Palestinian Identity is Older Than Israeli Identity

Comrade Morlock
4 min readFeb 5, 2024
1898 use of the word Palestinians in the preface to Khalil Beidas’s translation of Akim Olesnitsky’s A Description of the Holy Land

“There was no such thing as Palestinians. When was there an independent Palestinian people with a Palestinian state? It was either southern Syria before the First World War and then it was a Palestine including Jordan. It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country from them. They did not exist.” — Golda Meir

Zionists often insist Palestinians did not identify themselves as Palestinians. This is odd for at least four reasons:

  1. It’s irrelevant — if Palestinians identified as Martians, it would still be wrong to dispossess them.
  2. No one identified as Israeli before 1948, when Moshe Shertok, Israel’s Foreign Secretary, announced that citizens of Israel would be called Israelis. Until then, Jews identified themselves by their country.
  3. The argument that a regional identity did not exist has been used by the worst people. When Putin made that argument about Ukrainians, historian Timothy Snyder said, “This kind of language, that another nation doesn’t exist, is something we need to pay attention to because it usually precedes atrocious actions.”
  4. Before 1948, Palestinians had passports that told everyone they were from Palestine. It would have been impossible for them not to think of themselves as Palestinians.

After Golda Meyerson left the United States and changed her last name to Meir, she admitted,

“I am a Palestinian, from 1921 to 1948, I carried a Palestinian passport.” — Golda Meir

For over two thousand years, being a Palestinian had nothing to do with ethnicity; a Palestinian was someone who lived in Palestine. As late as 1920, that definition was common. The Oxford English Dictionary provides an example:

“The higher ranks of the Civil Service..would consist mainly of British officials until an increasing number of Palestinians were fully qualified… Other ranks would be open to Palestinians, irrespective of creed.” — Glasgow Herald, 12 July 1920

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Comrade Morlock

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