Independent daily Newspaper


 Old Archive RSS Feed    Advertise



 Why Myanmar...But Not Judea? 

 Analysis - Opinion
  The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.


Why Myanmar...But Not Judea?  31.12.2011
By Gerald A. Honigman - 

Share |

Gerald A. Honigman is a Florida educator who has done extensive doctoral studies in Middle Eastern Affairs. He has created and conducted counter-Arab propaganda programs for college youth, has lectured on numerous campuses and other platforms, and has publicly debated many Arab spokesmen. His articles and op-eds have been published in dozens of newspapers, magazines, academic journals and websites all around the world.

December 31, 2011

Why Sri Lanka, but not Samaria?

Why not Rhodesia, but the "West Bank?"

It's admirable (don't you think?) when a people throws off the legacy of imperial oppression to embrace their new freedom. The very renaming of nations themselves has often been a reflection of this wonderful development.

Admirable, indeed--unless those people happen to be Jews.

Among the examples of this which have occurred over the last half century are people who lived in Great Britain's former imperial possessions of Ceylon, Rhodesia, and Burma. Those nations are now known as Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, and Myanmar.

While I've thought about this for decades, what brought this issue onto my own front burner was an article I read recently about Myanmar's pro-democracy hero and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi. Too often foreign imperialism gets supplanted by home-grown despotism, as the latter knows only too well.

Here's the problem, and admittedly, the Jews pose a unique case related to this discussion due to their forced exile in the wake of taking on the imperial conqueror of much of the known world not just once, but in two major (and other lesser) revolts recorded in depth by the Romans themselves. Before we proceed, please contemplate this thought for a moment...

Is a victim any less a victim because his victimization has been historically the longest enduring?

While the so-called "Progressives" of the world are adamant that the previous imperialist names of conquered lands be dismissed, why is it that when it comes to dealing with the oft-conquered land of the Jews, the opposite is the case?

Such sources of ethical enlightenment frequently insist instead that the millennia-old names of the land--Israel, Judea, and Samaria--be abandoned for the sake of the names Roman, British, and Arab imperialism and conquest gave to them instead..."Palestine" and the "West Bank."

Everyone else is entitled to national liberation--but not Jews. The latter must agree to their scapegoat, victim, and preferred whipping post par excellence existence for eternity. Or just disappear.

With Christmas 2011 still of very much of recent memory, a good portion of the world once again became familiar with the story of Jesus' birth. During this season, it has also become common for Arabs to declare the alleged "Palestinian"(non-Jewish) identity of Jesus.

Since I've answered this with both barrels elsewhere, I won't bother with the deliberate Arab attempt to hijack another people's identity in this essay.

But, since the subject is directly related to the overall issue of whose nation truly needs to be liberated in the land, please read whatever version you prefer on your favorite search engine of my earlier analysis, Arafat's Jesus. Here's the moderate Muslim print newspaper, Pakistan Today's, version from early 2004  and a recent update from this year in Virtual Jerusalem... .

Returning to the account of Jesus' birth, among other places, this appears briefly in Matthew 2:1 in which Bethlehem of Judea is declared his birth place. Bethlehem ("House of Bread" in Hebrew) was also the birth place of King David, over a thousand years earlier, the site of the beautiful story of Ruth and Naomi (even earlier), and so forth. And if the Arabs (whoops--excuse me, "Palestinians") can claim Jesus, then Ruth, Naomi, and David were theirs too...and I'm the Passover Bunny.

Note, please, that this is the same Judaea (Hebrew:Yehudah; Greek: Ιουδαία; Latin: of the Judeans--Jews) which the ancient Roman and Roman-sponsored historians--Pliny, Tacitus, Josephus, Dio Cassius, and others--wrote about themselves; the same Judea which Rome placed on its Judea Capta coins after defeating the first major revolt of the Jews for their freedom and independence after 70 C.E., constructed the towering, still standing Arch of Titus for in Rome, etc. and so forth.

And "Palestine"?

Shame on the "Progressives," for sure.

While the geographical coastal region near Gaza and such had sometimes earlier been loosely designated as such by the Greeks, the name itself referred to no separate country nor nation. Indeed, there never, ever, ever was such a separate country, language, nation, or culture by that name.

The cold, cruel fact--so willingly ignored by the "Progressive" Left--is that "Palestine" became associated with Israel/Judea by one of the most blatant acts of imperial cruelty ever to be recorded in history.

After the Jews' costly second revolt for freedom in the second century C.E., the Emperor, Hadrian, decided to try to squash the Jews' hopes once and for all by renaming the land itself after their historic enemies, the Philistines--a non-Semitic (let alone non-Arab) invading "Sea People" from the islands near Crete.

Below are two of my oft-quoted favorite excerpts from contemporary Roman historians once again.

After the first revolt...

It inflamed Vespasian's (the Emperor) ire that the Jews were the only nation which had not yet submitted.Titus was appointed by his father to complete the subjugation of Judaea. he commanded three legions in Judaea itself. To these he added the twelfth from Syria and the third and twenty-second from Alexandria. amongst his allies were a band of Arabs, formidable in themselves and harboring towards the Jews the bitter animosity usually subsisting between neighboring nations. Vol. II, Book V, The Works of Tacitus.

Please note: the Arabs mentioned in the above account were foreigners to the land, acting virtually as vultures, looking to grab a share of the main Roman kill. They were not "native Palestinians."

And, after the second revolt...

580,000 men were slain, nearly the whole of Judaea made desolate. Many Romans, moreover, perished in this war (the Bar Kochba Revolt). Therefore Hadrian in writing to the senate did not employ the opening phrase commonly affected by the emperors, ' I and the legions are in health'. Dio's Roman History.

The Emperor was so enraged at the Jews' struggle for liberation from their imperial oppressors that, in the words of the esteemed modern historian, Bernard Lewis...

Hadrian made a determined attempt to stamp out the embers not only of the revolt but also of Jewish nationhood and statehood. obliterating its Jewish identity.

To reiterate this important point, wishing to end, once and for all, Judean/"Jewish" (as in Danish, Irish, Swedish, English, etc.) hopes for independence from their imperial conqueror, Hadrian renamed the land itself from Judaea to "Syria Palaestina"--Palestine--after the Jews' historic enemies, the Philistines, a non-Semitic "Sea People" from the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea.

Yet, one is hard pressed to discover any of the above these days.

Again, no people--besides Jews--had ever established an enduring, separate identity in the land.

After the fall of Judea, only one imperial conqueror after another (including that of the Arabs during the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates, ruled from Damascus and Baghdad respectively) grabbed hold of the land--ruling it from afar and colonizing it with their own invading armies. Before the modern era, the Ottoman Turks were the latest to do this, ruling the land for about four centuries until after World War I.

Arabs who both earlier and later came to settle on the land were part of a greater Arab--not "Palestinian"-- identity. They spoke Arabic, their culture was Arab, their loyalties were to family, clan, and tribe, and later--in the 20th century age of nationalism in the region (and largely to oppose the resurrection of Israel)--those who were politically active gave their loyalty primarily to a Greater Syria or Pan Arab identity...not to "Palestine."And that's what Republican presidential hopeful, Newt Gingrich, was also referring to in his recent comments on the subject

As with Palestine, the story evolved in a similar way regarding the imperial renaming of Judea and Samaria to the "West Bank" as well.

In one account after another about Bethlehem, Hebron, East Jerusalem, and other places in historical Judea and Samaria, those towns have been designated by statesmen, journalists, academics, and others the "West Bank" instead--or, "the occupied" West Bank, to add insult to injury. Judeans/Jews living in those areas are now the alleged "imperialist occupiers" of the land.

And those who beg to differ are more often than not simply dismissed as reactionary Zionist fanatics.

With few exceptions, however, it's easy to discover that almost all the towns on the "West Bank" were re-named from their original Hebrew sites.

Check out these excerpts from this source  ("What's In A Town's name?") for starters. After the Arab imperial conquests of the 7th century C.E.,

as with Dor and Tantura, the original name-changers in Palestine were the Arabs, who Arabized hundreds of Hebrew place names when they replaced the Jewish population of the country after the Muslim conquest.

In the great majority of cases, Arabization took place by adjusting old Hebrew names to Arabic phonetic patterns. Sometimes these changes were minor, leaving the old names recognizable.

Biblical Anatot near Jerusalem, the birthplace of the prophet Jeremiah, became the Muslim village of Anata; Modi'in, where the revolt of the Maccabees broke out, turned into Midia; Bet-She'an, in the Jordan Valley south of Tiberias, was called Beisan.

Often, however, the changes were great enough to obscure the original name. One might never guess from the sound of it that Jenin, the West Bank town that was so controversially in the news a while ago, was once the Hebrew Ein-Gannim; that the Palestinian village of Jib was the biblical Giv'on, where the sun stood still so that Joshua could finish routing the Amorite kings; or that Bet-El, "the House of God," the name given according to the Bible by Jacob to the site on which he dreamed of a ladder to heaven, is now the Palestinian Beitin.

Add to the above the Minutes of the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations and other solid documentation which show that the vast majority of Arabs were indeed newcomers themselves into the land themselves (i.e., Arab settlers setting up Arab settlements), and the picture becomes even clearer.

Judea and Samaria--the names the disputed territories now constantly making news were known as for thousands of years--became designated the "West Bank" in the wake of World War I and the official break-up of the Ottoman Turkish Empire.

After Great Britain's handing over some 78% of the original 1920 Mandate of Palestine's territory to Arab nationalism in 1922 with the creation of Transjordan, a quarter century later the latter's British-led army then grabbed the non-apportioned part of the Mandate of Palestine west of the Jordan River upon its invasion of a minuscule, reborn Israel in 1948. Holding both banks of the river, it soon changed its name to Jordan.

And to distinguish the east bank from the newly-conquered territory across the river acquired as a result of the newest imperial shenanigans in the land, the name "West Bank" was thus born.

Jews had owned land and lived in Judea and Samaria until they were massacred by Arabs in the 1920s and 1930s. Upon the establishment of the first Arab state in Palestine in 1922, its whole area was declared off limits to Jews. When it illegally seized Judea and Samaria in 1948, it did likewise there as well.

Keep in mind that when those above Arabs then also bulldozed dozens of ancient synagogues, used ancient Jewish tombstones to pave roads and build latrines, and took other measures to erase the Jews' millennial connections to the land as well, barely a word was spoken in protest, besides those of the Jews themselves.

And today, the only thing that "Progressives" do about all of this is turn truth on its head. Jews and others who dare call the land by its historic names and insist that Jews should also have the right to once again live in their historic lands (displacing no one in the process on the still non-apportioned--not "purely Arab"--lands of the original 1920 Mandate) are branded the colonialists and imperialists instead.

Here's another thought, while we're at it.

If Judea must become, as many insist and, as the Nazis liked to say, Judenrein (free of Jews), then why should the one fifth of Israel who are Arabs (the freest Arabs living anywhere in the region) not also get the boot out of Israel? Many of such folks indeed compose a very dangerous, treasonous fifth column.

Despite the tragedy of the Roman Wars and the expulsions and Great Diaspora which followed, Jews remained in the land, in varying numbers, clear up to the rebirth of Israel in 1948.

While this does not give Jews exclusive rights to the land since others have conquered and come to settle it over the centuries, it does mean that Jews are anything but strangers there. Indeed, the historic names of the land itself are named for one of the Patriarchs of the Jewish people--Jacob, whose name was later changed to Israel, and Judah, one of Jacob's sons. On the other hand, Arabs claim exclusive rights to virtually the entire region, calling it "purely Arab patrimony" due to their own former imperial conquests and despite scores of millions of subjugated, non-Arab peoples still living there.

As just one of many examples which could be cited of this continuous Jewish presence, clear up to the dawn of the Arab conquest in the 7th century, Euthychius, the 10th century Patriarch of Alexandria, wrote in his book of history (Annals of Euthychius I, 216) about tens of thousands of Jewish warriors who aided the invading Persians against the hated Byzantine successors to the Romans in the area.

Regardless of the hypocrisy of the Progressive Left and others who should know better, in Judea and Samaria--as in Israel--the Jews are, at long last, home.

The Judean Hills and the Judean Wilderness will not be renamed the West Bank Hills nor the West Bank Wilderness for the sake of the Jimmy Carters, Michael Moores, Reverend Wrights, and the Noam Chomskys...nor for the Nicholas Sarkozys, Barack Hussein Obamas, or Hillary Rodham Clintons either (let alone the Arabs and their assorted other rah rah squads).

Furthermore, despite the hostility towards Israel practiced by many of the mainline Christian churches today, the birthplace of Jesus will remain in Bethlehem of Judea...not the West Bank.

Matthew 2:1 will not be edited.

Unless folks like black Africans in Zimbabwe and Asians in Myanmar (who, despite other problems, were not largely massacred and expelled by their own imperial conquerors who gave their lands other names--as were the Jews) are expected to call themselves Rhodesians and Burmese and not be allowed to live on their own historic lands, then the duplicity routinely practiced towards Jews in Israel, Judea, and Samaria on these same issues must come to an end as well. And, if not, then the Jews must do what they must do to thrive--not just survive--anyway.

Gerald A. Honigman is a Florida educator who has done extensive doctoral studies in Middle Eastern Affairs. He has created and conducted counter-Arab propaganda programs for college youth, has lectured on numerous campuses and other platforms, and has publicly debated many Arab spokesmen. His articles and op-eds have been published in dozens of newspapers, magazines, academic journals and websites all around the world. Visit his website at Gerald A. Honigman, a longtime contributing writer and columnist for Honigman has published a major book, "The Quest For Justice In The Middle East--The Arab-Israeli Conflict In Greater Perspective."

By Gerald A. Honigman for, December 31, 2011. You may reach the author via email at: honigman6 (at)

Copyright © 2011 All rights reserved 


  The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author


Copyright © 1998-2016 Kurd Net® . All rights reserved
All documents and images on this website are copyrighted and may not be used without the express
permission of the copyright holder.