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.