Monday, April 24, 2006

Palestine: The ORIGINAL Melting Pot

Easter EggFinally it's done, another Easter... another year of explaining why 'my' Easter (Orthodox Easter) comes at a different time than everybody else's, another year of explaining to people that "yes, I AM Palestinian and I'm Christian". "No, not ALL Palestinians are Muslim...some are even Jewish..." I usually say. gets tiring!

One of the greatest things about Palestine is it's people. People who have many different kinds of backgrounds. Linguistically, ethnically and religiously. I've often called Palestine "The Original Melting Pot". We were accepting people from all over the region all of the time.

I'm not an expert at the 'movement of people', but probably because of geographical location, all kinds of people were wandering in and out of the region throughout history. Jews, Romans, Arabs, Crusaders and others have all settled in the region and intermarried. Many of their descendants converted to Christianity and later to Islam and spoke different languages depending on the language of the given time period. My family traces it's roots back to the Canaanites some of the earliest inhabitants!

Here's an interesting fact for you: so much intermarrying has taken place among Palestinians and the people who came and went through history that DNA testing has shown that today the various Jewish ethnic divisions and Palestinians are genetically closer to each other than either is to the Arabs (of Arabia) or non-Jewish Europeans.

Like the United States, Palestine is made of many kinds of people. Which is why it's silly for any one group to claim it as their own. For the world Jewish population to claim Palestine as there own is as naive as the Italians (or Roman descendants) to call it theirs or how about the Christians to claim it as an exclusive Christian state!

Fueled by religious extremism we need to turn the heat down before this melting pot boils over! A free Palestine is for everyone!


tomer said...

Jewish Palestinians?

Abu-Issa said...

Hi Tomer!

Thanks for joining me on my all new blog!

Sure, long before Israel was created there were Jews living in Palestinian. In fact there has always been some sort of Jewish presence.

My lawyer's Grandmother was a Jewish Palestinian (or Palestinian Jew depending on how you want to look at it) who immigrated here to Montreal when she was young, anticipating the coming trouble in Palestine with the creation of Israel.

In reference to my post, I think it's important to understand that Palestine has always been a place for everyone irregardless of race, language or religion. And that having a Jewish only nation within Palestine is contrary to what Palestine has been historically.

My vision is to bring all of Palestine back to the 'melting pot' scenario and make it a 'true' (religious, linguistic and political) democracy in the Middle East.


tomer said...

Abu Issa,

I’m glad to be here!

I think your usage of the term Palestinian, while correct is a bit misleading… you are saying that anyone who lived under the British Mandate is Palestinian, which is how they were referred to at the time. But then, it would make my Grandfather Palestinian as well, and all my family would be Palestinian by inheritance.

It’s about the same as my friend writing he is “African American” on his college application because his mother is Tunisian.

It's correct technically, but not the common usage of the term.

Your vision is beautiful, I have a different vision with 2 separate countries, interacting in a peaceful fashion, both democracies with their distinct populations living in harmony.

Abed. Hamdan said...

Excellent post Abu Issa,

and yes, this is the true spirit of the holy land of Palestine, where everyone must be welcomed, and I agree Palestine is for everyone.

It's a holy land, and It's not a property of any nation.

Long life Palestine :)

Abu-Issa said...

Hi Tomer,

No, I use the term 'Palestinian' to describe all of the people who lived in the area even before the British Mandate, even going back to the Ottoman occupation when the area was simply a 'province' of the Ottoman empire known as Palestine.

Call the people who lived in the region anything you'd like but they were a multi-cultural, religious and linguistic group based on thousands of years of history together, we all got along with each other as ONE people.

I hope you are not offended by the term 'Palestinian' to describe your ascendants....?

Abu Issa

tomer said...

Abu Issa,

Why would I be offended? My grandfather was born in Palestine, both my parents were born in Palestine as well.

But Palestine is a term used for both the area itself, the British Mandate, the modern Palestine… it can be rather confusing.

Am I Palestinian if my Father is? Must I have been born in Palestine? Must my great grandfather have been born here?

Are all Israelis who arrived before ’48 Palestinians? How about the ones who arrived after?

It is rather complex, once you start using the term differently from the common consensus.

On a different matter, in your visionary Palestinian state, which does sound like a utopia.

How would the Jewish minority be represented in Parliament? Would a system like the Lebanese government be setup or would all groups be represented by direct elections?

Would all Jews be allowed to immigrate? Would foreigners of any nationality or religion be allowed? What would limit immigration?

Right now certain laws assure a Jewish atmosphere, laws having to do with the Sabbath and Holidays for example, would such laws still be implemented in predominantly Jewish areas?

I want to live in peace with my Muslim and Christian neighbors, but I want to live in a Jewish environment, and while Jewish neighborhoods exist around the world, there is no other place in the world where Kosher food is served by default in any state run institution (Hospitals/army/prisons for example). There is no other place where I know it will be quiet on Yom Kippur. There is no other place where TV programming is set according to my religious schedule and Friday is a short day, Saturday a rest day and Sunday a work day.

Could you guarantee an environment like this, in a state where Jews are the minority, could you engrave laws into stone that would be in effect forever?

Would Muslims and Christians agree to such laws?

I'm not saying it's not possible, I just think two separate states seem like an option which would be easier to implement, would keep more people happy over time, and would not have the potential of erupting in civil war 75 years from now.

Abu-Issa said...


This is a fantastic question that you raise! And I am glad that you raised it.

My Father was a school teacher in Jerusalem (pre- and post- 1948) and tells me stories of how it worked: Friday's, the Muslim kids wouldn't show up, they would come to school Sunday's, however, that's when the Christian kids didn't show up...the Jewish kids where there both Friday and Sunday...just not Saturday...! Which was OK because nobody came that day...

I think the two state solution is where we are now and that OBVIOUSLY is not working. Enough of this apart-eid how about creating a together-eid! Admittedly, there are some prejudicial obstacles on both sides that need to be overcome. As I mentioned in this blog entry, DNA proves we have more in common than with anybody else on the entire planet!!

The fundamentalist Christians in the United States don't give a damn about us, they are only supporting Israel because they want to usher in the rapture, the second coming!...they don't care about how we are forced to live, a Palestinian, suicide bombs a cafe full of people in Tel Aviv, Israeli helicopters take out a Hamas leader by blowing up his car, the al-Aqsa Martrys fire shells across the border, Israeli snipers shoot at a child who gets too close to the fence...on and on and on. It must end!

----------New Thought----------
There are only two emotions we humans have: fear and love, love and fear. Any emotion you name I will be able to attribute it to one or the other...fear...or love. Now, get ready for this: FEAR, is simply the absence of love. And LOVE the absence of fear.

To draw an analogy, if you imagine that 'fear' is a room with no light...then 'love' by definition is a light filled room. It is literally impossible for one to exist at the same time as the other.

My utopia will work if we move away from fear and misunderstanding and turn on the light!


tomer said...

Abu Issa,

The two state solution is not working at the moment because of many reasons, most of them political, not practical. On the other hand many practical mistakes were made in my opinion.

I agree with you that the violence must end!

But I disagree with your vision of a one state utopia. Frankly, I do not want to live in a country were the Hamas has the majority of seats in parliament. I don’t want to live in a country were the Hamas has even one seat in parliament.

About ‘fear and love’, it sounds interesting, but let’s imagine something: I love crocodiles. I do not fear crocodiles. No matter how much I love a crocodile, it will kill me and eat me if I get too close. There will always be crocodiles.

Your utopia is just that, a utopia. It cannot exist in the real world. But why not strive for harmony is a less than perfect environment? You may have heard the saying: “Democracy isn't perfect, but it's the best system we've got” I think that the same thinking applies to the 2 country solution as well.

It would be great to live in a world were everyone got along, but while we are living in this one, you have to understand that some people don’t see sharing their country as a possibility. Having two separate states where those people can live their lives as they see fit, Is about the best compromise we can reach.

I'd just like to say that i'm enjoying this conversation with you very much.

Abu-Issa said...


...I'm not sure that I'm comfortable with your analogy of non-Jews in the Holy Land being crocodiles and Jews as humans...though I don't believe it was something you did intentionaly.

This is one of the biggest obstacles that I am trying to overcome with this blog and likewise I know the Palestinain Princess is trying to do with hers.

I believe we ALL need to re-examine our perceptions of each other, realize WE ARE ALL THE SAME and push forward to a true democracy that will be the envy of not just the Middle East but of the West too!

At the moment I'm working on my next blog post which will mirror how Jews and non-Jews can get along in a democratic, ethnically equal Palestine...with the situation here in Canada, specifically here in the province of Quebec where there has been a 30+ year political movement to create a "French only" country. I hope to address your other questions regarding that political process in that blog.


tomer said...

Abu Issa,

“Crocodiles” are extremists on both sides. My crocodiles are terrorists who want to throw me into the sea and want a Muslim Palestine. Your crocodiles are Israeli right wing groups who believe Israel includes the Palestinian territories and you have no right to a home land.

No matter how much we try to love the crocodiles…

Notice you automatically thought I’d make the analogy 'against' all non-Jews and assumed I don’t think there are crocodiles on my side.

Which is a bit prejudice and slightly offensive. (Though I’m sure a misunderstanding)

What does that say about your perception of me? :)

Abu-Issa said...

"I love crocodiles. I do not fear crocodiles. No matter how much I love a crocodile, it will kill me and eat me if I get too close."

Good point...In my defence though you did say "...[the crocodile] will kill me..." ME being the operative word. You probably should have used the word 'us'. :0)


tomer said...


I should have made it "We" and "Us"... for that reason and many others.

Still you should have thought the crocodile to be an extreme terrorist and not non-jews as a collective.

Why would non-Jews be crocodiles?

Abu Shaar said...

Ironically, successive Israeli governments have done more to demonstrate the inherent injustice and unworkability of the so-called two-state solution than any terrorist.

"We just want to separate ourselves from our Blacks" is so
late 20th century.

Elizabeth said...

Tomer, in New York City, there are neighborhoods where it is quiet on Yom Kippur, where everyone eats kosher food and observes the Sabbath. Of course, this is because those neighborhoods are composed of Orthodox's not the law; it's the norm of the community.

When religion is enforced by law, it becomes exclusionary and oppressive.

As for tv according to your religious schedule (not sure I understand exactly what you mean) we have something here called TiVo that allows people to schedule their tv programs any way they like.

tomer said...


I've lived in NY City, and I do not want to live among Orthodox Jews. That’s the point of Israel, I can be a secular Jew, not follow all the rules, but everyone and everything is Jewish around me.

As far as I know Yom Kippur quiet is not enforced by law. (It's funny because many Israelis think it is)

As for TiVo, it’s a nice solution, only it doesn’t change the actual schedule of live shows, it just records them which A) isn’t allowed on Sabbath and B) Doesn’t the actual schedule.

TV and Yom Kippur were just examples. As was kosher food in state institutions, studying Judaism and Torah in school (Not just religious schools).

When one lives in these Orthodox neighborhoods you speak of, during late December, one watches Christmas specials on TV, when you go out of the neighborhood you are wished a marry Christmas by everyone around and everything around is decorated by beautiful Christmas ornaments.

It’s great, an amazing feeling, and I really do think everyone should visit a big city somewhere around the world during Christmas.

There is maybe one store in the city I currently live in that sells Christmas stuff (For Russian immigrants mostly) The rest are busy selling jelly doughnuts for Chanukah.

I like this feeling of being surrounded by Jews, of nobody assuming I’m Christian by default and wishing me a marry Christmas or telling me where to buy my gifts.

I like being wished a happy holiday during Rosh Hashanah by people who’ve never met me, but know I am Jewish without any indications.

I’ve lived in NY City, The city with the most Jews in the world... and I was a minority.

Why can’t there be a state where I’m part of the majority?

tomer said...


"We just want to separate ourselves from our Blacks"

Are you going to bring up the same argument, following me around on every blog in existence?

Apartheid and Zionism are not the same,
Religion and skin color are not the same,
Oppression and separation are not the same.

Yes, Palestinians are oppressed…
No, that is not the purpose of Zionism.

Ironically, successive Israeli governments have done more to demonstrate the inherent injustice and unworkability of the so-called two-state solution than any terrorist.

Ironically, I could say the same about the Palestinian Authority, but I think the issue is creating a workable two-state solution. Not mud slinging and subtlety hidden name-calling. (Yes, by telling me I support apartheid you are calling me a number of negative names, in my book, in your book and in most books)

Abu-Shaar, don’t you think our governments are doing a good enough job picking fights with each other? You think we the citizens should do the same?

Why am I able to talk with Abu-Issa without him resorting to such tactics?

In the words of the imortal rapper Ice-cube (A Muslim even) "You better check yo self before you wreck yo self"

Abu-Issa said...

I think the main purpose of this blog is to get to the core of the issue, to avoid the rhetoric and the mudslinging. I feel the mudslinging that continues is what has us; Jews, Muslims and Christians alike, 'spinning our wheels' (in that mud so to speak) and going nowhere.

The core of the issue is the original injustice done to the Palestinians.

"Yes, Palestinians are oppressed…
No, that is not the purpose of Zionism."

...but unfortunately that oppression is the result of Zionism.

As a Jew it is for you to re-examine the ideology of Zionism and it's implications toward non-Jews. Hey, I think I just gave you your idea for your blog!! (Lisa told me to encourage you...)


Palestinian Princess said...

I want to travel Palestine freely! Ok, I know thats I will never be able to take my children to the beach to have a swim in the summer like my dad used to take us when we were very little (I was so young I dont remember being able to move freely to Israel, but I have pics to prove it, hahaha).

So ok, I have come to the fact that we will never have seaside, etc.

But I can not accept the fact that I can not go to Gaza to see my cousin (my best friend), I cant work in Ramallah, I can't go to Bethlahem for christmas, and I have to make permission to go the Jerusalem for Palm Sunday and Easter... What the hell is that, I want to be FREE...

I dont want to see tanks in front of my house, I dont want to see soldiers...

I want to be free.

i bet you if we are started to be treated like people and have our own country, including controlling the border with Jordan so we don't have to rely on Israeli borders for importing, honestly I coudlnt be happier and you will see that suicide bombing will end, ofcourse all of the refugees must be compensated for the land that was stolen from them...

And then tehre will be peace...

Until then I do not think suicide bombings and hatred will end. I do not condone violence but I see where it stems from, thats why I can understand it...

Abu-Issa said...


You will be free!

You will be able to travel to see your cousin.

You will take your children to the beach.

And I will be there to witness with you a united and FREE Palestine!


Abu Shaar said...

I think you're just a bit overstating your importance in my life, tomer.

So if it isn't religion, can you not see how "Why can’t there be a state where I’m part of the majority?" sounds just a wee bit racist? Especially given you're not talking about moving to a Jewish neighboorhood, and you're also talking about the government enforcing by land confiscation and military might your desired "separation".

Noam Chomsky on South Africa, apartheid and the Israeli version of settler colonialism

tomer said...


Why couldn't Lucy be free in a two-state solution?

Do you think she'd have any trouble traveling via Israel if there was a peaceful state of existence between Israel and Palestine? Or do you just believe it impossible to co-exist peacefully in two separate states?

tomer said...

I think you're just a bit overstating your importance in my life, tomer.

So if it isn't religion, can you not see how "Why can’t there be a state where I’m part of the majority?" sounds just a wee bit racist? Especially given you're not talking about moving to a Jewish neighboorhood, and you're also talking about the government enforcing by land confiscation and military might your desired "separation".

Noam Chomsky on South Africa, apartheid and the Israeli version of settler colonialism


I think you’re just a bit overstating Noam Chomsky’s importance in my life.

Land confiscation? Land was given to two nations to run separate states after the British left. You can look it up, United Nations General Assembly approved this plan. An Israeli state was formed.

So who confiscated the land? Israel from Egypt and Jordan? The British from the Ottoman? The Greeks from the Israelites? The Israelites from Canaanites or Philistines?

About the implications I am a “wee bit racist” Racism implies I think we are not equals, that your genetic make up determines your achivement. How is the idea of different culutres or religions living in different states racist? I believe you have just as much right to live a free life as I do.

Speaking of Racism, 800,000 or so Jews were expelled (directly or pushed to emigration) from Arab countries following 1948. Many were arrested, had propertiy confestcated by the government or had other restrictions placed on them. Most of these Jews ended up in Israel. In some cases (Iraq, Libya, others) anti Jewish riots and pogroms were common even before 1948.

Do your plans for peace and 1 Palestinian state include reimbursing these Jews for property lost (As I’m sure they include reimbursement of Palestinian land)

In this mixed state of yours, what’s to guarantee these racist pogroms don’t start again? Will dhimmis have to pay jizya when then Hamas is in power?

Is wanting to know I’m protected, after atleast 2000 years of perescution racist? Why is it so hard for you accept a two state solution?

Do you also believe in a unified Yugoslavia? In England’s ocupation of Northern Ireland?

(Note: If you continue to call me a racist, I will have to stop conversing with you. I’m sorry but I see it as a direct and personal slur and have explained to you multiple times that I am not a racist, I do not believe in oppression and have nothing against you as a Palestinian OR a Muslim. If you cannot talk about the issues at hand without stooping to such a level, I'd rather find a partner who can)

Abu Shaar said...

Converse. Don't converse.

It's clearly not about religion, as Israel seems to be fine with secular, even atheist Jews. (but not Christian Jews.)

How is the idea of different culutres or religions living in different states racist?

But it isn't free, is it? It's forced separation. First by the Brits.
But maintained by Israeli force of arms.

tomer said...

Converse. Don't converse.


West Banker said...

There's Palestinians of all kinds, but no way anyone can trace his origins to cannanites, they are extinct.

Plus nowaday Palestinians are mainly arabs (both biologically and literaturally)

shlemazl said...

"DNA testing has shown that today the various Jewish ethnic divisions and Palestinians are genetically closer to each other than either is to the Arabs (of Arabia) or non-Jewish Europeans."

Not that it matters, but I am curious how you figured it out from the article.

If you trace your ancestry to Canaan, then so do I. And then to Adam.

Abu-Issa said...

Hi Shlemazl,

I probably should have given a few more references for that statement rather than just that one. Here are more:

Try this and this. (click and select 'open in new window')

The new interpretation of the book of Numbers, where the genocide of the Canaanites is written about, is that not all Canaanites were slaughtered, that the majority actually survived! And are indeed all of our ancestors!

My true family name has been interpretated by a well known Doctor of Middle Eastern studies and socio-anthropologist as being a Canaanite name. Much in the same way you could easily tell that the name Takahashi is a Japanese name and that Vanelli is an Italian name. To claim I am 100% pure Canaanite after 3000 years is ridiculous.

My family name passed down generation by generation is Canaanite, my biology however, is most likely a combination of every ethnic group that passed through the region since that time. Including Israelites, Romans and Crusaders.

Here is my message: We need to stop seeing Israelites and present day Palestinians as separate people but as the same people. This is the point of my post.

And ultimately, the point of this blog!


shlemazl said...


I agree that Canaanites mixed with the newcomers to create the nation of Israel and Judea. I think it is likely formed the majority in Israel and were wiped out by Assyrians. This is all interesting history.

Tell me, when did Arabs of Palestine get their family names? I know that Jews did not get surnames until ~1700-1800. Second name used to be your father's first name (e.g. Iehuda ben Galevi). I thought Arabs used exactly the same system.

I certainly agree that genetically we are way closer than say eather of us is to Europeans. No doubt there is some Jewish blood in the veins of Palesitinian Arabs.

Not that it matters, but it is an interesting subject.

We are not the same people. I may be much closer to some Arabs in my outlook than I am to some Jews. Yet when I look at the Arab societies, it is very clear to me that we are NOT THE SAME PEOPLE.