Nailing the myth that Jews are not natives

Barbara Lerner

In this must-read article for National Review, Barbara Lerner nails the near-universal misunderstanding that Palestinian Arabs are ‘natives’ who have an equal, if not greater, claim to Israel – while Jews are not (with thanks: Rona):

The fundamental mistake here, as I see it, is buying into the myth that the Palestinians are a separate people, with a claim on the Holy Land that, if not superior to that of the Jews, is at least equal to it, because Palestinians are a native Middle Eastern people and Israeli Jews are not. In fact, the truth is the opposite.

Who the Palestinians are: Palestinians are native people, but they are not a people: a separate, centuries-old human group, distinguishable from other human groups by virtue of their common genes and/or language, religion, culture, history, or form of government. Obvious examples of Middle Eastern peoples include the Persians, Egyptians, Coptic Christians, Kurds, Berbers, Jews, and Arabs.

Palestinians have no comparable uniquenesses. They are Arabs, and they do not differ from their Sunni Arab brothers in any of the ways listed above. When the ancient state of Israel was partially re-created in 1948, there were no “Palestinians.” Arabs in Israel called themselves “Arabs,” or adopted the nationality of whichever Arab state claimed sovereignty over the part of Israel they lived in at the time — Jordan, Egypt, or Syria.

Walid Shoebat, an Arab born in 1960 in Beit Sahour, a village near Bethlehem, put it this way: “We considered ourselves Jordanian until the Jews returned to Jerusalem. Then all of the sudden we were Palestinians — they removed the star from the Jordanian flag and all of the sudden we had a Palestinian flag.” In other words, Shoebat and millions of other Arabs with little or no real connection to the Biblical Holy Land became “Palestinians” in 1967, after Israel defeated the second of three all-out military assaults by the combined armies of Egypt and a slew of Arab nations created after World War II.

Defeat on the battlefield didn’t make most Egyptians or other Arabs abandon their goal — destroying the Jewish state — but it did make them change tactics. Henceforth, they became champions of “Palestinian rights,” mounting an all-out diplomatic and propaganda war against Israel. After their third military defeat, in 1973, they relied on that, and terrorist assaults — rather than massed armies — to destroy Israel over time.

The very name “Palestinian” is an in-your-face irony. It’s a foreign name — derived from the Latin name Emperor Hadrian gave the state of Israel after he defeated the Jews’ last attempt to regain their independence from Rome in 135 a.d. When the Ottoman Turks conquered the area in 1516, the name disappeared, and it didn’t reemerge until the British replaced the Turks after World War I. Like everyone else, they called the Arabs “Arabs,” but they used the English version of the old Roman name, “Palestine,” to denote an area much bigger than Biblical Israel. Tasked with dividing this area between Arabs and Jews, they gave three-quarters of it to the Arabs, creating the new Arab state of Jordan, and, in effect, left the Jews, the Arabs, and the rest of us to fight it out over Biblical Israel.

Today, three-quarters of the people of Jordan call themselves Palestinians, along with most Arabs in Israel, and millions of other Arabs throughout the Middle East and far beyond it. Nearly 2,000 years after the Romans created the name, all Arab rulers and the Arab people as a whole embrace it with fervor, and why not? Relentless Arab propagandists have been so successful in selling it to the world that nearly all Westerners accept it without question. But, because there is no “p” sound in Arabic, most Arabs can’t pronounce it. They call it “Falastin.”

And if you think most Palestinians stay in Biblical Israel today because of some passionate attachment to the land, think again. Most stay because they have no real choice. The Arab brothers who champion “Falastinian rights” champion them only in Israel, and either reject Palestinian immigrants to their own countries altogether, or keep most of those they accept in prison-like “refugee camps,” isolated, impoverished, and embittered, generation after generation. There is hope, though. A 2004 poll of Arabs in what those same relentless Arab propagandists have taught us to call “the occupied areas” of Biblical Israel found that 70 percent of them would choose to leave, if given the assistance they would need to go elsewhere.

Who Israel’s Jews are: In striking contrast, the great misunderstanding about Israeli Jews is the near-universal assumption — in the West — that they are all relatively recent immigrants from Europe, America, and the Soviet Union. In fact, the average Israeli Jew is a Middle Eastern native whose family lived in the Middle East since Biblical times, and never lived anywhere else. (My emphasis)

Most Arabs, Egyptians, and Iranians know this. How could they not? Jews existed in their midst for centuries, until their governments, with enthusiastic popular support, expelled them, en masse, after Israel became a state again in 1948. These native Middle Eastern Jews — invisible to us — are the Mizrahi, and there is no irony about their name. “Mizrach” is the ancient Hebrew word for “east,” and the Jews of the east were a majority of all the Jews in the world from ancient times until the eighteenth century. They formed a majority of all the Jews in Israel by the 1960s, and they still do.

Arab propagandists have exploited our ignorance on this score, gleefully portraying Israelis as foreign invaders, colonists from the West, come to exploit the native peoples of the region. But we, too, bear a share of the blame for this blindness. A kind of unconscious Western chauvinism, here and in Israel itself, causes us to focus only on Israelis with roots in our world, Israelis who speak English or one of the European languages as well as Hebrew, and to ignore the existence of the mass of ordinary Israelis whose first or second language is Arabic or Farsi.

Who we are:The upshot of all this for what too many of us still call “the peace process” is not just that this is the wrong time for it, because the Palestinian Authority has dropped its pretend-opposition to terrorism by offering to form a government with no-pretense Hamas terrorists. It’s not just that the proposed borders are the wrong ones — the ones Abba Eban, Israel’s foreign minister at the time of the Six-Day War, called “the Auschwitz borders.” It’s not just that without Israeli control over Jerusalem, neither Jews nor Christians can be assured that their major religious sites will continue to exist, or that they will continue to enjoy the right to visit them, and to pray there if they wish. The upshot is that the whole so-called Middle East peace process is a great Taqqiya — a deliberate deception by Arabs and Islamists, aimed at conning naïve Jews, Christians, and other Westerners into cooperating in their own defeat and destruction — first in Israel; then in Europe, where they have made significant progress already; and, finally, here in America.

It is past time — late, but not yet too late — for all who reject that outcome to join brave Turks like Burak Bekdil in saying a loud, clear, and final “No” to this misbegotten “peace process,” and to work for peace itself instead.

Read article in full


  • Modern israel was a late life deal..and your criticism of Muslims is just an excuse for your failed social engineering experiment. The massacre of Shabra…by some Israeli guy is an example.. Dead children. Forcible resettlement.. A prejudiced society unparalleled in any modern country.. What are u talking about? Israel is institutionalized xenophobia.

  • Actually genetics prove that the "Palestinians" are occupiers. They come originally from Yeman.

    Palestinians are the Indigenous People?

    Instead of being indigenous to the land, the Palestinians (or whatever you want to call them) are originally from Yemen and arrived in the land in the 1480's.

    To call them Native is like calling every decedent of the Spanish Conquest since they arrived in the New World in the 1490's.

    But the Arab world will never accept genetic evidence since the Great Pedophile Muhammad (May He Burn in Hell) never mentioned Genetics, Judea, Jerusalem, Israel or even Palestine.

    The truth is out there, but it will be ignored by the Muslims since they cannot change the results.

    There really was an disaster to the Jewish people in 1948. It was the uprooting of every Jew from every Arab nation. Libya even paved over their cemeteries. But the 1 million Jews who were thrown out of their homes, robbed of their possessions and subjected to beatings, rapes and murder by their Muslim neighbors (Kidnapping Jewish women was a great sport with these animals.), is never heard of. The MSM is silent.

    Justice for Jews from Arab Countries

    Your Muslim readers will ignore this. But it is the scientific truth.

  • One more thing: I think Jews are a nation, but I don't think that's the kind of thing you can decide or not.

    As I said before the only thing the 'palestinians' have in common is Jew-hatred. And I'm sorry, but this is not enough to be considered a nation or a distinctive people.
    They have no history and no unity – cultural/ethnic/religious/political.

    They can decide whatever they want, it makes no difference.

  • I was talking about the palestinians and I agree with you about the western media, but I don't think they are the ones to blame here. This problem was caused by the "Euro-centric" Israeli media/politicians who (for a number of reasons) chose to ignore it from the beginning.

    I was criticizing the author, not the middle eastern Jews. Even if it was true – and it isn't – this would still be the most idiotic conclusion I have ever seen.

  • Who are you to say if the Jews are a nation or not? Only the Jews can decide that.
    The fact that Mizrahim don't speak English is not a reflection on them, it reflects on the lazy Euro-centric Anglo media.

  • You can organize yourself in any way you want, but it doesn't mean you are a nation/people just because of that.

    Dozens of real people have no land and those guys have a land but don't have a history or any kind of national unity. Except for Jew-hatred, of course.

    And… amazing how the "Invisible Natives…" article treats the "Mizrahi" Jews as moronic and uneducated idiots. They can't even speak English to tell the world their story… imagine that!
    Seems like she's talking about Afghans and Ethiopians…

    Even the most humble of them (except those in Yemen) is above the average palestinian.
    This is not the question here. "It's propaganda, stupid", and even a toothless palestinian knows more about this than the Israeli government.

  • The Arabs did not traditionally call this country "palestine" or "filastin." The Arabs and their Mamluk and Ottoman rulers did not view the country as a separate land. It simply subsumed within the notion of Bilad ash-Sham [Syria or Greater Syria]. It was not distinct. Hence, for the Arabs, there was no "palestinian people" which is an invention of the mid-20th century, most likely not by Arabs but by British psychological warfare experts.

    The Arab conquerors used the term Filastin before the Crusades as a name for the southern part of the country, Jund Filastin, "palestine military district." It more or less coincided with the Roman district of Palaestina Prima, one of three areas into which late Romans had divided Palaestina, previously called by Rome Judea [IVDAEA].

  • Actually philistine comes from the Hebrew "Pleshet", but I agree with you. It is silly. Whether we like it or not, there is a palestenian people today, but sadly, they base their palestenianism on rejecting Israeli Jews. this don't mean we don't have a historic right to our homeland. Had the Arabs accepted us and made peace with us, they would have their own country. They just make one bad decision after the other. and as Abba Eban said once "the Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity"

  • I think claiming that Palestine doesn't exist because the Palestininas don't have a P in arabic is silly. The original Roman name came from Philistine and so the Arab pronounciation is more correct.

    Leave the stupid arguments and nonsense to the anti-Israelis they do it better and have the sheer lack of integrity to carry it off…


  • Sorry, why *aren't* wealthy Zionists in the diaspora undertaking something similar?

  • "A 2004 poll of Arabs in what those same relentless Arab propagandists have taught us to call “the occupied areas” of Biblical Israel found that 70 percent of them would choose to leave, if given the assistance they would need to go elsewhere."

    So why isn't the Israeli government investing some of its defence budget in buying out Arab population centres and setting them up as wealthy people in other Arab states? Why are wealthy Zionists in the diaspora undertaking something similar?


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