But we do know that there were probably fewer than 350,000 people, the majority Arab, in the whole region (including what is now Jordan) when Mark Twain made a pilgrimage in 1867.
In his travelogue, Innocents Abroad, Twain wrote, "One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings."
"Nazareth is forlorn . . . Jericho the accursed lies a moldering ruin today," Twain said, adding, "There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere."
But the population was growing. More Jews arrived from Eastern Europe and Russia in the 1880s, either fleeing oppression or following the Zionist dream. And Arabs from neighboring countries flocked to jobs created by Jewish immigrants.
Take a deep breath, because now the plot thickens.
In 1917, Britain issued the Balfour Declaration and promised "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish People."
The British then turned around and gave over 77 percent of Palestine to the Arab Hashemites, for what later became Jordan. The remaining 23 percent, west of the River Jordan, was supposedly for the Jews.
But in 1947, the UN voted to partition that 23 percent of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. The Israelis accepted the plan and in 1948 proclaimed the establishment of their state. Neighboring Arab nations, however, rejected both the partition and the idea of a Jewish state and launched a massive invasion of Israel.
They were defeated, and at the end of the 1948 war Israel held all of Western Palestine except the West Bank, which was captured by Jordan, and Gaza, which was seized by Egypt.
The big question is: Where were the calls for a Palestinian state during the 19 years Jordan occupied the West Bank and Egypt held Gaza?
A 1978 peace accord signed with Egypt returned the Sinai to Cairo, but the Egyptians seemed relieved to leave Gaza with Israel. In 1988, King Hussein of Jordan officially renounced all claims to the West Bank.
As far as Israelis were concerned, the land, won in a defensive war, belonged to them.
But even after all the nauseating terror of the last 23 months, the majority of Israelis are willing to give Palestinians the West Bank, Gaza, and half of Jerusalem for their state. We just wonder if they are willing to let us keep ours.