Where is Ancient Palestine and Who Are the Palestinians?

Imagined-Landscape-of-Falestine-300x201

People often assume that part of the current land of Israel was once part of “Ancient Palestine” and that the Arabs of Gaza and the “West Bank” (Judea and Samaria) had their land stolen from them, allegedly but the Jews, so where was “ancient Palestine”? Is it where Israel is now? Who are the people that call themselves ‘Palestinians’?


There were 3 such geographic places with the name Palestine; none of them belonging to Arab people.  One belonged to the Romans, one was a province of the Byzantine Empire and one was under British administration;

(1) belonging to the Romans (Syria Palaestina, 135-390 AD); It was established by the merge of Roman Syria and Roman Judaea, following the defeat of the Bar Kokhba Revolt in 135. Shortly after 193, the Syrian regions were split off as Syria Coele in the north and Phoenice in the south, and the province was reduced to Judea.

(2) a province belonging to the Byzantine empire (Palestina Secunda or Palestina II – 390 AD), The province experienced the rise of Christianity under the Byzantines but was also a thriving center of Judaism, after the Jews had been driven out of Judea by the Romans in the 1st and 2nd centuries

(3) and a geopolitical entity under British administration (carved out of Ottoman Southern Syria after World War I,1920-1948).

There is no archaeological evidence supporting an Arab claim of an “Ancient Palestine” in the Land;  no ancient Palestinian coinage has been unearthed, no Palestinian Emperor’s or King’s names inscribed anywhere, and no ancient Palestinian manuscripts.

There is, however, abundant archaeological evidence dating back more than 3000 years of there being a thriving civilization in the Land of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the Jews.

Excavations at the summit of the City of David have unearthed what is believed to have been the palace of King David (who ruled from ~1005 to 965 BCE). The site of the First Temple that was built in Jerusalem from ~833 – 827 BCE by King Solomon is currently being excavated [see http://www.morehasbara.com/2016/05/21/king-solomons-wall-discovered-outside-2nd-temple-wall/], and ancient Jewish seals called bullas have been found with ancient Hebrew lettering bearing the name Jehucal, son of Shelemiah, son of Shovi: an Israelite high-ranking official mentioned twice in the Bible (Jeremiah 37:3 and Jeremiah 38:1). These are but a few examples.

The reason the Romans named their territory Syria Palaestina when they conquered it in the early first century as an insult to the Jewish inhabitants they displaced; because the ancient adversary of the Jews, were the Philistines. Why would the Romans name to offend the Jews, if Arabs were the inhabitants of the land? They weren’t. The Jews were.

Right under the feet of those in what the press calls “the West Bank”, in Judea and Samaria — in Hebron, the Jewish Patriarchs are buried. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their wives.  The reason the Tomb of the Patriarchs is in Hebron is because Judea and Samaria are part of the ancient Jewish homeland.

What few people realize is that the Arabs of the surrounding area never considered that there was a separate entity called “Palestine”;

In 1919:

“We consider Palestine as part of Arab Syria, as it has never been separated from it at any time. We are connected with it by national, religious, linguistic, natural, economic and geographical bonds.”

Resolution of the First Congress of Muslim-Christian Associations, Jerusalem, February 1919

In 1937:

There is no such country as Palestine! ‘Palestine’ is a term the Zionists invented! There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria.

Local Arab leader, Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, to the British Peel Commission

In 1947:

“Palestine was part of the Province of Syria” … “politically, the Arabs of Palestine were not independent in the sense of forming a separate political entity.”

Representative of the Arab Higher Committee, Statement to the General Assembly of the United Nations, May 1947

In 1948:

“Palestine and Transjordan are one.”

King Abdullah, Arab League meeting in Cairo, 12 April 1948

In 1956:

“It is common knowledge that that Palestine is nothing by Southern Syria”

PLO founder Ahmed Shuqeiri, to the United Nations Security Council, May 31, 1956

In 1970:

“Palestine is Jordan and Jordan is Palestine; there is only one land, with one history and one and the same fate”

Prince Hassan of the Jordanian National Assembly, February 2, 1970

In 1976:

“You do not represent Palestine as much as we do. Never forget this one point: There is no such thing as a Palestinian people, there is no Palestinian entity, there is only Syria. You are an integral part of the Syrian people, Palestine is an integral part of Syria. Therefore it is we, the Syrian authorities, who are the true representatives of the Palestinian people.

Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, addressing the PLO, July 20, 1976

The very idea that the people of Gaza or Judea and Samaria are the inheritors of an ancient homeland called “Palestine” is simply a myth — or a lie. Most telling is the blatant fact that there isn’t even a letter in Arabic that makes the “p” sound. Literally, it is Falestine – “f” like fallacy.

Until the so-called ‘Palestinians’, no people in history have adopted a name for themselves or for their country that could not be said or written in their own language.  In Arabic, the ‘Palestinians’ call their country “Filastin” and themselves “Filastiniyun”. This detail testifies that the ‘Palestinian’ national narrative is a modern invention.

The ‘Palestinians’ claim to be part  Arab however the historical Philistines, from whom “Filastin” is presumably taken, came from the Aegean world and were Hellenic

[more here: http://www.morehasbara.com/2016/06/07/problems-with-the-palestinian-narrative-descended-from-the-philistines/]

The last identifiable vestiges of Philistine culture disappeared about 2600 years ago. It is possible they were incorporated into, or became the Tribe of Dan and became part of the Israelites. It is known that a Hellenic tribe known as the Danae disappeared from the south coast of Turkey just before the Philistines arrived in Canaan. DNA would provide no help here; 2600 years is roughly 100 generations, which is more than enough for everyone on the planet to have some Philistine DNA.

As mentioned above, the name ‘Palestine’ was given by the Roman emperor Hadrian to the province of Judaea in 135 CE as an insult and means to cut its tie to the Judaeans, from whom the name “Jews” is derived.

Christians residing in the land continued to use the term ‘Palestine’ to refer to this geographic area over the centuries, while (as documented above) the Arabs of the surrounding area referred to it as southern Syria.

The term ‘Palestine’ has always referred to a geographic area, and not a sovereign state – certainly never an Arab state, and so it was natural that the land that the British administered after WWI when the Ottoman Empire collapsed, was called the British Mandate for Palestine. During this period of time, the name “Palestinian” referred to the Jewish inhabitants of the land administered by the British from its inception in 1923 until the establishment of State of Israel, in 1948. During the Mandate, no Arab would call himself a “Palestinian”; they were the Arabs, living in Palestine.

So where did the people that call themselves ‘Palestinians’ come from?

For that we refer you to some two of our posts;

Where did the Palestinians of Today Come From?[http://www.morehasbara.com/2015/11/10/where-did-the-palestinians-of-today-come-from/]

The Palestinian “Narrative” – descended from the Philistines [http://www.morehasbara.com/2016/06/07/problems-with-the-palestinian-narrative-descended-from-the-philistines/]

Contrary to what they claim, the ‘Palestinians’ are not descendants of the Philistines and have not been in the Land “since time immemorial”, but are Pan-Arab Hashemite colonialists, descendants of Egyptians, Syrians, Jordanians and those from others Pan-Arabist lands. They are Arabs, descended from the conquering Muslims of Arabia that first arrived in the 6th century CE with the founding of Islam, and later enticed by the Ottomans and British to come as migrant laborers, and recruited by Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, in order to try to prevent a Jewish state from being formed (see earlier posts).

The youth of Gaza and the “West Bank” have grown up with this as their “history” – a history that their parents and grandparents wrote. This is all they have ever know – so they fight to the death for the “return” of “their land”. The ‘Palestinian’ narrative is a historical revision with the intentional political strategy of denying Israel’s right to exist.

At a 1998 conference of ‘Palestinian’ historians, Dr. Yussuf Alzamili, Chairman of the History Department of Khan Yunis Educational Collegeat;

called on all universities and colleges to write the history of Palestine and to guard it, and not to enable the [foreign] implants and enemies to distort it or to legitimize the existence of Jews on this land…”

Al-Ayyam newspaper, December 4, 1998

Writing the history of Palestine was for the clearly stated purpose of “not enabling the (alleged) foreign implants [the Jews] to legitimize their existence on this land.”

The ‘Palestinian’ “history”, this myth of an Ancient Palestine allegedly stolen by the Jews – that the youth of Gaza and the “West Bank” have grown up with, undermines and seeks to replace Jewish history in the land. However, the glaring facts remains; there is no archaeological evidence supporting ‘Palestinian’ “history” – no ancient Palestinian coinage, no inscriptions with Palestinian Emperor’s or King’s names anywhere, no ancient Palestinian manuscripts.

The ‘Palestinian’ Narrative has been told over and over again since the first PLO Charter of 1964, and its more militant revision of 194 – with the knowledge that if it is told often enough, for long enough, it will be believed;

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from it. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

~ Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda expert

roman-syria-palestine

3 thoughts on “Where is Ancient Palestine and Who Are the Palestinians?”

  1. The argument that they could not have been heirs to the land due to the lack of Arabic “p” is rather uninformed. In Semitic languages “p” and “f” are not unique letters but rather the sound of “f” is a soft “p”. The land was named after the philistines (ph=f) by foreigners who simply named it with a hard “p” sound. This is no different than Judea and the Jewish people. There is no “j” sound in Hebrew (it is rather a “y”). The land was called Judea and the people in it called “Jews” by foreigners and it stuck.

    1. Thanks for commenting. The ‘Palestinians’ lack of claim to the land is certainly not based on the lack of a “p” sound in Arabic — this was mentioned in passing. We will be soon be starting a series of blogs on the history of their claim, titled “In the Shadow of Empires” which we have been researching for a few months. Stay tuned.

      As for the “p” and the “f” are not being unique letters in “Semitic languages” and the ‘hard’ “f” being a form of the ‘soft’ “p” is true in Hebrew, but not Arabic. There has never been a “p” sound in Arabic and even in modern Arabic there is no “p” phenome. You are however correct that there is no “J” sound in Hebrew, which is why our capital is called Yerushalaiim (ירושלם) and we are Yehudi (יהודי) and the region of Israel near Shomron (“Samaria”, in English) is called Yehudah (יהודה). What we are called in English (or any other language) doesn’t have any bearing on what we call ourselves or our Capital or regions of our country in our native tongue.

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