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Thursday, February 25, 2021
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History can be so inconvenient for people with agendas, so they just rewrite it. But in Israel, archaeology trumps the lies.

(This essay originally appeared on Arutz Sheva and is reprinted by permission of the author.)

Two small, seemingly unrelated items in the news this week tell you pretty much everything you need to know about the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The first had to do with an archaeological discovery in Israel. Many years ago, Israeli antiquities experts acquired an ancient inscribed bulla—a stamp used for sealing documents—that was of unknown provenance. It was obtained from a Bedouin merchant, not dug up by archaeologists. Given its condition, and without being able to examine the soil where it was uncovered, it was impossible for experts to precisely date or identify the bulla.

Impossible, that is, until the advent of new technology. Last week, Prof. Yuval Goren of Ben-Gurion University announced that thanks to the latest laboratory testing methods, he and his colleagues had determined that it is one of the earliest known bullas—it was used in the court of the Israelite king Jeroboam II, in the eighth century BCE.

The partially preserved inscription on the seal shows a roaring lion, with the Hebrew words “L’Shema, eved Yeravam,” that is, “Belonging to Shema, the servant [or minister] of Jeroboam.”

Keep that in mind as I describe the second news item. This one has to do with a group of activists known as the Pro-Israel Bay Bloggers, who last week noticed that “The Palestine Project,” an anti-Israel website, has been engaged in some pretty sleazy sleight-of-hand.

The Palestine Project gang has taken 45 photos from Life magazine’s archive and created an online exhibit called “Photos: Palestine 1948.” The sharp-eyed Bay Bloggers discovered that the photos’ original captions, as published in Life, had been changed in the Palestine Project exhibit.

A caption that in the original 1948 magazine referred to a dead “Arab” teenager has been changed to a dead “Palestinian” teenager. A caption mentioning “Arab refugees” is now “Palestinian” refugees. A “deserted street” has become “a deserted Palestinian street.”

Why are pro-Palestinian propagandists literally re-writing history? Because they have to. If they leave the historical record intact, their cause crumbles. Accurate history is their greatest enemy.

Now you can understand how these two news items are related.

The ancient bulla comes from the court of a Jewish king who ruled in the Land of Israel nearly 3,000 years ago. He was one of many Jewish kings, who ruled for many centuries over sovereign Jewish states. There were never any “Palestinian” kings—not 3,000 years ago, not 1,000 years ago, not even 100 years ago.

The writing on the bulla is in Hebrew. Not Arabic. Arabs didn’t live in the Land of Israel 3,000 years ago. Or 2,000 years ago. The Muslim imperialist armies of the Arabian Peninsula invaded and illegally occupied the Land of Israel only in the seventh century CE— fully 1,500 years after Jeroboam II ruled.

Now you can understand the problem facing the folks at the Palestine Project. Throughout history, there was never a sovereign state called “Palestine” or—until recently—any Arabs who called themselves “Palestinians.”

So, the Palestine Project has to make them up. It has to retroactively crown them as “Palestinians,” to change captions to read as they wish they had been written—to literally change history, and hope nobody notices. This time, fortunately, somebody noticed.

I wonder what the scribblers at the Palestine Project will think when they notice how many pre-1948 historical records use the word “Palestine” very differently from the way that contemporary anti-Israel propagandists wish it had been used.

I’m referring to the records that remind us that it was the Jews, not the Arabs, who called themselves “Palestinians” before 1948. The Palestine Post was a Jewish newspaper (that later changed its name to the Jerusalem Post). The Palestine Symphony consisted of Jewish musicians. Ben Hecht’s American League for a Free Palestine was lobbying to establish a Jewish state. History can be so inconvenient for people with agendas.

At the end of the day, no matter how many captions the anti-Israel propagandists rewrite, the truth of history will win out—because every time an archaeologist digs his spade into the soil of the Land of Israel, more evidence emerges to show who its real indigenous people are.


Stephen M. Flatow is a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, an attorney in New Jersey and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is the author of “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror.”

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