A history lessonAt Little Green Footballs this morning, Charles Johnson points to an article in today's Washington Post with the comment, "At the Washington Post, Richard Cohen agrees with Hamas and Hizballah that 'Israel is a mistake.' And he’s open to the argument that Israel is a 'crime.'”
If that sounds like an overly blunt characterization of what Cohen wrote in this morning's Washington Post, it's not. Cohen's article reflects a total ignorance of Jewish history, and of the Jewish connection to the land of Israel dating back to biblical times, which is inexcusable even for an assimilated Jew (which I assume Cohen to be). In fact, even Christians should be offended by Cohen's writing them out of the history of the Holy Land. Cohen adopts the Arab narrative of the last century of history lock, stock and barrel, without even considering that it might be false. Note, I said Arab and not 'Palestinian,' because the 'Palestinians' by their own admission are a fiction created by that Arab narrative.
The term "Palestina" was invented by the Roman emperor Hadrian. The Romans wanted to rename Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) after the Philistines, the longtime enemy of the Jews. Hadrian believed that by renaming the Jewish homeland after the Jews' archenemy, he would be able to forever break the bond between the Land of Israel and the Jewish people.
But even the name of the Philistines, from which the term "Palestine" was adopted, is completely alien to the Land of Israel.
The name Philistines in Hebrew is plishtim, which comes from the Hebrew verb polshim (foreign invaders).Arabs only came to the Land of Israel in large numbers after the Jews returned in the 20th century and started to rebuild the nation, thereby creating economic and employment opportunities for Arab immigrants.
Prior to 1870, when Jews started to return to the Holy Land in large numbers, there were fewer than 100,000 Arabs living in what is today the State of Israel - including Yesha (the Hebrew acronym for Judea, Samaria and the Gaza District).
This small number of nomadic, tribal Arabs who lived in the Holy Land before the modern Jewish return never considered themselves to be a separate people or nation.
The Arabs who lived in the Land of Israel were not "Palestinians" but Arabs - part of a huge Arab people with 22 very large independent nations that control one-ninth of the land mass on the planet Earth.
- The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct "Palestinian people" to oppose Zionism.
- For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.
In this morning's Washington Post, Richard Cohen writes:
The greatest mistake Israel could make at the moment is to forget that Israel itself is a mistake. It is an honest mistake, a well-intentioned mistake, a mistake for which no one is culpable, but the idea of creating a nation of European Jews in an area of Arab Muslims (and some Christians) has produced a century of warfare and terrorism of the sort we are seeing now. Israel fights Hezbollah in the north and Hamas in the south, but its most formidable enemy is history itself.Israel is anything but a mistake, and history shows the justice of Israel's cause. With the exception of the period between the two Jewish Temples between roughly 586 and 516 BCE, Jews ruled this land continuously from approximately 1300 BCE until 68 CE. Since that time, no other government has been based in Israel, no other country has called Jerusalem its capitol, and no other people has called this land its home. It is not history that is Israel's enemy but the false narrative of history presented to the World by the Arab Muslims. It is not history that is Israel's enemy, but Arab attempts to wipe out the vestiges of that history, as if destroying all of the Temple artifacts on the Temple Mount will confirm that it was 'always' Haram al-Sharif, that two Jewish Temples never stood there and that Jesus never argued with money changers there.
This country was deserted swampland for much of the period between 68 CE and the beginning of the return of larger numbers of Jews started in 1870. Israel's interior areas were mainly a desert-like wasteland while her coast was a malaria-ridden swamp. But Jews always prayed three times a day that God should gather them in from their diaspora and bring them back to this country. Many Jews attempted to come here on their own. Jews were a majority of the population of Jerusalem in the 19th century, and settled many of the cities of the Galilee as well. In 1844 - when the Land of Israel was controlled by the Turkish Muslims - the Turkish census counted 7,120 Jews and 5,000 Muslims living in Jerusalem. Thus, Jerusalem was already a Jewish city 160 years ago. Until an Arab massacre wiped them out in 1929, there was even a large Jewish community in Hebron, which included a major Talmudical academy, which was transplanted from the village of Slobodka in Lithuania.
In Chapter LVI of Innocents Abroad, Mark Twain wrote regarding his trip here in 1867:
Of all the lands there are for dismal scenery, I think Palestine must be the prince. The hills are barren, they are dull of color, they are unpicturesque in shape. The valleys are unsightly deserts fringed with a feeble vegetation that has an expression about it of being sorrowful and despondent. The Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee sleep in the midst of a vast stretch of hill and plain wherein the eye rests upon no pleasant tint, no striking object, no soft picture dreaming in a purple haze or mottled with the shadows of the clouds. Every outline is harsh, every feature is distinct, there is no perspective--distance works no enchantment here. It is a hopeless, dreary, heart-broken land.This is from Twain's description of seeing the remains of the Temples (in Chapter LIV):
Small shreds and patches of it must be very beautiful in the full flush of spring, however, and all the more beautiful by contrast with the far-reaching desolation that surrounds them on every side. I would like much to see the fringes of the Jordan in spring-time, and Shechem, Esdraelon, Ajalon and the borders of Galilee--but even then these spots would seem mere toy gardens set at wide intervals in the waste of a limitless desolation.
Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies. Where Sodom and Gomorrah reared their domes and towers, that solemn sea now floods the plain, in whose bitter waters no living thing exists--over whose waveless surface the blistering air hangs motionless and dead-- about whose borders nothing grows but weeds, and scattering tufts of cane, and that treacherous fruit that promises refreshment to parching lips, but turns to ashes at the touch. Nazareth is forlorn; about that ford of Jordan where the hosts of Israel entered the Promised Land with songs of rejoicing, one finds only a squalid camp of fantastic Bedouins of the desert; Jericho the accursed, lies a moldering ruin, to-day, even as Joshua's miracle left it more than three thousand years ago; Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and their humiliation, have nothing about them now to remind one that they once knew the high honor of the Saviour's presence; the hallowed spot where the shepherds watched their flocks by night, and where the angels sang Peace on earth, good will to men, is untenanted by any living creature, and unblessed by any feature that is pleasant to the eye. Renowned Jerusalem itself, the stateliest name in history, has lost all its ancient grandeur, and is become a pauper village; the riches of Solomon are no longer there to compel the admiration of visiting Oriental queens; the wonderful temple which was the pride and the glory of Israel, is gone, and the Ottoman crescent is lifted above the spot where, on that most memorable day in the annals of the world, they reared the Holy Cross. The noted Sea of Galilee, where Roman fleets once rode at anchor and the disciples of the Saviour sailed in their ships, was long ago deserted by the devotees of war and commerce, and its borders are a silent wilderness; Capernaum is a shapeless ruin; Magdala is the home of beggared Arabs; Bethsaida and Chorazin have vanished from the earth, and the "desert places" round about them where thousands of men once listened to the Saviour'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.
Palestine is desolate and unlovely. And why should it be otherwise? Can the curse of the Deity beautify a land? Palestine is no more of this work-day world. It is sacred to poetry and tradition--it is dream-land.
Every where about the Mosque of Omar are portions of pillars, curiously wrought altars, and fragments of elegantly carved marble -- precious remains of Solomon's Temple. These have been dug from all depths in the soil and rubbish of Mount Moriah, and the Moslems have always shown a disposition to preserve them with the utmost care. At that portion of the ancient wall of Solomon's Temple which is called the Jew's Place of Wailing, and where the Hebrews assemble every Friday to kiss the venerated stones and weep over the fallen greatness of Zion, any one can see a part of the unquestioned and undisputed Temple of Solomon, the same consisting of three or four stones lying one upon the other, each of which is about twice as long as a seven-octave piano, and about as thick as such a piano is high. But, as I have remarked before, it is only a year or two ago that the ancient edict prohibiting christian rubbish like ourselves to enter the Mosque of Omar and see the costly marbles that once adorned the inner Temple was annulled. The designs wrought upon these fragments are all quaint and peculiar, and so the charm of novelty is added to the deep interest they naturally inspire. One meets with these venerable scraps at every turn, especially in the neighboring Mosque el Aksa, into whose inner walls a very large number of them are carefully built for preservation. These pieces of stone, stained and dusty with age, dimly hint at a grandeur we have all been taught to regard as the princeliest ever seen on earth; and they call up pictures of a pageant that is familiar to all imaginations -- camels laden with spices and treasure -- beautiful slaves, presents for Solomon's harem -- a long cavalcade of richly caparisoned beasts and warriors -- and Sheba's Queen in the van of this vision of "Oriental magnificence." These elegant fragments bear a richer interest than the solemn vastness of the stones the Jews kiss in the Place of Wailing can ever have for the heedless sinner.
Down in the hollow ground, underneath the olives and the orange trees that flourish in the court of the great Mosque, is a wilderness of pillars -- remains of the ancient Temple; they supported it. There are ponderous archways down there, also, over which the destroying "plough" of prophecy passed harmless. It is pleasant to know we are disappointed, in that we never dreamed we might see portions of the actual Temple of Solomon, and yet experience no shadow of suspicion that they were a monkish humbug and a fraud.
In 1913, the British Royal Commission reported:
"The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts ... no orange groves, orchards or vineyards were to be seen until one reached Yabna village.... Houses were all of mud. No windows were anywhere to be seen.... The ploughs used were of wood.... The yields were very poor.... The sanitary conditions in the village were horrible. Schools did not exist.... The rate of infant mortality was very high.... The western part, towards the sea, was almost a desert.... The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many ruins of villages were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria, many villages were deserted by their inhabitants."And so the land remained until the Jews cultivated it plot by plot.
Israel is a 'mistake' created in 'Arab land'? Hardly.
The rest of Cohen's argument is standard leftist drivel about how Israel has to 'hunker down' and allow itself to be beaten rather than decisively winning a war (and that's what we're in now) and being able to find peace on its own terms. The fact that Israel has tried to 'hunker down' and give away its territory time and time again in a bid to make 'peace' with the 'Palestinians' - and that the 'Palestinians' and their Arab supporters have come back to fight another day each time - shows the fecklessness of that policy. It's very simple: the Arabs will not willingly tolerate any Jewish presence in this part of the world. There is no amount of land that we can give them that will entice them to live in peace with us. Until we decisively defeat them, they will come back to fight another day and another day. There is no need to give any more of an answer than that.
Israel is neither a mistake nor a crime. It is the beginning of the culmination of more than 2000 years of Jewish yearning to return to our homeland. The manner in which the Jewish people has chosen to govern the Land of Israel has its faults. But being a 'mistake' created in 'Arab land' - let alone being a 'crime' - is not among those faults. We Jews have to learn to stop listening to liberals like Cohen and to start fighting - with God's help - for our existence. Hopefully, the current battle marks a turning point.