Map of Palestine created in 1873. Note that most names on the map are from Biblical times when the People of Israel lived in Israel. Almost no areas of habitation originated during the Ottoman Empire’s occupation of the Holy Land.
No one argues the fact that the Holy Land—along with the rest of the Middle East—was under the rule of the Ottoman Empire for 400 years until the British captured the ancient land of Israel in 1917.
What most people don’t know is that during the Ottoman period, the concept of a nation-state with fixed borders was foreign to Arabs. It was entirely a European concept. Among Arabs, their strongest identity was religion and language, Islam and Arabic. Today Arabs still see themselves as part of the “Arab nation” which is actually made up of 22 Arab states.
It’s not that there was no other identifiable territory in the Middle East. Egypt was Egypt from ancient times. Syria was also a known region. In fact, before the British arrived, Arabs living in and around the Holy Land directed their allegiance to Damascus; they identified themselves as Southern Syrians.
So where did “Palestine” come from? Western maps of Palestine were printed in Bibles, probably from the time there were printing presses. Such maps created in the 19th century are easily found on the Internet. But these maps show primarily the ancient tribes of Israel and their cities and towns, not maps of “Palestine” recording villages and towns existing in the 1800’s.
HADRIAN’S ATTEMPT TO ERADICATE ISRAEL
The name “Palestine” was imposed on the Holy Land by the Roman emperor Hadrian in 135 A.D.
“Almost 2,000 years ago, the Roman Emperor Hadrian cursed the Jewish People and decreed that Judea should henceforth be called “Palestine” after the Philistines, an ancient enemy of Israel that had disappeared from the world’s stage more than 600 years earlier. It was his final twist of the knife and legacy after wars, massacres, persecutions, and exiles that had largely extinguished the Jewish presence from Judea.”
As for maps created even in the 1800’s, there was little real-time inhabited areas to record. The fact that God had cursed the actual land of the Israelites because of their sins could be witnessed by anyone who visited there. The land had lain bare and desolate for centuries. (Leviticus 26:32, Jeremiah 18:16 are examples of the curse.)
Travelers like Mark Twain, who visited the area, all testified that few people lived in the Holy Land except for Bedouin crisscrossing the land according to the seasons and small villages scattered here and there.
A travel guide to Palestine and Syria published in 1876 by Karl Baedeker illustrates the fact that even when the Islamic Ottoman Empire ruled the region, the Muslim population in Jerusalem was minimal. But important to history, there were always Jews living in the “Four Holy Cities: Jerusalem, Hebron, Safed and Tiberius.
Baedeker estimated the total population of Jerusalem to be 60,000-7,000 Muslims, 13,000 Christians and 40,000 Jews.
THE LAND OF ISRAEL IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
In New Testament times, the authors of the Gospels spoke of the people of Israel living in the land of Israel. Matthew records the angel speaking to Joseph in a dream—who was in Egypt with Mary and Baby Yeshua—to return to the land of Israel.
Yeshua, the apostles and the New Testament continued to speak of the Holy Land as Judea, Samaria and Israel. Never Palestine. Speaking of His return in the Last Days, Yeshua said,
But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say to you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, until the Son of man shall have come. (Matthew 10:23)
THE BRITISH INTRODUCE “PALESTINE” TO ARABS
When the British conquered the Ottoman Empire, they came with their maps and documents designating the land as Palestine. The Arabs were furious. They saw the name coming from the Christian Crusader world and saw it as a victory for the “Zionists.” Not a single prominent Muslim endorsed the renaming of the region as “Palestine” in 1920; all protested it.
Indeed, for decades other identities—Syrian, Arab, and Muslim—continued to compete with the Palestinian brand.
The next step of Britain and France was to divide up the whole Middle East into different nation-states. They did so according to their own European interests, not necessarily what was good or even natural to the area. Natural divisions would have been more in line with Arab religious sects—such as Shiite, Sunni, Alawite and Druze, etc. Peoples such as the Kurds, who have a very strong identity as a religion, language and a people, were not given their own nation—a huge problem and injustice, even until today. Artificially created states by Europeans is one of the reasons for the instability of the Middle East.
ARABS MIGRATE TO THE HOLY LAND
But back to the Palestinians—of which in 1920, there were none. However, major demographic transformation was taking place. Waves of new Arabs began to flood into the area to find jobs as Jewish immigrants rebuilt towns and businesses in the Holy Land after 2000 years in the diaspora.
The return of Jewish people was accompanied by economic prosperity for the region and Arabs migrated to enjoy the higher standard of living.
Winston Churchill said in 1939: “So far from being persecuted, the Arabs have crowded into the country and multiplied till their population has increased more than even all world Jewry could lift up the Jewish population.”
NUMBER OF JEWS IMMIGRATING INCREASES
The number of Jews continued to increase in the first decades of the 20th century in spite of the fact that the Turks tried to keep Jews from immigrating or buying property.
When the British mandated the name “Palestine” for the Holy Land, the Jews who arrived called themselves Palestinians. But not the Arabs. In fact, many Jewish institutions in the Biblical land were called Palestinian; “The Jerusalem Post” was called “The Palestine Post” until 1950.
The Arabs, on the other hand, continued to resist the Palestinian name. In 1937, a Palestinian Arab leader named Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi told Britain’s Peel Commission that “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.”
The facts are incontrovertible. When the Balfour Declaration was written in 1917, there was nary a mention of a Palestinian people, because they simply didn’t exist. The Balfour document spoke of dividing “Palestine” between Jews and Arabs. Likewise, the United Nations in 1947 declared “Palestine” to be divided between Jews and Arabs. No Palestinians in sight.
When I moved to Israel in 1967, after the Six Day War, I had numerous conversations with Arabs living in both Israel proper and the West Bank. I didn’t even hear the term “Palestinian” from any Arabs at that time. There was definitely confusion among Arabs who found themselves suddenly a part of the Israeli nation. One Arab born in Israel told me, “I’m not an Arab, I’m a Christian.” Another Muslim acquaintance living on the Mount of Olives told me, “I’m a Jordanian Arab.” That of course was because when the British army withdrew from the Holy Land in 1948, the Jordanian king seized Judea and Samaria and the Old City of Jerusalem. Egypt seized Gaza.
A PALESTINIAN PEOPLE CREATED TO DESTROY ISRAEL
When Israel became a newly-born state in 1948, the Middle East Arabs immediately began to plot the destruction of Israel. This is a hard statement that nations tend to ignore. But it comes from the mouth of the Arab leaders themselves.
Enter Yasser Arafat, a native-born Egyptian with a passion to liberate Palestine from the Jews. After finishing his education in Egypt, he moved to Kuwait and met two official members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. These two men, Abu Iyad and Abu Jihad, later became Arafat’s top aides.
In 1959 when Israel was only 11 years old, Arafat formed an organization called “Fatah,” “dedicated to the liberation of Palestine through armed struggle.”
My own first visit to Israel and Jordan was in 1959. My strongest memory is of the Old City of Jerusalem (then occupied by Jordan) as an absolutely primitive backwater town made up of narrow walking passages and a derelict alley alongside the Western Wall, then called the Wailing Wall. Possibly Arafat was the only human being on earth at that time who might have thought that someday Jerusalem would be an Islamic capital of a Muslim country called Palestine. But this has become the dream and the hope of virtually every Muslim who calls himself a Palestinian in the world today.
PALESTINE LIBERATION ORGANIZATION IS BORN
When the Middle East Arab countries realized Israel wasn’t going away, in 1964 the Arab League representing all the Arab nations sent representatives to create the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and wrote up its Palestinian National Charter. The Charter defined all of Israel as Palestine, the homeland for the Arabs.
It was this assembly that introduced the “Palestinian people” to the world with its declarations:
- All Arab citizens living normally in Palestine up to 1947 are “Palestinians.” (Article 6)
- Palestine is an Arab homeland bound to the rest of the Arab countries, which together form the great Arab homeland. (Article 1)
- The Balfour Declaration and the UN partitioning of Palestine is null and void. (Article 17-18)
- The “Palestinian Arab people” will move forward on the path of al-Jihad until complete and final victory [against the Zionists] has been attained. (Introduction)
As they did when the UN announced the Jewish people would have their own country, now once again, Syria, Jordan and Egypt gathered their armies together to “throw Israel into the sea.” The spring of 1967 found the Israeli people, including their leaders, in great consternation for fear that this time the Arab armed forces might actually destroy Israel.
Instead, in nothing short of one of the most amazing battles in modern history, Israel pushed Jordan out of Judea, Samaria, and East Jerusalem, including the Western Wall and the Mount of Olives; pushed Syria out of the Golan Heights and pushed Egypt out of Gaza and the Sinai Desert. Israel later returned the Sinai Desert to Egypt in exchange for a peace agreement. In six days! All of these areas “happen” to be land that God solemnly swore to give to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (later renamed Israel) and their descendants forever.
By now Yasser Arafat had had enough. Two years later through his Fatah organization, he took control of the PLO and began his life-long mission to destroy Israel and settle Palestine with a new “Palestinian people.”
HIS SOLUTION: TERROR
But how to create a Palestinian people when there still wasn’t such a nation? The answer was terror. And so today, Yasser Arafat has the distinction of being the Father of Modern Terrorism. (Is that why he won a Nobel Prize?) He was the first to hijack airplanes. He became famous by introducing the term “Palestinian” into the international media lexicon through a series of high-profile acts of violence targeting Israeli civilians, including bombings, cross-border raids and the 1972 Munich Olympic hostage massacre. (I happened to have been in Munich directing a film about the outreach of Youth with a Mission during the Olympics.)
The world took notice. In 1974, the United Nations recognized the PLO as “the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.”
It was an amazing feat. Through outrageous, savage terrorism, the Palestinian people became a reality in five short years! Check it out for yourself. Once the United Nations recognized the existence of a Palestinian people, Israel was seen as an occupier of an “ancient people” who had lived in Palestine for thousands of years.
But Arafat didn’t stop there. He proclaimed to the whole world that the Jews had never ever lived in Palestine. They were usurpers who only came to settle on the Palestinian people’s land since the late 19th century. He said Jesus was a Palestinian. The Arab world rapidly rewrote their history books.
Arafat learned quickly that every time he initiated a new wave of terror, the world readily gave him more attention, even becoming more sympathetic to Palestinian rights and legitimacy.
Not everything went his way. He was kicked out of Jordan after carving out an independent territory for his fighters. He then moved to Lebanon and started a civil war there, until Israel kicked him out.
But his greatest accomplishment was his ability to create a fictitious narrative that Judea and Samaria, the Old City of Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and Gaza are an inalienable heritage to the ancient Palestinian people. In fact, the Islamic peoples of the world are convinced all of Israel actually belongs to the Palestinian people who have lived in Palestine for thousands of years.
Palestinian nation. A nation that has proclaimed to all the world that no Jew shall ever live there. Now that’s quite an achievement. No wonder this Father of Modern Terrorism is the Father figure to the Arabs living in Judea and Samaria.
Chairman of the PLO Yasser Arafat, father of Modern Terrorism, creator of the Palestinian People and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. (Photo: GETTYIMAGES)
There have been countless attempts to make peace between the Holy Land’s Jews and Arabs with two states living side by side in peace and security.
One of the central facts of history concerning this conflict is that in 1947 the United Nations divided up “Palestine” giving a part to the Jews and a part to the Arabs. Israel accepted. The Arabs rejected.
This fact is completely ignored by the same UN that created the State of Israel! So how does the world look at this neverending conflict as it stands today?
A neutral voice, David Remnick, Editor of The New Yorker, gives a sensible summary of the present issues, including whether or not there should be two states for Jews and Arabs or one state including Jews and Arabs.
“The one-state/two-state debate is highly fraught not least because of proximity. Too much history, too little land. This is not India and Pakistan; the map of Ireland is a veritable continent compared with Israel and the Palestinian territories. Gaza is about as close to Herzliya as Concord is to Hanover; the West Bank, as Israelis are quick to point out, is seven miles from Ben Gurion Airport.
Any two-state solution with a chance of working would have to include federal arrangements not only about security but also about water, cell-phone coverage, sewage, and countless other details of a common infrastructure.
Talk of a one-state solution, limited as it is, will never be serious if it is an attempt to mask annexation, expulsion, or population transfer, on one side, or the eradication of an existing nation, on the other. Israel exists; the Palestinian people exist. Neither is provisional.
Within these territorial confines, two nationally distinct groups, who are divided by language, culture, and history, cannot live wholly apart or wholly together.”
The world knows that Fatah, the PLO, the PA (Palestinian Authority) and Hamas all have one common goal—to extinguish Israel’s light. The world could pressure the Palestinian authorities to accept Israel’s existence or else…the U.S. could threaten the forfeiture of hundreds of millions of dollars they send each year. The reality is, the world pressures Israel to make concessions while demanding of the PA nothing.
TWO PEACE AGREEMENTS THAT FAILED
THE CAMP DAVID ACCORDS 2000
Between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Chairman of the PLO Yasser Arafat, mediated by President Bill Clinton.
– A demilitarized Palestinian state on 92% of West Bank and 100% of Gaza Strip
– Dismantlement of most Jewish settlements
– A Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, sovereignty over half the Old City of Jerusalem
– Religious custodianship over the Temple Mount
– A return of Palestinian refugees
– Encouragement for international assistance to settle refugees
Barak asked for only two concessions:
– An end to violence
– A public declaration that the terms of the final settlement marked an “end of the conflict” with no more Palestinian claims or additional demands on Israel in the future.
RESULT: Arafat walked out of the talks and launched the Second Intifada. Why? Because Arafat had learned that terrorism pays off. His goal was not a Palestinian state living side by side in peace with Israel. His goal was to destroy Israel. Both President Bill Clinton and Israel publicly blamed Arafat for the failure of the peace agreement.
Michael Oren, Israeli scholar and ambassador wrote, “The peace process collapsed not over land but because of the Palestinians’ refusal to accept Israel’s existence.”
PEACE OFFER OF 2008
By Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, hosted by President George W. Bush.
This peace plan included the basic proposals of Prime Minister Barak at the Camp David Accords in 2000, plus some new offers; most notably, for the first time, designated permanent borders.
– Give 93.7% of West Bank to Palestinians
– Give 5.8% of Israeli territory in exchange, equal to giving Palestinian 99.3% of West Bank area.
– Provide safe passage for Palestinians traveling from West Bank to Gaza via a tunnel.
– Give sovereignty of the Temple Mount to Palestinians
– Religious sites in Jerusalem to be managed by a special committee consisting of representatives from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine, the United States and Israel.
– Fixed borders of the future Palestinian State. [Note there has never been “Palestinian—Israeli borders” because Arabs never accepted the existence of Israel and therefore no borders were drawn. No matter how much the UN and the nations talk about borders, they all know that there are none—only cease-fire lines of 1949.]
RESULT: Mahmoud Abbas never replied to the proposal.
Abbas did speak with the media, saying: “I am not in a marketplace or a bazaar. I came to demarcate the borders of Palestine—the June 4, 1967 borders [!]—without detracting a single inch, and without detracting a single stone from Jerusalem, or from the holy Christian and Muslim places. This is why the Palestinian negotiators did not sign.”
The latest public demands by the Palestinian Authority circulated in April, 2014, indicate a hardening of positions by the Palestinians and nothing has come of negotiations over the last two years. Here is a list from Ynet, with my comments:
– A written commitment by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the borders of the Palestinian state will be along the 1967 ‘green-line’ and that its capital will be East Jerusalem.
[In other words there will be no exchange of land allowing most of the 300,000 Israelis living in villages and towns in Judea and Samaria to continue living there. Secondly, the 200,000 Jews living in East Jerusalem would either have to evacuate their homes, or live under a Muslim Palestinian dictatorship.]
– The release of 1,200 Palestinian prisoners, including political heavyweights Marwan Barghouti, Ahmed Saadat and Fuad Shubkhi.
[These 1200 prisoners are terrorists, some who have killed or supervised mass murders. In other words, there will be no further penalty for the thousands of Israeli deaths from offensive wars and terrorist attacks against the Jewish nation.]
– An end to the Egyptian-Israeli blockade on Gaza, and the formulation of a deal allowing the flow of goods into Gaza.
[Palestinian demand would allow Hamas to transfer massive shipments of arms to Gaza for use against Israel. Hamas’ charter verbalizes Hamas’ sole purpose for existence – to destroy Israel.]
– A halt of construction in East Jerusalem.
[Jewish suburbs all around the north, east and south of Jerusalem could not build one more home or store.]
– The IDF would not be allowed to enter most of the West Bank, even to arrest terrorists.
[Hamas, ISIS or any other Islamist cells could form and carry out terrorist acts from the West Bank or Gaza with no obstruction.]
PALESTINIANS’ BEST TOOL
Palestinians have learned from much experience that violence is a very effective tool against Israel. They believe that through terrorist attacks they receive more concessions from Israel. Even more importantly the United Nations and Europe strengthen their pressure on Israel. The working formula goes like this: riots and intifadas are initiated, then Palestinian leadership goes to the UN demanding protection from Israeli “violence” and asks for more financial aid. This strategy works. Really well.
In this game of diplomatic warfare, the Palestinians can count on automatic support from the 22 members of the Arab League and the 57 members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference as well as most of the rest of the developing nations. The Jewish state stands alone.
During the latest wave of Palestinian terrorism—randomly knifing men, women and children on the streets of Israel, the PA has demanded an end to Israel’s “terrorism, incitement and summary executions” against Palestinian civilians, especially women and children. They create numerous fictitious tales, like claiming IDF soldiers shot a Palestinian and then placed a knife near his body to make it look like the soldier acted in self-defense.
Every day now, as I write, there are stabbings across the nation. No place is safe from these lone wolf terrorists. Teenage Arab boys and girls walk out the door of their homes with a knife, find a random person, and begin to stab and stab until they are themselves wounded, killed or hunted down by the police.
PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah has urged the U.S., Russia, EU and the UN to intervene to “stop all Israeli crimes and assaults” against Palestinians. He then called for the resumption of the peace process in order to “end occupation and create a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.”
Europe and the mainstream media come to their rescue and lend their support. For example, when three Palestinians lunged at two Israeli policemen with knives, the alert police were able to shoot them before being stabbed to death themselves. CBS’ headline read “Three Palestinians killed as daily violence grinds on.”
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom told the Swedish parliament that Israel was conducting extrajudicial executions of Palestinian stabbers! When Swedish parliamentarians challenged the foreign minister with being biased against Israel, she cited the fact that more Palestinians were being killed than Israelis.
In fact, she also said that the terrorist attack in Paris last November when 130 people were murdered, “was rooted in the frustration of Muslims in the Middle East, including that of Palestinians.”
Sweden was the first European country to recognize “Palestine” as a state.
Now, with all the terrorist attacks continuing month after month in Israel, the Palestinians have caught France’s attention. Its foreign minister has recently announced that he wants Israel and the Palestinians to attend an international conference which he will host in order that the two will sign a peace treaty. And France warns that if that doesn’t happen, then France will simply recognize Palestine’s sovereignty.
Think about this “deal!” Why would the PA move a single finger to make peace with Israel? Knowing that the PA leadership will not have to compromise on any issue or agree to any conditions—it would be simply stupid not to just wait until France grants it recognition without conditions.
Everywhere Israel looks, she sees herself surrounded with ever greater perils.
(Have you seen the pictures of the Iranian nuclear site at the Parchin military complex where, from all appearances, Iranian scientists are at this moment building a nuclear bomb?)
I am constantly amazed that Israel exists with nearly the entire world against her. Really, if a person wants a sign from heaven that there is a God and He calls Himself the God of Israel, this is it! There is no other rational explanation for Israel’s continued existence and success except God.
We all know the Bible clearly foretells that the nations of the world will come against Israel in the last days. And we are seeing this being fulfilled before our very eyes. But what the Bible does not state is that believers in Yeshua will come against Israel. In fact the Bible makes it clear we the believers are to sound the trumpet for the nations to stand with Israel’s return to her land of promise under God’s protection, and to warn the nations concerning the fate of those who hate her and work to destroy her.
Jeremiah the prophet cries out:
Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, And declare it in the isles far off, and say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, And keep him as a shepherd does his flock.’ For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, And ransomed him from the hand of one stronger than he.
We who understand God’s purposes for Israel and an end-time revival can make an impact on world events as we share the facts and pray for God’s people to cry out for Israel’s salvation and protection.
Two hundred new immigrants from war-torn Ukraine gather in Congregation Beit Hallel pastored by Israel Pochtar in Ashdod. They each received a radiator heater from IstandwithIsrael.com together with blankets from the Joseph Project. It is wonderful to partner with other ministries in Israel in order to serve our people whom the Lord is still gathering back to His Promised Land.