Chapter 2

The prophet Jeremiah 16:14-18 speaks of Israel receiving a "double of punishment" before they are regathered to their Land (16:14-18). This double would be a period equal to their prior period of favor with God. Jeremiah also observed that during this double of punishment the Land of Israel would become relatively desolate of man and beast (33:10-16).

PLO Chairman Yassir Arafat in his speech before the UN in 1974 declared, "The Jewish invasion began in 1881 . . . Palestine was then a verdant area, inhabited mainly by an Arab people in the course of building its life and dynamically enriching its indigenous culture."

Financed by the oil rich Arab States, Arafat has conducted a worldwide propaganda campaign to convince the world community that the Holy Land has for centuries sustained a thriving Palestinian culture.

What happens when this claim is compared with the personal observations of the following recognized authorities? In 1738 Thomas Shaw observed a land of "barrenness . . . from want of inhabitants."1 In 1785 Constantine Francois de Volney recorded the population of the three main cities. Jerusalem had a population of 12,000 to 14,000. Bethlehem had about 600 able-bodied men. Hebron had 800 to 900 men.2 In 1835 Alphonse de Lamartine wrote, "Outside the city of Jerusalem, we saw no living object, heard no living sound...a complete eternal silence reigns in the town, in the highways, in the country.... The tomb of a whole people."3

In 1857, the British consul in Palestine, James Finn, reported, "The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is that of a body of population." This historic observation is a remarkable confirmation of the Biblical predictions that during Israel's "double" period of time of punishment and dispersion, the Lord would cause the Land to become desolate of man and beast (Jeremiah 33:10; Zechariah 10:12; Jeremiah 16:14-18). No wonder by 1857 it was just waiting for "a body of population!"4 In the Lord's providence this needed body of population-the Jewish people-began to return after 1878 at the end of their Scriptural period of His disfavor.

The most popular quote on the desolation of the Land is from Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad (1867), "Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies....Palestine is desolate and unlovely.... It is a hopeless, dreary, heartbroken land."

The records of history confirm the Biblical predictions that during the Jewish dispersion and "double" of God's disfavor, the Land of Israel would become desolate awaiting the return of the Jewish people when its period of disfavor ended in 1878. The records of history simply do not confirm today's Palestinian claim of Palestinian roots and culture in a "verdant area" since the Arab rule of the land (A.D. 640-1099).

The Romans had changed the name of the Land of Israel to "Palestine." From A.D. 640 until the 1960s, Arabs referred to this same Land as "Southern Syria." Arabs only started calling the Land "Palestine" in the 1960s. Until about the eighteenth century, the Christian world called this same Land, "The Holy Land." Thereafter, they used two names: "The Holy Land" and "Palestine." When the League of Nations in 1922 gave Great Britain the mandate to prepare Palestine as a national home for the Jewish people, the official name of the Land became "Palestine"—and remained so until the rebirth of the Israeli State in 1948. During this very period, the leaders of the Arabs in the Land, however, called themselves Southern Syrians and clamored that the Land become a part of a "Greater Syria." This "Arab Nation" would include Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Transjordan as well as Palestine. An observation in Time magazine well articulated how the Palestinian identity was born so belatedly in the 1960s:5

Golda Meir once argued that there was no such thing as a Palestinian; at the time, she wasn't entirely wrong. Before Arafat began his proselytizing, most of the Arabs from the territory of Palestine thought of themselves as members of an all-embracing Arab nation. It was Arafat who made the intellectual leap to a definition of the Palestinians as a distinct people; he articulated the cause, organized for it, fought for it and brought it to the world's attention....

If there was an Arab Palestinian culture, a normal population increase over the centuries would have been expected. But with the exception of a relatively few families, the Arabs had no attachment to the Land. If Arabs from southern Syria drifted into Palestine for economic reasons, within a generation or so the cultural tug of Syria or other Arab lands would pull them back. This factor is why the Arab population average remained low until the influx of Jewish financial investments and Jewish people in the late 1800s made the Land economically attractive. Then sometime between 1850 and 1918, the Arab population shot up to 560,000. Not to absolve the Jews but to defend British policy, the not overfriendly British secretary of state for the colonies Malcolm MacDonald, declared in the House of Commons (November 24, 1938), "The Arabs cannot say that the Jews are driving them out of the country. If not a single Jew had come to Palestine after 1918, I believe the Arab population of Palestine would still have been around 600,000..."6

Jewish contributions and Jewish immigration continued to flow into the Land. The Jews created industry, agriculture, hospitals—a complete socioeconomic infrastructure. As job opportunities increased, so did Arab immigration. In fact, in 1939 President Roosevelt observed that "Arab immigration into Palestine since 1921 has vastly exceeded the total Jewish immigration during this whole period."7 For one specific example, in 1934 between 30,000 and 36,000 Arabs from the Hauran Province in Syria left for "the better life" in Palestine.8

On the other hand, Great Britain's White Paper of 1939 closed the doors of Jewish immigration to their Land. Simultaneously, there was a large-scale Arab immigration to the new Land of opportunity during World War II. In 1946 Bartley C. Crum, a United States Government observer, noted that tens of thousands of Arabs had entered Palestine because of this better life—and they were still coming.10

Because Arabs until the 1960s spoke of Palestine as Southern Syria or part of Greater Syria, in 1919 the General Syrian Congress stated, "We ask that there should be no separation of the southern part of Syria, known as Palestine."11 In 1939 George Antonius noted the Arab view of Palestine in 1918:12

Faisal's views about the future of Palestine did not differ from those of his father and were identical with those held then by the great majority of politically-minded Arabs. The representative Arab view was substantially that which King Husain [Grand Sherif of Mecca, the great grandfather of the current King Hussein of Jordan] had expressed to the British January 1918. In the Arab view, Palestine was an Arab territory forming an integral part of Syria.

Referring to the same Arab view of Palestine in 1939, George Antonius spoke of "the whole of the country of that name [Syria] which is now split up into mandated territories..."13 His lament was that France's mandate over Syria did not include Palestine which was under Britain's mandate.

As late as May 1947, Arab representatives reminded the United Nations in a formal statement, "Palestine is a... part of the Province of Syria.... Politically, the Arabs of Palestine were not independent in the sense of forming a separate political entity."14

On May 31, 1956, Ahmed Shukairy had no hesitation, as current head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, in announcing to the Security Council the observation, "It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria."15

Syrian President Hafez Assad once told PLO leader Yassir Arafat:16

You do not represent Palestine as much as we do. Never forget this one point: There is no such thing as a Palestinian People, there is no Palestinian entity, there is only Syria. You are an integral part of the Syrian people, Palestine is an integral part of Syria. Therefore it is we, the Syrian authorities, who are the true representatives of the Palestinian people.

Assad stated on March 8, 1974, "Palestine is a principal part of Southern Syria, and we consider that it is our right and duty to insist that it be a liberated partner of our Arab homeland and of Syria."17

In the words of the late military commander of the PLO as well as member of the PLO Executive Council, Zuhair Muhsin:18

There are no differences between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. We are all part of one nation. It is only for political reasons that we carefully underline our Palestinian identity....yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity serves only tactical purposes. The founding of a Palestinian state is a new tool in the continuing battle against Israel [emphasis ours].

The following are significant observations by Christians of the Arabs in Palestine in the 1800s:19

The Arabs themselves, who are its inhabitants, cannot be considered but temporary residents. They pitched their tents in its grazing fields or built their places of refuge in its ruined cities. They created nothing in it. Since they were strangers to the land, they never became its masters. The desert wind that brought them hither could one day carry them away without their leaving behind them any sign of their passage through it.

Stephen Olin, D.D., L.L.D., called one of the most noted of American theologians-after his extensive travels in the Middle East-wrote of the Arabs in Palestine "...with slight exceptions they are probably all descendants of the old inhabitants of Syria."20

The most authoritative Arab statement, however, as to whom the Holy Land belongs is found in the Koran, the Islamic Scriptures:21

The fact is that the Koran agrees with the Bible that God (Allah) made a covenant with the Sons of Israel and assigned the Holy Land to the Jews (See the Koran, Sura V, "The Table"). The Koran also describes the land given to the Jews as "blessed" and foresees a return of Israel to their land at the end of days.

These testimonies confirm the Christian Scriptures that God gave the Land to the Jewish people as an everlasting possession. The relatively few Arabs who wandered into the Land between A.D. 670-1878 were but temporary dwellers. The truer perspective of history reveals that the large recent influx of Arabs that paralleled the regathering of Jews has no historic rootage in the Land.

Before Jewish immigration and Jewish investments spawned massive Arab immigration, Arabs were actually leaving Palestine. Then the flow of traffic reversed. "...Palestine changed from a country of Arab emigration to one of Arab immigration. Arabs from the Hauran in Syria as well as other neighboring lands poured into Palestine to profit from the higher standard of living and fresh opportunities provided by the Zionist pioneers."22 This phenomenon is confirmed by the Palestine Royal Commission Report which observed that in the period between the Balfour Declaration and the United Nations Partition Resolution of 1947, Palestine became a land of Arab immigration.23 As further documented by Ernst Frankenstein, substantial Arab immigration was a recent phenomenon:24

The early "lovers of Zion" began the stimulation of Arab immigration. Some writers have come out with the conclusion that in 1942, 75 percent of the Arab population were either immigrants or descendants of immigrants into Palestine during the preceding one hundred years, mainly after 1882.

Indeed, the verdict of history does more than confirm the Prophets that the population of the Land of Israel would be minimal until the "double" of Israel's disfavor ended in 1878 when the regathering of the Jewish exiles began (Jeremiah 33:10; Zechariah 10:12 and Jeremiah 16:14-18). The record of history testifies that the great influx of Arabs also began after that date.

These facts of history explain why the United Nations needed to develop a definition that a "Palestinian Refugee" is any Arab who had been in "Palestine" for only two years.25 This U.N. definition, in fact, is incompatible with the assumption that the Arab Palestinian roots go back one or two thousand years. The Jews themselves have dominated the Land called "Palestine" for the past two millennia. The Jews themselves are as much "Palestinian" as the Arabs who claim to be Palestinians. If any population has a right to the name Palestinian (if they wanted it), it would be the Jews whose ancestors had their Land renamed "Palestine."

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4