“You don’t have a right to exist. May we come in?”

It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib to visit. – Donald Trump

If you kill your enemies, they win – not said by Justin Trudeau, but could have been

Sometimes you have a non-issue that everyone wants to be an issue. That is what the controversy about the non-visit (at least as of now) by anti-Israel US congresspersons Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar to Israel (which they call “Palestine”) is.

This was a cognitive warfare operation against us that was guaranteed to be successful. Israel had to make the decision to either refuse admission to them on the grounds that they are BDS supporters, or to make an exception because they are members of Congress. Either way, we lose.

The operation was designed by Tlaib and Omar not only to harm Israel, but to achieve several domestic political goals: drawing attention to themselves, raising the profile of the “Palestine issue” in the coming election campaign, embarrassing the more moderate elements in their party, and of course slapping at the president.

PM Benjamin Netanyahu – he made the decision himself – had to consider the possible damage from banning them, in which case Israel would be accused of acting “undemocratically,” of weakness (“can’t face criticism”), of “insulting the US Congress,” of “having something to hide,” and needless to say, of “racism” in “singling out” these two Muslim women. All of these accusations and more have been made.

But allowing them in would have given them a stage for acts of political theater, even possibly the creation of international incidents.

Netanyahu examined the various scenarios, considering intelligence information about the plans of the two and of Palestinian groups here. He also had to take into account President Trump’s public opposition to the visit, and whatever private threats or promises Trump may have made. Netanyahu decided that the best of two poor options was to keep them out.

It was not an easy or obvious decision, and anyone not fully informed of all the facts would have been foolish to second-guess it. The pair planned a visit to the town of Nabi Saleh, a place that hosted weekly marches from 2009-2016 to protest against (and try to tear down) the security fence. These marches usually included violent clashes with local residents, extremist left-wing Israeli supporters, and foreign activists on one side, and IDF soldiers under heavily restrictive rules of engagement on the other. This is where young Ahed Tamimi famously slapped and kicked a soldier (video). One can only imagine the theatrical events that may have been scripted to occur.

Since the whole business was designed to create negative feelings toward Israel, you would expect that American Jewish organizations that are supposedly pro-Israel would try to deprive it of oxygen. You would think they would limit themselves to saying as little as possible about it.

But no. Rick Jacobs of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) accused Netanyahu of “sacrificing Israel’s commitment to democracy and openness.” J Street called the decision “dangerous, unacceptable and wrong,” and said that it was “motivated purely by politics and ideology — not by the interests of the State of Israel,” as if they have ever supported those interests, and demanded that it “be reversed immediately.” Even AIPAC thinks the two should be able to “visit and experience our democratic ally Israel firsthand,” despite the fact that they did have such an opportunity with other freshman congresspersons, which they turned down, preferring an official visit to “Palestine.”

And these are organizations that are allegedly friendly (although in the case of J Street, the allegation is weak indeed). Our enemies, on the other hand, opened up with everything they had. Peter Beinart published an article awash with exaggerations and outright lies, accusing Israel of “hiding the reality of the occupation,” as if somehow a visit by a pair of Muslim misozionists* would reveal the “truth” that nobody has been able to see until now.

Omar herself accused Israel of “implementing Trump’s Muslim ban,” which is a breathtaking statement since there is no ban on Muslims entering the US, and countless Muslims fly in and out of Israel every day.

And then there are those who simply don’t have a clue. Gloria Steinem, the former Playboy bunny and feminist icon, accused Netanyahu in a tweet (in which she misspells “Israel”) of denying them “free speech.”

I have a few observations. For one thing, democracy has nothing to do with it. Democracy is a method of national decision-making, and nobody has the right to vote in Israel except Israeli citizens: not American Reform Jews, not J Street, and not Beinart. Anyway, this decision was not made by referendum, but if it had been, probably a majority of Israelis would have approved it.

There is also a precedent: in 2012, the US refused to grant a visa to Michael Ben Ari, an extreme right wing member of Israel’s Knesset. I don’t think J Street or the URJ complained.

Despite what the critics say, Netanyahu’s decision doesn’t seem to have been ideological – although I think it should have been – but rather a simple balancing of the likely consequences of the options available.

My regular readers know that I have strong opinions about the value of an aggressively Zionist ideology, and the need for Israel to assert herself in the public sphere. I don’t know if the concept of national honor entered into Netanyahu’s calculations of how to respond to the proposed visit, but if it didn’t, it should have. Israel’s self-respect demands that we don’t allow people like Tlaib and Omar to use us as a doormat. And her self-interest tells us to minimize their opportunities for political theater against us.

The argument, so popular with liberals, that it demonstrates strength when you give in to enemies and give them what they want, seems to inform most of the arguments against keeping Tlaib and Omar out. I admit that I have never understood that. Weakness is not strength, except in the Orwellian Newspeak of our critics. Trump seems to have got that right.

___________
*Misoziony is the extreme and irrational hatred of the Jewish state. It is  antisemitism raised up one level of abstraction, although almost all misozionists are antisemites as well.

Posted in American Jews, American politics, Information war, Israel and Palestinian Arabs, US-Israel Relations | 2 Comments

The Arrogance and Ignorance of Tikkunist Jews

Tikkunists protest Trump’s immigration policies in New York City, August 11, 2019

You want to know what’s wrong with progressive American Jews? Here it is:

NEW YORK — Jews across the United States took to the streets on Sunday, marking Tisha B’Av (the Jewish day of mourning) with protests against the Trump administration‘s treatment of undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers.   In New York City, during the fast day commemorating the destruction of the two Jewish temples in Jerusalem, over 500 Jews joined the “Close the Camps” demonstrations, holding signs reading “Never Again.”  Participants first gathered at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in Manhattan for learning, prayer and activities. Some made signs, others participated in a songwriting workshop or text studies of letters from refugees. …

“This is personal for the Jewish community,” Rabbi [Yael] Rapport told Haaretz, holding back tears. “Public outcry, especially in our modern age, can really change attitudes, and change policy. This is a deeply Jewish thing to do.”

Before you jump all over me for being an evil, fascist, deplorable Trump-lover, I wish to announce that I, as an Israeli citizen who has not set foot in the USA for five years, do not have an opinion about Trump’s treatment of immigrants. It isn’t my issue. It is up to the Americans who live there to decide how to protect their borders (or not, if they choose) – just like Americans do not have the right to tell us how to defend our border with Gaza.

Although I might argue with the participants in these demonstrations about whether their religious practice is actually Judaism (I call it “Tikkunism”), I believe that they have a right to their religious beliefs. Although I think that Tisha b’Av has nothing to do with immigration policy, I think that they have a right to believe whatever they want to.

What they do not have a right to do, what I find infuriating, what exemplifies their arrogance and lack of respect for personal boundaries, is to insist (“this is personal for the Jewish community … this is a deeply Jewish thing to do”) that they speak in the name of all Jews and Judaism.

Of course they do not speak for “the Jewish community!” Who gave them that right? There is no reason they should not demonstrate – as progressives, as Democrats, as concerned Americans. But not as Jews.

There is also their misuse of the Holocaust metaphor. Seriously, is temporarily detaining illegal border crossers and asylum seekers anything like shooting and gassing millions of people because they are Jews? Are they ignorant enough to think so? As the saying goes, “if everything is the Holocaust, then nothing is the Holocaust.”

It’s not as though they don’t understand what it is to transgress personal boundaries. “Not in my Name” is a popular slogan for left-wing Jews calling for Israel to withdraw from Judea/Samaria or to remove the partial blockade of Gaza. It bothers them when the government of Israel acts as if in the name of the Jewish people. But they seem to have no problem with themselves speaking in the names of others. Why?

This isn’t an accident. It is in part a strategy to draw attention to their campaign with their outrageous claims, but also it is a Tikkunist religious ritual intended to produce a psychological feeling of satisfaction, similar to the satisfaction traditionally religious people obtain from prayer or other rituals. And by imputing religious motives to their political activity, and implying that all Jews must share the obligation to act similarly, they validate their Tikkunism as a legitimate form of Judaism.

But Tikkunism is a radical departure from traditional Judaism. Reform Judaism deemphasized the “ritual” commandments like observance of kashrut and Shabbat, while emphasizing the “social” commandments like concern for strangers, widows, and orphans, and the political vision of the Prophets. Tikkunism goes even farther and redefines the social commandments and in terms of progressive politics. For example, the “stranger” (ger) in the Torah, who in traditional Judaism is a convert to Judaism or a non-Jew living in the Land of Israel and obeying the Noachide commandments (ger toshav), becomes any outsider – even a Palestinian terrorist or an illegal immigrant. The injunctions of the Prophets are also interpreted in the most extreme left-wing way possible.

In the past decade or so, the leadership of the Reform Movement, its membership eroding, has consciously chosen to adopt Tikkunism as a way of generating excitement and commitment from its members. In today’s politically charged America, it may be a good strategy; but it takes the movement even farther from traditional Judaism.

And the Tikkunist ritual of self-justification is insensitive, insulting, and offensive to those who do practice Judaism.

Posted in American Jews, American politics | 1 Comment

Tisha b’Av, in Judea

Dvir Sorek, z"l

Dvir Sorek, z”l (courtesy of the family)

Fireworks

Fireworks set off by Palestinian Arabs in nearby village of Silwad in an attempt to disrupt the funeral of Dvir Sorek, z”l ( screen capture, courtesy of Israel Hatzolah)

Today Jews are observing the fast of the 9th of Av, commemorating the destruction of the Jewish Temples in 586 BCE and 70 CE. They are abstaining from food, sex, or anything pleasant that might distract them from contemplation of the horrific death, destruction, and dispersal that occurred millennia ago, and indeed also of more recent events. By coincidence, today is the beginning of the Muslim holiday of Eid al Adha, which is celebrated by the mass slaughter of animals.

Israeli Jews are also contemplating the vicious murder of Dvir Sorek, an 18-year old yeshiva student and IDF soldier on Wednesday night. Sorek was set upon by two Palestinian Arab terrorists as he walked the 200 meters from a bus stop to his yeshiva in the Judean community of Migdal Oz, and stabbed many times. He was in civilian clothes and did not have a weapon.

Another young Jew brutally murdered for the “crime” of being a Jew – in Judea.

In case anyone might believe that such acts are applauded only by “a few extremists,” I’ll note that Palestinian Arabs gave out candy to celebrate the murder, set off fireworks (video) to try to disrupt Dvir Sorek’s funeral, and rioted to interfere with the arrest of the suspects in his murder.

Two suspects were arrested by Israeli security forces, as well as several others that assisted them. The headline of today’s paper read “the account is settled.”

Like hell it is.

The two murderers are headed for a cushy stay in an Israeli prison, whose humanitarian standards are matched only in Scandinavian countries. They will be in a special section for security prisoners, where they may have cellular phones smuggled in for their use (perhaps by members of the Knesset) and semen smuggled out to impregnate their wives. They will be paid handsomely by the Palestinian Authority, and their families taken care of. If their homes are demolished, the PA will pay for new ones. If they are very lucky, they will be released early as ransom for kidnapped Jews, like Ahlam Tamimi, the woman who planned the Sbarro Pizza bombing and drove the suicide bomber to the site in 2001. She received a sentence of 16 consecutive life sentences plus 15 years, but was released after only 10 years as part of the deal for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.

I’ve called for a death penalty for terrorist murderers (and so have numerous Israeli politicians), but it is unlikely that it will be enacted; and if it were enacted, it would be unlikely that executions would be carried out. There are multiple reasons, but the main one is that every time a prisoner were about to be executed, there would be riots in the streets, resolutions at the UN, protests at our embassies, and so forth. The IDF and Shabak (General Security Service) oppose it. It is not going to happen.

There is a problem here, and it won’t be solved by passing a law. It is a problem of European diaspora-trained consciousness trying to survive in a Middle East to which it is ill-adapted.

Western – that is, European – morality has developed in such a way that “settling accounts” is not considered a good reason for acting. The European view is that such behavior is atavistic, as is tribal or ethnic loyalty. European morality venerates humanity and denigrates tribalism. European morality thinks that honor is subjective and unimportant. But to Middle Eastern sensibilities, nothing is more important.

By behaving like Europeans in the Middle East, Israelis place themselves at a severe disadvantage. The Arabs see the Jews as their enemies. An enemy is a member of a group that wants to kill you, and that you should kill first if you can do so. Since 1945, Europeans have stopped believing in enemies; today there are only communication problems.

About half of Israel’s Jewish population has roots in the Arab/Muslim diaspora. In general, they understand the Middle East much better than those whose ancestors lived in Germany or Poland. So in March of 2016, when IDF soldier Elor Azaria encountered a wounded terrorist who had just stabbed and tried to kill his friend, he did the natural and appropriate thing for the Middle East, which was to shoot the terrorist and kill him.

This act placed the country as a whole in a quandary. First of all, Azaria was a soldier, and what he did was a violation of the rules of engagement, a standing order. Second, some Israelis thought that it was morally wrong to kill a wounded terrorist, while others thought that it was praiseworthy. The military and legal establishment mostly fell into the former group, while the majority of Israeli Jews belonged to the latter one; and many of them were not ashamed to express themselves in demonstrations on behalf of Azaria.

What happened was quite interesting. Azaria argued that he believed that the terrorist might have an explosive vest and was a danger to his life and to others. The court’s verdict showed that he did not succeed in convincing the judges, and I don’t think most Israelis believed him either. But nevertheless, Azaria was convicted of manslaughter and not murder, and given a relatively light sentence which was later further reduced – probably because of the force of public opinion.

The Israeli Left, which despises both the Arabs that it pretends to care about, and the Mizrachi Jews that it does not, was outraged. But anyone who understands the schizophrenic nature of Israel’s relationship to the Middle East in which it exists knows what happened and why.

This will not be comfortable for those who think that Israel should be a “villa in the jungle” (a metaphor attributed to Ehud Barak) in the Arab Middle East. But the Jewish people are a Middle Eastern people, whose ancient ethos is much closer to that of today’s Arabs than to that of the post-Christian Europeans. Just read the Torah if you want to know what we used to be like.

I am not suggesting that we go back to committing genocide (as biblical peoples had to do to survive). But I do think that it is absolutely necessary for our honor and for our deterrence that we truly settle accounts with the murderers of Dvir Sorek. They should not have survived arrest.

And I’ll go further and add that we also have an account with the “Palestinian people.” They – as a society – have become comfortable with the idea that we will not avenge their murderous acts, and that they have a perfect right to burn our land, to shoot at us, and to murder or rape any Jew that they manage to catch undefended. We should respond to these acts in a disproportionate and terrifying way.

European morality says that collective punishment is wrong. But in the Middle East, collective guilt demands collective punishment.

Posted in Israel and Palestinian Arabs, Israeli Society, The Jewish people | 3 Comments

Are there “Arab Jews?”

I’m not a terminology freak. Sometimes you have to use words or phrases whose connotations are ideologically impure, so that people will understand you. But I draw the line at “West Bank,” “Israel-Palestine,” and “Arab Jew.”

I don’t think I need to remind my readers that there was no “West Bank” before the illegal Jordanian invasion and annexation of Judea and Samaria. With the exception of those 19 years between 1948 and its liberation in 1967, the area was always Judea and Samaria. There is no reason for anyone to call it anything else; but unfortunately the media, even most of the Israeli media, can’t seem to stop.

“Israel-Palestine,” of course, implies that there is a place called “Palestine,” and that it is as legitimate as the place called “Israel.” In reality, there is a State of Israel, there is an area that Israel seems to have ceded to Hamas, and there is the autonomous but non-sovereign Palestinian Authority. Hamas has never declared Gaza a state, because it insists that all the land between the river and the sea is “Palestine.” The PA has declared a state which encompasses all of the land Israel conquered in 1967, but does not effectively control it, so it isn’t really a state. Israel is a state; “Palestine” is a word.

But I think the one that bothers me the most is the last, “Arab Jew.” It is used to refer to Mizrahim, Jews whose last exilic homes were in Arab countries. It suggests – see, for example, this 2003 essay by Ella Shohat – that Jews who came to Israel from Arab countries were culturally more connected to their Arab neighbors than to an abstract historical Jewish people on the one hand, or to the Ashkenazi Jews that discriminated against them so harshly (and stupidly) in Israel on the other. Indeed, she sees a deliberate, even malign, attempt by Zionism to “dismember” their Arab culture and inject a false historical consciousness of being part of a Jewish nation, as part of creating the “new Jew” that was supposed to be superior in every respect to the despicable Palestinian Arabs – and also to the Arab Jews.

Except in the matter of religion, she suggests, Mizrahi Jews are Arabs, Arabs who were cruelly robbed of their true culture so they could be used as soldiers in Israel’s wars and workers in her fields and industries. Rather than “a return home,” Shohat calls their aliyah (she would disdain this word) “a new form of exile.” In this, she agrees with Mahmoud Abbas, who – in order to deny our connection to the land – has always insisted that Jewishness is simply a religion, not a nationality (Abbas, of course, believes that “Palestinians” are a nation, despite their disparate origins and lack of historical connection to “Palestine”).

This fits in with the Arab and extreme leftist understanding of Israel as an Arab territory colonized by “European” Ashkenazi Jews. All this is part of the loaded meaning of the term “Arab Jew.”

Some pro-Palestinian writers even suggest that Mizrahi Jews actually have a common interest with Palestinian Arabs, their “brown” brothers, to overthrow the hegemony of “white” Ashkenazi settler-colonialists.

But there are plenty of testimonies from Jews that came to Israel from Arab countries showing that they did see themselves as fulfilling the biblical promise of ingathering of the exiles; this wasn’t just a Zionist myth to manipulate them. Most Israelis of Mizrahi origin do see themselves as part of the great Jewish people, the people whose history and provenance in Eretz Yisrael is becoming better illuminated from day to day by archaeological and historical evidence. While they recall ill-treatment by earlier arrivals, that is a far cry from pining for their “stolen” “Arab culture.” Indeed, from a political perspective, they are more nationalistic than the descendants of Ashkenazi “pioneers.”

It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that neither Shohat nor the early Zionist social engineers understood what was happening in Eretz Yisrael, when Ashkenazi Jews from pre-revolutionary Russia and Poland, Holocaust survivors, Jews from the disparate cultures of North Africa, Iraq, Yemen, India, Ethiopia, the Soviet Union, and numerous other diasporic populations, were thrown together to experience a historical process impossible to control by any social engineering. Unlike the idea that Mizrachim could be forced to assimilate to a dominant Ashkenazi culture, what actually happened was quite different. A new culture, but with ancient roots, came into being.

Ella Shohat is proud of her Iraqi heritage. But except for having spoken Arabic, her ancestors, who came from a highly developed and relatively modern culture, had little in common with the parents of my son’s wife, who immigrated to Israel from North Africa, and even less with the Yemenite Jews who had never seen indoor plumbing until they were brought here “with wings, as Eagles.” Or the Ethiopians, who came from an even more primitive culture. For that matter, how similar are the cultural origins of Ashkenazis from the former Soviet Union to the academic and media leftists of North Tel Aviv?

According to Shmuel Rosner and the Jewish People Policy Institute, the belief system of most Jewish Israelis is a mixture of Israeli nationalism and Jewish religion which is not found anywhere else but Israel. Israel is experiencing a natural process of developing her own unique culture, a process that those who consciously wanted to create a New Jew had no power to control. It’s a modern culture, although grounded religiously and linguistically in antiquity. My son’s children don’t speak either the Arabic of their mother’s ancestors or the Yiddish of their father’s. They do speak a language that is similar enough to that of the Torah that they can read and mostly understand it.

This isn’t assimilation into a dominant culture, but the creation of a new one – or better, the creation of a modern form of a very ancient one. And it is happening by the reunification of the fragments of the once unified but then scattered Jewish people.

The idea that Mizrahim are “Arab Jews” is wrong. It is also insulting, suggesting that they lost sight of their ancient heritage during their time in exile, and assimilated to the surrounding culture. And it is pernicious, implying that Jewishness is only a religion, and not also a nationality – not membership in the Jewish nation which traces itself back to ancient times in Eretz Yisrael.

***

So yes, I will use the word “Palestinians,” although I’ll add the caveat that no Arab Palestinians existed before the mid-1960s. But I will never refer to Judea and Samaria as anything else, nor will I say “Israel-Palestine” or “occupied territories” or “pre-67 borders.” And I will never, ever, say “Arab Jews.”

Posted in Information war, Israeli Society, Zionism | 2 Comments

We’ve Always Been Here: The Historical Right of the Jewish People to the Land of Israel

I often talk about the Jewish people’s historical right to Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel, in addition to our legal and moral rights. What do I mean by that? First we need to understand the concept of a distinct “people.”

Mahmoud Abbas has said numerous times that the Jews are not a people; being Jewish is only a religion. He could not be more wrong: the Jewish people are the paradigm case of a people. In other words, if you want to know what a “people” is, look at the Jews.

More analytically, a “people” is a collection of individuals who have certain characteristics in common. Not every individual in the group will have all of them, but the more of them that they have, the more likely it is that they will be considered a member of that people. They are:

  1. A common geographical origin and a connection to their aboriginal home.
  2. A shared genetic heritage.
  3. A unique ancestral language.
  4. A unique religion.
  5. A shared culture.
  6. A shared historical experience.
  7. Self-identification as members of a people.

The Jewish people originated in Eretz Yisrael. They generally married within the group, so DNA tests today display a high degree of genetic similarity. They maintained a familiarity with their ancient Hebrew language, even when they spoke other languages as a result of their dispersal. Their religion, Judaism, has changed to some extent over the centuries, but their holy book, the Torah, has remained essentially the same for several thousand years. Their dispersal created Jewish subcultures, but all of them retained some connections to their original culture, even as they drew apart. The historical experience of Jews in the diaspora was remarkably similar, whether they were in Europe, Africa, or the Middle East – they were outsiders, sometimes persecuted or expelled, sometimes living peacefully, but always marked as different and almost always as second-class citizens. Finally, all of them everywhere strongly felt themselves to be members of the Jewish people, tied to Eretz Yisrael, to which they prayed to return.

Individuals can enter or leave a people, usually by marrying in or out and adopting the religion, language, and culture of their partner. Peoples change over time. Sometimes a people is so diluted that that it is extinguished, absorbed by the peoples around it. Such is the case with many cultures of antiquity. Where are our once deadly enemies, the Philistines, today? (No, the Palestinian Arabs are not descended from them). But the Jewish people maintained its genetic distinctness, its religion, its language, and much of its culture in diaspora for millennia.

With the establishment of the State of Israel in Eretz Yisrael, the Jewish people were able to restore their ancestral language to everyday use, to reunite the diverse Jewish subcultures that developed in the long period of diaspora, and to redevelop a non-diasporic culture: a culture of a people living in their own land.

A population is said to be indigenous to the place that it originated. Members of the oldest extant group indigenous to a particular place are called the aboriginal inhabitants of the place. The Jewish people are the oldest extant people indigenous to Eretz Yisrael, and as a matter of fact the last indigenous independent political entity in Judea was the Jewish Hasmonean dynasty of c. 110 BCE. From then on, Eretz Yisrael was ruled by a succession of non-native conquerors, beginning with the Romans. In the seventh century, the land was conquered by Arab Muslims from Arabia; later, it fell to Crusaders, Mongols, and various others. In 1517, it was conquered by the Ottoman Turks, who held it for 400 years. Finally, it passed into the hands of the British after WWI. The native Jewish population waxed and waned, but was always present while others came and went. There was never a “Palestinian” regime. In 1948 the last colonizer – the British Empire – was expelled, and a Jewish state reestablished.

This is remarkable, even incredible. In almost every other case, aboriginal peoples have been unable to reestablish sovereignty in their native lands – certainly not in the Americas, Australia or New Zealand. When the British left, there was a struggle for sovereignty between the Jews, who had developed the framework of a state during the period of the Mandate, and the Arabs within and outside of the land. The surrounding Arab nations wanted to divide the area up between them, and the majority of Palestinian Arabs supported them in this. Despite what some people think, Palestinian nationalism – as opposed to broader Arab nationalism – was not a significant force at this point.

The Jews beat back the Arabs, and established a sovereign state. They did not “take the country from the Palestinian Arabs,” who never had it. They simply became sovereign in place of the foreign powers that had controlled the land since 110 BCE.

The Palestinian Arabs, who had mostly supported the Arab states in their attempt to take over the land (and incidentally, to massacre its Jewish inhabitants), paid the price for being on the losing side of a war. Some of them left before the war and planned to return, some of them fled out of fear that the Jews would do to them what they would have done to the Jews, and some of them were expelled by the Jewish fighters. The numbers are disputed, but some 500,000 – 700,000 Arabs left their homes in the land that would become the State of Israel, and were not allowed to return. A tragedy for them, but magnified 100 times by the Arab states who refused to absorb the refugees. At roughly the same time, some 800,000 Jews were expelled or fled from Arab and other Muslim countries. Most of these went to Israel, whose Jewish population today is about one-half from the European diaspora, and one half from the African and Middle Eastern ones.

The Palestinian Arabs claim that they are the aboriginal inhabitants of the land and that the Jews are Europeans who invaded and colonized “Palestinian land.” But there was never a Palestinian political entity, and the Palestinian Arabs themselves are of relatively recent provenance in the land. Very few of them have ancestors that arrived before about 1830, and most go back only as far as the early 20th century. Indeed, the definition of “Palestinian refugee” adopted by the UN requires only that a person lived in the Palestine Mandate from June of 1946 to May 1948, and lost his home and work due to the war.

Palestinian Arabs do not have a uniquely Palestinian language or religion. Although there were stirrings of Palestinian Arab nationalism as early as 1920 (mostly among Christian Arabs), most Palestinian Arabs identified most strongly with their clans, and less so as belonging to “Southern Syria.” It wasn’t until the mid-1960s that they began to self-identify as “Palestinians.” Insofar as they can be called a people, it is a people that dates to the 1960s, and whose unique “Palestinian” culture is composed entirely of its opposition to Jewish sovereignty and the State of Israel.

The Palestinian claim that they are an ancient people rooted in this land is simply false. Stripped of its narrative flourishes, it devolves into nothing more than the fact that there were more Arabs than Jews between the Jordan and the Mediterranean immediately prior to 1948.

Jews have been here in some number since biblical times. The Jewish claim to be the aboriginal inhabitants of Eretz Yisrael is supported by a huge body of historical evidence – not surprising, given the importance of the contribution of the Jewish people to Western civilization over the millennia – as well as archaeological evidence that is strengthened by new discoveries almost daily.

This is the basis of the historical claim of the Jewish people to Eretz Yisrael. It is also part of the argument for the legal rights of the Jewish people, both as the beneficiary of the Mandate and as the natural heirs of the decolonization process. But that’s another long story.

Posted in Israel and Palestinian Arabs, Middle East politics | Leave a comment