Palestine never was and should never be exclusively Jewish, in part or in whole

Cover of Nur Masalha’s 2018 book, Palestine: A Four Thousand Year History

Nur Masalha is a Palestinian historian who, like Ilan Pappé, challenges Israeli versions of the history of Palestine and Israel, arguing that history must be read through the eyes of its indigenous people.

In the introduction of his latest book, Palestine: A Four Thousand Year History, London: Zed Books Limited, 2018, Masalha writes:

This book challenges the colonial approach to Palestine and the pernicious myth of a land without a people (Masalha 1992, 1997) and argues for reading the history of Palestine with the eyes of the indigenous people of Palestine. The Palestinians are the indigenous people of Palestine; their local roots are deeply embedded in the soil of Palestine and their autochthonous identity and historical heritage long preceded the emergence of a local Palestinian nascent national movement in the late Ottoman period and the advent of Zionist settler-colonialism before the First World War.

To me, the most valuable contribution of this timely book is its clarification of a central issue long obfuscated by Israeli propaganda, namely that

… countries existed long before nationalism or the creation of metanarratives for the nation-state. The conception of Palestine as a geo-political unit and a country (Arabic: bilad or qutr), with evolving boundaries has developed historically and continues to do so. The identity and cultures of Palestine are living organisms: they change, evolve and develop…. the indigenous people of historic Palestine and the indigenized immigrants in Palestine … have a multifaith and multicultural heritage and a multi-layered identity deeply rooted in the ancient past.

In other words, Palestine was never and should never be exclusively Jewish, in part or in whole. (See Israel Passes Controversial Law Reserving National Self-Determination For Jews ).

Here is the Table of Contents of Palestine: A Four Thousand Year History, London: Zed Books Limited, 2018:


1. The Philistines and Philistia as a Distinct Geo-political Entity: Late Bronze Age to 500 BC

2. The Conception of Palestine in Classical Antiquity and During the Hellenistic Empires (500‒135 BC)

3. From Philistia to Provincia ‘Syria Palaestina’ (135 AD‒390 AD): The Administrative Province of Roman Palestine

4. The (Three in One) Provincia Palaestina: The Three Administrative Provinces of Byzantine Palestine (4th‒Early 7th Centuries AD)

5. Arab Christian Palestine: The Pre-Islamic Arab Kings, Bishops and Poets and Tribes of Provincia Palaestina (3rd‒Early 7th Centuries AD)

6. The Arab Province of Jund Filastin (638‒1099 AD): Continuities, Adaption and Transformation of Palestine under Islam

7. Between Egypt and al-Sham: Palestine during the Ayyubid, Mamluk and Early Ottoman Periods

8. Palestinian Statehood in the 18th Century: Early Modernities and Practical Sovereignty in Palestine

9. Being Palestine, Becoming Palestine: Rediscovery and New Representations of Modern Palestine and their Impact on Palestinian National Identity

10. Settler-colonialism and Disinheriting the Palestinians: The Appropriation of Palestinian Place Names by the Israeli State

Note: The above was first published (23 Aug 2018) as an answer to the following question on Quora and then deleted by Quora Moderation as “soliciting spam” for referencing the Kindle location in the quotations:

Rima Najjar’s answer to ‘What is a good non-partisan book about the history of Israel and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict if I’m looking for verifiable historical accuracy, good context, and an analysis of what the two agree and disagree about?’

Palestinian and righteously angry