The Arch of Titus and Saeb Erekat
Some questions for Mr. Erekat, who has asserted that his people have lived in the Land of Israel for thousands of years.
Dr. Bert Miller (INN:BM)
After graduating Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Miller spent his entire professional career teaching mathematics. He earned his masters degrees and PhD at the University of Maryland. He is a leading authority on eruv construction, having built the Baltimore eruv in 1981 and having written Eruv Manual with Rabbi Moshe Heinemann in 1982. He finished his English language sefer, Guide to Bais Din, on bais din and din Torah in 2013 and is completing an English translation of Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat
Recently, my wife and I visited Yeshiva University’s museum on 16th St in NYC to see the Arch of Titus exhibit. We saw the museum’s full-size 3-D computer recreation of the famous scene of the Jewish prisoners of war carrying the Temple relics (menorah, shulchan [table], trumpets) to Rome. We also saw the displayed collection of 20-30 coins of the Second Temple period, minted in Palestine, some by the Jews and some by the Romans.
In one small corner of a display case, I saw the “complete collection” of coins minted by non-Jewish Palestinian governments from 1917 back through the Byzantine period, the Arab (invaders from the Arabian Peninsula and the east) Period, the Roman period, the Greek period, the Persian period, the Jewish monarchy and before that.
The complete set of these coins minted by non-Jewish Palestinian authorities fits comfortably in one small corner of a display case because these coins do not exist and have never existed. There are no such coins. Zilch, zippo, nada, cero, efes, null, gornicht, nuttin. The empty set. There was never an identifiable, Arab Palestinian people, or a Palestinian ethnic identity until the mid-20th century when some Arab hate merchants realized that such a peoplehood and ethnic identity would be useful in opposing the national aspirations of the Jews.
Until the 20th century, “Palestine” was understood by Arabs to be a province in Greater Syria. From 1948 until 1967, Arabs in the part of Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) living under Jordanian control were comfortable with Jordanian nationality and ethnicity. There was no problem in the Arab mind with Jordanian sovereignty on the West Bank of the Jordan River because everyone, Arab and non-Arab, knows that Jordan is Arab Palestine. The post World War I formation by the British of the country of Transjordan resulted in the first example of Palestinian Arabs holding sovereignty in any part of Palestine. During the previous several centuries, the Turks held sovereignty in Palestine.
Mr. Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian Arab diplomat, is now struggling to stop Mr. Trump from moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Yerushalayim. I must ask Mr. Erekat some questions because he has asserted that his people have lived in our Eretz Yisrael for thousands of years.
1. When the Romans invaded Judea/Palestine in the first century CE, did your Palestinian, non-Jewish – there were no Muslims then – ancestors a) fight alongside the Jews?, b) fight against the Romans?, or c) remain non-combatants like today’s Quakers?
2. Since (as you assert) your ancestors were present in Palestine at the time of the Roman invasion, any choice above would have been significant. Why is it that not a single historian of that period mentions the choice that your ancestors made from the three alternatives above?
3. Do you share the belief that, until recently, the Jews never held sovereignty or even lived in Palestine?
If you are correct, how was it that Roman sculptors created a fictitious, Jewish-focused relief and chiseled it into the Arch of Titus? It is not credible that 1900 years ago, some early Italian Zionists paid those Roman sculptors to create a historical fraud and received permission to have it stand in Rome. How was it that no Roman writer mocked this historical fraud or mentioned it during the ensuing centuries?
Do you believe that an element in that relief, a 7-branched candelabrum (we call it a menorah), a relic from our ancient Temple, is really a lighting fixture from some pre-Muhammad Palestinian tavern? If your non-Jewish ancestors were in Palestine at that time, they probably frequented taverns or beer halls at night after work to drink liquor and eat ham sandwiches on pita. Obviously, they would have needed illumination there. We both agree that in the first century CE Muhammad had not yet been born so he had not yet provided humanity with his revelation which outlawed alcohol, pork, graven images, etc.
4. If Yassir Arafat, who was born and raised in Egypt, can be a Palestinian, why can’t David Ben Gurion, who was born and raised in Poland, be a Palestinian (i.e., an Israeli)?
5. Do you believe both a) the Holocaust did not occur, and b) Israeli soldiers behave like Nazis? Well, if the Holocaust never occurred, then Nazis must have been good guys like the Brits and the Americans, smiling as they distributed candy to children.
Someone once observed that the chimpanzee is an organized sarcasm on the human race. The lies that flow from your mouth and your pen are an organized sarcasm on the truth. The fact that Arab Muslims and Arab Christians live within the borders of the State of Israel today is not a proof that their ancestors lived there. The fact that many Cleveland Indian baseball players live and work in Ohio today does not establish that their ancestors were all native Americans from what is now Ohio.
When Mr. Arafat told President Clinton at Camp David that there was never a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, President Clinton objected because that ridiculous assertion contradicted what President Clinton had read in his Bible. President Clinton knew that his messiah had not chased moneychangers out of a mosque.
Ambrose Bierce wrote, “Any idiot can tell the truth, but it takes a genius to know how to lie well.” Mr. Erekat, I am happy that you are no genius. You have acted in a dastardly way by spreading lies about the Jewish People and the State of Israel. That makes you a real dastard! (Yes, it’s in the dictionary.)