This began as a reply to Dearieme, a commenter known in our corner of the sphere, who said certain things about the antiquity of Palestine. Then I noted Churchmouse’s:
Longrider’s fine and wonderfully concise post on voter dissatisfaction …
… and Edgar’s sound advice:
Concision is not your strength. Communicate concisely: it will at least give the impression that you can think clearly.
… and thought – hey, why not give the long-suffering readers of OoL something “concise” for once. 😉 Not only that but two posts in the same morning! Here ’tis and Edgar, I dedicate it to you.
In a comment on this Palestine thing, I mentioned that Dearieme was wrong but also right. Hell, I’m no relativist as a rule but in this case, it depends entirely on whose history you’re reading. On this topic, there are no neutral histories, not even from the British and Americans.
The task is in putting everything possible on the table and taking only that which can be verified from another source to put on the big board. Then the picture emerges.
The term Peleset (transliterated from hieroglyphs as P-r-s-t) is found in numerous Egyptian documents referring to a neighboring people or land starting from c.1150 BCE during the Twentieth dynasty of Egypt. The first mention is thought to be in texts of the temple at Medinet Habu which record a people called the Peleset among the Sea Peoples who invaded Egypt in Ramesses III‘s reign. The Assyrians called the same region Palashtu or Pilistu, beginning with Adad-nirari III in the Nimrud Slab in c.800 BCE through to emperor Sargon II in his Annals approximately a century later. Neither the Egyptian or Assyrian sources provided clear regional boundaries for the term.
The first clear use of the term Palestine to refer to the entire area between Phoenicia and Egypt was in 5th century BC Ancient Greece. Herodotus wrote of a ‘district of Syria, called Palaistinê” in The Histories, the first historical work clearly defining the region, which included the Judean mountains and the Jordan Rift Valley. Approximately a century later, Aristotle used a similar definition in Meteorology, writing “Again if, as is fabled, there is a lake in Palestine, such that if you bind a man or beast and throw it in it floats and does not sink, this would bear out what we have said. They say that this lake is so bitter and salt that no fish live in it and that if you soak clothes in it and shake them it cleans them,” understood by scholars to be a reference to the Dead Sea.
>Later writers such as Polemon and Pausanias also used the term to refer to the same region. This usage was followed by Roman writers such as Ovid, Tibullus, Pomponius Mela, Pliny the Elder, Dio Chrysostom, Statius, Plutarch as well as Roman Judean writers Philo of Alexandria and Josephus. Other writers, such as Strabo, a prominent Roman-era geographer (although he wrote in Greek), referred to the region as Coele-Syria around 10-20 CE. The term was first used to denote an official province in c.135 CE, when the Roman authorities, following the suppression of the Bar Kokhba Revolt, combined Iudaea Province with Galilee and other surrounding cities such as Ashkelon to form “Syria Palaestina” (Syria Palaestina), which some scholars state was in order to complete the dissociation with Judaea.
During the Byzantine period, the entire region (Syria Palestine, Samaria, and the Galilee) was named Palaestina, subdivided into provinces Palaestina I and II. The Byzantines also renamed an area of land including the Negev, Sinai, and the west coast of the Arabian Peninsula as Palaestina Salutaris, sometimes called Palaestina III.
The Arabic word for Palestine is فلسطين (commonly transcribed in English as Filistin, Filastin, or Falastin). Moshe Sharon writes that when the Arabs took over Greater Syria in the 7th century, place names that were in use by the Byzantine administration before them, generally continued to be used. Hence, he traces the emergence of the Arabic form Filastin to this adoption, with Arabic inflection, of Roman and Hebrew (Semitic) names.
Jacob Lassner and Selwyn Ilan Troen offer a different view, writing that Jund Filastin, the full name for the administrative province under the rule of the Arab caliphates, was traced by Muslim geographers back to the Philistines of the Bible. The use of the name “Palestine” in English became more common after the European renaissance. It was officially revived by the British after the fall of the Ottoman Empire and applied to the territory that was placed under the Palestine Mandate.
Click for the big pic:
This by no means establishes that there was a state of Palestine, sovereign, self-sufficient and having its own armies and infrastructure. It quite clearly wasn’t that way. Not only that but the peoples of the region do not show a continuum from the Canaanites to the modern day myth of an ongoing Palestinian state.
Walid Shoebat, a former PLO terrorist that acknowledged the lie he was fighting for and the truth he was fighting against:
“Why is it that on June 4th 1967 I was a Jordanian and overnight I became a Palestinian?”
“We did not particularly mind Jordanian rule. The teaching of the destruction of Israel was a definite part of the curriculum, but we considered ourselves Jordanian until the Jews returned to Jerusalem. Then all of the sudden we were Palestinians – they removed the star from the Jordanian flag and all at once we had a Palestinian flag”.
“When I finally realized the lies and myths I was taught, it is my duty as a righteous person to speak out”.
An admittedly biased article [and all of them on either side are], pointed out:
There has never been any Palestinian state, neither any Palestinian archaeological find nor coinage. The present-day “Palestinians” are an Arab people, with Arab culture, Arabic language and Arab history. They have their own Arab states from where they came into the Land of Israel about one century ago to contrast the Jewish immigration. That is the historical truth.
They were Jordanians (another recent British invention, as there has never been any people known as “Jordanians”), and after the Six-Day War in which Israel utterly defeated the coalition of nine Arab states and took legitimate possession of Judea and Samaria, the Arab dwellers in those regions underwent a kind of anthropological miracle and discovered that they were Palestinians.
So, what of Cannaan and the Philistines?
The Canaanites are historically acknowledged as the first inhabitants of the Land of Israel, before the Hebrews settled there. Indeed, the correct geographic name of the Land of Israel is Canaan, not “Palestine” (a Roman invention, as we will see later). They were composed by different tribes, that may be distinguished in two main groups: the Northern or Coastland Canaanites and the Southern or Mountain Canaanites.
The Northern Canaanites settled along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea from the southeastern side of the Gulf of Iskenderun to the proximities of the Gulf of Hayfa. Their main cities were Tzur, Tzidon, Gebal (Byblos), Arvad, Ugarit, and are better known in history by their Greek name Phoenicians, but they called themselves “Kana’ana” or “Kinachnu”. They did not found any unified kingdom but were organized in self-ruled cities, and were not a warlike people but rather skilful traders, seafarers and builders.
Their language was adopted from their Semitic neighbours, the Arameans, and was closely related to Hebrew (not to Arabic!). Phoenicians and Israelites did not need interpreters to understand each other. They followed the same destiny of ancient Israel and fell under Assyrian rule, then Babylonian, Persian, Macedonian, Seleucian and Roman.
Throughout their history the Phoenicians intermarried with different peoples that dwelled in their land, mainly Greeks and Armenians. During the Islamic expansion they were Arabized, yet, never completely assimilated, and their present-day state is Lebanon, erroneously regarded as an “Arab” country, a label that the Lebanese people reject.
Unlike the Arab states, Lebanon has a western democratic-style official name, “Lebanese Republic”, without the essential adjective “Arab” that is required in the denominations of every Arab state.
The only mention of the term Arabic in the Lebanese constitution refers to the official language of the state, which does not mean that the Lebanese people are Arabs in the same way as the official language of the United States is English but this does not qualify the Americans as British.
The so-called Palestinians are not Lebanese (although some of them came from Syrian-occupied Lebanon), therefore they are not Phoenicians (Northern Canaanites). Actually, in Lebanon they are “refugees” and are not identified with the local people.
The Southern Canaanites dwelled in the mountain region from the Golan southwards, on both sides of the Yarden and along the Mediterranean coast from the Gulf of Hayfa to Yafo, that is the Biblical Canaan.
They were composed by various tribes of different stocks: besides the proper Canaanites (Phoenicians), there were Amorites, Hittites and Hurrian peoples like the Yevusites, Hivvites and Horites, all of them assimilated into the Aramean-Canaanite context. They never constituted an unified, organized state but kept within the tribal alliance system.
When the first Hebrews arrived in Canaan they shared the land but did not intermarry, as it was an interdiction for Avraham’s family to marry the Canaanites. Nevertheless, eleven of the twelve sons of Yakov married Canaanite women (the other son married an Egyptian), and since then, the Tribes of Israel began to mix with the local inhabitants.
After the Exodus, when the Israelites conquered the Land, there were some wars between them and the Canaanites throughout the period of the Sofetim (Judges), and were definitively subdued by King David. By that time, most Canaanites were married to Israelites, others voluntarily accepted Torah becoming Israelites, others joined up in the Israelite or Judahite army.
Actually, the Canaanites are seldom mentioned during the Kings’ period, usually in reference to their heathen customs introduced among the Israelites, but no longer as a distinguishable people, because they were indeed assimilated into the Israelite nation. When the Assyrians overran the Kingdom of Israel, they did not leave any Canaanite aside, as they had all become Israelites by that time. The same happened when the Babylonians overthrew the Kingdom of Judah.
Therefore, the only people that can trace back a lineage to the ancient Canaanites are the Jews, not the Palestinians, as Canaanites did not exist any longer after the 8th century b.c.e. and they were not annihilated but assimilated into the Jewish people.
Conclusion: the Palestinians cannot claim any descent from the ancient Canaanites – if so, why not to pretend also the Syrian “occupied territories”, namely, Lebanon? Why do they not speak the language of the ancient Canaanites, that was Hebrew?
Because they are NOT Canaanites at all!
It is from the term “Philistines” that the name “Palestinians” has been taken. Actually, the ancient Philistines and modern Palestinians have something in common: both are invaders from other lands! That is precisely the meaning of their name, that is not an ethnic denomination but an adjective applied to them: Peleshet, from the verb “pelesh”, “dividers”, “penetrators” or “invaders”.
The Philistines were a confederation of non-Semitic peoples coming from Crete, the Aegean Islands and Asia Minor, also known as “Sea Peoples”. The main tribes were Tzekelesh, Shardana, Akhaiusha, Danauna, Tzakara, Masa or Meshwesh, Lukki, Dardana, Tursha, Keshesh or Karkisha, Labu and Irven. The original homeland of the group that ruled the Philistine federation, namely the “Pelesati”, was the island of Crete. When the Minoic civilization collapsed, also the Minoic culture disappeared from Crete, as invaders from Greece took control of the island.
These ancient Cretans arrived in Southern Canaan and were known as “Pelestim and Keretim” by Hebrews and Canaanites (that became allied to fight the invaders). Their first settlement seem to have been Gaza, whose original name was “Minoah”, a clear reference to the fallen Minoic kingdom.
They also invaded Egypt and were defeated by Pharaoh Ramose III in the 12th century b.c.e. The Philistines were organized in city-states, being the most important the Pentapolis: Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron, and their territory was close to the Mediterranean coast, a little longer and broader than the present-day “Gaza Strip” – not the whole Judah, they never reached Hevron, Jerusalem or Yericho!
Those Sea Peoples that invaded Egypt were expelled towards other Mediterranean lands and did not evolve into any Arab people, but disappeared as distinguishable groups in Roman times. Those dwelling in Canaan were defeated by King David and reduced to insignificance, the best warriors among them were chosen as David’s bodyguard.
The remaining Philistines still dwelling in Gaza were subdued by Sargon II of Assyria and after that time, they disappeared definitively from history. They are no longer mentioned since the return of the Jewish exiles from Babylon.
From Mt. Carmel:
Conclusion: there is not one single person in the world who may be able to prove Philistine lineage, yet, if Palestinians insist, they have to recognize themselves as invaders in Israel, and then they must ask Greece to return them back the Isle of Crete!
The Philistines are extinct and claims to alleged links with them are utterly false as they are historically impossible to establish. In any case, claiming a Philistine heritage is idle because it cannot legitimate any land in which they were foreign occupants and not native dwellers.
Philistines were not Arabs, and the only feature in common between both peoples is that in Israel they should be regarded as invaders, Philistines from the sea and Arabs from the wilderness. They do not want Jerusalem because it is their city, which is not and never has been, they simply want to take her from the Jews, to whom she has belonged for three thousand years.
The Philistines wanted to take from Israelites the Holy Ark of the Covenant, modern so-called Palestinians want to take from them the Holy City of the Covenant.
An Arab source adds to the above take as to the origins of the Canaanites:
The Canaanites, were a Semitic people speaking a language remarkably close to Hebrew. They were farmers, some were nomads, but they were also civilized. They used the great Mesopotamian cities as their model and had built modest imitations of them. They had also learned military technology and tactics from the Mesopotamians, as well as law.
Thus when the Hebrews arrived at Canaan, they began the long, painful, and disappointing process of settling the land, but being uncivilized, tribal, and nomadic, they faced a formidable enemy. Even the accounts of this period in the Hebrew bible, the books of Joshua and Judges paint a pretty dreary picture of the occupation.
They are eventually driven from the coastal plains and forced to settle in the central hill country and a few places in the Jordan River valley. They also faced another looming enemy, the Philistines, who overwhelmed everyone in their path. They had chariots and iron weapons and few could stand against these new technologies.
Hitherto, the first actual use of the word Arab in history is to be found in an Assyrian inscription of 853 B.C., commemorating the defeat of a mutinous chieftain, called Gindibu the Aribi during the reign of king Shalmaneser III (858-824 B.C.). Arabs are then mentioned quite often, until the 6th century B.C. as Aribi or Arabuthat indicates a vassalage to the Assyrians.
The first Greek who is accredited to have acquired some geographical knowledge was Homer, who flourished in 1000 or 800 B.C. He has referred to the Syrians under the name Arimi (the Biblical, Aram) and the Arabs under the name of Erembi.
The place-name Arabia occurs for the first time in Greek writings. Herodotus (484-425 B.C,), followed by most other Greek and Latin writers, extended the term Arabia and Arab to the whole peninsula and everything in it, even including the eastern desert of Egypt between the Red Sea and the Nile. References to the Arabs, in addition, are also found in the anonymous “Periplus of the Erythraean Sea” (between 95 A.D. and 130 A.C.).
The word Saracen, first used in Greek literature too, is a transcription of an Arabic word meaning “easterner.” As for the Arabs’ use of the word, it occurs for the first time in the ancient epigraphical material originating in southern Arabia, where it is clearly used for Bedouin. In the north, the word is used firstly in the 4th century A.D., in one of the oldest surviving records of the language that became classical Arabic.
Further account of the Arabs comes in the 10th chapter of Genesis of the Old Testament, which names the descendants of Noah, whose elder son, Shem is regarded as the ancestor of the Hebrews, Arabs and Armaens, – the speakers of Semitic language.
But the term Arabs is not explicitly mentioned in Genesis. It is however suggested that the “mixed multitude” (Hebrew, erev) mentioned in Exodus (xii, 38) as having accompanied the Israelites into the wanderness from Egypt may be for Arabs. According to “Dictionary of the Bible” (ed. by James Hastings, New York, 1898, 1st vol., p. 135), “The employment of the name Arab for an inhabitant of any portion of the vast peninsula known to us as Arabia, begins somewhere in the 3rd century B.C., though the only trace of it in Old Testament is in the 2 ch., 21, where the Arabians that are near the Ethiopeans’ would seem naturally to refer to the neighbours of the Habasha, whence there are grounds for placing in the extreme south of Yamen.”
David Shankbone’s Judea:
The word arabia is expressly given to this country in the Old Testament (I Kings x. 15) when describing the visit of the Queen Sheba to Sololmon, which took place 1005 B.C. We also find the word arabah in Deut. i. 7 and ii. 8. Some writers hold that the village called Arabah, situated near Tehama, may be the name for the whole peninsula, an opinion scarcely deserving the least notice.
In the Bible, the name Arab is the first word used in the second book of Chronicles (xvii, 11) to refer to nomads from the east bank of the Jordan river in the time of king Jehosophat (900-800 B.C.), such as “…and the Arabians brought him flocks, seven thousand and seven hundred rams, and seven thousand and seven hundred he- goats.”
The word arab or arabah is probably derived from a Semitic root related to nomadism. In the Arabic language, the word arab (derived from i’rab), means “those who speak clearly” as contrast with ajam (those who speak indistincly). In Holy Koran, the word arab has never used for the country of Arabia, but characterised the residence of Ismail, the son of Abraham as an “uncultivated land.” In the time of Ismail his place of residence had no name, therefore, it was given the name of an “uncultivated land.” In the Old Testament, the word midbar is used for Ismail’s home, meaning a desert or a barren land, which closely corresponds to the Koranic description.
The peninsula was divided by the ancient geographers into Arabia Petraea, Arabia Felix and Arabia Deserta. The Arabia Petraea corresponded to the present Hijaz and eastern Najd. Arabia Felix to Yamen and Hazarmawt and Arabia Deserta comprised the rest of the country. Arab Peninsula (jazirat al-Arab) is situated in south-west Asia, embosomed with sea waters on its three sides, i.e., the Red Sea in the west, the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman in the east, and the Arabian Sea in the south; is considered to be a largest peninsula in the world with an area of about 1,230,000 sq. miles, i.e., about one third of Europe, or almost six times bigger than France, ten times that of Italy and eight times bigger than Switzerland.
Geographically it is an extension of the Sahara desert. It is divided into various parts of which Hijaz, Najd, Yamen, Hazarmawt and Oman are most important. The whole land is almost barren. The climate is extremely hot in summer and the coastal tracts are among the most torrid regions.
Difficult to know this person’s bias but he [she] states:
For the last twenty three years, I have been studying and researching the subjects of the three monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianityand Islam,exploring their roots, their inter-relationships and their historical interactions. The Quran, especially, I have studied in my native tongue Arabic, and compared and contrasted the English and Arabic translations and interpretations.
His beef appears to be that the Mohammedan view of Arabs is not historically correct and that there are other Arab histories which negate that. There does not appear to be a Christian/Jewish bias to his view. He says, about the Arabs and the region:
It is extremely important to point out here and now at the earliest possible point of the narrative an item that the followers of Muhammad rarely if ever point out: the fact that in the Arabian peninsula – as Arab historians also confirm- there were numerous tribes that were of pagan Arabian origin who had willingly and without coercion converted to the religion of the Jews (Mosaic faith), to Christianity or became Hanifs (believers in the God of Abraham).
All of them were indigenous people who had every right to live in peace in their own land; they were natives – not outsiders or occupiers – of the peninsula. Many of them became very powerful and prosperous. These tribes that had contributed enormously to the commerce, religious input, industry, agricultural wealth and intellectual advancement of the people of Arabia in general, were subsequently dispossessed, forced to convert, massacred and/or deliberately pushed out from their native land Arabia by the new Muhammadan polity.
They had existed there for centuries before the advent of Muhammad but their total ‘eradication’ was achieved in the extremely short period of about fifteen years.
So what I get from all that is that there were diverse peoples, many Semitic in origin, in the region, that Canaan does appear to be the original claimant but that the Canaanites were not Arabs. If that is so and on other reading, then the term Palestine appears to have found vogue in the late C19th, my own notion being that it was around the time of the rise of Zionism as an achievable goal.
There were certainly people in the Israel region, nomadic, some more settled in the more fertile parts. For a history of more modern times in the region, may I suggest:
I’m the first to concede that perhaps my writing wasn’t quite, in those days, as it is now and yet you’ll get some info out of those four.
The region in the C19th
The Holy Land was a poor, largely deserted country during the 19th century. Its inhabitants were backward, its services meagre, its roads of poor quality and unsafe, and its economic activity was very limited. Robbery and assault were everyday occurrences.
There were no medical services of any kind and plagues frequently took a heavy toll of life. The population dwindled gradually: entire villages were abandoned and cities became small towns with few inhabitants. Aside from Gaza and Jerusalem, each town in the Holy Land (up to the 1840’s) had a populace of less than ten thousand. The deterioration of the country was a result of the negative development in the Ottoman Empire which underwent intensified internal decline from the XVIIth century and on.
This fact left its impact on Palestine: the local governors became more corrupt, and neglected their obligations, the troops were beyong control and the Bedouin tribes from the desert broke into cultivated areas, turning vast sections into wilderness. As a result, disorder and insecurity spread, government construction and public works were neglected, agriculture and trade were severely damaged and the farmers were oppressed and impoverished.
The majority of the population was rural but even the urban residents earned their livelihood from agriculture. Some 600 of the country’s 700 villages were located in the mountains, while the plains and valleys were largely abandoned, being swampy and infested with malaria. The only settlements in the valleys were situated at the foot of the mountains where they were less exposed to malaria and Bedouin attacks.
Jerusalem from what is now “East Jerusalem”, by David Roberts, 1842:
In 1831 Ottoman rule was interrupted by Muhammad ‘Ali, who occupied Palestine and Syria until 1840. A new era began which was characterized by political and social reform aimed at centralizing control of the country, modernizing the administration and granting equal rights to non-Muslim minorities. The country was opened for the first time to widespread political, cultural and economic activity by the European powers.
These new developments continued after the Ottoman rule was resumed in 1840-41. During the second half of the nineteenth century direct Ottoman control was gradually consolidated in all parts of the country, Bedouin attacks were checked, general security increased, the oppression of the urban population was eased to a considerable extent, and the involvement of the European powers expanded greatly.
These developments brought about certain improvements in the country’s economy and in the conditions of the inhabitants.
Jews of the Holy Land in the 19th Century … were concentrated mainly in the four “Holy Cities”: Jerusalem, Safed, Tiberias and Hebron. By and large, the Jews were regarded as second-class citizens of the Ottoman Empire.
Largely empty space at the turn of the century:
Which makes this Arab take on “fondly remembered Palestine” a load of cobblers. There were people but they were largely in the towns and the centres of activity were the market places.
At the time Israel was set up as a modern state
There seems to have been been about two thirds Arab population around 1947 and about one third Jewish. Both should have had a homeland there. However [Wiki]:
On 29 November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly, with a two-thirds majority international vote, passed the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine (United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181), a plan to resolve the Arab-Jewish conflict by partitioning the territory into separate Jewish and Arab states, with the Greater Jerusalem area (encompassing Bethlehem) coming under international control.
Jewish leaders (including the Jewish Agency), accepted their portion of the plan, while Palestinian Arab leaders rejected it and refused to negotiate. Neighboring Arab and Muslim states also rejected the partition plan. The Arab community reacted violently after the Arab Higher Committee declared a strike and burned many buildings and shops.
In a speech delivered on 25 March 1948, US President Truman recommended a temporary trusteeship and stated: We could not undertake to impose this solution on the people of Palestine by the use of American troops, both on Charter grounds and as a matter of national policy.
As armed skirmishes between Arab and Jewish paramilitary forces in Palestine continued, the British mandate ended on May 15, 1948, the establishment of the State of Israel having been proclaimed the day before (see Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel).
The neighboring Arab states and armies (Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Transjordan, Holy War Army, Arab Liberation Army, and local Arabs) immediately attacked Israel following its declaration of independence, and the 1948 Arab-Israeli War ensued. Consequently, the partition plan was never implemented.
Firstly, there was no Palestinian state – it’s a figment of Arab and western governments’ imaginations. Secondly, the western leftist jumping onto the bandwagon of this Palestinian state is a result of false histories of the area, with small truths blown out of proportion and other truths ignored.
Palestine as a state is a direct political intervention.
Too many leftists have not done their homework and so we have the bizarre flotillas, not knowing who or what they’re actually supporting and at whose behest.