Photo Credit: Lori Lowenthal Marcus
The Judean Hills

“Many Jews would never believe this but if you visit Zora; you will see the tomb or grave of Samson the Great,” the Palestinian noted. “You would learn that Palestinians used to glorify this man in this town. Whenever someone dies, Palestinians used to sing in sadness for him: ‘Oh my G-d, why have you taken him, he has never displaced his grandmother or given advice to a Muslim.’ Why would Muslim Palestinians sing folk songs like that?”

“One of the folk songs for children goes: ‘By the G-d of Moses, don’t make me lose my way,’” the Palestinian explained. “Why not Muhammed? Also, the local comments reflected in the entire Palestinian community used the term ‘he’s a Cohen’ to reflect someone who is wise or who could see stuff others could not see. Most Palestinians don’t know what a Cohen is. Why do they use the term ‘he is a Cohen’ to describe someone with G-d given knowledge?”


While such statements go contrary to pan-Arab propaganda and the standard Middle Eastern history books taught across the globe, this Palestinian is not the only one to make this claim. According to the Jerusalem Post, Tzvi MiSinai conducted research into the Jewish roots of the Palestinian people and discovered that 90% of the Palestinians have Jewish roots: “And what’s more, half of them know it.” He noted that many Palestinians maintain Jewish customs, including mourning rituals, lighting Shabbat candles and even wearing tefillin.

Misnai is not the only researcher to believe this. Genetic studies conducted by Hadassah Medical School found that the Jewish population is surprisingly close genetically to the Palestinian population, implying that many of them have Jewish blood in them. Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion evidently agreed that most Palestinians have Jewish roots, according to Arutz Sheva: “If we investigate the origins of the Felahim, there is no doubt that much Jewish blood runs in their veins.”

In fact, Ben-Gurion believed so strongly in the idea that in 1956, he set up a task force together with Moshe Dayan and Haim Levkok that were supposed to develop ways to Judaize the Bedouin, teaching them about Jewish life and educating them to be part of the Israeli nation, even if only ethnically and not religiously. According to the Jerusalem Post, the Bedouin were willing to listen, but the teachers dropped out of the program because they could not take living under the same conditions the Bedouin did. As a result, these people were never integrated into Israeli society.

Dr. Harry Mandelbaum noted in an article he wrote for Think Israel that despite 2,000 years of persecution and various forced conversions by various conquerors throughout most of Jewish history of the Land of Israel, the Jews have made up a significant part of the population if not a majority in the Holy Land. These facts contradict the censuses conducted, which claim that the Holy Land had a Muslim majority starting in Mamluk times. It also contradicts the standard history books that emphasize that most Palestinians roots can be traced back to at the earliest the 7th century and not further back in history. While it is certain that the Arab conquest and subsequent Islamic conquests, as well as the Crusades and Black Plague, had their role in shaping the Holy Land’s demography, perhaps these censuses don’t convey the entire picture.

“It is important to note that estimates and censuses conducted by the Muslim conquerors were heavily biased to exaggerate the number of Muslims and to minimize the number of Jews and Christians,” he noted. “Therefore, the only reliable data is provided by non-Muslim neutral sources. Tourists and politicians, Arabs and non-Arabs alike, have documented their observations of the population in the Holy Land beginning more that a thousand years ago.”

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Rachel Avraham is the CEO of the Dona Gracia Center for Diplomacy and an Israel-based journalist. She is the author of "Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media."