Photo Credit: courtesy
Anat Berko

One way to oppose the establishment of a Palestinian State is to prove that there is not and never has been a Palestinian people. In order to vividly demonstrate that idea, Knesset Member Anat Berko explained that the letter “P” does not exist in the Arabic language. “How can they be Palestinians if they cannot pronounce the word?” she asked.

And, indeed, the Arabs knew nothing of “Palestine.” It was an invention of Yasser Arafat. When in 1964 he came up with idea of calling half of the Hashemite Arab tribe that lived on Israeli soil (the other half lives in Jordan) “Palestinians,” I expected the Israeli government to reject it outright for what it was: a clever lie, an insolent absurdity. Instead, the Israeli leadership and media went along with Arafat’s invention. “Palestinians” became part of the Israeli narrative, with Israeli leaders apparently not realizing that by calling the Arabs “Palestinians” you implied that the Land of Palestine was their land.


From where does the name “Palestinian” originate? The ancient Romans, after destroying the Second Temple and Jerusalem, occupied the Land of Israel known as “Judea.” To render a final destructive blow to the Jews, they renamed the land “Palestina,” the Latin version of Philistia! Fully aware that the Philistines were Israel’s ancient enemy, it was a perfect way to humiliate the Children of Israel and deprive them of an association with their homeland.

K.M. Anat Berko is the first high-ranking Israeli to focus on the very essence of this issue. “The Arabs cannot even pronounce ‘Palestine,’” she argued in the parliamentary plenum. “There’s no ‘P’ in Arabic. If they would be Palestinian, wouldn’t they be able to pronounce their own ethnic origins. The issue is worth looking into,” Dr. Berko advised from the podium.

Listening to her presentation on the TV Knesset Channel, I was amazed at her approach. Where did she come from? What part of Israel produced this extraordinary woman?

Anat Berko was born in Jerusalem, the second of six children, born to parents who had fled Iraq.  Already in her early youth she was out of the ordinary. After completing her obligatory national service, she served in the IDF for 25 years

Lt. Colonel Berko returned to civilian life with a need to extend her field of activities. She enrolled at Bar-Ilan University as a student of psychology, sociology and criminology. Earning a B.A., then an M.A., degree in all three subjects, she continued studying until she achieved a PhD degree in criminology, also at Bar-Ilan University.

Once a fully-qualified criminologist, Dr. Berko embarked on a new career in the service of her country – she became a specialist in the field of counter-terrorism.

Information on counter-terrorism is a subject in great demand internationally. It made Dr. Berko a popular lecturer in various institutions in Israel and abroad. She received an invitation to teach at the Lauder School of Government of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. A number of years later she became a visiting professor at George Washington University in the United States.

She is also a research fellow at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) in Herzliah, Israel. ICT is an independent think tank providing expertise in terrorism, counter-terrorism, homeland security and risk assessment of terrorism globally – that is, as a strategic problem that faces not only Israel but other countries as well.

Dr. Berko’s research area includes investigating suicide bombings, and the failed suicide bombers who are incarcerated in high security prisons in Israel.