My reference is the book From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict over Palestine by Joan Peters (published 1984).
Before I begin, a big “thank you” to Dave Bender at Israel at Level Ground, who referred me to a specific book review by Daniel Pipes.
For some reason, after years of reading reviews on this book, I had not run across the Daniel Pipes review and commentary.
I discovered this book about seven years ago. It is long, sometimes ponderous and it is heavily footnoted. My trade paperback copy is 601 pages, which includes 188 pages of Appendixes, Bibliographies, Indexes and extensive Notes, carefully cross-referencing page numbers with data.
Ms. Peters says: “The book was originally meant to be solely an investigation of the current plight of the “Arab refugees,”….” The book eventually questions whether Palestine has ever been a homeland for Arabs, and I believe reaches a conclusion.
The book created controversy when it was published, and I suspect it is still a lightening rod today. It has been highly praised and it has been rejected as lies and distortions. At the end of this article, I link to the Pipes review as well as his “Letter to the, New York Review of Books, March 27, 1986. Two years after his review, he sums up the criticisms of Ms. Peters’ work with these words:
“…the fact remains that the book presents a thesis that neither Professor Porath nor any other reviewer has so far succeeded in refuting. Miss Peters’ central thesis is that a substantial immigration of Arabs to Palestine took place during the first half of the twentieth century. She supports this argument with an array of demographic statistics and contemporary accounts, the bulk of which have not been questioned by any reviewer, including Professor Porath.
I find this book fascinating. I’m not a scholar. I’m just an interested person living in a noisy world that shouts “death to Israel, every single day. As Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, calls for “wiping Israel off the map” – as we allow the Islamic movement to proudly and defiantly commit indecencies upon us, I wonder what those who want to push Israel into the sea, would do after that is accomplished?
Below, I am referencing page numbers from my trade paperback. Within the range of pages, I have bulleted the points that are pertinent to me, as I think of “Palestinian refugees” or “the Palestinian problem”. Ms. Peters’ book cites, I think, hundreds of sources. If the information from this book intrigues you, as it has me, then buying a copy, or borrowing a copy, may be useful. The book in your hand, and viewing her list of notes, by page numbers, is quite an experience.
Maggie’s Notebook summary of pages 33-34
*Before the 7th Century, Islam Arabs and Jews were somewhat harmonious
*Koranic references show respect for Jews and their Torah
*Muhammad’s influence began at Medina in 622 A.D.
*Muhammad had few supporters
*Muhammad copied some important Jewish rituals
*Muhammad tried to convert Jews to Islam
*Conversion didn’t work – he abandoned the Jewish rituals
*Muhammad now directs to pray to Mecca, no longer to Jerusalem
*Muhammad set about to change the harmonious conditions
*Arab hostility against the Jews began
*Omar succeeds Muhammad
*Omar “charters” the rules for dealing with non-Muslims (dhimmis)…
Maggie’s Notebook summary of Pages 137-139
*There was not a “consistent presence” on Arab land for thousands of years
*”Arab-Muslim “Palestinians” were not “emotionally tied” to Palestine. “The conception of such is recent mythology
*It is a propaganda effort to appeal to emotions that would “counter Zionism”
*It is “near-ignorance” of the history of Palestine that has allowed the propaganda
*”…Palestinian ‘citizenship….a legal formula devoid of moral meaning.” (Brits)
*”…age-old Arab Palestinian rights to Arab Palestine” – contradicted by history
*Arab domination of Judah-Palestine, after 635 A.D. lasted only 22 years.
*The word “Palestine” derived from “Philistine”
*Philistines were Aegeans, migrating from Greece
*Philistines settled in southern ‘Palestine” and founded communities
*Rome adopted the name Palestine
*Rome designated “Palestine” as the former Jewish principality of Judea
*Judea was abolished and renamed Palestine or Syria Palestina
*Judea, however, sustained itself to some degree
*4th Century C.E. author, Epiphanius refers to “Palestine, that is, Judea.”
*”It appears that Palestine was never an independent nation
*”…Arabs never named the land to which they now claim rights.”
Maggie’s Notebook Summary of page 140:
*”…Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria.” (Saudi Arabian United Nations)
*”…Palestine…a basic part of southern Syria.” (Syria’s Pres. Assad)
*Notion of an Arab-Palestinian not serious until 1967 Six Day War
*No age-old or…century old “national identity.” (Brit. Palestine Royal Comm)
*Jews fled Judah-Palestine for Arab lands 1,000 years before Mohammed
*Records of Jews in Babylon before Mohammed
*Israeli Land is connected to Jews continuous from 2nd millennium B.C.E.
*Israel became a nation about 1220 B.C. – 2,000 years before Arab invasion
Maggie’s Notebook Summary of pages 141
*Roman rule tries to obliterate all-things Jewish and establish a Roman Colony
*The Romans destroy the Jewish Temple in 70 A.D.
*The Romans expel the Jews from their land, Judah
*Some Jews flee to Arabia. The first” flight of the Palestinians” were Judean Jews
*Judah was renamed, eventually, Palestina
*Jews “probably first settled in Arabia about 721 B.C.
Maggie’s Notebook summary of Pages 142-145:
*Medina was first settled by Jews, not Arabs.
*Medina became a wealthy settlement due to Jewish entrepreneurship
*Muhammad wanted the Jewish lands and wealth
*Muhammad united the Arabs and eliminated the Jews
*Muhammad took the lands and wealth
*Arabs in the area became prosperous because of Jewish innovation
*The expelled Jews were probably the first Arab refugees
*Some fleeing Jews were likely the ancestors of Judea/Palestine refugees
*Jews were the first Palestinian refugees and the first Arab refugees
*Bedouins flocked to Muhammad as he enabled Arabs to gain wealth
*The “propagation of the Arabian Muslin Creed” had begun
*The Jews, now, in the 7th Century return to Palestine to join ancestors
*Arabians follow and plunder Judah-Palestina as they had Jews in Arabia
*Jews in the 20th Century will again be forced out of Judah-Palestine
*The area is touted as “purely Arab Palestinian” from “Time Immemorial”
*The myth begins and continues today
Maggie’s Notebook summary of pages 146-147
*”The holy Arab Muslim city of Medina…originally settled by Jews.”
*Arab conquest in Arabia began in the 7th Century
*Arabian invaders then conquered Alexandria
*Alexandria was wealthy beyond comprehension
*Much of the Alexandrian wealth was Jewish wealth
*An Arab invasion of Judah-Palestine was to provide more Jewish wealth
*Jewish population in Judah-Palestine between 5-7 million in 70 A.D.
*Jews still numbered 3 million after Roman domination. 600,000 died
Maggie’s Notebook summary of pages 148-149
*The Byzantium era begins in Judah-Palestine
*Persians invade in 611 A.D.
*Some Jews join the Byzantine rule and persecute their own
*No one realized that, within a few years, Byzantine rule would end
*Arabs take over and rule for less than a century
*Short Arab rule in Judah-Palestine became “Arab” country for “millennia
*Arabs did not create their own name for the land they claimed
*There was not an independent country of Palestine
*There was no such thing as a “Palestinian rule”
*”Palestine,” as a name for Judah, was applied by the Romans
*The Arab Empire failed to develop a system of administration
*The Arab rule was all about raiding and conquest
*The “ministers” were often Iranians, Turks, Kurds – but not Arabs
Maggie’s Notebook summary of pages 150-151
*”The “Arab identity” is largely a linguistic commonality”
*”Arabs” as “a term”…consists of the inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula.”
*”…Arab rule was mechanical and not innovative.”
*……original inhabitants of Judah-cum-Palestine is…inaccurate
*”…no country of “Palestine,”…never a “Palestinian” Arab rule
*…only a short…time…when any Arabs ruled Arabs on that land.”
*From ancient inscriptions…”Arab means “Bedouin” [raider]
*”…Muhammad and this contemporaries were the Bedouin of the desert,…”
That’s the end of my summary of this portion of the book.
The point of Ms. Peters’ book has more to do with the creation of the State of Israel and “refugee” status in the 1940’s. The above is the history laid out by Joan Peters, before looking at current day status.
I am putting up my perception of Ms. Peters’ early history as background. It is only my perception of her work. I plan to post on what I consider the core of Ms. Peters’ book (my words, not hers) – Arabs moved to Jewish lands in the early 20th century to follow the development of commerce and agriculture. Daniel Pipes’ characterizes her central thesis, as: “a substantial immigration of Arabs to Palestine took place during the first half of the twentieth century.”
I see the whole as, there is no support for the historic Arab claim to ownership of Jewish holy lands.
Whatever brought about Jewish refugees and Arab refugees – and whatever Palestine was, was not, is and is not, deserves more than casual thought.
Take a moment to read Daniel Pipes’ review, his criticisms and his praise of the book From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict Over Palestine. There are many other reviews out there as well. What I particularly noted in Mr. Pipes’ words, however, was that no one has been able to dispute the “bulk of her work.”
Related and Background:
The Angst of Supporting Israel – See the history of Israel’s borders here.
Who and What are Palestinians?
About that Two-State Solution
How the Gaza Tunnels into Egypt Work
Discovering Kryptonite, Disabling Superman
United Nations Condemns Hamas – Gotcha!
United Nations Seal Condemnation of Israel In a class of its own:
Gaza Flotilla Terror Choir: We Con the World Video