Dispelling Myths About Palestine and Israel – Myth #1

Today’s guest post, the first of a continuing series, was written by G.J. Tarazi

I have often heard false statements about Palestine and Israel, which are repeated so often and are unchallenged that they become accepted myths. Unfortunately, these myths hinder and disrupt honest and balanced discussions. In order for us to better understand the situation in Palestine and Israel, these myths have to be identified and dispelled.

Here is one myth that is often heard in our churches.

Myth: Palestine was a land without people, taken for a people without land.

Fact: Palestinians have lived on this land for millennia, creating a continuous record of their civil society.


1. Before Their Diaspora: A Photographic History of The Palestinians 1867-1948. Dr. Walid Khalidi, [http://www.amazon.com/Before-Their-Diaspora-Photographic-Palestinians/dp/0887281443] the foremost Palestinian historian, provides the introduction and commentary to this work, which captures the culture and civil society of Palestinians 51 years before the creation of Israel. It includes hundreds of pictures, maps, copies of original letters and pamphlets that sheds light on the existence of Palestinians living in Palestine. This work is an excellent supplement to what could be regarded as Dr. Khalidi’s magnum opus, All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948 [http://www.amazon.com/All-That-Remains-Palestinian-Depopulated/dp/0887283063]. This comprehensive work was meticulously researched. The oversized book contains hundreds of maps, charts, census data, appendixes containing multiple sources of information, and an extensive 20-page index. This is the original and seminal work, which carefully records the Nakba (Arabic for catastrophe – Palestine cleansed of Palestinians), which shatters this Zionist myth.


2. The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, by Dr. Ilan Pappe has been widely criticized but has not been refuted in academic circles [http://www.amazon.com/Ethnic-Cleansing-Palestine-Ilan-Pappe/dp/1851685553].  Pappe is one of the “New” Israeli historians who were given access to Israel’s archives. The conclusions he reaches are products of his thorough, meticulous research and carefully verified (with 51 pages of endnotes, chronology, maps, tables, and bibliography). His detractors call him a “self-hating Jew”, while fellow historians call him “ . . . Israel’s bravest, most principled, and most incisive historian.” Dr. Pappe’s work dispels this myth in a straightforward, historic manner. A must read for those who have read and/or heard about the Israeli narrative. This work (and the research that made it possible) is profoundly important in the Palestinian narrative.


3. The Electronic Intifada (electronicintifada.net/content/my-nakba/) provides first-hand, oral histories of Palestinians who were driven from their ancestral homes during the creation of Israel in 1947 and 1948. This dispossession of land, or Nakba (Arabic for catastrophe) views the creation of Israel from the Palestinian perspective. Intifada is an Arabic word literally meaning, “to shake off,” most commonly translated as “uprising” and used in reference to Palestinian political action. Founded in 2001 near the beginning of the 2nd Intifada (which lasted from 2000-2005) The Electronic Intifada is an independent online news publication, which delivers searing and timely news and commentary about Palestine and its people. Many of its contributors are Palestinians on the ground, providing original, news and analysis, including first-person accounts, reviews, and often-utilizing social media.


 St. Porphyrius Orthodox Church, Gaza. Photo credit:  The Independent
St. Porphyrius Orthodox Church, Gaza. Photo credit: The Independent

On a personal note, we have a Tarazi Family Tree that traces our forefathers back to the early 1700’s. In addition, there are birth and baptismal records housed at St. Porphyrius Orthodox Church, in Gaza, Palestine, where many Tarazi family members attended (and still attend). These records go back to the 1450’s. This church is one of the oldest Christian communities in the world. The church was built in 404 ACE and it will be celebrating its 1,610th anniversary this year.

This idea that Palestine was a “land without people”  is not a gray area that can be debated – it simply isn’t true.

– G.J. Tarazi

Ghassan (G.J.) Tarazi was born in Beirut, Lebanon, to a Palestinian father and a Lebanese mother, four months after his parents were forced to leave their home in Jerusalem in 1948. His family migrated to Brooklyn, NY in 1955.  He serves as chair of the Alliance of Baptist’s Community for Justice in Palestine and Israel. He and his wife have organized and led members of Ravensworth on trips to Israel and Palestine and have been very involved in the Palestine cause and the struggle for justice in Palestine and Israel locally, nationally, and internationally. He is a founding member of Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace. He and his wife live in McLean, VA

1 thought on “Dispelling Myths About Palestine and Israel – Myth #1”

  1. Thanks, G.J.! Your knowledge is so far-ranging. The rest of us need to listen, learn, and seek ways to respond. "It simply isn’t true"…is so true.

Leave a Reply