F A Q                                 

As in other sections, except where otherwise noted, all data has been checked as far as is possible against original sources, (British Library, The National Archives, … ). Articles and comments representing opinion may be found under Information.

Click on the  +  button on the chosen section to open the FAQ.

There's no such place as 'Palestine'.

It is a common assertion by pro-Israel and anti-Palestinian propaganda that there has never really been a place called ‘Palestine’.  It is not a view held by non-biased historians – those who take a detached view of the situation in the Middle East.  The pro-Israel view is undermined by their appeal to history.  Ancient history, outside the scripture, knows nothing of Israel, whereas Palestine was known of early in the 1st millennium BC. Herodotus refers to ‘Palestina’ around the year 470 BC, and Sargon II, conqueror of Israel-Samaria in 722 BC, also knew of the place.

Part of the problem is in failing to recognise that modern ideas of nation and nationalism are precisely that; modern. The concept is relatively recent, dating from the 18th century at the earliest.  So, when we read about a ‘nation’ in the Bible we must not apply to it the idea of fixed borders with a commonly accepted governance and a common identity.  A glance at a map of Europe in the year 1810 will also show how much has changed even in 200 years.  One pro-zionist writing of the period at the end of the 19th century compared the absence of a ‘nation’ of Palestine with Britain and Germany, apparently unaware that Germany had only been a unified country (nation?) since 1872, a mere 27 or 28 years!

Palestine was empty before the Jews came

The view, common among Israel’s supporters that Palestine was ‘a land without people for a people without land’  is one that has no historical basis. Whilst historians differ as to the precise numbers most agree that the population at the end WW1 (1918/9) was something over half a million, some estimate as many as 650,000. Approximately 80{4a5d101b2cc018c92262c1276ec7808dc4a990570b316341b99a3e8766649450} were Arab Muslim, 10{4a5d101b2cc018c92262c1276ec7808dc4a990570b316341b99a3e8766649450} Arab Christian and a little less than 10{4a5d101b2cc018c92262c1276ec7808dc4a990570b316341b99a3e8766649450} were Jewish. Weizmann himself puts the figure of Jews at the time of the Balfour Declaration at 55,000, a figure which I believe is generous.

Most Arab Palestinians were themselves immigrants

The claim that most of the Arab population of Palestine was immigrant (from Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon) is another piece of misinformation that is widely believed.  It derives, in part, from the suggestion that the population was largely nomadic which simply was not the case. There were, and there remain, populations of Bedouin, but these were a relatively small proportion of the population most of whom were settled in towns and villages.  Made popular by Joan Peters in her book ‘From Time Immemorial’, the claims, and her book have been debunked even by historians who share her zionist ideals.

The land was a wasteland until the Jews came

This is another claim that lacks a factual basis. As much as anything it is ignorant of the historical and social context of the period from mid 19th century to the end of World War One.

%d bloggers like this: