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Who are the Palestinians?
Thu Aug 10, 2017 12:18pm
2602:30a:2c0c:99d0:298f:e969:4d60:23c7

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There is no diplomatic solution

By Pinhas Inbari, JCPA

Palestinian leaders claim that the Palestinians are descended from the Canaanite people who lived in the Land of Canaan before the Israelite tribes settled in it.
What is the source of the name “Palestine?” It is not Arab; it is derived from the name “Palestina,” by which the Roman Emperor Hadrian chose to call the land after the defeat of the Bar Kokhba Revolt in 135 CE. His aim was to erase “Judea.”
According to Palestinian historian Muhammad Y. Muslih, during the entire 400 year period of Ottoman rule (1517-1918), before the British set up the 30-year-long Palestine Mandate, “There was no political unit known as Palestine.” In Arabic, the area was known as al-Ard al-Muqadassa(the holy land), or Surya al-Janubiyya (southern Syria), but not Palestine.

Not a single Palestinian tribe identifies its roots in Canaan; instead, they all see themselves as proud Arabs descended from the most notable Arab tribes of the Hejaz, today’s Iraq, or Yemen. Even the Kanaan family of Nablus locates its origins in Syria. Some Palestinian clans are Kurdish or Egyptian in origin, and in Mount Hebron, there are traditions of Jewish origins.
This study does not deny the right of the Palestinian clans as a whole to define themselves as a Palestinian people. It would be better, however, if the Palestinian leadership were to choose a positive and constructive narrative and not a baseless one that is intended to negate that of the Jews of Israel.

Yet again, Palestinian leaders are claiming that the Palestinians are descended from the Canaanite people who lived in the land of Canaan before the Israelite tribes settled in it. No less than the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, made that claim in Germany; no one was taken aback by his remarks or questioned him.1

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat frequently makes the assertion,2 and during an international forum, he insultingly sniped at senior Israeli politician Tzipi Livni that his origins lay with the Canaanites of Jericho who were wiped out by the Israelites, alluding to “war crimes” of Joshua ben Nun.3 Again, none of the senior international officials who were present made any effort to ask questions, raise doubts, or come to the defense of the abashed Israeli representative.

Ironically, a strong dissenting view to this thesis that the Palestinians can be traced back to the Canaanites comes from Hamas. On March 23, 2012, the Hamas Minister of the Interior and National Security, Fathi Hammad, linked the Palestinians’ origins to Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula:

Who are the Palestinians? We have many families called al-Masri, whose roots are Egyptian! They may be from Alexandria, from Cairo, from Dumietta, from the north, from Aswan, from Upper Egypt. We are Egyptians; we are Arabs. We are Muslims. We are part of you. Egyptians! Personally, half my family is Egyptian – and the other half are Saudis.4

The Palestinians’ Canaanite narrative is not new. It emerged after the fall of the Hashemite monarchy in Syria in 1920, Syria’s incorporation into the French Mandate, and King Faisal’s flight to Iraq so that he could assume the throne there in 1921. Yasser Arafat claimed that the Palestinians are descendants of the Jebusites, whom he describes as a Canaanite tribe.5 In short, this argument has been around for a while.
What’s in a Name?

What is the source of the name “Palestine?” It is not Arab; it is derived from the name “Palestina,” by which the Roman Emperor Hadrian chose to call the land after the defeat of the Bar Kokhba Revolt in 135 CE. His aim was to erase “Judea” and negate any connection of the land’s history and identity with the Jews.6 This denial of the land’s Jewish roots has regrettably been continued to the present day by today’s Palestinians.

When the Islamic armies conquered the land, they adopted the administrative name used by the Byzantines and dubbed part of Palestina Prima (“the first Palestine”) – more or less today’s Jerusalem area and the Shfela [coastal plain] – as “Jund Filastin.”7 Jund means “army;” Jund Filastin means “the Palestine military command.” In other words, the name did not signify the national identity of a “Palestinian people” who lived in the land, but instead, a military district, in line with the Byzantine nomenclature. The hub of Jund Filastin was the town of Ramle, not Jerusalem; the intention was apparently to protect the trade routes leading from Egypt to Syria and Iraq.

The first generation of the Palestinian Muslim leadership took part in the Great Arab Revolt of the Hashemites in 1916. Palestinian leaders were members of the Hashemite administration in Syria, and it was only after King Faisal’s reign collapsed that they came to Palestine.

Actually, the Israelites heavily intermarried with the Canaanites and the other indigenous populations although imparting the Hebrew Religion to the entire country. This is clear from a careful reading of the books of the Tanach. We, today’s Jews, are the living descendants of the Canaanites.

Example: one of King David’s foremost officers was Uriah the Hittite.
David’s chief advisors, Achitophel, was of Canaanite ancestry. King David himself was of partial Moabite ancestry. David’s wife whom he stole from Uriah was the granddaughter of Achitophel, and hence of Canaanite ancestry. Although Moses had warned against merging with the Canaanites, his orders were ignored by Joshua who made a treaty with Gibeon who then merged with the Israelites. Other treaties followed. Furthermore, the friendly Kennites merged with Israel as well.

Yes, WE JEWS are the surviving descendants of the Canaanites, Hittites, Moabites, Ammonites, etc, etc.

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