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Horowitz: The truth about 'Palestine'

Conservative Review

The Left detests Israel’s right to sovereignty and a secure border as much as they detest our own. Following the release of Trump’s peace plan, the raging Left passed around a graphic on the internet attempting to depict Israel as gradually “stealing” land from a supposed Arab Muslim “Palestinian” state. The reality is just the opposite. And it’s time to set the record straight.

There is no such thing as a Muslim “Palestinian” state

There is no such thing as a Palestinian ethnicity, at least not in the way the term is used in geopolitical parlance. Palestine is not an Arab term, nor does the term “Palestinian” accurately identify the Arabs living in modern-day Israel, including in Judea and Samaria. The term originated from the Romans, who captured ancient Judea (which was Jewish, not Arab) almost 2,000 years ago. The Roman Emperor Hadrian renamed the Jewish kingdom of Judea “Philistia” after the ancient Philistines (Plishtim in old Hebrew), a pagan group of Aegeans who moved to what is modern-day Gaza during the times of the Canaanites, referred to throughout the Bible as a nemesis to the Jewish people.

In more modern history, the Holy Land was a no-man’s-land under control of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century. There never was an Arab Palestinian state in the Holy Land, and all the land west of the Jordan River, including Gaza, was originally earmarked for the Jewish state under the Balfour Declaration 100 years ago. That plan was adopted by the Allied powers and the League of Nations in 1920 and 1922. On Sept. 21, 1922, President Warren Harding signed H.J. Res. 322, which formally adopted the Mandate for Palestine as official U.S. policy.

The committee report from the House Foreign Affairs Committee in 1922 recognized the fact that the land had become desolate, and the committee laid the blame at the feet of the “deplorable” Ottoman Turks. The report observed that the Jews were already rehabilitating the conditions of the people living there from the “wanton and deplorable policy of desolation systemically carried out by its rulers, the Turks, for centuries.” And: “What was once the land of milk and honey, has become, through misrule and oppression, a devastated and sparsely settled land.”

(For more on what both Republicans and Democrats said in 1922 of Jewish control over the Holy Land, read here.)

The notion that there was a large native Arab populace indigenous to the Holy Land is completely unfounded. The Jews, on the other hand, had a presence in the land for over 3,000 years, long before the advent of Islam.

The idea that an Arab Palestinian label has any legal or historical legitimacy was clearly eschewed by officials of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in its early days. In an interview with the Dutch newspaper Trouw on March 31, 1977, PLO executive committee member Zahir Moshen said the following:

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. (James Dorsey, Wij zijn alleen Palestijn om politieke reden, Trouw, 31 March 1977.)

Fast-forward 38 years, and the term “Palestinian” is at the root of the near-unanimous global clamor to create an Arab nation-state west of the Jordan River – something that has never existed in either modern or ancient history.

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