What justification do Jews have for "stealing Palestinian land"?
Quite possibly one of the most frequently asked questions and, unfortunately, one of the least addressed. The problem is not that there is no justification - there is, as will soon be detailed - but rather there are two other big problems which make this question so controversial. The first problem is that most of those who ask this question are not truly seeking an answer to it. They are seeking to delegitimize Israel and whenever they are faced with irrefutable answers they simply refuse to hear them. The second problem is that most of those who are on the receiving end of this question are not knowledgeable enough on the matter to provide a sufficient answer. That being said, we will do our part in eliminating the second problem and providing a solid, comprehensive answer, but you, the reader, must eliminate the first problem and be ready to accept facts for what they are.
Given the complex nature of this question we will break it down into the following three sub-questions:
- What is the origin and history of Palestine?
- What is the origin and history of the Palestinians?
- What is the basis of the Jewish claim to the land?
Once we address these three questions we will then proceed to give a general response to the main question at hand.
What is the origin and history of Palestine?
The name Palestine is derived from the name Palaestina which originated in the year 135 C.E. Prior to this point the land consisted of two sovereignties known as the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah, both part of the Biblical nation of Israel. In the year 135 C.E., Roman Emperor Hadrian changed the name to Palaestina after he suppressed the Bar Kokhba Revolt and took full control of the land. His reason for choosing this particular name was to spite the Jews, deriving it from the name "Philistines" - the greatest enemies of the Jews in Biblical times. It should be noted that the Biblical Philistines were of south-east European origin and died out over 2,500 years ago, having no connection to the Palestinians of today. Palaestina would then continuously be part of constantly changing empires over the centuries, virtually never becoming a sovereignty unto itself. It would become known as Palestine during the time of the European Renaissance, between the 14th and 17th centuries. The last empire to control Palestine would be the Ottoman Empire, until it was taken over by the British in 1917. The British Mandate for Palestine was established and officially recognized by the League of Nations in 1922, coming into full effect in 1923. In 1947, the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine was presented in order to form two separate states - one Jewish and one Arab. The Jews accepted the partition plan while the Arabs rejected it. Later in 1947, civil war broke out, leading to the termination of the British Mandate and the establishment of the State of Israel on May 14th 1948. The next day, on May 15th 1948, surrounding Arab armies launched a war on Israel - later to become known as Israel's War of Independence - which resulted in the Green Line demarcation with the defeat of the Arab armies. On June 5th 1967, following periods of increasing tension between Israel and its Arab neighbors, a preemptive attack was launched by Israel on Egypt, Syria and Jordan - what would become the Six Day War. With the defeat of the Arab armies, Israel took control of the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, Judea and Samaria (a.k.a. the West Bank), East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Under a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula by 1982. Likewise, for the sake of peace, Israel relinquished the Gaza Strip in 2005. Instead of peace, thousands of rockets have been fired on Israel’s southern cities from Gaza and a Jewish soldier, Gilad Shalit, was held captive for over five years, later to be exchanged for over 1,000 convicted murderers and terrorists.
What is the origin and history of the Palestinians?
Until the early 20th's century, the term Palestinians never existed. Preceding the onset of Zionism, the general population of Palestine consisted of an Arab majority along with Jewish and Christian minorities - yet it should be noted that none have succeeded in establishing a sovereign state since the days the land became known as Palaestina. Palestine had virtually always belonged to one empire or another and its inhabitants were never exclusively of any particular race or religion. It was only with the onset of Zionism that the term Palestinians would be coined in an effort to suppress Zionism. Even then, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the name Palestine was often predominantly attributed to Jews. The Palestine Post, for instance, was an exclusively Jewish newspaper, now known as the Jerusalem Post. Likewise with the Palestine Symphony Orchestra, an exclusively Jewish orchestra, now known as the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Likewise with the Palestine Brigade Regiment which consisted exclusively of Jewish volunteers in the British WWII Army. The more Zionism grew, the more of a threat Arabs perceived and the more they tried to fabricate a cultural connection to Palestine, a political tool that would enable them to stand against Zionism till this very day. The term Palestinians did not receive official recognition until the establishment of the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) in 1964 - 16 years after the establishment of the State of Israel. So who are the Palestinians? From a strictly historical standpoint - there is no such people. They are Arabs who have never had any cultural, religious, political or national connection to Palestine; who have merely dwelled in the land in relatively small numbers alongside Jews and Christians; and, who have always openly admitted that the term Palestinians is nothing but a political tool aimed to end Zionism, to put an end to Israel as a Jewish state.
What is the basis of the Jewish claim to the land?
This is a question with several answers, one from each of the following points of view - religious, cultural, rational and legal. We will address each one individually.
Religiously, the Tanakh (the Jewish Bible) clearly states that G-d has given the Land of Israel to the Jews for all time (Genesis 13:15, 48:3-4). The Tanakh is also clear about the fact that the Jews would be exiled from the land but would eventually return to it, to their land (Deuteronomy 30:3-5, Ezekiel 20:34, Isaiah 11:11-12). It should be noted that both Christianity and Islam, the two primary adversaries who claim ownership to the land, accept the Tanakh as being divine and authentic, yet despite this have somehow convinced themselves that it has an expiration date. Being that the Tanakh is an eternal covenant, this is not only a contradiction of the Tanakh itself but also of these two religions that have accepted its divinity and authenticity.
Culturally, the Tanakh, virtually all other Jewish literature, as well as many historical books and documents from different nations of the world, testify that Jews have lived and prospered in the Land of Israel for many centuries. Jerusalem, for instance, is mentioned 667 times in the Tanakh. It is not mentioned even once in the Koran. Every Jewish prayer book is filled with prayers and blessings which implore G-d to bring the Jews back to their Jewish homeland - the Land of Israel. Virtually every Jewish text that has been written over the past 3,300 years mentions Israel as being the homeland of the Jewish people. Excavations over the past century, and especially in more recent years with advancing technology, constantly find artifacts that attest to the Jewish claim to Israel. Historically, it is impossible to deny the unbreakable connection between Jews and their homeland, Israel.
Rationally, Jews have only had one homeland throughout their entire history. Over the past two thousand years of exile Jews have lived in virtually every corner of the world, but none has ever become a homeland despite their efforts to integrate and start anew. On the contrary, the more they would try to integrate the more they would become oppressed. Jews have not had a moment's rest throughout their long exile. With all the Inquisitions, Crusades, Pogroms and Holocausts - Jews can say with certainty, as can any rational person with common sense, that there is only one place in the world where Jews can hope for peace - the Land of Israel, the Jewish homeland. It should be noted that the Arabs who claim ownership to the land, they themselves have 22 countries which are about 640 times the size of Israel. Not to mention that many of these countries are flowing with oil and other valuable resources. Israel is the only Jewish country, smaller than any one of those 22 Arab countries, with no oil and few valuable resources. It should also be noted that the State of Israel today makes up only a tiny fraction of the entire Land of Israel as based on Biblical boundaries, yet Jews are not asking for more. On the contrary, Jews have relinquished plenty of land since the establishment of the State of Israel for the sake of peace - which, unfortunately, despite all efforts has proven to be counterproductive.
Legally, the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine has given Jews the right to portions of the land which legally belonged to the British prior to that point. Upon Arab refusal to accept this partition plan, waging war against the Jews and losing that war - the Jews have obtained additional portions of the land in accordance with international law. Likewise, the land that has been obtained as a result of the Six Day War has also been obtained in accordance with international law.
Now, back to the original question: What justification do Jews have for "stealing Palestinian land"?
First and foremost, based on the facts that have been presented it becomes clear that there was never such a thing as Palestinian land. There was Jewish land which was temporarily known as Palestine and was never the official legal land of the Arabs who, today, call themselves Palestinians and claim the land. Secondly, Jews never stole land from anyone, let alone from a people that did not even officially exist before the land was "stolen". Jews legally re-acquired their own land from the British; the only land they can ever truly call home; a land promised to them for eternity in the Tanakh, which has been accepted by both Christianity and Islam; a land for which they longed for nearly 2,000 years; a land to which they have every right religiously, culturally, rationally and legally.
This begs the question: Why do the Arabs ignore all of these facts and persist with their claims? The answer - Islam. Islam requires Muslims to fight for any land that has been settled by Muslims. Islam also requires Muslims to kill Jews, being that it is Jews who constitute the greatest threat to the Islamic goal of world dominance. Islam is what drives Muslims to brainwash their children into believing that Jews are the aggressor who must be stopped by all means necessary, just as they have been brainwashed into believing. Islam is what drives Muslims to ignore not only historical facts, but also to ignore the very fact that by accepting the Tanakh as divine and authentic, which clearly states that it in itself is an eternal covenant between G-d and the Jews, and then revoking that covenant, their own religion is a contradiction in itself. Islam is what drives Muslims to ignore the fact that their religion contradicts truth, justice and humanity. Finally, Islam is what drives Muslims to use violence to spread their religion, because violence is all they have – or perhaps, all they had – until the “Palestinian cause” fell into their hands. Nothing is a better tool for Muslims than the "Palestinian cause" to achieve their goals. Fortunately for them, most of the world is turning a blind eye to historical facts as well as to the teachings of Islam, allowing them to successfully spread their propaganda and gain international support. That being said, it should be noted though that not all Arabs are Muslims, there are those who truly do want peace with Jews and accept Israel as Jewish land, but, the problem is that they are relatively few in number and most keep silent out of fear for their lives.