There are many competing claims at play in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but the simple question of who was here first, as childish as it might sound, remains central to the contest.
That is precisely why, in addition to leveling all sorts of other accusations at Israel, the Palestinian Authority is engaged in an effort to invent a new historical narrative that puts the Palestinians in the land long before the Hebrews ever arrived from Egypt.
If, as the Palestinians also claim, they are part of the wider Arab world, then this new narrative is easily debunked by any number of historical documentation and archeological finds. And yet, it is catching on at an alarming rate with those who would likely consider themselves cognizant of regional history.
One of the latest proponents of what can only reasonably be labeled a “fairytale” is chief Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat, who told a diplomatic gathering in Munich last month that his particular tribe had been residents of Jericho thousands of years before the arrival of Joshua Ben Nun, the Israelite leader following Moses.
In a thorough expose, Ambassador Alan Baker of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs picked apart Erekat’s assertion and those like it.
In summary, Baker noted that Erekat’s own genealogy, which is easily researched, puts his ancestral Huweitat tribe back in the Arabian peninsula as recently as the 19th century. Only after the Jews began returning to the land en masse did the Huweitat tribe take up residence near Jericho, Jerusalem and other parts of what are now Israel and Jordan.
“Several leading scholars of Middle Eastern studies and Islamic history have confirmed that the Palestinians do not have ancient roots in the area and are trying to invent origins for themselves that predate the Jewish people’s presence,” wrote Baker.
By contrast, “the historical presence of the Jewish people in the ‘Holy Land’ is well-documented, not only in the scriptures of all three monotheistic religions, and visible in extensive archeological remains, but also in historic writings by early Greek, Roman, pagan, and other visitors to the area,” he continued.
Baker’s full essay on the topic is well worth a read. Click here to do so.