.

Monday, January 13, 2014

I was wrong. There really are a Palestinian people.

Mea culpa.

Years of historical research on this blog has been rendered utterly useless by a concise yet brilliant post on Mondoweiss - by Mondo himself.  Here it is in its entirety:



I had no idea there was a coin that said "Palestine" on it! That proves that today's Palestinians had a free and independent nation in 1927!

Now, some residents of Palestine did not like the idea of a Palestinian currency and their leaders called to boycott it and to keep using the Egyptian pound - but, luckily, other Palestinians who were more forward thinking supported the idea, and it became the official currency of Palestine.

Further research into the issue, once my eyes were no longer blinded by propaganda, shows that these forward-thinking Palestinians didn't just stop there in their quest to build their nation. No, they built up other Palestinian institutions.

For example, the Palestine international soccer (football) club, recognized by FIFA, played five international games in the 1930s. Unfortunately, they only won one, against Lebanon, 5-1. Goals in that game were scored by Palestinian players Herbert Meitner (2), Avraham Schneiderovitz, Gaul Machlis and Werner Kaspi.

Time magazine in 1937 had a feature story on the inaugural performance of the Palestine Symphony Orchestra. The article starts off with "As a full Palestine moon rode one evening last week over Tel Aviv... thousands ... began to move toward the Levant Fair Grounds. There they packed the Italian Pavilion to capacity to hear great Arturo Toscanini lead Palestine's first civic orchestra through its first performance." Yes, the Palestinians of 1937 were cultured and were lovers of classical music. A Palestinian opera was even performed in New York in 1934.

There were, of course, Palestine stamps as well. This one shows an ancient Palestinian holy site in Bethlehem. (Unfortunately, it is not visible today, because there is an ugly tall wall that turned it into a fortress.)


Palestinians worked hard to attract tourists to Palestine so they could proudly show off their country.


The same Palestinians also created regional fairs to show off their products and to trade with their Arab neighbors:


Palestinians even exhibited at the World's Fair in New York in 1939.


There was a Palestine Post newspaper, as well as the earlier Palestine Bulletin, written by the most prominent Palestinian journalists of the day.

My research found that Palestinians were not only active in the 20th century, but they had been there through the millennia. This entry from an encyclopedia describes a stunning and encyclopedic work of Palestinian scholarship from the 4th and 5th centuries CE, written by hundreds of the brightest people in Palestine, known as the Palestinian Talmud. This work has been referred to by Middle Eastern and European scholars throughout the ages. That one work alone shows how strong the ties are between Palestinians and their land.



There are plenty of other examples of scholarship researching the ancient culture of Palestine. Here. for example, is a 19th century book about the customs and traditions of Palestine over the ages.

All in all, there is a massive amount of evidence and literature that all proves that throughout the centuries, there has been a people living in Palestine as well as their kin who longed to return to Palestine from their diaspora. In the 20th century, they became known to the Western world as Palestinians. These people ranged from the ordinary to the clerical to the political, always trying to improve the land of their ancestors which they held sacred. They never forgot Palestine and when they were given the chance, they jumped at building their nation in the land of Palestine.

There are outsiders who invaded Palestine, though. They came in waves. Some settled there, some moved on, but none of them have been there as long as the Palestinians who were there originally. They often persecuted the people who identified as Palestinians, both the natives of Palestineand their cousins who came to rejoin them. They never identified as Palestinian themselves in the era of the coins, stamps, and orchestras. Yet this other group, which used to call themselves Southern Syrians or simply Arabs, makes claims today that they are the real Palestinians!

Of all the peoples of the world, the Palestinians who deserve most to live there are the ones who have the strongest ancient historic ties to the land as well as the people who worked hardest to build a modern state in Palestine in the first half of the 20th century - against the wishes of the invaders.  These Palestinians have an unbroken chain of history and culture from their ancestors living there in ancient times through today.  The Palestinian people who worked to rebuild their nation are the ones who deserve to live there the most, from a historical, legal and moral perspective.

Every modern, liberal person must support the human rights of these indigenous Palestinian people to live, in peace and security, in the land that they have lived in and longed for throughout the ages.

Yes, there was a geographical area called Palestine for 2000 years. It might not have been the original name, but the residents who identified with it the most throughout that time are the ones who are the real Palestinian people.

(h/t Max)