For years, many false topics have been circulating about the history of Israel and Palestine. Some of them have to do with the name of their territories.
A name of Roman origin to designate the ancient Kingdom of Israel
The name Palestine was created by the Roman Empire to designate the territory of the ancient Kingdom of Israel. Its etymological origin comes from the term Philistine, which designated the territory inhabited by the Philistines (approximately the current area of the Gaza Strip). The origin of the Philistines is uncertain, but some have located it on the island of Crete, while a recent study indicates that they came from Europe. At the moment the name that that town gave to itself is not known. The term “Philistines” comes from a Hebrew word whose meaning would be “invaders” or “usurpers.”
There is no historical link between the Philistines and the Palestinians
Despite what some claim, there is no relationship between the ancient Philistines and the current Palestinians, beyond the name. The Philistines disappeared centuries before our era as a result of the Assyrian invasions. Their disappearance was long before the Babylonian conquest of Israel. After the fall of the Roman Empire, which also took over the ancient territory of the Kingdom of Israel – inhabited at that time mainly by Jews and related peoples, such as the Samaritans – that territory was first under Byzantine rule (the Eastern Roman Empire) and since the 7th century by the Islamic Arabs, with the exception of the time of the Crusades, in which the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem was founded, whose title has been symbolically held by the King of Spain since the beginning of the 16th century.
Napoleon tried to create a Jewish state in Palestine in 1799
For four centuries and until the World War I, the former territory of the Kingdom of Israel was under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. Throughout that time it remained home to tens of thousands of Jews. In fact, in his 1799 military expedition against the Ottomans that ended in the Siege of Acre, Napoleon made a proclamation to establish an independent Jewish state in that territory, a project that was thwarted by the French defeat.
The British Mandate for Palestine (1922-1948)
After the Ottoman defeat in the World War I, in 1922 the League of Nations (predecessor of the UN) assigned the administration of that territory to the United Kingdom, which had it in its power since 1917, creating the so-called British Mandate for Palestine, which it lasted until 1948, the year of the partition of that territory and the founding of the current State of Israel. During that British Mandate, many European Jews returned to the land of their ancestors fleeing antisemitism, especially harsh in Tsarist Russia and in Nazi Germany. During that time, the Muslims of Palestine called themselves “Arabs” and were supporters of Pan-Arabism, that is, the creation of a single Arab state in the Middle East.
The collaboration of the Arab Grand Mufti of Jerusalem with Nazi Germany
At that time, the Jews of the Holy Land considered themselves “Palestinians”. In fact, in 1932 a Jewish newspaper was founded there, “The Palestine Post”, which after Israel’s independence was renamed “Jerusalem Post”. At that time, specifically in 1941, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husayni, leader of the Palestinian Arabs, allied with Nazi Germany in an attempt to get Hitler to help him exterminate the Jews of Palestine. Today the State of Israel considers al-Husayni as one of the instigators of the Holocaust. The Palestinian authorities are still praising this collaborator of the Nazis.
The partition and independence of the State of Israel
After World War II, the Arabs of Palestine rejected the UN-approved partition of the territory and invaded Israel the day after its independence, May 15, 1948, because they wanted a single Arab state in the entire Middle East. Israel won that war, despite which it ended up ceding, unilaterally, the territories of Gaza and the West Bank to the Palestinian Arabs. To this must be added that today 1.8 million Arabs live in Israel, most of them Muslims (with a minority of Christians), who are full citizens.
Following the 1948 war, Egypt continued to claim the Gaza Strip as its own until 1979 and Jordan did the same to the West Bank until 1988, showing that prior to that time Israel’s neighboring Arab countries had little real interest in declaring a Independent Palestinian state.
Arabs began calling themselves ‘Palestinians’ with the decline of pan-Arabism
In turn, and moved by nationalist tendencies, the Arabs of Palestine began to call themselves “Palestinians” especially since the 1960s, to present themselves as the original inhabitants of what had been called the British Mandate of Palestine and when Pan-Arabism went into decline, especially accentuated after a new defeat of Arab countries against Israel in the 1967 Six Day War. In 1964 the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was founded, which in its first decades of existence set out to destroy to the State of Israel through the practice of terrorism. The PLO did not recognize the existence of the State of Israel until 1993. To this day the terrorist group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, still does not recognize Israel.