East Palestine Is a Typical Name for an American Town

For the past three weeks, national attention has been turned toward East Palestine (pronounced pale-STEEN), where a train carrying toxic chemicals was derailed. Some have wondered why a village of 5,000 in northeastern Ohio has a name that once referred to what is now Jordan. But, as Rafael Medoff explains, there is nothing unusual about this particular toponym:

Elsewhere in Ohio, there are towns named Hebron, Gilboa, Canaan, and Shiloh (two of them, in fact). There’s even a Sodom, which was given its name after a prohibition advocate, disappointed at the small turnout for his lecture in 1840, jokingly compared the locale to that infamous biblical center of sin.

In Texas, in addition to Palestine, there are towns named Hebbronville and Joshua. There is a Hebron in North Dakota and a Sinai in South Dakota, a Jerusalem in Arkansas, a Jericho in Vermont, a Bethlehem as well as a Nazareth in Pennsylvania, and a Zion in Maryland. Nearly every state has one or more towns named after biblical sites or individuals. Altogether, there are more than 1,000 biblically named towns from coast to coast.

Towns such as East Palestine, Ohio were established by 19th-century religious Christian settlers. They chose those names to express their spiritual attachment to the land and people of the Bible. . . . The area that became East Palestine was originally known as Mechanicsburg. . . . “Mechanicsburg” was changed in 1836 because—according to an early history of the region—“the wife of Dr. Robert Chamberlin desired a more euphonious appellation and desired it [be] called ‘Palestine,’ the quiet beauty of the little town, and the earnest, virtuous, simple life of its people suggesting to her a name recalling holy memories.”

Since there already was a town named “Palestine” in the western part of the state—likewise founded by religious Christians who wanted to infuse their town with “holy memories”—government officials, in assigning the new post office, added the prefix “East.”

Read more at JNS

More about: American Religion, Hebrew Bible, U.S history

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security