Wednesday, August 12, 2015

What The Connection With Palestine Is To the Arabs

Nadene Goldfoot                                                         

The homeland of the Arabs is Arabia which is the SW peninsula of Asia.  It's an area 11,027,000 square miles (2,630,000 square km) in size.  Compare that to Israel with 8,000 square miles.  This includes not only Saudi Arabia, but Yemen, Kuwait, Bahrein, Qatar, Trucial Oman on the Persian Gulf, Muscat and Oman, and S. Yemen.  Why did they ever leave this homeland?
In the 7th century, Islam was born with Mohammad (570-632) , and they were left with the command to conquer others with their religion in a true conquering fashion, not just to be evangelicals.  They established an empire covering 3 continents, from the Atlantic Ocean to the border of China.  During this time they conquered Palestine from the Byzantine Empire.

Arab rule took place from Damascus, Syria by the Omayyad dynasty which lasted about a century.  They were overthrown in 750 by the Abbasids, their bitter antagonists who governed for 2 centuries, dominated by the Persians (today's Iran), and then by the Turks.  The Abbasids were defeated by the Fatimids of Egypt and Syria, and then they had no part in the government of the empire.

Arabic became the dominant language and Islam became the predominant religion.  Social and economic discrimination was suffered by non-Moslems, so they may have converted for these reasons.  This brought about the Golden Age of Arabic culture.

As for culture otherwise,  Philip K. Hitti, PhD,  born in c1860s, Lebanese-American Maronite Christian Scholar and Arab historian, stated that they brought no tradition of learning, no heritage of culture to the lands they conquered.  They were learning from the people they had conquered.  What they contributed to society was language and religion.  Most great works in mathematics, astronomy, medicine and philosophy were translated into Arabic and so saved this way for Europe to learn about.  This translation period was followed up by original works in Arabic on all these subjects as well as on alchemy, pharmacy and geography.  However, these discoveries were by people speaking Arabic, not necessarily just the Arabs themselves.  They were by the Persians, Egyptians or Arabians, Christian, Jewish or Moslem.  I know of Jews of the period passed off as Arab writers by the Arab historians.  " He asserted that Zionism was an imposition on the Arabs of an alien way of life which they resented and to which they would never submit."  The Arabs that make up 1.7 million of Israelis today seem to be doing all right considering it is so hard on them. 
Israeli Negev Bedouin sitting on camel

 I believe that Bedouins still are able to live as Bedouins if they wish on the desert in tents and have their horses and camels.  
Bedouin Village today in distance
Palestine was simply a backwater of the great empire.  No political or cultural center ever was from there.  Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo were the centers of the Moslem empire.  Jerusalem, where a Moslem Holy Place was established on top of the ancient Jewish Temple site, never achieved any political or even cultural status until now since Israel has been created in 1948.  Jewish American children have been sending their pennies to Palestine and then to Israel to plant trees and bring back the earth to life there.
Raiding Bedouins 
The Arabs and their non-Arab successors saw Palestine as a battleground, a corridor, an outpost.  Their people saw it as a source of taxes and some manpower for waging endless foreign and internecine wars.
First Crusaders, 1097 
The Arab culture did not grow.  Immigrants from Arabia were encouraged to emigrate in the early Arab period and were given Jewish lands of Israel and Judah.  However, the population remained a mixture of people.  When the Crusaders came to Palestine after 460 years of Arab and non Arabic Moslem rule, they found Arabic-speakers made up of a dozen races apart from Jews and Druzes. Arab children sprouting red hair probably got it from Crusaders.
Christians in Jerusalem
Female Arab Christian IDF soldier of today
 They were practicing 5 kinds of Islam and 8 or 9 kinds of Christianity and of course the Jews practiced Judaism.
As the Umayyad empire passed, Arabian-ism fell but Islam continued.  Persians, Turks from Abbasid empire, Berbers and Egyptians of Fatimid empire had no interest in Palestine except for what they could take out of it for their armies or vaults of their empires. Their heads were thinking of finances; money.

After the Crusaders came the Mamluks in 1250.  Palestine was divided up to administer, just part of a conquered empire.  The people living there were exploited.  Some Arabs lived in tribal groups and collaborated with the Mamluks.  Arabs had no part of influence in the region, just being conquered subjects and were treated as such.
Jew of Ottoman Empire
Then the Ottoman Turks came along and the people of Palestine were treated no better. and had no privileges or share in government.  The Ottomans replaced Arabic with Turkish as the language of the land.  The Arabs were definitely not happy with the Turkish rulers.  Both Jews and Arabs were heavily taxed.

What the Arabs contributed now was devastation to the land of Palestine.  Warring people going through also did their share of devastating the land; the Arabs, Turks, Persians, Egyptians, Crusaders, and then the hordes of Mongols or Kharezmians, revolts of local chieftains, by civil strife, inter tribal warfare among the people.   Arabs and Bedouins would hold raids from the neighboring deserts-people seeking economic gain like pirates, where happenings in the Byzantine era.  Over 15 centuries of such people, they eroded the face of Palestine.  Read Mark Twain's "The Innocents Abroad" about his trip to the Middle East in 1867 and what Twain saw that had happened to Palestine; nothing but weeds, sand mosquitoes, and raiding Bedouins.
Transjordan became blighted and run down with the Abbasids and Fatimid era when Bedouin desecration of the land became more intense.  It was then that the land was laid wasted.

The Mamluks in the 13th century did quite a number on the land. It was even more so under the Ottoman's misrule.  Bedouin raiders would plunder livestock and destroy crops and plantations, plagued the farmer's life, and had Bedouin encampments dotting the countryside that served as bases for highway robbers on travelers, on caravans carrying merchandise, and on pilgrim cavalcades.

Count Volney in 1785, a French scholar who had also visited Egypt,  describes the Palestinian countryside and told of the Turks' negligence to keep order with them, saying that Palestine was more frequently plundered than any other in Syria because it just lied open to the Arabs.

Edward Robinson, archaeologist,  in 1838 found that hundreds of place names of villages and sites, seemingly Arab, were Arabic renditions or translations of ancient Hebrew names, biblical or Talmudic.  They called the country "Filastin" which is just the Arab transliteration of "Palestine," the name the Romans gave the country when they decided to obliterate the "presence" of the Jewish people after Bar Kokhba, the Jewish General had taken back Jerusalem for 3 years and had held off the greatest army of that day-the Romans for so long.  This Aluf of the Jews died in 135.
Jewish pioneers in 1880s cleaning out swamps from Eretz Yisrael 
Sir George Adam Smith, author of "Historical Geography of the Holy Land,"  wrote that the principle of nationality requires the Turks' dispossession.  there is no indigenous civilization in Palestine that could take the place of the Turks except that of the Jews.  The Jews have given to Palestine everything it has ever had of value to the world.  This shows that Arabs did not discover Palestine until long after the Jews had been there for ever so long.

There were some Arabs living in Palestine in the 1880's when the 5 Aliyahs happened and because of Europeans coming into the land building, they attracted neighboring Arabs to arrive looking for work in building.   The Brits did nothing to stop them from coming after WWI,  while they did the Jews, and supposedly the Brits were there to help the Jews create their Jewish Homeland.  Arabs came in illegally, looking for opportunity.
Druze IDF soldier
Druze gentleman
The Arabs and the Druzes are Israel's largest minority groups.  At the beginning of 1972, minorities in Israel numbered 458,500, not including the population of the administered areas.

Almost half lived in about 100 villages and 2/5s in the towns which included 73,000 in Jerusalem.  The rest, about 44,000, were semi-nomadic Beduin.  Some 75% are Moslems, 17% Christians, and 8% Druzes and others.

The Arab community has grown very fast since the end of the fighting in 1949 when about 140,000 were left in Israeli territory.  They grew by natural increase and re-admission of thousands who had fled when the Arab States attacked Israel. Naturally, since there is no peace between Israel and her Arab neighbors except with Jordan and Egypt now, Israeli Arabs are sometimes torn between their loyalty to Israel and their Arab kinship.  There is, however, a growing pattern of co-existence between the Jews and Arabs of Israel.

Members of the Arab community are exempt from military service to avoid any conflict of conscience.  Compulsory military service is applied to the Druze and Circassian communities at their own demand.  Everyone can only have one Israeli wife at a time.   "However, polygamy is still practiced in the Bedouin community, where about 25% of men are believed to have more than one wife.Sharia courts in Israel deal with personal status issues in the Muslim community.

One issue is unique and not found in the USA.  "About 1.6 million Arabs are Israeli citizens. About 4.4 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and Gaza. They are linked by ethnic and family ties, but the lines between Israel and Palestinian areas divide them.
There are no official statistics, but thousands of Palestinians are believed to be living illegally with their Israeli Arab spouses inside Israel, threatened with deportation.  This gives Israel an extra problem if there arises any rioting from the Palestinian spouses or both.  One hopes the Palestinian spouse is a female, but this is not known.  
Reference:  Battleground, fact and fantasy in Palestine by Samuel Katz
Life under the Ottoman Turks in Palestine found in novel: " THE Settlers" by Meyer Levin about 1900s and Jews going to Palestine after Balfour Declaration, tells of spasmodic tyranny of the Turkish overlords, relationships of Jews and Arabs, blood feuds, hatred of an earlier generation, etc.

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