(Photo: Zvi Misinai)
Are Palestinians really Jews? Tsvi Misinai certainly thinks about 90 percent of them are descended from forced converts to Islam. His solution to the conflict? Palestinians should 're-integrate' with their Jewish brothers, and all will be well. Hold on a minute, isn't that the 'one state solution' the Palestinian leadership have always dreamed of? Long feature in the Jerusalem Post magazine (With thanks: Michelle)
"We are of the same race and blood, and cooperation will bring great prosperity to the land," wrote Emir Faisal to Felix Frankfurter in 1917. Faisal was known for his affinity to the Zionists who had begun streaming to the Holy Land; in 1919, he signed a cooperation agreement with Chaim Weizmann, to whom he wrote that he was "mindful of the racial kinship and ancient bonds existing between the Arabs and the Jewish people."
But Faisal's proclamations of kinship with the Jews were more than lip service to a commonly held belief, says Tsvi Misinai, who knows perhaps more about the origins of the modern Palestinians than anyone. "Faisal's paternal line was Hashemite," he says, "meaning he was directly descended from Muhammad.
But the mother of his maternal grandfather, King On, was descended from a family of forced Jewish converts to Islam that immigrated to the east bank of the Jordan, later returning to one of the villages west of the Jordan. Unlike today, when Faisal was growing up, his grandfather's mother's Jewish origin was known, and they made no great effort to hide it. And what was known to Faisal is known to many Palestinians today as well.
" This is a story of what may be one of the best-kept secrets in history - one that could, in time, heal the terrible rift that has torn the Land of Israel asunder. After years of research, Misinai says that he can declare with certainty that nearly 90 percent of all Palestinians are descended from the Jews.
"And what's more, about half of them know it," he says. Not only that, many Palestinians retain Jewish customs, including mourning rituals, lighting Shabbat or memorial candles and even wearing tefillin.
While the common wisdom among many Israelis is that the group that calls itself "Palestinian" is a motley collection of Arabs from various parts of the Middle East who immigrated to the Land of Israel following the employment opportunities provided by Jews, Misinai says that the vast majority of today's Palestinians are descended from the remnants of Jewish families who managed to avoid being deported over the past 2,000 years, or returned to their lands after they were exiled, as the Jews in the Holy Land suffered blow after blow - from the Roman destruction of the Temple to the Crusades to famine, poverty and war throughout the Middle Ages. One thing many were unable to avoid, however, was converting to Islam - a forced conversion that never really "took," done more out of fear than conviction.
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