By Walid Shoebat
The moment one discusses the Israeli Palestinian conflict, the conversation will soon turn sour arguing over maps and borders and how “the Palestinian people are the indigenous Arabs whose land recently got robbed by greedy, land grabbing, colonialist Zionists.” Zionists in turn would point to the oldest maps showing the Jewish names of towns and cities while Arabs say that it was Zionists and religiously motivated Biblicist zealots who made such maps. They would refer to maps dating back to the Ottoman era in the late 19th century pointing to the Arabic names of cities and towns like Ramallah ‘the Mount of Allah’ and Umm el-Fahm, ‘Mother of Coal’ and Tekoa ‘tent’ and Bettir. They gladly flash their Muftah ‘key’ to their old house that was confiscated by Zionists.
Even if we settle the arguments by using modern maps approved by Palestinians, the majority of the names of the towns are still Hebrew, which if we investigate will end us up writing an entire dictionary of what Arabs etymologically evolved the Hebrew names to sound Arabic. For example, Tel Aviv became Tal Al-Rabi’ the Hill of Spring. Nazareth from the Hebrew Netzer ‘branch’ was simply tweaked to the Arabic Al-Naserah ‘The Victorious’. Galilee is from the Hebrew Gâlîyl ‘circle’ and is not al-Jaleel which is an Arabic word for mighty. Hebron (Hevron) was simply translated to the Arabic Al-Khalil ‘the friend’. The villages nearby Jerusalem and Bethlehem like Al-Ayzarieh are Hebrew ‘Azaraiah’, Al-Obeidieh is Hebrew for ‘Obadiah’ (servant of G-d) and Ta’amreh is Hebrew ‘Tamar’, King David’s daughter.
What about Kafr Yasif, Kafr Kana, Kafr Yatta, Kafr Manda and Kafr Samia? These remained purely Hebrew just as Tekoa, which means ‘stockade’ and not ‘tent’ as Arabs claim. Bettir ‘cleft’ is Jewish, which we still can find Tel Betar, which Arabs still call it Khirbet el-Yahud.
The Arabic, Khirbet el-Macan (Maon) is from the Hebrew Macon, Khirbet el-Karmil is Carmel. Tell Zif is from the Hebrew Ziph. The Arab sites are located where Eusebius listed the biblical sites in his Onomasticon, written in the fourth century A.D. Tel el-Nasbeh is tweaked from Mitspeh, Hebrew for ‘overlook’. Betunia is not the ‘House of Tony’, as the official Palestinian website calls it but the Hebrew name Bet-El the House of G-d. This correction restores its dignity and heritage.
Al-Quds, or Beit el-Maqdis as all Muslims call it, stems from the Hebrew Beit ha-miqdash, ‘house of the holy place,’ referring to what housed the Holy of Holies, the Jewish Temple and can never be referring to the city or the Al-Aqsa mosque unless of course one deliberately chooses to be ignorant of real history.
Even my village Beit Sahour in the Bethlehem district, if we take the name literally as Arabic, it becomes the House of Witchcraft. Would the Arabs accept this? The only alternative then is to keep its original Hebrew Beit Sahour or Beit Sahar the House of the Dawn. Ophrah is Hebrew for ‘Fawn’. In the Arabic Ophra ends up meaning demon, which is why the Arabs changed it to el-Tayibeh ‘the good place’.
Bethlehem is comprised of two Hebrew words, Beit (house) and Lechem (bread) House of Bread where King David was born, and not Beit Lachmu, a reference to a Canaanite pagan deity, which is what Palestinian propagandists say. This insults everyone be it Arab or Jew. Israeli archaeologists found the earliest evidence of Bethlehem’s existence in a Jerusalem dig and its in Hebrew script, not Arabic.
Besides old maps, which confirm a Jewish existence in the land, countless websites in the Arabic well document that Palestinians are of a recent origin and are hardly ancient as claimed. All one has to do is plug the name of their favorite Palestinian town in Arabic and access trusted archives instead of the propaganda. I tried a few. I plugged in Arabic Umm el-Fahm in Google.com, their official website documents the origins of the clans living there being from Egypt who immigrated there a little over a century ago mostly in 1831 and 1858 during the invasion of Ali Pasha.
What is probably shocking to novices that rely on the fast-food style media for their information is that when it comes to the Palestinian people’s origin, Palestinians themselves confirm western historians of there recent arrival during the 19th century and they admit that they are not from Arabia. So we can trust DeHass one of the foremost experts on the subject who links the origin of the Palestinians as:
“Balkans, Greeks, Syrians, Latins, Egyptians, Turks, Armenians, Italians, Persians, Kurds, Germans, Afghans, Circassians, Bosnians, Sudaneese, Samaritans, Algerians, Motawila, Tartars, Hungarians, Scots, Navarese, Bretons, English, Franks, Ruthenians, Bohemians, Bulgarians, Georgians, Syrians, Persian Nestorians, Indians, Copts, Maronites, and many other” (DeHass, History, p. 258. John of Wuzburg list from Reinhold Rohricht edition, pp. 41, 69).
For example, if we research Bethlehem’s Christian inhabitants from Arabic sources we will find that they are of an Italian heritage, not Arab. Just to prove the point, I even found one in English:
“… during the crusades two Italian Noblemen were sent by the Pope to take back the Holy Land from the Mohammedans. These two brothers were from a family named Monteforte … After Bethlehem was conquered by the Christian soldiers these two brothers were ordered by the Pope to stay in Bethlehem and safeguard the Holy Places. They married two local girls (some people say Jewish Girls) and lived in Bethlehem where the house was in front of the Church of the Nativity … these became the Tarajmeh (translators) as their name is known today.”
They even give the list of all the families descending from these two Italians that married two local Jewish girls proudly expressing how deep Jewish blood runs in their veins. Jews also lived there from time immemorial and so many of the so-called Arabs even identify with Jewish, not Arab heritage.
If I research my own village out of hundreds of official township websites that fill the Internet in Arabic, they all say the same thing; we came recently from surrounding nations and very few are Arab. Beith Sahour, a Story and History includes all clans, dates and country of origin. The villages’ first handful individuals came according to the archive “Because of the injustice and religious persecution in the time of Turkish rule” and not Zionist persecution. It was during the nineteenth century that the rest poured in:
“After a century from 1735, then came the Marashda from Rushda in Upper Egypt as Christian pilgrims and also came to settle were the Khayr family and Bannoura. From the same town was also the family of Awad … In the same period came the Kukali clan from Syria and lived with the Awad family. In the same period also came to Beit Sahour the Shoebat family and Jibran from the Shobak in Jordan”.
Ramallah like Beit Sahour was a sanctuary for another handful of Christians by Rashid Haddadin who came from the same region in Shobak in southern Jordan with his five sons when Rashid refused to marry his daughter to a Muslim. Even the name Ramallah in the Ottoman map as the archives explain was not Arabic but Crusader Ramalieh, a small ruin from an agricultural colony. There was no “Ram” or “Allah” in the original name. The archives give us the next wave of immigrants who came to Ramallah was in 1825 and not thousands of years ago:
“in the year 1825 as came [to Ramallah] the displaced Christians of the clan of Rabdah of Jebel Ajlun [Jordan] and is why they are called Ajlouni.”
Many will argue that Egyptians, Syrians and Moroccans are Arabs anyway, due to the Islamic Arabization of the region. If this is true, then ask the Muslim Turks and the Muslim Persians if they would not mind being called Arabs. These are proud to be non-Arab. The bottom line then is not Zionism, which simply says, “Jews go home” but Islamization, Arabization and Islamic Imperialism.
So back to the original argument, who owned and still is the rightful owner of the land? The Arabs or the Jews?
Even that question is easily found in Palestinian circles. In fact, the Dictionary of Palestinian Clans distributed by ‘Arabs’ and written by Arab historian Sharab Muhammad Hassan summarize everything:
“… unlike the Arab tribes that have entered this land for the purpose of expansion ownership and control; the Jews (Banu Israel) grew up in this land since the dawn of history with their kingdoms. It was in this land in which originated their festivals, sanctuaries, heritage, culture and religion. It remained the land of the Jews and their direction of prayer and travels. It was the hotbed of their prophets and revelation. Embracing the land of Israel are Jewish cities, holy Jerusalem, Safed, Tiberias and Hebron. Zion was but a name synonymous with Jerusalem and the land of Israel. In this land, Jewish prophets and scholars wrote their books which remains a beacon, light and guidance for the Children of Israel and to all the nations after them.”
Well Put. Confession is the beginning of healing.