By Nathan Jones
"My father, may he rest in peace, was in the hospital during his last days. He said to me, 'I want to tell you a secret, but don't tell anyone. I'm Jewish. It's a secret, just between you and me.'" - Palestinian Man
"My father was a Kawazba. He was a Jew that converted to Islam." - Second Palestinian Man
What is a Palestinian?
A Palestinian, as the book Isralestine (HighWay, 2008, p.89) by Bill Salus describes, is "the ethnic label tossed about loosely in modern times to identify three primary predominately Arab groups of people: the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip, the Palestinians of the West Bank, and the Palestinian Refugees... Their genealogies can be traced back to the Edomites [descendents of Esau, the twin brother of Jacob], Egyptians, Assyrians, Philistines, Sidonians, Ammonites, Moabites, Yemenites, Saudi Arabians, Moroccans, Christians from Greece, Muslim Sherkas from Russia, and Muslims from Bosnia." Palestinians are therefore a melting pot of people groups, politically viewed as Syrian by nationality and generally hailed as Arab in origin.
But, could the Palestinians also be Jewish in origin? The iReport for CNN report by Nissim Mossek titled "Palestinians of a Jewish Origin" contends that many Palestinians are indeed Jews.
Search For Jewish Origins
Though few Palestinians are willing to expose themselves so as not to be seen as the enemy, some have come public and identified their Jewish origins. It has led many Israelis, like Rabbi Dov Stein, Secretary of the New Sanhedrin, to conclude, "It becomes clear that a significant part of the Arabs in the land of Israel are actually descendents of Jews who were forced to convert to Islam over the centuries. There are studies that 85% of this group is of Jewish origin. Some claim the percentage is less."
The historically accepted assumption is that after the destruction of the Second Temple and the Bar Kochva (Kokhba) Rebellion the land of Israel was emptied of all the Jews. As Elon Jarden, a Holy Land scholar, explains, this was not entirely the case. "When an empire takes over a country, it exiles the elite and leaves the lower classes. And that's what happened after the destruction of both the First Temple and the Second Temple." These lower class Jews, Jardon contends, remained in the land renamed by the Romans "Palestine," and like the Northern ten tribes of Israel who fled to such places as Afghanistan and India, integrated into the people groups of the region.
Over time, the Jews who remained in Palestine ceased to be practicing Jews as the Turks forced Jewish village after Jewish village to become Muslim. Some Jewish traditions remained, according to iReport, though hidden within the families.
Genetic research has also affirmed that many of the Palestinians today have Jewish origins. At the Hadassah Medical School laboratories, an international genetic research study was conducted headed by Professor Ariella Oppenheim from the Hebrew University. She states, "We found that although the Jews have been scattered all over the world for 2,000 years, they still maintained genetic continuity throughout the ages. And another thing that also surprised us was the high proximity to the Arabs living in the land — the Palestinians."
Even the Ashkenazi (European) Jews have been found to be genetically closer to the Palestinians than Middle-Eastern Jews, Professor Oppenheim has found. "It's true. It's true. The same chromosome can appear in both Ashkenazi Jews and Palestinians." Some Palestinians even have what's called the "Cohanic Chromosome," meaning that they are descendents of the priestly line of Aaron, the brother of Moses.
Responding to the Discovery
In response to this revelation, Israeli Jews like Tsvi Misinai, a pioneer of hi-tech industry in Israel, has made it his life's mission to spread the word that the Palestinians are of Jewish origin. He wishes to build a bridge of peace between the two now divergent peoples in hopes that they'll live together as one nation.
As modern-day Israel welcomes Jews making aliya from all over the world as foretold in Bible prophecy (Isa. 11:11-12), today's Jews are far less hostile towards those intermarried with the Gentile races than it was during Jesus' time, like with the Samaritans. But, should the Palestinian Jews come forward and their claim to Jewish roots be accepted, would Israel welcome their once hostile neighbors with open arms? Would Israel grant citizenship to Palestinians who can prove their claim of being Jews? And, should they become citizens, will the Palestinian Jews fight for or against Israel when that nation subdues its hostile neighbor countries as Psalm 83 indicates and Ezekiel 38-39 requires for Israel's peace and safety?
The answers to these questions will not be long in coming.
iReport Mini-documentary (13:36)