Shalom/Salaam/Shlama/Parev Ladies & Gentleman,
I hope I haven't hurt anyone feelings or made anyone feel attacked by opening this discussion. I have asked questions and played "devil's advocate" only because I am interested in hearing what you all have to say.
Unfortunately, there is a good deal of writing on these issues that is highly contentious, ideologically/nationalistically motivated, and historically questionable. While surfing the Web yesterday for info on these issues, I came across this example: http://www.passia.org/meetings/rsunit/Arti...August-2005.htm
. This Lebanese Christian Arabist author rejects the idea of Maronite descent from Phoenicians, Coptic descent from Pharaonic Egyptians, repeats the (well debunked) "Khazar Theory" of Ashkenazi Jewish origins, and even posits an Arab identity for Middle Eastern Christians which predates the Muslim Conquest. (What would he say about the Assyrians, I wonder?)
Anyway, I just wanted my motivations to be clear.