Yesterday, I heard Mottle Wolfe say on his daily podcast (, itunes, etc.): “Jewish lives matter.” Of course, all lives matter, but when it comes to Jews, especially Israelis, Jewish lives seem to matter less.

Don’t take my word for it. The Swedes know better.

“Speaking to the Swedish TT news agency, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said of the Palestinian attacks, which have claimed the lives of 22 people and left hundreds more wounded in just over two months: “No, it is not classified as [terrorism] There is an international classification regarding what constitutes or does not constitute [terror]. As far as I know, the [shooting, stabbing, stoning, ramming attacks against Israelis] are not defined as terror.” (, 12/15)

According to the Swedes (and plenty of others), it’s the Israelis’ own fault that they are being attacked on a daily basis. Why? Because the Israelis built communities (the media calls them settlements and us residents, settlers) in Judea and Samaria, mostly known as the West Bank. We “settlers” do bad stuff like add more bedrooms to our homes and classrooms to our schools. Settlements – they’re the reason there’s no State of Palestine and Arabs have “no hope.”

According to the Swedes and others of their ilk, if only the Jews would stop building settlements on “Palestinian” land, everything would be okey-dokey. The Arabs would stop attacking Jews with kitchen knives, the lion would lie down with the lamb, a wonderful State of Palestine would emerge, and the stupendous violence wrecking the Middle East (and spilling out around the world) would cease.

The media gives the Swedes, and everyone else, the impression that the West Bank has been the home of the Palestinian people “since time immemorial.” The names Judea and Samaria, on the other hand, are “Biblical” (don’t you know, the Bible is obsolete) and bear no relationship to the modern world.

What’s the real story? In a nutshell, the Jews emerged from Judea (Jews come from Judea) and Samaria (and the surrounding area) and have lived there for thousands of years. The Arabs came to Judea and Samaria in the 7th century CE, during the Moslem Conquest. The “West Bank” is a name given to Judea and Samaria that dates back less than 70 years, when Transjordan occupied Judea and Samaria.

In addition, this land (part of the Palestine Mandate) was promised as a homeland to the Jews by the League of Nations and its successor, the United Nations. Besides that, the Temple Mount, the Jews’ holiest site, is in Judea, the Jews’ forever capital Jerusalem is in Judea, and Hebron, the Jews’ second holiest site, is also in Judea. Judea, Samaria and the Galilee were the heart of the Jewish kingdoms in Israel, long before the Common Era. No one has more right to build communities in these areas than the Jews. That this community building justifies terror and prevents negotiations is absolute nonsense.

Capsule history:
The League of Nations, its successor the United Nations, official British and Ottoman records until 1950, and even the Encyclopedia Britannica used the names Judea and Samaria to describe the “hill country” of Palestine, names in use for thousands of years.

After the death of the first Jewish king, Saul, King David defeated the Jebusites and conquered Jerusalem about 3100 years ago. David and his son King Solomon, enlarged the Kingdom of Israel by subduing Philistine, Moabite, Ammonite and other tribes. After the death of Solomon in the 9th century BCE, Israel split into two kingdoms, the Southern Kingdom of Judah and the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The Kingdom of Israel emerged as an important local power in the Galilee and Samaria, but was conquered by the Assyrians in 721 BCE and its population was dispersed (the Ten Lost Tribes).

Judah remained independent until it was conquered by the Babylonians, who replaced the Assyrians as the regional power, in 586 BCE. Later, Alexander the Great and then the Greeks controlled Judah, until the victory of the Maccabees, who began the Hasmonean dynasty (140 BCE – 63 CE). The Hasmoneans eventually became Roman puppet rulers. Judah was renamed Judea when it officially became a Roman province in 6CE.

The name Palestine was applied to the area in 135 CE by the Roman Emperor Hadrian, who renamed Judea, “Provincia Syria Palaestina,” in an attempt to erase the Jewish connotations of the region. Palaestina recalled the Philistines, or “Sea Peoples,” who populated the area before the Israelites entered the land. Eventually the name given by Hadrian was shortened, first to Palaestina, and eventually to the modern, anglicized version, “Palestine.” (

After WWI, Britain took control over both sides of the Jordan River in Palestine, which had been part of the defeated Turkish Ottoman Empire for the previous 400 years. There was no Jordan and no Palestine in existence, then or in the past. The League of Nations used the geographical terms Judea and Samaria in all its references to the British Mandate for Palestine, copying the wording of the 1917 Balfour Declaration. The British subtracted more than three-quarters of the territory of the Mandate for Palestine to create Transjordan in 1922-23. This emirate was given to the Hashemite clan to establish an Arab state, presumably leaving the one-quarter remainder of Palestine for the Jewish home.

Britain ruled the Mandate under the aegis of the League of Nations (later the United Nations) until several years after WWII. Ironically, the Mandate’s primary purpose was to establish a national home for the Jews in Palestine on both banks of the River Jordan. Thus, the Jews were left with only about 25% of the original Mandate Palestine, which it had to share with the Arabs.

When England realized that it couldn’t maintain its control over the contentious Jews and Arabs, it decided to turn the Mandate back to the UN. In November, 1947 a Partition Plan was passed in an historic vote to create Jewish and Arab (not Palestinian) states west of the Jordan River. Swallowing its disappointment, Israel accepted the Partition Plan. The Arabs rejected it out of hand. (It should be noted that Jews born in Palestine during the Mandate period called themselves “Palestinians,” and named many of their institutions similarly, i.e. The Palestine Post, Bank of Palestine and others. The Arabs disdained the term for themselves, never using it.)

Increased attacks against the Jews followed immediately after the Partition Plan passed. As soon as the British left in May, 1948 and the State of Israel was proclaimed, six Arab armies invaded the new state. Israel prevailed in the war, despite inadequate preparation and an initial lack of armaments. It did not, however, gain sovereignty over all of Palestine. Jordan controlled portions of Judea and Samaria and the older part of Jerusalem while Egypt controlled the Gaza Strip.

An armistice line (emphatically not a peace treaty!) was established in 1949, known informally as the Green Line. Soon after, Transjordan’s King Abdullah changed his country’s name to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The territory Jordan had conquered west of the Jordan River was annexed and renamed the “West Bank.”

The name West Bank stuck; Judea and Samaria were consigned to the historical dustbin by the media. That is the provenance of the name, West Bank, a 20th century invention foisted on territory called Judea and Samaria for millennia.

Hostilities simmered between the Arabs and the Jews, with frequent raids into Jewish towns and communities near the borders of Egypt and Jordan. A major war didn’t recur until 1967, when Israel preemptively attacked Egypt and Syria, whose armies were poised to attack on Israel’s borders. After Israel’s total victory in a defensive war, the armistice lines were erased and Israel gained all of the territory that Egypt and Jordan controlled since 1949, plus the Golan Heights from which Syria had attacked Israel numerous times.

In 1988, King Hussein surrendered Jordan’s claims to land beyond the Jordan River to the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization), which was formed in 1964 to expel Israel from all the Middle East and to erase the Jewish presence from “Arab” land.

There were no “settlements” in 1964 when the PLO was founded. The PLO and its terrorist offsprings didn’t need settlements to justify their murderous intent towards the Jews, derived from the imperative to jihad and the hatred of Jews. Similarly, today the Arab terror groups need no excuse to terrorize Jews. It’s what they’ve been doing in the region throughout the centuries and particularly since the late 19th century, when numerous Jews began to return to the Land of Israel, joining religious Jews who never left the Land and lived mostly in the holy cities of Jerusalem, Hebron, Safed, and Tiberius.

Jewish lives matter, regardless of where Jews live in their historic homeland.

About the Author
Steve Kramer grew up in Atlantic City, graduated from Johns Hopkins in 1967, adopted the hippie lifestyle until 1973, then joined the family business for 15 years. Steve moved to Israel from Margate, NJ in 1991 with his family. He has written more than 1100 articles about Israel and Jews since making Aliyah. Steve and his wife Michal live in Kfar Saba.