Apart from several other names given to this area (including Canaan, Israel, the Holy land, Kingdom of Jerusalem etc.) 'Palaestina' was the Latin name that the Roman emperor Hadrian gave to the region after the Bar Kokhba revolt was crushed (132-135). It was assumed that this would also help quash the national sentiments of the expelled Jews. The name derives from 'Philistine'.
At the latter part of the Bronze Age, 'Philistia' was believe to be where the present Gaza strip is situated. Philistia consisted of five states each with it's own central city: coastal Gaza, Ashdod and Ashkelon and inland Ekron and Gath.
Certain scholars maintain that the ethnic origin of the Philistines have links with Southern Greece from the Mycenaean civilisation but this has not been clearly established.
The name 'Palestine' remained, as did many of Roman Empire origin, and as did the countless generations of people known as the Palestinians.
Yet whether a people aspire to build fabulous cities for posterity, or is content to continue to nurse old olive groves and orange orchards, they are still in their own home-land as were their ancestors and as are their children. No one can assume the right, even divine, to deny a people such a fundamental easement, and this, whatever history, including what might be considered the most sacred, might otherwise decree.
But history can never essentially be 'individual', although even today each nation's version of history, depending also on the historian, would never entirely correspond with that of their neighbour nation. Often this difference increases and is embellished through time, space, culture and religion. Yet the essential ancestral birth right, whatever one's religious convictions, is undeniably sacred.
By defending this, by extension, one cannot deny the ancestral birth right of one's neighbours. One cannot deny or disprove the facts of history in this regard, or deform them to suit one's purpose or cause.
What applies to Jerusalem must apply to the 'Holy Land'. The 'Children of Abraham' represent the three monotheist religions, Muslim, Hebrew and Christian. Thus no single child should inherit everything that would create an interminable family conflict.
'The Children of Abraham', and of Israel should again be able to live together in peace as they once did for thousands of years. Why do the futile claims caused by war and religion, especially religion, make this so difficult? If in the final analysis of historical fact, it is unanimously agreed that no single, Abrahamic religion can claim the 'monopoly' of the 'Holy Land', why continue such a useless dispute?
The flames of this furnace are not rekindled and continually fed by moderate Palestinians and Israelis. They have been fanned by neighbouring States and nations for at least a generation, without considering more ancient history. These States have contributed to foster conditioned movements capable of indoctrinating their own children with racist hate. They seem inclined to maintain intolerable conditions in order to perpetuate the idea of representing a people who are constantly oppressed by their 'tyrannical' neighbours.
But surely the majority of Palestinians and Israelis wish to live together in peace.
Would not those states and nations who use the Palestinians to defend an unjustified cause do better by first improving their own standards and sweeping clean their own front doors?
The choice the Palestinians opted for in Gaza will never lead them to Paradise, and it is another, terrible, modern day tragedy that they seem to have to find this out in the worst possible way in order to perhaps understand.
There is no hope for those who are obsessed with hate. Nothing positive has ever been its effect. Hate is a living death.
The Palestinians deserve their State. It is essential that they have the peace and freedom to be able to properly negotiate and agree to acceptable bilaterally terms covering all concerns.
Ironically, but also understandably, Israel was more intent on their obtaining such conditions to finally permit them to establish their State, than perhaps any other country or international institution in the world.
Sometimes, it only takes the right amount of good will to realise dreams.
Satellite image of Israel, by kind courtesy of Nasa.
Text © Mirino (PW) January, 2009