domingo, 18 de março de 2012

Who in Palestine was called a Palestinian?

The English-language Palestine Post 16 May 1948 edition: announcing the declaration of independence, with a summary of weekend's historical events packed so densely on the front page they culminate profoundly as the "most crowded hours in Palestine's History".

Greek and Roman writers used the term 'Palestine' and 'Palestinian' to refer to the land of Israel and its Jewish inhabitants. Early secular writers such as Herodotus used these terms in this way, as had first-century Jewish writers such as Philo and Josephus. In the early first century A.D. the Roman poet Ovid described Jewish Sabbath observance with the words “the seventh-day feast that the Syrian of Palestine observes”. Other Latin authors, such as the poet Statius and the historian Dio Chrysostom, also spoke of the Jews as Palestinians and the Jewish homeland as Palestine. Likewise, in Talmudic literature (third century A.D.), Palestine is used as the name of the Roman province adjoining the provinces of Phoenicia and Arabia (i.e., the Land of Israel).
In the fourth century A.D. the three provinces into which the Land of Israel had been divided were referred to as first, second and third Palestine. But the term Palestine seems to have disappeared completely in the Land after the Muslim conquest of A.D. 638. In fact, Palestine never appears in the Qur’an, which refers to the area simply as “the Holy Land” (al-Arad al-Muqaddas). In like manner, Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Qur’an, and Arab historians variously referred to it as Iliya (adapted from the Latin Aelia), Bayt Maqdis (adapted from the Hebrew Beyt HaMiqdash – the Holy House), and finally as al-Quds.
The Crusaders renewed the use of the three Palestines, however, after the fall of the Crusader kingdom, the name 'Palestine' was no longer used officially, but was preserved only by Christians cartographers in maps drawn in their respective lands. From the establishment of Islamic rule over the Land until the late 19th century, inhabitants of the region between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean appear to have referred to themselves primarily with respect to religions (Mohammedan, Christians and Jews).
The first modern use of the term 'Palestinian' appears during the time of the British Mandate (1917-1948). To the classically trained British mind, the Land of Israel had ceased to exist in ancient times; and Palestine had endured in the classical literature as the designation of the Jewish homeland and heritage. This may be seen, for example, in the Jewish Encyclopedia (published in London in 1905), which states that Palestine is “the portion of Syria that was formerly the possession of the Israelites”. Given the British penchant for historical accuracy, the term is applied with reference to the Jewish residents of the country. Therefore, the standard British reference for defining the terms, the Oxford English Dictionary, defines the term Palestinian as 1) “the Jews who returned to Israel from Moscow” 2) “Jews who volunteered to the British Army to fight Germany”. In fact, Jewish soldiers serving with the allies during the World War II had the word “Palestine” inscribed on their shoulder badges.
In addition, under the British Mandate, the Jewish-owned newspaper The Jerusalem Post was known as The Palestine Post and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra was called the Palestine Philharmonic Orchestra, and the postage stamps were issued bearing the appellation “Palestine – EI ”, the abbreviation EI meaning Erets Isra’el (Hebrew for the Land of Israel).

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