Aug 16, 2022
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To the Editor:

In “‘Native Land Acknowledgments’ Are the Latest Woke Ritual” (op-ed, June 11), Eugene Kontorovich elegantly ridicules the budding leftist requirement that public statements be prefaced by a ceremonial nod to the peoples who once inhabited roughly our territories, thereby honoring their supposed moral superiority.

He notes in passing that “conquest and migration have shaped the entire world.” So far as I know, only one country was purchased rather than conquered. Ironically, that country is also the one most accused of having “stolen” the land it now controls. That country is Israel.

The making of the Jewish state represents perhaps history’s most peaceable in-migration and state creation. Zionist efforts long had a near-exclusively mercantile, not military, quality. Jews lacked the power to fight the Ottoman or British empires, so they purchased land, acre by acre, in voluntary transactions.

Only when the British withdrew from Palestine in 1948, followed immediately by an all-out attempt by Arab states to crush the nascent Israel, did Israelis take up the sword in self-defense and go on to win land through military conquest. By then, however, this exceptional polity had already existed through purchase.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Middle East Forum