A series where I bring to you news from the newspaper archives and historical documents to debunk common misconceptions about the Middle East conflict.
Here’s a map showing provinces of the Ottoman Empire in 1855. See if you can find “Palestine.”
You won’t find anything labelled “Palestine” because the area was just part of Syria (click to enlarge).
Back then, Syria was split into two provinces called Eyalets. Each Eyalet was in turn split into Sanjaks. The Eyalet of Damascus included the Sanjaks of Acre, Safad, Nablus, Jerusalem and Gaza. In 1872, the Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem was formed, and only towards the end of that century did the idea that this region (“Palestine”) formed a separate political entity became a thing among the area’s educated Arab classes.
Why is this even important? After all, were there not Arabs living in the area when most of the Jews returned to the area after thousands of years of exile? It is important, because the pro palestinian side has long claimed the existence of a distinct palestinian nation dating back thousands of years. If you accept this, then you buy into the lie that the palestinian people are indigenous to the area, rather than part of the Arabs of greater Syria who ultimately were there due to the Arab Islamic Conquest in the 7th century.
As we know, the Jews were there well prior to this conquest, and are indigenous according to the established definition of the word, and not “European colonialists” as the haters claim. The Arabs have rights of longstanding presence, which do not trump these indigenous rights, and certainly do not justify the incessant terrorism we have been subjected to for so long.
In this battle of ideas, accuracy, words and concepts do matter, and to claim otherwise is foolish.