Friday, April 4, 2008

Let's Pretend

Some people have a tendency to gloss over the fact Jews have had a continuous presence in Israel for over 3,000 years. Until 2,000 years ago, this land had been called Israel/Judah. The Romans sought to destroy any memory of Israel and changed the name of Israel to Palestine, after the most bloody enemies of Israel, the Philistines. It didn't work. For more than 2,000 years, the focus of we Jews, in our thoughts and prayers, has been Jerusalem and Israel. It is part of our being.

Images of Israel, Jerusalem, and a bimah at a synagogue awakened my Jewish soul. When I was younger, I ignored those promptings. I took the easy road back then. It was just easier to ignore the promptings of my heart. But as the years passed, I could no longer ignore those promptings and it was the images of Israel which led me to take my place with my ancestors.

The history and ties of us Jews to the Land of Israel cannot be denied. It would be like trying to suppress your body's effort to breath. And yet others will try to say we do not have any right to the Land of Israel. That we usurped the Palestinians who lived there previously. And those who say this tend not to have any knowledge of the long history of Jews in Israel.

Elder of Ziyon has a series of posts regarding Jews in Palestine in the mid 1800's.

Ignoring history doesn't do anyone good. The Romans tried to sever our ties to the Land through the Diaspora and by destroying the Second Temple. Like the Babylonians before, they didn't succeed.

And ignoring the history between the fall of the Ottoman Empire in the 1920's to the establishment of Israel in 1948 doesn't do anyone good either. Why is it that the only refugee group to have it's own UN department are the Palestinians? During this same period, India and Pakistan were formed. There were 14 million refugees when those two countries were established. It would seem that those refugees would have more of a need for a special UN organization than the 400,000-600,000 estimated Palestinian refugees. And why are the Palestinian refugees the only group whose descendants granted refugee status? And why has the UN almost completely ignored the estimated 850,000 Jewish refugees from Arab and North African countries from the same period?

Solomonia, in his post Congress Does the Right Thing links to an interesting article about Palestinian refugees and Jewish refugees. It is called The Palestinian Refugee Issue: Rhetoric vs. Reality. I've used the same excerpt as Solomonia because it is the heart of the issue:

The sixty-year-old Palestinian refugee issue has little connection with reality. It has become solely a bargaining chip used by Arabs and Palestinians in peace talks with Israel and, as such, is a distraction from the real issues of terrorism and boundaries. Indeed, continuing to call Palestinians refugees is a misnomer. They no longer live in tents or temporary quarters. In addition, the Palestinian refugee issue is unique. Since 1920 all other major refugee crises involving the exchange of religious or ethnic populations, while creating hardships, were dealt with in a single generation. Meanwhile, issues such as the "right of return" and compensation never were adequately resolved and were largely forgotten. The same pattern evolved for Jews who fled Middle Eastern and North African countries, even though their number was some 50 percent larger than Palestinian refugees and the difference in individual assets lost was even greater...

The Palestinians have been used by Middle Eastern despots to focus attention away from their repressive regimes. The Palestinians are used by many to bludgeon Israel as the world's most horrific violator of human rights while ignoring the blatant atrocities committed elsewhere.

Let's keep pretending the issue is the plight of the Palestinians when in reality it is the existence of the Jewish State of Israel.


QuietusLeo said...

The term "Palestinian" is nothing but a psychological construct that is empty of real meaning. During the British Mandate, a "Palestinian" was a Jew. The Arabs were, just Arabs.
I refer you to "From Time Immemorial" by Joan Peters. This book is a demographic study which debunks the entire premise upon which the "Palestinian" myth stands.
Most of the so called "Palestinian" Arabs were actually from other places in the middle east such as Lebanon and Syria and had migrated to Eretz Yisrael looking for work since it was the only place in the Middle East were there was an economic growth due to investment in both capital and population by the Jews.

shira said...


I've read various excerpts of her book. That is another one on my list to read. I know from other stuff I've read that the Arab population more than doubled after Jews started to purchase land in the late 1800's and started reclaiming it and making it viable.

I've been struck by sateliite images of Israel and the surrounding area. Even without the borders marked, you can still the outline of Israel by the development.

Indigo Red said...

It's been an unfortunate turn that even though we say there is no such thing as Palestine or Palestinians, all sides call the area and the people by those very names we say don't really exist.

Over time the place and people have, by default, become real. Now what do we do with them?

Jordan won't take them. Egypt won't take them. Israel will, but the Palestinians want Israel destroyed. This is one that has stumped the world for a thousand years and no doubt it will be a long while more.