By Arlene Bridges Samuels, CBN Israel—
Calling Israel “Palestine” is commonplace today. However, the history of that name goes back millennia. First coined by the ancient Greeks for the five-city area in the Philistine confederacy and then adopted by Roman emperor Hadrian, Palestine was more recently copied by former Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat in the last century. Arafat’s use of Palestine and Palestinians has expanded into a propaganda machine that is successfully echoed worldwide, as part of an effort to eradicate all Jews.
But first let’s consider its earliest use. If Hadrian and Arafat had lived in the same century instead of 2,000 years apart, they doubtless would have formed a strong coalition to wipe out the Jews. Hadrian reigned for 21 years between 117-138 A.D. From 132–136 A.D., a Jewish messianic figure, Bar Kokhba, led a revolt against Hadrian that resulted in the deaths of more than half a million Jews in their desperate bid for independence from their pagan conquerors. But their valiant attempt was in vain against the overwhelming power of Roman legions.
Hadrian’s genocidal ambition intensified when he decided to strip the Jews of their biblical name. He sought to change their identity and sever them from their ancestry by renaming the land Syria Palestina after the Philistines in the Bible—enemies of Israel, although not Arabs. Hadrian then made it worse. Renaming Jerusalem—the already 1,000-year-old Jewish capital—Aelia Capitolina, he turned it into a pagan city.
While Bible translations and methods differ, the name Israel is said to appear in its pages over 2,500 times. In Genesis 32:28, we read an example of God’s official nomenclature when Jacob wrestled with God: “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” The title Palestina or Philistines is only briefly mentioned eight or so times in the Old Testament and nowhere in the New Testament.
The League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations, identified Great Britain as a kind of “manager” of Israel after World War I. The Ottoman Empire’s defeat had led to the Sykes-Picot Agreement, where two men—Sykes (a Brit) and Picot (a Frenchman)—were commissioned to carve up the Middle East for Great Britain and France. They kept the name Palestine, although in a 1938 report to the League of Nations, the British made this important distinction: “The name ‘Palestine’ is not a country but a geographic region.”
In pre-state Israel, when Jews began making Aliyah in high numbers, they adopted the name. In 1932, their newspaper was called The Palestine Post. Their first symphony orchestra (1936) was called the Palestine Orchestra. In 1948, the orchestra changed its name to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. The Palestine Post became The Jerusalem Post in 1950. Continue Reading….