'The history of Palestine, even its very recent history, has been all but forgotten. It was pushed out by a new version of history, a narrative that is based on faith and has very little to do with history. One striking example is that of the 18th-century Palestinian leader and unifier, Daher Al-Umar. For most people, neither the man or the period in which he ruled Palestine is known.
Here is what Palestinian author Ibrahim Nasrallah writes about Daher Al-Umar:
This matchless character has long been worthy of the attention of novelists and film and television producers, who could have made him a luminous part of our popular consciousness and the ongoing struggle of the people who populated and gave life to the land of Palestine.”
Time to Remember
In his forward to The Lanterns of the King of Galilee, a historical novel based on the life of Daher Al-Umar published in 2011 in Arabic, and in English in 2014, Nasrallah writes, “What saddens me now is that I didn’t come to know this great man earlier in my life.” The man to which he is referring is Daher Al-Umar Al-Zaidani, also known as The King of Galilee, whose remarkable life spanned from 1689 to 1775.
Daher Al-Umar governed most of historic Palestine and shaped its economy and politics as well as the life of its inhabitants for the better part of the 18th century. He established ties – economic and political – with European empires and created a boost in the economy and lives of the people of Palestine that was unprecedented. Palestine, under Daher, was the closest thing to an independent state one could achieve in 18th century Levant.
I had only heard of Daher Al-Umar from reading Nasrallah’s book, which shows that Nasrallah is correct as he continues to say in his forward, “Unfortunately many people are ignorant of what Daher achieved toward establishing an autonomous Arab homeland in Palestine.” However, what is astonishing is that Nasrallah himself admits that he only came across the figure of Daher in 1985 while working on his epic novel, Time of White Horses, published in Arabic in 2007 and in English in 2012.
A Challenging Narrative
In his forward, Nasrallah doesn’t shy away from stating the obvious, that his homeland, the country which Daher unified and ruled, namely Palestine, “fell prey to the Zionist onslaught that wrested it from its owners by means of myths, tanks and collusion.”
One might add that these myths used by the ZIonists were not just any myths, but perhaps the most powerful myths the world has ever known. In fact, even referring to these stories as “myth” will surely give rise to serious opposition as we are talking about none other than the Bible itself.
The Zionists based their claims to rights over Palestine using the toughest narrative to challenge. It is not one that is tough to challenge because it is rooted in historical facts, but because it is rooted in faith. In establishing their stake to Palestine, the Zionists built a foundation on three myths that operate as three pillars: The myth of the Jewish people, the myth of the homeland and the myth of history, and all three stem from the biblical narrative. '
Read more: The Story of Daher Al-Umar Undermines Israel’s Own Origin Story