BCF : Millennia before Palestinians appeared on the world stage following the Six-Day War, the “West Bank” was already known as Judea and Samaria.
“Palestine” dates from the League of Nations Mandate (1923) that granted England governing power over the land, including Trans-Jordan, that was previously controlled by the defeated Ottoman Empire. The Mandate recognized “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine.” “Palestinians” were not mentioned; Arabs in the Land of Israel lacked national consciousness as a people. Two decades after the birth of Israel, following the Six-Day War, they borrowed so extensively from Jewish and Zionist sources as to virtually constitute historical plagiarism.
“Palestine” had emerged as an abbreviation of “Syria-Palestine,”
imposed by Roman conquerors in the 2nd century CE to obliterate the
Jews’ connection to their biblical homeland. Modern conceptions of
Palestine did not appear until the 19th century, when British artists
and writers began to explore the ”Holy Land.” Jews, wrote Rev. Alexander
Keith, are “a people without a country” while “their own land . . .
[is] a country without a people.” Several years later Lord Ashley Cooper
described “a country without a nation” needing “a nation without a
country.” That nation, he asserted, was “the ancient and rightful lords
of the soil, the Jews!”
During the early years of the British Mandate, Arabs in Palestine
still had little awareness of a distinctive national identity.
Testifying before the Peel Commission in 1937, Syrian leader Auni Bey
Abdul-Nadi asserted: “There is no such country as Palestine. …
‘Palestine’ is alien to us. It is the Zionists who introduced it.” Even
Columbia history professor Rashid Khalidi, an expert on Palestinian
identity, would acknowledge that before World War I “Palestine” did not
exist in Arab consciousness. Zionist land development served as a magnet
for Arabs from Middle Eastern countries who came to Palestine in search
of a better life and eventually became “Palestinians.”