At JCPA, Pinhas Inbari has a fascinating study of the origins of Palestinians.
One of his points is summarized:
Not a single Palestinian tribe identifies its roots in Canaan; instead, they all see themselves as proud Arabs descended from the most notable Arab tribes of the Hejaz, today’s Iraq, or Yemen. Even the Kanaan family of Nablus locates its origins in Syria. Some Palestinian clans are Kurdish or Egyptian in origin, and in Mount Hebron, there are traditions of Jewish origins.
He has interesting details about the Jewish origins of some of the Palestinian Arab families:
For Muslim families, a Christian origin could indicate a Jewish origin, though not necessarily. The Christian families of Ramallah are an example. According to their tradition, the Christians of Ramallah are descended from the Christian Bedouin tribe of southern Jordan. (Yes, there were Christian Bedouins in the past.) They were the Haddadin tribe of the Karak area, 140 kilometers south of Amman, who were forced to leave 250 years ago by pressure from the Muslim tribes who sought to marry their daughters.32
Originally, the Haddadin tribe was Yemenite, and it was forced to leave pre-Muslim Yemen at the time of the Jewish king, Dhu Nuwas (455-510 CE), to avoid converting to Judaism and to maintain their Christianity.33 Today, the Haddadin is one of Jordan’s important tribes, and its members hold senior positions in the Hashemite government; an example is Munzer Haddadin, who headed the Jordanian delegation to the talks on water with Israel.
The Jewish origin of the fellahin [villagers, laborer] is a fascinating subject. The Israeli computer scientist Zvi Misinay has sponsored genetic studies that have demonstrated a “primary” genetic link between the Palestinian fellahin and the Jews.34 Arab researchers have rejected this thesis, ascribing it to the desire to Judaize the Palestinians.35
Nonetheless, in conversations, many Palestinians confirm ancient traditions of Jewish origins that are common in their families. For example, a female clerk in the office of Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) once told me that her origins lay in the two biblical towns of Tzora and Eshtaol mentioned in the Samson story (Judges 13). Interestingly, the pairing of Tzora and Eshtaol is also preserved in spoken Arabic. The Palestinian Encyclopedia, published by the Palestinian Authority, describes “Sar’a” as a village that was founded in Canaanite days.36 The Israeli nonprofit organization Zochrot, which preserves the memory of the Palestinian villages that were destroyed during the War of Independence, makes use of the Palestinian descriptions but adds that the original name of this village was Sor’a and that it was known by this name at least until the 16th century.37
A source in Mount Hebron told me once that the Mount Hebron villagers call the residents of Hebron “the Jews.” Although the families of Hebron do not regard themselves as having Jewish ancestry, in the Mount Hebron villages there are traditions with Jewish origins. The most notable examples are the village of Yatta – the Biblical Juttah – and particularly among the Makhamra family.
Israel’s second president, Yitzhak Ben Zvi, was a noted historian who researched the village of Yatta. In 1928 he described the lighting of Hanukah candles and observance of Jewish customs.38
The tradition that the Makhamra clan has Jewish ancestry is common to this family, noted Ben Zvi. Strikingly, one finds on a Palestinian Facebook page,39 called “All of us are for Palestine,” a passage reposted from a different Facebook page called “Yatta is everyone’s”:
It is said that the Makhamra family is of Jewish origin, and this was proved in the United Nations, and in 1947 Yatta was registered as a Jewish town, and it is said that all the residents of Yatta are of Jewish origin, and that the Samu, the Maharik family, the Carmel, Susya, Bani Naim, the Ta’amar, and the Rashaida and Azazmah tribes [in Jordan] are also Jews.40
The Middle East scholar Moshe Elad said on Israel’s Arabic television that two members of the Makhamra family had converted to Judaism and were now Israeli citizens living in Israel and that in the village customs of lighting Shabbat and Chanukah candles had been preserved.41
Unfortunately, the two terrorists who perpetrated the Islamic State-inspired attack at Tel Aviv’s Sarona market on June 8, 2016, were members of the Makhamra family.42
Essentially, the only Muslim families who can claim to have been in Palestine 2000 years ago were converts from Judaism or Christianity. By far most of them come from other areas of the Middle East or Europe.
I have looked at this topic a number of times over the years, and here is my latest list of 100 Palestinian families and their origins (although I’ve seen some contradictory origins listed for some families):
|Abdil-Masih (Beit Sahour)||Turkey|
|Abu Aita (Beit Sahour)||Turkey|
|Abu Ghosh||Europe/11th century|
|Al-Hayik (Beit Sahour)||Turkey|
|Barghouti||Yemen (may be Jewish)|
|Dajani||Arabia via Spain|
|Hannouneh (Beit Sahour)||Turkey|
|Ibrahim (Beit Sahour)||Turkey|
|Issa||Arrived in 1820s to Haifa, not sure from where|
|Khoury (Beit Sahour)||Turkey|
|Nablusi||Named after Nablus – but that was named in the 7th century|
|Nusseibeh||Arrived 7th Century|
|Rishmawi (Beit Sahour)||Turkey|
|Saud / Saudi||Arabia|
|Sous (Beit Sahour)||Turkey|
|Touqan||Northern Arabia or Syria|
|Yacoub (Beit Sahour)||Turkey|
The only real indigenous Palestinians who can claim to have lived in Palestine since before the Roman conquest are those who are descended from Jews.
We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.