It’s a myth I’ve been hearing since I was old enough to talk (which is over 45 years ago): the Arabs venomously hate Jews and want to throw us into the sea. Not only that, even in the unlikely event that we do somehow manage to make peace with the Palestinians, they will always secretly hate us. And one day in the future, be it in one hundred or two hundred years, when our guard is down, they will turn on us and attempt to wipe us off the face of the Mediterranean Peninsula.
Believe it or not, it’s a fear that many Israelis (and Jews abroad) still have. But anyone who harbors that fear has not spent any time with a Palestinian Arab either in Palestine or elsewhere. If they did, they would know what I know to be 100% certain. The Palestinians do not hate Jews (or Israelis). They hate occupation, and they detest the soldiers that carry out and maintain it (wouldn’t you?).
Palestinians have no problems with Jews. And you’ll soon know why. They detest a brutal and oppressive military occupation that has robbed and stripped them of basic human rights such as the right to build homes, freedom of movement, and access to water and electricity. They despise a military regime that arrests their teenage children in the middle of the night and ethnically cleanses them from their own lands. You can read all about the brutality of the Israeli occupation in my previous article here.
If you doubt my words about Palestinians not hating Jews, I have proof. There is a Jewish community that has been living amongst the Palestinians for centuries on what is known as Mount Gerizim. This small community of 800 inhabitants is mostly unknown to the outside world. Yet they have been living in the heart of Nablus (a hotbed of Palestinian resistance) for more than 5,000 years.
They are called the Samaritans.
Who Are the Samaritans?
King Solomon, the son of King David and the 3rd king of the united monarchy of Israel was a wise and prosperous king until his later years when he strayed from the wise path and abused his power. He became greedy and began taking multiple wives, craving gold and silver, and introducing Pagan gods. He ruthlessly chased after money, sex, and depravity.
His actions caused the kingdom of Israel to split into two during the reign of his son Rehoboam. Israel divided into the two realms of Judea and Samaria. The Samaritans established their capital in Nablus, and at their height, reached a population of 1.5 million strong. Many scholars believe that the rift among the united monarchy weakened the great dynasty of ancient Israel, opening the door for other empires like the Assyrians and the Babylonians to enter the land and conquer.
After the destruction of the second temple in 70 A.D., the kingdom of Judea ceased to sacrifice animals at the altar during Passover and other high holidays. After the exile of the Israelites by the Greeks and Romans, Jewish culture and customs evolved toward how they are practiced today, as did the Hebrew language.
However, in Samaria, the Samaritans kept the ancient customs of the Old Testament. They continued to use ancient Hebrew as their language of prayer and continued to sacrifice animals on their temple altars. The community did not follow the evolution of Judaism through the books of the Prophets, and codified Jewish law as expressed in the Talmud. The Samaritans relied on the word of the Torah, the first five books of Moses.
The Samaritan community has remained in Nablus since biblical times. They celebrate all Jewish Holidays, go to synagogue every Saturday, and circumcise their male offspring. Not only that, they have always been regarded as an important part of the Nablus community. The Samaritans are well-known throughout the city, and have even achieved legendary status. They live in harmony, and peacefully, with their Palestinian Arab neighbors – without a security fence around the community and without military guards for protection.
Still Not Convinced?
The naysayers and the Jewish orthodoxy will tell you that it doesn’t matter – the Samaritans are NOT Jewish. They will spew that because they decided not to follow the evolution of Judaism throughout the centuries, that they are just another Palestinian community of little consequence.
Don’t believe it.
If they didn’t matter, would the Israeli government grant them Israeli citizenship? Yes, you heard that right – every member of this little community in the heart of Nablus, situated in Area A of Occupied Palestine not only has an Israeli passport, they have a Palestinian AND often a Jordanian passport (as many Samaritan grandparents lived under Jordanian rule before 1967).
Samaritans are free to enter Israel proper whenever they like and go anywhere in the land they please. If you’re jaw is dropping right now, you’re not alone. The reality is that the Samaritan neighborhood is classified as both Area A and Area C by the Israeli military – that means that Israelis are legally allowed to visit (and there is an access road connected to a Jewish settlement nearby).
My host at the Samaritan museum, Abood Cohen, claims that he is a direct descendent from the 3rd High Priest from the time of the Jerusalem Temple. And it’s hard to refute his claim. The Samaritans celebrate every Jewish holiday from Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) to Sukkot. They even make their own matzah on Passover (the way they made it 4,000 years ago). One thing is for sure: they are our Jewish cousins at least, and our fellow Jews, at best. And they are living in harmony side-by-side their Palestinian Arab neighbors.
Don’t Believe the Hype: There Is No Conflict
Bottom line: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is no conflict at all.
I have spent a lot of time in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and have met innumerable Palestinians in Hebron, Bethlehem, Ramallah, East Jerusalem, and Nablus. All of them to a man, woman, and child have told me they do not have a problem with Jews.
In fact, Palestinians have told me time and again that people of any religion are welcome to come and live with them on their land. Many of them have gone so far to say that even the settlers that harass them on a daily basis, beat them, attack their children, destroy their crops, and kill their animals – even those settlers would be welcome if they would just be good neighbors and live in peace.
The Palestinians want to live in peace. They are sick and tired of checkpoints that restrict their movement, gangs of soldiers rampaging into their homes in the middle of the night, military laws that make it illegal for them to build so much as an outhouse on their land, and Israeli settlers who torment them, injure them, and spit on them. The Palestinians want to bring up their children in safety and security. They want to build new roads and homes just like any other human being living on earth.
The next time you read the word ‘conflict’ in the mainstream media where Palestinians and Israelis are concerned remember: the Palestinians hate Israeli soldiers who maintain a brutal occupation that holds them in bondage. Period. They do not and never have hated Jews or regular Israeli civilians.