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Thursday, 6 September 2012

On Palestine, a lack of history and Catholics

A little history on Palestine has been discussed on Fr. Z. I am going to summarize a few points too long for the conversations. As to Palestine, which is a geographical area and not a nation,  the earliest inhabitants, who were pushed out or killed by the Islamic forces, were pagans, Catholics and Jews. Many Arab Catholic families converted early, as early as the year 200. The Greeks and Romans lived there and many of those were converted as well. It has never been a separate nation since the Jews conquered it. Ezechiel is a good source for the boundaries, as is the Torah, both ancient texts showing claims pre-dating any Muslim claims by at least 1,100 years. The Muslims took it over in the middle of the 7th century and of course, some of the crusades were fought there. The British finally took it back from the Muslims in 1832, but it still was only the name of a geographical area, not a nation. In the 19th century, Jews persecuted in Russia and other places began to re-settle areas of Palestine along with Christians and Muslims. The United Nations decided to follow the Balfour Agreement and the Sykes-Picot Treaty after WWI, and part of the Versailles Treaties included the divisions of the Middle East we see today. Islamic Arabs fought against all of these treaties in wars which have continued to this day.
As to using the term indigenous peoples, one cannot give a claim to those there now, as from the time of the Alexander the Great, Europeans as well as various tribes lived there. One must also remember that before Mohammed, Arab tribes were fiercely clannish and fought each other. They were also in many cases migratory clans, not staying in one place until quite late. The earliest cities after the destruction of the Canaanites by the Jews were Jewish and European, a la the Greeks. If anyone has a claim on it, it is the Jews, as part of the Promised Land given to them by God. “On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates – the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.” Genesis 15:18 on. That is a territory much larger than the present day Israel.
In addition, Melchizedek, who honored Abraham, was King of Jeru-Salem,  Jerusalem, which was the capitol from David one. Therefore, as we know David was king in 1000 BC, the claim of the Israelites to Jerusalem goes back over 3,000 years and longer. 
It is too bad America high schools and colleges do not teach world history anymore. And, as Catholics, we are part of the Judeo-Christian heritage, the Old and New Covenants belong to us. If we are anti-Semitic, we are hating ourselves. The Promised Land was promised to Abraham and his descendants over 4,000 years ago. That history is our history as well as Catholics.