Monday, June 13, 2011

Is "Palestine" Separate and Distinct from Syria?

The question whether there exists a separate and distinct "Palestinian" national ethos has been pondered and debated for decades.  Certain Arabs, left-wing loonies and anti-Zionists of course assert there is such a separate group.

I don't think they are a specific unique national grouping. I can't conceive that the Arabs between the Mediterranean Sea and the Green Line are "Israeli Arabs", that those between the Green Line and the Jordan River are "Palestinians" and from the river east are "Jordanians".

Well, it seems that long, long ago, before political Zionism, other Arabs thought so and considered "Palestine" as a region within Syria:

That came from the book, Bayt al-Maqdis: Abd al -Malik's Jerusalem (and special thanks to Challah Hu Akbar).

The Arabs arrived, as conquerors and occupiers, in the Land of Israel which the Romans had renamed "Palastina" in 135 CE, in the year 638 CE and one hundred years later, a major Muslim thinker still knew that "Palestine" was within "Syria".  In fact, the Assad family now in Syria and currently killing off hundreds  think that, too.  They believe in a "Greater Syria".

I always thought it odd that Arabs speaking Arabic would call gtheir "native national homeland" by its Latin name.

Don't you?



Suzanne Pomeranz said...

What's interesting to note is that the modern state of Syria has nothing to do (except for some territory) with the ancient region of Syria. While I don't usually defer to Wikipedia, in this case, the information posted is quite good -
But don't let the title confuse you as it has nothing to do with the current State of Syria's designs on the rest of the region.

In fact, there are only 3 modern countries in the Middle East/ Levant/Syrian (REGION) that continue to maintain their ancient names: Egypt, Israel and The Lebanon. The others (Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, etc.) were all created after World War I.

Morey Altman said...

A more recent source, but one that is concurrent with the modern Zionist movement, is The Historical Geography of the Holy Land (1896) by George Adam Smith. This text was considered so authoritative in the late 19th/early 20th c. that General Allenby carried a copy with him during the British conquest of Palestine. The first chapter is appropriately enough labelled: "Chapter 1, the Place of SYRIA in the World's History."

"The name Palaistine, which Josephus himself uses only of Philistia, was employed by the Greeks to distinguish all Southern Syria, inclusive of Judaea, from Phoenicia and Coele-Syria. They called it Syria Palaistina, using the word as an adjective, and then Palaistin^, the noun alone. From this the Romans got their Palestina, which in the second century was a separate province, and later on divided into Palestina Prima, Secunda, Tertia." 1

In other words, historically, geographically and ethnoculturally, Palestine was considered a province of Syria by the Greeks, but a separate province by the Romans AFTER the destruction of Judea. That political distinction ended with their empire and writers continued to speak of Syria as the geographic entity. There was never any unique political development in the territory and, indeed, as Arab nationalism developed during and following the First World War, its primary political opposition came from Syrian nationalists. There were no Palestinian nationalists to speak of. It was only because the Palestinian Arab notables were rejected by their Syrian associates that the idea of a separate movement began, and even then, it was almost solely a means of continuing the power-base of the notables. 2


2. The Origins of Palestinian Nationalism by Muhammad Y. Muslih

Juniper in the Desert said...

There is no P in arabic, so if they cannot even pronounce the word, which is not arabic either, how can they lay claim to the land? Apart from in terms of izlamic conquest?
Filistin is their word, filistines they are!

Anonymous said...

Yes, Juniper, it comes out Filastin.


You can consult the article below on the use of terms like "palaestina" and Syria, etc. The Greeks and Romans called the land of Israel Judea [IVDAEA] from the time of Alexander's conquest --if not before-- until the defeat of Bar Kokhba [135 CE] when Hadrian changed it to Syria Palaestina. Judea was officially a province separate from Syria, although Syria as a broad ill-defined geographic notion included Judea/Israel. The Arabs had a district called Filastin after their conquest although this district DID NOT include all of Israel/Judea. It was only the Roman district of Palaestina Prima mentioned by Geo Adam Smith. After the Crusades, the Arabs, Turks [including Mamluks and Ottomans] did not use the term Filastin. See the article: