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Monday 16 October 2023

Palestine Was Never A Nation?


Image: Unsplash

People who say there was never a Palestine or Palestinians, sound like this to those of us who know world history:

"There never was a nation of Australia. It was simply a colony of Britain, that was taken from Indigenous tribes in the 18th century. There were no Australians, there never was an Australia. It was simply a vastly empty land which was mostly unused and left barren. We decided to put it to good use. The people calling themselves "Australians", in the Queensland, NSW's and Victorian city camps are merely refusing to integrate into the southern continent of the Middle Kingdom. They are just the sad lost counsins of Britain that refuse to face the reality of the 21st century world."

Chinese Diplomat, 2084. Standing out the front of The CCP head quarters in AustraChina. This is how you sound when you say Palestine never existed and was never a nation. 

But Palestine is a nation:

“There are people who wrongly, but adamantly, say Palestine never existed as a nation. Many who say this know that Palestine is an ancient designation of the land of Canaan, that originates from the Greeks, and derives from Philistine. They also are aware that the Romans renamed the province of Judea, Syria Palaestina (Palestine) after another large rebellion of the Jews was defeated in 132 AD. Of course, those who recognize the Philistines as ancient invaders into the land of Israel, are not keen to ascribe the name Palestine to the land they consider to be the right of the Israelites. So, many who hold this view easily fall for the statement that Palestine was never a nation. But this is incorrect, for most of the A.D. era a people lived in the province of Palestine, first mostly Christian, then Christian and Arab Muslim, then mostly Muslim, but still many were and are Christian. They had survived different invasions, wars, shifts of Empire from Rome, to Byzantium, to Arab Muslim Empires, then a large Turkish Muslim empire. Many converted to Islam over time, some held onto their ancient Christian heritage. They built churches, some as ancient, almost, as Christianity itself, some built mosques, also very ancient.”[1]

These people were Palestinians, as I explain in that piece. I understand why people make the assertion “Palestine never existed”. They are under a mental, and sometimes religious, spell which causes them to ignore or excuse information which completely contradicts their understanding of the region. To some degree we are all susceptible to these kinds of “word spells”. But many of them can be dissipated by a broader understanding of history.

I would also encourage someone to pick up a map of Europe from the mid-19th century, then the early 20th century, then the mid-20th century and then again today and observe that Palestine is older than some of the other nations on that map, at least as a nation state[2]. It would also be beneficial to look over some ancient maps of Europe and Asia and observe how many ancient countries no longer exist that lasted for far longer as political entities than Australia has as either a colony or as a nation state. 

Here are a couple of maps to illustrate this:

Above: A Map of Napoleon’s Empire in 1810, and wider Europe.

Below: A Map of Europe in 1991.

Notice the vast differences in the countries named across Europe? 

Maps are constantly changing because nations rise and fall and some become empires and some become slaves of other Empires. That Palestine is now called Israel, and that Palestine was a province in several empires, does not mean Palestine was never a nation. Nations are often formed when empires collapse. Just spend some time looking at maps online and you will observe how often they change and how quickly and drastically, especially when empires fall. What is now a collection of different Arab nations in the Middle East was not that long ago the Ottoman Empire, new nations have risen in the place of that multinational state, among them one called Palestine. The same thing happened in Europe when the Roman Empire fell, and the various Holy Roman Empires fell. It is the way of the world.  

Once you have spent some time looking at these maps, you can cap off your study by exploring some of the sources in the piece quoted above, so that you can see just how ancient Palestine itself is. Palestine is a nation and it has deep, historical roots in the land between the continents, as do the Jewish people. 

Be careful, also, what rhetoric you use to argue against the existence of this or that nation in this world. You might find your logic being used against you one day. It is not outside the realm of possibilities that Australia will one day soon be dominated by China, and that this could go very poorly for the Australian people. Would it not be a terrible irony if your own logic about Palestine was one day turned against you in this nation?

List of references.

[2] Though it is an impoverished state and not universally recognized, many nations do recognize it as its own legitimate country.

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