web analytics
March 1, 2015 / 10 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Inventing ‘Palestine’


Front-Page-081211

If the UN should decide to recognize a “State of Palestine” in the biblical homeland of the Jewish people it would endorse a bizarre irony.

Why?

Because Palestinian national identity borrows so extensively from Jewish and Zionist sources as to virtually constitute historical plagiarism.

“Palestine” emerged as an abbreviation of “Syria Palaestina.” The name was imposed by Roman conquerors to obliterate the connection of Jews to their land after the Bar Kochba rebellion collapsed in 135 CE. During four hundred years of Ottoman rule, Arabs considered it to be part of Syria-Palestine, not a separate entity. A remote and neglected imperial province, it was loosely administered from Beirut or Damascus.

Modern conceptions of “Palestine” began to emerge in the mid-nineteenth century once the Holy Land, as it became known to European visitors, entered Western consciousness.

The veil began to lift after Edinburgh-born artist David Roberts followed the trail of the ancient Israelites from Egypt through the Sinai wilderness to the promised land in 1838-39. During his journey into the past Roberts sketched the lithographs that filled The Holy Land (1842), his magnificent three-volume collection that for modern critics defines the Orientalist vision of intrusive Westerners.

“If God spares me in life and health,” Roberts wrote in his journal, “I expect to bring home with me the most interesting collection of sketches that has ever left the East.” With their riveting ancient city gates, walls, tombs, churches, mosques, barren wilderness landscape, and the exotic local inhabitants, his lithographs remain unrivaled romantic depictions of sacred memory.

A year after The Holy Land appeared, another Scotsman, Rev. Alexander Keith, published his own book about the land of Israel. Keith had also traveled to the Holy Land in 1839; there he came to believe that Christians should bring to fulfillment the biblical prophecy that Jews would return to their ancient homeland.

His book, The Land of Israel According to the Covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob, included a phrase that has reverberated ever since. The Jews, he wrote, are “a people without a country; even as their own land is in a great measure, a country without a people.” Slightly altered by the book reviewer for a Scottish Free Church magazine, it became the iconic phrase: “A land without a people and a people without a land.”

Rev. Keith’s words were reiterated several years later in a letter from Lord Shaftesbury (Anthony Ashley-Cooper) to Lord Palmerston, the British foreign minister. Anthony-Cooper pondered the future of “Greater Syria” (as the land of the ancient Israelites was then commonly identified) after the Crimean War. He rephrased Keith’s description as “a country without a nation” needing “a nation without a country.” He wondered: “Is there such a thing?” before answering his own question affirmatively: “the ancient and rightful lords of the soil, the Jews!”

Rev. Keith’s phrase continued to recur in the writings of Christian Zionists, especially once pogroms erupted in Russia during the 1880s. Evangelist William Blackstone, concerned over the plight of Russian Jews, referred to an “astonishing anomaly – a land without a people, and a people without a land.” In 1897 John Lawson Stoddard published a travel guide exhorting Jews: “You are a people without a country; there is a country without a people . Go back, go back to the land of Abraham.”

An American visitor to Palestine chose different words to describe the barrenness of the land for literary posterity. In The Innocents Abroad (1881), Samuel Clemens (better known as Mark Twain) described Palestine as “a desolate country . We never saw a human being on the whole route . There was hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of the worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.”

About the Author: Jerold S. Auerbach is the author of “Jewish State/Pariah Nation: Israel and the Dilemmas of Legitimacy,” to be published next month by Quid Pro Books.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Inventing ‘Palestine’”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife at Ben Gurion Airport as they depart for the US on March 1, 2015, ahead of Netanyahu's speech on Tuesday, before a joint session of Congress.
Netanyahu’s Speech to Congress – Blocked from U.S. Prime Time, Perfect for Israel
Latest Indepth Stories
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prays at the Western Wall ahead of his speech next week at the US Congress.

Ultimately, Esther, Netanyahu, and we, the Jewish people, must and will rely on the true King, God, for our salvation from this genocidal threat.

Netanyahu carried his message to Americans through the media after meeting with President Obama and castigating Iran at the UN. (September 30, 2013)

Netanyahu addresses a clear, present & lethal threat to the US/Israel/WORLD; NOT political bickering

israel-day-parade-bds

Buried in the tax-returns of the JCF is millions of dollars funneled to NIF in the last few years.

Netanyahu in a previous address to Congress-

Bibi’s speech to Congress will bring respect and honor to the Jewish Nation from the US & the world

Obama & Putin have handwriting/signature clues indicating differences between public & private life

It’s time for a new Jewish policy regarding Ramallah, NOT just because of the yarmulke incident

“GETT’s” being screened for Israeli Rabbinical Court judges at their annual convention.

If Jackson were alive he’d denounce Democratic party’s silence towards virulent anti-Semitism

Victim of Palestinian Arab terrorism, a victor in NY federal court, after years of being ignored by Justice Dept.

March 2013: Arabs hurled stones hitting the Biton’s car; Adele’s mother swerved the car-into a truck

The real issue is that in many respects the president has sought to recalibrate American values and our system of government.

Former Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman, writing in the Washington Post on Sunday, provided one of the clearest and most compelling analyses we’ve seen of the importance of the prime minister’s speech.

A central concept in any discussion about happiness is achieving clarity. “Ain simcha ela k’hataras hasefeikos” – there is no joy as that experienced with the removal of doubt.

More Articles from Jerold S. Auerbach
Knesset

For nearly sixty-five years national self-definition has been the skeleton in the closet of Israeli politics and culture.

Front-Page-081514

Times reporter Anne Barnard reported (7/15) that Israel was to blame (so her Palestinian sources asserted) for its continued “occupation” of Gaza – which, Barnard failed to note, ended nearly a decade ago.

During much of the 20th century, elite American colleges and universities carefully policed their admission gates to restrict the entry of Jews. Like its Big Brothers – Harvard, Yale and Princeton – Wellesley College, where I taught history between 1971 and 2010, designed admission policy to perpetuate a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant elite.

Yossi Klein Halevi’s Like Dreamers (Harper) explores the lives of seven Israeli paratroopers in the Six-Day War who, his subtitle suggests, “Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation.” It offers a fascinating variation on the theme of Israel at a fateful crossroads, in search of itself, following the wondrously unifying moment at the Western Wall in June 1967 when Jewish national sovereignty in Jerusalem was restored for the first time in nineteen centuries.

In death as in life, Menachem Begin remained who he had always been: a proud yet humble Jew.

Eighty years ago, in January 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany. Barely a month later Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated president of the United States. For the next twelve years, until their deaths eighteen days apart in April 1945, they personified the horrors of dictatorship and the blessings of democracy.

One of my searing early memories from Israel is a visit nearly four decades ago to the Ghetto Fighters Museum in the Beit Lohamei Hagetaot kibbutz. The world’s first Holocaust museum, it was built soon after the Independence War by survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

Nearly sixty-five years ago Israel declared its independence and won the war that secured a Jewish state. But its narrow and permeable postwar armistice lines permitted incessant cross-border terrorist raids. For Egypt, Syria and Jordan, the mere existence of a Jewish state remained an unbearable intrusion into the Arab Middle East. As Egyptian President Nasser declared, “The danger of Israel lies in the very existence of Israel.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/inventing-palestine/2011/08/10/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: