By Dan Barkye*
I would like to enable a vantage point of view on the ownership aspect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict regarding the Land of Israel, one that is separated from a more emotional approach, and closer to a factual perspective. The overview will show that you don’t have to believe everything that is written in the newspapers or, for that matter, everything that is uttered in righteous screams on the top of the voice or through the end of a gun barrel.
Who really owns this little piece of land, small in size but one that casts a big, big shadow, the size of which is extremely disproportionate to its source, on which the State of Israel was reconstructed? Is it the current ethnic Arab inhabitant and his collective minority number, or the one that claims that it never relinquished his ownership on it but was unable to exercise it because of reasons over which he had no or little control, the exiled Jew? To complicate the matter, the later had always a representative in the land, his brother, who never left it, and whose number counts also.
The two contestants in this issue, therefore, are the Jewish Nation, in whole, and the ethnic Arab minority in the land.
The former is a dispersed but well defined and surprisingly well preserved national entity across time – thousands of years, and space – tens of countries over the globe, with common culture and language, common religion and religious scriptures, and, once, a common territory, all necessary prerequisites for defining a national entity. This, in spite of what revisionist new historians have to say (historian Prof. Shlomo Sand, "When and How the Jewish People Was Invented?", free translation from Hebrew title) and other extreme anti-Zionist Israeli academicians strive to promote (the infamous, by now, collaborators with the enemy, Neve Gordon and Ilan Pappe, two of a small but noisy group of academic rebels in our midst, our very Quislinguesque Fifth Column, two who cross the lines between naïve self-hatred and pure anti-Semitism, two who call us ‘their Zionist enemy’).
The later, represents an amorphous group originating from various places in the Arab peninsula and the countries surrounding Israel, as far as Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The most it could muster for the cause of a relatively recent search for a vanishing, nonexistent identity, was a short-lived claim of only a few years before and during WW I of being part of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire, abandoning it in the wake of its collapse by the end of that war, and then of Syria (Palestinian Arab Professor of history Rashid Khalidi in his book “Palestinian Identity”). This identity attempt collapsed too, after the French occupied Syria in the ‘20s. But even then Arab leaders claimed that “Palestine was part of the Province of Syria... ...politically, the Arabs of Palestine were not independent in the sense of forming a separate political entity." (The representative of the Arab Higher Committee to the United Nations submitted this in a statement to the General Assembly in May 1947); "It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria." (Ahmed Shuqeiri, later the chairman of the PLO, to the UN Security Council). Add to this the facts that there is no language known as Palestinian, there is no distinct Palestinian culture and there has never been a land known as governed by Palestinians, and you have none of the factors that define a nation by any and all definitions that attempt to do so in all the books in every academic fortress. Palestinians are Arabs, nothing less, nothing more. Nothing defines them separately from other Arabs, as nothing defines Americans from Pennsylvania from other American compatriots from Idaho. Professor of history Reverend James Parkes wrote that "before 1914, ... the mass of the population [in Palestine] had no real feeling of belonging to any wider unit than their village, clan or possibly confederation of clans" [and] "up to that time it is not possible to speak of the existence of any general sentiment of nationality"; the Balfour declaration (1917; DB) for the first time established a "unit called Palestine on a political map. ...There was no such thing historically as a 'Palestinian Arab', and there was no feeling of unity among 'the Arabs' of this newly defined area" (“Whose Land”, 1970)
The term Palestine was used to define a place on the map, something that could serve as a backwater destination for the curious tourist, not a contiguous territory belonging to a known national entity. Coincidentally enough, the ones who used this term to define themselves in some temporary way, having not a territory, yet, to control independently, were the Jews: After the Great Return of the Jews to their ancestral land starting in the second half of the 19th century, the accepted appellation among them, in Israel and in the Diaspora, for the place itself and every institution and development that they erected and created, was Palestine. As such, Jerusalem Post was THE PALESTINE POST until 1950; the journal of the Zionist Organization of America was NEW PALESTINE; Bank Leumi was the ANGLO-PALESTINE BANK; the Israel Electric Company was the PALESTINE ELECTRIC COMPANY; there was the PALESTINE FOUNDATION FUND and the PALESTINE PHILHARMONIC. All these were Jewish organizations. In America, Zionist youngsters sang "PALESTINE, MY PALESTINE", "PALESTINE SCOUT SONG" and "PALESTINE SPRING SONG". There was the Palestinian Brigade of Jewish volunteers in the British Army in WW II (While the Palestinian Arab Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Husseini, was in Berlin, allying with Hitler for the sole purpose of killing the Jews, helping, in passing, with Muslim Brigades fighting along the German Army).
The adoption of a Palestinian identity by the Arabs of Palestine is a recent phenomenon. Until the establishment of the State of Israel, and for another decade or so, the term Palestinian applied almost exclusively to the Jews, as seen from the above.
Many of the Arabs, village dwellers in their original place, and nomadic ones, the Bedouins, came to, well…, Palestine, to find work, a scarce commodity in the destitute, impoverished region. That elusive thing in their place of birth suddenly was being provided in Israel in relative plenty by the economic surge created by the returning Jews there and the resulting necessary development. As a result, in 1948 so many Arabs were new to the area and could not qualify for the UN requirement for refugee status, that a clause was added permitting refugee status for Arabs who had been there as little as two years (!!; DB) (Joan Peters, "From Time Immemorial").
All the above, is brought to emphasize the non-existence of a Palestinian nation versus the veracity and correctness of any and every national aspect of the entity of the Jewish Nation, existing continuously, without comparison in history in length.
But, if this is not enough for those of little faith, then there are some other, additional considerations to make when tackling the subject of whose land is this, who is its real owner, all in the realm of an unswerving Jewish commitment to the land of the national cradle, otherwise known among us, the Jews, as The Land of the Patriarchs – Eretz ha-Avot.
For starters, Jews never left Israel entirely after the exile. There were Jews in Israel in small and great numbers during the whole period of two millennia of exile. Jews, who lived, loved, had children, worked, tilled the land, milked the cows, created (Jerusalem Talmud, for one), self-ruled in some way or other, died and were buried there. From the Diaspora, Jews returned to the Land of Israel all this time in trickles, but return they did, all documented. In their old days, many Jews came to die and be buried there during all this time, all documented. And all this time, as a perpetual seal of this marriage between the land and the people that always inhabited it, without interruption, for thousands of years, as a ketubah (Jewish marital guaranty signed by the groom and given to his bride) between the Jewish Nation husband and his wife, the Land of Israel, Jews, wherever they were, prayed thusly: “If I forget thee, 0 Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth if I remember thee not; if I set not Jerusalem above my chiefest joy” (Psalm CXXXVII, 6). And no one, NO ONE, can say that he did not know of this collective vow not to renounce the ancestral land ever, uttered vertically through time for two thousand years and horizontally through space in countless countries of the Diaspora.
Yes, there were Arabs in the land, no denying here, although in insignificant numbers, but so what? Does this make the land Arabic anymore than the millions of Jews in Poland and Iraq, as two examples of many, made these countries Jewish? Israel was never Arabic, as Poland and Iraq were never Jewish. But Israel was always Jewish because of the continuous Jewish presence there. This fact should be remembered and assimilated in depth, for on it lies the whole issue. Therefore, the whole idea of a Jewish illegitimate occupation of their own land – Of their own land, mind you! – is preposterous, ridiculous, outrageous, outlandish and laughable. I don’t know if to laugh or to cry every time I stumble upon this enormity.
To cap these arguments, what better testament as to the Jewish lawful ownership of the Land of Israel can be brought than the Koran and an avowed enemy’s assertion on the matter, al-Qaeda?
A Muslim cleric, Sheikh Professor Abdul Hadi Palazzi (Ph.D. in Islamic Sciences by decree of the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia and years of study with Islamic teachers in Cairo and Europe, a leader of the Muslim community in Italy, currently serving as secretary-general of the Italian Muslim Assembly in Rome, and the Co-Chairmen of THE ROOT & BRANCH ASSOCIATION, LTD - Islam-Israel Fellowship) accepts Jewish sovereignty over the Holy Land as the will of God and, theologically, a necessary prerequisite for the Final Judgment. He quotes the Koran to support Judaism's special connection to the Temple Mount. As if the theological statement is not enough, which is true, "The most authoritative Islamic sources affirm the Temples," he says in addition to other statements similar in nature. (Interviews with Gail Lichtman in The Jerusalem Post and with Alex Maist, Israeli Correspondent for Novosty Nideli – http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/jpost/index.html?ts=1139418625.)
His stance is supported by none other than al-Qaeda, in an article entitled “The Jews Are Unworthy of the Promised Land” translated by DEBKAfile.com http://www.debka.com/article.php?aid=1064. In it, they consent to the Jewish ownership for the land, but argue that because of lack of will to make the necessary sacrifices, they are unworthy of it.
Besides the social, religious, and historical facts that attest to, and uphold the Jewish claim for The Land of Israel, there is an interesting judicial aspect to the question of the legitimate ownership of this land, aspect that was not given the full attention.
I touch, now, on the ‘squatting’ act, an action old as time and widespread in many places that earned relative wider attention in Europe during the ‘80s. The act consists of occupying property illegally. After a while, under certain circumstances, the unlawful occupier is recognized as the legitimate owner. Very schematically put, because of the prevailing particular circumstances, this retroactive act of switching ownership is supported in principle by a prolonged act of ignorance of the squatter by the original owner. Usually, it is a matter of a few years (three, as my latest information; DB) of such ignorance that gives the property to the squatter, depriving the original owner of his own. If the owner gives specific consent to the squatter to be on the property, then he, the owner, can claim it any time he wishes and the squatter is obligated to leave. Likewise if the owner stated specifically that the squatting is not permitted, but then he has to take action accordingly.
It would be extremely appropriate and timely to ask if this is the case with the Arabs who came uninvited to The Land of Israel, the legitimate property of the Jewish Nation under the following circumstances: They came while the owner was not there not of his own will, being exiled, therefore took advantage of the owner’s plight; were confronted by implication with the Jewish millennia of vows not to forget and not to renounce their property, their ancestral land; continued willfully their act of squatting there.
To reiterate, the lawful owner, the Jewish Nation, said repeatedly and adamantly for all to hear that this land is its land. Unfortunately, it could not come back, as wished, from the exile forced upon it by more powerful others. Time is of no import here because the vow was made continuously and publicly across time and space, so no one can say that he did not know of it.
Once the owner came back and reclaimed his own, the squatter had the obligation to cease and desist of his act, and leave. Unfortunately, this did not happen, and so, the returning Jews were confronted with a problem not of their own making.
Remarkably, it is worth mentioning that in spite of all the current difficulties in the matter, all in all, the Jews handled the issue exceptionally, showing much understanding and generosity. This can be seen, first of all, by the abstention of not conducting a sweeping ethnic cleansing of the Arabs when every circumstance was right, in the Independence war of ’48; second, by trying, successfully, with all their might, to engage the Arabs in the social and the political life of the country. Suffice it to mention the high standard of living that the Israeli Arabs enjoy in every domain, which is at a staggering height compared to that of their conationals in any and every Arab and Muslim country one cares to mention, and the vibrant Arab political participation in the Israeli fabric, which culminates and finds its highest expression, currently, in the presence of an Arab minister in the Israeli government (The Minister of Science, Culture and Sport, Mr. Ghaleb Majadle, http://www.most.gov.il/English/About/Minister/default.htm).
In the present circumstances, the Jewish Nation and the world are confronted with an extreme scheme of deceit, in which the squatter, the Arab occupier of Israel, claims the property as his own originally and denies the legitimate owner’s claim, presenting it as fraud.
In their deliberate and cheeky presentation of the matter, the Arabs are supported by an unrelenting propaganda from their own radical Islamic brothers and from a most diverse lot of a congregation of groups, from an avowed anti-Semitic Right to a most extreme and noisy Left, Fascist in approach and ideology.
From this short dissertation of this important but not complicated matter as it may seem at first glance, the direct and downright basic conclusion is that the Arabs committed, and continue to do so in plain daylight, an act of highway robbery, actual banditry, stealing while looking in the victim’s eye and telling him that, no, he is not the rightful owner.
This act constitutes the second grand crime after the Holocaust, against the same unfortunate target, Jews, as was done time and again for two dark and cruel thousand years. As written in the Bible, “Have you murdered and also inherited?” is coming alive for us again, in our own time.
This in itself is atrocious and unforgivable and we, the Jews, are not going to take it under any circumstances (World, take note!), but what is more so, is the stand of the extreme Left in the Israeli academia.
Shifting the focus, innocently or cunningly, from a property issue that is defined clearly from a wealth of factual data as belonging to the Jewish Nation, to an issue that tries to make an unlawful gain on the Palestinian human rights misperceived as trespassed, and so to play on sensitive ears in order to gain acceptance, is a new crime in itself against the Jews and the Jewish Nation. It presents the persons in question, the Israeli extreme Leftists at the academic lecterns here and abroad, as consummate traitors, Quislings and future kapos in the next Holocaust, which is sure to come if Israel trips just once. It transforms the victim into the aggressor. It gives fodder for the stealing of land and condones it. It makes a mockery of all the national liberation movements, discriminating between them and singling out the Jewish Nation as the only one that is not giving the due recognition of its claim and situation.
The majority of Jews, Right, [sane] Left and Center, disavows these personages, disapproves them, and rejects their one-sided unfair, illogical and fraudulent stance.
They are called hereby to repudiate their stand and come back into the fold of the decent, honest and truthful flock of humans, even if the truth is not yet accepted in whole and/or by all. The time will come when it will be so, for truth prevails. Always.
In the meantime, the Jewish Nation will continue to hold to what is theirs and theirs alone, not more, not less. In so doing, they will continue to spread wellness and progress in Israel and in the region, as it does for 120 years of Zionism from their ancestral land, The Land of The Patriarchs, Eretz ha-Avot, ISRAEL.
*Dan Barkye, writer ("Spirituality and Meditation – The Quest for the Divine in Us"), poet (nominated twice for the "Best Poem of the Month" on "The Critical Poet" poetry online board) and participant (occasional) in the right-wing Zionist website Israpundit.
Copyrights - Dan Barkye