MANY PEOPLE SEE A SIMILARITY BETWEEN American Indians and today’s Palestinians. I’m Comanche Indian. I see no similarity whatsoever.
Comanches were once "Lords of the South Plains," (Wallace & Hoebel, 1952). Arabs living in Palestine have never dominated anything but goats. Comanches were independent, and certainly not supported by two billion other Indian ‘brothers,’ like the Palestinian Arabs claim they’re supported by the Arab world.
There’s no similarity in the land claim issue. Comanches, never numbering more than six or seven thousand, were simply strong enough to take over the American southwestern plains, first from other Indians, then from white people. Palestinians have accomplished nothing but suicide bombings.
Palestinian Arabs are not indigenous to Palestine. They are leftover Arabs, residual of another age. Knowing Arab history is vital to understanding the situation in the Middle East. (Joan Peters’ From Time Immemorial (1984) is a ‘must read’ on this subject.)
Arabs are from Arabia. Beginning in AD 622, under Mohammad, Arab "prophet" of Medina, the Islamic religion became a war machine and aggressively expanded from the Arabian Peninsula to all directions until AD 750 when it controlled North Africa westward to Spain and southern France, northward to Palestine and Armenia, and eastward 400 miles past the Indus River.
It was spectacular achievement, one which clearly proved Islam to be not a religion of peace, but of dominance. Arabs intermarried, enslaved, and otherwise lorded over every culture they encountered. Arabs established the African and Asian slave routes, which are still used today for slave trade out of India and Nepal, as well as Africa and the Far East.
European Christians finally fended off Islamic dominance to the east and west. By the 15th century, Muslims were ousted from Spain and from most of the Balkans by the 17th century. Mongolians broke Islamic dominance in the Orient. The last phase of Islamic political dominance, the Ottoman Empire (Turkey), ended in 1840 when Constantinople submitted to terms of Western powers in its dispute with Egypt. Turkey’s government declared itself secular by 1922.
During all this time Palestine was little more than a wilderness of nomads, loosely associated groups of provincial subdivisions with frequently changing administrations. The people were a "pan-Arab" mix of gypsy-like leftovers, whom the General Syrian Congress of 1919 declared to be "the southern part of Syria." It wasn’t considered "Palestine," a separate Arab nationality, until the 1967 Six-Day War of Israel’s boundary expansions.
A ‘Palestinian Arab nationality’ was something Musa Alami began asserting after 1948, as a political reaction against Israel. As R. Sayigh wrote, "A strongly defined Palestinian identity did not emerge until 1968, two decades after the expulsion [of some Arabs living in parts of Palestine]," (Journal of Palestine Studies, 1977). In twenty years, Alami’s myth took effect.
But the land-by-residence claim gives Palestinian Arabs even less right. In 1950, United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) defined a Palestinian Arab as one who had lived in Palestine a minimum of two years before 1948. This is no ancient claim.
The ancient, indigenous inhabitants of Palestine are long perished from the earth. Canaanites, Phoencians, and then Philistines, all were dominated by the Israelites before 1060 BC. Most of these cultural identities dissolved completely by the neo-Babylonian age, or, the 6th century BC.
Arabs weren’t even in Palestine until the mid-7th century AD, over a thousand years later, after Palestine’s 1,300-year Jewish history. Arabs later living in Palestine never developed themselves or the land, but remained nomadic and quasi-primitive during their 1,200-year stay.
Then a stronger people modern Jews who’d been expelled from their homes in Europe and in Arab countries came in and conquered (without annihilating) the Palestinian Arabs.
As a Comanche Indian, I’m sensitive to this history. I believe the conqueror has a right to what he has conquered. No one owns the land. Only he who is strong enough to possess it will control it and the people living on it. That’s the law of war.
Teddy Roosevelt once said, "Let sentimentalists say what they will, the man who puts the soil to use must of right dispossess the man who does not, or the world will come to a standstill." (W. T. Hagan, Theodore Roosevelt and Six Friends of the Indians, 1997). The land developers, the agrarians, have become stronger than the hunters.
In the case of Comanches, we lost a magnificent hunting empire, and a lot of ego with it. In the case of "Palestinian" Arabs, what is lost? Why their sense of humiliation?