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January 21, 2018 1:43 pm

Questioning Mahmoud Abbas’ Historical Revisionism

avatar by Pesach Benson

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A view of Jerusalem. Photo: Berthold Werner / Wikimedia Commons.

One of the more overlooked issues raised by Mahmoud Abbas’ recent speech was a claim that the Palestinians are Canaanites, whose presence in the Holy Land predates the arrival of Abraham:

We shall stay here regardless of the occupation and the settlements. We shall not leave this country. This is our country. This has been our land since the days of the Canaanites. By the way, our Canaanite forefathers. … The Torah says … and I do not want to go into history or geography… from the days of the Canaanites and to this day, [our forefathers] have not left this land. They were here before our patriarch Abraham. We were. Since before our patriarch Abraham.

Abbas reiterated this claim on Wednesday. The forum was Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, which is regarded as Sunni Islam’s foremost institution of higher learning.

Religion plays a major part in the Israeli and Palestinian narratives, but it’s rare to see the foreign press take a deeper look at these beliefs and their impact on the conflict.

So how do Palestinians, Israelis, Jews, Muslims and Christians feel about claims that:

• The Palestinians are descendants of Abraham.
• The Palestinians are descendants of Canaanites (and Natufians).
• The Palestinians predated the Canaanites.
• Jesus was a Palestinian.
• A Jewish temple never existed on the Temple Mount.

Are Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders willing to explain the theological and political impact of these assertions? And — on a different level — if one’s religious belief can’t be reconciled with a national narrative, what does that say about individual identity? I don’t have any answers.

But there are plenty of questions.

Questions for the rabbis: Is there any reason for Jews to feel threatened by these claims? Do comments like these have an impact on interfaith dialogue, and if so, what? What do these kinds of comments mean for the Reform and Conservative rabbis who are sometimes more supportive of the Palestinians than their Orthodox counterparts? Do they view Abbas’ comments as helpful or hurtful for peace efforts? Does Jewish law’s prohibition on Jews visiting the Temple Mount strengthen Palestinian claims on the holy site?

Questions for the imams: What exactly does Islam say about God’s promise of the land to Abraham’s descendants? What does Islam say about who Palestinians descended from, and what difference does it make? Does Islam in general — and do Palestinians specifically — feel threatened by Jewish descent from Abraham? Is the idea of Palestinian descent from the Canaanites a long-standing Arab idea, or a relatively new assertion in response to modern Zionism? How does Hamas relate to the issue of Palestinian Canaanite identity? Can Muslim clergy in the West Bank or Gaza freely discuss these questions? In terms of the battle within Islam between extremists and moderates, where do these claims fit in? Islam, historically, accepted the existence of Jewish temples on the Temple Mount — why has that changed?

Questions for the priests: Is there any reason for Christians to feel threatened by Abbas’ comments? What does the church have to say about claims that Jesus was a Palestinian, and the implication that he was of Canaanite descent? Do Christians feel threatened by the competing Jewish and Muslim claims to the Temple Mount? How do Christians relate to Palestinian Temple denial? It’s been reported that there’s a rift between Christians in the US and the Mideast over the Trump administration’s stance on Jerusalem — particularly that Palestinian Christians are being forced to choose between their religious and national identities. Are Abbas’ comments also forcing Palestinian Christians to make a similar choice? Do Christians around the world have a responsibility to call out Abbas if Palestinian Christians don’t have the freedom to speak out?

I’m sure that there are plenty more questions that I haven’t thought of.

So — are any journalists out there looking for a story?

This article was originally published by HonestReporting.

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  • Blue Meany

    “and I do not want to go into history or geography…”
    Of course you don’t wan’t to go into history or geography Mr. Abbas, because you can’t back up these fictitious claims!
    There is not even 1 archaeological artifact to prove your spurious claim you moron.
    Although you are systematically destroying every ancient Israelite archaeological artifact, even erasing every historical remain does not erase real historical occurrences.
    The fact the Israelites, which are the Judean, which are the Jews of today whether currently in Israel or in any other place in the world, were (and belong) in the land land of Israel more than 2000 years before your fictitious nation even existed.
    Same as Israel ruling in its borders and will remain here long after you’re gone…
    I do not imply anything other than the historical facts that all Empires and Nations standing up against the Israelis, have all either disappeared or went off of their glory.
    Be it the Amalekites, the Canaanites, the Philistines, the Babylonian, the Greek, the Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the 3rd Reich…

  • Kris Kristian

    Unfortunately, the Islamic world hates Jews, and will accept every lie that savages like Abbas spreads/

  • Yitzhakhazak

    Whatever comes out of Abbas´s mouth stinks! We´ve had enough of him. And of his people!

  • Supreme Muslim Council: Temple Mount is Jewish

    Click here for the 1925 Temple Mount Guide.

    The widely-disseminated Arab Muslim position that the Temple Mount is not Jewish has been debunked – by the Supreme Muslim Council (Waqf) of Jerusalem, in a Temple Mount guide published in 1925.

    Wakf guidebook, 1925, cover
    The Temple Institute

    Guidebook Puts the Lie to Current Arab Campaign In 1997, the chief Muslim cleric of the Palestinian Authority, Mufti Ikrama Sabri, stated, “The claim of the Jews to the right over [Jerusalem] is false, and we recognize nothing but an entirely Islamic Jerusalem under Islamic supervision…”

    Thus began a campaign to convince the world that the millennia-old natural association between Jerusalem and Jews was untrue. As Islamic Movement chief Raed Salah stated in 2006, “We remind, for the 1,000th time, that the entire Al-Aqsa mosque [on the Temple Mount], including all of its area and alleys above the ground and under it, is exclusive and absolute Muslim property, and no one else has any rights to even one grain of earth in it.”

    However, it is now known that this “absolute” Muslim claim is actually not as absolute as claimed. In fact, back in 1925, the Supreme Muslim Council – also known as the Waqf, which has overseen Temple Mount activities on behalf of the Muslim religion for hundreds of years – boasted proudly that the site was none other than that of Solomon’s Temple.

    The Jerusalem-based Temple Institute ( reports that it has acquired a copy of the official 1925 Supreme Muslim Council Guide Book to Al-Haram Al-Sharif (the Muslim name for the Temple Mount). On page 4, the Waqf states, “Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute. This, too, is the spot, according to universal belief, on which ‘David built there an altar unto the L-rd…’, citing the source in 2 Samuel XXIV,25.

    Wakf guidebook, 1925, excerpt close-up
    The Temple Institute

    In addition, on page 16, the pamphlet makes reference to the underground area in the south-east corner of the Mount, which is refers to as Solomon’s Stables. “Little is known for certain of the history of the chamber itself,” the guide reads. “It dates probably as far back as the construction of Solomon’s Temple. According to Josephus, it was in existence and was used as a place of refuge by the Jews at the time of the conquest of Jerusalem by Titus in the year 70 A.D.”

    The Temple Mount in Jerusalem was in fact the site of the two Jewish Holy Temples which stood for nearly 1,000 years (see below).

    Wakf guidebook, 1925, excerpt
    The Temple Institute

    Proof of Muslim Anti-Jewish RevisionismThe Temple Institute’s Rabbi Chaim Richman writes that the pamphlet provides proof that the Waqf’s current position is a departure from traditional Muslim belief. “In recent years,” he writes, “the Muslim Waqf has come to deny the historic existence of the Holy Temple, claiming that the Temple Mount belongs solely to the Muslim nation, and that there exists no connection between the Jewish nation and the Temple Mount. It is clear from this pamphlet that the revised Waqf position strays from traditional Muslim acknowledgment of the Mount’s Jewish antecedents.”

    “The current denial of historical reality is merely one tool in the war being waged by Muslims against the G-d of Israel and the entire ‘infidel’ world,” Richman declares.

  • Dante Benedetti

    it is amusing to hear Arab Palestinians, whose forbears came from the Arabian peninsula, or Iraq, or Syria, or Jordan, or the Balkans, or North Africa claim to be descendants of Canaanites or, in some risible accounts, Jebusites or Philistines. the indisputable Jewish history of Israel is so vexing to Arab Palestinian claims of indigeneity that they have adopted two ridiculous and delusional strategies to respond to it: 1. deny that the Jews have any history in Israel (a variation of this is the claim that “those Jews,” the Jews of centuries past, are not “these Jews,” the Jews of today – because, the Arab Palestinians have arrogated to themselves the right to define the Jews as they, the Arab Palestinians, wish); and, 2. claim to be descended from the tribes that were conquered when the Jews entered the land 3000 years ago. the professional liar, erekat, whose family comes from northern Saudi Arabia, is one of those who claims to be a Jebusite. erekat does not care about “the truth” or facts; he enjoys an immensely credulous western audience and, caught in one lie, he effortlessly moves on to the next, without the slightest embarrassment or hesitation.

  • Efram Paul

    Probably none who are ‘practicing’ today.

  • Yassir Arafat is the one who created the Caananite-Palestinian mythology in 1967 after the end of the Six-Day War. He also expropriated the entire history of the Jewish people and converted it into the “official history” of the Palestinian people. Linking modern-day Palestinians to the ancient Caananites actually uncovers a few parallels:

    1. Caananites engaged in child sacrifice by throwing their sons and daughters into the fire

    2. Palestinians also engage in child sacrifice by teaching kids to wear explosive vests which, when detonated, leaves pieces of flaming humanity in their wake.