“There are no differences between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. We are all part of one nation. It is only for political reasons that we carefully underline our Palestinian identity… yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity serves only tactical purposes. The founding of a Palestinian state is a new tool in the continuing battle against Israel”
. Zuhair Muhsin, military commander of the PLO and member of the PLO Executive Council
“Never forget this one point: There is no such thing as a Palestinian people, there is no Palestinian entity, there is only Syria. You are an integral part of the Syrian people, Palestine is an integral part of Syria. Therefore it is we, the Syrian authorities, who are the true representatives of the Palestinian people”.
Syrian dictator Hafez Assad to the PLO leader Yasser Arafat
“As I lived in Palestine, everyone I knew could trace their heritage back to the original country their great grandparents came from. Everyone knew their origin was not from the Canaanites, but ironically, this is the kind of stuff our education in the Middle East included. The fact is that today’s Palestinians are immigrants from the surrounding nations! I grew up well knowing the history and origins of today’s Palestinians as being from Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Christians from Greece, Muslim Sherkas from Russia, Muslims from Bosnia, and the Jordanians next door. My grandfather, who was a dignitary in Bethlehem, almost lost his life by Abdul Qader Al-Husseni (the leader of the Palestinian revolution) after being accused of selling land to Jews. He used to tell us that his village Beit Sahur (The Shepherds Fields) in Bethlehem County was empty before his father settled in the area with six other families. The town has now grown to 30,000 inhabitants”.
“There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent (valley of Jezreel, Galilee); not for thirty miles in either direction… One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. For the sort of solitude to make one dreary, come to Galilee… Nazareth is forlorn… Jericho lies a mouldering ruin… Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and humiliation… untenanted by any living creature… A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds… a silent, mournful expanse… a desolation… We never saw a human being on the whole route… Hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil had almost deserted the country… Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes… desolate and unlovely…”
Mark Twain, “The Innocents Abroad”, 1867
“In 1590 a ‘simple English visitor’ to Jerusalem wrote: ‘Nothing there is to be seen but a little of the old walls, which is yet remaining and all the rest is grass, moss and weeds much like to a piece of rank or moist ground’”.
Gunner Edward Webbe, Palestine Exploration Fund
“The land in Palestine is lacking in people to till its fertile soil”. British archaeologist Thomas Shaw, mid-1700s
“Palestine is a ruined and desolate land”. Count Constantine François Volney, XVIII century French author and historian
“The Arabs themselves cannot be considered but temporary residents. They pitched their tents in its grazing fields or built their places of refuge in its ruined cities. They created nothing in it. Since they were strangers to the land, they never became its masters. The desert wind that brought them hither could one day carry them away without their leaving behind them any sign of their passage through it”.
Comments by Christians concerning the Arabs in Palestine in the 1800s
“The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is of a body of population”. James Finn, British Consul in 1857
“The area was under populated and remained economically stagnant until the arrival of the first Zionist pioneers in the 1880′s, who came to rebuild the Jewish land. The country had remained “The Holy Land” in the religious and historic consciousness of mankind, which associated it with the Bible and the history of the Jewish people. Jewish development of the country also attracted large numbers of other immigrants – both Jewish and Arab. The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts… Houses were all of mud. No windows were anywhere to be seen… The plows used were of wood… The yields were very poor… Schools did not exist… The rate of infant mortality was very high… The western part, toward the sea, was almost a desert… Many ruins were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria, many villages were deserted by their inhabitants”.
The report of the British Royal Commission, 1913