Part I of this article outlines the historical connection between the Jewish People and the Land of Israel, beginning with the settlement of that land under Joshua in about 1200 BCE, while emphasizing that none of the ancient people that inhabited Canaan 3200 years ago are still around to claim that land as theirs. The complete text for Part I can be found here.
Moreover, Hebrew and Aramaic, the two most important languages of the Jews, were spoken and written in the Land of Israel hundreds of years before the occupying Muslim forces introduced Arabic to that area in the 7th century CE. And although the Muslims claim Jerusalem as their third holiest city (after Mecca and Medina), Jerusalem isn’t mentioned in the Qur’an even once. In the Hebrew Bible (a.k.a. the Tanakh and/or the Old Testament), on the other hand, Jerusalem is mentioned 641 times in Hebrew and 26 times in Aramaic, while Zion is mentioned 154 times.
Indeed, has any Muslim composed poems resembling Psalm 137 with its famous verses, “By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion,” and, “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither”?
To further prove the eminence of the Land of Israel to the Jewish people, look no farther than to the thousands of Jews who still make an annual pilgrimage to the tomb of the 2nd-century Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in the Galilee, or to the Spanish, medieval philosopher and poet Judah HaLevi who wrote poems of longing for Zion, Beth El and Hebron, and not for any other place on earth. If the Land of Israel were not important to the Jews, why did hundreds of exiled Jews, including 13th-century Spanish Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman, choose to immigrate to that land in order to die and be buried there? Or why, for two millennia, have the Diaspora Jews built their synagogues with their sanctuaries facing Jerusalem if the Land of Israel had no meaning to the Jewish people? In fact, isn’t it true that even the Palestinians in the West Bank regard the Cave of Makhpelah in Hebron as the burial ground of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, and Leah?
Although rarely mentioned by the media, it was the Europeans who forced the Jews out of their homeland into Europe over 1900 years ago. Yet, for most of that period, the Jews in Europe were consistently persecuted, murdered, expelled, and treated as a foreign and undesirable element. Even following the French Revolution with its famous slogan, “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité” (Liberty, Equality, Fraternity), Napoleon’s emancipation of the Jews failed to elevate the Jews to an equal status as that of Europe’s non-Jewish population. Quite to the contrary, during the turmoil in Europe in the 19th century, new anti-Jewish and racist activities began to dramatically increase, especially in France (for example, by Fourier, Proudhon, Gobineau, and Drumont) and Germany (for example, by Treitschke, Stoecker, Rohling, and Wilhelm Marr who, in 1879, coined the term “anti-Semitism”).
It was at the 1894 infamous trial of Alfred Dreyfus in Paris, when Theodor Herzl, the founder of political Zionism, came to the realization that the conditions of Europe’s Jews had become so dangerous that there was no longer hope or a future for them there, and that they had to exit Europe immediately if they wished to survive as a people. Indeed, it was this renewed hatred and anti-Semitism that triggered the Jews’ exodus from Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
As well, it was the catalyst for the establishment of political Zionism that, in turn, propelled this new movement to actively encourage and support the return of the Jews to Palestine, their ancient and rightful homeland. And, in this context, it is crucial to understand that the Zionist movement did not only endeavor to liberate the Jews, as human beings, from Europe’s racist clutches but, simultaneously, to reclaim and resettle Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) which had been stolen from them for 1900 years.
Furthermore, it wasn’t until the end of WW I, and especially after the incitements by Haj Amin al Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, that the Arabs in general and the Palestinians in particular, began claiming that those early Zionists were “foreign, European implants.” What these critics have failed to mention, however, is that the Zionist settlers and their descendants never sought exclusive ownership of Palestine, and that not a single Palestinian Arab was forced out of Palestine by the Jewish settlers until Palestinian militia, commanded by Abd’el Khader el-Husseini, attacked Jewish forces and encircled the Jewish population in Jerusalem in December 1947. And, just as important, they have failed to realize, or conveniently chosen to forget, that the origins of the Jewish people were never in Europe, but rather in the Land of Israel 3100 years prior to the Zionist movement. The only reason hundreds of thousands of Jews ended up in Europe was because the powerful Romans exiled them from their own land in the 1st and 2nd centuries CE.
Following the Romans and over the next 1900 years, the Land of Israel had been forcefully occupied by no fewer than sixteen different regimes: the Byzantines, the Sassanid Persians, the Umayyad, Abbasid, and the Fatimid Caliphates, the European Crusaders, the Ayyubid Sultanate, the Seljuk Turks, the Mongols, the Mameluke Sultanate, the Ottoman Sultanate, the Druze Dynasty, the French under Napoleon, the Tanzimat Ottoman, the Ottoman Vilayet of Syria, and the British under the League of Nations’ mandate.
That is to say, that for 1900 years, until the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, the Land of Israel had been repeatedly confiscated from the Jewish people, and then occupied by foreign people who, unlike the Jewish people, did neither originate in that land, nor had any historical claim or connection to that land.
Thus, while many in the world community invoke International Law regarding Israel’s settlements in the West Bank, let them be reminded that grabbing land by force from its legitimate owners is unlawful, no matter how long this confiscation of land goes on.
It is evident, therefore, that contrary to the prevailing accusations against Israel, it hasn’t been Israel, but rather all the above-mentioned regimes, including the Muslims, which have practiced “illegal occupation” of Palestine. That’s why any claim against the Jewish people’s attachment and right to the Land of Israel, including the West Bank, is nothing but a blatant denial or malicious distortion of history.
Part I of this article can be found here.
Part III of this article can be found here.
Part IV of this article can be found here.
Part V of this article can be found here.
Part VI of this article can be found here.