Since it is still Tisha B’Av and we are commemorating not only the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, but also the continued exile and our despair at the ceaseless delegitimization campaign against Israel, I thought it timely to understand the real history of our country so that we can debunk and refute the lies and slanders about the Jews “stealing” “historical Palestinian land”. I think you will find the following items interesting and relevant.
I came upon the following article by Avi Goldreich written in 2007, but is as relevant as ever today. It was originally published in Hebrew which you can see at the end of the article, and the English translation appears at the top. The article tells us about a census and tour of the Holy Land in 1695 in which the ancient author found no sign of Arabic place names, and of course “Palestinians” did not exist:
The author Relandi, a real scholar, geographer, cartographer and well known philologist, spoke perfect Hebrew, Arabic and ancient Greek, as well as the European languages. The book was written in Latin. In 1695 he was sent on a sightseeing tour to Israel, at that time known as Palestina. In his travels he surveyed approximately 2500 places where people lived that were mentioned in the bible or Mishnah. His research method was interesting.
He first mapped the Land of Israel.
Secondly, Relandi identifies each of the places mentioned in the Mishnah or Talmud along with their original source. If the source was Jewish, he listed it together with the appropriate sentence in the Holy Scriptures. If the source was Roman or Greek he presented the connection in Greek or Latin.
Thirdly, he also arranged a population survey and census of each community.
His most prominent conclusions
1. Not one settlement in the Land of Israel has a name that is of Arabic origin.
… Till today, most of the settlements names are of Hebrew or Greek origin, the names distorted to senseless Arabic names. There is no meaning in Arabic to names such as Acco (Acre), Haifa, Jaffa, Nablus, Gaza, or Jenin and towns named Ramallah, El Halil and El-Kuds (Jerusalem) lack historical roots or Arabic philology. In 1696, the year Relandi toured the land, Ramallah, for instance, was called Bet’allah (From the Hebrew name Beit El) and Hebron was called Hebron (Hevron) and the Arabs called Mearat HaMachpelah El Chalil, their name for the Forefather Abraham.
2. Most of the land was empty, desolate.
… Most of the inhabitants were Jews and the rest Christians. There were few Muslims, mostly nomad Bedouins. Nablus, known as Shchem, was exceptional, where approximately 120 people, members of the Muslim Natsha family and approximately 70 Shomronites, lived.
The interesting part was that Relandi mentioned the Muslims as nomad Bedouins who arrived in the area as construction and agriculture labor reinforcement, seasonal workers.
In Gaza for example, lived approximately 550 people, fifty percent Jews and the rest mostly Christians. The Jews grew and worked in their flourishing vineyards, olive tree orchards and wheat fields (remember Gush Katif?) and the Christians worked in commerce and transportation of produce and goods. Tiberius and Tzfat were mostly Jewish … A town like Um el-Phahem was a village where ten families, approximately fifty people in total, all Christian, lived and there was also a small Maronite church in the village (The Shehadah family).
3. No Palestinian heritage or Palestinian nation.
The book totally contradicts any post-modern theory claiming a “Palestinian heritage,” or Palestinian nation. The book strengthens the connection, relevance, pertinence, kinship of the Land of Israel to the Jews and the absolute lack of belonging to the Arabs, who robbed the Latin name Palestina and took it as their own.
In Granada, Spain, for example, one can see Arabic heritage and architecture…. Seven hundred years of Arabic reign left in Spain an Arabic heritage that one cannot ignore, hide or camouflage. But here, in Israel there is nothing like that! Nada, as the Spanish say! No names of towns, no culture, no art, no history, and no evidence of Arabic rule; only huge robbery, pillaging and looting; stealing the Jews’ holiest place, robbing the Jews of their Promised Land. Lately, under the auspices of all kind of post modern Israelis — also hijacking and robbing us of our Jewish history.
This reflects very similar reporting by numerous travellers over the 2,000 years since the Churban. The website Eretz Yisroel has a very interesting article on Palestine, a land virtually laid waste with little population:
A review of Palestine, before the era of prosperity began with the late nineteenth-century renewal of Jewish land settlement, shows that periodically Palestine was virtually laid waste, and its population suffered acute decline.
An enormous swell of Arab population could only have resulted from immigration and in-migration (from Jordan and the West Bank to the coastal area). It is helpful to see the land that was virtually emptied-and why.
Dio Cassius, writing at the time, described the ruin of the land beginning with the destruction of Judah:
Of their forts the fifty strongest were razed to the ground. Nine hundred and eighty-five of their best-known villages were destroyed….Thus the whole of Judea became desert, as indeed had been foretold to the Jews before the war. For the tomb of Solomon, whom these folk celebrate in their sacred rites, fell of its own accord into fragments, and wolves and hyenas, many in number, roamed howling through their cities.1
One historian after another has reported the same findings.
In 1590 a “simple English visitor” to Jerusalem wrote, “Nothing there is to bescene but a little of the old walls, which is yet Remayning and all the rest is grasse, mosse and Weedes much like to a piece of Rank or moist Grounde.”3
In the mid-1700s, British archaeologist Thomas Shaw wrote that the land in Palestine was “lacking in people to till its fertile soil.”6 An eighteenth-century French author and historian, Count Constantine Frangois Volney, wrote of Palestine as the “ruined” and “desolate” land.
In “Greater Syria,” which included Palestine,
Many parts … lost almost all their peasantry. In others…. the recession was great but not so total.7
The British Consul in Palestine reported in 1857 that
The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is that of a body of population…. 18
In the 1860s, it was reported that “depopulation is even now advancing.”19 At the same time, H. B. Tristram noted in his journal that
The north and south [of the Sharon plain] land is going out of cultivation and whole villages are rapidly disappearing from the face of the earth. Since the year 1838, no less than 20 villages there have been thus erased from the map [by the Bedouin] and the stationary population extirpated. 20
Mark Twain, in his inimitable fashion, expressed scom for what he called the “romantic” and “prejudiced” accounts of Palestine after he visited the Holy Land in 1867.21 In one location after another, Twain registered gloom at his findings.
Stirring scenes … occur in the valley [Jezreel] no more. There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent-not for thirty miles in either direction. There are two or three small clusters of Bedouin tents, but not a single permanent habitation. One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. 22
In fact, according to Twain, even the Bedouin raiders who attacked “so fiercely” had been imported: “provided for the occasion … shipped from Jerusalem,” by the Arabs who guarded each group of pilgrims.
Mark Twain even quotes Megillat Eicha, the Book of Lamentations that we read today:
“Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes…. desolate and unlovely.. . Twain wrote with remone. it is dreamland.” 26
Many writers, such as the Reverend Samuel Manning, mourned the atrophy of the coastal plain, the Sharon Plain, “the exquisite fertility and beauty of which made it to the Hebrew mind a symbol of prosperity.”
With all that in mind, we cannot be surprised that contrary to the myths put out today by Palestinian propagandists, Jerusalem – yes! That “third holiest city” of theirs – is in fact of no interest to the Muslims at all and remained thus until the Jews regained control.
The Elder of Ziyon recently interviewed the Middle East scholar Harold Rhode who gave us the historical background of the derision in which Jerusalem is regarded by the Muslims:
Rhode describes how Jerusalem was not important in early Islam, and relates a story of Ka’ab al Ahbar, an early Jewish convert to Islam, and Caliph Umar who conquered Jerusalem.
Ka’ab al Ahbar accompanied Umar to the Temple Mount, which was a trash heap, and the question came up of where would be the best place to pray from. Al Ahbar suggested the north side of the Mount, because that way they could be praying in the directions of both the Jewish temple and Mecca.
Umar bristled at this suggestion, saying that Ahbar is still acting like a Jew and accusing him of trying to Judaize Islam. Instead, Umar said, the proper place for prayer would be the southern end, where when they bow down they would deliberately show their backsides to Judaism’s holiest spot.
Rhode goes on to say that one of the most important early Islamic scholars … hated Jerusalem for what it represented, saying that Muslims who venerated Jerusalem were following a corrupt, Judaized version of Islam.
So why do the Saudis, who are Wahhabis, consider Jerusalem important today? Because, as a Saudi diplomat told a friend of Rhode, they are frightened of Palestinian terrorism themselves.
Watch the video:
The Arabs created a monster in the Palestinians – a monster intended to terrorise the Jews, but it has turned around and like the famed Golem, it has risen up now against its master.
A lesson for the world.