Regarding Jennifer Calvert’s July 8 letter: I would like to refer to a bit of history and explain her inaccuracies.
In 638 A.D., a caliph took Palistina away from the Byzantine Empire and made it an Arab-Muslim empire. The Arabs had adopted the Greco-Roman name Palistina. During the period of the British Mandate, it was the Jewish population that was known as “Palestinians.” However, there is a historic Arab name for this region, Trans-Jordan. In 1964, the Palestinian Liberation Organization was founded. The co-founder, Ahmed Shukeiri, had earlier denied the existence of Palestine.
Yasser Arafat in 1967, in collaboration with the PLO and the Arab League, created the “Palestinian people.” Before 1967, there had not existed a people called Palestinians with a language, culture or nationality of their own. Arafat made this declaration after the humiliating defeat of the Arabs in the 1967 war with Israel.
The modern “Palestinian people” are a mix of Arabs whose language is Arabic, religion is Islam and culture is shared by 22 Arab countries. The term “Palestinian” has historically applied to anybody living in the area, even the Jews. There simply is not, nor has there ever been, a distinct Palestinian national entity.