A Jordanian institute presented a new spin on regional history over the weekend, claiming that it was the Arabs—not the Jews—who founded Jerusalem in biblical times.
According to Saudi daily Arab News, a position paper by the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, an Amman-based think tank, asserted that Arabs were the first inhabitants of Jerusalem and have lived there for at least 5,000 years.
The institute states in the paper that it “seeks to correct the misperception that Arabs are newcomers to Jerusalem” using unpublished documents, archaeological discoveries, and the Biblical record to assert its claims.
According to the report, the institute is an Islamic NGO headed by Jordanian Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, who has been serving as a special adviser to Jordan’s King Abdullah since 2000.
Among its many references, the paper cites the Amarna Correspondence, a series of diplomatic letters between Canaanite kings and Egyptian overlords dating back to the 14th century BCE, which mention Jerusalem.
“The Arabs founded and built it [Jerusalem] in the first place—and have been there ever since,” the paper states, noting that Islam has been dominant in Jerusalem for 1,210 out of the last 1,388 years.
Moreover, the 108-page paper argues that the Old Testament itself “shows that the Arabs, Hamites, Canaanites, and Jebusites were the original inhabitants of the land of Palestine, including the area of Jerusalem,” thus allegedly proving that “Jerusalem was always an Arab city.”
“The Palestinian Arabs of today are largely the direct descendants of the indigenous Canaanite Arabs who were there over 5,000 years ago. Modern-day Arab Muslim and Christian Palestinian families are the oldest inhabitants of the land,” the paper claims.
Palestinian National Council member and former Bethlehem Mayor Vera Baboun told Arab News that the Jordanian institute’s position paper “articulates the diverse historical realities away from the exclusive narrative that Israel is adopting to deny the cultural, human, historical and religious rights of the Arab Palestinians, whether we’re Christians or Muslims.”
The paper, she continued, “puts the readers face to face with their own misconceptions and lack of knowledge, thus debunking the exclusive Israeli political or biblical narrative which is used to negate the right and the existence of the Palestinian rights in Jerusalem or the Palestinian land at large.”
This is not the first time the Palestinians have tried to rewrite history.
In a 2013 Christmas message, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas claimed that Jesus was a “Palestinian messenger of hope.”
The move was immediately labeled a Palestinian attempt to brace the link between the Palestinian and Christian narratives in global public opinion and was met with scathing criticism, as few scholars dispute that Jesus was raised as a Jew.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.