Well, Hamas, Since You Brought The Subject Up…
                                                                             by Gerald A. Honigman
     Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar gave an interview which aired on Al-Manar TV on January 25, 2006.
     Among other things, he stated:
     In this region we have faced Roman occupation, Persian occupation, Crusader occupation, British occupation - they are all gone. The Israeli enemy does not belong to the region. It does not belong to the region's history, geography, or faith.
     Irresistible… Typical figments of that legendary Arab imagination at work again.
     But repeat a lie enough times and the ignorant--whether innocent or not so--will accept it. So, allow me the pleasure to burst the bubble.
     Let’s start with the assertion of how alleged Arab aboriginals--not Jews--faced Roman occupation in “Palestine.” And rather than relying on Zionist sources, let’s let those Roman and Persian occupiers al-Zahar mentions speak for themselves.
      There was no country or nation known as "Palestine" during the Roman occupation. In fact, there was never an Arab country of Palestine. The land was known back then as Judaea and its inhabitants were Judaeans... Jews.
     Tacitus, Dio Cassius, and Josephus were famous Roman and/or Roman-sponsored historians who wrote extensively about Judaea's attempt to remain free from the Soviet Union of its day, the conquering Roman Empire. They lived and wrote during, or not long after, the two major revolts of the Jews for independence in 66-73 C.E. and 133-135 C.E. They make no mention of this land being called "Palestine" or its people "Palestinians." And as can be seen below, they knew the differences between Jews and Arabs as well and exposed Hamas’ predecessors for the vultures that they were and are, jumping on the Roman bandwagon to gain a share of the kill.
     Listen carefully to this quote from Vol. II, Book V, The Works of Tacitus :
     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...
     Some things change, some things never change. What really needs to change is Israel exchanging helicopters for bombers in its dealings with the butchers of its innocents. But I’m jumping ahead, so let’s return to the Roman occupation…
     After the 1st Revolt, Rome issued thousands of Judaea Capta coins which can be seen today in museums all over the world. Notice, please... Judaea Capta... not Palaestina Capta.
     Hear that al-Zahar?
     Additionally, to celebrate this victory, the towering Arch of Titus was erected showing Roman legionnaires carrying away the giant menorah, other spoils of the Jewish Temple (which Arabs deny ever existed), and Judaean captives. It stands tall in Rome to this very day. I’m surprised Arabs haven’t tried to blow it up yet as they destroyed thousands of Jewish graves, synagogues, and the like in Israel to try to eradicate the age-old Jewish presence. Not that I want to give them any ideas…
     When, some sixty years later, Emperor Hadrian decided to further desecrate the site of the destroyed Temple of the Jews by erecting a pagan structure there, it was the grandchildren's turn to take on their mighty conquerors.
     Listen next to this quote from Dio Cassius:
     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.'
     Judaea, al-Zahar…not Palaestina.
     Roman sources, al-Zahar…not Zionists’.
     The Emperor was so enraged at the Jews' struggle for freedom in their own land that, in the words of the esteemed modern historian, Bernard Lewis, "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 identity."
     Wishing to end, once and for all, Jewish hopes, 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 eastern Mediterranean or Aegean area.
     So, sorry Hamas & Co....trying to hijack the Philistines’ identity as your Arab brethren have done with airplanes and have constantly tried to do with that of the Jews won't work either.
     Palestine became largely "Arab" the same way that most of the almost two dozen states that call themselves "Arab" today did...by the conquest, occupation, settlement, and forced Arabization of other native, non-Arab peoples and their lands...Berbers, Copts, Assyrians, Black Africans, Jews, Kurds, native Semitic but largely non-Arab Lebanese, and so forth. Muhammad and his successors' imperial caliphal armies burst out of the Arabian Peninsula in the 7th century C.E. in all directions spreading Arabism and the Dar ul-Islam by the sword. And any and all who resisted subjugation and/or becoming part of what Arabs like to call today “purely Arab patrimony” were eliminated. Think of earlier variations of the Arabs' modern day gassings of Kurds, genocide against and enslavement of black Africans, murder of Copts, Jews, and Berbers, and so forth.
     As I’ve often written before, imperialism is only deemed nasty by Arabs when they themselves are not indulging in it.
     Al-Zahar next spoke of the Persian occupation in the early 7th century C.E.
     Let’s listen to what Euthychius, the Patriarch of Alexandria (and certainly also no Zionist), had to say about this in his book of history, the Annals of Euthychius I, 216...
     The Persian commander went to Damascus and destroyed the land, and the Jews from Tiberias, Hebron, Nazareth, and Tyre gathered together to help the Persians…the Jews of Jerusalem, Hebron, Tiberias, Damascus and Cyprus came together until they numbered an army of 20,000 and came to Tyre to destroy it.
     Keep in mind that this was centuries after the Roman decimation of the Jews in their land and the onset of the Great Diaspora.
     Of course prior to these events, unquestionable archaeological and historical corroboration from other “non-Zionist” sources testifies to the Jewish presence in the land and region for numerous centuries prior to the Roman occupation.
     So much for Hamas’ wishful thinking--or just plain lies--regarding the alleged non-Jewish connection to the region via history and geography.
     Let’s move on to al-Zahar’s comments about the alleged non-connection of the Jews’ faith to the region.
     Putting it bluntly, when Hamas’ ancestors were still practicing fertility rites and worshipping idols of different sorts and dimensions, over two thousand years before the Prophet of Islam was born, the Jews were introducing the G_d of Eternity to the world from that very region. The Qur’an itself is filled with such references to the Children of Israel.
     When Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, fled Mecca to Medina in 622 C.E. (the Hijrah), the inhabitants welcomed him.
     Medina had been developed centuries earlier as a thriving date palm oasis by Jews fleeing the Roman assault (the banu-Qurayzah and banu-al-Nadir tribes, etc.), and its mixed population of Jews and pagan Arabs had thus become conditioned for a native prophet speaking the word of G_d.
     Muhammad learned much from the Jews.
     While the actual timing of his decision on the direction of prayer may never be known, during his long sojourn with the Jews of Medina, his followers were instructed to pray towards Jerusalem.
     Early prominent Arab historians such as Jalaluddin came right out and stated that this was done primarily as an attempt to win support among the influential Jewish tribes (the "People of the Book") for Muhammad's religio-political claims.
     It is from the Temple Mount of the Jews in Jerusalem that Muslims believe Muhammad ascended to Heaven on his winged horse. A mosque, the Dome of the Rock, would later be erected on this Jewish holy site after the Arabs’ own imperial conquest of the land in the 7th century C.E.
     You see, despite Arab figments and distortions of the truth such as those spouted by Hamas, there is no doubt among objective scholars that the Jews of the region had an enormous impact on both Muhammad and the faith that he founded.
     In fact, the holy sites for Muslims in Jerusalem (i.e. the mosques erected on the Temple Mount of the Jews) are now deemed "holy" only precisely because of the critical years Muhammad spent after the Hijrah with the Jews.
     The Temple Mount had no prior meaning to pagan Arabs.
     While there was some early Christian influence as well, intense scholarship has shown that the faith spelled out in the  Holy Law (Halacha) and Holy Scriptures of the Jews had a tremendous influence on the Qur’an, Islamic Holy Law (Shari'a), and so forth.
     Muhammad's "Jerusalem connection" was most likely not established until after his extended stay with his Jewish hosts. Understand that this was no mere coincidence...Muslim religious beliefs regarding Muhammad's conversations with the Angel Gabriel and the like notwithstanding.
     When the Jews refused to recognize Muhammad as the "Seal of the Prophets," he turned on them with a vengeance. Before long, with the exception of Yemen, there were virtually no Jews left on the Arabian Peninsula. And the direction of prayer was changed away from Jerusalem and towards the Kaaba in Mecca instead...
      Some six centuries ago, Ibn Khaldun was one of the world's most important thinkers and is perhaps the greatest scholar the Islamic world has ever produced. He was also a Zionist.
      In The Muqaddimah, he devoted much time and effort to the evolution and development of the Jewish nation, its early struggles with its adversaries, and its later fight for freedom with the mighty Roman Empire and its consequences. He then followed this with an analysis of the Jews' tragic condition of powerlessness throughout subsequent generations.
     The Muqaddimah emphasizes that the Jews were forced to wander in the desert for forty years due to their "meekness." Ibn Khaldun stressed that this was necessary so that a new generation would arise with a new, more powerful 'asabiyah (group feeling). The Zionism Arabs condemn today was just the prescription Ibn Khaldun was calling for.
     At a time when homicidal Arabs, like al-Zahar, are demanding their 22nd state and second, not first, one in the original 1920 borders of the Palestine Mandate ( Jordan created by the British in 1922 on some 80% of the latter, and most others having been created by the conquest of non-Arab peoples and their lands), chances are more than good that this great Muslim scholar would have approved and viewed the resurrection of Israel as an answer to the unique plight of perpetually victimized, stateless Jews...the end of an even more tragic and extensive wandering and period of meekness and powerlessness in the desert Ibn Khaldun spoke of so eloquently six hundred years earlier.
     While much more evidence could be included to expose the Arabs’ lies, I’ve covered this nicely in many of my other writings. Check them out at www.geraldahonigman.com and elsewhere. Besides, if I cover too much now, I’ll cut out the fun for later…
     It’s now Spring training time for baseball here in Florida. And regarding Hamas’ assertions regarding the Jews’ alleged non-connections to the region vis-à-vis history, geography, and faith
     It’s one, two, three strikes and you’re out!
     And as a footnote, with elections just around the corner, Israel needs to get itself leaders who will truly know how to deal with Mahmoud al-Zahar’s murderous disembowelers of its children…and then act on it.

Gerald A. Honigman is a Florida educator who has done extensive doctoral studies in Middle Eastern Affairs. He has created and conducted counter-propaganda programs for college youth, has lectured on numerous university campuses and other platforms, and has publicly debated many anti-Israel spokesmen. His articles and op-eds have been published in hundreds of newspapers, magazines, academic journals and websites around the world. His official website is: http://www.geraldahonigman.com/

Our special thanks to the author for submitting this article. A. G. S.