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Opinion

Abbas’s Canaanite canard

The Palestinian leader can call himself whatever he wants, but he cannot rewrite the Bible.

Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, Sept. 3, 2020. Credit: Flash90.
Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, Sept. 3, 2020. Credit: Flash90.
Farley Weiss and Leonard Grunstein
Farley Weiss and Leonard Grunstein are authors of the new book Because It’s Just and Right: The Untold Back-Story of the U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.

In his May 15 speech at the United Nations, Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas, amongst a series of other scurrilous remarks, said, “The Palestinians were descendants of the biblical Canaanites” as proven “in religious scriptures, including the Torah.”

The Torah does make mention of the Canaanites but, if anything, it rejects any Canaanite claim of title to the Land of Israel.

The Bible is the oldest extant written record of title. In it, the Canaanites are described as descendants of Canaan, a child of Ham. The Land of Israel, however, was an inheritance Noah allocated and bequeathed to his son Shem when Noah apportioned the Earth among his sons. Thus, as a careful reader of title would note, the Canaanites had no legitimate claim to the Land of Israel.

In fact, the Canaanites illegally occupied the Land of Israel. As the Bible notes, when Abraham came to the land, the Canaanites were there “at the time.” This phrase is not casual or coincidental. The Maharal explains that “at the time” alludes to the fact that the Canaanites were not there before, because it was not their land. Instead, they had came to rob the Children of Israel of their heritage.

Rashi notes that the Canaanites were gradually conquering the Land of Israel from the descendants of Shem, to whom it had been allotted. Thus, the Bible refers to Malchi-Tzedek (also known as Shem) as the king of Salem (Jerusalem). God assures Abraham that the Land of Israel will be returned to his descendants, the Children of Israel, who are lineal descendants of Shem and thus the rightful inheritors of title to the Land of Israel.

The Bible thus declares that when the Children of Israel enter the land, then known as Canaan, it is the land that was given to them as part of their inheritance.

Moreover, the Bible explicitly describes the boundaries of Canaanite territory as extending only as far as Sidon in the north, the approaches to Gaza in the south and the approaches to Sodom, Gomorrah, etc. in the east. It does not extend to the Land of Israel proper.

This survey of the land is set forth in the contractual commitment God originally makes to Abraham. Abraham even did a walkthrough.         

Title to the Land of Israel was reconfirmed again to Moses and the Jewish people, including in a more detailed description in the book of Numbers. Indeed, as part of Moses’s penultimate testament in the Bible, he calls upon the heavens and the earth to bear witness that the Land of Israel is the inheritance of the Jewish people. The Bible also reconfirms that the land is the inheritance of Jacob to the exclusion of any other forbears.

The Bible is a record of title that shows the Jewish people’s legal right to the Land of Israel. This title dates from the beginning of the world through Israel’s miraculous retaking of the land from illegal occupiers until today. It is a fully vested inheritance, just and right, as God intended. There is no comparable source of legal title to the Land of Israel.

It is important to note that Arabs claim descent from Ishmael. As recorded in the Bible, Ishmael was a child of Abraham on his father’s side. On his mother’s side, he was a child of Hagar, a descendant of Mitzraim, one of the other sons of Ham. He was not a descendant of Canaan. Thus, being an Arab rules out being a Canaanite and vice versa.

It must be difficult for those who invent a false narrative out of whole cloth in order to further a political agenda to keep track of their absurd claims uttered with such enthusiasm and certainty. Even the PLO Charter and the Hamas Covenant proudly proclaim that the Palestinian people are part of the Arab nation, not the Canaanites. Indeed, it should be noted that Canaanites are not explicitly mentioned in the Quran or the New Testament and the Quran does not refer to Palestinians.

Whether Abbas identifies as an Arab, Canaanite or the flavor of the month, the matter of title to Israel has long been resolved in favor of the Jewish people. This is true in the modern era as well, such as in the 1920 San Remo Resolution unanimously adopted by the League of Nations in 1922. This is because the claim is just and right. As a matter of fact and law, it is indisputable that title to the Land of Israel is vested in the Jewish people.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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