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This conversation is getting on my nerves because of the political
ramifications. But it reminds me of a true story.
Avraham Biran of Tel-Dan and HUC says he once told someone that he lived
in Israel from before there was a 20th century CE state by thet name. He
was asked "are you therefore a Palestinian?" His answer was "No, I'm a
The conversation also remeinds me of a discussion in The New Yorks Times
of several years ago about the name of the Persian Gulf. It seems that
the iRaqi's wanted it to be called the Gulf of Iraq. Jerry Cooper, a
Sumerologist at Johns' Hopkins suggested, "well then we should call it
the "Sumerian Gulf."
As for "Palestine" as a designation of the territory under discussion, it
seems that we have all somehow made peace with the uncomfortable practice
(excuse to pun!) But, to call the people living here before the
Israelites or Tribes of YHWH, or however we want to call the proto-people
of the Bible, "palestinians" is clearly a political maneuver aimed at
subverting Jewish history and misapporpriating it to the current rival
for the possesion of this land. It reeks of Eduard Said's attempt to
hijack the term anti-semitism and apply it to people othter than Jews.
"Palestinians" as a pre-israelite ethnic designation is an invention of
the person who wrote of "inventing ancient Israel" and should be
dismissed out of hand from scholarly jargon. It is unscholarly and
probaly anti-ZIonist and anti-semitic in the classical sense of the term.
Dept. of Bible and ANE
Ben Gurion University of the Negev
Beer Sheva, Simeon (recently Medinat Yisrael)