One of the most polarizing political issues of our day is the existence of the modern State of Israel and the ongoing conflict between the Jews and the Arabs. The often irrational hatred between these cousins, whose existence side by side since the time of Abraham, their common father, has only intensified with time and has reached a boiling point in our day.

Some may disagree with my point of view here but that is fine. Here is how I see it for whatever that may be worth.

It must be noted that the hatred in this conflict is mostly on the Arab side and has been, I firmly believe, deliberately stoked by Arab leaders like the late Yasser Arafat in recent years and his relative  the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. The so called Grand mufti, in the years leading up to the 2nd World  War,  was the most prominent Arab spokesperson for the Arab cause. He actually  aligned himself with Hitler and became an advisor to Hitler on the so called  “Jewish Question”, the plot to commit genocide against the Jews.

Adolph Eichmann visit the Mufti  in Jerusalem .  Prominent Nazis like Heidrich, Himmler and the Nazi SS provided the Mufti with millions of dollars and logistical support for anti-Semitic pogroms in Palestine.

He spent much of his time during the war years in Germany and was judged to be a war criminal at the trials in Nuremberg.

His plans were to create Nazi style death camps in Palestine if Germany prevailed and to exterminate all of the Jews of Palestine.

He was responsible for the deaths of thousands of European Jews who could have  otherwise found refuge in Palestine.

His relative, the late Yasser Arafat, shared the same views and that is why, when offered concession after concession and getting almost everything that he demanded, Arafat still refused to accept the existence of the State of Israel and make peace, and he went to his grave as its bitter enemy.

Many Palestinians have now lived in festering refugee camps for more than 4 generations in some cases, some going back to 1948,  and their dismal situation has served the purposes of Arab demagogues who care little about these people. The enormous wealth that exists in the Arab world could have resettled them 60 years ago and set them on the road to a prosperous future but that did not serve the ideological cause that was to be preferred.

In 1993 Ehud Barak of Israel offered the Palestinians a state with Jerusalem as its capital, control over the Temple area and the return of 95% of the West Bank (lost by the Arabs in the 1967 war) and all of Gaza and $30 billion to compensate those Arabs who had fled what became Israel before or during the 1948 war following the establishment of the State of Israel under the mandate of the United Nations. Instead of taking the deal, Arafat launched the so called “intifada” and military style attacks on the Jewish population of Israel.

Even Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia was dismayed when this sweet deal was turned down by Arafat.

There is an intransigent hatred of the Jewish state among most Arabs and an irrational unwillingness to consider anything that includes its continuing existence as a political entity.

This hatred is mostly based upon propaganda and spurious history, rather than based upon fact

An excellent source for the history of this conflict is professor Alan Dershowitz’s thoroughly researched book, The Case for Israel.

To be sure, one must admit that, as a Jew and strong supporter of the Jewish State, his opinions may be biased.

So be it, but the factual information that he provides based upon his research, is quite compelling and worthy of consideration, regardless of the point of view favored by its author.

Another excellent source I consulted was Six days of War by Michael Oren who also clearly favored the Jewish side in his record.

In his book Dershowitz appears to be sympathetic to both sides but does come down, as expected, on the side of the Jews.

The fundamental question being debated is:

Does the State of Israel have a right to exist.

The overwhelming answer from the Arab side to that question is, No.

They view Israel as a colonial force that has robbed the Palestinians of their land and forced them out of their historic territory.

The Arabs claim that their ancestors go back to the Canaanites of the Old Testament and so have a historic claim on the land.

But Dershowitz  points out that there have always been Jews in the land now called Palestine, often in large numbers in specific areas of concentration, AND, prior to the increase of Jewish immigration in the late 19th century, the land now called Palestine was sparsely occupied and largely in ruins AND,  the Arabs even resisted calling it Palestine then but rather viewed it as part of Syria  AND,  a significant number of Jews, primarily Sephardic (ie Spanish, Mediterranean ) Jews, had settle over the centuries in cities like Jerusalem and Safad and Hebron and Tiberius.

He claims that the evidence shows that these, already existing cities, merely grew in size as a result of  increased Jewish immigration in the late 19th century with the 1882-1903 “first Aliyah” (wave of immigration) as European Jews escaping persecution, moved to Palestine and settled mostly in these already predominantly Jewish enclaves.

Dershowitz argues that “from the time of David to the Muslim onslaught, Jews were the dominant population of Palestine” (1000 BC to 636 AD)

He also argues that at the time of the establishment of the Ottoman Empire in 1516 AD, about 15,000 Jews lived in Safad alone, which had become a center of Jewish learning.

He argues that “Jerusalem in fact had a Jewish majority since the first population figures were gathered  in the nineteenth century, and, according to the British Consul in Jerusalem…..the Muslims of Jerusalem ‘scarcely exceeded one quarter of the whole population. Jerusalem was a predominantly Jewish city well before the first Aliyah. By the middle of the nineteenth century……..thirty years before the first Aliyah of European Jews…….Jews also constituted a significant presence, often a plurality or majority in Safad, Tiberius and several other cities and towns. Tel Aviv has been a predominantly Jewish city since European Jews founded it on sand dunes in 1909.”

By contrast the Arab view is that Palestine was a settled Arab nation  before the influx (“invasion”) of Jews from Europe. This view  is contradicted by Mark Twain who visited the area in 1878 and who observed the following:

Twain/Clemens wrote:   (Note my several insertions in brackets)

“Stirring scenes…. occur in the valley  Jezreel  no more. There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent”  (Note the Jezreel is the valley of Armageddon we will visit in 2014) “………….not for thirty miles in either direction. There are two or three small clusters of Bedouin tents but not a single permanent habitation. One might ride for ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings……….Come to Galilee for that…………..these unpopulated deserts, these rusty mounds of barrenness that never, never, never do shake the glare from their harsh outlines and fade and faint into vague perspective: that melancholy ruin of Capernaum: this stupid village of Tiberius slumbering under its six funereal palms………we reached Tabor safely”( the traditional location of the transfiguration of Jesus)”……we never saw a human being the whole route. Nazareth is forlorn……..Jericho” (now a large Muslim village)” the accursed lies in a moldering ruin today as Joshua’s miracle left it more than three thousand years ago; Bethlehem” (a big largely Muslim town now)” and Bethany in their poverty and their  humiliation have nothing about them now to remind one that they once knew the Savior’s presence, the hallowed spot where the angels watched their flocks by night and where angels sang ‘Peace on earth good will to men’ is untenanted by any living creature…………Bethsaida and Chorizin have vanished from the earth and the ‘desert places’ round about them, where thousands of men once listened to the Savior’s voice and ate the miraculous bread, sleep in the hush of a solitude that is inhabited only by birds of prey and skulking foxes”.

This eyewitness account by the famed author of Tom Sawyer flies in the face of the Arab claim that Palestine was an established Arab nation prior to the arrival of an influx of European Jews who stole the land from the Arabs.

The truth is the land was largely neglected and barren and unloved and untended. There were many Arabs and Jews and people of other races living there but it was still largely unpopulated.

As to the claim that the European Jews stole the land from the Arabs, Dershowitz presents credible evidence that most of the land was of little value and was purchased, often at inflated prices ,primarily from absentee Arab landlords and speculators, many of whom lived in Beirut and who marveled that these foolish Jews were willing to actually buy this, to them,  worthless land.

Much of the land purchased was unusable swamp land that the Jews, through hard work, were able to drain and reclaim and make productive.

The first leader of the State of Israel, David Ben Gurion, wisely warned the Jews that came there not to purchase land from the local Arabs, because he saw this as a potential trap that could come back to bite them in the future. He was correct.

Were some Arab families uprooted with the establishment of the State of Israel? The answer is yes and such was also probably inevitable given the upheaval that this caused.

According to Dershowitz, this affected  “several thousand…..following land sales between the 1880s and the late 1930s”  but, he observed, when compared with other examples of population disruptions like the American Indians and others, this was a relatively small number.

Apparently land owners and speculators from Beirut and Damascus and out of the area merchants owned most of the land that 60 to 80 years laterbecame partitioned into the State of Israel, and it should be noted that there was even more land available for sale by them than the Jews could afford to purchase. Seems these absentee landowners saw this as an opportunity to dump unwanted trash land for cash and many of them jumped on the opportunity .

It is estimated that 3/4 of the plots bought were purchased from mega land owners rather than from those who worked the soil, so it would appear to be  patently false to claim that the Jews stole the land from the Arabs.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, 1922 edition, the indigenous population of Palestine then was made up of Arabs, Greeks, Druze and that about 50 languages were spoken there and the population also included Kurds, Persians, Sudanese, Algerians, and Samaritans. Quite a mix and clearly not mainly Arab.

It also seems that the Arab population in Palestine was shrinking in the 1880s while the population of the Jewish areas was growing and stabilizing into communities with schools and hospitals and synagogues and a recently reclaimed formerly dead language and a lively press and democratic institutions.

A strange phenomenon also occurred.  The Arab populations surrounding these growing Jewish communities also began to grow as a result of the newly available health care and employment created by the Jewish populations.

Politically, the creation of a Jewish state was hastened when, following the  1st World War and the dismembering of the Ottoman Empire around 1919, Lord Balfour of great Britain published a document called the “Balfour Declaration” that confirmed that it was the intention of Great Britain to create a Jewish home land somewhere in Palestine over which Great Britain had jurisdiction.

This document, in fact, simply recognized what had already been de facto as a result of immigration and settlement, a Jewish State, with established cities and infrastructure within the area called Palestine.

In 1937, the Peel Commission recognized what was the obvious reality…..that it was impossible to create a state in which, the competing interests of both the Jews and the Arabs could be peacefully met, given the visceral hatred of the Arabs (the murderous Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and his Nazi allies) and so the Commission recommended a partitioning of the area into separate sections with the Jews getting a non contiguous small part of the coastline south of Tel Aviv  and another relatively small area along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea about 10 miles wide from Tel Aviv  North to Haifa and then inland to the Galilee and the Sea of Galilee.

The area around Jerusalem and Bethlehem was to be held by the Brits and administered by them.

The Arabs got all of the West Bank and Gaza and the Negev desert area, a huge amount of territory.

This partitioning arrangement was accepted by the Jews and rejected by the Arabs.

“The Peel Commission plan proposed a Jewish home in areas in which there was a clear Jewish majority………..The population of the proposed Jewish area would have included 300,000 Jews and about 190,000 Arabs

More than 57,000 additional Jews lived in Jerusalem and so would remain under British control there.

Dershowitz argues that:

“The State of Israel did not come into existence at the expense of the Arabs or the Palestinians. The area partitioned for a Jewish State had a Jewish majority that had a right to self determination  vis a vis the British (and the Ottoman empire before them). The land in question was neither Arab nor Palestinian. It had passed from one empire to another and the time had come for self determination by the groups that lived in different parts of it. It was historically, economically ,and legally both a Jewish and an Arab land. The last independent state to have existed in Palestine was the Jewish state that had been destroyed by the Romans in 70CE”

He further observed that the Arabs and the Palestinians contributed to the holocaust and supported it and had expected to profit from it. They lost and should expect to pay for backing the wrong side. They closed Palestine to immigration when thousands of Jews were looking for refuge from the Nazis, Jews that could have been saved.

During the years of the partition leading up to the 1948 UN establishment of the state of Israel, the Brits controlled Jerusalem and by extension the entire area of Palestine.

The Arabs were a constant pressure group in opposition to Jewish immigration and the Brits, in order to buy peace, gave in to their pressure and severely limited Jewish immigration into Palestine, turning boats away that ended up returning their unfortunate occupants to Germany and death. British restrictions on immigration increased, especially following the end of the 2nd World War.

This to their shame.

Thousands of Jews who survived the holocaust came to Israel after the war, many  on ratty sinking ships of all kinds, only to be turned away by the Brits.

Many spent time in internment camps on the island of Cyprus.

The famed novelist Leon Uris wrote stories about this period as the Jews had to use force in order to make their way to safety.

British resistance resulted in Jewish militancy with the rise of militias like the Stern gang of which Israel’s future Prime Minister, Menachem Begin, was a member .

They used armed force against the Brits in order to make it possible for Jews to run the British blockade and make it to shore and safety. They were branded as terrorists by the Brits.

The formal announcement by the United Nations of the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 set off a series of Arab/Jewish wars, as hundreds of thousands of Arabs from the surrounding nations of Jordan and Syria and Egypt, lined up against the vastly outnumbered Jews who now had to make real what the UN had declared to be the new reality.

Few held out much hope for the Jewish nation in its fight to survive. But Jews flooded in from all around the world including many from the US to fight for the survival of the Jewish State. A blood bath was expected.

Vastly outnumbered and against all expectations, the Jewish State miraculously survived and actually won the war and became a real political entity among the family of nations. The land they actually seized in this war was greater in size than the area called for in the mandate.

Unfortunately this did not end the Arab/Israeli conflict as every so often it seems  the war against Israel needs to be refought.

In June 1967, a few weeks after my first visit there in April, the 6 Day war broke out as the Arabs from Jordan and Syria and Egypt again descended upon the Jews and were again decisively defeated and beaten back and, in the process lost a lot of territory.

The Negev all the way South to the Suez canal was lost to Israel by the Egyptians: the entire West Bank including the Old City of Jerusalem was lost by the Jordanians and their border was pushed back to the Jordan River to the East:  and the Golan Heights overlooking the Sea of Galilee and Tiberius were lost by the Syrians.

Since that time, heavy pressure has been exerted against Israel to return the land they won in this war and the Arabs lost…………..the so called West Bank and the Golan Heights and, of course, the Old City of Jerusalem.

The massive armies of Egypt and Jordan and Syria were utterly destroyed  by the Jews of Israel in June 1967.

Again in 1983, war broke out ,this time called the Yom Kippur war, and again Israel was able miraculously to prevail. It was a difficult war for them.

Then under Yasser Arafat, the intifada was launched, by the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbola and the now independent territories of Gaza and the West Bank. These areas continue in a long lasting state of unrest and hostility against Israel.

Rockets were fired from Bethlehem into Israel and so Israel built a high wall and the rocket attacks ceased.

And in spite of this history, life goes on in Israel calmly, and people go about their business and Christian pilgrims visit by the many thousands, all in spite of the headlines  and TV news casts.

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