What, or who, is exactly a Philistine?
Are they the ancestors of today's Palestinians?
It's a rather important question.
For some reason the keepers of intellectual knowledge (academia) are surely lacking in this endeavor, either through indifference to the truth, or an effort to suppress the truth. It's only with knowledge of the truth, that we can make informed decisions. Ignorance is always, in every case, a poor companion to reason.
I read again, and again, Israel "stole" the land from Palestinians. This makes no sense. Historically, Jews have lived in the land "named by a Greek", it's the Greek designation of an area. It's got no connection with the group of Arabs now using the designation as a way to de- legitimatise Israel.
Herodotus ( Born around 484 BC. Birthplace, Halicarnassus Greece, now Bodrum, Turkey. Died around 430 BC) is to blame for this common misconception. Or being unfamiliar with his writings are.
Between Persia and Phoenicia lies a broad and ample tract of country, after which the region I am describing skirts our sea, stretching from Phoenicia along the coast of Palestine-Syria till it comes to Egypt, where it terminates
Sourced from the (Massachusetts Institute of technology) MIT.edu E library of the classics.
Palestine-Syria, was a term used to refer to a Geographic area, like New England.
Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, or New York, did not steal "New England" from the New English.
"Palestine" was the Greek and Roman term for the area that the Jewish people among others, inhabited. There is in fact no historical documentation suggesting an Arab presence in the land called Palestine from Assyrian, Persian, Greek or Roman historical documents.
Arabs did not arrive until around 634 to 638 AD and the conquest of Jerusalem. There has never been a nation, or state, of Arabs calling themselves "Palestinians". Never, it's like saying I stole your Unicorn. While you are of course free to miss your Unicorn, few will take you seriously.
Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey. Burkah Bekid.
Hardly a day passes in the Islamic world (or in the western intellectual world) without people standing up against and decrying the occupation of “al-Quds” (otherwise known as Jerusalem). In this column I have often argued otherwise: A counter-occupation is no occupation.
Now, dear Islamists, I have a “witness” whom I guess you could hardly refute. Forget my words and listen to what Turkey’s top Muslim cleric, Professor Mehmet Görmez, had to say just last week: “After the Prophet Omar conquered al-Quds he was invited to pray at a church (since there were no mosques in Jerusalem). But he politely refused because he was worried that the (conquering) Muslims could turn the church into a mosque after he prayed there.”
Now, read that line once again, or a thousand times if you wish to: “After the Prophet Omar conquered al-Quds…” And think about why there were no mosques in Jerusalem at the time of the conquest. Still no clue? Allow me to explain: Because Jerusalem was not a Muslim city. And now you claim it back because it is under “Jewish occupation!”
The refusal to pray at the church was very noble of the Prophet Omar. I personally do not expect you, dear Islamists, to behave as virtuously and gallantly as the prophet, but at least you can do something easier: Stop fighting for a city that belonged to other faiths before your ancestors conquered it.
Mohammad sent letters to the neighbouring kings or rulers expressing his personal desire that they submit to his will. One such letter can be found here. This is the justification for the conquest of the Byzantine empire. Lead by, Khalid ibn al-Walid (or the sword of allah) as directed by the first two rightly guided Caliphs, Abu Bakr, and Umar ibn Al-Khattāb.
Let's see what we can learn from the Encyclopedia Britannica. (link) It's secular history. Was Palestine the home of the Philistines ?
Was it the home of an early Arab civilisation ?
Philistine, one of a people of Aegean origin
Look at a map, and see where the Aegean is located, connect the Aegean people with Arab people?
who settled on the southern coast of Palestine in the 12th century bc, about the time of the arrival of the Israelites. According to biblical tradition (Deuteronomy 2:23; Jeremiah 47:4), the Philistines came from Caphtor (possibly Crete). They are mentioned in Egyptian records as prst, one of the Sea Peoples that invaded Egypt in about 1190 bc after ravaging Anatolia, Cyprus, and Syria. After being repulsed by the Egyptians, they occupied the coastal plain of Palestine from Joppa (modern Tel Aviv–Yafo) southward to the Gaza Strip. The area contained the five cities (the Pentapolis) of the Philistine confederacy (Gaza, Ashkelon [Ascalon], Ashdod, Gath, and Ekron) and was known as Philistia, or the Land of the Philistines.
It was from this designation that the whole of the country was later called Palestine by the Greeks.
What connection is there with twenty first century Arabs?
The Sea people (,Philistines) were from the Aegean, not the Arabian peninsula. They had disappeared from the historical record, long before the Arab invasions of the Byzantine empire from 634 to 638 AD. There is no record of any Arab village or towns before this date.
"Philistines" were European emigrants, from near Greece (The Aegean). There is not any historical connection with the group of Arabs now calling themselves "Palestinians". The peoples known as Philistines disappeared from the historical record at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. They were placed in to exile with the Jews when the area fell to the Babylonian kingdom in 603 BC. Said to be responsible for the destruction of the first Jewish temple of Jerusalem at this time .
Well before Herodotus set foot in the area (or wrote about it, in around 420 BC), the people that the land was named after (in Greek) no longer existed. The culture, civilisation and nation was obliterated by Herodotus's time.
Tel Miqne was founded in the twelfth century B.C. by the Philistines, a tribe of the Sea Peoples, raiders from the Aegean and central Mediterranean. A large urban center until the beginning of the tenth century B.C., it was destroyed, by either the Egyptians or Israelites, after which a smaller city arose that blended local Philistine cultural traditions with Judaean and Phoenician influences. In 712 B.C. this city was conquered by the Assyrian king Sargon II. For a short time, beginning in 705 B.C., it came under the control of Hezekiah, king of Judah. A third city was founded after Sennacherib's 701 B.C. campaign against the rebellious rulers of Phoenicia and Palestine, which reestablished Assyrian dominance over the area. It became the largest olive oil production center yet known from the ancient world. The Assyrians withdrew ca. 630-623 B.C. as their empire declined, and Egypt briefly established control over the region. In 603 B.C. the city was sacked by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar.
Now this biblical "story", of exile in Babylon is confirmed in the historical record. And can be source from American Universities, like here at Fordham University.
Ancient History Sourcebook:
Kurash (Cyrus) the Great: The Decree of Return for the Jews, 539 BCE
But I like this Iranian source best.
I am Kurash [ "Cyrus" ], King of the World, Great King, Legitimate King, King of Babilani, King of Kiengir and Akkade, King of the four rims of the earth, Son of Kanbujiya, Great King, King of Hakhamanish, Grandson of Kurash, Great king, King of Hakhamanish, descendant of Chishpish, Great king, King of Hakhamanish, of a family which always exercised kingship; whose rule Bel and Nebo love, whom they want as king to please their hearts. When I entered Babilani as a friend and when I established the seat of the government in the palace of the ruler under jubilation and rejoicing, Marduk, the great lord, induced the magnanimous inhabitants of Babilani to love me, and I was daily endeavoring to worship him.... As to the region from as far as Assura and Susa, Akkade, Eshnunna, the towns Zamban, Me-turnu, Der as well as the region of the Gutians, I returned to these sacred cities on the other side of the Tigris the sanctuaries of which have been ruins for a long time, the images which used to live therein and established for them permanent sanctuaries. I also gathered all their former inhabitants and returned them to their habitations. Furthermore, I resettled upon the command of Marduk, the great lord, all the gods of Kiengir and Akkade whom Nabonidus had brought into Babilani to the anger of the lord of the gods, unharmed, in their former temples, the places which make them happy. 
In the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord inspired King Cyrus of Persia to issue this proclamation throughout his kingdom, bothby word of mouth and in writing: "Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia: "All the kingdoms of the earththe Lord, the God of heaven, has given to me, and he has also charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever, therefore, among you belongs to any part of his people, let him go up, and may his God be withhim! Let everyone who has survived, in whatever place he may have dwelt, be assisted by the people of that place with silver, gold, and goods, together with free will offerings for the house of God in Jerusalem.' Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin and the priests and Levites--everyone, that is, whom God had inspired to do so-- prepared to go up to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. All their neighbors gave them help in every way, withsilver, gold, goods, and cattle, and with many precious gifts besides all their free-will offerings. King Cyrus, too, had the utensils of the house of the Lord brought forth which Nebuchadnezzar had taken away from Jerusalem and placed in the house of his god. Cyrus, king of Persia, had them brought forth by the treasurer Mithredath, and counted out to Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah. 
Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, traces 2600 years of Middle Eastern history through this single object. The writer and presenter of the BBC Radio 4 series "A History of the World in 100 Objects.
If the Philistines had returned with the Jews after the decree of Cyrus the Great, no record, artifact, or shred of evidence of it survived. The people called the Philistines, disappeared from the historical record by 539 BC, but a name, would live on.
From the university of Chicago we can find Flavius Josehus, commenting on who Herodotus may have be describing.
When Herodotus wrote about "Palestine" he referred to an area of "Hellenized" Syria, populated with Jews.
This therefore is what Herodotus says, that "the Syrians that are in Palestine are circumcised."
But there are no inhabitants of Palestine that are circumcised excepting the Jews; and therefore it must be his knowledge of them that enabled him to speak so much concerning them.
Cherilus also, a still ancienter writer, and a poet, [Note] makes mention of our nation, and informs us that it came to the assistance of king Xerxes, in his expedition against Greece
While there is no further mention of Philistines, the Jewish people however, continue to live on the land as they have for about one thousand years at this point. The length of time is somewhat debatable, but the Jewish presents is not.
When Alexander the Great passed through "Palestine", he is said to have met the Jewish Priests of the Temple. Sourced by Gutenberg E project of the classics Project Gutenberg's " The Antiquities of the Jews", by Flavius Josephus (book 11 chapter 8)
Now Alexander, when he had taken Gaza, made haste to go up to Jerusalem; and Jaddua the high priest, when he heard that, was in an agony, and under terror, as not knowing how he should meet the Macedonians, since the king was displeased at his foregoing disobedience. He therefore ordained that the people should make supplications, and should join with him in offering sacrifice to God, whom he besought to protect that nation, and to deliver them from the perils that were coming upon them; whereupon God warned him in a dream, which came upon him after he had offered sacrifice, that he should take courage, and adorn the city, and open the gates; that the rest should appear in white garments, but that he and the priests should meet the king in the habits proper to their order, without the dread of any ill consequences, which the providence of God would prevent. Upon which, when he rose from his sleep, he greatly rejoiced, and declared to all the warning he had received from God. According to which dream he acted entirely, and so waited for the coming of the king.
5. And when he understood that he was not far from the city, he went out in procession, with the priests and the multitude of the citizens. The procession was venerable, and the manner of it different from that of other nations. It reached to a place called Sapha, which name, translated into Greek, signifies a prospect, for you have thence a prospect both of Jerusalem and of the temple. And when the Phoenicians and the Chaldeans that followed him thought they should have liberty to plunder the city, and torment the high priest to death, which the king's displeasure fairly promised them, the very reverse of it happened; for Alexander, when he saw the multitudeat a distance, in white garments, while the priests stood clothed with fine linen, and the high priest in purple and scarlet clothing, with his mitreon his head, having the golden plate whereon the name of God was engraved, he approached by himself, and adored that name, and first saluted the high priest. The Jews also did all together, with one voice, salute Alexander, and encompass him about; whereupon the kings of Syria and the rest were surprised at what Alexander had done, and supposed him disordered in his mind. However, Parmenio alone went up to him, and asked him how it came to pass that, when all others adored him, he should adore the high priest of the Jews? To whom he replied, "I did not adore him, but that God who hath honored him with his high priesthood; for I saw this very person in a dream, in this very habit, when I was at Dios in Macedonia, who, when I was considering with myself how I might obtain the dominion of Asia, exhorted me to make no delay, but boldly to pass over the sea thither, for that he would conduct my army, and would give me the dominion over the Persians; whence it is that, having seen no other in that habit, and now seeing this person in it, and remembering that vision, and the exhortation which I had in my dream, I believe that I bring this army under the Divine conduct, and shall therewith conquer Darius, and destroy the power of the Persians, and that all things will succeed according to what is in my own mind." And when he had said this to Parmenio, and had given the high priest his right hand, the priests ran along by him, and he came into the city. And when he went up into the temple, he offered sacrifice to God, according to the high priest's direction, and magnificently treated both the high priest and the priests.
One of Alexander's generals (Ptolemy) thought so well of the Jewish inhabitants of "Palestine", that the writings they possessed were made the first knowledge recorded for the library of Alexandria. Late third century BC
Aristeas, writing 100 years after the library's inception, records that Ptolemy I handed over to Demetrius the job of gathering books and scrolls, as well as letting him supervise a massive effort to translate other cultures' works into Greek. This process began with the translation of the Septuagint, the Old Testament, into Greek, for which project Ptolemy hired and housed 72 rabbis at Demetrius' suggestion. [Letter of Aristeas 9-10]. 
sourced at Tufts University by Prof. Gregory Crane
While in Egypt at that time the Jews were respected, it was not the case with the empire founded by of one of the Alexandrian Generals (Seleucus Nicator) in Syria Palestine. The Jews of "Palestine" were in open revolt a few generations after the acceptance demonstrated by Alexander. Called the Maccabean revolt.In 167 BC, the Jews are still resisting Hellenisation.
2. Hasmonean rule as realpolitik (i.e., pragmatism vs. idealism/utopianism/messianism)
The general condition of Second Temple Jewish history is one of a dependence of Judah on the surrounding empires. Judah becomes a pawn, and sometimes a player, in the ups and downs of Persia, Ptolemaic Egypt, the Seleucid empire, and finally the Roman empire. These imperial powers are interested in Judah for two reasons, namely, money (taxation) and military support. The empires' ambivalence toward greater or lesser measures of Judahite independence rests on the fact that taxation and military support rested on contradicting conditions. In order to providea viable source of taxation, land owners had to have conditions of peace, stability of property rights, administration, and commerce. Such conditions, in turn, rested on a relatively free and independent Jewish common wealth which could, however, easily turn into a military threat to one or the other imperial interest. Particularly sensitive periods are the times of transition from one imperialruler to another, when smaller provinces like Judah could see a chance by siding withone or the other competitor to the imperial throne. The ascent of the Hasmoneans to high priesthood and kingship is due to Jonathan's (one of Judah Maccabi's brothers) shrewd exploitation of the struggle of succession caused by the sudden death of Antiochos IV, a strategy utilized also by others.
Like the founders of the first Jewish commonwealth, King David and his dynasty,the Hasmoneans utilize a period of decline in the power of their neighboring empires to establish themselves as the dominant political force
sourced by Boston university.
Gnaeus Pomoeius Maguns (Pompey), a Roman General invades "Palestine" in 63 BC. He encounters Jews.
"Of the Jews there fell twelve thousand, but of the Romans very few.... and no small enormities were committed about the temple itself, which, in former ages, had been inaccessible, and seen by none; for Pompey went into it, and not a few of those that were with him also, and saw all that which it was unlawful for any other men to see but only for the high priests. There were in that temple the golden table, the holy candlestick, and the pouring vessels, and a great quantity of spices; and besides these there were among the treasures two thousand talents of sacred money: yet did Pompey touch nothing of all this, on account of his regard to religion; and in this point also he acted in a manner that was worthy of his virtue. The next day he gave order to those that had the charge of the temple to cleanse it, and to bring what offerings the law required to God; and restored the high priesthood to Hyrcanus, both because he had been useful to him in other respects, and because he hindered the Jews in the country from giving Aristobulus any assistance in his war against
Sourced by Gutenberg E project of the classics
Project Gutenberg's The Antiquities of the Jews, by Flavius Josephus. Book 14 chapter 4.
Them troublesome Jews were soon at it again . Hadrian in 135 AD.
Well in to the "common era", Jews still have a nation, state, area of land to call their own. That is about to change. The name of a non-existent people is resurrected again. Palestine is the old name given to the Jewish land, freshly conquered by European colonialists (Romans) in pursuit of empire.
Iudaea is the Roman name for the Judean province.
It was Hadrian who resurrected the name used by Herodotus centuries before to describe a land once belonging to a people who had not existed for many centuries.
Bar Kokhba, original name Simeon Bar Kosba, Kosba also spelled Koseba, Kosiba, or Kochba, also called Bar Koziba (died ad 135), Jewish leader who led a bitter but unsuccessful revolt (ad 132–135) against Roman dominion in Palestine.
During his tour of the Eastern Empire in 131, the Roman emperor Hadrian decided upon a policy of Hellenization to integrate the Jews into the empire. Circumcision was proscribed, a Roman colony (Aelia) was founded in Jerusalem, and a temple to Jupiter Capitolinus was erected over the ruins of the Jewish Temple.
Enraged by these measures, the Jews rebelled in 132, the dominant and irascible figure of Simeon bar Kosbaat their head. Reputedly of Davidic descent, he was hailed as the Messiah by the greatest rabbi of the time, Akiva ben Yosef, who also gave him the title Bar Kokhba (“Son of the Star”), a messianic allusion. Bar Kokhba took the title nasi (“prince”) and struck his own coins, with the legend “Year 1 of the liberty of Jerusalem.”
The Roman historian Dion Cassius noted that the Christian sect refused to join the revolt.
No mention of Arabs.
The Jews took Aelia by storm and badly mauled the Romans’ Egyptian Legion, XXII Deiotariana. The war became so serious that in the summer of 134 Hadrian himself came from Rome to visit the battlefield and summoned the governor of Britain, Gaius Julius Severus, to his aid with 35,000 men of the Xth Legion. Jerusalem was retaken, and Severus gradually wore down and constricted the rebels’ area of operation, until in 135 Bar Kokhba was himself killed at Betar, his stronghold in southwest Jerusalem. The remnant of the Jewish army was soon crushed; Jewish war casualties are recorded as numbering 580,000, not including those who died of hunger and disease. Judaea was desolated, the remnant of the Jewish population annihilated or exiled, and Jerusalem barred to Jews thereafter. But the victory had cost Hadrian dear, and in his report to the Roman Senate on his return, he omitted the customary salutation “I and the Army are well” and refused a triumphal entry
sourced by the Encyclopedia Britannica.
An interesting map of the time can be found here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judea as you can see modern Israel, is much smaller than the Jewish peoples historic lands.
The Romans were familiar with Arabs. Trajan conquered The Nabataean arabs around 106 BC. There never was any mention of Arabs living in "Palestine".
Petra was first established around the 6th century BC by the NabataeanArabs, a Semitic people who laid the foundations of a commercial empire that extended into Syria. In AD 106 Trajan annexed the Nabataean Kingdom as part of the province of Arabia
An interesting book about the Nabataean Arabs can be found at harvard University press.