Gerald A. Honigman is a Florida educator who has done extensive
doctoral studies in Middle Eastern Affairs. He has created and
conducted counter-Arab propaganda programs for college youth, has
lectured on numerous campuses and other platforms, and has publicly
debated many Arab spokesmen. His articles and op-eds have been
published in dozens of newspapers, magazines, academic journals and
websites all around the world.
December 31, 2011
Why Sri Lanka, but not Samaria?
Why not Rhodesia, but the "West Bank?"
It's admirable (don't you think?) when a people
throws off the legacy of imperial oppression to
embrace their new freedom. The very renaming of
nations themselves has often been a reflection of
this wonderful development.
Admirable, indeed--unless those people happen to be
Among the examples of this which have occurred over
the last half century are people who lived in Great
Britain's former imperial possessions of Ceylon,
Rhodesia, and Burma. Those nations are now known as
Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, and Myanmar.
While I've thought about this for decades, what
brought this issue onto my own front burner was an
article I read recently about Myanmar's
pro-democracy hero and Nobel Peace Prize laureate,
Aung San Suu Kyi. Too often foreign imperialism gets
supplanted by home-grown despotism, as the latter
knows only too well.
Here's the problem, and admittedly, the Jews pose a
unique case related to this discussion due to their
forced exile in the wake of taking on the imperial
conqueror of much of the known world not just once,
but in two major (and other lesser) revolts recorded
in depth by the Romans themselves. Before we
proceed, please contemplate this thought for a
Is a victim any less a victim because his
victimization has been historically the longest
While the so-called "Progressives" of the world are
adamant that the previous imperialist names of
conquered lands be dismissed, why is it that when it
comes to dealing with the oft-conquered land of the
Jews, the opposite is the case?
Such sources of ethical enlightenment frequently
insist instead that the millennia-old names of the
land--Israel, Judea, and Samaria--be abandoned for
the sake of the names Roman, British, and Arab
imperialism and conquest gave to them
instead..."Palestine" and the "West Bank."
Everyone else is entitled to national
liberation--but not Jews. The latter must agree to
their scapegoat, victim, and preferred whipping post
par excellence existence for eternity. Or just
With Christmas 2011 still of very much of recent
memory, a good portion of the world once again
became familiar with the story of Jesus' birth.
During this season, it has also become common for
Arabs to declare the alleged "Palestinian"(non-Jewish)
identity of Jesus.
Since I've answered this with both barrels
elsewhere, I won't bother with the deliberate Arab
attempt to hijack another people's identity in this
But, since the subject is directly related to the
overall issue of whose nation truly needs to be
liberated in the land, please read whatever version
you prefer on your favorite search engine of my
earlier analysis, Arafat's Jesus. Here's the
moderate Muslim print newspaper, Pakistan Today's,
version from early 2004
and a recent update from this year in Virtual
Returning to the account of Jesus' birth, among
other places, this appears briefly in Matthew 2:1 in
which Bethlehem of Judea is declared his birth
place. Bethlehem ("House of Bread" in Hebrew) was
also the birth place of King David, over a thousand
years earlier, the site of the beautiful story of
Ruth and Naomi (even earlier), and so forth. And if
the Arabs (whoops--excuse me, "Palestinians") can
claim Jesus, then Ruth, Naomi, and David were theirs
too...and I'm the Passover Bunny.
Note, please, that this is the same Judaea (Hebrew:Yehudah;
Latin: Iudaea.land of the Judeans--Jews) which the
ancient Roman and Roman-sponsored historians--Pliny,
Tacitus, Josephus, Dio Cassius, and others--wrote
about themselves; the same Judea which Rome placed
on its Judea Capta coins after defeating the first
major revolt of the Jews for their freedom and
independence after 70 C.E., constructed the
towering, still standing Arch of Titus for in Rome,
etc. and so forth.
Shame on the "Progressives," for sure.
While the geographical coastal region near Gaza and
such had sometimes earlier been loosely designated
as such by the Greeks, the name itself referred to
no separate country nor nation. Indeed, there never,
ever, ever was such a separate country, language,
nation, or culture by that name.
The cold, cruel fact--so willingly ignored by the
"Progressive" Left--is that "Palestine" became
associated with Israel/Judea by one of the most
blatant acts of imperial cruelty ever to be recorded
After the Jews' costly second revolt for freedom in
the second century C.E., the Emperor, Hadrian,
decided to try to squash the Jews' hopes once and
for all by renaming the land itself after their
historic enemies, the Philistines--a non-Semitic
(let alone non-Arab) invading "Sea People" from the
islands near Crete.
Below are two of my oft-quoted favorite excerpts
from contemporary Roman historians once again.
After the first revolt...
It inflamed Vespasian's (the Emperor) ire that
the Jews were the only nation which had not yet
submitted.Titus was appointed by his father to
complete the subjugation of Judaea. he commanded
three legions in Judaea itself. To these he added
the twelfth from Syria and the third and
twenty-second from Alexandria. amongst his allies
were a band of Arabs, formidable in themselves and
harboring towards the Jews the bitter animosity
usually subsisting between neighboring nations. Vol.
II, Book V, The Works of Tacitus.
Please note: the Arabs mentioned in the above
account were foreigners to the land, acting
virtually as vultures, looking to grab a share of
the main Roman kill. They were not "native
And, after the second revolt...
580,000 men were slain, nearly the whole of
Judaea made desolate. Many Romans, moreover,
perished in this war (the Bar Kochba Revolt).
Therefore Hadrian in writing to the senate did not
employ the opening phrase commonly affected by the
emperors, ' I and the legions are in health'. Dio's
The Emperor was so enraged at the Jews' struggle for
liberation from their imperial oppressors that, in
the words of the esteemed modern historian, Bernard
Hadrian made a determined attempt to stamp out
the embers not only of the revolt but also of Jewish
nationhood and statehood. obliterating its Jewish
To reiterate this important point, wishing to end,
once and for all, Judean/"Jewish" (as in Danish,
Irish, Swedish, English, etc.) hopes for
independence from their imperial conqueror, Hadrian
renamed the land itself from Judaea to "Syria
Palaestina"--Palestine--after the Jews' historic
enemies, the Philistines, a non-Semitic "Sea People"
from the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea.
Yet, one is hard pressed to discover any of the
above these days.
Again, no people--besides Jews--had ever established
an enduring, separate identity in the land.
After the fall of Judea, only one imperial conqueror
after another (including that of the Arabs during
the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates, ruled from
Damascus and Baghdad respectively) grabbed hold of
the land--ruling it from afar and colonizing it with
their own invading armies. Before the modern era,
the Ottoman Turks were the latest to do this, ruling
the land for about four centuries until after World
Arabs who both earlier and later came to settle on
the land were part of a greater Arab--not
"Palestinian"-- identity. They spoke Arabic, their
culture was Arab, their loyalties were to family,www.ekurd.net
clan, and tribe, and later--in the 20th century age
of nationalism in the region (and largely to oppose
the resurrection of Israel)--those who were
politically active gave their loyalty primarily to a
Greater Syria or Pan Arab identity...not to "Palestine."And
that's what Republican presidential hopeful, Newt
Gingrich, was also referring to in his recent
comments on the subject
As with Palestine, the story evolved in a similar
way regarding the imperial renaming of Judea and
Samaria to the "West Bank" as well.
In one account after another about Bethlehem,
Hebron, East Jerusalem, and other places in
historical Judea and Samaria, those towns have been
designated by statesmen, journalists, academics, and
others the "West Bank" instead--or, "the occupied"
West Bank, to add insult to injury. Judeans/Jews
living in those areas are now the alleged
"imperialist occupiers" of the land.
And those who beg to differ are more often than not
simply dismissed as reactionary Zionist fanatics.
With few exceptions, however, it's easy to discover
that almost all the towns on the "West Bank" were
re-named from their original Hebrew sites.
Check out these excerpts from this source
("What's In A Town's name?") for starters. After the
Arab imperial conquests of the 7th century C.E.,
as with Dor and Tantura, the original
name-changers in Palestine were the Arabs, who
Arabized hundreds of Hebrew place names when they
replaced the Jewish population of the country after
the Muslim conquest.
In the great majority of cases, Arabization took
place by adjusting old Hebrew names to Arabic
phonetic patterns. Sometimes these changes were
minor, leaving the old names recognizable.
Biblical Anatot near Jerusalem, the birthplace of
the prophet Jeremiah, became the Muslim village of
Anata; Modi'in, where the revolt of the Maccabees
broke out, turned into Midia; Bet-She'an, in the
Jordan Valley south of Tiberias, was called Beisan.
Often, however, the changes were great enough to
obscure the original name. One might never guess
from the sound of it that Jenin, the West Bank town
that was so controversially in the news a while ago,
was once the Hebrew Ein-Gannim; that the Palestinian
village of Jib was the biblical Giv'on, where the
sun stood still so that Joshua could finish routing
the Amorite kings; or that Bet-El, "the House of
God," the name given according to the Bible by Jacob
to the site on which he dreamed of a ladder to
heaven, is now the Palestinian Beitin.
Add to the above the Minutes of the Permanent
Mandates Commission of the League of Nations and
other solid documentation which show that the vast
majority of Arabs were indeed newcomers themselves
into the land themselves (i.e., Arab settlers
setting up Arab settlements), and the picture
becomes even clearer.
Judea and Samaria--the names the disputed
territories now constantly making news were known as
for thousands of years--became designated the "West
Bank" in the wake of World War I and the official
break-up of the Ottoman Turkish Empire.
After Great Britain's handing over some 78% of the
original 1920 Mandate of Palestine's territory to
Arab nationalism in 1922 with the creation of
Transjordan, a quarter century later the latter's
British-led army then grabbed the non-apportioned
part of the Mandate of Palestine west of the Jordan
River upon its invasion of a minuscule, reborn
Israel in 1948. Holding both banks of the river, it
soon changed its name to Jordan.
And to distinguish the east bank from the
newly-conquered territory across the river acquired
as a result of the newest imperial shenanigans in
the land, the name "West Bank" was thus born.
Jews had owned land and lived in Judea and Samaria
until they were massacred by Arabs in the 1920s and
1930s. Upon the establishment of the first Arab
state in Palestine in 1922, its whole area was
declared off limits to Jews. When it illegally
seized Judea and Samaria in 1948, it did likewise
there as well.
Keep in mind that when those above Arabs then also
bulldozed dozens of ancient synagogues, used ancient
Jewish tombstones to pave roads and build latrines,
and took other measures to erase the Jews'
millennial connections to the land as well, barely a
word was spoken in protest, besides those of the
And today, the only thing that "Progressives" do
about all of this is turn truth on its head. Jews
and others who dare call the land by its historic
names and insist that Jews should also have the
right to once again live in their historic lands
(displacing no one in the process on the still
non-apportioned--not "purely Arab"--lands of the
original 1920 Mandate) are branded the colonialists
and imperialists instead.
Here's another thought, while we're at it.
If Judea must become, as many insist and, as the
Nazis liked to say, Judenrein (free of Jews), then
why should the one fifth of Israel who are Arabs
(the freest Arabs living anywhere in the region) not
also get the boot out of Israel? Many of such folks
indeed compose a very dangerous, treasonous fifth
Despite the tragedy of the Roman Wars and the
expulsions and Great Diaspora which followed, Jews
remained in the land, in varying numbers, clear up
to the rebirth of Israel in 1948.
While this does not give Jews exclusive rights to
the land since others have conquered and come to
settle it over the centuries, it does mean that Jews
are anything but strangers there. Indeed, the
historic names of the land itself are named for one
of the Patriarchs of the Jewish people--Jacob, whose
name was later changed to Israel, and Judah, one of
Jacob's sons. On the other hand, Arabs claim
exclusive rights to virtually the entire region,
calling it "purely Arab patrimony" due to their own
former imperial conquests and despite scores of
millions of subjugated, non-Arab peoples still
As just one of many examples which could be cited of
this continuous Jewish presence, clear up to the
dawn of the Arab conquest in the 7th century,
Euthychius, the 10th century Patriarch of
Alexandria, wrote in his book of history (Annals of
Euthychius I, 216) about tens of thousands of Jewish
warriors who aided the invading Persians against the
hated Byzantine successors to the Romans in the
Regardless of the hypocrisy of the Progressive Left
and others who should know better, in Judea and
Samaria--as in Israel--the Jews are, at long last,
The Judean Hills and the Judean Wilderness will not
be renamed the West Bank Hills nor the West Bank
Wilderness for the sake of the Jimmy Carters,
Michael Moores, Reverend Wrights, and the Noam
Chomskys...nor for the Nicholas Sarkozys, Barack
Hussein Obamas, or Hillary Rodham Clintons either
(let alone the Arabs and their assorted other rah
Furthermore, despite the hostility towards Israel
practiced by many of the mainline Christian churches
today, the birthplace of Jesus will remain in
Bethlehem of Judea...not the West Bank.
Matthew 2:1 will not be edited.
Unless folks like black Africans in Zimbabwe and
Asians in Myanmar (who, despite other problems, were
not largely massacred and expelled by their own
imperial conquerors who gave their lands other
names--as were the Jews) are expected to call
themselves Rhodesians and Burmese and not be allowed
to live on their own historic lands, then the
duplicity routinely practiced towards Jews in
Israel, Judea, and Samaria on these same issues must
come to an end as well. And, if not, then the Jews
must do what they must do to thrive--not just
Gerald A. Honigman is a Florida educator who has
done extensive doctoral studies in Middle Eastern
Affairs. He has created and conducted counter-Arab
propaganda programs for college youth, has lectured
on numerous campuses and other platforms, and has
publicly debated many Arab spokesmen. His articles
and op-eds have been published in dozens of
newspapers, magazines, academic journals and
websites all around the world. Visit his
Gerald A. Honigman, a longtime contributing writer
for ekurd.net. Honigman has published a major book,
Quest For Justice In The Middle East--The
Arab-Israeli Conflict In Greater Perspective."
By Gerald A. Honigman for eKurd.net, December 31, 2011. You may reach the
author via email at: honigman6 (at) msn.com.
Copyright © 2011 ekurd.net.
All rights reserved
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