Op-Ed: Jews Aren’t Jews, but Palestinians are Philistines

In his Christian Science Monitor op-ed, John Yemma is not content to present his own opinion, he also changes historical facts in an especially shocking manner.

Palestinians are Philistines?

Citing no source at all, Yemma claims that Palestinians are actually Philistines:

Palestinians have ancient ties to the Holy Land as well. The biblical Philistines, among other peoples, were contemporaneous with the biblical Israelites. While it is not certain that today’s Palestinians are their direct descendants…

This is a complete fabrication. In fact, there is nothing “uncertain” about the historical record: Palestinians are most certainly not descended from Philistines.

Claims of this sort are nothing new: they have long been a staple of anti-Israel propaganda, including the roundly debunked notions that Palestinians are actually Canaanites and that Jesus was a Palestinian.

The idea that Palestinians are Philistines is equally, and most certainly, false. Yemma’s claim that there is any uncertainty about this is a clear distortion of facts.

Unlike modern day Jews and Palestinians, the Philistines were an ancient, non-Semitic, sea-faring people, whose form of worship was unconnected to the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

In other words, the Philistine ethnicity, culture and religion are all entirely different from that of modern day Palestinians.

The Philistine connection to the Israelites began when they invaded and occupied a portion of the Kingdom of Israel in about 1000 BCE, but were later defeated by ancient Israel’s King David.

In roughly the seventh century CE, the Philistines were conquered by the Kingdom of Babylonia and subsequently wiped out as a distinct culture.

In other words, in addition to being culturally, ethnically and religiously unrelated to Jews or Palestinians, the Philistines no longer exist.

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Jews are not Jews?

Still citing no source, Yemma claims that:

While it is not certain that today’s Palestinians are their direct descendants, it is not certain either that most of today’s Israelis are direct descendants of Israelites. Most modern Israelis migrated from Europe, Russia, and North Africa.

Again, Yemma misstates history and even present day reality.

The consensus opinion of modern scholarship is that modern day Jews are indeed the descendants of the ancient Israelites, who were also Jews.

The ancient Israelites practiced a religion called “Judaism,” as do modern day Jews, even using the very same texts. Both modern and ancient Jews stem from the same Semitic ethnicity and the same Judaic culture.

It is well established that even the Jews who recently lived in Europe, Russia and North Africa originally came from the ancient Land of Israel. Some ancient Israelites were forcibly exiled by Babylonian conquerors in the 6th century BCE, and others by Roman conquerors in the 1st century CE. In every case, the Jewish sojourn outside of Israel is (historically speaking) both recent and temporary.

Despite the diaspora endured by many Jews, some always remained in the Land of Israel. In fact, Jews are the only ancient people who have had a continuous presence in the Land of Israel, from ancient times through to the present day: outlasting the Romans, Babylonians, and yes, even the Philistines.

It cannot be emphasized enough: this is not a controversial topic. To the contrary, the facts in this critique reflect a well established consensus by academics from the fields of history, archaeology, religious studies and ethnic studies.

The Photo

Why does CSM feature a photo of two Israeli soldiers next to a Trump campaign sign?

Does the Christian Science Monitor mean to imply that all Israelis are militant and Trump supporters? In fact, Israel is a diverse, modern, democratic country with a wide range of both political opinions and daily life activities, most of which do not involve wearing a uniform.

The photo is both highly misleading and intentionally provocative.


The Future

Whatever future Israelis and Palestinians eventually build must be based upon a mutual respect for each side’s connection to the land. In order for such understanding to have any value, it must be based on reality, and not on fantasy or ignorance.

Palestinians are not Philistines, and Jews most definitely are Jews. Only on this basis is understanding and progress possible.

By saying otherwise, John Yemma does a disservice to CSM readers, and to the very nature of truth itself.

CSM’s decision to publish this work of historical fiction without fact-checking is a breach of the most fundamental journalistic ethics.

Please share your considered comments via a thoughtful letter to the editor at the Christian Science Monitor at this email address: letters@csmonitor.com

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