Wednesday, May 12, 2010


In an article he wrote wrote for Midstream in 2000, The Land of Israel and Jerusalem in 1900, Elliot A. Green corrects some misconceptions:
Standing out among the truths commonly disregarded concerning the Land of Israel and Jerusalem one hundred years ago, and of special importance at this time of Arab-Israeli negotiations, are:

1-- at the end of the nineteenth century, there was no "Palestine" on the ground, only in Western historical memory and in occasional usage by Western diplomats, scholars and travelers;

2--The population was religiously, ethnically, and linguistically diverse, although Muslim Arabs were a majority in the country at the time, albeit the country was not then a defined territory;

3--Jews were a majority of the population of Jerusalem and had been so at least since 1870 -- or earlier according to some estimates;

4--Jews were a majority of the inhabitants of the Old City in 1900;

5--Jews lived both inside and outside the Old City walls, inhabiting quarters which were to be occupied by Transjordan (later Jordan) in 1948, and were thus to form part of what could be called "Arab East Jerusalem" between 1948 and 1967.

Muslim Arabs traditionally saw the country as simply an undifferentiated part of Bilad ash-Sham, usually translated as Syria or Greater Syria. This vast expanse included not only Israel, but the Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan of today, roughly speaking. The country that Jews have traditionally called the Land of Israel, and that Christians called the Holy Land -- was not ordinarily or traditionally seen as a separate or distinct land by Muslim Arabs or the Ottoman state.
Read the whole thing.

Unfortunately, some misconceptions do not die easily.