A Primer on the Middle East
The Arab – Israeli Conflict
What's Everybody Fighting Over?
By Scott Rohter, October 2011
The Philistines, the Phoenicians, and the Canaanites are not the only peoples that have disappeared from history. The Minoans, the Hitites, the Sumerians, the Akkadians, the Babylonians, the Assyrians, and even the ancient Egyptians have all disappeared from history! The people who occupy Egypt today are mostly the descendants of the desert dwelling Arabs, who have been transplanted there after the Muslim conquests of North Africa. They are not related to the ancient Egyptians, who prior to their defeat by the armies of Mohammad had developed a civilization there without equal that lasted for over five thousand years! The ancient Egyptians were not a Semitic people like the Arabs who live there today! They were a Hamitic people descended from Ham just like the Philistines and the Phoenicians. The Arabs who live there today are not related ethnically, culturally, historically, or linguistically to the ancient Egyptians. The ancient Egyptians have also disappeared from history just like the Philistines, or at least their culture, language, and civilization has. We can only read about these Egyptians in history books!
If you pay close attention, you might learn something that you didn't know before about the conflicted history of the Middle East. The Hebrews, which is an English word, derived from the ancient word 'Ebrim', or 'Evrim', moved into the area occupied primarily by the Canaanites, and the Philistines, and over the succeeding years they subdued these tribes and created their own civilization and culture there, which thrived for over a thousand years, until they were conquered by the Babylonians, and forcibly removed from their country! But they returned and rebuilt their little kingdom and their civilization, under the reign of the Persian King Darius. After their return they enjoyed almost another 1000 years of near sovereignty, until another foreign occupier came along in the form of the Romans, and conquered them once again, and this time they were subjugated after a very bloody rebellion in which approximately one half of the Jews were killed, and the other half were enslaved and driven out of their land!
As a further punishment for their rebellion, the Romans renamed the land on of all their maps, which had previously been known for thousands of years as Judea and Samaria. Instead, they called it Philistia, or Palestina, to forever sever the connection between that land and its Jewish inhabitants! They named it after the Jew's chief rivals, the Philistines. There were not very many Philistines left, just as there were no more Phoenicians or Canaanites! But ever since then, the name of that general area of the world has been referred to as Palestine, which is an English translation of the Greek word Palestina or Philistia. It comes to us from the Hebrew word Pelesheth. Many years later the Persians, and then the Arabs, and the Turks, and the British subsequently took turns at occupying this part of the world. But there never was an independent Arab country called Palestine in that part of the world, where the ancient Jewish Kingdoms had been, or anywhere else for that matter! The Romans sowed salt over the land as was their custom, which made it largely unproductive. For hundreds of years it was merely a geographical area that was designated Palestine on the maps, following the Roman tradition. It remained largely a desolate and forgotten waste land under Roman, Persian, Arab, Turkish, and finally British occupation all the way up until the mid-twentieth century. During all of this time, both Jews and Arabs lived there together, in small numbers. And there never was a sovereign country established there again, until the return of the Jews in large numbers during and after World War II, and the re-creation of their ancient Biblical homeland in 1948. The new name that was chosen for their new country that was reborn on a small part of their ancient lands, was Israel. That name was chosen to embrace all of the returning children of the Patriarch Jacob, whose God-given name was Israel. He was the grandson of Abraham, who was also the father of the Arab people, who are my distant cousins!
One terrible consequence of the Roman conquest of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. was that in the 7th century when Mohammad lived, there were not a lot of Jews or Christians living there, nor Judeo-Christian scholars around to help mentor the young Mohammad. As a result, there were frequent misunderstandings and distrust that developed between the competing cultures and religions which has led to an almost permanent state of hostilities between Islam, and the other two Abrahamic faiths, Christianity and Judaism. Oh, if we could all just learn how to live together!
But the struggle in the Middle East is not just over culture and religion! It is also over land and water! There is not enough of either of these two precious commodities! It is a struggle over learning how to share these two vital resources. Muslims control a vast area of the world, composed of 21 different countries which is larger than the United States of America, or China, and almost as large as Russia! It stretches from China on the east, to Spain on the west, and from Bulgaria on the north, to Nigeria on the south. And it includes islands in Indonesia and the Indian Ocean as well. There is already a country that is home to the Arabs of former Palestine! That country is called Jordan! It is part of their traditional tribal homeland. Arabs are desert dwelling people. Seventy percent of Jordanians are Palestinian Arabs! It is more logical to change the name of Jordan to Palestine, then it is to further divide and destroy the tiny little, unique nation of Israel. The logical boundary line between Palestine and Israel should be the Jordan River, not some random line drawn over hill and dale right through the heart of Israel (which is the West Bank), in order to comply with unreasonable United Nations demands! No Arabs need to be displaced from the region, and they don’t even need to move more than fifty miles, until we can all learn how to get along with one another.
Why can’t the Arabs of the Middle East find some room in their hearts, to welcome their cousins, the Jews back to their home? Why can’t they make room in one of their twenty-one different countries to accommodate a few million more Arabs? It seems rather selfish to me, and stingy, considering the fact that Arabs occupy such a vast swath of the earth’s surface and control such a large amount of the Earth's natural resources that they can’t even make room for a small, non-Arab, non-Muslim presence in their midst, and allow such a small country to exist in peace as a sovereign nation! They should try to be a little more like their patriarch Esau, who welcomed his cousin Jacob back to the land after a long absence, rather than the bunch of Jew-haters that they really are! After all, they actually did move in and occupy Jewish land in their absence, and they took over territory that didn’t rightfully belong to them, after the Diaspora and the Roman conquest of the Jews in 70 A.D. And no matter how long they continue to occupy this land, it wasn't rightfully theirs to take in the first place.
And just to make my point even more clear, my maternal great grandmother's maiden name was Rubinsky, which means that she was a Polish Jew who traced her ancestry all the way back to the tribe of Rueben. The land that belonged to the tribe of Rueben is occupied today by Palestinians in present day Jordan! The Jews of Israel don't want Jordan back, but they should at least be able to have a defensible country on one side of the Jordan River that is not divided in two! They need a country that is not fragmented, or cut in half by unreasonable United Nations demands, just in order to please my very wealthy and greedy cousins!
"A journalist has no better friend than the truth." - Scott Rohter