Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Stealing Israel's History

Hat tip to Rory for bringing Melanie Phillips's Diary to my attention and now yours.

It is painfully apparent to anyone who attempts to set out the facts about the Arab war against Israel that whatever evidence is brought forward is dismissed – because of the widespread belief that the Jews stole the land of Israel from the Palestinians.

Of course, most if not everyone reading my blog knows this is false. Yet she's right -- you have to admit that if that is someone's belief, it's going to be hard to get out of the quicksand. So the question is how to make people understand that what they've come to believe as truth is actually a fallacy? Phillips explains something many of us know but never hurts to repeat.

There was never an Arab country called Palestine. For about 400 years the Jews had sovereignty in what is now Israel and the West Bank, despite losing parts of it to foreign conquest, until they were finally driven out in 135 CE. It was the Romans who renamed Judea Palaestina to expunge all traces of the Jews. The land of Israel was stolen from the Jews, first by the Romans and then by the Arabs. Jews did not conquer Arabs; Arabs conquered Jews. Jews did not ethnically cleanse Arabs from the land; Arabs ethnically cleansed Jews. Even so, a continuous Jewish presence remained in Palestine. Israel was not created in 1948, but restored.

She then quotes a Max Singer article about the League of Nations decision in the early 1920s and how the Arabs never accepted its decision to invite the Jewish people to settle the land:

The Palestinians' claims may be strong enough to justify giving them some of the land they want. But since the Palestinians have never been rulers of the land, it could not have been stolen from them. Palestinians, therefore, are claimants, not the victims of theft. Their behavior should be judged as the acts of a claimant seeking land to which he thinks he is entitled, not as the acts of a dispossessed owner.’

And yet, this argument is never being made by Israel. Phillips has an opinion on this.

The Israelis, who of course have the most direct interest in ensuring that the facts about their own history are made known, refuse to do so. They refuse even to acknowledge the argument that lies behind the libels – that Israel has no right to exist because the Jews stole the land from the Arabs – because they say no other country is singled out in this way by having its right to exist called into question and that to answer the charge is to give legitimacy to the question.

Which has got to be one of the most stupid and self-defeating positions ever. Turning a cloth ear to this libel has allowed ignorance to be colonised by the propaganda of hatred and extermination. While Israel is on its high horse, it hasn’t noticed that someone has cut it off at the knees.

She's got that right.


At 3:13 PM, Blogger MissingLink said...

The very concept of a "country" is allien to Islam.
It should be all one happy Islamic world.
The rest is only "a temporary" state.

At 5:17 PM, Blogger MissingLink said...

I believe that using blogs to teach or rather introduce real history works well.
It is not a fast process and of course it has a limited reach but even if a few young people get interested - it's a real achievement.

At 8:21 PM, Blogger patrickafir said...

Melanie Phillips is awesome, huh?

You know, I parted ways with someone very dear to me over this very issue. This person who I knew as well as one can ever know another is vitiated with this sickness of blaming the Jews for the violent hostility that befalls them in their own land.

If people would read Dershowitz's The Case for Israel, they wouldn't be able to rationally and honestly continue on in the popular blame Israel paradigm.

Sometimes I get mad at Israel for not pouring more... something into hasbarah. I'm not so much mad at Israel as I am infurated by the world for being so bigoted and intellectually lazy.

So, I think felis makes a good point. It's up to us now. We can hope that all of the pebbles we throw down the mountain turn into a landslide. And we know we did the right thing.

At 4:55 AM, Anonymous Rachel Ann said...

You know, I keep saying this, and I'm not, with the words that follow, saying you should not be doing what you are doing. I think your efforts on behalf of Israel are very good. I'm not promoting inaction.

But I really think the problem is we are too worried about what everyone else thinks about us, and not worried about truth, and just acting on truth, and for me, I know it is different for secular Jews, but for me, that means following the Torah and counting on G-d.

The world isn't going to turn around tomorrow and go; WOW, that piece of evidence is so compelling. Sorry, I've been wrong for dissing Israel all these years. Yeah Israel! We might get some of that, but for the most part, we are not going to get people to change their mind until we start acting as we want to be treated.

At 4:58 AM, Blogger Sergeant America said...

Ignorant nomads ... will probably believe anything if they are given food, a camel and a weapon(s)?

Keeping them ignorant ... is an tribal/islamic priority ...

At 6:17 AM, Blogger Tom Carter said...

Despite all the historical evidence some people are never going to be convinced because they don't want to be. The group that bothers me most are the pro-Palestinian professors in our universities who teach their biases to the next generation.

In any case, I'm not sure debating history is of any value. We need to deal with reality as it is today. The simple fact is that if Palestinians stop murdering Israelis, peace will be possible. If not, not.

At 8:54 AM, Blogger Esther said...

Sure seems that way, felis. And using blogs to teach seems like the small step we can do to try to help.

Patrick, I hope you know that I don't blame Israel for the way people treat them. I simply wish, and this goes to your point too, Rachel Ann, they would stop relying on the fact that their position is just and right to get them by. The fight for public opinion does matter. Should it? Hell no. But that's not the reality we live in. Palistinian/Islamic propoganda is out there in droves and to say/do nothing... while it might be the high road, it leads to a dead end.

Image, for some stupid reason, matters in the world today. To not stick up for itself and put the right message out there doesn't make sense any more, if it ever did.

SA, ignorance does seem to be a formidable foe. I can't help but think there is a segment (especially today's college kids) that if they're told what the true score is, will make the right decision but to not even have Israel's message out there -- puts us so far behind the 8-ball...which speaks to your point Tom. Of course some will never believe the truth but the ones we can reach, we owe it to them to try.


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