‘There Was No Palestine'?

A number of Twitter users from Palestine and the Arab region are taking to the microblogging site to refute a common Israeli discourse that Palestine never existed. “There is no such thing as a Palestinian people”, former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir once said.

While in 2011, in a YouTube video, former Israeli Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Danny Ayalon said that “in 1967 there was no Arab nation or State by the name of Palestine”. “Actually, was there ever?” he added.

Blogger and essayist Juan Cole wrote about this discourse:

One of the common assertions one finds in Zionist propaganda is that there “was never any Palestine.” This odd allegation is simply not true. Palestine has been used for a very long time to refer to the geographical area south of Sidon and north of the Sinai. There are medieval Muslim coins from a mint in that area with “Filastin” (Palestine) written on them. In the nineteenth century, diaries survive of locals who visited Damascus e.g. and wrote about how they missed “Filastin”, i.e. Palestine.

He adds:

If what is being alleged is that there was no nation-state called Palestine, at least before the League of Nations created one, that is banal. There were no nation-states until the 19th century. There was no “Italy” before 1860. Venice was Austrian, Genoa French. There was no “Germany” before 1870. Lots of small principalities, some of them under other rule or influence.

Egyptian novelist Ahdaf Soueif started the hashtag there_was_no_Palestine on April 15 and asked users to contribute pictures of life in Palestine before the 1948 forced eviction of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their lands and villages:

Shortly after, pictures started pouring in.

1927 Palestinian Coin

1927 Palestinian Coin

User Ali Hussein El Helou chose to share a video featuring a football match between Australia and Palestine in 1939.

For more photos, Haitham Sabbah, compiled a list of photos on life in Palestine that date back to 1900.


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