Know Your History: Palestinian Arab Identity And Jewish Presence In Palestine (The Sentinel March 21, 1919)

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series where I use history to debunk common misconceptions about the Middle East conflict.

Back in 1919, shortly after WWI where there was much talk about re-establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine, The Sentinel (a newspaper for Chicago Jewry) included this report from Palestine on March 21.

sentinel pali arabs

Firstly, note how these Arabs referred to themselves: The Musselman-Christian Committee of Jaffa.” Not “The Palestinians.” That is because the Arabs in then Palestine were not referring to themselves as such, nor was anyone else. In fact, the previous month, the Congress of which they were part adopted the following resolution:

“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.”

Palestinian Arab nationalism started forming later, after the failure of Faisal to establish the Kingdom of Greater Syria.

Secondly, note their statement that the Jews came to Palestine “in the last twelve hundred years.” This constitutes an acknowledgement that there was a continuous Jewish presence from at least the 8th century – rather than the now established palestinian narrative that we showed up in the 20th century or slightly before.

And how did they decide there was a Jewish presence since the 8th century?  After all, we have had a continuous presence in the land since at least the year 70, after the destruction of the second Temple.

I believe it is no coincidence they chose this number, given the Muslim presence started after the Muslim conquest of the land in the 7th century. By stating we had been here since the 8th century only, they could posit their claim trumps ours.

Thanks to Rachel Steinmetz for drawing attention to this newspaper item.

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