"The State of The World" Number 2
Complete Index Of All Issues
Where Is The Real Palestine?
"Palestine" and "the Palestinians" are often in the news because of the ongoing, typically-violent struggle for a "Palestinian homeland." Much of that conflict is based upon the presumption that Israel exists in Palestine.
But how did that assumption that is taken so much for granted come to be?
First, a "Palestinian state" does indeed exist. It has for thousands of years. But where?
History reveals where the actual sovereign state of Palestine is located, but in order to understand where it is, one must solve the mystery of the identity of the true "Palestinian" people.
The present-day word "Palestine" is an English-language rendering of an ancient Egyptian word, as recorded on their hieroglyphs (shown below), that was pronounced fil-as-tin. Later, the ancient Hebrews pronounced that Egyptian word as phil-as-tine i.e. Philistine.
"Palestine" is actually just a different-accent English pronunciation of Philistine. It's the same word. That reality is the key to understanding who and what "Palestine" really means - as the original "Palestinian" people knew very well as they lived in the territory that was never a part of Israel - past or present.
So then, where did the Egyptians say that the sovereign territory of the "Palestinians" was located?
Answer: In the coastal lands of Gaza - not in any of the territory eastward which was the historic "land of Canaan," not "Palestine." The Philistines / Palestinians were not Canaanites. They never claimed Jerusalem, which was a Canaanite capital of one of the tribes of the Canaanites - the Jebusites.
The territory of Gaza was the homeland of the Palestinians. Its major cities were Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, Gath, and the capital, Gaza City. From their sovereign-state homeland of Gaza, the Palestinians were often at war with their neighbors - Egypt to the southwest, and the Canaanites to the east, long before any Israelites arrived on the scene. A key point was and is that when the Israelites arrived, they inhabited the land of Canaan, not the land of the Palestinians.
The map below shows the actual "Palestine" - the green-shaded area of Gaza and the adjacent coast. The map also displays the historic reality that the Israelites never occupied "Palestine," but rather the adjacent "land of Canaan."
How then did "Palestine" come to be applied to lands that the Palestinians themselves never claimed outside of their own borders in Gaza? The answer is also a simple matter of historic record.
Over and over, foreign empires used the term "Palestine," for their political and military administrative purposes, to refer to the area all the way from Gaza to Syria - that had been made into a province of their foreign empire.
The Assyrians used "Palestine" in that way in 800 BC. The Persians did the same in 450 BC. The Greeks continued it for their "Syria Palaestina" in 150 BC, a term continued by the Romans from 30 BC. The Byzantines (east Roman Empire) used more variations of "Palestine" - Palaestina Prima, Palaestina Secunda and Palaestina Salutaris. And on and on.
The result? The foreign-imposed term "Palestine" was inflated far beyond its true location of Gaza. Compare the map above that shows the actual Palestine (the area shaded in green) with the map below in which the Romans declared it to be from Gaza to Syria - not for the sake of the Palestinian people, but merely as a label for the area that the Romans, and other empires before them, had conquered and occupied.
By the time of the British Mandate for "Palestine" after the First World War (1914-1918), that paved the way for the birth of Israel in 1948, the altered geographic term had by then existed for centuries.
The British did not invent the term "Palestine," but merely continued the label that had been established for many centuries before them. That ancient terminology has separated the true "Palestinian" people from what has always been their homeland - Gaza.
The result is that geographic inflation of Palestine, that has been imposed on the Palestinian people for 2,000 years, has produced the blurring and distortion of reality that many in the Middle East, and the rest of the world, are fighting to find a solution for - the delusion that is the "Palestine" of today.