Palestine in the 1800s

Félix Bonfils (1831-1885) was French photographer and writer who was active in the Middle East. Four years after his arrival he reported 15,000 prints of Egypt, Palestine, Syria, and Greece, and 9,000 stereoscopic-views. He traveled to the region several times and we hear of no mass population of Palestinians, which contradicts everything the Palestinians lie about to the world.

His pictures did not manage to capture any photographs of a single so-called ‘Palestinian’ who are suppose to have lost land to Jewish occupation, if we believe Arab propaganda.

W.C. Prime 1857 in “Tent Life in the Holy Land”:


Félix Bonfils (1831-1885): Dome of the Rock 1875:


Amin al Husseini made the dome his special project. It had fallen into a state of utter disrepair, but al-Husseini saw it to his political advantage to restore it. The dilapidated Dome of the Rock was a decaying old relic well into the 20th century. It was of no import and it was no longer used as a place of worship.

Félix Bonfils (1831-1885): Entry of Pilgrims into Bethlehem at Christmas time, Palestine c. 1870 :


“There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent (valley of Jezreel, Galilea); not for thirty miles in either direction… One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. For the sort of solitude to make one dreary, come to Galilee… Nazareth is forlorn… Jericho lies a mouldering ruin… Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and humiliation… untenanted by any living creature.  – Mark Twain, “The Innocents Abroad”, 1867

“There are many proofs, such as ancient ruins, broken aqueducts, and remains of old roads, which show that it has not always been so desolate as it seems now. In the portion of the plain between Mount Carmel and Jaffa one sees but rarely a village or other sights of human life. There some rude mills here which are turned by the stream. A ride of half an hour more brought us to the ruins ..”  – B. W. Johnson, in “Young Folks in Bible Lands”: Chapter IV, 1892

“The land in Palestine is lacking in people to till its fertile soil”.  – British archaeologist Thomas Shaw, mid-1700s

“Palestine is a ruined and desolate land”.  – Count Constantine François Volney, XVIII century French author and historian –

“The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is of a body of population”.  – James Finn, British Consul in 1857

In 1844, William Thackeray writes about the road from Jaffa to Jerusalem: “Now the district is quite deserted, and you ride among what seem to be so many petrified waterfalls. We saw no animals moving among the stony brakes; scarcely even a dozen little birds in the whole course of the ride.”

In 1866, W.M. Thomson writes: “How melancholy is this utter desolation. Not a house, not a trace of inhabitants, not even shepherds, to relieve the dull monotony … Much of the country through which we have been rambling for a week appears never to have been inhabited, or even cultivated; and there are other parts, you say, still more barren.”

In 1874, Reverend Samuel Manning wrote: “But where were the inhabitants? This fertile plain, which might support an immense population, is almost a solitude…. Day by day we were to learn afresh the lesson now forced upon us, that the denunciations of ancient prophecy have been fulfilled to the very letter — “the land is left void and desolate and without inhabitants.” (Jeremiah, ch.44 v.22)

“The area was under populated and remained economically stagnant until the arrival of the first Zionist pioneers in the 1880s, who came to rebuild the Jewish land. The country had remained “The Holy Land” in the religious and historic consciousness of mankind, which associated it with the Bible and the history of the Jewish people. Jewish development of the country also attracted large numbers of other immigrants – both Jewish and Arab.  – The report of the British Royal Commission, 1913

-Ibn Khaldun (Arabic: أبو زيد ولي الدين عبد الرحمن بن محمد بن خلدون الحضرمي)-
one of the most credible Arab historians, in AD1377  wrote:

“Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel extended over 1400 years… It was the Jews who implanted the culture and customs of the permanent settlement”.

“In the East, however, crafts have established themselves since the days of ancient Persian, Babylonian, Egyptian, Israelite, Greek and Roman rule”.  [Ibid., p 55]

In The 13th century, Arab biographer -Yaqut ibn-‘Abdullah(Arabic: ياقوت الحموي الرومي‎)- noted Mecca is holy to muslims; Jerusalem is holy only to the Jews.

“Palaestina ex monumentis veteribus illustrata” – a detailed geographical survey of Palestine in 1696 written in Latin by Adriaan Reland published by Willem Broedelet, Utrecht, in 1714.

Residents of the REGION mainly concentrated in cities: Jerusalem, Acre, Safed, Jaffa, Tiberias and Gaza.

In most cities, the majority of residents are Christians, Jews and others, very few Muslims who generally are Bedouin, seasonal workers who came to serve as Seasonal workers in agriculture or building.

Nablus: 120 muslims, 70 Samaritans
Nazareth: 700 people – all Christians
Umm al-Fahm: 50 people-10 families, ALL Christian
Gaza: 550 people- 300 Jews,250 Christian(Jews engaged in agriculture, Christians deal with the trading and transporting the products)
Tiberias: 300 residents, all Jews.
Safed: about 200 inhabitants, all Jews
Jerusalem :5000 people,most of them (3,500) Jews,the rest – Christian (1000) Muslim (500)

[H/T Chuckles]

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24 comments for “Palestine in the 1800s

  1. Restoring Britain
    May 3, 2016 at 17:22

    If memory serves me correctly there is an additional point somewhere which points out that when the early returners started to come back, it wasn’t the Palestinians who owned the land then either. There was a great deal of foreign ownership through absentee landlords.

    The Jewish returners, bought the first land parcels legitimately and I believe it was commented on that the first land they were sold was the most unworkable that the existing inhabitants wouldn’t touch. The Jews which reclaimed the useless parcels through their own industry and ingenuity.

    Of course the modern day narrative builders don’t really like the nasty habit that historical sources such as these have of wrong footing their preferred story. They like that pesky definitive archaeological evidence even less. The books they can burn. The other stuff isn’t so easily got rid of.

    • May 3, 2016 at 20:29

      Just read one of these modern narratives and there were two immediate errors I “corrected” for them. Bet it doesn’t get posted.

    • Timothy M Benton
      June 27, 2017 at 14:41

      You are correct, this was discussed in the Peel Commission, they questioned the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem about this, who openly admitted to this.

  2. Harry J
    May 3, 2016 at 22:58

    There seems to me to be a swirl of propaganda from both sides. I’ve seen presentations like this that convincingly argues the exact opposite. James, are you suggesting that there weren’t any Palestinian villages, or any Palestinians that have been displaced?

    The creation of Israel as a predominantly Jewish state has undoubtedly caused problems for those non-Jews living in the area, to say the least. Israel has for a long while seemed to me to be an operation conducted by Them. The subsequent conflict also has Their hallmarks. Untangling the truth about all this is a thankless task which includes such things as Biblical prophecy (being deliberately misinterpreted) and the true identity of the ‘Jews’.

    One thing that does seem fairly certain to me is that a simplistic Zionist Jews good, Palestinian Muslims bad interpretation of events is way off the mark.

    • Timothy M Benton
      June 25, 2017 at 19:20

      Actually the who construct of Palestinians did not start until the 1960’s, if you had gone up to a Arab in 1950 and called them a Palestinian they would have attacked you for calling them a Jew. It was in the 1960’s seeing worldwide condemnation over attacks by the Arabs that Arafat worked with the Russians to change the narrative, thus came the claim that they suddenly turned into Palestinians.
      Suggest you look at the accounts of the Arabs, what they had to say about this:

      -Zuheir Mohsen (Arabic: زهير محسن)- top PLO member responsible for Damur massacre.
      “The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct “Palestinian people” to oppose Zionism. For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.”

      This fact was admitted by Professor Philip Hitti, an Arab historian who declared, “There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not.” This fact is further confirmed by the Saudi Arabia Representative at the United Nations. “It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria.”

      Fathi Hammad, minister of the interior and national security for Hamas, a recognized terror group, confirmed that “half of the Palestinians are Egyptians and the other half are Saudis.”

      Syrian dictator Hafez Assad (father of the present dictator) told PLO leader Yasser Arafat, “You do not represent Palestine as much as we do. Never forget this one point: There is no such thing as a Palestinian people, there is no Palestinian entity, there is only Syria.”

      So why the lie? How about we let Arafat and his aid tell us:

      Zuhair Muhsin, military commander of the PLO and member of the PLO Executive Council, clearly said “There are no differences between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. We are all part of one nation. It is only for political reasons that we carefully underline our Palestinian identity… yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity serves only tactical purposes. The founding of a Palestinian state is a new tool in the continuing battle against Israel.”

      “Since we cannot defeat Israel in war, we do this in stages. We take any and every territory that we can of Palestine, and establish a sovereignty there, and we use it as a springboard to take more. When the time comes, we can get the Arab nations to join us for the final blow against Israel.”
      Yasser Arafat 1993.

      • Michael
        April 8, 2018 at 18:45

        Even if true, so what? Who cares what name was applied to the people living in the region between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea? There were a group of people who had been living there for centuries. They were predominately Muslim and Christian, but there was also a minority of Sephardic Jews. They all spoke Arabic. They had developed their own society, economy and culture. They lived within the political entity known as the Ottoman Empire. They had strong cultural and family ties with other peoples in the regions who today, because of Sykes-Picot and European trusteeship/colonial decisions are known as Lebanese, Syrian, and Jordanian. Does it make it therefore acceptable for Jews who have no recent, if any, historic ties to the land to steal it via ethnic cleansing?

  3. Shirl in Oz
    June 22, 2016 at 14:44

    Palestinians did not, and could not have owned land in the 1800 or even 1900s before 1967, because there were no such people.

    In 1964 when the Russians, in Moscow, wrote the pre-amble for the PLO Constitution, they invented a people to be called Palestinians. They did this is as a propoganda tool.

    On June 4th 1967, a people known as Palestinians came into being.

    • Denise Araktingi
      July 22, 2016 at 18:53

      My PALESTINIAN family not only owned land in Jaffa- but nearly most of the orange/citrus groves, that they exported to the United Kingdom and where paid by banker’s drafts issued by the Bank of England- some other families dealt with Germany on a barter basis oranges for Mercedes Benz among other commodities – you must curb your imagination “on June 4th 1967, a people known as Palestinians came into being” is total and utter fantasy and distortion of facts, and ‘a la limite’ typical Zionist Propaganda.

      • July 22, 2016 at 20:27

        Thanks for that input, Denise.

      • Timothy M Benton
        June 27, 2017 at 14:44

        Denise, if this is the case, then could you show one historical document that supports your claim of a Palestinian prior to 1900? I am not picky, don’t care if it is Islamic, Ottoman or Western based. If that is too hard, and for some odd reason I think this will be the case, then what about a census that mentions a sub group of Arabs known as Palestinians, or a documented eye witness account, a grave stone prior to 1900 that show a “Palestinian” is buried there, a archaeological find, anything????
        The fact is even your fellow Arabs admit this is a construct, a lie by Arafat, so not buying your lies here.

      • Mara Cohen
        December 15, 2017 at 00:36

        Denise Araktingi-If your Family were Jewish then they were referenced as Palestinian, as were Christians, however, calling an Arab Muslim a Palestinian, even during the time of the Mandate was enough to get you at best corrected, at least beaten up. Given that there were no Israeli Military Forces or actions going on in and around Yaffo (Jaffa) during the 1948 War, why did your Family choose to leave? Even Golda was on the beach there, begging the Arabs to stay, to be part of the new Country. Many Arabs did, and their families are still there, full citizens of Israel. It wasn’t like Israel was a new development, it had been in the works since inception of the Mandate, in 1922. Sadly many Arabs left, following Arab Leadership orders. By so doing, they abandoned their new Nation. Just sad. Bad choices.

  4. Thomas Schwartz
    June 23, 2016 at 02:31

    The only people calling themselves “palestinians” back then were Jews, arabs didn’t start calling themselves that until 1964. The Palestine Post was a Zionist newspaper that morphed into the Jerusalem post. The Palestine Symphony Orchestra became the Israeli Philharmonic.

  5. Distant Relative
    June 25, 2017 at 20:29

    After the Bar-Kochba revolt of 132-136 CE,

    background to that can be found here:

    Emperor Hadrian renamed the area “Syria Palaestina” after the two traditional enemies of the Jews, Syrians and Philistines, banished all Jews from the area and built Aelia Capolitinia on the ruins of Jerusalem.

    More here:

    and here:

  6. Distant Relative
    June 25, 2017 at 20:41

    Edit: Aelia Capitolina

    Sat here typing in nether gloom and can’t see what I’m typing. It’s v hot doncha know…

  7. June 26, 2017 at 06:03

    132-136 CE.

    We’ve been through this thing before at this blog. It’s BC/AD for a very good reason, not this ridiculous CE thing.

    Rationalist historians might not like the dating from Christ’s birth/death but they’re stuck with it, not with some stupidly contrived “other event”. There was only one person and event our years are measured from and before in the west and that’s Christ’s birth/death.

    Someone tried to make out before that CE is the old way. Bollox. Only since Royal Society times in those circles and of course in pantheistic times before Christ. Masonic satanists use a different method and so do Jews.

    If one uses 2017 to describe this year, then enough of the churlishness and meanspiritedness – the date refers to one set of events only, so please give them their proper name, as expressed through BC/AD.

    • Distant Relative
      June 26, 2017 at 17:06

      Simon ben Kochba was a really interesting bloke.

  8. dearieme
    June 28, 2017 at 19:54

    “Emperor Hadrian renamed the area “Syria Palaestina” after the two traditional enemies of the Jews, Syrians and Philistines, banished all Jews from the area”: completely untrue. They were banished only from Jerusalem.

    • June 28, 2017 at 20:11


    • Distant Relative
      June 28, 2017 at 20:21

      The “area” referred to was Jerusalem. Read the articles for the context.

  9. July 9, 2017 at 15:46

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  10. Musa
    March 7, 2018 at 11:12

    I’m going to put my input since my dad family is Palestinian from the town of Nablus. Our grandmother that was born in Al-Khalil. It was changed to Hebron. Palestinian still use the name Al-Khalil til this day. My dad mother keep reminding us we are Hebrews. So many years went by and one day my dad decided to do a DNA and we have searched his family tree. We traced it back to the tribe of Levi. The original Israelite. Some where along the time line we were converted or else my family and the rest of the locals would be an exile.

    I’m still searching for answers between the Israelite and the Canaanites.

    • March 7, 2018 at 11:49

      Thanks for that – this is an ongoing thread.

    • Sam Danzig
      June 21, 2018 at 02:24

      Wow, crazy story.

      I think the Canaanites were from so long ago there is no way to trace them. The Israelites basically ethnically came out of the canaanites, as a splinter religion (that’s what the secular research says). All people of the Palestine/ Israel area from around 0 AD have basically the same gene pool.

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