Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Who, then, has the legal right to Palestine?
...Who, then, has the legal right to Palestine?
There is one people, almost unmentioned, ignored, and practically forgotten. But they must be named and considered, for they are the most important of all--the native Palestinians themselves.
So far as history knows, they originated in the Canaanites who were the first occupants of the land, the original settlers. When any of the conquerors of the crossroads took prisoners in ancient times, they took them from the cities they besieged and captured. They did not take the time and trouble to go out into the remote valleys and ferret out the inhabitants one by one. So we may be sure that from the beginning, the settled population in the rural districts and small villages remained the same. We may be equally sure that the original stock--the ancient Canaanites--remained where they were, and their descendants did likewise.
It is true that they received an admixture of blood from each of the invaders, especially from the Egyptians, who were the rulers so often and so long. The Hyskos, the Hittites, and the Amorites, as well as the ancient Assyrians and Babylonians must have added their quotas. There must be, even today, some heritage from the feather-crowned Philistines, who settled in such numbers as to give the land their name.
Because of the disapproval of mixed marriages, the ancient Israelites probably contributed little. But there was Persian blood, and Greek and Roman, no doubt, as well as Turk, both Seljuk and Ottoman.
Among today's people in Palestine, blue eyes are attributed to the Crusaders. And, of course, there is probably a higher percentage of Arab blood than any other, for the Arabs flooded the country, settled down, intermarried, and stayed.
But all these were additions, springs grafted onto the parent tree to mingle its sap with theirs. And that parent tree was of Canaanite. The Canaanites were first. And when we speak of "Palestinians" or of the "Arab" population, we bear in mind their Canaanite origin.
This is important, for their legal right to the country today stems--not as the Arabs seem to think--from the long period of Arab rule, but from the fact that the Canaanites were first, which gives them priority; their descendents have continued to live there, which gives them continuity, and (except for the 800,000 dispossessed refugees) they are still living there, which gives them present possession. Thus we see that on a purely statistical grounds they have a proven legal right to their own land.
Even granting that this were not true, the modern democratic world--through various declarations of principle, including the Atlantic Charter--has stated its belief in a right which transcends any sovereignty of conquest--the right of the people of any country to govern themselves. This, too, would give th Palestinians a right to their own self-government in their own country, Palestine....