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Quoting Mark Twain out of context on Palestine
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Posted on May 23, 2002

Introduction

Mark Twain's visit to Lebanon, Syria, and the Holy Land in 1867 was published in "The Innocents Abroad", where he described Palestine as follows:

"..... A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds... a silent mournful expanse.... a desolation.... we never saw a human being on the whole route.... hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country." (The Innocents Abroad, p. 361-362)

This quote has been widely circulated in Israeli text books, media outlets, and many Jewish communities around the world as FACTS about Palestine. As we will prove below, this quote was taken out of context to portray Palestine as "empty, destitute, and a barren desert", of course until Israeli and Zionist Jews "made" its desert bloom.

Background

Before we analyze what Mark Twain wrote, the following facts should be taken into considerations:

  • Palestine's arable land is under is 17% of its total area, click here to view Israel's profile at CIA's Worldfact Book.

  • Mark Twain's visit occurred during the middle of the hot Mediterranean summer.

  • Mark Twain visited the region soon after the end of hostilities between Christian and Muslim Druze at Mount Lebanon, where over ten thousand Christian Arabs (mostly Maronites) were massacred in 1861, and that should explain his blatant racist remarks in respect of the Turks, Arabs, and Muslims in general.

  • Mark Twain's visit was brief by all accounts, which encompassed the areas that were only cited in the Bible.

  • Mark Twin provided no statistical data whatsoever about Palestine's agriculture and demographic make up. So his statements should not be taken as if they were written by an authoritative body.

  • Mark Twain often compared Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon to the fertile lands in the United States of America, which is clearly unfair. Both are in separate parts of the world, have different environments, different governments, ... etc.

Quotes from "The Innocent Abroad"

Mark Twain did not just describe Palestine as a barren desert, he also extended this description to Greece, Lebanon, and Syria. He stated:

"From Athens all through the islands of the Grecian Archipelago, we saw little but forbidden sea-walls and barren hills, sometimes surmounted by three or four graceful columns of some ancient temples, lonely and deserted---a fitting symbol of desolation that has come upon all Greece in these latter ages. We saw no ploughed fields, very few villages, no trees or grass or vegetation of any kind, scarcely, and hardly ever an isolated house. Greece is a bleak, unsmiling desert, without agriculture, manufactures, or commerce, apparently." (The Innocents Abroad, p. 203)

"Damascus is beautiful from the mountain. It is beautiful even to foreigners accustomed to luxuriant vegetation, and I can easily understand how unspeakably beautiful it must be to eyes that are only used to the God-forsaken barrenness and desolation of Syria. I should think a Syrian would go wild with ecstasy when such a picture bursts upon him for the first time." (The Innocents Abroad, p. 262)

From the above quote, the reader may get the impression that Greece is also empty since he stated:

"We saw no ploughed fields, very few villages, no trees or grass or vegetation of any kind,"

On the other hand, he contradicts himself on the exact same page. He stated:

"The nation numbers only eight hundred thousand souls." (The Innocents Abroad, p. 203)

By any standard, it's really surprising how Mark Twain described the St. Sophia Church (which was converted to a mosque by the Turks), one of the the architectural marvels of the old and the new worlds. He described the church as follows:

"I do not think much of the Mosque of St. Sophia. I suppose I lack appreciation. We will let it go at that. It is the rustiest old barn in heathendom. I believe all the interest that attaches to it comes from the fact that it was built for a Christian church and then turned into a mosque, without much alteration, by the Mohammedan conquerors of the land." (The Innocents Abroad, p. 208)

Regarding the Muslim Ottoman Turks, Greeks, and Armenians, Mark Twain made the following racist remarks:

"[In Constantinople,] Mosques are plenty, churches are plenty, graveyards are plenty, but moral and whisky are scarce. The Koran does not permit Mohammedans to drink. Their natural instinct do not permit them to be moral. They say the Sultan has eight hundred wives. This almost amounts to bigamy. It makes our cheeks burn with shame to see such a thing permitted here in Turkey. We do not mind to see such thing in Salt Lake City, however." (The Innocents Abroad, p. 210-211)

"Greek, Turkish, and Armenian morals consist only in attending church regularly on the appointed Sabbath, and in breaking the ten commandments all the balance of the week. It comes natural to them to lie and cheat in the first place, and then they go on and improve on nature until they arrive at perfection." (The Innocents Abroad, p. 212)

"Everybody lies and cheats----everybody who is in business, at any rate. Even foreigners soon have to come down to the custom of the country, and they do not buy and sell long in Constantinople till they lie and cheat like a Greek. I say like a Greek, because Greeks are called the worst transgressors in this line." (The Innocents Abroad, p. 212)

"....I never dislike a Chinaman as I do these Turks and Arabs, and, when Russia is ready to war with them again, I hope England and France will not find it good breeding or good judgment to interfere." (The Innocents Abroad, p. 268)

Mark Twain accurately described the Ottoman tax collection, and its impact on the peasants in Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine. He stated:

"The Syrians are very poor, and yet they are ground down by a system of taxation that would drive any other nation frantic. Last year their taxes were heavy enough, in all conscience----but this year they have been increased by the addition of taxes that were forgiven them in times of famine in former years." (The Innocents Abroad, p. 256-257)

As Mark Twain entered the cities of Nablus and Jaffa, he stated:

"The narrow canyon in which Nablous, or Shechem, is situated, is under high cultivation, and the soil is exceedingly black and fertile. It is well watered, and its affluent vegetation gains effect by contrast with the barren hills that tower on either side." (The Innocents Abroad, p. 322)

"We came finally to the noble grove of orange trees in which the Oriental city of Jaffa lies buried." (The Innocents Abroad, p. 360)

Conclusion

Mark Twain is a renowned American author whose contribution to American literature is immense. On the other hand, what he wrote is filled with dangerous stereotypes, racism emotions, and in many cases contradictions. It's misleading to quote him, and to make him an authority about the region based on his brief trip. Israelis and Zionists are the best operators in spinning events to their advantage, and quoting Mark Twain out of context is a classic example of this. Ironically, those same Zionists who propagated this myth omit many of Mark Twain's anti-Semitic remarks, and selectively quote what furthers their political agenda, he stated in 1898:

"Concerning the Jews, the Jewish race [as having an] unpatriotic disinclination to stand by the flag as a soldier . . . If the concentration of the cunningingest brains in the world was going made in a free country . . . . , I think it would be politic to stop it. It will not be well to let that race find out its strength." It should be that Mark Twain was not ashamed of such talk; he was proud. Click here for on this subject.

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Posted by Nick on August 4, 2014 #154893

The fruit trees in prophecy are a metaphor for His church and the fruit are the saved souls. Israel will be filled with churches one day and not one synagogue will there be.
Posted by Nick on August 4, 2014 #154891

The Israelites were Hellenes, the inheritance of the lost tribes went to the rest of the Hellenes over 2000 years ago when the Avraamaic covenant was transferred into what was called the Septuagint and then God took the temporary Hebrew covenant away as there can only be 1 covenant. The heirs will receive their land when all that has been prophesized has occurred, and that's when the bones of the lost tribes are brought back to life out of their brothers the Greeks.
Posted by Nick on August 4, 2014 #154890

The whole reason the Zionist want to pretend Israel was desolate and without fruit trees prior to their migration is because of the prophecy that states Israel being desolate and then His people arrive and plant fruit trees. #1 Israel has never been desolate and fruit trees were planted and in abundance before 1948. @dca the bible does not give a date and certainly not the date of 1948. God gave the land to the 12 tribes of Israel and their seed, well the 10 have perished and the other 2 are incorporated as the tribe of Iouda of which are only about 2000 in number that God preserves, The other 20 million Jews are just that, Jews like the fake term of Jew that the fakes gave themselves. The covenant wasn't made with the Askanazi or the Edomites and so they are on land that doesn't belong to them but its part of God's plan to let them come so that they will all fry at Armageddon and when Israel gets well nuked and all the invaders are dust, it will then become desolate as prophesized and also the prophecy is that it becomes desolate after the second coming.
Posted by Nick on August 4, 2014 #154889

Funny how the Zionist ignore all the other writers who visited Palestine and also ignore the details of Twains conclusion.
Posted by John on July 7, 2014 #154734

Do you really think that counts as a proper citation when you link to an image of the book? Hilarious!
Posted by Webmaster on February 7, 2014 #153690

@Jerry

It seems you have started your reply without actually reading the article. The arguments presented here has nothing to do if the quotation were out of context or not, any how your claim has no foundation which you will discover as you read the reset of the argument

This article destroys the whole argument; it destroyed the whole myth. Anyhow, at large, we've destroyed this myth in this article:

http://www.palestineremembered.com/Acre/Palestine-Remembered/Story665.html
Posted by Jerry on February 6, 2014 #153687

The quote is completely bogus and constructed out of snippets of unrelated text from several chapters of the book

Here's how it works - out of context snippets indicated by
[[ snippet ]]

From Chapter 47 he describes a short journey in mid-summer heat through a mountain trail to visit the Sea of Gallilee.

We traversed some miles of [[desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds--a silent, mournful expanse ]], wherein we saw only three persons--Arabs, with nothing on but a long coarse shirt like the 'tow-linen' shirts which used to form the only summer garment of little negro boys on Southern plantations. Shepherds they were, and they charmed their flocks with the traditional shepherd's pipe--a reed instrument that made music as exquisitely infernal as these same Arabs create when they sing

From Chapter 49 musing on a remote battlefield

It was hard to realize that this silent plain had once resounded with martial music and trembled to the tramp of armed men. It was hard to people this solitude with rushing columns of cavalry, and stir its torpid pulses with the shouts of victors, the shrieks of the wounded, and the flash of banner and steel above the surging billows of war. [[ A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action.]]

- In that quote, desolation means great unhappiness or loneliness. A feeling often found on battlefields.

Later, travelling back to town

We reached Tabor safely, and considerably in advance of that old iron-clad swindle of a guard. [[ We never saw a human being on the whole route]], much less lawless hordes of Bedouins.

And from Chapter 52 describing his journey over rough terrain on a journey to Damascus

The further we went the hotter the sun got, and the more rocky and bare, repulsive and dreary the landscape became. There could not have been more fragments of stone strewn broadcast over this part of the world, if every ten square feet of the land had been occupied by a separate and distinct stonecutter's establishment for an age. [[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 ]]. No landscape exists that is more tiresome to the eye than that which bounds the approaches to Jerusalem.
Posted by Brent on May 30, 2013 #150182

Relevant quote from the Wikipedia article; Demographics of Palestine

Kathleen Christison, an American author who spent sixteen years as an analyst for the CIA, was critical of attempts to use Twain's humorous writing as a literal description of Palestine at that time. She writes that "Twain's descriptions are high in Israeli government press handouts that present a case for Israel's redemption of a land that had previously been empty and barren. His gross characterizations of the land and the people in the time before mass Jewish immigration are also often used by US propagandists for Israel."[19] For example she noted that Twain described the Samaritans of Nablus at length without mentioning the much larger Arab population at all.[20] The Arab population of Nablus at the time was about 20,000.[21]
Posted by Benedict White on September 29, 2012 #146367

To Jeff. Mark Twain did write about his impressions of the time and there were a lot of people in Palestine. Read my comment. The quote above is so clipped it misses thousands of words.
Posted by Jeff on September 5, 2012 #145921

Mark Twain wrote his impressions at the time. The was no Israel or Palestine then. This whole argument is really irrelevant. Like any text, the words can be used for those who want to. If you really want to rip people apart for the usage of texts, take the bible or Koran. Anyone with an interest will use them to murder or go to war, for example... There are two valid claims to the "Holy Land", one by Israel and one by the Palestinians. Obviously both sides will find it difficult to see the others point of view. Try to think "out of the box". It is so easy but really boring when arguments take on the flavour of a soccer fan's outbursts, I'm either for the blue team or for the red team... By the way there is no such thing as a Muslim Druze as written above. Try the Wikipedia on Druze, it should clear that up for the writer.
Posted by Benedict White on May 14, 2012 #143832

I have used the above quote to "expand the Ellipsis" These are marks like "..." used to omit a word or useless thought. I can't put here what is in the ellipsis and have not read all of it, but I count 56 words in the above quoted as being contained in two pages of Mark Twain's work, Innocents abroad. I actually tried once reading the book looking for the actual quote but could not find it despite hearing of many people in Palestine of much agriculture etc.

I have now used a text search on an e book version.

Here is the rough result:

The quote starts at the beginning of Chapter XLVII (47) and finishes just before the end of LII (52). It's a bit longer than 56 words and 2 pages. In fact it's 191 paragraphs of 21,588 words and doesn't actually get into Jerusalem.

So don't slag of Mark Twain, expand the quote and count the number of people in it to show how shameless it's use is.
Posted by Brent on March 27, 2012 #142750

"mcg" why are you posting here?!
Posted by Brent on March 24, 2012 #142684

"mcg" your fool, I'm sure you also believe the earth is 6,000 years old. Nobody here with a brain is listening to your nonsense.
Posted by mcg on February 19, 2012 #141815

People can endlessly dispute Mark Twain's words but what cannot be disputed are the words of the Bible, in which the Jewish people said that "after 2 days he (God) will revive us." It also says that "a day with the Lord is as a thousand years."...and 2 thousand years (2 days) after the Jews were exiled from the land...they ARE back....end of dispute. Sadly however, the Bible points out that there is still much destruction to come before they will finally receive their Messiah...Jesus Christ.
Posted by kingpaddy on February 2, 2012 #141432

I have to admit to the difficulty I had in understanding the entire meaning of the works of Victor Hugo the first time I read his novels in French. The French themselves had some fun while I visited their nation as my speaking abilities lag far behind my writing skills. My mother was a librarian and I was taught to treat all books with respect as she noted,"not all books are written for you, still we must keep the knowledge no matter how confusing it might seem." So I do write this with a personal vision of what I deem is truth. To hear a writer called vile names because he had the Gaul to write about the life around him and attempt to be paid to do so seems as if a child is reporting to his parents about the bad man. To understand "Mark Twain" as he meant is to understand vast American culture which has its good points and its bad points. Twain wrote about the contradictions between the racist subjected society and the polished and presented jewels of American culture. The lies used to sustain such a myth are easily read by those who are encouraged to accept truth and moral reasoning. I cannot see how I could of really valued Victor Hugo's world although I do admit I am very entertained by his works put to music. I too have walked the earth in the Middle East as an academic and ethnographic historian. I listen to people tell me their family history as passed from father to son. I have found this to be the most accurate and honest of the histories that might be told. I see little truth in the points made by quoting honest men. I am an Irishman and we have own lies to tell as we still battle the English in our minds as our history would suggest. The first mentioning of Zionism that I can recall was from the American Revolutionary Thomas Jefferson who suggested that the fierce Jewish presence during the Revolutionary war came from their desire to return their own home. Jefferson was the first real Anthropologist in training. The families that populated the Palestinian territories were somewhat different that the leaders whom came to presence in the last 200 years. Each has their own tale of family history and honor. I can read and can tell where the author desires to divert his audience to his agenda or point of view. I plead for no one but I do respect honor. It is difficult enough a task for a writer to put an humorous or happy result from the American experience. We keep adjusting to a better world but make no mistake of forgetting the horrors of subjugation our forefathers allowed in their presence. 90% of Human life was killed by disease 100 years after Columbus ships touched North American land. 1492-1592 the Spanish who lived in the filth of pigs and livestock carried sicknesses that had little effect on them. This is the origins of America
Posted by Brent on May 26, 2011 #134748

Here is a quote on Palestine from the 10th century CE by the Palestinian writer of the Islamic Golden Age: Al-Muqaddasi who lived from 945 CE to 1000 CE). First a little info on Al-Muqaddasi: "Muhammad ibn Ahmad Shams al-Din Al-Muqaddasi (Arabic: محمد بن أحمد شمس الدين المقدسي‎), also transliterated as Al-Maqdisi and el-Mukaddasi, (c. 945/946 - 1000) was a medieval Arab geographer, author of Ahsan at-Taqasim fi Ma`rifat il-Aqalim (The Best Divisions for Knowledge of the Regions)."

Now his writings on Palestine from the 10th century CE:
The historical record disproves the Zionist lie that Palestine was undeveloped before the establishment of Jewish settlements in Palestine, Muqqadisi, a native of Jerusalem who died in 986 A.D., enumerated the principal products of Palestine in the tenth century:

..among which agricultural produce was particularly copious and prized: fruit of every kind (olives, figs, grapes, quinces, plums, apples, dates, walnuts, almonds, jujubes and bananas), some of which were exported, and crops for processing (sugarcane, indigo and sumac). But the mineral resources were equally important: chalk earth, marble from Bayt Djibrin, and sulphur mined in the Jordan Valley, not to mention the salt and bitumen of the Dead Sea. Stone, which was common in the country, was the most generally used building material for towns of any importance.(2)
Posted by Brent on May 23, 2011 #134653

From article: "America as Palestine or as Israel?" by Basem L. Ra'ad

Quote- American Palestine: Melville, Twain, and the Holy Land Mania, by Hilton Obenzinger. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1999. xxi; 316 pp.

Overall, Obenzinger’s book is an advance on previous scholarship about travel writing in the region. It is a comment on the growth of American obsession with the “Holy Land.” In America’s beginning, the geography of Palestine (or rather biblical geography) was inscribed on the New World as rationale for a “promised” land and a “chosen” people. This geography was then re-inscribed in Palestine when tourists started flocking to Palestine in the 19th century. At the hand of fundamentalists, it took the form of “sacred geography” – that is, the attempt to trace biblical stories in the land, trying to find any shred of surface evidence to show their “veracity.” Hundreds of such obsessed accounts about Palestine were published by clergymen and lay travelers.
The word “mania” comes from Herman Melville’s journals, where he comments during his visit in 1856-57 on the work of missionaries and ultra-fundamentalists in Palestine. He had earlier made similar comments about missionaries in Polynesia. Obenzinger picks up this word to describe forms of obsession in the writings of millennialists, adventists and other fundamentalists. This phenomenon of Christian Zionism preceded Jewish Zionism. Obenzinger levels a critical eye at America’s colonial project and at fundamentalist Protestant manias that later provided the “material” help and “ideological groundwork for Zionist settlement” in Palestine (12).
To illustrate this process of cross-transfer between the Old World and the New World, the book concentrates on two famous U.S. writers: Herman Melville and Mark Twain. The reason is not that these two writers represented mainstream culture and opinion. Most other “Holy Land books” sought “in one way or other to appropriate Palestine for the American imagination” (x), seeing an invented Palestine, rather than what was actually before their eyes. In contrast, Melville and Twain are selected for discussion because they are “least representative” counter-texts and because they highlight the discrepancy between physical realities and mythic narratives, sordid facts and imagined bonds. Twain sardonically and Melville darkly uncover “crudities, fraud, or illusion” in place of the expected “authenticity, exoticism, beauty, or, particularly in the Holy Land, spirituality” (166).
Posted by Brent on May 23, 2011 #134652

Another book to read refuting the Zionist claims made about Mark Twain's satirically work is the work of academic Hilton Obenzinger entitled "American Palestine: Melville, Twain, and the Holy Land Mania". In this work academic and author Hilton Obenzinger dissects the colonialist views underpinning the spurious and grossly mischaracterized statements about the land of Palestine and the Palestinian people in this period of Western travel to Palestine. These Western/American travelers (like Melville and Twain) were colonialists who looked down on people of the "Third World" (in our modern sense) and Hilton Obenzinger the author of this book mentions how their lies against Palestinian Arabs are very similar to their lies (as white Americans) against the Native Americans of what is today the United States! It was the same colonialism in many ways, Obenzinger states!
Posted by Brent on May 23, 2011 #134632

Also another crucial, huge point found in American author Bayard Taylor's 1854 book: "The Lands of the Saracen; or, Pictures of Palestine, Asia Minor, Sicily and Spain" (1854) documenting his 1852 travels through the Middle East region (including of course Palestine). Bayard Taylor notes how Christians (like Mark Twain the humorous, satirist who wrote his gross characterizations from his 1867 trip mostly through sparsely populated non-arable parts of north Palestine; but again even the racist Twain himself describes the luxuriant fertility of the Palestinian Arabs of Nablus and Jaffa: who were living on some of Palestine's very arable land: again note Palestine's arable land that can be farmed is only about 17% of all of Palestine) how Christians claim "Judea" (aka Palestine, in this case "Judea" is clearly used by Christians to refer to the Jews and the religion of Judaism) was allegedly "cursed" by God meaning Christians saw Jews as being cursed by God for rejecting Jesus. Bayard Taylor writes on page 25 of his 1854 book "The Lands of the Saracen; or, Pictures of Palestine, Asia Minor, Sicily and Spain" (1854) again of his 1852 trip to Palestine:

"Between Ramleh and the hill-country, a distance of about eight miles, is
the rolling plain of Arimathea, and this, as well as the greater part of
the plain of Sharon, is one of the richest districts in the world. The
soil is a dark-brown loam, and, without manure, produces annually superb
crops of wheat and barley. We rode for miles through a sea of wheat,
waving far and wide over the swells of land. The tobacco in the fields
about Ramleh was the most luxuriant I ever saw, and the olive and fig
attain a size and lusty strength wholly unknown in Italy. Judea cursed of
God! what a misconception, not only of God's mercy and beneficence, but of
the actual fact! Give Palestine into Christian hands, and it will again
flow with milk and honey. Except some parts of Asia Minor, no portion of
the Levant is capable of yielding such a harvest of grain, silk, wool,
fruits, oil, and wine. The great disadvantage under which the country
labors, is its frequent drouths, but were the soil more generally
cultivated, and the old orchards replanted, these would neither be so
frequent nor so severe."
*From Bayard Taylor's "The Lands of the Saracen; or, Pictures of Palestine, Asia Minor, Sicily and Spain" (1854), Page 25
Posted by Brent on May 23, 2011 #134630

Again even from Mark Twain about the arable land of Palestine (which is about 17% of all of Palestine: from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea), arable land meaning land that is suitable for farming and planting crops.
"The narrow canyon in which Nablous, or Shechem, is situated, is under high cultivation, and the soil is exceedingly black and fertile. It is well watered, and its affluent vegetation gains effect by contrast with the barren hills that tower on either side." (The Innocents Abroad, p. 322) and the highly successful Palestinian city of Jaffa (in Arabic Yaffa): "We came finally to the noble grove of orange trees in which the Oriental city of Jaffa lied buried." (The Innocents Abroad, p. 360)
Also refuting Zionist myths on Mark Twain; Quote- “Mason Martin, an American author who spent sixteen years as an analyst for the CIA, was critical of attempts to use Twain's humorous writing as a literal descriptio­n of Palestine at that time. She writes that "Twain's descriptio­ns are high in Israeli government press handouts that present a case for Israel's redemption of a land that had previously been empty and barren. His gross characteri­zations of the land and the people in the time before mass Jewish immigratio­n are also often used by US propagandi­sts for Israel."[1­3] For example she noted that Twain described the Samaritans of Nablus at length without mentioning the much larger Arab population at all.[14] The Arab population of Nablus at the time was about 20,000.[15­]”

Also see the quotes of Ahad Ha'am, birth name Asher Zvi Hirsch Ginsberg (18 August 1856 - 2 January 1927). Ahad Ha'am was a pre-"state" (i.e. today's illegal, demonic apartheid "state of Israel") Zionist thinker (and the founder of "Cultural Zionism"). Ahad Ha'am visited Palestine for three months in 1891 and wrote: ""We abroad are used to believe the Eretz Yisrael is now almost totally desolate, a desert that is not sowed ..... But in truth that is not the case. Throughout the country it is difficult to find fields that are not sowed. Only sand dunes and stony mountains .... are not cultivated." (Righteous Victims, p. 42)

And also a few Swiss Zionists (who came from Basel, Switzerland) visited Palestine in 1897 and wrote back an 1897 report to the rabbis of Vienna on the prospects for a Jewish state in Palestine. The report concluded that "the bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man". Palestine's spouse was of course the Palestinian society rooted in its soil.
Posted by Brent on May 23, 2011 #134627

The main things that completely refute the Zionists attempts to use some of the racist Mark Twain's comments out of context. Twain was comparing the Levant and nations like Greece (that he also claimed was "desolate" allegedly) to the massive fertile lands of the United States of America (where he came from). Also most crucially Palestine's arable land is about 17% of the total land of Palestine (Palestine: that is from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea). Also the humorous, satirist Mark Twain (who was recovering from sickness during his trip, and showed much anti-Ottoman, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim prejudice) took a path on his way to Jerusalem which is still sparsely populated non-arable lands. Twain crossed from the Golan Heights in Syria (today occupied by evil, apartheid Zionist "Israel" colonialists) down into what is today the West Bank to the city of Nablus and then south to the city of Jerusalem itself. Anyone can easily check on "Google Earth" this path and see that even today it is non-arable land and is sparsely populated (again Palestine's arable land, that can be used for farming and agriculture, is about 17% of all of Palestine). Yet even Mark Twain himself notes the success of Palestinian farmers and the Palestinian population itself as again: "The narrow canyon in which Nablous, or Shechem, is situated, in under high cultivation, and the soil is exceedingly black and fertile. It is well watered, and its affluent vegetation gains effect by contrast with the barren hills that tower on either side." (The Innocents Abroad, p. 322) and the highly successful Palestinian city of Jaffa (in Arabic Yaffa): "We came finally to the noble grove of orange trees in which the Oriental city of Jaffa lied buried." (The Innocents Abroad, p. 360)
Posted by Brent on May 23, 2011 #134624

Some basic population breakdowns from history; Quote- According to Ottoman statistics studied by Justin McCarthy,[8] the population of Palestine in the early 19th century was 350,000, in 1860 it was 411,000 and in 1900 about 600,000 of which 94% were Arabs. In 1914 Palestine had a population of 657,000 Muslim Arabs, 81,000 Christian Arabs, and 59,000 Jews.[9] McCarthy estimates the non-Jewish population of Palestine at 452,789 in 1882, 737,389 in 1914, 725,507 in 1922, 880,746 in 1931 and 1,339,763 in 1946.[10]
end quote.

Zionist Sir Moses Montefiore of England, who traveled to Palestine in 1839 (and later became a colonialist Zionist settler/thief). Wrote about the land of Palestine (before mass Zionist colonialist settlement again in 1838-1839) in particular the city of Safad, Palestine (in the northeast of Palestine today's illegal, apartheid Zionist "Israel";
“There are groves of olive trees, I should think, more than five hundred years old, vineyards, much pasture, plenty of wells and abundance of excellent water; also fig trees, walnuts, almonds, mulberries, &c., and rich fields of wheat, barley, and lentils; in fact it is a land that would produce almost everything in abundance, with very little skill and labour.”
Posted by Brent on May 23, 2011 #134623

Continuing with more historical quotes proving the Palestinian masses inhabited the land of Palestine and were exporting its agricultural surpluses all throughout the Middle East and Europe (specifically England, France, Italy, and Malta).

According to Paul Masson, a French economic historian, "wheat shipments from the Palestinian port of Acre had helped to save southern France from famine on numerous occasions in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries." Source: Marwan R. Beheiry, "The Agricultural Exports of Southern Palestine, 1885-1 9 14", Journal of Palestine Studies, volume 10, No. 4, 198 1, p. 67.

In 1852 the American writer Bayard Taylor traveled across the Jezreel Valley (in Palestine's Lower Galilee region), which he described in his 1854 book The Lands of the Saracen; or, Pictures of Palestine, Asia Minor, Sicily and Spain as: "one of the richest districts in the world."

Also on Twain's myths (remember he said Greece was also allegedly empty and was comparing the Levant to the much large fertile lands of America):

Quote- These descriptions of the often quoted non-arable areas few people would inhabit are as Twain says, "by contrast" to the arable land, revealing the highly productive nature of Palestinian agriculture at the time of his travels: "The narrow canon in which Nablous, or Shechem, is situated, is under high cultivation, and the soil is exceedingly black and fertile. It is well watered, and its affluent vegetation gains effect by contrast with the barren hills that tower on either side"..."We came finally to the noble grove of orange-trees in which the Oriental city of Jaffa lies buried" [15]

Other authors also reflected on the abundant nature of Palestinian agriculture in the arable areas prior to the influx of non-Palestinian Jewish settlers. Bayard Taylor who wrote of the Jezreel Valley in 1852 ".. one of the richest districts in the world"..."The soil is a dark-brown loam, and, without manure, produces annually superb crops of wheat and barley." [16] Laurence Oliphant wrote in 1887, again of the Valley of Jezreel "..a huge green lake of waving wheat, with its village-crowned mounds rising from it like islands ... it presents one of the most striking pictures of luxuriant fertility which it is possible to conceive"[17]
Posted by Brent on May 23, 2011 #134621

More historical quotes regarding the silly pathetic Zionist colonialist liars (who can only tear parts of the satirist, racist Mark Twain's book out of context, despite Twain clearly speaking of the Palestinian populations of major cities like Nablus which he calls "Shechem" its "Biblical name" and the Palestinian city of Jaffa: just to name two of the many cities).

English poet George Sandys, who visited Palestine in 1615, found Palestine to be "a land that flowed with milk and honey; in the midst as it were of the habitable world, and under a temperate clime; adorned with beautiful mountains and luxurious valleys; the rocks producing excellent waters; and no part empty of delight or profit."

Englishwom­an Lady Hester Stanhope who was in Palestine in 1810: "The luxuriance of vegetation is not to be described.­...Fruits of all sorts from the banana to the blackberry are abundant. The banks of the rivers are clothed naturally with oleander and flowering shrubs.... [The Arab orchards near Jaffa] contained lemon, orange, almond, peach, apple, pomegranat­e and other trees."
Posted by Brent on January 20, 2011 #129339

“Every where about the Mosque of Omar are portions of pillars, curiously wrought altars, and fragments of elegantly carved marble–precious remains of Solomon’s Temple. These have been dug from all depths in the soil and rubbish of Mount Moriah, and the Moslems have always shown a disposition to preserve them with the utmost care. At that portion of the ancient wall of Solomon’s Temple which is called the Jew’s Place of Wailing, and where the Hebrews assemble every Friday to kiss the venerated stones and weep over the fallen greatness of Zion, any one can see a part of the unquestioned and undisputed Temple of Solomon, the same consisting of three or four stones lying one upon the other, each of which is about twice as long as a seven-octave piano, and about as thick as such a piano is high. But, as I have remarked before, it is only a year or two ago that the ancient edict prohibiting Christian rubbish like ourselves to enter the Mosque of Omar and see the costly marbles that once adorned the inner Temple was annulled. The designs wrought upon these fragments are all quaint and peculiar, and so the charm of novelty is added to the deep interest they naturally inspire. One meets with these venerable scraps at every turn, especially in the neighboring Mosque el Aksa, into whose inner walls a very large number of them are carefully built for preservation“

————-

Bayard Taylor who wrote of the Jezreel Valley in 1852 “one of the richest districts in the world”

Laurence Oliphant 1887, again of the Valley of Jezreel “…was ‘a huge green lake of waving wheat, with its village-crowned mounds rising from it like islands; and it presents one of the most striking pictures of luxuriant fertility which it is possible to conceive’ “

——–

It’s rather obvious from reading Innocents abroad, Mark Twain did not visit the most fertile areas of Palestine.
Posted by Brent on January 20, 2011 #129338

Twain was recovering from cholera during his journey through Palestine, IN THE MIDDLE OF SUMMER… begins here … for the most part the route he took to Jerusalem, was through barren areas. E.g., Damascus to the Sea of Galilee. Nablus to Jerusalem. Look at Google Earth even today. The dead sea, today. These are the areas Twain is quoted for! IN THE MIDDLE OF SUMMER.

You will not find the following cited by apologists for a Greater Israel.

“The narrow canon in which Nablous, or Shechem, is situated, is under high cultivation, and the soil is exceedingly black and fertile. It is well watered, and its affluent vegetation gains effect by contrast with the barren hills that tower on either side”

“Sometimes, in the glens, we came upon luxuriant orchards of figs, apricots, pomegranates, and such things, but oftener the scenery was rugged, mountainous, verdureless and forbidding”

“We came finally to the noble grove of orange-trees in which the Oriental city of Jaffa lies buried”

“Small shreds and patches of it must be very beautiful in the full flush of spring, however, and all the more beautiful by contrast with the far-reaching desolation that surrounds them on every side”
Posted by Brent on December 20, 2010 #127985

"chrischanta" your an naive who clearly refuses to read any actually academic historically analysis of Twain's silly statements. Kathleen Christison has documented that the time Twain visited Palestine there were 20,000 inhabitants of just the city of Nablus (that Twain called "Shechem"). Also why did the renowned early Zionist Ahad Haam: Asher Zvi Hirsch Ginsberg (18 August 1856 - 2 January 1927) who visited Palestine for three months in 1891 state: "We abroad are used to believe the Eretz Yisrael is now almost totally desolate, a desert that is not sowed ..... But in truth that is not the case. Throughout the country it is difficult to find fields that are not sowed. Only sand dunes and stony mountains .... are not cultivated." (Righteous Victims, p. 42)
Any answers you Zionist propagandist hasbara fool?!

Also "chrischanta" if al-Quds (Jerusalem) had allegedly become a so-called "pauper village" who on earth had built and maintained the majestic Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) including the two main Islamic holy sites in the city of Jerusalem the Masjid al-Aqsa (Al-Aqsa Mosque) and the Masjid Qubbat As-Sakhrah (The Dome of the Rock); in addition to the great Christian sanctuaries that were and still are in Jerusalem?! Heck, The Dome of the Rock remains the main symbol of al-Quds (Jerusalem) from Islamic times till this very day! Twain was a clear Eurocentrist clown and open racist who was writing during the height of European colonialism he was comparing the huge fertile lands of the United States (stolen from Native Americans) to the lands of the Levant in a desert climate.

Lastly, "chrischanta" following up on Mark Twain's clear Eurocentrism if we were to believe Zionist hasbara propagandists like yourself in allegedly taking Twain's Eurocentric satire as alleged "historic fact" we would also have to believe the whole nation of Greece was also allegedly desolate and without any population during the 19th century when Twain (the Eurocentric satirist wrote); "From Athens all through the islands of the Grecian Archipelago, we saw little but forbidden sea-walls and barren hills, sometimes surmounted by three or four graceful columns of some ancient temples, lonely and deserted---a fitting symbol of desolation that has come upon all Greece in these latter ages. We saw no plowed fields, very few villages, no trees or grass or vegetation of any kind, scarcely, and hardly ever an isolated house. Greece is a bleak, unsmiling desert, without agriculture, manufactures, or commerce, apparently." (The Innocents Abroad, p. 203) Only a complete idiot would buy Twain's lies against either Greece or Palestine.

And before you even say it Twain viewed Greece as a part of the Levant and Mediterranean region, Twain was an Anglo-Saxon supremacist and colonialism/racism supporter much like most racist Amerikkkans in his day. Again how do you explain the city of Nablus, Palestine alone having a population of 20,000 in 1867; almost all of these 20,000 were Palestinian Arabs with a few Samaritan Jews around?! Do you dispute a modern academic and writer like Kathleen Christison or will you continue trying to pimp old 19th century propaganda of a satirist who was not only openly racist but who apparently couldn't differentiate climates and differences between parts of the world?!
Posted by chrischanta on December 17, 2010 #127830

"Renowned Jerusalem itself, the stateliest name in history, has lost all its ancient grandeur, and is become a pauper village," - - Mark Twain. Clear as day.
Posted by Brent on August 28, 2010 #120439

"dca" you are a racist idiot! There is no allegedly "prediction" in the Biblical book of "Ezekiel". The only thing that even comes close to an insane, false claim like this was one Evangelical Christian nutjob assertion that was refuted by the skeptic thinker Farrell Till on his website thskepticalreview dot com the article is called Ezekiel's "Exact" Prophecy of the Restoration of Israel
by Farrell Till it is a refutation of your silly false alleged "prophecy" claim. As to Mark Twain his idiocy and contradictions are easily refuted in this article you fool.
Posted by dca on August 21, 2010 #120012

In Ezekial God said the land would lie in waste until the Jews returned and even predicted the date of Israel's reformation as 1948, 2500 years before it occurred. Also Deuteronomy tells us God gave the land to the Jews as an everlasting possession. God does not lie and Twains quote is proof of the truth of God. Any evidence you may think you have to the contrary is a lie because God is true. The land was desolate, it's name is Israel forever and there is no such nomenclature as Palestinian, it is a fabrication
Posted by Brent on September 26, 2009 #90053

Twain's idiocy was refuted and you usurping Khazars can go back to America, Europe, or Russia.
Posted by Richard on September 5, 2009 #88278

His statement is what is is. Take it or leave it. We don't need Mark Twain to validate our ownership of the land.
Posted by Brent on March 12, 2008 #31504

refuting Steven: Twain was just a writer; let historian refute you; quote- Twain's description of the all-Arab town of Nablus is typical... Calling the town Shechem, its biblical name, he described in detail the ancient roots of Jews there but never mentioned an Arab presence and only once used the name Nablus. In fact, Nablus had a population of 20,000 who were almost all Arabs apart from a few Samaritans. "
Posted by Matt Giwer on March 10, 2008 #31250

Excuse me but this is a poor way to go about dealing with the quote. Consider it a bit like taking Don Rickles seriously. It reads to me like a parody of American views of Palestine just as it is about the Turkish Sultan's wives. In this context he wrote an article in which his estimate of how many million Jews were in America after each recitation of what is attributed to them. By the end of the short article half the country is Jewish. What you call a contradiction by his mention of 800,000 population is what makes it a joke on the popular misconception. The man was not stupid. He was not a hack writer. The contradiction is there for a purpose.
Posted by Steven on March 7, 2008 #30897

I've never read the book, possibly now I'm interested to read at least those quoted pages. I thought the background points are interesting things to look into and keep in mind, but you lost me when you seem equate his comments of Greece with those of Palestine.

".... we never saw a human being on the whole route...." (The Innocents Abroad, p. 361-362)

Here he doesn't mention anything about dwellings. Though he does so in the Greek references:

"very few villages," .... ", and hardly ever an isolated house." (The Innocents Abroad, p. 203)

Then you suggest he contradicts himself.

"The nation numbers only eight hundred thousand souls." (The Innocents Abroad, p. 203)

If the population of Greece was truly 800,000 at the time, I wouldn't expect anyone to see more than "very few villages," ... ", and hardly ever an isolated house." (The Innocents Abroad, p. 203) -- that seems like an accurate depiction, and not contradictory, to me.
Posted by Brent on August 2, 2007 #18759

American author Kathleen Christison does a good job debunking Twain's work I quote: "In modern times, Twain's exaggerations have become grist for the mills of those who propagate the line that Palestine was a desolate land until settled and cultivated by Jewish pioneers. Twain's descriptions are high in Israeli government press handouts that present a case for Israel's redemption of a land that had previously been empty and barren. His gross characterizations of the land and the people in the time before mass Jewish immigration are also often used by U.S. propagandists for Israel... Twain's description of the all-Arab town of Nablus is typical... Calling the town Shechem, its biblical name, he described in detail the ancient roots of Jews there but never mentioned an Arab presence and only once used the name Nablus. In fact, Nablus had a population of 20,000 who were almost all Arabs apart from a few Samaritans. "