What the 4,000-Year History of Palestine Tells Us

Meanwhile, Zionism and Hindutva have much in common. They both fiddle with history by deliberately confusing faith and mythology with facts of history.

TANVIR AHMAD — WHEN I read Tanya Reinhart’s Israel/Palestine 1948 I realized that the story was more complex than what the American media would have us believe.

Subsequently, there have been a plethora of writers including Israeli Jews, and of course Palestinians, writing against the ruling establishment of Israel. Apart from Edward Said, they include Israel Shahak, Shlomo Sand, Uri Davis, Norman Finkelstein, Rashid Khalidi, Ilan Pappé and so on.

Meanwhile, Zionism and Hindutva have much in common. They both fiddle with history by deliberately confusing faith and mythology with facts of history. Hindutva’s claim that the Harappan civilization (apart from being the oldest) was Aryan and that Aryans were always present in India, flies in the face of all genuine scholarship. But they persist, because not to do so would belie the statement of Savarkar, the father of Hindutva, who insisted that India was not just the janmabhoomi (birthplace) of the Hindus but also their punyabhoomi (holy land).

You see, since India  is the janmabhoomi of all those born in India, including the Christians, the communists (yes, even them!) and also those hated Muslims, punyabhoomi has to be the touchstone since all Hindu heroes and their heroics were in the land of India while the prophets and the heroics sacred to Christianity and Islam happened elsewhere.

However, Asko Parpola of the University of Helsinki, a Vedic scholar and one the most prominent among those attempting to decipher the Indus script, has indicated that many of the rituals of Hinduism had their roots in central, west and south Asia. The claim then of only India being the punyabhoomi of the Hindus requires some rethinking.

Zionism, the creed of the Israeli State (not of the Jews mind you, just like Hindutva is not the religion of the Hindus but only the politicization thereof) asserts and would have us believe that the “concept of Palestine is a modern invention or one constructed only in opposition to Israel”.

Masalha’s book Palestine: A Four Thousand Year History is a scholarly refutation of that creed.

He has painstakingly and meticulously scoured various documents right from those of Ancient Egypt in which the land was called ‘Peleset’ in the documents of Rameses II and III. Documents in the form of clay tablets and later scrolls of Assyrian, Christian, and Muslims indicate a clear continuity in the mention of ‘Palestine’ right down to the formation of the Israeli state. Very often, even Jew historians used the word ‘Palestine’ in favor of their Canaan nomenclature.

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