Questions to ask regarding “Palestine”

Ed. Note: This is part one of a two-part article originally titled “Eighteen Questions to Ask the Next Secretary of State. The author, Dr. William Welty, is the Executive Director of the ISV foundation and also serves as Research Analyst in Advanced Communication Technologies and Adjunct Professor of Middle Eastern Studies on the faculty of Koinonia Institute. The opinions expressed in the article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Koinonia Institute.

Ever since President Jimmy Carter left the White House, the conservative, evangelical Christian community in the United States has experienced one frustration after another about the so-called Two State Solution being proposed as a misguided means to solve the Israeli-Arab conflict in the Middle East. “The Palestinians need their own home!” say the pro-Palestinian factions, who also just happen to be virulently anti-Zionist (read that “anti-Israel”, or more accurately, “anti-Semitic”) in their true nature.

All of the discussions about a so-called “Two State Solution” for the “Palestinian Problem”—all of them!—are founded on a single presuppositional error. That error concerns the very definition of the term “Palestinian” with respect to the people and the term “Palestine” with respect to the land. So let’s try to shed some light on both of these terms by asking some fundamental questions that could have been asked and should have been answered decades ago by just about any entry-level Department of State bureaucrat who fancied himself on a career track to diplomatic stardom. The way America’s foreign policy has degraded since President Carter left office makes me wonder if anybody has ever bothered to ask the questions that we’ve posited below.

For example, if the term for the people called “Palestinians,” and if the term being used to describe the piece of real estate now being called “Palestine”, have any existential validity on any level of discussion at all, then…

  1. When Was Palestine Founded?

By way of contrast, anybody who has completed even just an entry-level education in all things related to the Middle East knows that Israel came into existence on 14 May 1948. Muslims throughout the area celebrated this happy event by invading the nascent country in a heartbeat. But God intervened and Israel’s defence forces beat the tar out of the invaders. But can anyone name the date on the calendar on which Palestine came into existence? America has its July 4, 1776. Israel has its May 14, 1948. Nobody can point to a specific date when Palestine was founded. That’s because it never was.

  1. By Whom Was Palestine Founded?

America has its Founding Fathers. So does Israel in its modern status. But can anyone tell us who the founding fathers of Palestine were?

  1. What Were Ancient Palestine’s Borders?

Some modern states come into existence as a result of military alliances or treaties following international conflicts. America’s northern border was largely determined by a parallel of latitude a couple hundred years ago. Its southern border largely follows the Rio Grande for part of its length. North and South Korea are separated at a specific parallel of latitude, as will be Israel’s territorial borders during the future Millennial Reign of Christ. (You can read about the future borders of Israel in chapters 40–47 of the book of Ezekiel in the Bible.) But can you name the borders of Palestine? The most common answer you’ll hear is the duplicitous response, “Palestine consists of the territories illegally occupied by Israel.”

  1. Where was the Capital of Palestine?

The anti-Semitic press has reported for years that the Arabs claim Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. Trouble is, no Arabs living there before Israel got control of the city after the six-day war in 1967 ever bothered to make that claim. Now Jerusalem is claimed as the Palestinian capital as a means to create a bargaining position to solicit concessions from the Israeli and American governments.

  1. What Are Palestine’s Major Cities?

Name a single major city of Palestine…just one! I can name several Israeli major cities. Like Tel Aviv and the port at Haifa. Caesarea and Tiberius come to mind, too. But I challenge you to name even two major Palestine cities.

  1. Upon What Was Palestine’s Economy Based?

Israel’s economy is broad-based. For one thing, it’s the bread basket of the Middle East. Its technology sector is second only to Silicon Valley for being state-of-the-art. In fact, as a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgment of this rivalry, Israel’s technology sectors are concentrated in an area of Israel its residents have labeled “Silicon Wadi,” a sly reference to the seasonal rivers or brooks that are scattered throughout the land. But on what industry (other than fomenting rebellion and murder) is Palestine based?

  1. What Is Palestine’s Form of Government?

Does Palestine have a constitution such as America has? Or even a set of Common Laws such as characterized England of years past? Other than imitating western-style governments by creating the appearance of democracy while incubating graft and corruption to make these crimes involve from petty larceny into an elegant art form, I defy to you write me a cogent description of Palestinian governmental authority other than that the guy with the most guns and suicide vests wins the election debate.

  1. Antecedent to Yasser Arafat, Can You Name Even One Palestinian Leader?

The closest you can come to naming even a post-Arafat Palestinian leader is to name the mayor of a “Palestinian”-controlled enclave within Israel, if you don’t count that sham of a Parliament that passes for Muslim-style democracy in “Palestinian”-controlled areas of Israel.

  1. What was the prevalent religion of the country of Palestine?

Israel’s is Judaism, in its multi-faceted complexity. But the rest of “Palestine” is an uneasy symbiotic relationship between Catholic traditions, Eastern and Greek Orthodox traditions, with not a few Christian groups, along with various sects of Islam.

Ed. Note: This is part two of a two part article originally titled, “Eighteen Questions to Ask the Next Secretary of State.” The author Dr. William Welty is the Executive Director of the ISV foundation and also serves as research analyst in Advanced Communication Technologies and Adjunct Professor of Middle Eastern Studies on the faculty of Koinonia Institute. The opinions expressed in the article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Institute.

  1. Was Palestine ever recognized by any country whose existence, at that time or now, leaves no room for interpretation?

The short answer is “No.” Okay, we’ll acknowledge the Vatican endorsed “Palestine,” and The New York Times claimed it had done so in late June 2015 to serve as “a development the church hopes will lead to improved relations between Israel and the Palestinians.” One can view the Vatican’s motives with deep suspicion, given its provably anti-Semitic behaviour over the centuries and its history of anti-Zionist policies and actions since the early days of the Zionist movement in general and the formation of Israel in 1948 in particular. On 30 October 2014, The New York Times noted Sweden had recognized Palestine, an action which drew harsh criticism from Israel because Sweden’s actions could be interpreted as a green light for more anti-Israel activity by the U.N. and by other members of the EU.

  1. What was the language of Palestine?

Modern Israelis speak Hebrew, the language of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, with a few modern refinements helped along by Eliezer ben Yehuda a 19th century rabbi who singlehandedly was responsible for the resurrection of biblical Hebrew from the academic graveyard of forgotten scholarship into its modern status as a living language. The language of Palestine? There isn’t a native language. Non-Israelis speak Hebrew, English, Arabic, and sometimes a little French thrown in to confuse things a bit. The Arabic dialects used to be distinctively Egyptian and/or Jordanian, but today the language reflects the syncretistic nature of the diverse cultures that have invaded Israel since 1948.

  1. What is the name of Palestine’s currency?

This one’s really a trick question. That’s because there isn’t one. Never has been. (Ed. The currency generally used in both Israel and Palestine is the New Israeli Shekel.)

  1. Pick any date in history, what was the approximate exchange rate of the Palestinian monetary unit against the U.S. dollar, the European euro, the British pound, the Japanese yen, the Chinese yuan?
    This is a trick question, too. Since “Palestine” has no currency today, and never has had a currency, there has never been an exchange rate against which to compare the relative values of the currencies.
  2. Since there is no country of “Palestine” today, when did its demise occur?

The closest one can get to crafting an answer to this question is to assume the term “Palestine” was defined from the ancient Romans, who invaded and destroyed Israel in 70 A.D., renamed the area Palestinia, and renamed Jerusalem as Aeolia Capitolina. But then again, the only thing left in the land by that time was destruction.

  1. Since there is no country of “Palestine” today, what caused its demise?

Palestine never had a cause for its demise because it never got started as a country. The closest one can get to defining the cause of its demise, as noted above, is the destruction of the land in 70 A.D. by the Romans.

  1. If “Palestinians” are only generic Arabs collected from all over — or thrown out of — the Arab world, and
  2. If “Palestinians” really have a genuine ethnic identity that gives them the right for self-determination, then …
  3. Why did the “Palestinians” never try to become independent until Arabs suffered their devastating defeat in the 1967 Six-Day War?

These final three questions have a single basic root answer common to each question. Jordan was created under the Hashemite kings following World War I, when a country full of Arab Muslims was created from the remains of the Ottoman Empire. Today, they are deemed not to be Palestinians, but Jordan is full of “Palestinians.” In the decades after the end of World War I, Jordan seized parts of Israel and annexed them. Today, this incontrovertible fact of history has to be denied because otherwise the mandate for a “Palestinian State” collapses. However, sometimes the truth slips out. For example:

  • Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has described Jordanian and Palestinian Arabs as “one people living in two states,” during a meeting with the head of the Jordan Football Association.
  • Bethlehem-based Maan News cited the Jordanian al-Ghad newspaper as saying Abbas arrived in Jordan from Doha, along with several other senior PA officials, including its intelligence chief Majid Faraj.
  • The Arabic-language Al-Quds (Ed. The Arabic name for Jerusalem) news outlet directly quoted Abbas, who “stressed that the relationship between Jordan and Palestine is the relationship of ‘one people living in two states.’”
  • Abbas added, “This relationship will not be affected by anything.”

Hamas Foreign Minister Fathi Hammad has been quoted as observing:

Personally, half my family is Egyptian. We are all like that. More than 30 families in the Gaza Strip are called Al-Masri [‘Egyptian’]. Brothers, half of the Palestinians are Egyptians and the other half are Saudis. Who are the Palestinians? We have many families called Al-Masri, whose roots are Egyptian. Egyptian! They may be from Alexandria, from Cairo, from Dumietta, from the North, from Aswan, from Upper Egypt. We are Egyptians. We are Arabs. We are Muslims. We are a part of you.

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