Palestine: Historical background

Image: Copyright : Rostislav Ageev

Historical Background

Source: Lest we forget

Palestine dates back to about 3000 BC, and for 1900 years (between 3000-1100 B.C.) it was the land of the Canaanites. Throughout this period, the Egyptians occupied it until 1200 BC when the Philistines took it over. They were followed by the Israelites (1000-923BC: 77 years), the Phoenicians (923-700BC), the Assyrians (700-612BC), the Babylonians (until 539BC), the Persians (until 332BC), the Macedonians (until 63BC), the Romans (until 636AD), the Arabs (636-1200: 564 years), the Crusaders (1099-1291), the Ayubiyyin (1187-1253), The Memluks (1253-1516) followed by the Ottoman rulers (400 years) until 1917 (the year of the Balfour Declaration). The British Mandate took over in 1919 and officially took effect in 1922.

It is clear from this chronology that the Jewish Kingdom was only one many which settled in the land of Palestine. The country became predominantly an Arab (and Islamic) country towards the end of the 7th Century. In 1516, it became a province of the Ottoman Empire with a rich mix of Arab (Muslim and Christian) and Jewish cultures; these people believed themselves to belong to a land called Palestine.

It is worth noting that, according to Illene Beatty, a well-known archaeologist, “the extended kingdoms of David and Solomon, on which the Zionists base their demands, endured for only about 73 years…then it fell apart…Even if we allow independence to the entire life of the ancient Jewish kingdoms, from David’s conquest of Canaan in 1000 B.C. to the wiping out of Judah in 586 B.C., we arrive at [only] a 414-year Jewish rule”.

When empires eventually disappeared, sovereignty became the natural aim of the indigenous people of the land. Where colonialism refused to let go, national wars of liberation took hold until independence was achieved. In places where the population, through brute force, was annihilated or ethnically cleansed by the occupying communities, the latter became the new nation states (as did happen in the Americas and elsewhere).

In the Middle East, after WW1, the victorious Allies divided the region between the French and the British. These mandated states, under the guidance of the League of Nations, eventually evolved into nation states as their Mandate periods came to an end.

Except, of course, for Palestine.

Modern Palestinians descended from sundry invading peoples; Canaanites, Edomites, Eremites, Moabites, Assyrians, Egyptians, Philistines, Hebrews, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Europeans, Turks.
As for the  Biblical allusions to the kingdoms of Saul, David  and Solomon , in archaeological circles there is an ongoing controversy about whether Biblical texts can be equated to history. It is widely accepted that the Bible originated in the 7th Century BCE, 300 years after David and other historical aberrations encompass the palaces officially ascribed to Solomon in Megiddo which are dated long after Solomon’s time. 
“There is no evidence of a United Monarchy no evidence of a capital in Jerusalem or of any coherent, unified political force that dominated western Palestine, let alone an empire of the size the legends describe. We do not have evidence for the existence of kings named Saul, David or Solomon; nor do we have evidence for any temple at Jerusalem in this early period. What we do know of Israel and Judah of the tenth century does not allow us to interpret this lack of evidence as a gap in our knowledge and information about the past, a result merely of the accidental nature of archeology. There is neither room nor context, no artifact or archive that points to such historical realities in Palestine’s tenth century. One cannot speak historically of a state without a population. Nor can one speak of a capital without a town. Stories are not enough.” The Bible in History: How Writers Create a Past, Thomas L Thompson
Furthermore, Israel scholar, professor Shlomo Sand has challenged the zionists claim to the ‘land of Israel’ and  called to question that there was  a historic Exodus.
“Shlomo Sand’s recent book The Invention of the Jewish People is just such a study. The book’s thesis is that the obsessively held Zionist/Israeli notion of the Jews as an ethnically identifiable people existing since biblical times and having their origins in the ancient land of ancient Israel is unsupportable. ” Lawrence Davidson.



The external perception of why this happened to Palestine differs greatly from the internal perception of the Palestinians themselves.

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