What is a Palestinian

Edna Yaghi’s Column


Shaker Abdul-Fattah is a Palestinian refugee who still holds the titles to his orange orchards. Both his parents died in the Diaspora. They never saw their home again. When asked, what is a Palestinian, he answered: “A Palestinian is a person whose forefathers lived in Palestine for thousands of years. A Palestinian owned the land. He cultivated and loved his land. His ancestors are buried there. His history and heritage dwells there. No one lived in Palestine more than the Palestinians did. No one loves the land more than the Palestinians do. A Palestinian sacrifices his life for his country. The one who wants to know more can study the history of Palestine. Palestinians are incredibly strong like Samson. They grow from the ground like their trees. They will never disappear. One day the Jews will all flee Palestine and some of them already have.”

One of the schemes of the early Zionists was to make Palestine look like a land without a people for a people without a land. Today, part of Zionist propaganda is the rewriting of history and to make it look like there is no such thing as a Palestinian.

But Palestine has always been populated from the beginning of man’s sojourn on this earth. Palestinians are descended from the ancient Canaanites and Philistines. In the 3rd millennium BC, the Canaanites became urbanized and lived in city-states, one of which was Jericho. Later on, the Philistines established an independent state on the southern coast of Palestine and controlled a number of towns in the north and the east. Because they were superior in military organization and were skilled in using iron weapons, they drastically defeated the Hebrew people around 1050 BC who had either migrated to the area or been led out of Egypt by the Prophet Moses.

Palestine, regardless of the empires that have swept through it, has always been Palestinian. The indigenous people remained on the land and blended with the people of the occupying powers. The name of Palestine is derived from the Philistines.

The Muslim conquest began 1300 years of Islamic rule. Palestine was holy to the Muslims because God had designated Jerusalem to be the first Qibla or the direction that Muslims face when praying and also because Prophet Mohammed ascended on a night journey to heaven from where the Dome of the Rock was later built. The Muslim rulers did not force their religion on the Palestinians and this is why more than 100 years passed before the majority of them converted to Islam. The remaining Christians and Jews were considered to be the “People of the Book,” so they were allowed to retain autonomous control of their communities. They were guaranteed protection and they were free to worship as they pleased. Such religious tolerance has been rare in the history of religion. Most of the Palestinians adopted Arabic and Islamic culture.

During the height of the Islamic empire, Palestine shared a golden age of science, philosophy, art and literature. It was the Muslims who preserved Greek learning and excelled in many fields. Such mastering of the sciences led to the Renaissance in Europe.

Hebrew rule in Palestine was intermittent. In 63 BC Pompey stormed Jerusalem and in AD 135, the Romans put an end to Jewish Palestine by destroying Jerusalem. From this time, the Jewish community in Palestine almost ceased to exist. When the Christian Crusaders captured Jerusalem in 1099, they burned the Jews in their synagogue. It was only when Saladin the Muslim conqueror retook the city in 1187, that Jews were allowed to return.

The first Jews to return came from Spain in 1492 as a result of the Spanish Inquisition under Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. Until this time, the Jews had lived peacefully under Muslim rule in Spain. In 1845, there were only 12,000 Jews in Palestine out of a population of about 350,000 and in 1922, the Jews made up only a little more than one tenth of the population of Palestine.

The Zionists claim that Palestine is historically theirs and that this historic right provides the justification for the state of Israel. When the state of Israel was proclaimed in 1948 it was allegedly because “by virtue of the natural and historic right of the Jewish people.”

One of the bases for Zionist claims to Palestine is the extent of the Kingdom of David and Solomon, which lasted for only 73 years. Much of the land that the Zionists claim as exclusively theirs has been predominantly populated by Jews for less than one percent of its history.

In 1948, the famous writer H.G. Wells wrote about this false historical claim as, “If it is proper to ‘reconstitute’ a Jewish state which has not existed for two thousand years, why not go back another thousand years and reconstitute the Canaanite state. The Canaanites, unlike the Jews are still there.”

Joseph Farah, the Zionist CEO of World Net claims that Palestinians are “whatever Yasser Arafat wants them to be.”

But this is like saying Americans are whatever George Bush wants them to be. Whether Bush is in power or not, an American is still an American and regardless of who Arafat is or is not, if he is in power or not, a Palestinian was and is a Palestinian. A rose by any other name is still a rose.

Farah also claims that there hardly ever were any Palestinians and that most of the Arabs within Palestine are those who flocked there because of business incentives or the prospects of a better living. What is happening in Palestine right now is ample proof that no one would choose to “flock” to Palestine when life is so much easier elsewhere. On the contrary, it is the Jews who flocked to Palestine from the late 1800s up to the present time. These Jews have no historical claim to the land that is not theirs. Yet they continue their aggression against the Palestinian civilians with the hopes that they will either kill them off or drive them out.

Since Jews are no longer a race of people, but a people who follow Judaism, the idea of ingathering Jews from all over the world to live in Palestine is ludicrous to say the least. A Jew coming from the Bronx or from Russia has no valid claim to Palestine, yet, any Jew who wishes to live in Palestine is free to do so while the native population is either forced to live outside in the Diaspora or inside under constant bombardment.

What is a Palestinian? A Palestinian is the original inhabitant of his land and country. His forefathers lived and died on this consecrated soil. Palestine lives in every Palestinian heart and mind and like their trees, Palestinians grow from the ground. They are resolute, they are strong and their courage is a wondrous example for all men wishing to be free.

They are the infant Palestinian Davids fighting for their liberty against the heavily armed Jewish war state.

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