Palestine inhabited by a mixed population
The "chauvinist Arab version of history,"
then--so important to the current claim of "Palestinian" rights to "Arab
Palestine," which Arab Palestinians purportedly inhabited for "thousands
of years" --omits several relevant,
History did not begin with the Arab conquest
in the seventh century. The people whose nation was destroyed by the Romans
were the Jews. There were no Arab Palestinians then -- not until seven
hundred years later would an Arab rule prevail, and then briefly. And not
by people known as "Palestinians." The short Arab rule would be reigning
over Christians and Jews, who had been there to languish under various
other foreign conquerors, -- Roman, Byzantine, Persian, to name just three
in the centuries between the Roman and Arab conquests. The peoples who
conquered under the banner of the invading Arabians from the desert were
often hired mercenaries who remained on the land as soldiers -- not Arabians,
but others who were enticed by the promise of the booty of conquest.
From the time the Arabians, along with
their non-Arabian recruits, entered Palestine and Syria, they found and
themselves added to what was "ethnologically a chaos of all the possible
human combinations to which, when Palestine became a land of pilgrimage,
a new admixture was added."1 Among the
peoples who have been counted as "indigenous Palestinian Arabs" are Balkans,
Greeks, Syrians, Latins, Egyptians, Turks, Armenians, Italians, Persians,
Kurds, Germans, Afghans, Circassians, Bosnians, Sudanese, Samaritans, Algerians,
Motawila, and Tartars.
John of Wurzburg lists for the
middle era of the kingdom, Latins, Germans, Hungarians, Scots, Navarese,
Bretons, English, Franks, Ruthenians, Bohemians, Greeks, Bulgarians, Georgians,
Armenians, Syrians, Persian Nestorians, Indians,Egyptians, Copts, Maronites
and natives from the Nile Delta. The list might be much extended, for it
was the period of the great self-willed city-states in Europe, and Amalfi,
Pisans, Genoese, Venetians, and Marseillais, who had quarters in all
the bigger cities, owned villages, and had trading rights, would, in all
probability, have submitted to any of the above designations, only under
pressure. Besides all these, Norsemen, Danes, Frisians, Tartars, Jews,
Arabs, Russians, Nubians, and Samaritans, can be safely added to the greatest
human agglomeration drawn together in one small area of the globe."2
Greeks fled the Muslim rule in Greece, and
landed in Palestine. By the mid-seventeenth century, the Greeks lived everywhere
in the Holy Land--constituting about twenty percent of the population-and
their authority dominated the villages.3
Between 1750 and 1766 Jaffa had
been rebuilt, and had some five hundred houses. Turks, Arabs, Greeks and
Armenians and a solitary Latin monk lived there, to attend to the wants
of the thousands of pilgrims who had to be temporarily housed in the port
before proceeding to Jerusalem.4
"In some cases villages [in Palestine] are
populated wholly by settlers from other portions of the Turkish Empire
within the nineteenth century. There are villages of Bosnians, Druzes,
Circassians and Egyptians," one historian has reported. 5
Another source, the Encyclopaedia Britannica,
1911 edition (before the "more chauvinist Arab history" began to prevail
with the encouragement of the British), finds the "population" of Palestine
composed of so "widely differing" a group of "inhabitants" -- whose "ethnological
affinities" create "early in the 20th century a list of no less than fifty
languages" (see below) -- that "it is therefore no easy task to write
concisely ... on the ethnology of Palestine." In addition to the "Assyrian,
Persian and Roman" elements of ancient times, "the short-lived Egyptian
government introduced into the population an element from that country
which still persists in the villages."
. . . There are very large contingents
from the Mediterranean countries, especially Armenia, Greece and Italy
. . . Turkoman settlements ... a number of Persians and a fairly large
Afghan colony . . . Motawila ... long settled immigrants from Persia ...
tribes of Kurds ... German "Templar" colonies ... a Bosnian colony ...
and the Circassian settlements placed in certain centres ... by the Turkish
government in order to keep a restraint on the Bedouin ... a large Algerian
element in the population ... still maintain(s) [while] the Sudanese have
been reduced in numbers since the beginning of the 20th century.
In the late eighteenth century, 3,000 Albanians
recruited by Russians were settled in Acre. The Encyclopaedia Britannica
"most interesting all the non-Arab communities in the country .
. . the Samaritan sect in Nablus (Shechem); a gradually disappearing body"
once "settled by the Assyrians to occupy the land left waste by the captivity
of the Kingdom of Israel."6
The disparate peoples recently assumed
and purported to be "settled Arab indigenes, for a thousand years" were
in fact a "heterogeneous" community
no "Palestinian" identity, and according to an official British historical
analysis in 1920, no Arab identity either: "The people west of the
Jordan are not Arabs, but only Arabic-speaking. The bulk of the population
are fellahin.... In the Gaza district they are mostly of Egyptian origin;
elsewhere they are of the most mixed race."
Birthplaces of Inhabitants of Jerusalem. District
Far Eastern Asia
Central & South
Far Eastern Asia
Central & South
Languages In Habitual Use In Palestine circa
Source: Census of Palestine --1931, volume
1, Palesfine; Part 1, Report by E. Mills, B.A., O.B.E., Assistant Chief
Secretary Superintendent of Census (Alexandria, 1933), p. 147.
Hartmann, Palestina unter den Araben, 632-1516 (Leipzig, 1915), cited by
de Haas, History, p. 147.
2. De Haas,
History, p. 258. John of Wurzburg list from Reinhold Rohricht edition,
pp. 41, 69.
3. F. Eugene
Roger, La Terre Sainte (Paris, 1637), p. 331, cited by de Haas, History,
Hasselquist, Reise nach Palastina, etc., 1749-52 (Rostock, 1762), p. 598,
cited by de Haas, History, p. 355.
Whose Land?, p. 212. See Chapters 13 and 14.
Britannica, 11th ed., vol. XX, p. 604.
8 .In a handbook,
prepared under the direction of the historical section of the Foreign Office,
no. 60, entitled "Syria and Palestine" (London, 1920), p. 56.
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