International and Historical Rights of the State of Israel and the Jewish People
There is perhaps no area in the world more sensitive or strategic to world security and peace than the Middle East. Arguably, no country or city is more central to said sensitivity than Israel and its capital city of Jerusalem.
There are as many opinions – legal and otherwise - on the corresponding issues as there are proposed solutions. This is not only true of Israel itself and the territories it liberated and administers, but it also extends to the city of Jerusalem and the many different views concerning its legal status. Israel in general and Jerusalem in particular represent unique circumstances and, in many ways, do not fit into the normal legal parameters.
Consider Jerusalem for example: there is no city anywhere in the world that holds such deep-seated roots of religious and spiritual heritage, as well as emotional and cultural bonds. These deep roots and the potential threats to their sanctity play an extraordinarily vital role in that city’s significance, and seemingly "trump" both national and international law norms in terms of relevance.
Why are such “deep roots” so vitally significant?
The Jewish heritage reaches back more than three thousand years. Jerusalem itself was established perhaps more than 2,000 years before it was captured from the Jebusites by King David about 1,000 BC. The TempleMount in the OldCity (now so-called "East Jerusalem") is the site of the First and Second Jewish sacred Temples containing the "Holy of Holies", the most hallowed of all spiritual sites for Jews.
As regards the whole of Israel, Winston Churchill stated the following facts:
“The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people.
Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped.
After majority of Jews being forcibly exiled from their land, the
people kept faith with it throughout their Dispersion (Diaspora) and
never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the
restoration in it of their political and religious freedom.”
Impelled by this historic and traditional attachment, Jews strove in every successive generation to re-establish themselves in their rightful ancient and ancestral homeland of Israel.
Jerusalem is mentioned in the Bible by name more than six hundred times in the Old Testament alone, as well as throughout the New Testament, and has always been considered the "capital" for the Jewish people.
The Muslim connection dates back to the oral tradition of Mohammed’s "miraculous night journey" ("Miraj"). In A.D. 621, he allegedly flew on a "winged creature" from Mecca to the TempleMount, accompanied by the Angel Gabriel. This event supposedly made the Temple Mount — with today’s Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock—for many (though not all ) Muslims, the third holiest site of Islam, after Mecca and Medina (which were formerly developed and occupied by the Jews).
It must be noted even this "night ride", as referenced in verse 1 of Sura 17 of the Koran, does not mention Jerusalem at all, only "the farthest [al-Aqsa] mosque". Since there was no mosque in Jerusalem at that time, the "farthest" mosque cannot have been the one now bearing that name on the TempleMount in the OldCity of ("East") Jerusalem. Still, Islamic tradition holds fast to this unfounded claim.
In actual fact, early commentators interpreted the “fartherest” place of worship as heaven. The city of Jerusalem is not once mentioned in the Koran, nor has Jerusalem ever served as the capital of Islam or of Arab controlled Palestine, under any name.
The Christians date their heritage from the time of Christ, the Jewish "Founder" of their faith. Christianity reaches back to take in the entire history of the Jewish people, which was Christ’s own heritage, and which Christians regard as their own, mutually with the Jews. For Christians, the Holy Land is "holy" because that is where Jesus Christ was born, grew up, performed His ministry, was crucified, resurrected and ascended from the Mount of Olives, to which He promised to return.
While the Christians are "at home" in every land in which they choose to dwell, and while the Arabs enjoy jurisdiction over vast areas of territory (twenty-one sovereign Arab States consisting over 5,000 sq. miles), the Jewish people have only one area of territorial “homeland": the small State of Israel, which is less than one percent of the Arab territories of 5 million square miles.
For the Jewish people, Israel is their only national home and Jerusalem, their only HolyCity and proclaimed "indivisible" capital. The very term “Wailing Wall” indicates the depth of the emotionally charged significance of this most sacred place for the Jewish people. The Western Wall of the Temple was commonly called “Wailing Wall” prior to the 1967. In 1967 Israel liberated the TempleMount, which had been under Arab control since 1949. As regards the whole of the Israel, in the words of Dr. Chaim Weizmann (later president of the World Zionist Organization):
“As to the land that is to be the Jewish land there can be no
question. Palestine aka Greater Israel alone, of all the countries in which the Jew has set foot throughout its long history, has an abiding place in his national tradition.”
The recognition of the Jewish people’s singularly ancient historic, religious, and cultural link with an ancestral home has more legal significance than it may at first appear, and is easily bypassed in the current heated and polarized debate. These religious and spiritual claims are what have thus far made attempted solutions to territorial and other questions of international law in this area particularly delicate. The real issues are often lacking in clear definition and consensual interpretation of the relevant "law"; at times even attributing to it a kind of sui generis (one of a kind, unique or "peculiar") character.
International law, in itself, does not rely on religious or cultural ties, but rather on accepted international law norms and standards. This is why the legal recognition of these historical aspects, in a binding international legal instrument, is so highly significant. It is precisely these age-old historic ties that remain the most compelling reason for maintaining sovereignty over all the territory the Jewish people are legally entitled to under international law and treaties.
The particular sacredness of this Land to such differing faiths is clearly demonstrated by the ongoing dispute over the governance of the Holy City of Jerusalem. This dispute continues from the Vatican to the United Nations, including periodic initiatives to give it a separate international legal status as a so-called corpus separatum (separated body). Indeed, because of the delicate and sensitive nature of these "spiritual" connections, Jerusalem is frequently left out altogether from discussions over other disputed territories such as the "West Bank aka Judea and Samaria" and (earlier) Gaza.
The legal arguments will go on and on, with differing interpretations often even on the same side of the arguments. However, the fundamental fact is the historical claims of the Zionist Organization, based on centuries-old connections between the Jewish people and "Palestine aka Greater Israel", were given recognition in a small town on the Italian Riviera named San Remo, in 1920. The San Remo Conference parties incorporated the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which was further confirmed by the 1920 Treaty of Sevres and Lausanne. Thus, said Treaty was adopted and confirmed unequivocally by the terms of the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, aka Greater Israel, in 1922, which takes on enormous significance when questions of territorial rights persist.
The ongoing and never-ending legal arguments and political posturing on both sides of the question of the "Palestine aka Greater Israel" statehood issue will not be resolved in these pages. Yet, if the basic truths with regard to ancestral territory are ignored, all the legal arguments in the world will not bring about an equitable solution. Thus, it is important to see in what way(s) this most significant factor of historical ties has been endowed with a legal character and status that undermine Israel’s legitimate rights in its Land as it confronts today’s territorial conflicts.
While there is no way that the complex current political issues, a culmination of centuries of conflict and legal ambiguities, can be adequately dealt with in one brief exposé, one thing is certain: laws may change, perceptions may vary, but historical fact is immutable. Therefore, for the special case of Israel and Arab-Palestine, we need to look at fact rather than opinion or emotions and seek to avoid the promulgation of law that can result from persistent pressures of often misguided, misinformed and/or skillfully manipulated public opinion.
Thus our mission here is not to attempt to pronounce legal judgments or to offer legal opinions, where even the best legal minds have not been able to achieve consensus, but rather to proclaim international legal truths in a largely political environment that is too frequently polluted with distortions of the truth and outright untruths.
A correlated intent here is to show where Israel’s age-old historic links with the land intersect with legal parameters to give effect to its international legal status in the face of current political initiatives.
Accordingly, it should be understood from the outset that the following is in no way intended to present itself as an exhaustive coverage of the many-faceted and age-long disputed issues relating to this territory. It is meant primarily as a wakeup call and/or reminder of the fundamental international legal rights of the Jewish people that were conferred beginning at the San Remo Conference in 1920 which incorporated the 1917 Balfour Declaration and that had threatened to all but slip into obscurity in the current debate, despite the fact that these rights have never been rescinded and the UN has no authority to modify them.
To accomplish these aims, we have only to revert back to the milestone international legal instrument, the Mandate for Palestine of 1922, which emerged from the 1920 San Remo sessions of the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and in effect transformed the Balfour Declaration of 1917 (the “Magna Carta” of the Jewish people) into a legally binding international agreement that changed the course of history forever for the Jewish people worldwide.
There was also the first valid Arab Jewish Agreement executed onJanuary 3, 1919inLondonby King Feisal representing the Arabs and Chaim Weizman representing the Jews. This agreement had it been exercised by both parties would of changed the course of history in the Middle East and would of brought about a coexistence that would benefit all the people of the region. It is not too late to follow the spirit of this agreement and bring about peace and economic Shangri-La to the region.
A short synopsis of Jewish History and the Arab/Palestinian Israeli conflict r6 - YJ Draiman
A short synopsis of Jewish History and the Arab/Palestinian Israeli conflict r6 Jews have the absolute right for their homeland. Zionism the movement itself was created during the second half the 1800′s. Jews purchased a substantial amount of territories in Palestine-Israel (see testimony of the Mufti of Jerusalem in front of the British Peel Commission - 1937) from local sheikhs and lords and built settlements there. This dates as early as 1860, that is 79 years before WWII. During all of this time Jews kept migrating back to their historic homeland which comprised of two kingdoms: the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah. They were driven out of the Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians in 720, B.C.E. The Babylonians in 586, B.C.E., drove the Jews out of the Kingdom of Judah, Including Jerusalem. Then followed by the Persians in 536, and the Hellenistic Syrian Seleucid Rulers in 332 BCE. Jews - The Maccabees re-conquered Israel in 166 BCE. Romans conquered Israel in 63 C.E., and in 70 A.D. destroyed the Jewish second Temple. Which was followed by these conquests: Byzantines in 313; Persian in 614; Arabs Muslims 636 CE; Crusaders 1099; and the Mamluks in 1291. Then came the Ottoman Empire in 1517. In 1564 the Ottoman Empire encouraged and stimulated Jewish immigration which added over 12,000 new additional Jewish families returnees to Palestine-Israel (The Ottoman land records for Palestine showed that the government owned over 92% of the land and many of the Arabs were sharecroppers) and the same applied during the British Mandate of Palestine Rule 1918-1948. During the time of the Roman rule of Israel, the Jews in the kingdom called Judea revolted against the Roman rule. The Romans crushed the rebellion, exiled many Jews out of the country, seized many others and turned them into slaves deporting some of them to Rome and other places. Not only that, but the Romans changed the name of the land from Provincia Judea to Palestine to humiliate the Jews. For 600 years or so, Arab Muslims imperialism spread throughout the Middle East from Arabia which had a large Jewish population for over 2,000 years. Among and other conquests, the Arabs conquered Judea-Palestine, killing many of the local Jewish population, and converting many into Islam. The story of how the Arabs got to Palestine is the story of conquest, imperialism, violence and occupation. During the 19th and 20th century, when Arabs had little to no interest in the land of Israel, Jews bought massive amounts of desolate land, developed it and turned it to green pastures and resettled there. After WWI the Allied Powers, the international community and the League of Nations under the San Remo Treaty of 1920 which was confirmed by the Treaty of Sevres and Lausanne assigned the British "The Mandate for Palestine" as trustee over the land with its duty and obligation under the law, so that a Jewish state would be created in that Jewish ancestral land, confirmed by the 1920 Treaty of Sevres and Lausanne. The British had their own agenda in mind and violated the International Treaties and agreements (The British wanted control of the Oil reserves in Arab countries). The original Mandate territory included what is today Israel; Gaza, Parts of Sinai, West Bank (Judea and Samaria), Jordan and the Golan Heights (The Rothschild family purchased in the Golan thousands of acres for Jewish settlements). The British had their own agenda and divided the country up. They gave to the Arabs the allocated land which had been Mandated by international treaties to the Jewish people in violation of the San Remo Treaty: everything East of the Jordan river. This land which was intentionally given to the Arabs constituted 80% of the land legally allocated to the Jewish people. The British gave the land to the Hashemite Kingdom for the Arab population in order to create a new State: Trans-Jordan. The British also traded the Golan Heights to the French who ruled Syria for oil in Iraq. Thus, after already separating the country into one Arab state Trans-Jordan (a new state in history), which is present day Jordan, they intended to break up the remaining Jewish land West of the Jordan River, present day Israel and wrongfully give it to the Arabs in violation of international treaties. In the meanwhile a conflict emerged over territorial boundaries between the Jewish inhabitants and the Arab-Palestinians. The U.N. (which has no authority to modify international treaties, it can only recommend) violated again international treaties and proposed a deal to split the remaining land of the British Mandate for Palestine (yes, split yet again) into an Arab state and a Jewish state. The Jewish leadership accepted the proposal, provided the Arabs also accept it. The Arabs declined. Thus the 1948 war began. A war in which the Arabs with 6 armies from Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and local militias of Arabs, and help on a smaller scale from the armies of Algeria and Libya attacked the new Jewish entity. The Arab coalition had the weapons, a large army and were confident on victory, to the extent, that they asked the local Arab inhabitants to vacate the land while they decimated the Jews. But fate had other plans. Through divine intervention, the Arabs lost that war. Many Arab civilians fled their homes because their Arab leadership told them to. Some were panicked by rumors. There were only a few incidents with civilians. (It is an important fact to note that during the war of 1948, Jewish settlements that were seized by Arab forces were razed to the ground – Kfar Etzion for example and the remaining population there killed). The true and detailed facts and history is much more voluminous and complex. The problems Israel faces is that it is not as quick to explain the 4000+ years of Jewish history in Israel to counter the Arab lies, obfuscation and propaganda. Lies are easier to spread. However, upon close examination of the historical facts, the lies are exposed as baseless propaganda and should be dismissed as such. It should be understood that only a small segment of history is being presented here. I did not enumerate anything about how Arabs used terror and violence since the beginning of the conflict. I did not mention that before Arab nationalism and Muslim radicalism took over. The small Arab community was glad that the Jews were coming back to their ancestral homeland, providing an economic boost and jobs to the region, (even king Faisal was delighted.) I did not enumerate or discuss in detail the Arab-Palestinian refugees without telling how and why they became refugees. I might also mention that the Arab countries expelled over a million Jewish families and their children, confiscated their assets, businesses, homes and Real estate property (120,440 sq. km. or 75,000 sq. miles, which is six times the size of Israel and valued in the trillions of dollars). About 670,000 of those Jewish refugees from Arab countries and their children were resettled in Greater Israel. Today over half of Israel's populations consists of Jewish families expelled from Arab countries. It is time for the Arab countries who expelled the million Jewish families and their children to resettle the Arab-Palestinian refugees in their own countries, and or Jordan, and put an end to this conflict and end the misery and displacement of the Arab-Palestinians. This will bring about peace and coexistence which the people so rightfully desire and deserve. It will bring economic prosperity and an increase in the standard of living for all the people.
"It is harder to make peace, than war" YJ Draiman
Origins and Early History of Israel: An Introductory Note
The ancient 'Habiru' people depicted and named on the wall of a 19th century BCE Egyptian tomb
The subject is Option 2 in the HSC History Extension Course, with the following syllabus description:
Principal focus: students investigate changing interpretations of the evidence relating to the origins and early history of Israel.
Students examine the approaches to history and interpretations (including recent historiography) that have resulted in historical debate in the areas of:
–origins and naming of the Hebrews
–conquest or settlement
–emergence of the monarchy and the kingdom of Israel
–textual problems of the biblical narratives (sources, dating, authenticity, inconsistencies)
–the impact of archaeological evidence
The topic is not the only subject in the history extension course to extend an historical challenge to the religiously committed, standing as it does alongside “The Historicity of Jesus”.
The Biblical Narrative
As the only sustained literary source, the Hebrew Bible, described by Christians as the “Old Testament”, has to be the inevitable starting point for the historical investigation required by the syllabus.
Of course the Biblical account is both much more and much less than historical narrative, and the central issue posed by the topic is the extent to which the Bible represents a core of historical reality. It is an exercise which requires a consideration of the internal evidence in the Biblical text, the external archaeological evidence, and the historical context derived from other sources.
The Biblical references might very shortly be outlined as follows:
Genesis The emergence of Abraham and the Jewish Patriarchs in the Land of Israel.
Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy Enslavement in Egypt, the Exodus and journeys in Sinai and Trans-Jordan.
Joshua and Judges Invasion and settlement in Canaan-Israel.
Samuel, Chronicles and Kings Detailed accounts of the emergence of the monarchies of the united Jewish Kingdom and the successor states of Judah and Israel.
Obviously students will require a reasonably comprehensible modern translation. This writer prefers the Revised Standard Version, which retains much of the traditional English poetic force, but teachers and students will have their own preferences.
Naming of the 'Hebrews'
The Jewish people are described by three alternative names, as Hebrews, Israelites and Jews.
The word 'Hebrew' – ‘Ivri in Hebrew - first appears in the Bible at
, where it is used as a straightforward ethnic description:
"One who had escaped came and reported this to Abram the Hebrew. Now Abram was living near the great trees of Mamre the Amorite, a brother of Eshcol and Aner, all of whom were allied with Abram."
According to the traditional view, the ethnic descriptor, like the origin of the names of many of the other nations referred to in Genesis, is directly derived from the list of the descendants of Noah, where ‘Eber is listed as the ancestor of Abraham. This view is repeated by the Christian commentator R. Laird Harris, in the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament:
"The biblical record quite definitely indicates 'Ibri' is derived from ‘Eber', the name of one of Shem's sons (Gen 10:21; 11:14, 16). Abraham is identified as a descendant of Shem, of Eber's line (Gen 11:26). 'Ibri' is used of the descendants of Eber, through Abraham."
(The apostrophe indicates a consonant in the Semitic alphabets, which is silent in most, but not all, pronunciations. “B” is also interchangeable with “V” in the Semitic language group.)
Another view would be that the story in Genesis probably came into existence after the national identifier was already established, and as an “explanation” of that identifier. This would allow for an alternative hypothesis, that it may have been used by non-Israelites as a term derived from the linguistic root 'abar with the connotation of “crossing over”, conveying the idea of "stranger” or “immigrant" etc.
A related issue arises with the mention of the Habiru in the Tel El-Amarna Letters. The letters are in the form of tablets, discovered in an Egyptian royal archive which includes letters from the Canaanite city states seeking Egyptian protection against the marauding Habiru.
(The letters are written in a Cuneiform script in the Akkadian language, which was apparently the diplomatic language of the time, despite the fact that the dynasty of Akkad, situated in southern Iraq to the north-west of Ur, had come to an end over 700 years before. It is an interesting parallel to the use of Latin in Western Europe long after the demise of the Roman Empire.)
There is a difference of opinion whether the word Habiru (sometimes transliterated as ‘Apiru) in the Semitic Akkadian language, is related to, or even identical with, the Hebrew word ‘Ivri. (Seehttp://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-hebrew/2002-August/013662.html for an interesting on-line discussion.) One widely held view, certainly not universal among the scholars, is that both words do in fact have the same Semitic consonantal root which implies an element of “crossing over”.
The diplomatic correspondence was discovered in 1887 by Egyptian villagers in the remains of the city of Akhetaten, the capital established by the “monotheistic” sun-worshipping Pharoah Akhnaten, and abandoned after his death. In addition to the archive of Akhnaten, the letters include material from the transferred archive of his predecessor Amenophis III, and are therefore dated quite precisely from the Egyptian King lists at between about 1370 and 1336 BCE.
This coincides with the traditional chronology of the Exodus calculated from the Biblical record, which provides a date of 1446 BCE for the Exodus, and a date of 1406 BCE for Joshua’s invasion. On the basis of this dating theHabiru could well be the Israelite tribes of the Book of Judges.
On the other hand, a current archaeological view is that the destruction of the Canaanite cities ascribed to Joshua occurred in about 1200BCE, long after the Tell el-Amarna letters were written. If this is so, then the wordHabiru could not be identical in meaning to the word ‘Ivri. Indeed the present academic opinion seems to be that the word Habiru in Akkadian was a general term for invaders, rather than the name of any specific national group.
The name 'Israel’ – 'he who struggles with God' - appears in Genesis 32.28, after Jacob figuratively wrestles with an angel:
"Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome."
Henceforth the descendants of Jacob are described as the “Children of Israel”, and the promised land is the “Land of Israel”.
The word 'Jew' – Yahudi in Hebrew – originates in the name of the Roman province of Judea, which in turn was derived from the Kingdom of Judah, named for Judah, the eldest of Jacob’s twelve sons, and founder of the tribe of that name. The description came into use after the Roman conquest began with the invasion of Pompey the Great in 66BCE.
Depiction of the Biblical Abraham
The Biblical account of the origins of the Jewish people has two basic elements, the stories of the Patriarchs in the Book of Genesis, and the story of the Exodus.
We are told that in about 1900 BCE Abraham was born in and emigrated from “Ur of the Chaldees”, in southern Iraq. The story then continues with Abraham’s sojourn at Haran, near the present Turkish-Syrian border, his arrival in Canaan, and the interaction of the three generations of the Patriarchs with the local city states. Then, some 400 years later, there is a second originating moment, with the escape from slavery in Egypt, the journey in the Sinai desert and the return to the Land promised to the Patriarchs.
The Patriarchs Leonard Woolley’s Excavations at Ur does not particularly verify the Abrahamic claim to Mesopotamian origins. The excavations reveal a non-Semitic Sumerian city, which was a major port on the Persian Gulf during the period ascribed to Abraham, with a population which would have made it one of the world’s great cities at the time.
The only Biblical references emerging from the excavation were a small ornate figure of a ram standing on its hind legs next to foliage, which Woolley named “the ram in the thicket” in reference to the binding of Isaac, and the step pyramid described as the “Ziggurat of Ur”, recalling the Tower of Babel in the “plain of Shinar”, the Hebrew equivalent of “Sumer”. The religion, worship of a moon-goddess, appears to have no resonance in Judaism, apart from the adoption of the Babylonian lunar months in the Jewish calendar.
On the other hand, according to E.A. Speiser (editor of Genesis in the Anchor Bible) the culture of the Patriarchs as described in Book of Genesis bears a striking resemblance to the Hurrian culture of the Haran region as described in texts found in Urkish, Mari and Ugarit. This would verify the special relationship recounted in the Biblical stories of the marriages of Isaac and Jacob, both of whom made a point of seeking their brides in “Paddan-Aram” in the same region as Haran. The stories of Abraham and Isaac describing their wives as sisters to ensure their safety in Egypt have also been traced to Hurrian customs. Of course this does not make the Jews a part of the Indo-European non-Semitic Hurrian people, but merely a people influenced by their culture, with Laban described as an “Aramean” in the Talmudic literature.
The ancient and modern city of Beer Sheba, the “Well of the Oath”, symbolising the treaty of friendship between Abimelech and Abraham, boasts “Abraham’s well” at its centre, and the remains of a 4000 year-old temple on its outskirts, with a horned altar of the kind described in Genesis.
Abraham is also blessed by Melchizedek, king and high priest of Jerusalem, the city whose ancient origins are confirmed by both the Tel El-Amarna Letters and the excavation of the Jebusite city of Jerusalem by Kathleen Kenyon between 1961 and 1967.
The Exodus The temples of Karnak and Luxor both have a number of bas-reliefs showing Semitic captives in the reigns of Seti I and Ramses II., all attesting to the glory of the reigning Egyptian monarch by the extent of the humiliation of those whom they have defeated. One powerful image shows a giant Ramses II holding up a score of captives by the hair as he raises his club to smite them.
However the Biblical description of massive numbers, including some 600,000 men of fighting age, escaping miraculously from centuries of enslavement, does not appear in the records of the Pharoahs, who make no mention of military defeats or the escape of tribes of slaves. There is however the “Merneptah Stele” recording the victories of Ramses’ son in about 1220 BCE, on which “Israel” is mentioned by name.
It is also arguable that the Biblical account of Joseph and the subsequent migration of Jacob and his family coincide with the reign of the Hyksos Pharoahs – all with Semitic names - who ruled Egypt between 1658 and 1570 BCE. On the basis of this chronology, the Pharoah “who knew not Joseph”, and enslaved the Jews, represented the restoration of a native Egyptian New Kingdom, founded by Ahmose I in 1570. This is the theory advanced by the Jewish historian Josephus Flavius, in The Antiquities of the Jews, which he wrote in Greek in Rome in about 80 CE.
Invasion, Settlement and the Monarchy
The Invasion The Book of Joshua describes a military invasion by a unified army, opposed by various Canaanite city states, and assisted by occasional miracles.
The historical setting for the story is verified by archaeological finds. The oasis of Jericho is possibly the world’s most ancient continuing city, with the remains of a central tower dated by archaeologists at 7000BCE, and a number of walls destroyed many times.
The excavations at Hazor in northern Galilee verify the existence of a city state which could well have led the northern Canaanite alliance against the Israelite conquest. The archaeological investigation is gradually revealing a large city, gaining its wealth from domination of the Damascus-Acre road, with remains going back to 2700 BCE and Bronze Age artefacts imported from Egypt and Greece.
Excavations in 2006 have uncovered the remains of a palace on the acropolis, constructed of large mud bricks faced with polished basalt slabs with the appearance of black marble, and above the remains of the palace there is a fill of potsherds supporting subsequent Israelite structures.
From the dating of its destruction, it is claimed that this might well be the palace of King Jabin which Joshua destroyed by fire. It might also have been the centre for the dispatch of the forces led by Sisera, defeated by Deborah at Mount Tabor, some 30 kilometers to the south, as described in the epic poem in Judges.
Settlement and conquest The events in the Book of Judges, following Joshua, are now centred on the experience of the various Israelite tribes establishing themselves separately in different parts of the country, and finding themselves in conflict with Philistines, Canaanites and Sidonians. It is interesting that most of the sections of the Book end with a note recording the anarchy of the times: “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes”, which implies that it must have been written after the establishment of the kingdoms, about a hundred hears later.
One archaeological discovery which refers to the events in the Book of Judges is the excavation at Dan, which stands on the border of modern Lebanon. This is the city captured by the tribe of Dan, after being displaced from the centre of the country. One of the finds is an inscription which includes a reference to the “House of David” in Cuneiform script. Another is the remains of a large temple, which may be the alternative religious centre referred to in Chronicles which Jereboam set up in competition with the Temple in Jerusalem when he established the northern Kingdom.
The Emergence of the Kingdoms In the First Book of Samuel, 8: 10-19, the prophet attempts to resist the popular call for the appointment of a king to lead the Jewish defence against the Philistines.
"Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking a king from him. He said,
'These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. He will take your menservants and maidservants, and the best of your cattle and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the LORD will not answer you in that day.'
But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; and they said, 'No! but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.'"
And so Saul does become the first king, and he is anointed by Samuel with divine authority.
(It is interesting to compare the custom of anointment with the sixteenth century concept of a 'Divine Right of Kings'. It is upon this Biblical precedent that England's James I, for instance, claimed absolute power. It is also the basis of present British custom by which the Archbishop of Canterbury crowns the monarch. And it is of linguistic interest that the word 'messiah' - 'mashiach' in Hebrew – simply means 'anointed one'.)
In the Biblical account, the bodies of Saul and Jonathan are hung by the Philistines on the walls of Beth Shean, on the Jordan river to the south of the Sea of Galilee. The remains of that Canaanite-Philistine fortress still stand on the acropolis high above the excavation of the Byzantine city.
In the Books of Kings and Chronicles, succeeding kings of the united Jewish kingdom, and then the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah, rule in a state of tension with the Prophets. The Prophets demand righteousness and submission to the Law; property rights for the citizens and the protection of widows and orphans.
The early city of Jerusalem, captured by King David from the Jebusites in about 1000 BCE, and known as the “City of David”, was excavated by Kathleen Kenyon between 1961 and 1967, with the details recorded in herDigging Up Jerusalem in 1974. It stands on a steep hill to the south of the Temple Mount in the midst of the Arab village of Silwan (“Siloam”). In the precipitous valley beneath it gushes the Gihon spring, diverted into a water tunnel constructed by King Hezekiah after the Assyrian invasion of 722 BCE, which discharges into the Pool of Siloam, next to a monastery at the foot of the hill.
All that remains of Solomon’s Temple is the retaining wall which supports the Temple Mount, with architectural features suggesting a vanished bridge, and the remains of ancient residential areas excavated in the vicinity. Excavation on the Mount itself, with the Dome of the Rock and the El Aqsa Mosque, is of course forbidden.
It has also been suggested that the massive “Solomonic” gates uncovered at Meggido, Gezer and Dan, verify the Biblical descriptions of King Solomon’s fortresses.
The capital of the northern Kingdom of Israel was constructed by King Omri in 880 BCE on the hill of Samaria, later named Sebastia, near the city of Nablus (originally Neapolis) on the West Bank. The royal citadel has been uncovered, revealing the splendid court of Ahab and Jezebel, with numerous artefacts, including delicate imported ivories.
The Moabite Stele, discovered in 1868, which now stands in the Louvre, carries an inscription of thirty-four lines. The text commemorates the defeat inflicted on the kingdom of Israel after the death of Ahab, shortly before 842 BC. The stele was erected at Dibân, capital of Moab, in modern Jordan near the Dead Sea, by “Mesha, son of Kamoshyat, King of Moab.”
And of course the Assyrian bas-relief in the British Museum depicting the capture of Lachish, south-west of Jerusalem, in 701 BCE, fits precisely with Isaiah’s description of Hezekiah’s negotiation with the Assyrians after that event.
The Composition of the Bible
The traditional Jewish view is that the first five books of the Bible are divine – “from the mouth of the Lord to the hand of Moses”. However this is interpreted by Conservative and Progressive Jews as referring to divine inspiration. The remaining books of the Bible are accepted by all as human in origin.
It is also apparent that before the first written versions of the earlier books were collated, probably between about 1000 BCE and 650 BCE, much of the Bible was developed through oral traditions, with poetry and narrative refined and perfected in a process of recitation and story-telling from generation to generation. By definition such ancient works cannot be conclusively dated, and scholars have to rely on surviving manuscripts and fragments of manuscripts, as well as deductions from the text and from external sources.
Examples of manuscript evidence include the Septuagint, a Greek translation ascribed to a group of seventy scholars commissioned by the Macedonian rulers of Egypt for the Great Library of Alexandria, and written in the second century BCE; and the Dead Sea scrolls, which verify the existence of some of the books as at the first century BCE.
The nineteenth century saw the beginnings of an academic discipline of biblical study described as “higher criticism” and originated by Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918), a German Christian professor of theology. The Christian scholars noted the existence of differing versions of the same stories in the Biblical text, often with different styles and terminology, much as scholars have noted the differences in the narratives of the Synoptic Gospels.
One obvious example is the existence of two entirely different stories of the Creation in Chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis. Adam and Eve, for example, appear in the first story at Genesis 1:27 :
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
Then, in Genesis 2, not entirely inconsistently, but apparently as part of a different narrative:
“ then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being…
 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh;
 and the rib which the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.”
It has also been regarded as significant that the word 'God', appearing in Chapter 1, is a translation of the Hebrew 'Elohim', meaning 'God'. On the other hand the words 'the LORD God' appearing in Chapter 2 translate the Hebrew 'YHVH', four letters symbolizing the name of God which may not be pronounced by any person except the High Priest once a year in the Holy of Holies. The four letters, described by academics as the Tetragrammaton, are generally pronounced in Hebrew by the use of another word altogether, meaning 'my Lord'.
The German scholars therefore concluded from the numerous examples of variations of style and narrative that the first six books of the Bible (they included the Book of Joshua) were the work of three different authors or traditions. One they called the “E” source, from the word “Elohim”; one “J” from the Tetragrammaton, and one “P”, referring to a “priestly” source. They then argue that the three sources, all of equal sanctity, were later combined by unknown editors.
Other analyses of the Biblical text concern the dates of composition. The story of King Josiah’s discovery of the “Book of the Law” in about 650 BCE is particularly significant:
“Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, 'I have found the Book of the Law in the House of the Lord.'" (2 Kings 22:8 RSV)
"And when the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he rent his clothes. And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Micaiah, and Shaphan the secretary, and Asaiah the king's servant, saying, 'Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this Book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this Book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.'" (2 Kings 22:11-12 RSV).
Traditionally the Book found in the Temple was just the Book of Deuteronomy. However, the vehemence of Josiah’s reaction would seem to imply that the other books prescribing the Law were also unknown at the time of the discovery. On the other hand the depth and complexity of the work is such that it seems impossible that it was composed and found in a single generation. Also the other books which concern the historical origins of the people might well have existed in written form.
Generally the secular academic view appears to be that most of the early Biblical works which record the origins of the Jewish people came into existence between about 850BCE and 650 BCE, with some elements, such as the song of Deborah, being composed at earlier dates.
It will be appreciated that this article represents merely an introductory overview of some of the issues which continue to be debated in the pages of journals such as the Biblical Archaeological Review, as competing scholars engage in the interpretation of texts and archaeological explorations which by their nature are necessarily inconclusive. However I would wish students and teachers the best of luck in a fascinating enterprise.
The Truth About the
The 1948 Israeli War of Independence was between the neighboring Arab countries and the newly formed state of Israel. The Arab countries did not send troops to help the people that are today known as "Palestinians" but rather they sent troops to drive the Jews into the sea. Most of the "Palestinian Arabs" fled to avoid the fighting. Remember, in 1948 they were not referred to as "Palestinians". This name was was created by the Soviet disinformation masters in 1964 when they created the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). The term "Palestinian People" as a description of Arabs in Palestine appeared for the first time in the preamble of the 1964 PLO Charter, drafted in Moscow. The Charter was affirmed by the first 422 members of the Palestinian National Council, handpicked by the KGB. This term was formally used by newspapers around the world after 1967.
United Nations Resolution 181 recommended a partition of the territory from the British Mandate for Palestine into two states - one for Jews and one for Palestinian Arabs. But the rejection of partition by the Arabs left in place as the legally operative Mandate for Palestine, the 1924 Anglo-American Convention, and Article 80 of the United Nations Charter. All of the Arab countries objected to the creation of the Jewish state and fought a war against its creation. This was Israel's War of Independence in 1948. Despite their superior numbers, the Arab countries lost the war and the Palestinian state never materialized because of this loss. In the war that was waged, the territory allotted to be the Palestinian state by the UN partition resolution was divided between Israel and Jordan. The "Palestinian Arabs" were rejected by every single Arab country, with the exception of the small percentage that ended up in refugee camps in Jordan where they remain to this day.
To understand the truth of modern day Israel, you must first have a clear understanding of the history of the region.
Judea was an autonomous state in the Persian Empire following the return from Babylonian exile thanks to Cyrus, King of Persia. Following the death of Alexander the Great who had captured the Persian Empire, it became part of two Hellenistic.
Following the Maccabean revolt, Judea became an independent state. Following the death of King Herod, the Romans seized it and it then became a Roman province. Judea was briefly independent during the first revolt against the Romans until it was finally destroyed when the Romans put down the revolt and destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in the year 70.
Judah lost its independence to Rome in the year 70 and became again a colony. In the year 135, the Romans gave the country the name "Palaestina". The name Palaestina, which became Palestine in English, is derived from Herodotus, who used the term Palaistine Syria to refer to the entire southern part of Syria, meaning "Philistine Syria." This was to add insult to injury against the Jewish people. The intent was to remove any memory of a Jewish presence. The name was kept by the next possessors, the Byzantine Empire, and then by the conquering Arabs and their successors, the conquering Turks. Note that we have a succession of different nationalities, none of whom thought of themselves as Palestinians. They were the Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, or Turks.
About 61 B.C., Roman troops under Pompei invaded Judea and sacked Jerusalem in support of King Herod. Judea had become a client state of Rome. During the seventh century (A.D. 600's), Muslim Arab armies moved north from Arabia to conquer most of the Middle East, including Palestine. The Seljuk Turks conquered Jerusalem in 1071, but their rule in Palestine lasted less than 30 years.
During the 7th century, Muslims invaded and the Crusaders from Europe ruled for a time until they were driven out. The Crusaders left Palestine for good when the Muslims captured Acre in 1291. During the post-crusade period, crusaders often raided the coast of Palestine. To deny the Crusaders gains from these raids, the Muslims pulled their people back from the coasts and destroyed coastal towns and farms. This depopulated and impoverished the coast of Palestine for hundreds of years.
In the mid-1200's, Mamelukes, originally soldier-slaves of the Arabs based in Egypt, established an empire that in time included the area of Palestine that lasted until the Ottoman Empire defeated the Mamelukes in 1517, and Palestine became part of the Ottoman Empire. The Turkish Sultan invited Jews fleeing the Spanish Catholic inquisition to settle in the Turkish empire, including several cities in Palestine. The Ottoman Empire ruled until the British took control of the area in 1917.
In 1922, the British declared that the boundary of Palestine would be limited to the area west of the river. The area east of the river, called Transjordan, which is now the country of Jordan, was made a separate British mandate and eventually given independence. The British maintained control until 1948.
There was always a Jewish population in the region, most of them resided in the religious communities in Jerusalem, Tz'fat, Tiberius, and Hebron. With Jewish immigration suddenly on the rise from the 1880's on, the economy of this very under populated and very poor country began to rise dramatically, attracting a parallel stream of Arabs from the surrounding countries who came in looking for jobs. At the same time, Arab/Muslim nationalism and extremism began to rise, spurred by the influx of what they considered "Infidel Jews" and the breakup of the Turkish Empire followed by the occupation by European countries of much of the Middle East.
From this time through the War of Independence in 1947-49, there were local Arab leaders who called for an independent Palestine (Arab state) in the entire country with not a single inch for a Jewish state. During the 1948 Israeli War of Independence, the local Arab armies and leaders identified with Syria, Jordan, and Egypt and thought of themselves as such. At the end of the war, the Arab allotted land was divided between Israel, Egypt (Gaza), and Jordan. The Egyptians refused to let the Gazans become independent or Egyptian citizens. Eventually, the Jordanians did allow some refugees become citizens, but not all. The Arab states are content to let their brother Arabs remain in those refugee camps that are really crowded and squalid towns and live like that since the UN supported them. Because of this, they make a great political tool used to invoke sympathy, especially in regard to the European countries. That is crass, unfeeling politics, but these same people do not hesitate to strap bombs to their young men and women.
Another reason why the Palestinian Arabs fled is that they refused to live in a Jewish dominated state. Ironically, had they accepted the partition and those in Israel not fled, Israel would have had a huge and growing Arab population and indefensible borders.
A Few Forgotten Facts
1. Israel became a nation in 1312 BCE, two thousand years before the rise of Islam.
2. Arab refugees in Israel began identifying themselves as part of a Palestinian people in 1967, two decades after the establishment of the modern State of Israel.
3. Since the Jewish conquest in 1272 BCE, the Jews have had dominion over the land for one thousand years with a continuous presence in the land for the past 3,300 years.
4. The only Arab dominion since the conquest in 635 CE lasted no more than 22 years.
5. For over 3,300 years, Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital Jerusalem has never been the capital of any Arab or Muslim entity. Even when the Jordanians occupied Jerusalem, they never sought to make it their capital, and Arab leaders did not come to visit.
6. Jerusalem is mentioned over 700 times in Tanach, the Jewish Holy Scriptures. Jerusalem is not mentioned once in the Koran.
7. King David founded the city of Jerusalem. Mohammed never came to Jerusalem.
8. Jews pray facing Jerusalem. Muslims pray with their backs toward Jerusalem.
9. In 1948 the Arab refugees were encouraged to leave Israel by Arab leaders promising to purge the land of Jews. Sixty-eight percent left without ever seeing an Israeli soldier.
10. The Jewish refugees were forced to flee from Arab lands due to Arab brutality, persecution, and slaughter.
11. The number of Arab refugees who left Israel in 1948 is estimated to be around 630,000. The number of Jewish refugees from Arab lands is estimated to be the same.
12. Arab refugees were intentionally not absorbed or integrated into the Arab lands to which they fled, despite the vast Arab territory. Out of the 100,000,000 refugees since World War II, theirs is the only refugee group in the world that has never been absorbed or integrated into their own people's lands. Jewish refugees were completely absorbed into Israel, a country no larger than the state of New Jersey.
13. The Arabs are represented by eight separate nations, not including the Palestinians. There is only one Jewish nation. The Arab nations initiated all five wars and lost. Israel defended itself each time and won.
14. The PLO's Charter still calls for the destruction of the State of Israel. Israel has given the Palestinians most of the West Bank land, autonomy under the Palestinian Authority, and has supplied them.
15. Under Jordanian rule, Jewish holy sites were desecrated and the Jews were denied access to places of worship. Under Israeli rule, all Muslim and Christian sites have been preserved and made accessible to people of all faiths.
16. The UN Record on Israel and the Arabs: of the 175 Security Council resolutions passed before 1990, 97 were directed against Israel.
17. Of the 690 General Assembly resolutions voted on before 1990, 429 were directed against Israel.
18. The UN was silent while 58 Jerusalem Synagogues were destroyed by the Jordanians.
19. The UN was silent while the Jordanians systematically desecrated the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives.
20. The UN was silent while the Jordanians enforced an apartheid-like a policy of preventing Jews from visiting the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.
The Modern Day Conflict
From the 1948 Israeli War of Independence,"Palestinian Arabs" have been sacrificed as pawns by all other Arab countries as they are to this day. No other Arab country has ever offered to accept any of these people into their own countries even though they are well able to do so. To the Arab countries and the rest of the anti-Semitic world, the "Palestinian Arabs" are useful only as a tool to exterminate Israel and the rest of the Jews in the Middle East. Otherwise, their welfare is of no concern to the rest of the Arab world.
What about the ingrained notion that the Palestinians are fighting for their ancient homeland annexed by the Jews? The truth about this matter has been so deliberately obscured that even to raise the issue seems strange to many people.
In the 1967 war, also known as the Six Day War, did Israel annex territory from a Palestinian nation? No, Israel did not take a single inch of territory from Palestine. That is because there is not, nor has there ever been, a Palestinian nation. Israel captured the West Bank and Eastern Jerusalem from Jordan's King Hussein and the Gaza Strip from Egypt, after they declared war against the Jewish State. It was only following the Six-day War in 1967 that Arab refugees living in these territories began identifying themselves as the "Palestinian People" because the global media labeled them as such. One cannot help but wonder why these Palestinians suddenly discovered a national identity after Israel won the war, but not during the "Jordanian Occupation" or the "Egyptian Occupation"?
There Was Never A Country
If you consider Palestine to be a "Sovereign" and "Independent" country that goes back through most of recorded history as many would have you to believe, then a few questions need to be answered:
When was it founded and by whom?
What were its borders?
What was its capital?
Who was the President?
What was its form of government?
What were its major cities?
What constituted the basis of its economy?
Who was the Palestinian leader before Yasser Arafat?
Was Palestine ever recognized by a country whose existence, at that time or now, leaves no room for interpretation?
What was the language of the country of Palestine?
What was the prevalent religion of the country of Palestine?
What was the name of its currency and what was the approximate exchange rate of the Palestinian monetary unit against the US dollar, German mark, GB pound, or Japanese yen on any particular date?
And, finally, since there is no such country today, what caused its demise and when did it occur?
If these so-called "Palestinians" are anything but a generic collection of Arabs from all over the rest of the Arab world and if they really have a genuine ethnic identity that gives them right for self-determination, then why did they never try to become an independent and sovereign nation until Arabs suffered their devastating defeat in the Six Day War in 1967?
The Ten Commandments of Arab Lies
The "Palestinian People" have an historic connection to the land.
This is very interesting since there is no such thing as a "Palestinian People". When the Romans changed the name of Israel to Palestine, the people living there at the time were Jews, not Arabs. If there had been a "Palestinian People", which there never was, they would have been Jews.
The Palestinian People have been in the land from time immemorial.
For centuries pre-Israel Palestine was a forgotten, desolate wasteland inhabited by a remnant of Jews, along with some Christians and wandering Bedouins who certainly had no thought of a national identity of any kind.
There were no Jews in Palestine until Israel became a state in 1948.
The Romans officially banished the Jews from Israel (Palestine) in 135 CE. However, historical records show there was always a Jewish presence in the land. While many were scattered, other Jews simply moved out of harm's way until a less hostile power ruled the land. Jews were returning to what is now Israel well before 1948. Many left Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917.
Arabs and Jews lived in harmony before Israel became a state.
Throughout the centuries, Jews as well as Christians, living under Islamic rule suffered persecution and humiliation, the intensity of which was determined by the character of a particular Moslem ruler. As second-class citizens, there was never a "good time" for non-Muslims living under Islamic rule. Because of the way that most Islamic countries look down on non-Muslims, they are always considered second-class citizens and less than equal. Arabs have rarely lived in harmony with anyone if they were the majority.
The returning Jews displaced the Palestinian Arabs
The ancestors of most of the present-day Arab population migrated to the land after Jewish pioneers began to reclaim the land. They came from many different countries and were not original inhabitants of the land.
The Jews stole Arab land
Jews returning to the land settled on unclaimed, unoccupied land or bought land from absentee Arab landowners at outrageously high prices. This is a matter of record.
The Jews forced Arabs to flee Palestine
When Israel was declared a state in 1948, leaders from the surrounding Arab countries declared war on Israel and instructed the Arab civilians living in the land to flee until the Jews were annihilated. Israeli leaders, to no avail, urged the Arabs to stay. Property that they owned was abandoned.
The Jews caused the Arab refugee problem
If Arab countries would assimilate and care for the "Palestinian" refugees, as Israel did for their Jewish refugees, there would be no refugee problem. Instead they use the refugees as political pawns in their struggle against Israel. No Arab country that wants "Palestinian Arabs" in their country as they would rather use the "Palestinian Arabs" as pawns rather than assimilate them into their populations and bring peace to the Middle East.
Israel is the aggressor against defenseless Palestinians
In its brief history, Israel has had one war after another and each time they are blamed as the aggressor. The Arabs do not recognize the right of Israel to exist and are in a constant state of hostility against Israel. Their aim is to destroy Israel.
Jerusalem is holy to Muslims
While Jerusalem is mentioned over eight hundred times in the Bible, it is not mentioned one time in the Koran. Muslims have had little or no interest in Jerusalem until the Jewish presence in modern times.
THE JEWISH SITUATION
A brief overview of the situation is always valuable, so as a service to all Americans who still do not get it, I now offer you the story of the Middle East in just a few paragraphs, which is all you really need. Don't thank me. I am a giver. Here we go:
The Palestinians want their own country. There is just one thing about that: There are no Palestinians. It is a made up word. Israel was called Palestine for two thousand years. Like "Wiccan", "Palestinian" sounds ancient but is really a modern invention. Before the Israelis won the land in war, Gaza belonged to Egypt and there were no "Palestinians" then. The West Bank belonged to Jordan, and there were no "Palestinians" then. As soon as the Jews took over and started growing oranges as big as basketballs, what do you know, say hello to the "Palestinians", weeping for their deep bond with their lost "land" and "nation." So for the sake of honesty, let us not use the word "Palestinian" any more to describe these delightful folks, who dance for joy at our deaths until someone points out they are being taped. Instead, call them what they are: "Other Arabs From The Same General Area Who Are In Deep Denial About Never Being Able To Accomplish Anything In Life And Would Rather Wrap Themselves In The Seductive Melodrama Of Eternal Struggle And Death." I know that is a bit unwieldy to expect to see on CNN. How about this, then: "Adjacent Jew-Haters."
Okay, so the Adjacent Jew-Haters want their own country. Oops, just one more thing. No, they do not. They could have had their own country any time in the last thirty years, especially two years ago at Camp David. But if you have your own country, you have to have traffic lights and garbage trucks and Chambers of Commerce, and, worse, you actually have to figure out some way to make a living. That is no fun. No, they want what all the other Jew-Haters in the region want: Israel. They also want a big pile of dead Jews, of course - that is where the real fun is - but mostly they want Israel. Why? For one thing, trying to destroy Israel - or "The Zionist Entity" as their textbooks call it - for the last fifty years has allowed the rulers of Arab countries to divert the attention of their own people away from the fact that they are the blue-ribbon most illiterate, poorest, and tribally backward on God's Earth, and if you have ever been around God's Earth, you know that is really saying something. It makes me roll my eyes every time one of our pundits waxes poetic about the great history and culture of the Muslim Mideast. Unless I am missing something, the Arabs have not given anything to the world since Algebra, and, by the way, thanks a hell of a lot for that one.
Chew this around and spit it out: Five hundred million Arabs; five million Jews. Think of all the Arab countries as a football field, and Israel as a pack of matches sitting in the middle of it. And now these same folks swear that if Israel gives them half of that pack of matches, everyone will be pals. Really? Wow, what neat news. Hey, but what about the string of wars to obliterate the tiny country and the constant din of rabid blood oaths to drive every Jew into the sea? Oh, that? We were just kidding.
My friend Kevin Rooney made a gorgeous point the other day: Just reverse the numbers. Imagine five hundred million Jews and five million Arabs. I was stunned at the simple brilliance of it. Can anyone picture the Jews strapping belts of razor blades and dynamite to themselves? Of course not. Or marshalling every fiber and force at their disposal for generations to drive a tiny Arab state into the sea? Nonsense. Or dancing for joy at the murder of innocents? Impossible. Or spreading and believing horrible lies about the Arabs baking their bread with the blood of children? Disgusting. No, as you know, left to themselves in a world of peace, the worst Jews would ever do to people is debate them to death.
Mr. Bush, God bless him, is walking a tightrope. I understand that with vital operations coming up against Iraq and others, it is in our interest, as Americans, to try to stabilize our Arab allies as much as possible, and, after all, that cannot be much harder than stabilizing a roomful of supermodels that have just had their drugs taken away. However, in any big-picture strategy, there is always a danger of losing moral weight. We have already lost some. After September 11th our president told us and the world he was going to root out all terrorists and the countries that supported them. Beautiful. Then the Israelis, after months and months of having the equivalent of an Oklahoma City every week and then every day, start to do the same thing we did, and we tell them to show restraint. If America were being attacked with an Oklahoma City every day, we would all very shortly be screaming for the administration to just be done with it and kill everything south of the Mediterranean and east of the Jordan. (Hey, wait a minute, that is actually not such a bad idea... uh, that is, what a horrible thought, yeah, horrible.)