hate the Palestinians just as much.

Their hatred of Israel stems from Israel's success in surviving despite wars, terror, boycotts and the enmity aimed at the Jewish state; it stems from  the fact that there is an existing Jewish state even though Judaism has been superseded by Islam, the 'true religion.' It is exacerbated by Israel's being a democracy while they live under  dictatorships, because Israel is rich and they are poor, because Israel is Paradise compared to Arab countries, many of which resemble nothing so much as the last train stop before Hell (see Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Sudan – and the list goes on) …and most importantly, because Israel has succeeded in areas in which they have failed, and their jealousy drives them up a wall.
But why should they hate the 'unfortunate' Palestinian Arabs? After all, the Arab narrative says that the Palestinian Arabs' land was stolen and they were forced to become refugees. The answer to this question is complex and is a function of  Middle Eastern culture, which we in Israel and most Westerners neither understand nor recognize.

One of the worst things in Arab eyes is being cheated, fooled or taken advantage of. When someone attempts to cheat an Arab - and even more so, if that person succeeds – an Arab is overcome by furious anger, even if the person involved is his cousin. He will call on his brother to take revenge on that cousin, in line with the Arab adage: "My brother and I against my cousin - and my brother, my cousin and I against a stranger."

Regarding the Palestinian Arabs, first of all,  many are not originally Palestinians at all. They are immigrants who came to the Land of Israel from all over the Arab world during the British Mandate in order to find employment in the cities and on the farms the Jews had built.  These immigrants still have names such as "Al Hurani (from Huran in southern Syria)", "Al Tzurani (from Tyre in Southern Lebanon)", "Al  Zrakawi (from Mazraka in Jordan)," "Al Maztri (the Egyptian)" and many other names that point to the actual, geographically varied origins of the so-called Palestinians. Why, ask the other Arabs, should they get preferential treatment compared to those who remained in their original countries?

Starting with the end of the 1948 Israeli War of Independence, the politics in the Arab world began to center on Israel and the "Palestinian problem" whose solution was to be achieved only by eliminating Israel. In order to help succeed in that mission, the Arab refugees were kept in camps, with explicit instructions from the Arab League to  keep them there and not to absorb them in other  Arab countries.

UNRWA ensured that they were provided with food, education and medical care without charge – that is to say, the nations of the world footed the bill, while the Arab neighbors of these eternal "refugees" had to work and provide food, education and medical care for their families by the sweat of their brow.  Refugees who were supplied with free foodstuffs, such as rice, flour, sugar and oil, for the use of their families, would often sell some  of it to their non-refugee neighbors and make a tidy profit.

Those living in the refugee camps do not pay municipal taxes, leading to a significant number of "refugees" who rent their homes to others and  collect exorbitant sums in comparison with those renting apartments in nearby cities, thanks to this tax exemption. In other  words, the world subsidizes the taxes and the refugees line their own pockets .
In Lebanon, several refugee camps were built near Beirut, but were incorporated into the expanding city, then turned into high class neighborhoods with imposing high rise apartment buildings. Someone has profited from this change, and it is not the man in the  street, who has every reason to feel cheated.

The Palestinian "refugee" camps located in Lebanon have been taken over by armed organizations, from the PLO to ISIS, including Hamas, the Popular Front, the Democratic Front and organizations of Salafist Jihadists. These organizations act viciously towards surrounding Lebanese citizens and in 1975 brought on a civil war that  lasted for 14 long  years of bloodshed, destruction and saw the emigration of hundreds of thousands of Lebanese from their villages to lives of horrible suffering in tent camps all over the country' Many took  refuge in Palestinian "refugee" camps, but the Lebanese refugees received less than 10 per cent of what  Palestinian Arabs received, causing much internecine jealousy  and hatred.

In Jordan, in 1970, the Palestinian Arabs, led by PLO head Yassir Arafat, attempted to take over the country by establishing autonomous regions of their own, complete with roadblocks and armed Palestinian Arabs in the country's north that challenged the monarchy. In September 1970, known as "Black September", King Hussein decided he had had enough and would show them who is boss in Jordan. The  war he declared against  them cost thousands of  lives on both sides.

Meanwhile, in Israel,  20% of the citizenry within the pre-1967 borders is made up of "Palestinian" Arabs who do not rebel or fight against the state. In other words, the "Palestinians" living in pre-1967 Israel enjoy life in the only democracy in the Middle East, while the Arab countries sacrifice their soldiers' blood to liberate "Palestine." Is there a worse case of feeling that you are being exploited than that of an Arab soldier putting his life in danger for this meaningless cause?

Worse still is what every Arab knows: Palestinian Arabs have been selling land to Jews for at least a century, profit immensely from the deals and then go wailing to their Arab brothers to come and free "Palestine" from the "Zionist occupation."

Over the years, the Palestinian Arabs were given many billions of euros and dollars by the nations of the world, so that the yearly per capirta income in the PA is several times greater than that of the Egyptian, Sudanese or Algerian man in the street. His life is many, many times better than that of Arabs living in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen over the past seven years.

On a political level, the Palestinians have managed to arouse the hatred of many of their Arab brethren: In 1990, Arafat supported Saddam Hussein's Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. In revenge, Kuwait, once it was freed of Iraqi conquest, expelled tens of thousands of Palestinians, most of whom had been employed in its oil fields, leaving them destitute overnight. This led to an economic crisis for their families in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, who had been receiving regular stipends from their sons in Kuwait.

Today, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad are supported by Iran, the country abhorred by many Arabs who remember that airplane hijacking and the ensuing blackmail were invented by the Palestinian Arabs who hijacked an El Al plane to Algiers in 1968, fifty years ago, beginning a period of travail still being endured by the entire world.

Despite the 1989 Taaf agreement that ended the civil war in Lebanon and was supposed to lead to the de-weaponization and dissolution of all the Lebanese militias, Syria  allowed Hezbollah to keep its arms  and to develop its military power unrestrainedly. The repeated excuse was that the weapons were meant to "liberate Palestine" and would not be aimed at the Lebanese. To anyone with a modicum of brains, it was clear that  the Palestine story was a fig leaf covering the sad truth that the weapons were going to be aimed at Hezbollah's Syrian and Lebanese enemies. "Palestine" was simply an excuse for the Shiite takeover of Lebanon.

Worst of all is the Palestinian demand that Arab countries refrain from any relations with Israel until the Palestinian problem is solved to the satisfaction of the PLO and Hamas leaders. However, a good  portion of the Arab world cannot find any commonalities that could unite the PLO and  Hamas. They have given up on achieving an internal Palestinian reconciliation, watching the endless squabbles ruin any chances of progress regarding Israel. To sum up the situation, the Arab world – that part of it which sees Israel as the only hope in dealing with Iran – is not happy at the expectation that it must  mortgage its future and  its very existence to the internal fighting between the PLO  and Hamas.

And let us not forget that Egypt and Jordan have signed peace agreements with Israel, have moved outside the circle of war for the "liberation of Palestine" and have  forsaken their Palestinian Arab "brothers," leaving them to deal with the problem on their own.

Much of the Arab and Muslim world is convinced that the "Palestinians" do not want a state of their own. After all, if that state is established, the  world will cease to donate those enormous sums, there will be no more "refugees" and the Palestinian Arabs will have to work like everyone else. How can they do that when they are all addicted  to receiving handouts without any strings attacked?

One can say with assurance, that 70 years after the creation of the "Palestinian problem," the Arab world has realized that there is no solution that  will satisfy those who have  turned "refugee-ism"  into a profession, so that the "Palestinian problem" has  become an emotional and financial scam that only serves to enrich the corrupt leaders of Ramallah and Gaza.

Translated by Rochel Sylvetsky, Senior Consultant to A7 English site, Op-ed and Judaism editor

Saturday, March 3, 2018

The two-state solution's inconvenient truths

The two-state solution's inconvenient truths

Because of the basis of "Palestinian" national identity, the two-state solution basically makes peace impossible. The objective factors that preclude a two state soluton should have been obvious to anyone analyzing the situation.

By Dr. Yale M. Zussman

As long as there was some hope that negotiation could produce a solution to the conflict with the Arabs, Israel and it supporters generally refrained from calling attention to several objective factors that have always made the so-called "two-state" solution impossible. In the wake of UNSCR 2334 and several more recent developments, the prospects of successful negotiations have dimmed further, even with all the talk of the Trump Plan, so the time has come to call attention to those factors.

There are five objective factors, "inconvenient truths" if you like, that preclude a successful "two-state" solution that should have been obvious to anyone thinking about the issue seriously:

1. Opposition to Jewish rights in the region comes, at least in part, from religious sources. Hajj Amin al-Husseini, who led the Arabs during the Mandate, was a religious authority and appealed to his people to oppose the Jews using religious terminology. For Muslims, the entire Land of Israel is a Muslim waqf or religious trust, territory that, having been conquered by the Muslim sword, can never revert to its previous and rightful owners. As long as that belief isn't countered, no Muslim can accept that Jews will rule anywhere in the Land. The conflict over security for the Temple Mount complex is a manifestation of this problem as is the dispute over recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Both are largely driven by theological, even eschatological, factors because they directly challenge this Muslim belief.
There can be no peace between Muslims and Jews that fails to address the Islamic dimension of the problem. It is possible that finding an answer here will provide insights enabling solution of the other apparently intractable problems of the Muslim world. Given what is going on in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, etc., such insights cannot come too soon. The Arab-Israeli conflict is a result of the same factors that generated those others, and not the cause of them. Conventional wisdom has had it exactly backwards. Establishing a Palestinian state would do nothing about this issue.

2. The demographics of the region require that either Israel or the putative Palestinian state be non-contiguous. While it is topologically possible to make both states contiguous, by exchanging the Jordan River valley for territory linking Gaza and Judea, the absurd borders this will produce, and the need to move tens, or hundreds, of thousands of citizens to get there, guarantee that this will not be done. The contiguity problem led to the Partition Commission's clever, possibly elegant, but conceptually flawed, borders in 1947. Because the wider region is mainly Muslim, it is more important that Israel remain contiguous, which it currently is, and that means that any Palestinian state established must consist of non-contiguous pieces.

Non-contiguity enables separate development in economics and culture at the very least, and these lead to divergent political paths. We see this phenomenon in "Palestine" with the Islamist Hamas controlling Gaza and the avowedly secular PA in power on the 'West Bank'. As long as "Palestine" is conceived as a single entity, the groups ruling its two lobes must compete for control of both by upping the ante against Israel, because hostility to the Jews is the only issue that unites their various peoples.

The track record of non-contiguous states is rather bad. The most obvious examples are Pakistan, from which Bangladesh seceded in a bloody war in 1971, and Germany and East Prussia, which contributed to the outbreak of World War II. Non-contiguity, by itself, may guarantee that the putative Palestine will be a failed state almost from birth. In turn, that makes the notion of a "Palestinian state" part of the problem, rather than part of the solution.
3. A solution to the conflict that includes Israeli withdrawal to the Green Line, division of Jerusalem, and withdrawal of all the settlers to enable the establishment of a fully militarized Palestinian state along the 1967 lines, what "two-state" solution advocates claim they want, and what is envisioned in the 2002 Arab initiative and UNSCR 2334, would demonstrate that the cause of all Palestinian suffering, for the last 49 years, if not since 1949, is the unwillingness of their leaders to make peace with Israel: This is the solution they could have had in 1967, or even 1949, but chose not to pursue.

Such a solution would mean that all Arab "suffering" since 1967, or even 1949, is the result of decisions made by their leaders and will have been "for nothing." No-one who has been part of the decision-making process during this period can escape responsibility for the costs they have imposed on their people, and many would undoubtedly pay with their lives. The longer the conflict continues, the more "suffering" there is and the higher the price the leaders will have to pay.

Palestinian Arabs would benefit by being told the truth, but their leaders have never done so and can't start now; they have backed themselves into a corner. For this reason, all concerned must recognize that a solution before Mahmud Abbas' death is basically inconceivable.

I have brought this reality to the attention of a few diplomats involved with the issue, and none of them has acknowledged being previously aware of it. Once it is pointed out, it's sort of obvious, and they recognized immediately why it would prove to be a problem.

The only solution that can vindicate that suffering is the destruction of Israel, but there is no obvious reason why Israel should agree to that... This means that only the prospect of future losses can provide the incentive for Palestinian Arab leaders to settle sooner rather than hoping for better later. Since, apart from its propaganda value, these leaders don't appear to be bothered by the suffering of their people, Israel's only real leverage on the Palestinian Arabs is the possible loss of land.

Contrary to the widely-held assumption in the West, this means the prospect of additional 'settlements' is a net positive for getting the Palestinians to make peace, and the campaign against them has undermined the pursuit of a solution. It is no coincidence that as the campaign against the 'settlements' has gathered momentum the prospects for a negotiated solution have dimmed. Palestinian leaders understand this, which is why they are so adamant about building freezes, and why, when they get one, respond by doing nothing. Freezes do nothing more than remove Israel's leverage; they don't advance the cause of peace.

4. "Palestinian" history demonstrates that there is no "Palestinian People." The 1910/11 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica lists more than a dozen identifiable nationality groups within the Muslim population of the land claimed by the Palestinians. During the Mandate, they were joined by additional Muslim groups, including some from Syria.

Some Palestinian Arab leaders are willing to acknowledge that there is no Palestinian people. Thus, Zahir Muhsein, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, told the Dutch publication Trouw in 1977:

"The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct `Palestinian people' to oppose Zionism."

In an official PA TV special broadcast for the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, (Nov. 1, 2017) Palestinian historian Abd Al-Ghani Salameh responded to a question about the Declaration's impact on the Palestinian people with:

"Before the Balfour Promise (i.e., Declaration) when the Ottoman rule ended (1517--1917), Palestine's political borders as we know them today did not exist, and there was nothing called a Palestinian people with a political identity as we know today (emphasis added), since Palestine's lines of administrative division stretched from east to west and included Jordan and southern Lebanon, and like all peoples of the region [the Palestinians] were liberated from the Turkish rule and immediately moved to colonial rule, without forming a Palestinian people's political identity."

Pinhas Inbari (Who Are the Palestinians? August 7, 2017 pointed out recently that the histories and genealogies of the various clans confirm that essentially all of them are new-comers, from Arabia, Egypt, or even Central Asia. Thus, contrary to Mahmud Abbas's claims, none of the clans or tribes claims to be descended from the Canaanites, much less the Natufians, the name anthropologists give to the people who may have discovered agriculture 10000 years ago.

Even Hamas minister Fathi Hammad acknowledges that "half the Palestinians are Egyptians and the other half are Saudis."

During the mandate, the Arabs of Palestine had no name for themselves; "Palestinian" referred to the Jews. When they took a name, in the 1950s, it was the name the imperialists -- Roman Empire or British, take your pick -- gave to the territory where they had lived. Where would they be if the Jews had decided to retain the name "Palestine" for their country?

Two or three generations of separate development followed 1949, so there has been no opportunity for Palestinian Arabs to coalesce into a single people. If they had, the "Refugees of 1948" would be willing to forego their claimed "right of return" to their homes in 1947 for the opportunity to have a Palestinian state. Insistence on this right means the "Palestinians" aren't a people even today. They remain, as they were a century ago, a grab-bag of clans and tribes, some newly arrived in the Middle East, never mind "Palestine," and often at war with one another.

Even if their leaders wanted to, this collection would be incapable of making the decisions necessary to establish peace. Indeed, as long as hostility toward Israel is the glue holding the "Palestinian People" together, they cannot make peace without putting themselves out of business. They are incapable of either unifying, which is a prerequisite for the "two-state" solution, or abandoning maximalist  claims because that means abandoning the "Refugees of 1948."

Palestinian leaders must be aware of this at some level, which explains their ridiculous claims about the antiquity of their people and their denial of demonstrable Jewish history and claims to the land, a lie made "official" by UNESCO. Reality doesn't support their political goals, so, in the absence of a real one, they have simply invented a history for themselves.

Curiously, the only time all the parts of the "Palestinian" people could intermingle freely was when there actually was an 'occupation'. It was also during the 'occupation' that their living conditions improved markedly, now labeled "suffering." Maybe Arafat concluded that if he didn't destroy these gains his hope to destroy Israel would never come to pass, and thus the intifadeh.

Any solution now would demonstrate that the "Palestinian narrative" has been a lie all along, and without that narrative, Palestinian claims would be seen for what they are: a pretext for avoiding making peace.

That there is no "Palestinian People" does not mean there are no Palestinian people; there is a difference. The sad irony of this situation is that what is good for Palestinian people, like the economic and social progress that occurred during the 'occupation', is often bad for the notion that there is a "Palestinian People;" while what is good for that idea, like more "resistance," violence, and death, is usually very bad for individual Palestinians.

5. The solution suggested in item 3 does nothing for the "Refugees of 1948" because it doesn't include the "right of return" or enable them to destroy Israel, so they have no reason to support it or to pay any price to get it. That most of the leaders of the various Palestinian factions come from those "Refugees of 1948" means they won't consider settling on this basis, and as long as Palestinian society is not governed democratically, the "Refugees of 1948" faction will hold power and prevent a solution.

Consequently, resolution of the refugee issue is a prerequisite for achieving a peace settlement of any sort; it must come before the Palestinians will be willing to get serious about making peace. The solution will have to come from outside, perhaps a buy-out of their "refugee" status. Arab leaders have understood this since 1949, which is why they have refused to address the refugee issue and why there are Palestinian "refugees" living in camps under the jurisdiction of the PA and Hamas, the two candidates for their prospective "government." UNRWA must be closed down since its survival depends on perpetuating the refugee problem.

The above items are incontestable facts, and note that I have not included that the Palestinian Arabs have a different idea about what the "two-state" solution is intended to achieve: not peace but a new status quo from which they can pursue the destruction of Israel.

Now for the implications:

There are at least three alternatives to the establishment of a Palestinian state as envisioned in the "two-state" solution:

a) Continuation of the current situation. This is basically a non-starter because since Oslo it has been understood as temporary and that has contributed to escalating violence. "Temporary" does not mean it is going away any time soon, just that ultimately it must end.

b) Israeli annexation of the West Bank. Caroline Glick has proposed this, but her solution doesn't really explain why the Arabs would accept it and how Israel might address the consequences of having a large hostile minority inclined to engage in violence with free access to everywhere in the country.

c) Look back to the situation between 1949 and 1967. In this scenario, Gaza is either annexed by Egypt or recognized as the Palestinian state (appropriate because Gaza approximates the territory once inhabited by the Philistines) while Israel and Jordan draw a border between them to resolve territorial issues in Judea and Samaria. Because both Egypt and Jordan have already recognized the legitimacy of Israel, such a solution doesn't require the conceptual breakthrough necessary for an agreement between Israel and "Palestine." Jordan can agree to demilitarize its West Bank territories without losing sovereignty, something a Palestinian state in the same territory could not do.

The counter-argument here is that this strategy will convert Jordan into a possibly second Palestinian state, but if the "Refugees of 1948" have already been resettled, they might be open to adopting a Jordanian identity that enables them to avoid Islamist rule, which Hamas has brought to Gaza.

This approach ends the "occupation" without empowering forces committed to destroying Israel, and may well be sufficient for the larger Arab and Muslim worlds to declare the problem solved.

The notion of a "Palestinian State" may be one of the worst ideas ever to come from the political elite. Because of the basis of "Palestinian" national identity, it basically makes peace impossible.

The question before diplomats who wish to address this conflict now is simple: Are they more interested in vindicating the theory that requires Israeli concessions or do they wish to find a solution to the problem? It is said to be intractable, but maybe what must actually change is the mind-set of those who seek to deal with it and their understanding of what it will take to find a solution.

(The author holds a doctorate in Political Science from MIT)

Monday, February 12, 2018




The Palestinian Arabs have to decide what their objective is.

Slogans will not do.

They seem to aspire to get emotional satisfaction more than practical results. For instance, getting a large number of United Nations resolutions condemning Israel or extolling their national cause or threatening ad nauseam that Israel and Israelis will be brought to trial before international tribunals have had scant positive effect on the conditions of the Palestinian Arabs.

Further, shouting loudly that the gates of hell will open each time anyone does anything that runs counter to their narrative adds only a poetic dimension to their cause, but nothing else.

Setting preconditions to any negotiations with Israel or leaving them when it suits the Palestinian Arabs have hardly improved their negotiating position vis a vis Israel.

They had eight years of a positively-disposed US administration led by president Barak Obama, which were wasted in vain. An opportunity was presented to them to try to forge a diplomatic process convenient to them, but they didn’t. The Palestinian Arab leadership alternated between preconditions and post-conditions, between stating what Israel must do prior to negotiations and demanding Israel meet further conditions after negotiations had already started.

There is a limit to how much the Palestinian Arabs can ascribe responsibility to Israel for anything wrong that has happened to them.

Now they have found an additional culprit: the United States. Their mode of conduct with the US is peculiar, though consistent: rather than try to shape reality for their own good, they remain on the sidelines finger-pointing and boycotting. President Donald Trump has said explicitly that US official recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital does not predetermine the future boundaries of the city. Moreover, he made it clear that Israel was supposed to “pay” for it. Where were the Palestinian Arabs to ask for such a payment? The Palestinian Arabs are responsible for their fate no less than anyone else is. Within certain limits, they have a freedom of choice. The problem is that they know that no matter how many mistakes they might make, there will always be an automatic majority in the international community supporting them. To be sure, that may afford them scant tangible success, but it gives them considerable emotional satisfaction.

If the Zionist movement had made even a fraction of the mistakes the Palestinian Arabs have made since 1947, by now it would have been consigned to oblivion.

The Palestinian Arabs act as though they are immune from such a fate, as though they can afford to err as many times as they wish. After all, they can always blame Israel and get the regular automatic backing in international organizations.

Their strategy of weakening Israel has failed. They believed that attacks on Israeli civilians would weaken their resolve (in this context it should be stressed that Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, has been consistently opposed to terrorism since the Oslo Accords of 1993); that a hostile diplomatic and legal campaign would weaken Israel’s international position; that boycotting Israeli products would weaken Israel’s economy; that threatening to engulf the region with hatred and violence would weaken Israel’s control of Jerusalem and other areas.

If they wish to wait until Israel disappears or becomes significantly weaker, then many more generations of Palestinian Arabs will continue to cheer, applaud and announce that the gates of hell are going to open as Israelis prospers and become even more powerful and successful.

To be sure, success is not assured even to the most capable of people, as the Palestinian Arabs know.

Israel can have its ups and downs. Israelis might suffer still more.

The question is how do the Palestinian Arabs see their own future? Are they going to determine the extent of their national destiny by defining the limits of Israel’s national fate? Shouldn’t their objective be depicted in positive rather than negative terms? Any success the Palestinian Arabs have in the international arena is ephemeral and hardly consequential.

It’s up to them to decide if they wish to continue waiting passively for a better future until hell freezes over or decide to shape actively their political environment in a constructive way.

To be sure, any leader who wishes to do so has to face a large portion of the Palestinian Arab community opposed to any compromise, attached to an emotionally uplifting but politically destructive national narrative.

However, whether such a leader exists or not the fact remains that rather than forge a positive national credo with which to carry its people forward, the Palestinian leadership has so far preferred to adhere to a negative collective memory leading its people to a diplomatic dead end. To paraphrase Winston Churchill: never have so many enjoyed so much international support in order to achieve so little.

The author is a lecturer at the Diplomacy Studies Program of Tel Aviv University’s Political Science Department.

He holds a doctorate in modern history from Oxford University and a master’s degree in international relations from Cambridge University. He read for his BA in history at Tel Aviv University.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Who Are The Palestinians

Institute for Contemporary Affairs
Founded jointly with the Wechsler Family Foundation
Vol. 17, No. 21
  • Palestinian leaders claim that the Palestinians are descended from the Canaanite people who lived in the Land of Canaan before the Israelite tribes settled in it.
  • What is the source of the name “Palestine?” It is not Arab; it is derived from the name “Palestina,” by which the Roman Emperor Hadrian chose to call the land after the defeat of the Bar Kokhba Revolt in 135 CE. His aim was to erase “Judea.”
  • According to Palestinian historian Muhammad Y. Muslih, during the entire 400 year period of Ottoman rule (1517-1918), before the British set up the 30-year-long Palestine Mandate, “There was no political unit known as Palestine.” In Arabic, the area was known as al-Ard al-Muqadassa(the holy land), or Surya al-Janubiyya (southern Syria), but not Palestine.
  • Not a single Palestinian tribe identifies its roots in Canaan; instead, they all see themselves as proud Arabs descended from the most notable Arab tribes of the Hejaz, today’s Iraq, or Yemen. Even the Kanaan family of Nablus locates its origins in Syria. Some Palestinian clans are Kurdish or Egyptian in origin, and in Mount Hebron, there are traditions of Jewish origins.
  • This study does not deny the right of the Palestinian clans as a whole to define themselves as a Palestinian people. It would be better, however, if the Palestinian leadership were to choose a positive and constructive narrative and not a baseless one that is intended to negate that of the Jews of Israel.
Yet again, Palestinian leaders are claiming that the Palestinians are descended from the Canaanite people who lived in the land of Canaan before the Israelite tribes settled in it. No less than the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, made that claim in Germany; no one was taken aback by his remarks or questioned him.1
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat frequently makes the assertion,2 and during an international forum, he insultingly sniped at senior Israeli politician Tzipi Livni that his origins lay with the Canaanites of Jericho who were wiped out by the Israelites, alluding to “war crimes” of Joshua ben Nun.3  Again, none of the senior international officials who were present made any effort to ask questions, raise doubts, or come to the defense of the abashed Israeli representative.
Ironically, a strong dissenting view to this thesis that the Palestinians can be traced back to the Canaanites comes from Hamas. On March 23, 2012, the Hamas Minister of the Interior and National Security, Fathi Hammad, linked the Palestinians’ origins to Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula:
Who are the Palestinians? We have many families called al-Masri, whose roots are Egyptian! They may be from Alexandria, from Cairo, from Dumietta, from the north, from Aswan, from Upper Egypt. We are Egyptians; we are Arabs. We are Muslims. We are part of you. Egyptians! Personally, half my family is Egyptian – and the other half are Saudis.4
The Palestinians’ Canaanite narrative is not new. It emerged after the fall of the Hashemite monarchy in Syria in 1920, Syria’s incorporation into the French Mandate, and King Faisal’s flight to Iraq so that he could assume the throne there in 1921. Yasser Arafat claimed that the Palestinians are descendants of the Jebusites, whom he describes as a Canaanite tribe.5 In short, this argument has been around for a while.

What’s in a Name?

What is the source of the name “Palestine?” It is not Arab; it is derived from the name “Palestina,” by which the Roman Emperor Hadrian chose to call the land after the defeat of the Bar Kokhba Revolt in 135 CE. His aim was to erase “Judea” and negate any connection of the land’s history and identity with the Jews.6 This denial of the land’s Jewish roots has regrettably been continued to the present day by today’s Palestinians. 
When the Islamic armies conquered the land, they adopted the administrative name used by the Byzantines and dubbed part of Palestina Prima (“the first Palestine”) – more or less today’s Jerusalem area and the Shfela [coastal plain] – as “Jund Filastin.”7  Jund means “army;” Jund Filastin means “the Palestine military command.” In other words, the name did not signify the national identity of a “Palestinian people” who lived in the land, but instead, a military district, in line with the Byzantine nomenclature. The hub of Jund Filastin was the town of Ramle, not Jerusalem; the intention was apparently to protect the trade routes leading from Egypt to Syria and Iraq.
The first generation of the Palestinian Muslim leadership took part in the Great Arab Revolt of the Hashemites in 1916. Palestinian leaders were members of the Hashemite administration in Syria, and it was only after King Faisal’s reign collapsed that they came to Palestine.
Arab demonstration in Jerusalem, circa 1920. The sign on the left says: “We resist the Jewish immigration;” the sign on the right says: “Palestine is part of Syria.”
According to Palestinian historian Muhammad Y. Muslih, during the entire 400-year period of Ottoman rule (1517-1918), before the British set up the 30-years-long Palestine Mandate, “There was no political unit known as Palestine.” In Arabic, the area was known as al-Ard al-Muqadassa(the holy land), or Surya al-Janubiyya (southern Syria), but not Palestine.8
The Arabs of British Mandatory Palestine (1918-1948), then, had been exposed to competing narratives by which they could construct their political identity.9  Haj Amin al-Husseini, for example, was an Ottoman officer, but he joined the Hashemite army as a recruiter.10  Another figure from those days was Aref al-Aref, a supporter of the Hashemite regime in Damascus who orchestrated the April 1920 Nabi Musa riots in Jerusalem as a way of honoring the reinstatement of the Hashemite Faisal’s government. In 1919, al-Aref edited a Jerusalem-based publication called “Southern Syria.” At the 1920 riots, Haj Amin al-Husseini held up a portrait of King Faisal of Syria and showed it to the Jerusalem Arab crowd: “This is your King!” The crowd responded: “God Save the King!”11 The focus of much of the protest at the time was on the imposed separation of British Mandatory Palestine from Syria, which came under a French Mandate. The goal was reunification not Palestinian independence.
Anti-Zionist demonstration in Jerusalem 1920
Arab demonstration outside of the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, 1920. The speaker may be Aref al Aref. The signs declared support for Palestine as part of Syria   (Library of Congress)
As long as Palestinians saw themselves as part of Syria, they were not aware of their Palestinian identity. Adnan Abu Odeh, a senior Jordanian statesman of Palestinian extraction, wrote about Palestinian-Jordanian relations and made a distinction between the two peoples. In his view, the difference between Jordanians and Palestinians does not necessarily lie in how they define their identity but in how others define them.12 This distinction emerged, he maintains, when the British established the Emirate of Transjordan, which defined the Jordanians, and designated Palestine as the Jewish national home, thereby defining the Arabs who lived in the territory allocated to the Jews as Palestinians. 
The following are Adnan Abu Odeh’s definitions:
  • Trans-Jordanians: Jordanian citizens whose origin is in Transjordan,
  • Palestinians: The Arab people of Mandatory Palestine,
  • Palestinian Jordanians: Palestinians who became Jordanian citizens after the West Bank and the East Bank were unified by Jordan in 1950,
  • Jordanians: Jordanian citizens of whatever origin.
Thus, the national definition of the Palestinians stemmed from the borders that the Western powerscarved out, whereas, after the First World War, they defined themselves as part of the short-lived Hashemite regime in Syria.
A remnant of those early days is the flag of Palestine, which is actually the flag of the Great Arab Revolt of the Hashemites.13  It still serves as the official flag of the Syrian Baath Party and was only adopted as the official flag of Palestine at the PLO congress of 1964.14   In any case, the flag’s colors represent symbols from Islamic history and are in no way specifically linked with the Palestinians.
The flag of Hashemite Syria
The flag of Hashemite Syria
The flag of the Syrian Baath Party
The flag of the Syrian Baath Party
This latter flag represents the Syrian aspiration for an empire. Similarly, the first generations of Palestinian nationalists joined the Hashemite administration out of hope that pan-Arabism would liberate Palestine. To this day, the PLO regards itself as pan-Arab.15 This means that for the Palestinians, defining themselves as pan-Arabs entails the total negation of the other – in the Palestinians’ case, of Israel.  The first article in the 1964 Palestine Liberation Organization’s Charter declares “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.”16 
The flag of Palestine is, then, one of the flags of “Greater Syria.” It expresses a pan-Arab commitment, which the flags of Jordan, the Baath Party, and the Hashemites during their short-lived regime in Syria also upheld.

Denial of Jewish History

When Nabil Shaath, head of the PLO’s foreign relations department, explained why they oppose the 1917 Balfour Declaration, he described Jewish history as “a potpourri of legends and fabrications.”17 Britain had awarded the country to those who had no bond with it whatsoever.   “[The Jews] he said, “have no connection with the country, neither in distant nor in more recent history. Britain destroyed Palestine and cleared the path for the colonialist settlers instead of the real owners of the country. That is history,” declared Shaath.
Associating Palestinian history with the Canaanites is, then, part of the total denial of Jewish history. It is echoed in the denial of the Jewish people’s connection to the Temple Mount and the existence of a Jewish Temple there – nothing but a “potpourri of legends and fabrications.”
This narrative is directly linked with the outrageous UNESCO resolutions that sever the bonds between the Jewish People and the cities of Jerusalem and Hebron. Some time ago, in one of the West Bank cities, I talked with a retired Palestinian teacher about the Canaanites. He claimed that they were a Yemenite Arab tribe that settled in Palestine and that the Israelites when they conquered the country, did not build a single new city or village; all the cities are Canaanite cities.
He also said that the Israeli Shekel bears a Canaanite name; the evidence is that it was a Canaanite currency that Abraham paid to the Canaanites for the Cave of Machpelah. He claimed the Palestinians hold the right to the name “Shekel.”
According to the Torah – so the Palestinian teacher claimed as well – Ishmael (Abraham’s son) was the firstborn, not Isaac. God’s promise to Abraham pertained to Ishmael and not to Israel, he insisted.
One theory associates the Canaanites with the tribe of Amalek,18 hated by the Israelites.  It posits that the Canaanites were among the Amalekites’ descendants, and that “explains” why the Jews want to annihilate the Palestinians. Thus, linking the Palestinians with Canaan reflects an uncompromising attitude of all-out war.
Palestinian scholar Khairiya Qassemiya wrote in the PLO’s journal that the Palestinians’ disengagement from Syria was difficult for them because they then had to contend alone, without the Arabs, against the Zionists. King Faisal, she wrote, opposed severing Palestine from Syria, and in doing so set the stage for the ongoing opposition of all Syrian governments to creating a separate Palestinian state that is detached from Greater Syria.
The collapse of Faisal’s government, however, cut the Palestinians off from Syria19 and forced them to seek separate roots for their identity; thus, the Canaanite ethos was born.
For his part, PLO leader Yasser Arafat was known to describe the Palestinians as a “nation of heroes” (kum jabarin). The term comes from a Koran verse concerning the Israelites’ trepidation over entering the land of Canaan since it harbored a “nation of giants,” that is, the Canaanites. Thus, Arafat gave the Canaanite narrative Islamic roots.20 

The Public Relations Hype versus Genealogy

Such is the ethos. When one looks into what the Palestinians say about themselves, how each family describes its lineage, there is no trace of a “Canaanite” ancestry. Most of the families find their origins in Arab tribes, some of them with Kurdish or Egyptian background, and there are even – by word of mouth – widespread stories of Jewish or Samaritan ancestry. Although one might have expected some effort to adduce a Philistine ancestry, there is almost no such phenomenon.21 
In Nablus, there is a family named Kanaan – that is, Canaan. We asked members of the family about its lineage, and they affirmed that they had been Canaanites for 3,000 years. However, a look at the family’s website gave a different picture.22  It is indeed an ancient family – part of it Christian, indicating its pre-Islamic origin; but coming from Aleppo in Syria. From Aleppo, the family branched out to Damascus, Cyprus, and other places, including Nablus. Although the name may indicate Canaanite ancestry, the Canaanite forebears were in Syria, not in the land of Canaan.
According to another source within the family, the clan originated in Homs,23 Syria and became widely dispersed in the Middle East, apparently including Nablus, about 300 years ago. Despite the fact that the name suggests a Canaanite lineage, this source says the family’s origins lie in the ancient Arab Tamim24 tribe.
Thus, apart from the Kanaan family with its possible Canaanite ancestry coming from Syria, not Palestine, and its possible Arab origins, there is no direct or indirect evidence of the Palestinians having descended from the Canaanite people as they claim.
On February 1, 2014, Saeb Erekat locked horns with his negotiating partner, Tzipi Livni, before a European audience in Germany. He pronounced:25  “I am a son of Jericho. My age—10,000 years. I am a proud son of the Canaanites, and I was [here] 5,000 years ago, and 500 years before the coming of Joshua bin Nun, who burned my city, Jericho, and I will not trade in my history [because of a demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish state].”
In other words, Erekat’s claimed Canaanite roots entail that he cannot recognize Jewish history; and in any case, Joshua bin Nun, Erekat intimates, was a war criminal.
Is the Erekat family “Canaanite,” as he angrily insisted to Tzipi Livni before a European audience that did not bat an eyelash?
To find out how the family views its lineage, we looked at his family’s genealogical sites.
It turns out that the Erekat family originates in the large Huweitat tribe, and they belong to the Ashraf (families that trace their lineage to the family of the Prophet). They are related to the descendants of Hussein, grandson of the Prophet, who migrated from Medina to the Syrian Desert and settled in the Aqaba area.
The Erekat family itself settled in Abu Dis, Jericho, Amman, and Ajloun (in Jordan). The sheikh of the family was Kamal Erekat, commander of the jihad against the nascent Jewish state in 1948 after Abd al-Kader al-Husseini was killed in the Battle of Kastel during Israel’s War of Independence. Kamal Erekat himself was wounded in the war and later became the first speaker of the Jordanian parliament.
In general, the list of heads of the Erekat family includes many Jordanian cabinet ministers. Why is the family so prominent in Jordan? Because the Huweitat tribe was among the main tribes that backed the Great Arab Revolt of the Hashemites in Mecca, and it moved north along with Laurence of Arabia —that is, at the same time as the Zionists were establishing themselves in Palestine.
The Hejaz-based Huweitat tribe linked up with the branch of the tribe that had already settled in Jordan, and together they conquered Aqaba.26

Historic Arab Migration

How did the Arab tribes of the Levant and Arab tribes, in general, come to be so dispersed? The Ottoman Empire was a gigantic open space, and internal migration and free movement of individuals and nomadic tribes were a common and characteristic feature. Hence, Arab tribes that settled in the Land of Israel were also varied and of different lineages, and during the Ottoman Empire, the Arabs in the country did not identify themselves as Palestinians. The term Palestine was Western and was regularly used by Jews who immigrated to the country; the Zionists called themselves Palestinians while the Arabs simply identified themselves as Arabs. The Zionist institutions – such as the Anglo-Palestine Bank, the Palestine Post, and so on – were “Palestinian” whereas the Arab institutions, such as the Arab Higher Committee, were simply “Arab.”
As Adnan Abu Odeh observed, the definition of the Arabs as Palestinians stemmed from how the British identified the land – that is, from how foreigners, not necessarily Arabs, referred to the area.
During and before the Ottoman Empire, Arab tribes were defined as Qays and Yaman – that is, the tribes of the “northern” Arabian Peninsula and the tribes of “Yemen.” That dichotomy characterized the disputes between the Arab tribes long before Islam began. It stemmed from the massive northward migration of the Yemenite tribes after a traumatic event in Yemen’s ancient history – the collapse of the Great Ma’rib Dam sometime between 570 and 575 CE.
Those migrations were not typical of Palestine, which had not yet emerged, but rather of the Middle East as a whole, and in this regard, the Palestinian tribes were no different from the region in general.
Up to the present, almost every Palestinian family describes its origins by identifying either with the Qays (northern Arabian) tribes or with Yaman (Yemen).27   We did not find a single Palestinian family or tribe that referred to a Canaanite origin, including the Erekat tribe, which locates its lineage in the northern tribes.28
In 1938, the historian Ihsan Nimri published in Damascus a book about the history of Nablus and the Balka. Nimri was a resident of Nablus. Balka, a region in central Jordan in which the town of Salt is located, was connected to Nablus and was not referred to in terms of southern or northern, but rather, regarding the eastern direction – where Jordan is today.  As Nimri wrote in the introduction:29  
Nablus was known in the days of the Canaanites as “Shechem” [the Hebrew name], and it was unimportant. The Israelites conquered it easily, and after that, the Assyrians deported them to Iraq, and Iraqis settled in it. In the days of Rome, the city rebelled, and the Romans destroyed it and rebuilt it and called it Neapolis, the new city…. Until the Muslims conquered it, its residents were an assortment of Christian Arabs, Samaritans, Arab governors, and soldiers… Subsequently, Nablus got caught up in events in Syria, and I have devoted a chapter to the events in Syria because of [Nablus’] connection with this history.
Thus, according to this book on the history of Nablus, the references to the Canaanites are chronological rather than actual, and the Canaanites have left no trace in the current demography of the city.

Jewish Origins for Some?

Among the prominent tribes is that of the Barghoutis, from whose ranks have come Marwan Barghouti and other well-known figures. In a conversation with a member of the family many years ago, he told me that the Barghouti family symbolizes sumud – remaining steadfastly on the land. The family originally was Jewish, he said, and they converted to Christianity during the Byzantine Empire, and then, when Islam arrived, to Islam.
There is no evidence of this description in the family’s genealogy. There are, however, signs of its Christian origins. The family comes from the village of Deir Ghasana in the Ramallah district.30  Today, it is a Muslim area, but the names of the villages indicate that it was Christian in the past. The word Deir means “monastery,” and “Deir Ghasana” means “the Ghasana monastery.” Thus, the village from which the Barghouti family spread to other points on the map bears a Christian name. Although the Barghoutis ignore this Christian origin, other sites refer to it.31 
For Muslim families, a Christian origin could indicate a Jewish origin, though not necessarily. The Christian families of Ramallah are an example. According to their tradition, the Christians of Ramallah are descended from the Christian Bedouin tribe of southern Jordan. (Yes, there were Christian Bedouins in the past.) They were the Haddadin tribe of the Karak area, 140 kilometers south of Amman, who were forced to leave 250 years ago by pressure from the Muslim tribes who sought to marry their daughters.32 
Originally, the Haddadin tribe was Yemenite, and it was forced to leave pre-Muslim Yemen at the time of the Jewish king, Dhu Nuwas (455-510 CE), to avoid converting to Judaism and to maintain their Christianity.33  Today, the Haddadin is one of Jordan’s important tribes, and its members hold senior positions in the Hashemite government; an example is Munzer Haddadin, who headed the Jordanian delegation to the talks on water with Israel.
The Jewish origin of the fellahin [villagers, laborer] is a fascinating subject. The Israeli computer scientist Zvi Misinay has sponsored genetic studies that have demonstrated a “primary” genetic link between the Palestinian fellahin and the Jews.34  Arab researchers have rejected this thesis, ascribing it to the desire to Judaize the Palestinians.35 
Nonetheless, in conversations, many Palestinians confirm ancient traditions of Jewish origins that are common in their families. For example, a female clerk in the office of Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) once told me that her origins lay in the two biblical towns of Tzora and Eshtaol mentioned in the Samson story (Judges 13). Interestingly, the pairing of Tzora and Eshtaol is also preserved in spoken Arabic. The Palestinian Encyclopedia, published by the Palestinian Authority, describes “Sar’a” as a village that was founded in Canaanite days.36   The Israeli nonprofit organization Zochrot, which preserves the memory of the Palestinian villages that were destroyed during the War of Independence, makes use of the Palestinian descriptions but adds that the original name of this village was Sor’a and that it was known by this name at least until the 16th century.37 


A source in Mount Hebron told me once that the Mount Hebron villagers call the residents of Hebron “the Jews.” Although the families of Hebron do not regard themselves as having Jewish ancestry, in the Mount Hebron villages there are traditions with Jewish origins. The most notable examples are the village of Yatta – the Biblical Juttah – and particularly among the Makhamra family.
Israel’s second president, Yitzhak Ben Zvi, was a noted historian who researched the village of Yatta. In 1928 he described the lighting of Hanukah candles and observance of Jewish customs.38
The tradition that the Makhamra clan has Jewish ancestry is common to this family, noted Ben Zvi. Strikingly, one finds on a Palestinian Facebook page,39 called “All of us are for Palestine,” a passage reposted from a different Facebook page called “Yatta is everyone’s”:
It is said that the Makhamra family is of Jewish origin, and this was proved in the United Nations, and in 1947 Yatta was registered as a Jewish town, and it is said that all the residents of Yatta are of Jewish origin, and that the Samu, the Maharik family, the Carmel, Susya, Bani Naim, the Ta’amar, and the Rashaida and Azazmah tribes [in Jordan] are also Jews.40
 The Middle East scholar Moshe Elad said on Israel’s Arabic television that two members of the Makhamra family had converted to Judaism and were now Israeli citizens living in Israel and that in the village customs of lighting Shabbat and Chanukah candles had been preserved.41
Unfortunately, the two terrorists who perpetrated the Islamic State-inspired attack at Tel Aviv’s Sarona market on June 8, 2016, were members of the Makhamra family.42 

A Search for the Conquests

When Arab families investigate their origins, they tend to associate themselves with a glorious chapter of Islam. The Huweitat family claims to be descended from the Imam Ali.43  One should take this affiliation with a grain of salt since honor considerations of the tribes lead them to seek honorable origins. 
However, when it comes to the ascriptions of the Arab tribes of Hebron, there are independent testimonies that the Tamim, a major Arab tribe, indeed has honorable origins connected with the dawn of Islam before the seventh-century conquest of the country. The tribe’s traditions, as well as other Islamic sources, such as the books of the Hadith, assert that the Hebronite Tamim family is among the descendants of the friend of the Prophet, Aws, from Medina days, and that the Muhammed gave him and his descendants Hebron as a patrimony – Habrun or Habra in the Hadith.44 Aws had no sons, but his daughter, Rukiyah, married a member of the Dar family, and the full name of the family is Tamim-Dari.
The family’s pre-Islamic origin was Yemenite. It converted to Christianity, and when the Prophet Muhammed came to Medina, the family came to him from “Hebron” (not al-Khalil) to convert to Islam. The family received Hebron and its neighboring villages from Muhammed as a patrimony.
The Jordanian al-Majali tribe of Karak is also “Tamimi,” and its name, Majali, signifies that it was “exiled” at some point from Hebron to Karak. Just as Nablus was connected with Balqa of today’s Jordan, Hebron was connected with Karak of today’s Jordan.45 

Not Canaanites, but Arab and Kurdish Origins

Whereas the Tamimi tribe consolidated the Arab origins of Hebron, there are testimonies by Hebronites themselves that half of the city is of Kurdish origins.  
The reason lies in Islam’s wars against the Crusaders. They were not waged by the Arabs but by Kurds and Turks (still before the Ottoman Empire), and the army of Salah ad-Din al-Ayyubi (Saladin) had a Kurdish command. After conquering the country, he transferred a considerable portion of his army to Hebron to safeguard the country’s borders against the Arab Bedouins. Within Hebron, the Arabs led by the Tamim tribe opposed these fighters, and Hebron’s history became fraught with the many wars between the Kurds and the Arabs. Numerous Hebron families, such as the Hashlamun, Kafisha, and other families, are of Kurdish origin. The Kurds also settled in other parts of the country and Transjordan.46
By now, the Kurds have completely Arabized, and they retain no connection with their origins. In Amman, however, a Salah ad-Din al-Ayyubi Society has been established that seeks to preserve the Kurdish background.47 
Hebron’s demography, then, includes Kurdish families that fought over the birthright with the Arab tribes that united behind the Tamim-Dari tribe, whose origins go back to the dawn of Islam. The prominent Ja’bari tribe formed part of the Arab alignment, and it originated in Iraq.48 
 Just as the wars against the Crusaders brought Kurdish families to the country, the eighteenth-century war of Ibrahim Pasha against the Ottoman Empire brought Egyptian families to it; Ibrahim Pasha’s army did not return to Egypt, but instead, settled in the country.49 The members of the Masarwa family, the largest one in the Triangle, do not hide their Egyptian origins.50

Who Are the Canaanites’ Descendants?

A study published by the American Journal of Human Genetics on July 27, 2017, reports that descendants of the Canaanites have indeed been found in the Middle East.  They are “modern Lebanese.” Information of the study was released by National Geographic. “While the researchers were surprised at the level of genetic continuity between ancient Canaanites and modern Lebanese after some 4,000 years of war, migration, and conquest in the area,” NG reported, “They caution against drawing too many conclusions on ancient history based solely on genetic data.”51


Of late, the Palestinian leadership has been repeating the theme that the Palestinians are descended from the Canaanites. Because it keeps reiterating this narrative, there is a concern that some in the West will fall for it.
The purpose of the “Canaanite” narrative, however, is not to shed light on the Palestinians’ real ancestry, but to deny the Jews’ narrative. Why the Canaanites? Because they were in the country before the Israelite tribes were and thus have precedence. According to Nabil Shaath, Jewish history is but a “potpourri of legends and fabrications.” The Canaanite narrative cannot promote reconciliation and compromise but only the destruction of the Israeli-Jewish narrative, according to the same principle by which the various communities are now destroying each other in Syria.
Hence, it is important to clarify how the Palestinians themselves view their own ancestry. Indeed, not a single Palestinian tribe identifies its roots in Canaan; instead, they all see themselves as proud Arabs descended from the most notable Arab tribes of the Hejaz, today’s Iraq, or Yemen. Even the Kanaan family of Nablus locates its origins in Syria.   
Some families are Kurdish or Egyptian, and in Mount Hebron, there are traditions about Jewish origins.
This study does not deny the right of the Palestinian families as a whole to define themselves as a Palestinian people. It would be better, however, if the Palestinian leadership were to choose a positive and constructive narrative and not a baseless one that is intended to negate that of the other.
* * *
1 In Berlin on March 24, 2017, Mahmoud Abbas said:
My Palestinian homeland has a long history as a lighthouse to all the peoples; our people is an offshoot of the Canaanite people who lived 3,500 years ago. Our country, which has already existed for thousands of years, included the first agricultural community in human history in Jericho, as well as the most ancient city, Jerusalem, the city of peace.
He also referred to “Hebron, which bears the name of the father of the prophets, Ibrahim, and Bethlehem, the place of the Christian prophet’s birth. These historical cities constitute a significant change in human civilization.” 
4 Video: “Ḥamas Minister of the Interior and of National Security Fathi Hammad Slams Egypt over Fuel Shortage in Gaza Strip, and Says: ‘Half of the Palestinians Are Egyptians and the Other Half Are Saudis,’” Al-Hekma TV (Egypt), March 23, 2012, en/3389.htm.
5 David Wenkel, “Palestinians, Jebusites, and Evangelicals,” The Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2007, pp. 49-56
7جند_فلسطين     A History of Palestine, 634-1099; Moshe Gil; pg. 111 – best replacement?
8 Muslih, Muhammad Y., The Origins of Palestinian Nationalism, Columbia University Press, New York, 1988. p. 11
9 Khalidi, Rashid, Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness, Columbia University Press, New York, 1997. p. 11-12.
11 Philip Mattar, The Mufti of Jerusalem, New York: Columbia University Press, 1988, pg. 17
14 Ibid.
15 Saeb Erekat defines Palestinian nationalism as belonging to pan-Arabism in opposition to the Kurds, who seek to divide the great Arab homeland.  
16 Palestinian National Charter of 1964.
17 Radio Palestine, April 23, 2017.
19 Pinhas Inbari, The Palestinian Option (Jerusalem, 1989), 21. (Hebrew)
21 Munib al-Masri of Nablus placed in the living room of his villa a statue of an ancient Greek fighter that he had purchased in Crete, thereby seeking to express the Palestinians’ Philistine ancestry. In a conversation with him, however, he himself admits that the origins of the Masri family of Nablus lie in the Arab tribes of Yemen.
24 References to the Tamim tribe took on a political significance in the current crisis involving Qatar after it emerged that the emir of Qatar, Tamim, associated the family of the emirs with the ancient Tamim tribe, which is dispersed throughout the Middle East, and began to promote this tribe with the aim of building an Arab empire based on it, with Qatar at its helm.
31 The site is associated with a different family that is close to Barghouti and distantly related to him. According to the ascription, the family originated in the Hejaz and converted to Christianity in the pre-Islamic period.
33 Ibid.
39 Facebook page, Yatta is everyone’s, January 2, 2013. (Arabic)
40  عائلة المخامرة – يطا
يذكر ان عائلة المخامرة اصلهم يهود وقد جرى اثبات ذلك في الامم المتحدة، وجرى تسجيل يطا كبلدة يهودية عام 1947 ويقال ان جميع سكان يطا من اصل يهودي. يذكر ان السموع وعائلة المحاريق والكرمل وسوسيا وبني نعيم وقبائل التعامرة والرشايدة والعزازمة هم ايضا يهود.
45 Ibid.
47 Ibid.

Pinhas Inbari

Pinhas Inbari is a veteran Arab affairs correspondent who formerly reported for Israel Radio and Al Hamishmarnewspaper, and currently serves as an analyst for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.