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In the post-news environment, media no longer exists to report, it exists to disseminate glib talking points that sound good at first, but don’t stand up to examination. Fact checks, one of the latest media gimmicks, have become another vector for disseminating talking points. So have media blogs which began repeating the same ridiculous thing over and over again.
Take the response to Gingrich’s accurate statement that the Palestinian Arabs are an invented people. Aside from all the hysterical “sky is falling” nonsense, is the comparison between the Americans as an invented people and the Palestinian Arabs.
Let’s look at how wrong this is and in how many ways. To begin with the American colonies did not demand their independence based on some spurious ancient history. If they had then Washington would have dressed himself up as an Indian and instead of the United States of America, there would have been the Indian States of Iroquisville.
Americans are not a self-invented people, they are a self-evolved people. The American revolution was a struggle between a colony and the mother country that ended in a break and the creation of a new country that still used the language and much of the culture of the mother country, but at the same time the colonies had been slowly evolving their own unique identity.
The “Palestinian” Arabs on the other hand are an invented people, and not even a self-invented people. That dubious honor fell to some comrades in Moscow and the Arab nations who found it convenient to have terrorist militias that could launch attacks across the border, supposedly on their own initiative, but in reality answering to them.
Their whole claim to a state is the bizarre insistence that they are the region’s original inhabitants who were driven out by the actual original inhabitants, the Jews. When they are actually the descendants of the Muslim conquerors who drove out or subjugated the native inhabitants. It’s as if George Washington had not only put on an Indian costume but began claiming that his ancestors were there for thousands of years before the Cherokees drove them out.
Palestinian identity is just so much gibberish. The official definition of that identity encompasses only those parts of the Palestine Mandate which Israel holds today.
The people who live on the parts of the Palestine Mandate that were turned into the Kingdom of Jordan in 1921 are not Palestinians. There is no call to incorporate them into a Palestinian state. The people who lived in the parts of Israel that were captured by Jordan and Egypt in 1948 weren’t Palestinians, and there was no call to turn the land that today comprises the so-called “Occupied Territories” into a state. But in 1967 when Israel liberated those areas– only then did they magically turn into Palestinians.
How is anyone supposed to take this nonsense seriously?
Suppose I were to tell you that there were an ancient people known as the Floridians whose land was seized from them to make resort hotels and orange groves. What would be your first clue that there was something wrong here? Florida is a Spanish name meaning flower. Palestine, which is a Latin name applied by its ancient conquerors, derived from the Greek, has the same problem.
When the Jews rebuilt their country, they did not call it Palestine, that was the name used by European powers. They called it Israel. The local Arabs who had come with the wave of conquests that toppled Byzantine rule had no such history and no name for themselves. Instead they took the Latin name used by the European powers and began pretending that it was some ancient tribal identity, rather than a regional name that was used by the European powers to describe local Jews and Arabs.
Even Arab place names invariably lack historicity. The Arab name for Jerusalem is Al-Quds or the holy city. It’s a little like calling New York, Big City and pretending that it means you saw it first, when it actually means that you saw it last and are piggybacking on its existing identity.
The Arabic for Hebron is a translation of the Hebrew. The same goes for Bethlehem. Ah but what about Nablus? The Jews may call it Shechem, but the Arabs have a unique name for it. Surely Nablus is part of the great and ancient Palestinian heritage. Not a chance. Nablus isn’t Arabic, it’s the Arabic mispronunciation of Neapolis, which if you happen to know Latin means “New City”.
Nablus has the same relationship to Neapolis, as Filistin does to Palestine, it’s the Arabic mispronunciation of the Latin. The name “Nablus” is every bit as regionally authentic as Naples, in Italy or Florida, which has the same meaning.
But what of the “Occupied Territories”? The Jews call them Judea and Samaria. The Arabs call them ad-difa’a al-gharbiya or the West Bank. Nothing says ancient history like bluntly descriptive names. But what of Ramallah, capital of the Palestinian Authority, that at least is an Arabic name. And that’s true. It is an Arabic name. A name almost as ancient as the city which dates back to the 16th century when a group of Christian Arabs crossed over from what is today Jordan fleeing Muslim persecution. Under Jordanian rule, Ramallah was overrun by Muslims and today it has a Muslim majority.
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