We are the native inhabitants of Palestine, and Jews are immigrants". This sad story arabs tell with tears in their eyes to anyone who is polite enough not to send them to hell at once. But the truth is different. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were practically no Muslim Arabs in the Holy Land. I understand that this declaration will raise protests , but it is so. Tourists and politicians, travellers and writers, Arabs and non-Arabs alike, have documented their observations of the population in the Holy Land beginning more that a thousand years ago. Let's start at the early days and continue into the Ottoman period: The historian James Parker wrote: "During the first century after the Arab conquest [670-740 CE], the caliph and governors of Syria and the Holy Land ruled entirely over Christian and Jewish subjects. Apart from the Bedouin in the earliest days, the only Arabs west of the Jordan were the garrisons." In year 985 the Arab writer Muqaddasi complained: "the mosque is empty of worshipers... The Jews constitute the majority of Jerusalem's population" (The entire city of Jerusalem had only one mosque). In 1377, Ibn Khaldun, one of the most creditable Arab historians, wrote: "Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel extended over 1400 years... It was the Jews who implanted the culture and customs of the permanent settlement". In 1695, the Dutch scholar, philologist and cartographer, Adriaan Reland, visited the Holy Land. He documented his visits to many locations. He writes: "The names of settlements were mostly Hebrew, some Greek, and some Latin-Roman. No settlement had an original Muslim-Arab name with a historical root in its location. Most of the inhabitants of the cities were Jews, the others were Christians. The Arabs were predominantly Christians with a tiny minority of Muslims. In Nazareth there were approximately 700 people - all Christians. In Gaza there were approximately 550 people - half of them Jews, the rest Christians. Um-El-Phachem was a village of 10 families - all Christians". Reland mentions all the Muslim Arabs as nomadic Bedouin tribes who arrived in the area as seasonal workers. The situation changed only in the beginning of the 20th century, when hundreds of thousands of Arabs emigrated to Palestine from the neighbouring Arab countries, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq being the main sources of the immigration. These Arabs do not even have a native name to describe themselves in their own Arabic language, and use the Jewish (later adopted by the Greeks) name ”Plishtim”, “Philistines”, “Invaders” in Hebrew. So, the absolute majority of those who now claim they are “native Palestinians” are the sons , at best grandsons, of those Arabs who emigrated to Palestine at the beginning of the 20th century.
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