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Palestinians - The Peace FAQ

The Peace FAQ:

"Palestinians", the Levant Arabs

Frequently Asked Questions:

● Are the Palestinians native to the land where Israel now exists?
● So why did so many Arabs end up in Palestine?
● So before the creation of the State of Israel, who were the
● What was the identity of the Arabs of Palestine at the end of the
Ottoman Empire?
● Are the Palestinians a separate and unique people, different from the
other Arabs? When did the notion arise - of the Palestinians as a
separate Arab people?
● What was the initial reaction of the Arabs of Palestine to this new and
separate national identity?
● Who is the real enemy of the Palestinian Arabs?
● What will be the function of the new 'secular, democratic' Palestinian

Are the Palestinians native to the land where Israel now exists?

● "The fact is that today's Palestinians are immigrants from the

surrounding nations! I grew up well knowing the history and origins
of today's Palestinians as being from Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Morocco,
Christians from Greece, Muslim Sherkas from Russia, Muslims from
Bosnia, and the Jordanians next door. The civil and tribal wars
between Yemmenites (from Yemen) and Kessites (from Banu Kais of
Saudi Arabia) ... are well known among Palestinians.

"My grandfather, who was a dignitary in Bethlehem, almost lost his

life by Abdul Qader Al-Husseni (the leader of the Palestinian
revolution) after being accused of selling land to Jews. He used to tell
us that his village Beit Sahur (The Shepherds Fields) in Bethlehem
County was empty before his father settled in the area with six other (1 of 13)8/9/2007 9:44:42 AM

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families. The town has now grown to 30,000 inhabitants."

- Walid, a Palestinian Arab defector, talking about the recent

immigration of Arabs to Palestine.
quoted from "Answering Islam"

● The current PLO and Arab claim (and mainstream media

regurgitation of it) is indeed a very distorted version of `recorded
history' and can only qualify as pure Orwellian propaganda. In fact,
putting aside all the myths and propaganda, the only area that would
qualify historically as truly Arab land, is the Arabian desert peninsula.
Unfortunately, it seems that Goebbels was correct in stating that if a
lie were repeated often enough, it would come to be "perceived" as

● No doubt, some Arabs have lived in the area of the Mandate of

Palestine for many centuries, but not as many of them as had the
Jews. What is more, Jews had lived in Arab lands since times
preceding Islam itself. And yet, these Jews in Arab lands were never
regarded as citizens of the Arab lands they lived in and were
unceremoniously expelled in the years subsequent to Israel's
establishment. In other words, residency alone did not confer
national rights on those who inhabited an area. Nor did it make a
people out of congeries of Arabs and other nationalities that had
come to the area of the Mandate of Palestine while the Jewish people
were restricted. The nations of the world recognized this after World
War I when the League of Nations determined that the geographical
area called Palestine was to become a homeland for the Jewish
people, the people that had been continuously associated with this
land since ancient times when it was known as Judea and Samaria.

- David Basch

So why did so many Arabs end up in Palestine?

● During the British Mandate, even well into the 1940s, Arabs were
allowed into "Palestine" in huge numbers without visa or passport,
especially from the Hauran District of Syria, while the British
continued to do everything possible to prevent Jews from entering,
even down to the last minute when all attempts were made to deny
entry to thousands of Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis. Only in 1948
were Jewish refugees allowed free entry to their homeland, and that
was because Israel had, once again, become an independent nation. (2 of 13)8/9/2007 9:44:42 AM

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● [The Arabs of Ottoman Palestine may have] had certain attachments

to the fields they were cultivating but at the same time they were
destroying the Land. Parkes stated that "in the wars between
villages it was far too common a practice to cut down fruit trees and
olives and to destroy crops, and this in the end caused as much loss
of life through hunger as was caused by the actual casualties of
fighting". He concluded that "in spite of the immense fertility of the
soil, it is probable that in the first half of the nineteenth century the
population sank to the lowest level it had ever known in historic

● Palestinian leaders claim that Israel is built on Arab land, when the
truth is that eyewitnesses such as Mark Twain and Rev. Manning
of England who visited the Holy Land in the last century wrote that
the land was barren and empty. The population then was less that
5% of today's population.

In fact Joan Peters in her book "From Time Immemorial" tells us

that the return of the Jews in 1800's and early 1900's created jobs
and Arabs from impoverished areas were drawn into the Holy Land
for work. Peters also tells us that in 1948 so many Arabs were new
to the area and could not qualify for the UN requirement for refugee
status (people forced to leave "permanent" or "habitual" homes) that
they added a clause permitting refugee status for Arabs who had
been there as little as two years.

Thus the Zionist slogan "The Land without a people for the people
without a land" was absolutely correct. The slogan did not mean that
there were no inhabitants at all in Palestine, it just indicated that the
non-Jewish population constituted a conglomeration of dozens of
heterogeneous groups of residents having very little in common, i.e.
not constituting a single nation, a people. These residents were not
united by any specific national idea. Parkes wrote that the Balfour
declaration for the first time established a "unit called Palestine on a
political map. ...There was no such thing historically as a 'Palestinian
Arab', and there was no feeling of unity among 'the Arabs' of this
newly defined area".

So before the creation of the State of Israel, who were the


● Until 1950, the name of the Jerusalem Post was THE PALESTINE
POST; the journal of the Zionist Organization of America was NEW
Israel Electric Company was the PALESTINE ELECTRIC COMPANY; (3 of 13)8/9/2007 9:44:42 AM

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PHILHARMONIC. All these were Jewish organizations. In America,
Zionist youngsters sang "PALESTINE, MY PALESTINE", "PALESTINE
SCOUT SONG" and "PALESTINE SPRING SONG" In general, the terms
Palestine and Palestinian referred to the region of Palestine as it was.
Thus "Palestinian Jew" and "Palestinian Arab" are straightforward
expressions. "Palestine Post" and "Palestine Philharmonic" refer to
these bodies as they existed in a place then known as Palestine. The
adoption of a Palestinian identity by the Arabs of Palestine is a recent
phenomenon. Until the establishment of the State of Israel, and for
another decade or so, the term Palestinian applied almost exclusively
to the Jews.

What was the identity of the Arabs of Palestine at the end of the
Ottoman Empire?

● On August 11, 1919 in a memorandum to Lord Curzon, Lord

Balfour stated that "whatever be the future of Palestine, it is not
now an 'independent nation,' nor is it yet on the way to becoming
one". Professor of history Reverend James Parkes wrote in Whose
Land that "before 1914, ... the mass of the population [in Palestine]
had no real feeling of belonging to any wider unit than their village,
clan or possibly confederation of clans". He stressed the point that
"up to that time it is not possible to speak of the existence of any
general sentiment of nationality".

A Palestinian Arab, Professor of history Rashid Khalidi recently

confirmed Balfour's and Parkes' statements that the population of
Palestine at the beginning of this century did not represent a distinct
nation. In his book Palestinian Identity, he wrote that only at the
beginning of the twentieth century did the Arabs of Palestine start to
see "themselves as part of other communities, both larger and
smaller ones. This identification certainly did not include all sectors or
classes of the population. But it did constitute a new and powerful
category of identity that was simply nonexistent a generation or two
before, and was still novel and limited in its diffusion before World
War I".

● ...the non-Jewish residents of Palestine tried to don several different

identities. First, they attempted to become Ottomans. This attempt
failed after the defeat of the Ottoman army and subsequent
withdrawal of Ottoman authority from Palestine. As Khalidi wrote, "in
a period of a few years, Ottomanism as an ideology went from being
one of the primary sources of identification for Palestinians, to having
no apparent impact at all". Then came the turn of the Syrian identity
that did not last long either. When the French crushed the two-year- (4 of 13)8/9/2007 9:44:42 AM

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old independent Syrian state in 1920, the elite of the Palestinian

Arabs decided to change orientation again. Khalidi quotes the
nationalist leader Musa Kazim Pasa al-Husayni, who said, "Now,
after the recent events in Damascus, we have to effect a complete
change in our plans here. Southern Syria no longer exists. We must
defend Palestine".

It is important to note that the nationalist movement among the non-

Jewish residents of Palestine did not originate on its soil, but was
imported from Egypt, Turkey and France. Parkes wrote that it was
"exclusively political in the narrowest sense, and showed little
awareness of the day-to-day problems which would arise if its
political objective were reached". Illiterate fellahen became the
pawns in the game of power-thirsty Arab nationalists who tried to
repeat King Abdulla's success in Jordan at a smaller scale in the
remaining part of Palestine.

Are the Palestinians a separate and unique people, different from

the other Arabs? When did the notion arise - of the Palestinians as
a separate Arab people?

● There is no language known as Palestinian. There is no distinct

Palestinian culture. There has never been a land known as Palestine
governed by Palestinians. Palestinians are Arabs, indistinguishable
from Jordanians (another recent invention), Syrians, Lebanese,
Iraqis, etc. Keep in mind that the Arabs control 99.9 percent of the
Middle East lands. Israel represents one-tenth of 1 percent of the

But that's too much for the Arabs. They want it all. And that is
ultimately what the fighting in Israel is about today. Greed. Pride.
Envy. Covetousness. No matter how many land concessions the
Israelis make, it will never be enough.

- Joseph Farah, Arab-American journalist,

editor and CEO of WorldNetDaily

● The concept of "Palestinians" is one that did not exist until about
1948, when the Arab inhabitants, of what until then was Palestine,
wished to differentiate themselves from the Jews. Until then, the
Jews were the Palestinians. There was the Palestinian Brigade of
Jewish volunteers in the British World War II Army (at a time when
the Palestinian Arabs were in Berlin hatching plans with Adolf Hitler
for world conquest and how to kill all the Jews); there was the (5 of 13)8/9/2007 9:44:42 AM

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Palestinian Symphony Orchestra (all Jews, of course); there was The

Palestine Post; and so much more.

The Arabs who now call themselves "Palestinians" do so in order to

persuade a misinformed world that they are a distinct nationality and
that "Palestine" is their ancestral homeland. But they are no distinct
nationality at all. They are the same - in language, custom, and tribal
and family ties - as the Arabs of Syria, Jordan, and beyond. There is
no more difference between the "Palestinians" and the other Arabs of
those countries than there is between, say, the citizens of Minnesota
and those of Wisconsin.

What's more, many of the "Palestinians", or their immediate

ancestors, came to the area attracted by the prosperity created by
the Jews, in what previously had been pretty much of a wasteland.

- New York Times, June 12, 2000 (via CFICEJ's ISRAEL REPORT May/
June 2000)

● Meeting in Cairo in 1964, the Arab League resolved to divert the

waters of the Jordan River, which are vital for Israel's existence. At
that same conference, there was a public declaration of the intention
to destroy Israel, and the PLO was founded.

- Anita Shapira, The New Republic, 29 November, 1999

● It is mainly in the past few decades that "Palestinian" has been co-
opted by the Arabs, as if the name belongs exclusively to them,
pretending to have a long history and independent national identity.
Until 1967, most of those who now call themselves Palestinians were
reasonably happy with their Jordanian citizenship and with calling
themselves "Jordanians" Even today, there is strong support among
the "Palestinian" majority of Jordan for their Hashemite monarchy,
though King Hussein relies on his Bedouin troops when he needs
absolute loyalty.

The use of a term like "Palestinian" without the suffix "Arab" and the
term "Israeli-Occupied Palestine" have served to confuse the public
into thinking that there has always been an independent "Palestinian"
people which hasn't been given the opportunity for self-
determination. In fact, any such failure has been the fault of the
government of Jordan, which covers the majority of what was once
known as "Palestine" and in which the majority of Palestinian Arabs

● "Palestinians" [are an] Arab people no one heard of before 1967

before Israeli governments certified this piece of propaganda... As (6 of 13)8/9/2007 9:44:42 AM

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has been noted many times before, prior to 1948, that is before Jews
had begun to call themselves Israelis, the only persons known as
"Palestinians" were Jews, with the Arabs much preferrring to identify
themselves as part of the great Arab nation.

- David Basch

● The actual word "Palestine" came from the Romans, not the Arabs,
and there has never been an independent country or state of
Palestine, nor a Palestinian rule. Yet we are led to believe that there
are Palestinians and then there are Arabs.

● Avi Erlich wrote in his book Ancient Zionism, A Palestinian Arab

claim to the Land of Israel cannot rise above a claim to houses, lost
from the larger Arab Empire. Neither Moorish homes in Cordoba nor
Arab homes in Jerusalem can reasonably constitute lost nations. ...
Homeland represents the grafting of a specific place with a specific
national idea. No Palestinian idea beyond the claim to land or other
lost property has ever been articulated. Borrowed and usurping
nationhood does not count.

● Palestine has always constituted a single geographical, political and

demographic unit with Greater Syria and Egypt. On its soil the
civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt intermingled. Palestine also
witnessed, as a land bridge linking Asia, Africa, and Europe, several
movements and waves of conquerors who dominated it for different
periods of time and left behind varying degrees of influence.

- By Abdul Jawad Saleh, in Transformation of Palestine, printed in

Challenge, February 1995, published on the WWW by the Center for
Research and Documentation of Palestinian Society, Bir Zeit
University, the West Bank

● Prior to partition, Palestinian Arabs did not view themselves as

having a separate identity. When the First Congress of Muslim-
Christian Associations met in Jerusalem in February 1919 to choose
Palestinian representatives for the Paris Peace Conference, the
following resolution was adopted:

"We consider Palestine as part of Arab Syria, as it has never been

separated from it at any time. We are connected with it by national,
religious, linguistic, natural, economic and geographical bonds."

● "There is no such country [as Palestine]! 'Palestine' is a term the

Zionists invented! There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was
for centuries part of Syria." (7 of 13)8/9/2007 9:44:42 AM

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- Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, a local Arab leader, to the Peel

Commission, 1937

● "Palestine was part of the Province of Syria...

...politically, the Arabs of Palestine were not independent in the
sense of forming a separate political entity."

- The representative of the Arab Higher Committee to the United

Nations submitted this in a statement to the General Assembly in
May 1947

● "It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but southern


- Ahmed Shuqeiri, later the chairman of the PLO, to the UN

Security Council

● The Romans had changed the name of the Land of Israel to

"Palestine." But from A.D. 640 until the 1960s, Arabs referred to this
same Land as "Southern Syria." Arabs only started calling the Land
"Palestine" in the 1960s. Until about the eighteenth century, the
Christian world called this same Land, "The Holy Land." Thereafter,
they used two names: "The Holy Land" and "Palestine." When the
League of Nations in 1922 gave Great Britain the mandate to prepare
Palestine as a national home for the Jewish people, the official name
of the Land became "Palestine" and remained so until the rebirth of
the Israeli State in 1948. During this very period, the leaders of the
Arabs in the Land, however, called themselves Southern Syrians and
clamored that the Land become a part of a "Greater Syria." This
"Arab Nation" would include Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Transjordan as
well as Palestine. An observation in TIME magazine well articulated
how the Palestinian identity was born so belatedly in the 1960s:

Golda Meir once argued that there was no such thing as a

Palestinian; at the time, she wasn't entirely wrong. Before Arafat
began his proselytizing, most of the Arabs from the territory of
Palestine thought of themselves as members of an all-embracing
Arab nation. It was Arafat who made the intellectual leap to a
definition of the Palestinians as a distinct people; he articulated the
cause, organized for it, fought for it and brought it to the world's

If there was an Arab Palestinian culture, a normal population

increase over the centuries would have been expected. But with the
exception of a relatively few families, the Arabs had no attachment to
the Land. If Arabs from southern Syria drifted into Palestine for (8 of 13)8/9/2007 9:44:42 AM

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economic reasons, within a generation or so the cultural tug of Syria

or other Arab lands would pull them back. This factor is why the Arab
population average remained low until the influx of Jewish financial
investments and Jewish people in the late 1800s made the Land
economically attractive. Then sometime between 1850 and 1918, the
Arab population shot up to 560,000. Not to absolve the Jews but to
defend British policy, the not overfriendly British secretary of state
for the colonies, Malcolm MacDonald, declared in the House of
Commons (November 24, 1938), "The Arabs cannot say that the
Jews are driving them out of the country. If not a single Jew had
come to Palestine after 1918, I believe the Arab population of
Palestine would still have been around 600,000. . ."

Because Arabs until the 1960s spoke of Palestine as Southern Syria

or part of Greater Syria, in 1919 the General Syrian Congress
stated, "We ask that there should be no separation of the southern
part of Syria, known as Palestine." In 1939 George Antonius noted
the Arab view of Palestine in 1918:

Faisal's views about the future of Palestine did not

differ from those of his father and were identical with
those held then by the great majority of politically-
minded Arabs. The representative Arab view was
substantially that which King Husain [Grand Sherif of
Mecca, the great grandfather of the current King
Hussein of Jordan] had expressed to the British
Government. . . in January 1918. In the Arab view,
Palestine was an Arab territory forming an integral part
of Syria.

Referring to the same Arab view of Palestine in 1939, George

Antonius spoke of "the whole of the country of that name [Syria]
which is now split up into mandated territories..." His lament was
that France's mandate over Syria did not include Palestine which was
under Britain's mandate.

Syrian President Hafez Assad once told PLO leader Yassir 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. You are an integral part of the Syrian
people, Palestine is an integral part of Syria. Therefore
it is we, the Syrian authorities, who are the true
representatives of the Palestinian people.

Assad stated on March 8, 1974, "Palestine is a principal part of (9 of 13)8/9/2007 9:44:42 AM

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Southern Syria, and we consider that it is our right and duty to insist
that it be a liberated partner of our Arab homeland and of Syria."

In the words of the late military commander of the PLO as well as

member of the PLO Executive Council, Zuhair Muhsin:

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.

The following are significant observations by Christians of the Arabs

in Palestine in the 1800s:

The Arabs themselves, who are its inhabitants, cannot

be considered but temporary residents. They pitched
their tents in its grazing fields or built their places of
refuge in its ruined cities. They created nothing in it.
Since they were strangers to the land, they never
became its masters. The desert wind that brought
them hither could one day carry them away without
their leaving behind them any sign of their passage
through it.

Stephen Olin, D.D., L.L.D., called one of the most noted of

American theologians after his extensive travels in the Middle East
wrote of the Arabs in Palestine "...with slight exceptions they are
probably all descendants of the old inhabitants of Syria."

● Palestinian Arab nationalism is largely a post-World War I

phenomenon that did not become a significant political movement
until after the 1967 Six-Day War and Israel's capture of the West

● ...the Arab leadership realized how much more effective they could
make their efforts to "throw the Jews into the sea" if they became
Palestinians rather than Arabs. By then, the Jews of this country (the
only people called Palestinians before the War of Independence) were
named Israelis. Even The Palestine Post became The Jerusalem Post.
By adopting the name 'Palestinians' the Arabs succeeded in
converting the Arab-Israeli conflict from a war of annihilation against
the Jewish population to a struggle of dispossessed natives against
colonialist invaders. It was a spectacularly effective canard,
eventually adopted by Israel's own fiction weavers, the 'new (10 of 13)8/9/2007 9:44:42 AM

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- David Bar-Illan, The Jerusalem Post, 'Eye on the Media',

November 5, 1999

What was the initial reaction of the Arabs of Palestine to this new
and separate national identity?

● ...after the Six-Day War, when Yasser Arafat and Fatah tried to
establish their infrastructures in what they referred to as the West
Bank they were rejected by the Arabs themselves. Neil Livingstone
and David Halevy wrote in Inside the PLO, "The effort, however,
turned out to be one of Fatah's greatest failures, not so much
because of Israeli efficiency in ferreting out the secret network as
because of Palestinian apathy. At that point many Palestinians living
in the West Bank were actually relieved to be out from under the
oppressive yoke of Jordanian rule and simply wanted to find some
kind of accommodation with the Israelis. Within months Arafat was
forced to leave the West Bank on the run".

The Arab leaders are well aware of the fragility of the Palestinian
identity for the majority of the Palestinian Arabs. This is the main
reason why they have not allowed the Palestinian Arabs living in the
refugee camps, for almost half a century, to intermingle with Arabs
of their countries. Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri
confirmed this on February 5, 1998 in an interview with London MBC
Television. He said the following; "We do not want to fall into the
trap of resettling the Palestinians. This would lead to resettling the
Palestinian refugees and their eventual assimilation. The Palestinians
themselves have consistently rejected this approach so that their
cause and characteristic identity might not be lost".

When Al-Hariri said, "the Palestinians themselves rejected this

approach", he missed one important word - leaders. It is the
Palestinian leaders who try to prevent the assimilation of the Arabs
among the Arabs. It is the Palestinian leaders who today more and
more openly declare the Israeli Arabs to be their "property", to be an
unquestionable part of the "Palestinian people". If Israel does not
confront this dangerous tendency she arrives at an extremely
perilous situation. There is a way to deal with this matter. Edward
Said wrote that, "Unlike other peoples who suffered from a colonial
experience, the Palestinians do not primarily feel that they have been
exploited but that they have been excluded, denied the right to have
a history of their own". Israel has an excellent chance to mend this
problem. As was stated earlier, the non-Jewish inhabitants of (11 of 13)8/9/2007 9:44:42 AM

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Palestine tried to take on several different identities; none of them

brought relief or happiness, most likely because all of them were

Who is the real enemy of the Palestinian Arabs?

● "Arafat himself is one of the world's foremost terrorists. He knows it,

we know it, and he knows that we know it. So what's he up to?
Muddying the waters, that's what.... The [Jerusalem marketplace]
massacre was, he said, nothing to do with him. But where's the
evidence the Israelis are trying to starve the Palestinians into
submission? There isn't any. Where's the evidence the Israelis have a
siege mentality against the Palestinians? Again, there isn't any. The
truth is ... the Arab world has repeatedly tried to destroy the only
democratic nation in the entire Middle East. If Arafat wants he can
make a legitimate deal with the Israelis right now and end the so-
called 'state terrorism' against his people. Yet instead he prefers to
use his own people as pawns in his own cunning, devious game. It is
Arafat himself, not the Israeli people, who is the enemy of the

- Editorial (Canada's Calgary Sun, Aug 12, 1997)

What will be the function of the new 'secular, democratic'

Palestinian state?

● First of all, who really believes that a Palestinian state will be either
secular or democratic?

● A secular Islam a contradiction in terms; in the Middle East, the

idea of a secular State is merely a weapon recently added to the
armoury of the PLO.

- Jacques Givet, "The Anti-Zionist Complex"

● "We are slowly and dangerously moving towards a police state where
intimidation and threats become the norm instead of the rule of law."

- Daoud Kuttab, a prominent Arafat supporter and Palestinian

journalist, after he was fired from his job for signing a petition
protesting the P.L.O.'s decision to shut down a pro-Jordanian
newspaper (Reuters, 6 August 1994) (12 of 13)8/9/2007 9:44:42 AM

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● "I am not Mr. Chairman. I am His Excellency, the President of


- Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the P.L.O., in response to a greeting

by Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt (Jerusalem Post, 17 December
1993) (13 of 13)8/9/2007 9:44:42 AM