This question could be answered by comparing the DNA of 3,000-year old Philistine skeletons–discovered by the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon–with present-day Palestinian DNA. But I think there are powerful people who don’t want this question answered, starting with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In 2019, Netanyahu rightly affirmed that the DNA comparison between these ancient Philistines skeletons and the DNA of today’s southern Europeans showed what historians and archaeologists had been saying for decades, that the Philistines emigrated to the Levant from the region of the Aegean Sea, so that they were southern Europeans. Netanyahu further stated, “There’s no connection between the ancient Philistines and the modern Palestinians, whose ancestors came from the Arabian Peninsula to the Land of Israel thousands of years later.” This statement looks like Netanyahu doesn’t want it to be revealed there is any genetic connection between the ancient Philistines and today’s Palestinians.
Israel became reestablished as a nation in 1948, and ever since it has been based on its Proclamation of Independence. Unlike the US, Israel doesn’t have a constitution. This two-page document repeatedly claims that Jews have a right to there “ancestral land” designated therein as “Eretz Yisrael” (Land of Israel). People constantly argue against this concept. Yet the leading nations of the world, including the US, accepted this argument as a legitimate solution to “the Jewish problem” by soon approving of Israel’s application of membership to the new United Nations.
If it can be shown of Palestinian that have a family history of living in the southern Levant in recent centuries that they also have a genetic link to the ancient Philistines who lived there 3,000 years ago, Palestinians could then do the same thing the Jews did in 1948 by claiming their “ancestral land.” It would be a very expanded Gaza Strip. But I suspect that certain Israeli leaders, such as Netanyahu, don’t want that to happen because they are against the creation of a Palestinian state.
I blog about this occasionally because I wrote a book about it published 33 years ago and entitled Palestine Is Coming: The Revival of Ancient Philistia. As far as I know, there has been no such DNA comparison which I’ve been calling for since the Leon Levy Expedition announced its discovery in 2016. Why hasn’t there been? Those Philistine skeletons belong to Israel. How so? Modern Ashkelon and its nearby ancient ruins–one of the three main cities of the ancient Philistines–exists in Israel. So, Israel has control of those Philistine remains. Yet, theoretically, Israel is not entitled to them. And it appears to me Israel is preventing this DNA comparison.
All these years people have argued against what I’m saying by claiming there could not possibly be any such genetic link between the ancient Philistines and today’s Palestinians. Usually, they argue that the admixture of various population groups with the ancient Philistines would have seriously reduced their original DNA, especially considering the domination of the Philistines by the Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans. Well, the same thing could be said about other ancient people groups in the Levant, such as the Canaanites.
According to the Bible, God liberated the ancient Israelites from slavery in Egypt, and they trekked north to destroy many of the Canaanites to settle in their land. This seems to have happened in either the 14th or 12th century BCE, probably the latter.
On July 27th, 2017, thus one year after the Leon Levy Expedition announcement, a team of 16 geneticists published a paper of their comparison of DNA from five skeletons of ancient Canaanites who lived in 1,700 BCE in Sidon, Lebanon, with the DNA of 99, living, Lebanese people. The comparison showed there was a 93% match. It meant modern-day Lebanese in Sidon have a 93% genetic link to the Canaanites. Marc Haber, the team leader, said he was “surprised” at such a strong link.
Israel is now at war with Hamas in Gaza. There is much death and suffering on both sides, which is horrific. Netanyahu says Israel will destroy Hamas so they cannot govern the Gaza Strip anymore. Hamas is brutal, Islamic organization. For many years the US and other nations have designated it “a terrorist organization.”
It is my strong opinion that this now 70-year old Israeli-Palestinian conflict will ever be resolved except by the creation of a Palestinian state. The peace process has been dead since 2014. Palestinians now have little hope the traditional two-state solution–with a Palestinian state in the two separated territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip–will ever happen. I say it’s time to think of another two-state solution. And a DNA comparison between the ancient Philistines and Palestinians might lead to one, with the Palestinian state being a revival of ancient Philistia.
[To read half of Palestine Is Coming for free at kermitzarley.com, click here.]