There Was Never a Country Called PalestineBy Jerrold L. Sobel
Please forget one of the great fallacies of our time: Israel did not steal Palestinian land. It's not Palestinians' land; it's never been their land; it will never be their land. This land was given to the Jewish people, as stated in the Bible, by the Creator, and will remain the homeland of the Jewish people in perpetuity. Despite 27 invasions of Judea and Samaria (erroneously called the West Bank), conquests by many, forced conversions, exiles, massive oppression, generations of Diaspora, and cowardly acquiescence by a cadre of 5th-column Jews themselves, Jews have not only survived in what's known in Hebrew as Eretz Yisrael (Israel), but they've taken a desert wasteland and turned it into a powerful little democracy, the envy of the world.
To her detractors, of whom there are many worldwide, the mantra remains the same, ad nauseam. "Israel is complicit in doing this."
"She omitted doing that." "We respect Judaism but are against Zionism." Attempting to mask their anti-Semitism as anti-Zionism, Israel's enemies propagandize the most vile accusations in such numbers that much of it sticks. To cite just a few:
Myth: "Israel discriminates against its Arab citizens."
The facts show otherwise. Israel is one of the most open societies in the world. Out of a population of 6.7 million, 1.1 million are Muslims, 130,000 are Christians, and 100,000 are Druze. All have equal voting rights -- Israel is one of a very few place where Arab women have the right to vote, and Arabs currently hold 14 seats in the Knesset.
Following a five-year trial, in a landmark decision for women's rights, an Arab judge, Salim Joubran, sentenced the former president of Israel, Moshe Katsav, to seven years in prison for rape. In what Muslim country do Jews have such rights? How many seats do Jews hold in the Saudi government or Jordan? Can anyone recall a Jewish judge sentencing a prominent Arab in Egypt? More to the point, has anyone even heard of a Jewish judge in Egypt?
Myth: "The Palestinian Authority protects Jewish holy sites."
If only that were true. Then one important element blocking a sincere peace would be eliminated, but the facts speak otherwise. Just in the years between 1996-2000:
- In Septemer 1996, Palestinian rioters destroyed a synagogue at Joseph's Tomb in Nablus.
- Rachel's Tomb near Bethlehem has been repeatedly attacked since 1996.
- In October 2000, Joseph's Tomb was torched after the Israeli garrison guarding it was temporarily withdrawn. It was subsequently rebuilt as a mosque.
- In October 2000, the ancient synagogue in Jericho was destroyed by arson, and a second historic synagogue was damaged.
Forget about protecting these sites -- in textbooks, speech, and daily life, the Palestinians and their supporters absurdly deny any Jewish connection at all to these ancient landmarks. This all occurs under nominal Israeli control of these areas; one can only imagine the fate of Jewish holy sites left to Palestinian stewardship.
This brings us to the greatest canard of them all, the foundation on which every pro-Palestinian lie is based: "The Jews are building settlements on Palestinian land."
This grand daddy of all fabrications makes great copy for the media and is excellent for denigrators of Israel, but it lacks any basis in historical fact. There is no Palestinian land, plain and simple. If there were, when would it have been founded, and by whom? What would its borders have been, and what about the name of its capital? What would its major cities have been? What would have constituted the basis of its economy? What form of government would it have lived under?
Was Palestine ever recognized as an entity by another country? By whom? What was the language of the country called Palestine? What was Palestine's religion? What was the name of its currency? Since there is no such country today, what caused her demise?
These questions were posed by a Japanese writer, Yashiko Sagamori. Only the most revisionist adherent of the Palestinian narrative could even attempt to answer her queries. Pose these same questions regarding Israel and Jewish connection to this land, and except for the willfully blind and delusional -- of which, admittedly, there are many, each can be factually answered.
At no time in history has there ever been a nation called Palestine. During the Ottoman Empire, which lasted from 1299-1922 CE, the land dubbed by the Romans as Palestine was controlled by the Turks; there was never an outcry for a Palestinian State then. During the illegal annexation of Judea and Samaria by the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan subsequent to the 1949 Armistice and prior to 1967, there was never talk of "occupied territory" or a Palestinian State. Why did the dynamic change subsequent to Israel's glorious victory in the Six-Day War -- a conflict unprovoked by Israel?
Search as you will -- throughout the annals of history, Israel is the only nation victorious in war on successive occasions and then expected by the vanquished and the world at large to sue for peace, to cede land she reclaimed that was historically hers to begin with. It raises the question: which of the "Quartet" cajoling Israel to acquiesce to Palestinian demands should be allowed land won in conflict?
The Russians? It's beyond the scope of this essay to delve into their inglorious, extensive imperialist history and their oppression of native peoples, but as one example, isn't it time they relinquish the Kuril Islands to the Japanese? The Second World War has been over for 67 years.
The same holds true for my favorite imperialists, the British, who never miss an opportunity to castigate the Jewish State but somehow fail to look at their own sordid history. Just this past week, they proudly announced sending a sophisticated warship 7,700 miles into the South Atlantic to dissuade Argentina from re-establishing sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, which lie just 250 miles off Argentina's coast. Why are the Falkland Islands controlled by the British to begin with? Historically, doesn't Argentina, which controlled these islands until 1830, have a greater claim to them?
For that matter, when will the British finally relinquish Gibraltar to its "rightful owner," Spain?
Likewise, if not for hundreds of years of British tyranny and greater military strength, wouldn't Northern Ireland be part of the Republic of Ireland?
What about the United States? Let's face it: if they had more sticks and stones than we do, wouldn't Mexico wrest back the American Southwest and all its resources? Basically, wasn't all this land stolen by the harsh dictates of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo? Why is there such uproar over illegal immigration in the United States? After all, when Mexicans sneak across the border, in effect, aren't they just practicing "the right of return"?
Unquestionably, with the exception of the United States, it was from countries like these that Jews in Diaspora were forced to escape repression and rejoin their coreligionists who maintained a three-thousand-year continuous existence in Judea, Samaria, and the outlying areas.
Does might make right? With exceptions made against Israel, it seems to. The Jewish people were driven out of Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria by the Babylonians. They returned to their homeland and rebuilt the Second Temple only to have it burned again, this time by Romans, and to be once again exiled from their land.
Despite 27 invasions and conquests subsequent to the Grand Monarchy of Kings David and Solomon, Jews have always had a contiguous connection to this land. Only in the minds of the disparaging and the uninitiated did she ever relinquish it. If not the land of Israel, where are Jews from? Poland? The Ukraine? Russia? Only hateful revisionists such as Helen Thomas, Mel Gibson, Oliver Stone, and some sanctimonious loonies with Ph.D.s inculcating our kids with venom believe that.
As to the other detractors of Israel in the EU and the U.N., I ask the following questions. Who legitimately owns Alsace-Lorraine -- the Germans or the French? It's changed hands so many times over the past five hundred years that no one has a clue. What's Turkey doing in Northern Cyprus? Where is the world uproar over China's occupation of Tibet, East Turkestan, Inner Mongolia, and Manchuria?
We can go on and on and on with this. Certainly the Jewish people have at least as great a legitimate claim to their historic homeland than any of these other nations, and certainly more so than the so-called Palestinian Arabs do.
Why are the rules of international relations being changed for Israel? Is it because after thousands of years, the world at large can't bear to see the Jewish people once again in charge of their own land and their own destiny?