July 21, 2018

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1872 researcher says explicitly that Palestine Arabs had no national character


As the centennial of the Balfour Declaration approaches,  we will see more Arab propaganda about how Balfour destroyed the “Palestinian nation.” For example, from Ramzy Baroud in Arab News

{Balfour] cared little about the fate of Jewish communities. His commitment to establishing a Jewish state on land already populated by a thriving and historically rooted nation was meant only to enlist the support of wealthy Zionist leaders for Britain’s role in the First World War.

I have looked for a long time for evidence of this “nation” without luck. I never found any element of culture or folklore that could be considered “Palestinian.”  But when I look for counter-evidence of this supposed nation, I came up with this article in a periodical from 1872:


IT is impossible to live for any length of time, as the writer has done, in the Holy Land without being struck by the diverse character of its present inhabitants—that is to say, of the settled population, not including the annual pilgrims. In the various towns the inhabitants are more or less of various and of mixed race. In Jerusalem we find Jews, Moslems, and Christians of different sects and races. But all over the land in the rural districts the observer is met by the fact that in this small country are collected together people of various and distinct races as well as of diverse creeds.

Not now to dwell upon the peculiarities that distinguish from each other Samaritans, Maronites, and Druses, we pass on to the general rural population of Palestine, called Syrian or Arab, or, as by themselves, Fellahheen, i.e., “tillers of the soil.”

They do not, properly speaking, form a nation. There is among them neither coherency nor spirit of patriotism. Just as the wild Bedaween are divided into distinct and generally hostile tribes, so the peasantry (Fellahheen) are divided into clans governed by their respective sheikhs. They speak a common, language, they possess a common religion; their manners and customs are generally the same all over the country. Yet of national unity there is absolutely none. They never combine for any purpose excepting when occasionally some clans aid each other in their faction fights. They are all classed, it is true, under the two great divisions of Yemeny and Kais, wearing white or red as the badge of these parties; but even then there is nothing among them approaching to the co-operation of patriots as a nation, ready and willing to join hand in hand for the mother country. The Turkish government well understand this important fact and take it into practical account in. their method of ruling the land. This state of things is in itself enough to explain in great measure the backward condition of the people at large. They have no national life. Every district lives in and for itself, and wages its own petty wars with its neighbours, but has neither interests nor action in common with any other.

The people of the various districts, moreover, differ considerably from each other, in outward appearance, in character, and in speech. They resemble each other just so far as to indicate descent from a common stock. They differ as the fragments of a nation may which has been broken up at an extremely remote period into distinct and hostile clans. All are Fellahheen, and yet all are apart from each other, independent and commonly at enmity.

Here is a person who lived in Palestine, who knows the land inside out (as the full article shows.) But he sees no evidence of a Palestinian people or nation.

It is a myth. But good luck teaching that at universities today.

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