[BAPD] Rewriting the History of the Holy Land

There are many contemporary issues regarding Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict that one could talk about. However, today I would like to shed some light on an issue that is perhaps not as prominent in discussions as it should be.

As we know, the Middle East and the Mediterranean basin in general were the cradles of many early human civilizations. This region is full of historical artifacts dating to thousands of years ago. These historical artifacts are not the exclusive right of any one people, but are indeed the property of the world in general because they are a crucial part of our common humanity and global history.

For this reason, it is sad to see the destruction to ancient historical ruins and artifacts in conflict zones. We’ve all heard of how ancient Babylonian monuments were some of the victims of the war in Iraq. A similar situation is also happening in the holy land amidst the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

However, an even worse crime is the deliberate rewriting of ancient history to serve current political moods. There is no denying that Jews lived in this region thousands of years ago. Yet at the same time we can not deny or ignore that Arabs and other ethnicities lived in this area as well for thousands of years. Not only that, but for the last 1400 years, the area of Israel and Palestine was inhabited and ruled over by Arabs and Muslims.

For the past few years, Israel has been digging for artifacts of the biblical Jewish era of the land at the expense of artifacts from other eras, specifically Arab and Muslim times. Just to make it clear, the problem here isn’t that they are digging for Jewish artifacts, it is that they are doing that at the expense of the Arabic history of this land. Israel should not be allowed to pretend as if this land has been sitting empty and idle for the past 2000 years. Not only does that history belong to Arabs and Muslims, it also belongs to the world in its entirety. This is just like the fact that the ancient pyramids in Giza do not belong to Egyptians exclusively, they belong to the world. So, if for some reason Egypt decides to demolish the sphinx or one of the pyramids tomorrow, it will not be allowed because these monuments are not its exclusive property. So must be the case for Israel.

This concern is not a wild stroke of the imagination. The New York Times recently ran an article on a series of parks being built in Jerusalem that will overrun Arab and Muslim old sites and enforce only Jewish history, totally ignoring the History of that city and its current Arab population.

Not only that, but if you take a walk inside the Old City of Jerusalem you will see how the many Muslim sites are ignored by the municipality and left to deteriorate , while the Jewish sites are dug up and excavated at the expense of Muslim sites. When I was in old Jerusalem i was shocked to see that there even some paintings being sold of the old city without the Dome of the Rock which is the city’s most prominent land mark and has stood tall in the city for at least 1300 years!

If you watch the History Channel you will undoubtedly run into the multitude of shows excavating the tiniest rock to show the ancient Jewish history of the area. However, hardly any show ever mentions the Muslim history of the land as well, or even other epochs by other people. The audience of these shows is left with the impression that this area has been continuously controlled by Jewish people and that Arabs and Muslims never were there. I remember clearly that in one of the shows the host joined a tent of volunteers who were looking at rubble in some area and were excavating for historical artifacts. As the host was sifting through his pile, he came across some peculiar piece, so he asked the tent director if it could be of some relevance. The directory replied “No, it is Umayyad” and they tossed it away !! Why toss it away if it is Umayyad ? isn’t that at at least 1250 years old ? Isn’t that interesting ?

The danger is not in ignoring the big noticeable landmarks like the Dome of the Rock or Al-Aqsa mosque. These are easy to spot and many people recognize them. The problem is in throwing away, damaging, or destroying the smaller and lesser known sites. The ruins of a small Umayyad palace near the Noble Sanctuary have been damaged by Israeli excavations for Jewish ruins.

These infringements on ancient sites, and preferring some over the other will result in a warped view of the history of this region. In my opinion, this is totally wrong. Old history does not belong to one people, it is a property of our common humanity.

Of course, Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims have their role to play. We should pay more attention to preserving these ancient ruins in the holy land, and start our own efforts to excavating this region for its history as well. With that said, I think historical sites should be protected from politics. Archaeologists should be honest to history, and should not favor one people’s history over another based on politics. Truly, if we don’t know our past, we can’t understand our present; and if we don’t understand our present, we can’t plan for our future.

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21 Comments.

  1. Love love love love this article. Well thought of! This morning I got some bull headed comments from some ignorant people saying that we cannot label our selves as Palestinians, because there weren’t many of us and it was never a country. We didn’t have enough history to make us that… what the heck? Obviously I had to do my never ending banning from commenting on my site, because I will not accept such ignorance about the subject matter.

    People should read your article, and maybe start learning that we are here. We existed for 100’s of years like everyone else. I don’t understand how people till now think that Palestine was a land with hardly any people. Where did the 700,000 people that were forced to leave Palestine in 1948 come from? Is that not enough of a number to tell the world, well yah, the land had SOME people.

    Ignorance sometimes makes me want to vomit from disgust!

  2. Rebellious Arab Girl: Thanks. It seems that some of those people were taught from infancy that that land has only been Jewish for the thousands of years and the Arabs only showed up when Israel claimed stake of the land. Totally absurd indeed!

    I had one guy on my blog come and say that “Only when Israelis started producing oranges in the size of a man’s head, that is when Palestinians decided to come to the land and claim it its own” … 😐 .. some people are just idiots 🙂

    It is also weird to see how some of these people can deny the existence of Palestinians even though the story of young King David fighting the Philistines (Goliath was a Philistine) is right there in their bible.

  3. الحقيقة

    Obviously there’s no such thing as “Palestinians”. They never existed in history.

    And they never will.

    And it’s true: Only when Israelis started producing oranges in the size of a man’s head, that is when Arabs decided to come to the land and claim it its own.

    “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.” — PLO Executive Committee member Zuhayr Muhsin, March 31, 1977, interview with the Dutch newspaper Trouw.”

  4. @الحقيقة
    A poor translation doesn’t account for the FACT that Mohsen was assassinated on July 15 in 1979 in Cannes, France by the Israeli Mossad
    Zuhair Mohsin is a Baathist Arab Nationalist. Dreaming of a nation from the Arabian gulf to the Atlantic ocean. Instead of a the land for the Palestinians on their historic national soil.
    Mohsen’s view is his own. He also probably meant to say that The Palestinian people don’t exist [because they were driven out of their homeland]. But either case, this doesn’t mean anything. He represents himself, and the Baathist regimes. Not the majority of the Palestinians

    @Za3tar
    Excellent article, and blessed effort. It’s seriously amazing and very refreshing to see bloggers from all over the world join in on this tragic anniversary. Hopefully, Blog About Palestine day will make a difference in the lives of many

  5. Thanx a lot for the post, Israel just twist history so they could prove that this land is for them even though all history proves it’s not

  6. “It is also weird to see how some of these people can deny the existence of Palestinians even though the story of young King David fighting the Philistines (Goliath was a Philistine) is right there in their bible.”

    The Philistines were an Aegean people who are now extinct. They have no connection to the Arabs who now occupy Israel. Since biblical times, there has been a continuous Jewish presence in Israel. There have only been 3 independent states in Israel, all Jewish: The Davidic Kingdom, the Hasmonean Dynasty and the modern State of Israel. There was never a Palestine or a Palestinian people. The Romans gave the land the name “Palestine” to try and erase the Jewish connection to the Land.

    Despite the exile, Jews always maintained a presence in the Land. The Arabs may have invaded and occupied the Land but that does not give them any right to colonize it. Israel is Jewish and will always be.

    The Land of Israel, for the Nation of Israel, according to the Torah of Israel!

  7. Qwaider: Thank you. These events unfortunately always attract the hate speech of such people.

    Ahmad Hamdan: Indeed buddy.

    Bar Kochba: OK , even if that was the case, you are saying that the presence of Arabs and Muslims over that land for almost 1400 years up to current days does not give them any right to live there ??!!!

  8. By what right does the Land of Israel belong to the Arabs? Certainly not on the claims of Palestinian sovereignty. There was never a period when “Palestinian” Arabs held control over a country named Palestine, because there never was a “Palestinian people”! Israel was at various times in history part of the Arab and Ottoman empire but this does not make it any more Arab or Muslim than it is Greek, Roman, Persian and British for being part of the Greek, Roman, Persian and British empires.

    Most of the people who call themselves “Palestinian” moved to the region from Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and the Maghreb, in the 19th century, because of the improved living conditions caused by Jewish return.

    Palestine, actually does exist- in Jordan. 2/3 of the population is “Palestinian”, and it was originally meant to be part of the Jewish National Home but the British instead gave it to the Arabs. You already have a state. Israel is mine. Leave it alone!

  9. Bar Kochba: Look, every year I get people of your type. I am willing to talk if you can have a rational argument and are willing to engage in constructive civilized debate. But sitting here and denying that we have a legitimate claim to this land is just absurd. What makes a Palestinian different than an Arab ??? … Palestinians *ARE* Arabs !!!

  10. “Palestinians *ARE* Arabs !!!” Exactly. I reject any sort of foreign influence or non-Jewish claim to the Land of Israel. The Arabs invaded the land and conquered it. However, its rightful owners are the Jewish people.

    I’m happy to talk also. Your post deals with rewriting the history of the Holy Land. Yet, historical revisionism plays a key role in the “Palestinian” national identity. The Muslim wakf on the Temple Mount has been steadily destroying Jewish artifacts and dumping them in the Kidron Valley. The Arabs deny that the Jews have a right to the Land. And I am saying that we were there first, and we will be there long afterwards.

  11. Who said Jews can’t be Arabs as well? There are many Arab Jews. That’s first
    Second, Canaanites (way before Jews even existed) were Arabs and Arabs are of their descent. When Abraham came to Palestine, it was already occupied. Even Abraham himself isn’t Jewish. The Jewish faith started in the Time of Moses. Before it, there was the Israelites, the twelve tribes of Israel which are NOT JEWISH, they were Hebrews but not Jewish … yet.
    Israel (Jacob) himself, wasn’t living in an Empty land. There were others, and it was a location where caravans would pass.
    Jews didn’t come to EXISTENCE except AFTER Jacob. That leaves a good 40,000 years of everyone else to have lived and have claims over this land.
    Jews were NOT there first. They are sort of a late addition to the game. But Arabs have always coexisted with Jews there. Unlike what the Israeli government have done as it forced people out of their homes

    It’s conceivable that Palestinians who were kicked out were original Jews who converted to Christianity, then to Islam. Not everyone who lived in Palestine came from somewhere else. With the exception of ALL the Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews who are known to have lived elsewhere. Some of the Mizrahi (probably 1%) did live in Palestine and are ARAB JEWS. Just like Bani Quraida, Bani Nadir and Bani Qainuqa 1400 years ago. They were ARAB Jews

  12. On a funny side note, telling a Jew that he’s an Arab is probably the biggest insult there is in the racist Israeli entity these days. We should probably add them to the Arab league and make them suffer with endless summits 🙂

  13. Bar Kochba: So let me get this straight, you acknowledge that the Arabs & Muslims have lived as the majority on this land for the past ~1400 years yet you deny that they have any right to it. At the same time, you acknowledge that the Jews were the minority on this land for the past 2000 years but they are some how the “rightful owners” of this land and that the Arabs should be kicked out ??

  14. You guys have more will power to fight with people. I banned these people because they have been bugging me all day with the same argument. I rather read replies here, and not bother with it on my site. I am not going to go into an endless historical/political debate there. However, Za3tar, I will use your site since the debate seems to be on fire!

    Bar Kochba.. ahh.. as Mark Twain has said: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Go live your life basing it on stats and dates. We live our life based on our hearts, souls, and attachment to something that is in our bloods and roots that we will never part with. Israelis can never kill every single Palestinian on earth. As long as we exist, you live in fear. No matter where we are in this world.

    Also, one last thought. Back in 2006. When Lebanon and Israel was at war, why were the Israelis rushing to the Canadian and other foreign embassies trying to get out of Israel? The moment an Israeli senses fear and death near their doors they run away or fight back with the most advanced weapons known to man. But it is that Palestinian/Lebanese will power that drives Israeli’s crazy!! Why the fear from us? Do you guys live in so much fear that you have to protect your self that much or run away when you can’t do it anymore?

    There is so much to say regarding this topic, but we will end up in a never ending debate. The only way to solve this problem is find a way to live in peace. Give everyone similar rights, and stop this racism. Just a curious thought since religion is always stuck in this middle of this argument, but isn’t racism a sin for Jews?

  15. Nice essay and thought. They say that history is written by the historians. So it is so important to *pay attention* For example most people that I know around my neck of the woods do not even *know* that israel as a “state” did not even exist before 1948: or about the mass migration of jewish people to that area.

    I am not a history player: just a thought.

    Great writing and effort. 🙂

  16. The Canaanites are an extinct people. The Torah records the command to destroy the 7 nations that inhabited Canaan. 31 Canaanite cities were wiped out by Joshua, and the rest eventually assimilated during Babylonian times. The Arabs of today have no connection to the Canaanites, or other vanished peoples like the Edomites, Moabites, Amonites or Hivites. However, no serious scholar disputes the 3000 Jewish presence in Israel or the direct relation between the ancient Israelites and today’s Jews.

    http://www.aish.com/societywork/sciencenature/jewish_genes.asp

    There are Arab Jews in the sense of European Jews or Asian Jews ie. Jews exiled in Arab or European lands. Sherif Hussein, the guardian of the Islamic Holy Places in Arabia, said the Palestinians’ ancestors had only been in the area for 1,000 years. Even the Palestinians themselves have acknowledged their association with the region came long after the Jews. In testimony before the Anglo-American Committee in 1946, for example, they claimed a connection to Palestine of more than 1,000 years, dating back no further than the conquest of Muhammad’s followers in the 7th century. And that claim is also dubious. Over the last 2,000 years, there have been massive invasions that killed off most of the local people (e.g., the Crusades), migrations, the plague, and other manmade or natural disasters. The entire local population was replaced many times over. During the British mandate alone, more than 100,000 Arabs emigrated from neighboring countries and are today considered Palestinians.

    ?…[the Palestinian Arabs’] basic sense of corporate historic identity was, at different levels, Muslim or Arab or – for some – Syrian; it is significant that even by the end of the Mandate in 1948, after thirty years of separate Palestinian political existence, there were virtually no books in Arabic on the history of Palestine..?
    — Bernard Lewis, Semites and Anti-Semites: An Inquiry into Conflict and Prejudice, (New York: Norton, 1999), p. 186.

    In short, even after the Roman exile, Jews have always lived in the Land of Israel. Starting the 1800s, Jews began actively to return home. Jews bought land legally from Syrian effendi absentee land-owners, built settlements and cultivated the land. “Palestinian” nationalism only became a movement after the Six Day War.

  17. [BAPD] Where is my homeland? | Rebellious Arab Girl - pingback on May 17, 2009 at 11:07 pm
  18. You guys never quit. fine…
    So you’re fine admitting how the Jews murdered and committed genocide against Arab tribes in Palestine for over 3 years. And yet you cry over the Babylon and how Hitler treated the Jews. How hypocritical.
    Historically, Arabs are divided into 3 groups. Extinct Arabs, and these include the people of Sodom and Gomorrah who are biblically placed around the same time of Abraham (who was not Jewish), Arabic Arabs and these are the decedents of Qahtan and Adnan the origin of Arabs. And Arabized Arabs, who are similar to the decedents of Ishmael, who isn’t originally Arab (and not Jewish)
    The Palestinians at the time who were speaking Aramaic (not Hebrew) and have been for a good 3 thousand years
    If some deranged Arab made a comment, you guys grab it and run with it as as proof of everything. No, it means nothing. Arabs of all nationalities have ruled, and continuously inhibited the Land of Palestine before Jews ever existed despite the all the attempts to murder them over a good deal of 3 thousand year. We are still here and we will continue to be here and we will get back to our land.

    Palestinians didn’t sell their land. There were a few traitors, but the “absentee” were made like that because they were kicked out of their lands by Jewish gangs. Which committed terrorist acts against innocent Palestinians, AND the British. In fact the ver first terrorist acts were done BY THE JEWS in Palestine.
    So what do you expect from a bunch of terrorists who stole the land? Other than trying to falsify history as well?

  19. “..Sherif Hussein, the guardian of the Islamic Holy Places in Arabia, said the Palestinians’ ancestors had only been in the area for 1,000 years.”

    Bar Kochba, are you realizing how unvoluntarily comical you are?
    They have been there for “only 1000 years” – LOL! In every civilization with some sort of law, an owner, even a very rightful one, loses property after 30 years. Maybe you could extend it to encompass all global legal traditions – 3 generations, 90 years, surely is not unrealistic.

    The gap between 90 years and ONE THOUSAND years is pretty large! For the slow at mind: This would mean under ANY thinkable legal regime, the owner would have lost any claim to the land. 1000 years is too long to uphold any claim. Where this rule of 30 years comes from? From an interest in PEACE and legal certainty. 30 years an owner has not managed to get his property back – a new generation has taken over the property already, then there is society’s interest in avoiding an endless feud. Property of the initial owner is no more. Not just, but reasonable and well founded. After all, the young new owner generation has contributed to the maintenance of the property in the meantime, without being burdened with the crime of theft of the first new owner.

    And you should know the national states, as opposed to regional empires, developed in Europe only in the 18th century. So it does not do your depiction of intelligence any favor to demand the existence of a sovereign Palestinian state before the 20th century. Then there should be no Turks, no Iraqis, no Syrians, no Lebanese.. This does not harm the fact that within the Ottoman empire, there was regional adminstration, and rulers set in place for specific territories (which WERE ethnic, if not national entities). Just like the Europeans, for example the Austro-Hungarian empire, managed their rule. With regional governors speaking the local language and reporting to the central authority.
    If you know Jewish history, this might sound familiar to you: The Roman empire was organised in this way too.

    So following your reasoning, the Jewish identity and state was extinct the moment Judäa was integrated into the Roman Empire. No sovereign power, a foreign domination – so I guess following your logic that was the end of the Jewish state, not the diaspora?
    You might want to clear out your inconsistencies of thought, and refrain from getting “education” from racist propaganda only.

  20. Qwaider,

    There was nothing unusual in way the Israelites treated the peoples of Canaan according to ancient norms.

    I repeat emphatically that the Canaanites have no relation to today’s Arabs. They had a very different culture, religion, language and identity than today’s Arabs and probably have little genetic relation.

    Jews paid astronomical prices for land in Israel. They bought the most barren, deserted, swamp-infested land because that was the only one that the Arabs were willing to sell. hen John Hope Simpson arrived in Palestine in May 1930, he observed: “They [Jews] paid high prices for the land, and in addition they paid to certain of the occupants of those lands a considerable amount of money which they were not legally bound to pay.” The Peel Commission’s report found that Arab complaints about Jewish land acquisition were baseless. It pointed out that “much of the land now carrying orange groves was sand dunes or swamp and uncultivated when it was purchased….there was at the time of the earlier sales little evidence that the owners possessed either the resources or training needed to develop the land.”24 Moreover, the Commission found the shortage was “due less to the amount of land acquired by Jews than to the increase in the Arab population.” The report concluded that the presence of Jews in Palestine, along with the work of the British Administration, had resulted in higher wages, an improved standard of living and ample employment opportunities.

    Dina:
    “In every civilization with some sort of law, an owner, even a very rightful one, loses property after 30 years.” And yet you claim that Arabs should be allowed to return back to their homes 61 years after the establishment of the State of Israel. Jewish rights to the land are based on their antiquity and their preceding the Arabs there, and by the fact that today they are the majority and possess the land. Make up your mind: either the Land belongs to whoever was there first (in which case the Jews precede the Arabs) or it belongs to its current owners (in which case Israel is on the map and “Palestine is not).

    The fact is that the Arabs living in the geographic entity known as Palestine did at no time consider themselves part of a distinct “Palestinian people”. This entity is completely artificial and only came about following the Six Day War.
    .
    Jews have always had a large presence in Israel. Since 1867, Jews have been a clear majority in Jerusalem. Jews have been actively returning and rebuilding their country since the 1800s. Arabs have 22 states- Jews have one. Leave us alone and may G-d bless you in your own 22 countries.

  21. I thought you might find this interesting, More proof of our roots in Israel:

    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/131460

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