Answers to Quora Questions by Yair Davidiy (18 December 2017, 30 Kislev, 5778)
What is the connection between Palestinians and Illyrians?
Joan Peters spoke of the recent arrival of Palestinian Muslims in her work "From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict over Palestine," 1984.
I read portions of this work and at first suspected that it might be exaggerated. I now realize that it is basically correct. The Zohar (Shemot 32) gives evidence that the Arabs were to occupy the Promised Land for 400 years, then fight wars for it with Edomites from Christian Europe after which the Land would be virtually empty until the Israelites begin returning to it. This is what happened. The Land was nearly empty as described by Joan Peters and by eye-witness accounts such as that of Mark Twain.
Mark Twain ( Innocents Abroad) 1867:
"Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies. Palestine is desolate and unlovely, Palestine is no more of this workday world. It is sacred to poetry and tradition, it is dreamland" (Chapter 56).
"There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country" (Chapter 52).
"A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action. We reached Tabor safely. We never saw a human being on the whole route" (Chapter 49).
"There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent, not for thirty miles in either direction. ...One may ride ten miles (16 km) hereabouts and not see ten human beings." ...these unpeopled deserts, these rusty mounds of barrenness..." (Chapter 46).
Whether one considers the Zohar to be an inspired work from early times or a later imposition it is still a valid witness on this point! The so-called land of Palestine was virtually empty people except for a few Jews and a meagre poverty stricken population of scattered Beduin and semi-Nomadic villagers. Anyway, the Land had been named “Palestine” by the Romans in order to erase the remembrance of Judah and Israel. The British took over the area. At first everyone within it including the Jews were referred to as "Palestinians." Later the term "Palestinian" was applied to those inhabitants who spoke Arabic and were not Jewish. This is the present usage. The term “Palestine” is derived from a Latinized form of the name for “Philistia” i.e. Philistine. The Philistines are mentioned in the Bible. They were related to the Egyptians but had dwelt in Crete and Anatolia (present-day Turkey) see Genesis 10:4, Amos 9:7. Their culture was basically Canaanite though they had acquired some cultural features from Mycenean and Minoan civilizations. Linguistic evidence also suggests a connection with ancient area of Illyria on the east Adriatic coast (Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania). The original Philistines eventually disappeared. They had dwelt to the southwest of Ancient Israel i.e. in Philistia which included Gaza. The Arab incursions have taken the place pf the Philistines in public consciousness as well as their name. Even the Bible uses the name "Philistine" to refer to the Palestinians in our time. There is a prophecy (Isaiah 11:13-14) that Ephraim and Judah in the End times will join forces to evacuate them by wing and fly the Palestinian -Philistines to some place in the west.
At all events there does not seem to be any connection between the Palestinians and Ancient Illyria though one never knows.