Farrah’s Lies and Distortion of Facts About Palestine

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Political Zionism has betrayed Judaism as much as Christian fundamentalism has perverted Christianity. That is why, the same church that once labeled Jews as "Christ-killers," as the "rejected" or "forsaken people," now calls them "Chosen people of God" so that the “second coming of Messiah/lord Jesus” could be expedited. Likudnik Zionists are willing to ride this runaway train of Christian/Religious Right hoping that it is going to take them to their destination fast, unconcerned that such a ride could be suicidal on its path. Either group seems to think that it is outfoxing the other. It is but a dangerous illusion. Nevertheless, this marriage of convenience has given birth to many pseudo-analysts and -experts that are willing to lie and distort facts.

As is much evident from his many shoddy publications and spiteful diatribes against Muslims, Joseph Farrah, an Arab-American Christian, is a cheerleader to a camp that identifies itself as the Religious Right (the so-called Christian Zionists). His columns appear in the WorldNetDaily, where he serves as editor and chief executive officer. As far as the Middle East politics is concerned, his views are reflective of the hawk among the hawks, working for the goals of an extreme right-wing version of Zionism that denies existence of historical Palestine, let alone the rights of return of Palestinian refuges to their ancestral homes. His essays/columns, justifying the occupation of the Palestinian Territories, are archived by Zionists. While the UN and its member nations (with the exception of the pariah state of Israel) consider the Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories illegal, he says these are ‘perfectly legal.'[1] His political views on the Palestine-Israel conflict are remarkably similar to those held by the neo-fascist National Union (Moledet Party), headed by Israeli Minister of Tourism Benny Elon. [You may recall that recently rabbi Elon advised a visiting Christian evangelist group to convert Muslims to Christianity so that the Occupied Territories of Palestine would be accepted by the new converts, much like them – the Americans that identify themselves with the Religious Right, as God’s real estate gift to the Jewish people.]

According to Farrah ‘Palestine is no more real than Never-Never Land.’ To him the very name Palestine was never used before 70 C.E.;[2] and that ‘prior to 1900, the entire region was a barren wasteland with low populations of Jews, Muslims and Christians.'[3] Have not we heard these lies before? [You may recall that the Zionist propaganda for the land of Palestine, in the pre-Israeli period, was, "A land without a people for a people without the land." To Golda Meir, late Prime Minister of Israel, "Palestinians simply did not exist."] What an outright deception! Just a simple search for the word “Philistine” in the popular King James Version of the Bible would render 295 entries, beginning with the two verses: (21:32, 21:34) in the book of Genesis: (chapter 21):[4]

Gen.21

[32] Thus they made a covenant at Beer-sheba: then Abimelech rose up, and Phichol the chief captain of his host, and they returned into the land of the Philistines.

[34] And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines’ land many days.

May I ask Mr. Farrah, what does this word “Philistine” mean? Is it anything but the Anglicized word for the people of Palestine? In Arabic and old Hebrew, Filistin (or Philistine) is precisely how these people (Palestinians) are called. Not only do those citations in the Bible disprove Farrah’s allegation, but they also show that before Abraham (Ibrahim alaihis-salam) settled in Palestine, there were Philistines living in the land. The modern day Palestinians trace their root to those original people of the land.

Well, Mr. Farrah must be searching for the word ‘Palestine’ and not ‘Philistine!’ Contrary to Farrah’s claim, we even find the name ‘Palestine’ in the book of Joel (3:4):

Joel.3

[4] Yea, and what have ye to do with me, O Tyre, and Zidon, and all the coasts of Palestine? Will ye render me a recompence? And if ye recompense me, swiftly and speedily will I return your recompence upon your own head.

Now to anyone familiar with the Bible, the book of Joel belongs to the Nevi’im (Prophets) part of TaNaKh (i.e., the so-called Old Testament). Its existence is understood by all believing Jews to predate Christianity, and surely before 70 C.E., something that Farrah apparently didn’t know.

In an article “The Jews took no one’s land”, Farrah wrote: “Let me state this plainly and clearly: The Jews in Israel took no one’s land. When Mark Twain visited the Holy Land in the 19th century, he was greatly disappointed. He didn’t see any people. He referred to it as a vast wasteland. The land we now know as Israel was practically deserted. By the beginning of the 20th century, that began to change. Jews from all over the world began to return to their ancestral homeland the Promised Land Moses and Joshua had conquered millennia earlier, Christians and Jews believe, on the direct orders of God. That’s not to say there wasn’t always a strong Jewish presence in the land particularly in and around Jerusalem. In 1854, according to a report in the New York Tribune, Jews constituted two-thirds of the population of that holy city. The source for that statistic? A journalist on assignment in the Middle East that year for the Tribune. His name was Karl Marx. Yes, that Karl Marx.”[5]

To give credence to his theory that Jews constituted two-thirds of the population in 1854, Farrah cites Karl Marx, a journalist then with the NY Tribune. Since I have no way of validating the authenticity of Farrah’s information, assuming that Marx truly wrote the piece for the newspaper, my question is: how reliable is this information from a reporter, who is not known (at least in my research) for taking a single trip to the ‘Holy land?’ What source did Marx rely upon to get that population data? Is it anything but guesswork?

One may recall that after Czar Alexander’s assassination in 1881, Jews were blamed for the murder. A pogrom was initiated with the slogan: ‘Kill a Jew and save Russia.’ The Ottoman Turkish government allowed Jewish migration to its vast territories. Tony Cliff, the son of pioneering Zionist parents who had left Russia, wrote about his childhood in Palestine in the Socialist Worker, From Zionism to Genocide (No. 790, July 3, 1982). Cliff mentioned that his parents moved in ‘Palestine in 1902 to join a total Zionist population of a few thousand,’ and that Jews were a minority. This anecdotal account (of a few thousand Jews) by Cliff, who grew up a Zionist, contradicts Farrah’s account.[6]

More importantly, Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire, whose officials were known for their meticulous recordkeeping. They categorized their population sample on the basis of religion and ethnicity. From those sources, instead, we find that in 1845 there were only 12,000 Jews in Palestine out of a total population of 350,000 and in 1880 only 25,000 out of a population of 500,000. Even the census taken by the British on December 31, 1922 showed that out of a total of 757,000 inhabitants in Palestine, there were only 83,000 Jews (about 11%), and that too after the British had allowed Jewish immigration to Palestine during the British Mandate period (Ref: Jerusalem –” the Holy City, by this author).[7] The Jewish population grew dramatically over the next few years. According to Georgetown University Professor Hisham Sharabi, a 1935 survey shows that there were 370,000 Jews out of a total population of 1,367,000; and that in 1947, a year before Israel was established, of a total population of nearly two million, the Jewish population was a little over half a million or one-fourth, the rest were Palestinian Arabs.[8]

Farrah’s other citation is an estimate (not real statistics) from a 1906 travel guide published by Karl Baedeker, which is not a reliable source either. The Ottoman and British records, both before and during the Mandate period, disagree with his claims about Palestine being a ‘barren wasteland.’ The account of Ahad Ha’am (alias Ashar Ginzburg), a Jewish leader who may be called the father of ‘spiritual’ Zionism, also debunks Farrah’s lies. After a visit to Palestine in 1891, he wrote: “We abroad are accustomed to believe that Palestine nowadays is almost entirely desolate: a barren desert where anyone can buy land to his heart’s content. In fact that is not so. All over the country it is hard to find arable land that is not cultivated…”[9]

It is worth pointing out here that when the Crusaders took the Holy Land in 1099 C.E., they burned the Jewish inhabitants in their synagogues. It was Sultan Salahuddin Ayyubi who let the Jews to return after recovering Jerusalem in 1187. European Jews settled in Palestine and other Muslim territories from the Maghreb to the Ottoman Turkey as a result of their persecution in Christian Europe and goodwill of Muslim rulers who provided them refuge. These are undisputed facts, something that are testified by many Jewish historians.

Contrary to Farrah’s speculation, we find that Jews far from being the first settlers in Palestine were only one component among many others and that the total period of Jewish rule or sovereignty over Palestine (since the days of their Prophets and Judges) was less than 400 years, and this is much less than the period of Muslim rule (from 636-1917 C.E, excluding the periods 1099-1187, 1229-1239 and 1243-1244). As a matter of fact, in its entire history, no other religious community outside Muslims had ruled Palestine for a longer period.[10]

So much so for Joe Farrah’s lies and distortion of historical facts to deny Palestinian rights.

Notes:

[1]. http://www.sullivan-county.com/id4/farah1.htm

[2]. http://www.sullivan-county.com/id3/palestine.htm

[3]. http://www.sullivan-county.com/id4/farah1.htm

[4]. http://www.hti.umich.edu/cgi/k/kjv/kjv-idx?type=simple&format=Long&q1=Philistine&restrict=All&size=First+100

[5]. http://www.sullivan-county.com/id4/farrah_jews.htm

[6]. http://www.marxists.org/archive/cliff/works/1982/04/isrviol.htm

[7]. Habib Siddiqui, Jerusalem –” the Holy City, a lecture at California State University, Los Angeles, May 16, 1987

[8]. Prof. Hisham Sharabi, A Palestinian Point of View (presented to the Senate Subcommittee on the Near East, Sept. 30, 1975), The Palestinians: Selected Essays, ed. Hatem I. Hussaini and Fathalla E-Boghdady, Arab Information Center, Washington D.C. (1976)

[9]. Ahad Ha’am, Complete Works, Devir Publication House, Tel Aviv, 8th edition.

[10]. R. Garaudy, The Case of Israel, Shorouk International, London, UK (1983)

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