Palestinian people | Wikipedia audio article


The Palestinian people (Arabic: الشعب
الفلسطيني‎, ash-sha‘b al-Filasṭīnī), also referred to as Palestinians (Arabic:
الفلسطينيون‎, al-Filasṭīniyyūn, Hebrew: פָלַסְטִינִים‬) or
Palestinian Arabs (Arabic: العربي الفلسطيني‎, al-‘arabi il-filastini), are an ethnonational
group comprising the modern descendants of the peoples who have lived in Palestine over
the centuries, including Jews and Samaritans, and who today are largely culturally and linguistically
Arab. Despite various wars and exoduses (such as
that in 1948), roughly one half of the world’s Palestinian population continues to reside
in historic Palestine, the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Israel. In this combined area, as of 2005, Palestinians
constituted 49% of all inhabitants, encompassing the entire population of the Gaza Strip (1.865
million), the majority of the population of the West Bank (approximately 2,785,000 versus
about 600,000 Jewish Israeli citizens, which includes about 200,000 in East Jerusalem)
and 20.8% of the population of Israel proper as Arab citizens of Israel. Many are Palestinian refugees or internally
displaced Palestinians, including more than a million in the Gaza Strip, about 750,000
in the West Bank and about 250,000 in Israel proper. Of the Palestinian population who live abroad,
known as the Palestinian diaspora, more than half are stateless, lacking citizenship in
any country. Between 2.1 and 3.24 million of the diaspora
population live in neighboring Jordan, over 1 million live between Syria and Lebanon and
about 750,000 live in Saudi Arabia, with Chile’s half a million representing the largest concentration
outside the Middle East. Palestinian Christians and Muslims constituted
90% of the population of Palestine in 1919, just before the third wave of Jewish immigration
under the post-WW1 British Mandatory Authority, opposition to which spurred the consolidation
of a unified national identity, fragmented as it was by regional, class, religious and
family differences. The history of a distinct Palestinian national
identity is a disputed issue amongst scholars. Legal historian Assaf Likhovski states that
the prevailing view is that Palestinian identity originated in the early decades of the 20th
century, when an embryonic desire among Palestinians for self-government in the face of generalized
fears that Zionism would lead to a Jewish state and the dispossession of the Arab majority
crystallised among most editors, Christian and Muslim, of local newspapers. “Palestinian” was used to refer to the nationalist
concept of a Palestinian people by Palestinian Arabs in a limited way until World War I. After the creation of the State of Israel,
the exodus of 1948 and more so after the exodus of 1967, the term came to signify not only
a place of origin but also the sense of a shared past and future in the form of a Palestinian
state. Modern Palestinian identity now encompasses
the heritage of all ages from biblical times up to the Ottoman period.Founded in 1964,
the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is an umbrella organization for groups that
represent the Palestinian people before international states. The Palestinian National Authority, officially
established in 1994 as a result of the Oslo Accords, is an interim administrative body
nominally responsible for governance in Palestinian population centers in the West Bank and Gaza
Strip. Since 1978, the United Nations has observed
an annual International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. According to Perry Anderson, it is estimated
that half of the population in the Palestinian territories are refugees and that they have
collectively suffered approximately US$300 billion in property losses due to Israeli
confiscations, at 2008–09 prices.==Etymology==The Greek toponym Palaistínē (Παλαιστίνη),
with which the Arabic Filastin (فلسطين) is cognate, first occurs in the work of the
5th century BCE Greek historian Herodotus, where it denotes generally the coastal land
from Phoenicia down to Egypt. Herodotus also employs the term as an ethnonym,
as when he speaks of the ‘Syrians of Palestine’ or ‘Palestinian-Syrians’, an ethnically amorphous
group he distinguishes from the Phoenicians. Herodotus makes no distinction between the
Jews and other inhabitants of Palestine.The Greek word reflects an ancient Eastern Mediterranean-Near
Eastern word which was used either as a toponym or ethnonym. In Ancient Egyptian Peleset/Purusati has been
conjectured to refer to the “Sea Peoples”, particularly the Philistines. Among Semitic languages, Akkadian Palaštu
(variant Pilištu) is used of 7th-century Philistia and its, by then, four city states. Biblical Hebrew’s cognate word Plištim, is
usually translated Philistines.Syria Palestina continued to be used by historians and geographers
and others to refer to the area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, as
in the writings of Philo, Josephus and Pliny the Elder. After the Romans adopted the term as the official
administrative name for the region in the 2nd century CE, “Palestine” as a stand-alone
term came into widespread use, printed on coins, in inscriptions and even in rabbinic
texts. The Arabic word Filastin has been used to
refer to the region since the time of the earliest medieval Arab geographers. It appears to have been used as an Arabic
adjectival noun in the region since as early as the 7th century CE. The Arabic newspaper Falasteen (est. 1911),
published in Jaffa by Issa and Yusef al-Issa, addressed its readers as “Palestinians”.The
first Zionist bank, the Jewish Colonial Trust, was founded at the Second Zionist Congress
and incorporated in London in 1899. The JCT was intended to be the financial instrument
of the Zionist Organisation, and was to obtain capital and credit to help attain a charter
for Palestine. On 27 February 1902, a subsidiary of this
Trust called the “Anglo-Palestine Company” (APC) was established in London with the assistance
of Zalman David Levontin. This Company was to become the future Bank
Leumi.During the Mandatory Palestine period, the term “Palestinian” was used to refer to
all people residing there, regardless of religion or ethnicity, and those granted citizenship
by the British Mandatory authorities were granted “Palestinian citizenship”. Other examples include the use of the term
Palestine Regiment to refer to the Jewish Infantry Brigade Group of the British Army
during World War II, and the term “Palestinian Talmud”, which is an alternative name of the
Jerusalem Talmud, used mainly in academic sources. Following the 1948 establishment of Israel,
the use and application of the terms “Palestine” and “Palestinian” by and to Palestinian Jews
largely dropped from use. For example, the English-language newspaper
The Palestine Post, founded by Jews in 1932, changed its name in 1950 to The Jerusalem
Post. Jews in Israel and the West Bank today generally
identify as Israelis. Arab citizens of Israel identify themselves
as Israeli, Palestinian or Arab.The Palestinian National Charter, as amended by the PLO’s
Palestinian National Council in July 1968, defined “Palestinians” as “those Arab nationals
who, until 1947, normally resided in Palestine regardless of whether they were evicted from
it or stayed there. Anyone born, after that date, of a Palestinian
father – whether in Palestine or outside it – is also a Palestinian.” Note that “Arab nationals” is not religious-specific,
and it includes not only the Arabic-speaking Muslims of Palestine, but also the Arabic-speaking
Christians of Palestine and other religious communities of Palestine who were at that
time Arabic-speakers, such as the Samaritans and Druze. Thus, the Jews of Palestine were/are also
included, although limited only to “the [Arabic-speaking] Jews who had normally resided in Palestine
until the beginning of the [pre-state] Zionist invasion.” The Charter also states that “Palestine with
the boundaries it had during the British Mandate, is an indivisible territorial unit.”==
History=====
Palestinian history and nationalism===The timing and causes behind the emergence
of a distinctively Palestinian national consciousness among the Arabs of Palestine are matters of
scholarly disagreement. Some argue that it can be traced as far back
as the 1834 Arab revolt in Palestine (or even as early as the 17th century), while others
argue that it did not emerge until after the Mandatory Palestine period. According to legal historian Assaf Likhovski,
the prevailing view is that Palestinian identity originated in the early decades of the 20th
century.Baruch Kimmerling and Joel S. Migdal consider the 1834 Peasants’ revolt in Palestine
as constituting the first formative event of the Palestinian people. From 1516 to 1917, Palestine was ruled by
the Ottoman Empire save a decade from the 1830s to the 1840s when an Egyptian vassal
of the Ottomans, Muhammad Ali, and his son Ibrahim Pasha successfully broke away from
Ottoman leadership and conquering territory spreading from Egypt to as far north as Damascus
asserted their own rule over the area. The so-called Peasants’ Revolt by Palestine’s
Arabs was precipitated by heavy demands for conscripts. The local leaders and urban notables were
unhappy about the loss of traditional privileges, while the peasants were well aware that conscription
was little more than a death sentence. Starting in May 1834 the rebels took many
cities, among them Jerusalem, Hebron and Nablus and Ibrahim Pasha’s army was deployed, defeating
the last rebels on 4 August in Hebron. Benny Morris argues that the Arabs in Palestine
nevertheless remained part of a larger national pan-Arab or, alternatively, pan-Islamist movement. Walid Khalidi argues otherwise, writing that
Palestinians in Ottoman times were “[a]cutely aware of the distinctiveness of Palestinian
history …” and “[a]lthough proud of their Arab heritage and ancestry, the Palestinians
considered themselves to be descended not only from Arab conquerors of the seventh century
but also from indigenous peoples who had lived in the country since time immemorial, including
the ancient Hebrews and the Canaanites before them.”Zachary J. Foster argued in a 2015 Foreign
Affairs article that “based on hundreds of manuscripts, Islamic court records, books,
magazines, and newspapers from the Ottoman period (1516–1918), it seems that the first
Arab to use the term “Palestinian” was Farid Georges Kassab, a Beirut-based Orthodox Christian.” He explained further that Kassab’s 1909 book
Palestine, Hellenism, and Clericalism noted in passing that “the Orthodox Palestinian
Ottomans call themselves Arabs, and are in fact Arabs,” despite describing the Arabic
speakers of Palestine as Palestinians throughout the rest of the book.”In his 1997 book, Palestinian
Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness, historian Rashid Khalidi notes
that the archaeological strata that denote the history of Palestine – encompassing
the Biblical, Roman, Byzantine, Umayyad, Abbasid, Fatimid, Crusader, Ayyubid, Mamluk and Ottoman
periods – form part of the identity of the modern-day Palestinian people, as they have
come to understand it over the last century. Noting that Palestinian identity has never
been an exclusive one, with “Arabism, religion, and local loyalties” playing an important
role, Khalidi cautions against the efforts of some extreme advocates of Palestinian nationalism
to “anachronistically” read back into history a nationalist consciousness that is in fact
“relatively modern”. Rashid Khalidi argues that the modern national
identity of Palestinians has its roots in nationalist discourses that emerged among
the peoples of the Ottoman empire in the late 19th century that sharpened following the
demarcation of modern nation-state boundaries in the Middle East after World War I. Khalidi
also states that although the challenge posed by Zionism played a role in shaping this identity,
that “it is a serious mistake to suggest that Palestinian identity emerged mainly as a response
to Zionism.” Conversely, historian James L. Gelvin argues
that Palestinian nationalism was a direct reaction to Zionism. In his book The Israel-Palestine Conflict:
One Hundred Years of War he states that “Palestinian nationalism emerged during the interwar period
in response to Zionist immigration and settlement.” Gelvin argues that this fact does not make
the Palestinian identity any less legitimate: “The fact that Palestinian nationalism developed
later than Zionism and indeed in response to it does not in any way diminish the legitimacy
of Palestinian nationalism or make it less valid than Zionism. All nationalisms arise in opposition to some
“other.” Why else would there be the need to specify
who you are? And all nationalisms are defined by what they
oppose.” David Seddon writes that “[t]he creation of
Palestinian identity in its contemporary sense was formed essentially during the 1960s, with
the creation of the Palestine Liberation Organization”. He adds, however, that “the existence of a
population with a recognizably similar name (‘the Philistines’) in Biblical times suggests
a degree of continuity over a long historical period (much as ‘the Israelites’ of the Bible
suggest a long historical continuity in the same region).”Bernard Lewis argues it was
not as a Palestinian nation that the Arabs of Ottoman Palestine objected to Zionists,
since the very concept of such a nation was unknown to the Arabs of the area at the time
and did not come into being until very much later. Even the concept of Arab nationalism in the
Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire, “had not reached significant proportions before
the outbreak of World War I.” Tamir Sorek, a sociologist, submits that, “Although a distinct
Palestinian identity can be traced back at least to the middle of the nineteenth century
(Kimmerling and Migdal 1993; Khalidi 1997b), or even to the seventeenth century (Gerber
1998), it was not until after World War I that a broad range of optional political affiliations
became relevant for the Arabs of Palestine.” Whatever the differing viewpoints over the
timing, causal mechanisms, and orientation of Palestinian nationalism, by the early 20th
century strong opposition to Zionism and evidence of a burgeoning nationalistic Palestinian
identity is found in the content of Arabic-language newspapers in Palestine, such as Al-Karmil
(est. 1908) and Filasteen (est. 1911). Filasteen initially focused its critique of
Zionism around the failure of the Ottoman administration to control Jewish immigration
and the large influx of foreigners, later exploring the impact of Zionist land-purchases
on Palestinian peasants (Arabic: فلاحين‎, fellahin), expressing growing concern over
land dispossession and its implications for the society at large.The first Palestinian
nationalist organisations emerged at the end of the World War I. Two political factions emerged. al-Muntada al-Adabi, dominated by the Nashashibi
family, militated for the promotion of the Arabic language and culture, for the defense
of Islamic values and for an independent Syria and Palestine. In Damascus, al-Nadi al-Arabi, dominated by
the Husayni family, defended the same values.The historical record continued to reveal an interplay
between “Arab” and “Palestinian” identities and nationalism. The idea of a unique Palestinian state separated
out from its Arab neighbors was at first rejected by Palestinian representatives. The First Congress of Muslim-Christian Associations
(in Jerusalem, February 1919), which met for the purpose of selecting a Palestinian Arab
representative for the Paris Peace Conference, 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.”After the 1920 Nebi Musa riots, the
San Remo conference and the failure of Faisal to establish the Kingdom of Greater Syria,
a distinctive form of Palestinian Arab nationalism took root between April and July 1920. With the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the
French conquest of Syria, coupled with the British conquest and administration of Palestine,
the formerly pan-Syrianist mayor of Jerusalem, Musa Qasim Pasha al-Husayni, said “Now, after
the recent events in Damascus, we have to effect a complete change in our plans here. Southern Syria no longer exists. We must defend Palestine”.Conflict between
Palestinian nationalists and various types of pan-Arabists continued during the British
Mandate, but the latter became increasingly marginalized. Two prominent leaders of the Palestinian nationalists
were Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, appointed by the British, and
Izz ad-Din al-Qassam.==
Rise of Palestinian nationalism==An independent Palestinian state has not exercised
full sovereignty over the land in which the Palestinians have lived during the modern
era. Palestine was administered by the Ottoman
Empire until World War I, and then overseen by the British Mandatory authorities. Israel was established in parts of Palestine
in 1948, and in the wake of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, the West Bank was ruled by Jordan, and
the Gaza Strip by Egypt, with both countries continuing to administer these areas until
Israel occupied them in the Six-Day War. Historian Avi Shlaim states that the Palestinians’
lack of sovereignty over the land has been used by Israelis to deny Palestinians their
rights [to self-determination].Today, the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination
has been affirmed by the United Nations General Assembly, the International Court of Justice
and several Israeli authorities. A total of 133 countries recognize Palestine
as a state. However, Palestinian sovereignty over the
areas claimed as part of the Palestinian state remains limited, and the boundaries of the
state remain a point of contestation between Palestinians and Israelis.===British Mandate (1917–48)===Article 22 of The Covenant of the League of
Nations conferred an international legal status upon the territories and people which had
ceased to be under the sovereignty of the Ottoman Empire as part of a ‘sacred trust
of civilization’. Article 7 of the League of Nations Mandate
required the establishment of a new, separate, Palestinian nationality for the inhabitants. This meant that Palestinians did not become
British citizens, and that Palestine was not annexed into the British dominions. The Mandate document divided the population
into Jewish and non-Jewish, and Britain, the Mandatory Power considered the Palestinian
population to be composed of religious, not national, groups. Consequently, government censuses in 1922
and 1931 would categorize Palestinians confessionally as Muslims, Christians and Jews, with the
category of Arab absent.After the British general, Louis Bols, read out the Balfour
Declaration in February 1920, some 1,500 Palestinians demonstrated in the streets of Jerusalem. A month later, during the 1920 Nebi Musa riots,
the protests against British rule and Jewish immigration became violent and Bols banned
all demonstrations. In May 1921 however, further anti-Jewish riots
broke out in Jaffa and dozens of Arabs and Jews were killed in the confrontations.The
articles of the Mandate mentioned the civil and religious rights of the non-Jewish communities
in Palestine, but not their political status. At the San Remo conference, it was decided
to accept the text of those articles, while inserting in the minutes of the conference
an undertaking by the Mandatory Power that this would not involve the surrender of any
of the rights hitherto enjoyed by the non-Jewish communities in Palestine. In 1922, the British authorities over Mandatory
Palestine proposed a draft constitution that would have granted the Palestinian Arabs representation
in a Legislative Council on condition that they accept the terms of the mandate. The Palestine Arab delegation rejected the
proposal as “wholly unsatisfactory”, noting that “the People of Palestine” could not accept
the inclusion of the Balfour Declaration in the constitution’s preamble as the basis for
discussions. They further took issue with the designation
of Palestine as a British “colony of the lowest order.” The Arabs tried to get the British to offer
an Arab legal establishment again roughly ten years later, but to no avail.After the
killing of sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam by the British in 1935, his followers initiated
the 1936–39 Arab revolt in Palestine, which began with a general strike in Jaffa and attacks
on Jewish and British installations in Nablus. The Arab Higher Committee called for a nationwide
general strike, non-payment of taxes, and the closure of municipal governments, and
demanded an end to Jewish immigration and a ban of the sale of land to Jews. By the end of 1936, the movement had become
a national revolt, and resistance grew during 1937 and 1938. In response, the British declared martial
law, dissolved the Arab High Committee and arrested officials from the Supreme Muslim
Council who were behind the revolt. By 1939, 5,000 Arabs had been killed in British
attempts to quash the revolt; more than 15,000 were wounded.===”Lost years” (1948–1967)===After the 1948 Palestine war and the accompanying
Palestinian exodus, known to Palestinians as Al Nakba (the “catastrophe”), there was
a hiatus in Palestinian political activity. Khalidi attributes this to the traumatic events
of 1947-49, which included the depopulation of over 400 towns and villages and the creation
of hundreds of thousands of refugees. 418 villages had been razed, 46,367 buildings,
123 schools, 1,233 mosques, 8 churches and 68 holy shrines, many with a long history,
destroyed by Israeli forces. In addition, Palestinians lost from 1.5 to
2 million acres of land, an estimated 150,000 urban and rural homes, and 23,000 commercial
structures such as shops and offices. Recent estimates of the cost to Palestinians
in property confiscations by Israel from 1948 onwards has concluded that Palestinians have
suffered a net $300 billion loss in assets.Those parts of British Mandatory Palestine which
did not become part of the newly declared Israeli state were occupied by Egypt or annexed
by Jordan. At the Jericho Conference on 1 December 1948,
2,000 Palestinian delegates supported a resolution calling for “the unification of Palestine
and Transjordan as a step toward full Arab unity”. During what Khalidi terms the “lost years”
that followed, Palestinians lacked a center of gravity, divided as they were between these
countries and others such as Syria, Lebanon, and elsewhere. Israeli historian Efraim Karsh takes the view
that the Palestinian identity did not develop until after the 1967 war because the Palestinian
exodus had fractured society so greatly that it was impossible to piece together a national
identity. Between 1948 and 1967, the Jordanians and
other Arab countries hosting Arab refugees from Palestine/Israel silenced any expression
of Palestinian identity and occupied their lands until Israel’s conquests of 1967. The formal annexation of the West Bank by
Jordan in 1950, and the subsequent granting of its Palestinian residents Jordanian citizenship,
further stunted the growth of a Palestinian national identity by integrating them into
Jordanian society.In the 1950s, a new generation of Palestinian nationalist groups and movements
began to organize clandestinely, stepping out onto the public stage in the 1960s. The traditional Palestinian elite who had
dominated negotiations with the British and the Zionists in the Mandate, and who were
largely held responsible for the loss of Palestine, were replaced by these new movements whose
recruits generally came from poor to middle-class backgrounds and were often students or recent
graduates of universities in Cairo, Beirut and Damascus. The potency of the pan-Arabist ideology put
forward by Gamal Abdel Nasser—popular among Palestinians for whom Arabism was already
an important component of their identity—tended to obscure the identities of the separate
Arab states it subsumed.===1967–present===
Since 1967, Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have lived under military
occupation, creating, according to Avram Bornstein, a carceralization of their society. In the meantime, pan-Arabism has waned as
an aspect of Palestinian identity. The Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and
West Bank triggered a second Palestinian exodus and fractured Palestinian political and militant
groups, prompting them to give up residual hopes in pan-Arabism. They rallied increasingly around the Palestine
Liberation Organization (PLO), which had been formed in Cairo in 1964. The group grew in popularity in the following
years, especially under the nationalistic orientation of the leadership of Yasser Arafat. Mainstream secular Palestinian nationalism
was grouped together under the umbrella of the PLO whose constituent organizations include
Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, among other groups who at that
time believed that political violence was the only way to “liberate” Palestine. These groups gave voice to a tradition that
emerged in the 1960s that argues Palestinian nationalism has deep historical roots, with
extreme advocates reading a Palestinian nationalist consciousness and identity back into the history
of Palestine over the past few centuries, and even millennia, when such a consciousness
is in fact relatively modern.The Battle of Karameh and the events of Black September
in Jordan contributed to growing Palestinian support for these groups, particularly among
Palestinians in exile. Concurrently, among Palestinians in the West
Bank and Gaza Strip, a new ideological theme, known as sumud, represented the Palestinian
political strategy popularly adopted from 1967 onward. As a concept closely related to the land,
agriculture and indigenousness, the ideal image of the Palestinian put forward at this
time was that of the peasant (in Arabic, fellah) who stayed put on his land, refusing to leave. A strategy more passive than that adopted
by the Palestinian fedayeen, sumud provided an important subtext to the narrative of the
fighters, “in symbolizing continuity and connections with the land, with peasantry and a rural
way of life.”In 1974, the PLO was recognized as the sole legitimate representative of the
Palestinian people by the Arab nation-states and was granted observer status as a national
liberation movement by the United Nations that same year. Israel rejected the resolution, calling it
“shameful”. In a speech to the Knesset, Deputy Premier
and Foreign Minister Yigal Allon outlined the government’s view that: “No one can expect
us to recognize the terrorist organization called the PLO as representing the Palestinians—because
it does not. No one can expect us to negotiate with the
heads of terror-gangs, who through their ideology and actions, endeavor to liquidate the State
of Israel.”In 1975, the United Nations established a subsidiary organ, the Committee on the Exercise
of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, to recommend a program of implementation
to enable the Palestinian people to exercise national independence and their rights to
self-determination without external interference, national independence and sovereignty, and
to return to their homes and property.The First Intifada (1987–93) was the first popular
uprising against the Israeli occupation of 1967. Followed by the PLO’s 1988 proclamation of
a State of Palestine, these developments served to further reinforce the Palestinian national
identity. After the Gulf War in 1991, Kuwaiti authorities
forcibly pressured nearly 200,000 Palestinians to leave Kuwait. The policy which partly led to this exodus
was a response to the alignment of PLO leader Yasser Arafat with Saddam Hussein. The Oslo Accords, the first Israeli–Palestinian
interim peace agreement, were signed in 1993. The process was envisioned to last five years,
ending in June 1999, when the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip and the
Jericho area began. The expiration of this term without the recognition
by Israel of the Palestinian State and without the effective termination of the occupation
was followed by the Second Intifada in 2000. The second intifada was more violent than
the first. The International Court of Justice observed
that since the government of Israel had decided to recognize the PLO as the representative
of the Palestinian people, their existence was no longer an issue. The court noted that the Israeli-Palestinian
Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip of 28 September 1995 also referred
a number of times to the Palestinian people and its “legitimate rights”. According to Thomas Giegerich, with respect
to the Palestinian people’s right to form a sovereign independent state, “The right
of self-determination gives the Palestinian people collectively the inalienable right
freely to determine its political status, while Israel, having recognized the Palestinians
as a separate people, is obliged to promote and respect this right in conformity with
the Charter of the United Nations”.===Origins===The origins of Palestinians are complex and
diverse. The region was not originally Arab — its
Arabization was a consequence of the inclusion of Palestine within the rapidly expanding
Arab Empire won by Arabian tribes and their local allies in the first millennium, most
significantly during the Islamic conquest of Syria in the 7th century. Palestine, then a Hellenized region controlled
by the Byzantine empire, with a large Christian population, came under the political and cultural
influence of Arabic-speaking Muslim dynasties, including the Kurdish Ayyubids. From the conquest down to the 11th century,
half of the world’s Christians lived under the new Muslim order and there was no attempt
for that period to convert them. Over time, nonetheless, much of the existing
population of Palestine was Arabized and gradually converted to Islam. Arab populations had existed in Palestine
prior to the conquest, and some of these local Arab tribes and Bedouin fought as allies of
Byzantium in resisting the invasion, which the archaeological evidence indicates was
a ‘peaceful conquest’, and the newcomers were allowed to settle in the old urban areas. Theories of population decline compensated
by the importation of foreign populations are not confirmed by the archaeological record
Like other “Arabized” Arab nations the Arab identity of Palestinians, largely based on
linguistic and cultural affiliation, is independent of the existence of any actual Arabian origins. The Palestinian population has grown dramatically. For several centuries during the Ottoman period
the population in Palestine declined and fluctuated between 150,000 and 250,000 inhabitants, and
it was only in the 19th century that a rapid population growth began to occur.====Pre-Arab/Islamic Influences on the Palestinian
national identity====While Palestinian culture is primarily Arab
and Islamic, many Palestinians identify with earlier civilizations that inhabited the land
of Palestine. According to Walid Khalidi, in Ottoman times
“the Palestinians considered themselves to be descended not only from Arab conquerors
of the seventh century but also from indigenous peoples who had lived in the country since
time immemorial.” Similarly Ali Qleibo, a Palestinian anthropologist,
argues: “Throughout history a great diversity of peoples
has moved into the region and made Palestine their homeland: Canaanites, Jebusites, Philistines
from Crete, Anatolian and Lydian Greeks, Hebrews, Amorites, Edomites, Nabataeans, Arameans,
Romans, Arabs, and Western European Crusaders, to name a few. Each of them appropriated different regions
that overlapped in time and competed for sovereignty and land. Others, such as Ancient Egyptians, Hittites,
Persians, Babylonians, and the Mongol raids of the late 1200s, were historical ‘events’
whose successive occupations were as ravaging as the effects of major earthquakes … Like
shooting stars, the various cultures shine for a brief moment before they fade out of
official historical and cultural records of Palestine. The people, however, survive. In their customs and manners, fossils of these
ancient civilizations survived until modernity—albeit modernity camouflaged under the veneer of
Islam and Arabic culture.” George Antonius, founder of modern Arab nationalist
history, wrote in his seminal 1938 book The Arab Awakening: “The Arabs’ connection with
Palestine goes back uninterruptedly to the earliest historic times, for the term ‘Arab’
[in Palestine] denotes nowadays not merely the incomers from the Arabian Peninsula who
occupied the country in the seventh century, but also the older populations who intermarried
with their conquerors, acquired their speech, customs and ways of thought and became permanently
arabised.”American historian Bernard Lewis writes: “Clearly, in Palestine as elsewhere
in the Middle East, the modern inhabitants include among their ancestors those who lived
in the country in antiquity. Equally obviously, the demographic mix was
greatly modified over the centuries by migration, deportation, immigration, and settlement. This was particularly true in Palestine, where
the population was transformed by such events as the Jewish rebellion against Rome and its
suppression, the Arab conquest, the coming and going of the Crusaders, the devastation
and resettlement of the coastlands by the Mamluk and Turkish regimes, and, from the
nineteenth century, by extensive migrations from both within and from outside the region. Through invasion and deportation, and successive
changes of rule and of culture, the face of the Palestinian population changed several
times. No doubt, the original inhabitants were never
entirely obliterated, but in the course of time they were successively Judaized, Christianized,
and Islamized. Their language was transformed to Hebrew,
then to Aramaic, then to Arabic.”====Canaanism====
Claims emanating from certain circles within Palestinian society and their supporters,
proposing that Palestinians have direct ancestral connections to the ancient Canaanites, without
an intermediate Israelite link, has been an issue of contention within the context of
the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Bernard Lewis wrote that “the rewriting of
the past is usually undertaken to achieve specific political aims … In bypassing the
biblical Israelites and claiming kinship with the Canaanites, the pre-Israelite inhabitants
of Palestine, it is possible to assert a historical claim antedating the biblical promise and
possession put forward by the Jews.”Some Palestinian scholars, like Zakariyya Muhammad, have criticized
pro-Palestinian arguments based on Canaanite lineage, or what he calls “Canaanite ideology”. He states that it is an “intellectual fad,
divorced from the concerns of ordinary people.” By assigning its pursuit to the desire to
predate Jewish national claims, he describes Canaanism as a “losing ideology”, whether
or not it is factual, “when used to manage our conflict with the Zionist movement” since
Canaanism “concedes a priori the central thesis of Zionism. Namely that we have been engaged in a perennial
conflict with Zionism—and hence with the Jewish presence in Palestine—since the Kingdom
of Solomon and before … thus in one stroke Canaanism cancels the assumption that Zionism
is a European movement, propelled by modern European contingencies…”Commenting on the
implications of Canaanite ideology, Eric M. Meyers, a Duke University historian of religion,
writes: “What is the significance of the Palestinians
really being descended from the Canaanites? In the early and more conservative reconstruction
of history, it might be said that this merely confirms the historic enmity between Israel
and its enemies. However, some scholars believe that Israel
actually emerged from within the Canaanite community itself (Northwest Semites) and allied
itself with Canaanite elements against the city-states and elites of Canaan. Once they were disenfranchised by these city-states
and elites, the Israelites and some disenfranchised Canaanites joined together to challenge the
hegemony of the heads of the city-states and forged a new identity in the hill country
based on egalitarian principles and a common threat from without. This is another irony in modern politics:
the Palestinians in truth are blood brothers or cousins of the modern Israelis — they
are all descendants of Abraham and Ishmael, so to speak.”====
Relationship with the Jewish people====A number of pre-Mandatory Zionists, from Ahad
Ha’am and Ber Borochov to David Ben-Gurion and Yitzhak Ben Zvi thought of the Palestinian
peasant population as descended from the ancient biblical Hebrews, but this belief was disowned
when its ideological implications became problematic. Ahad Ha’am believed that, “the Moslems [of
Palestine] are the ancient residents of the land … who became Christians on the rise
of Christianity and became Moslems on the arrival of Islam.” Israel Belkind, the founder of the Bilu movement
also asserted that the Palestinian Arabs were the blood brothers of the Jews. Ber Borochov, one of the key ideological architects
of Marxist Zionism, claimed as early as 1905 that, “The Fellahin in Eretz-Israel are the
descendants of remnants of the Hebrew agricultural community,” believing them to be descendants
of the ancient Hebrew- residents ‘together with a small admixture of Arab blood'”. He further believed that the Palestinian peasantry
would embrace Zionism and that the lack of a crystallized national consciousness among
Palestinian Arabs would result in their likely assimilation into the new Hebrew nationalism,
and that Arabs and Jews would unite in class struggle. David Ben-Gurion and Yitzhak Ben Zvi, later
becoming Israel’s first Prime Minister and second President, respectively, suggested
in a 1918 paper written in Yiddish that Palestinian peasants and their mode of life were living
historical testimonies to Israelite practices in the biblical period. Tamari notes that “the ideological implications
of this claim became very problematic and were soon withdrawn from circulation.” Salim Tamari notes the paradoxes produced
by the search for “nativist” roots among these Zionist figures, particularly the Canaanist
followers of Yonatan Ratosh, who sought to replace the “old” diasporic Jewish identity
with a nationalism that embraced the existing residents of Palestine.In his book on the
Palestinians, The Arabs in Eretz-Israel, Belkind advanced the idea that the dispersion of Jews
out of the Land of Israel after the destruction of the Second Temple by the Roman emperor
Titus is a “historic error” that must be corrected. While it dispersed much of the land’s Jewish
community around the world, those “workers of the land that remained attached to their
land,” stayed behind and were eventually converted to Christianity and then Islam. He therefore, proposed that this historical
wrong be corrected, by embracing the Palestinians as their own and proposed the opening of Hebrew
schools for Palestinian Arab Muslims to teach them Arabic, Hebrew and universal culture. Tsvi Misinai, an Israeli researcher, entrepreneur
and proponent of a controversial alternative solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict,
asserts that nearly 90% of all Palestinians living within Israel and the occupied territories
(including Israel’s Arab citizens and Negev Bedouin) are descended from the Jewish Israelite
peasantry that remained on the land, after the others, mostly city dwellers, were exiled
or left.===Arabization of Palestine===
The term “Arab”, as well as the presence of Arabians in the Syrian Desert and the Fertile
Crescent, is first seen in the Assyrian sources from the 9th century BCE (Eph’al 1984). Southern Palestine had a large Edomite and
Arab population by the 4th century BCE. Inscriptional evidence over a millennium from
the peripheral areas of Palestine, such as the Golan and the Negev, show a prevalence
of Arab names over Aramaic names from the Achaemenid period,550 -330 BCE onwards. Bedouins have drifted in waves into Palestine
since at least the 7th century, after the Muslim conquest. Some of them, like the Arab al-Sakhr south
of Lake Kinneret trace their origins to the Hejaz or Najd in the Arabian Peninsula, while
the Ghazawiyya’s ancestry is said to go back to the Hauran’s Misl al-Jizel tribes. They speak distinct dialects of Arabic in
the Galilee and the Negev.Following the Muslim conquest of the Levant by the Arab Muslim
Rashiduns, the formerly dominant languages of the area, Aramaic and Greek, were gradually
replaced by the Arabic language introduced by the new conquering administrative minority. Among the cultural survivals from pre-Islamic
times are the significant Palestinian Christian community, roughly 10% of the overall population
in late Ottoman times and 45% of Jerusalem’s citizens, and smaller Jewish and Samaritan
ones, as well as an Aramaic sub-stratum in some local Palestinian Arabic dialects.The
Christians appear to have maintained a majority in much of both Palestine and Syria under
Muslim rule until the Crusades. The original conquest in the 630s had guaranteed
religious freedom, improving that of the Jews and the Samaritans, who were classified with
the former. The Frankish invaders made no distinction
between Christians who for the Latin rite were considered heretics, Jews and Muslims,
slaughtering all indiscriminately. The Crusaders, in wresting holy sites such
as the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem from the
Orthodox church were among several factors that deeply alienated the traditional Christian
community, which sought relief in the Muslims. When Saladin overthrew the Crusaders, he restored
these sites to Orthodox Christian control. Together with the alienating policies of the
Crusaders, the Mongol Invasion and the rise of the Mamluks were turning points in the
fate of Christianity in this region, and their congregations, -many Christians had sided
with the Mongols – were noticeably reduced under the Mamluks. Stricter regulations to control Christian
communities ensued, theological enmities grew, and the process of Arabization and Islamicization
strengthened, abetted with the inflow of nomadic Bedouin tribes in the 13-14 centuries.Palestinian
villagers generally trace their family (hamula)’s origins to the Arabian peninsula. Many avow descent from nomadic Arab tribes
that migrated to Palestine during or shortly after the Islamic conquest. By this claim they connect themselves to the
greater narrative of Arab-Islamic civilization, with origins that are more highly valued socio-culturally
than genealogy of an ancient or pre-Islamic descent. These Palestinians still consider themselves
to have historical precedence to the Jews, whom they regard as Europeans who only began
to immigrate to Palestine in the 19th century. Many Palestinian families of the notable class
(a’yan) can trace their origins back to tribes in the Arabian peninsula who settled the area
after the Muslim conquest. This includes the Nusaybah clan of Jerusalem,
the Tamimi clan of Nabi Salih, and the Barghouti clan of Bani Zeid. The Shawish, al-Husayni, and Al-Zayadina clans
trace their heritage to Muhammad through his grandsons, Husayn ibn Ali and Hassan ibn Ali.Arabs
in Palestine, both Christian and Muslim, settled and Bedouin, were historically split between
the Qays and Yaman factions. These divisions had their origins in pre-Islamic
tribal feuds between Northern Arabians (Qaysis) and Southern Arabians (Yamanis). The strife between the two tribal confederacies
spread throughout the Arab world with their conquests, subsuming even uninvolved families
so that the population of Palestine identified with one or the other. Their conflicts continued after the 8th century
Civil war in Palestine until the early 20th century and gave rise to differences in customs,
tradition, and dialect which remain to this day.Beit Sahour was first settled in the 14th
century by a handful of Christian and Muslim clans (hamula) from Wadi Musa in Jordan, the
Christian Jaraisa and the Muslim Shaybat and Jubran, who came to work as shepherds for
Bethlehem’s Christian landowners, and they were subsequently joined by other Greek Orthodox
immigrants from Egypt in the 17th-18th centuries.===DNA and genetic studies===In recent years, many genetic studies have
demonstrated that, at least paternally, most of the various Jewish ethnic divisions and
the Palestinians – and other Levantines – are genetically closer to each other than
the Jews to their host countries. Many Palestinians themselves refer to Jews
as their awlâd ‘ammnâ or paternal cousins.One DNA study by Nebel found substantial genetic
overlap among Israeli and Palestinian Arabs and Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews. A small but statistically significant difference
was found in the Y-chromosomal haplogroup distributions of Sephardic Jews and Palestinians,
but no significant differences were found between Ashkenazi Jews and Palestinians nor
between the two Jewish communities, However, a highly distinct cluster was found in Palestinian
haplotypes. 32% of the 143 Arab Y-chromosomes studied
belonged to this “I&P Arab clade”, which contained only one non-Arab chromosome, that of a Sephardic
Jew. This could possibly be attributed to the geographical
isolation of the Jews or to the immigration of Arab tribes in the first millennium. Nebel proposed that “part, or perhaps the
majority” of Muslim Palestinians descend from “local inhabitants, mainly Christians and
Jews, who had converted after the Islamic conquest in the seventh century AD”. In a genetic study of Y-chromosomal STRs in
two populations from Israel and the Palestinian Authority Area: Christian and Muslim Palestinians
showed genetic differences. The majority of Palestinian Christians (31.82%)
were a subclade of E1b1b, followed by G2a (11.36%), and J1 (9.09%). The majority of Palestinian Muslims were haplogroup
J1 (37.82%) followed by E1b1b (19.33%), and T (5.88%). The study sample consisted of 44 Palestinian
Christians and 119 Palestinian Muslims.In a 2003 genetic study, Bedouins showed the
highest rates (62.5%) of the subclade Haplogroup J-M267 among all populations tested, followed
by Palestinian Arabs (38.4%), Iraqis (28.2%), Ashkenazi Jews (14.6%) and Sephardic Jews
(11.9%), according to Semino et al. Semitic populations, including Jews, usually
possess an excess of J1 Y chromosomes compared to other populations harboring Y-haplogroup
J.The haplogroup J1, the ancestor of subclade M267, originates south of the Levant and was
first disseminated from there into Ethiopia and Europe in Neolithic times. In Jewish populations, J1 has a rate of around
15%, with haplogroup J2 (M172) (of eight sub-Haplogroups) being almost twice as common as J1 among Jews
(

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