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The Palestinian Nationality as a Colonialist Movement of the Arab League
By: Dr. Yohai Sela
The word Palestine has no meaning in the Arabic language, neither do the words Jordan and Lebanon - all are taken from the Hebrew language. The word Jordan describes the descending river water from north towards the Dead Sea; the word Lebanon describes the typical white color of the region during winter months; and Palestine is a word originated in the geographical phrase Pleshet relating to the southern coastal plane of Israel, that was invaded by nations of the sea when they entered Israel about 3,000 years ago. (In the Septuagint, translation of the Bible into Greek from the second century BC, the Palestinian people were called foreigners - "alofili" in Greek).
During the Bar-Kokheva insurrection (132-135 AC), the Romans coerced the land with new names in order to eliminate the Hebrew identity from the land of Israel. That is how the name Palestine was introduced as a Greco-Roman term for describing Israel, the aim was also to validate a new administrative distribution in a land that was managed in the following way: Palestine Prima (the first) which included the Judea and Samaria regions, the coastal plane, the Jordan Valley and the Jewish Trans-Jordan; Palestine Secunda (the second) included the Galilee, the Golan and the northern valleys; Palestine Tertia (the third) included the Negev and the southern region of the Trans-Jordan. The city of Jerusalem became Aelia Capitolina in Roman terminology. This division went on after the land of Israel was conquered by the Arabs in the 7th century as well. The Arabs, like the Romans, didn't understand the exact meaning of the term Palestine, which indicates infiltration and invasion into a country that belongs to another nation. When the Arabs adopted the name Palestine they actually commemorated their being invaders and foreigners on this land.
When the British promoted the signing of the Faisal-Weizmann Agreement after World War I (1919) the Arabs did not accept the term Palestine, for this term was identified with the Jews and with the Holly Land alone. Therefore they forcefully demanded that Israel will be defined as 'Southern Syria' with Damascus as its capital. Furthermore, on July 24th 1922, the League of Nations made a decision regarding the Jewish direct identification with the term Palestine, stating: "in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people...recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country". It took the Israeli Arabs many years to get accustomed to the new term that was 'Arabized' during the past few years, especially after 1967. However, the Jewish population did not accept the name that was foreign to the Jewish culture and history as well, which is why the leaders of the population asked to name the land 'Palestine, Land of Israel'.
Arabs who live in Israel and have profound historical awareness are not completely comfortable with the terms Palestinian or Arab, for both these terms represent foreign entities that are not related to Israel's history. Which is why you can find strange arguments by Arabs who claim that they are the historical descendants of the Canaanite (genetically as well) and this claim enables them a spiral detour around logical and historical problems regarding these strange names that many Arabs boast with these days without too much thought.
The word 'Falastin', as it is often written in Hebrew is actually Arabization of the word 'Palestine' (Arab speakers have difficulty pronouncing the letter "P"). Arabs who live in Israel, or those who know Hebrew, prefer the transcription Falastin or Falastini to the words Palestine or Palestinian because it covers up the true origin of the word signifying invasion and infiltration that commemorate their being foreign conquerors on Israeli land. However, even the use of the word Falastin or Falastini doesn't dim the sense of foreignness and discomfort that prevails amongst the Israeli Arabs and that is because there was never a Falastini country and there was never a Falastini Nation with a significant geographical and cultural identity.
Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, the policy of the Ottoman authorities that governed the land of Israel was a policy of population dispersal in order to strengthen their authority and also to create more income by taxing. To that end the ottomans engaged in moving Kurdish, Caucasian and Bosnian populations into the Land of Israel, as well as Bedouin tribesmen who lived to the east of the Jordan River and who were loyal to the Ottoman authority. Muhammad Ali, the Egyptian leader at the beginning of the 19th century, acted in a similar fashion when he forced many Egyptian fellahs to move into the boundaries of the land of Israel, in order to strengthen his authority in front of the Ottoman Empire. According to the names of the clans that invaded Israel in the past 150 years, it is possible to know their origin, for example El-Misri (from Egypt) and El-Horani (from Syria), and clans that arrived from Sudan and Algeria as well. And so, with the British occupation over the land of Israel, a mixture of nationalities, ethnic groups and religions with no common grounds was found and the Jewish population alone saw itself grounded well in the place in light of its history and the Jewish national commitment to the Land of Israel.
When the Jewish national ambition started to form into an organized national-political movement, Hajj Amin Al Husseini (an enthusiastic adherent of Nazism in the 40's) who was Jerusalem's Mufti during the period of the British Mandate, bothered to form the Supreme Arab Board. But he did not bother to form the Supreme Falastini Board. Similarly, even on UN Resolution 181 of November 1947 it was written that a 'Jewish State' and an 'Arab State' should be established in the territory of the land of Israel. However, nowhere was it written that a Falastini State or a Palestinian State should be established. After the Israeli War of Independence, the Jordan State ruled over the areas of Judea and Samaria, and Egypt ruled over the Gaza Strip. From 1949 to 1967 none of these two states bothered to form any trace of Palestinian independence in these regions as they are demanding today. In 1964 the Arab countries bothered to form the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as part of their over-all Arab endeavor to fight the State of Israel, and by that the Arab League has in fact an all Arab colonialist movement under the mask of a National movement.
The Israeli Media Between Palestinian and Falastin
Yediot Aharonot Newspaper uses the term Falastini. Haaretz Newspaper was no longer comfortable using the term Israeli Arabs and started to use in some articles the phrase Israeli Falastini. In spite of the fact that there is no such thing as Falastini, and there never was. But this phrase probably serves political agendas as part of the stated ideology that views Falastini as a nationality and Israelism as some sort of citizenship only. If it is so, it is always possible to throw in the face of whoever claims that he is Falastini that the term also utters foreigners that invaded the Land of Israel.
Notice the linguistic proximity between the word Falashim, a label that was given to the Ethiopian Jews, and the word Plishtim. Both utter a description of foreign and immigrant groups.
This long opening was only meant to tie all the knots together, for underneath the stated policy regarding the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority hides a complete system of a political and ideological culture that refers to the establishment of the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1964. As of late, difficulties in the negotiation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority became apparent - with the negligent assistance of the present American government and its delegates to the area as well. On April 26th 2010 a senior agent from the Arab league claimed that "the foreign ministers of the Arab League will reject the offers that the Americans presented to the leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas". By that, in a political and ideological steam, the Arab delegate has proved that the Palestinian Authority is a false political tool which is only meant to promote the colonialist aspirations of the Arab Nationality in Israel. We are once again back to square one with the establishment of the Palestine Liberation Organization of 1964. The Falastini split resembles the Arab split that is also evident in the Lebanon split, the Syrian split, the Iraqi split and the Jordanian split, for they are all basing themselves on the artificial attempt to define fragments of hostile tribes into a community with apparently national characteristics. There's doubt if there is a true Arab Nationality for with the means of language alone it is impossible to establish an organized set of values which is capable of designing the lives of hostile groups into a true nation. Relaying on the Islamic religion as a proper answer to the question of nationality only escalates the situation into mutual unstoppable murderousness in the name of a divine idea - just like we get to see daily in Arab and Muslim countries during the past few decades.
BY: Dr. Yohai Sela, "The Palestinian Nationality as a Colonialist Movement of the Arab League" The Mideast Forum, 5. June 2010.
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