LEADER TIMES WEEKEND RELIGION ARTICLE FOR
June 21, 2014 by William H. Scarle, Jr.
There is really no such thing as a “Palestinian.” Actually, there is no such place as Palestine. The name was created by the Romans when they took the area from the Hasmoneans in 63 BC. The Romans hated the Jews, so they named the area “Palestine” which is a corruption of the name Philistine. The Philistines were long gone by that time but the Romans were not going to call the area Judah or Israel. Politically it was a part of the province of Syria under Rome. Pontius Pilot was subject to the governor of Syria.
What we have today, calling themselves Palestinians, are Moslem Arabs who are living in Israel. Before 1967 they were Jordanian Arabs. The territory now administered by Israel was a part of Jordan before 1967 because in the cease fire agreement made with the Arab states that territory was still in Jordanian hands, and Israel was anxious to get to the task of building a nation. They agreed to allow it to remain part of Jordan. In 1967 when the Arab states once again attacked Israel that territory was lost when the Arab armies were defeated. According to all international law, it became the sovereign territory of Israel as territory gained in a defensive war.
There are some Christians living in this territory. Their history goes back to the early days of the Church. They are largely not Arab, although the propaganda of the phony “Palestinians” would have us believe they are. They are largely Syrian, and their faith is largely Syrian Orthodox. They are under enormous pressure by the Moslem’s to walk the party line. In 1993 when Bethlehem was still under Israeli control it was a Christian city with a Christian majority of over 80 percent. Today since administration was turned over to the Moslem Arabs the Christian population is between 20 and 25 percent.
The entire “Palestinian” narrative of Israeli persecution and the claim to be an indigenous population is an audacious con job. It is not that the history of the area is unavailable to the general public. It is just that the lie is told with such persistence and with such distribution that unless you pay close attention the facts get drowned in the mud slide of the false narrative.
There is an effort now among Israeli Christians to disassociate themselves from the Arabs who want to use them in their propaganda war. It is a bold move and puts them in some danger. They are reclaiming the designation of Syrian Christians. They reject the designation of “Palestinian” which is a historical fiction and want to be called Syrian. This is their real heritage and the Aramaic language is still used in their worship.
The history of the so called Israel/Palestinian conflict is complex. The best way to govern the area that was once Jordanian territory presents problems. However, to package your political aspirations in a bundle of lies and historical fiction is not helpful. One fact should keep us on the right track when thinking about the state of Christianity, and for that matter political freedom in general, in the Middle East. Israel is the only nation in the Middle East where the Christian population is growing. Everywhere else Christians are being persecuted, churches are being burned, and Christians are fleeing. Israel is an island of safety. It is still the Promised Land.
(Bill Scarle can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org). END-whs