Daniel Swindell
Daniel Swindell

The Case for Jewish Indigenous Rights

This painting was originally drawn as stick figures by Ryan Bellerose, later he found someone to turn it into a painting. He wanted to find a way to convey indigenous solidarity with the Jewish people. (With Permission from Ryan Bellerose and Maor Shapiro)

I think that we’ve had an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs.” – Newt Gringrich

Rashid Khalidi is a professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University. He recently wrote a book called, “The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917-2017.” The central premise of the book is that Jewish people are foreign invaders to the Land of Israel who have been waging a colonist war against the resisting indigenous Palestinian population. In the book, Khalidi makes the claim that the Palestinians are indigenous to Palestine, which is analogous to saying that the Palestinians are indigenous to the Land of Israel. At the same time, Khalidi argues that Jewish people are not indigenous to the Land of Israel. In this essay, I will take the opposite position: I will argue that Jewish people are indigenous to the Land of Israel and that the Palestinians are not. 

In this essay, I will also demonstrate that the argument over indigenous rights to the Land of Israel determines four things: 1) who is the true owner of the land; 2) if the Palestinians should be considered Arabs or recognized as a distinct indigenous group; 3) if Israel committed a crime of uprooting the “indigenous” Palestinian people; and, 4) if the Palestinians have the right to create a state in the Land of Israel. 

In this essay, I do not attempt to speak for the Palestinians; I simply quote the Palestinians describing themselves as being both Arabs and indigenous Palestinians at the same time. In a real sense, the Palestinians try to present themselves to be two different groups of people depending on the audience. In the Middle East, the Palestinians stand in solidarity as one single ethnic group with the 400,000,000 Arab majority. In contrast to the Western World, the Palestinians present themselves as a tiny indigenous group. From this contradiction, I will demonstrate that every indigenous criteria applied to the Palestinians will fail because the Palestinians profess to be from Palestine and from Arabia at the same time. In other words, every indigenous set of criteria applied to the Palestinians will fail because the Palestinians claim to be two different groups of people simultaneously. Thus, only the Jewish people have the right to claim indigenous status in the Land of Israel.

1. The indigenous question is essentially the argument over who is the rightful owner of the Land of Israel:

A note to the reader: This essay is 12  pages. At first glance, this might seem like a lot to deal with the definition of the word “indigenous.” However, this is not just a debate over the meaning of a word. Rather, at its core, the indigenous question is essentially the argument over who is the rightful owner of the Land of Israel. Whomever was the first owner of the land is still the rightful owner of the land.

The indigenous question is also a debate over whether the Palestinians make fictional claims about the historical formation of their people. In this essay, I will compare the Palestinian claim to be indigenous versus the Jewish assertion to be indigenous. In reality, the Jewish people are the only group of people in the world who profess to be indigenous to the Land of Israel. Essentially, the Land of Israel is a land bridge between Europe, Asia, and Africa. It was conquered over and over because the vicinity could be used as a route to transport troops, taxes, and trading goods. Throughout history, the Land of Israel has been conquered by numerous empires: the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Fatimids, Seljuk Turks, Crusaders, Egyptians, Mamelukes, and British. Surprisingly, only the Jewish people decided to form a nation on this land bridge. Now, the obvious response is that the Palestinians also say that they come from the Land of Israel, or Palestine. But that is not true. The Palestinians say that they come from Arabia. 

2. The Crime: 

Israel is being falsely accused of the crime of uprooting the indigenous Palestinian people. The Palestinian narrative is that they have been an indigenous group of people for thousands of years. Palestinian author, Ramzy Baroud, summed up the idea, “Native Americans and Palestinians were the ancient indigenous peoples of their lands.” Supposedly, this nation remained intact for a couple thousand years until it was reduced to ashes by the Zionists

Khalidi continues this theme. Khalidi writes about the time period at the end of WWI, “Going into the post war world, suffering from collective trauma, the people of Palestine faced a radically new reality: they were to be ruled by Britain, and their country had been promised to others as a ‘national home.’” According to Khalidi, a war started against the Palestinians in 1917 with the Balfour Declaration, which declared the British approval to help facilitate, “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” Khalidi called this, “a quintessentially colonial proclamation by the greatest power… to replace an indigenous people with another group of people, whom it proposed to bring into existence on that indigenous’ people’s territory.” Allegedly, this war had “been waged with the objective of supplanting the original indigenous population,” in order to enable the creation “of an entirely new entity… the State of Israel.”

Khalidi describes the fact that the Balfour Declaration did not mention the Palestinians as an act of war against the Palestinians. He attacks the Balfour Declaration because it did not mention that the Palestinians lived in their own country. Khalidi further elaborates, “Neither Balfour nor the mandate ever named the population which had lived in its own country for generations. If you read the Balfour declaration, it doesn’t say, ‘Arab’ or ‘Palestinian’… for all practical purposes they did not exist for Balfour.” Notwithstanding, the reason the Balfour Declaration did not mention the country of Palestine is because it never existed. Khalidi proceeds to accuse the Zionists of wiping out a country that never existed. Be things as they may, this criminal accusation is complete fiction. I will demonstrate that Israel is not guilty of destroying an indigenous Palestinian people because an indigenous Palestinian people never existed.

3. The Palestinians claim to have formed as a nation at two different points in history: 

The Palestinians put forward two contradictory narratives about the historical formation of their peoplehood: first, that they formed as a nation thousands of years ago in the Land of Israel, second, that they are Arabs who invaded the Land of Israel.

First, the Palestinians assert that they formed as a nation thousands of years ago in the land of Canaan. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas stated, “We say that the nation of Palestine upon the land of Canaan had a 7,000-year history.” This means that the Palestinians claim to be a group of people who formed as a nation in the prehistoric past long before the formation of the ancient Nation of Israel. This means that they profess to be a group of people who pre-date the arrival of the Jewish people. Thus, the Palestinians purport to be the original owners of the Land of Israel.

Not surprisingly, the Palestinians cannot put forward a specific date in the past when they established the nation of Palestine. The formation of ancient Palestine is like the introduction to Star Wars: It happened “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” but no one knows when it happened. In contrast, the Jewish people maintained detailed records of their formation as a nation. Jews hold that Abraham was born in the year 1948 BCE. The Jewish people do not have a vague conception of the time of Abraham’s birth; but rather an exact year, which means that he is viewed as an historical figure rather than an ancient mythological character.

Second, the Palestinians report that they formed as a people in the Arabian Peninsula. In the 600s CE, the Arabs conquered the Middle East. If the Palestinians are part of the same group who invaded the Land of Israel, they cannot be a separate indigenous group who were already living in the Land of Israel. This would be akin to the Aztecs claiming that they are the Spanish Conquistadors, but they were also conquered by the Spanish Conquistadors. The Palestinians consider themselves to be one single group with the Arab people, which means that they came to the Land of Israel during the time of the Arab invasion. By declaring themselves to come from Arabia, the Palestinians themselves reject the notion that they originate from Palestine.

4. What is the etymology of the word “Palestine”:

Palestine was never a nation and there was never an ancient group who called themselves Palestinians. The Aegean people who migrated to the area of Canaan were called in Hebrew, the Plištim, which translates into English as the Philistines, and Philistia refers to the land of the Five Lords of the Philistines. The etymology of the term is described in the Jewish Virtual library: “the name is believed to be derived from the Egyptian and Hebrew word peleshet. Roughly translated to mean rolling or migratory, the term was used to describe the inhabitants of the land to the northeast of Egypt – the Philistines. The Philistines were an Aegean people – more closely related to the Greeks and with no connection ethnically, linguistically or historically with Arabia – who conquered in the 12th Century BCE the Mediterranean coastal plain that is now Israel and Gaza.” The Philistines were bitter enemies of the Jewish people in the Bible. Eventually, the Philistines blended into other groups of people and disappeared from history.

In 132 CE, the Jewish people revolted against the Roman occupation and partially regained control of Judea. In 135 CE, the Roman Emperor Hadrian crushed the revolt and then called the territory Syria Palaestina. In choosing the name Palaestina, the ancient name of Philistia, Hadrian meant to erase the Jewish connection to the land. So the name “Palaestina” has been floating around since the time of the Romans, and sometimes southern Syria would also be called Palestine. The title was merely a reference to a general geographic region, similar to the term “Midwest,” it had no legal borders.

The entire Palestinian narrative is based on a trick on words. People assume that since there was a geographical region that was called Palestine, then there must have been an ancient group who called themselves Palestinians. But, there was never an ancient group called Palestinians. People assume that modern Palestinians are the same group as the ancient Philistines. But, the ancient Philistines and the modern Palestinian Arabs are not the same group of people.

5. The Palestinians define themselves as Arabs:

Professor Khalidi laments, “Political figures have explicitly denied the existence of Palestinians, for example, former speaker of the House Newt Gringrich,” who said, “I think that we’ve had an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs.” 

Khalidi considers Newt Gingrich to be a racist person for saying that the Palestinians are, “in fact Arabs.” However, if the Palestinians are a distinct indigenous group of people from Palestine, then there should be an identifiable qualitative difference between the words “Palestinian” and “Arab.” Even Khalidi does not make a distinction between these two words. Khalidi posts dozens of lectures on YouTube. In every lecture, he switches back and forth between using the words “Palestinian” and “Arab” without making a single distinction. Khalidi refers to the indigenous Palestinians in his lectures; yet, he refers to the same group of people as the Arab majority in Palestine. Khalidi describes the formation of Israel as “a colonial war in order to turn a country which had a two-thirds majority of Arabs into a Jewish State.” Again, Khalidi defines the Palestinians as part of the Arab majority. 

The Arab League issued a statement explaining that they joined The 1948 War because “Palestine is an Arab country falling in the heart of the Arab countries and attached to the Arab world with all bonds: spiritual, historical, economical and strategical, the Arab States as well as Eastern countries, whether through their people or governments, could not but concern and interest themselves with the fate of Palestine.” The Arab States did not say that they were joining the war to prevent the Zionists from stealing indigenous Palestinian land, instead they were joining the war because the land of Palestine belonged to the Arabs.

The 1964 Palestine Liberation Organization Charter begins, “Palestine is the homeland of the Arab Palestinian people; it is an indivisible part of the Arab homeland, and the Palestinian people are an integral part of the Arab nation.” The 2003 Constitution of Palestine repeats the same message, “The Palestinian people are part of the Arab Nation.” Professor Edward Said summarized the history, “Palestinians want at all costs to preserve their Arab identity.” Of course, since the Palestinians define themselves as Arabs, then it means that the Zionists did not destroy an indigenous Palestinian people. 

6. The United Nations has a set of criteria to determine indigenous rights.

The United Nations is based on a social contract system. The UN functions like a social club: the UN creates a set of criteria and when a community of people meets these requirements, then they are granted membership in the club. The word “rights” has several different meanings. In terms of the UN, there are essentially two types of rights: National Rights and Civil Rights. National rights are given to groups of people who meet the requirements established by the UN to be granted a state. This is also called the right to self-determination. In contrast, civil rights are granted to individuals within a state.

Rashid Khalidi outlined the difference between national and civil rights in an interview with Professor Marc Lamont Hill. During the interview, Khalidi explained that the Balfour Declaration “basically says there is a Jewish people which has national rights in Palestine.” And, “one group of people… is told you have national rights and political rights in this country.” Actually, the Balfour Declaration did not grant Israel the right to become a nation; however, it did set up the groundwork that led to the League of Nations granting the Jewish people the right to become a nation. A century later, Khalidi bemoans the fact that the Jewish people were granted independence as something that should never have happened.

There are many societies who are seeking the right to self-determination. To illustrate, Catalonia is an independent community on the northeastern corner of Spain. In 2017, the Catalonian parliament voted to declare the region an independent republic. The motion read, “We constitute the Catalan Republic, as an independent and sovereign country.” Unfortunately, the UN has not recognized the Catalonian request to be granted self-determination. The UN has different methods for determining how they grant a populace a deed over a piece of land. One possible set of criteria is that a group can be recognized as having indigenous rights to the land. The United Nations recognizes indigenous rights as a form of legal rights, so in a very real sense indigenous rights demonstrate who owns the land.

In 2007, the General Assembly adopted The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Article III declares, “Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination.” Alan Baker served as an advisor for Israel at the United Nations. Baker outlined the legal implications, setting forth: “This declaration, generally accepted within the international community, acknowledges the rights of indigenous peoples to their historic lands, territories and resources, and guarantees their continued rights to maintain and protect these lands.” 

7. Since the Palestinians define themselves as Arabs, then they cannot be recognized as a separate (non-Arab) indigenous group by the UN:

Khalidi specifically defines the Palestinians as the Arab majority living in the Land of Israel, who should have been given national rights instead of the Jewish people. Since Khalidi defines the Palestinians as Arabs, the Palestinians have not been denied the right to self-determination because the Arabs have already been granted the right to self-determination in twenty states. The Arab League is composed of 22 states. The Arab League’s goal is “to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab countries.” Currently, Palestine has the status of a non-member observer state in the UN. Nonetheless, the Arab League has already granted Palestine full membership. If the Palestinians are a different indigenous body of people, then why did they join an Arab club devoted to preserving Arab identity? 

The Palestinians want two contradictory benefits: they define themselves as being one single ethnic group with the 400,000,000 Arab majority in the Middle East, while at the same time they want to be viewed as a tiny indigenous minority. As part of the dominant Muslim-Arab majority, the Palestinians have already joined the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, comprised of 57 states, and the Arab League, comprised of 22 Arab states. All of the members of these fifty seven states band together to fight against Israel in the United Nations. As a minority, the Palestinians garner international sympathy by falsely portraying their situation as the same as the plight of Native Americans. Clearly, there are great benefits to being both a majority and minority at the same time.

That being said, the same rules of logic that govern the universe still apply to the Palestinians. In logic, there is a principle called the Law of Non-Contradiction. The law states that one thing cannot be two different things at the same time. For example, a bird cannot be a fish and still be considered a bird at the same time. Since the Palestinians say that they formed as a people in the Arabian Peninsula, then they cannot simultaneously declare that they formed as a people in the Land of Israel. Since the Palestinians label themselves as Arabs, they cannot profess to be a separate indigenous group of people from the rest of the Arabs. Since the Palestinians view Arabia as their homeland, they cannot hold that the Land of Israel is also their homeland.

Correspondingly, Israel is being falsely accused of destroying the ancient indigenous way of life of the Palestinian people. If the Palestinians are Arabs, then there was no unique Palestinian way of life that was destroyed because the Palestinians are simply practicing an Arab way of life, and Arab culture continues to be practiced in 20 Arab states. 

Arabs are indigenous to the Arabian Peninsula, and they have the right to self-determination in Arabia. Since the Palestinians define themselves as being part of the group that has indigenous rights to Arabian Peninsula, they are not entitled to be granted indigenous rights to the Land of Israel. In other words, by declaring themselves to be Arabs, the Palestinians forfeit indigenous rights to the Land of Israel. This means that only the Jewish people meet the set of criteria outlined by the United Nations to be granted indigenous rights to the Land of Israel.

8. Khalidi argues that Jewish people are not indigenous to the Land of Israel:

The goal of Khalidi’s book is to portray the Jewish people as foreigners to the Land of Israel and to accuse the Jews of being foreign colonizers. Khalidi attempts to place the creation of the modern State of Israel in the same category as that of the development of the European colonialist nations like America and Australia, while simultaneously placing the Palestinians in the same category of indigenous populations who had their land stolen similar to the Native Americans. The central thesis of Khalidi’s book is that the Palestinians are indigenous and that the Jews are not indigenous.

Khalidi draws a distinction:

“There is of course a difference between the two: most Palestinians are descended from people who have lived in what they naturally see as their country for a very long time, for many centuries, if not many millennia. Most Israeli Jews came from Europe and the Arab countries relatively recently as part of a colonial process sanctioned and brokered by the great powers. The former are indigenous, the latter descendants of settlers, although many have been there for generations now, and have a deeply felt connection and ancient religious connection to the country, albeit quite different from the ancient rootedness in the country of the indigenous Palestinians.”

If Khalidi is going to accuse the Jews of uprooting the indigenous Palestinians, he is obligated to provide some criteria to define a group as indigenous. In fact, the whole basis of Israel’s guilt or innocence is dependent on whether Khalidi can demonstrate that the Palestinians meet a set of criteria to be categorized as indigenous. Khalidi deliberately never provides a definition of the word “indigenous” because the Palestinians would not meet any standard he would offer.

8. On the need to establish a correct definition of the word “indigenous”:

The word “indigenous” has several different applications: 

First, on an individual level, the word refers to the place where a person was born. 

Second, there is a distinction between how to apply the word “indigenous” to an individual person versus a group of people. For example, Rashid Khalidi has stated that David Ben Gurion was not indigenous to the Land of Israel because he was born in Poland. If the word “indigenous” only refers to a place where a person is born, then it would not apply to David Ben Gurion. Khalidi was born in New York City. According to Khalidi’s own definition, he would not be considered indigenous to Palestine. 

Third, on a group level, the word “indigenous” refers to the land where a people were born. On the collective level, Ben Gurion is indigenous to the Land of Israel because he belongs to the community of people that formed in the Land of Israel. 

Fourth, there is another common usage of the term “indigenous,” that is applied to the tribes who lived on continents before the arrival of the Europeans, such as the Native Americans and Aborigines.

Now, it is important to understand that anthropologists attempt to create a set of conditions to determine indigenous status. In this essay, I will offer two sets of requirements to determine indigenous status. The first attempt to present a definition for indigenous peoples at the UN level was put forward by Jose Martinez Cobo. He produced a paper called, “Study of the Problem of Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations.” The second definition is composed of a set of five criteria outlined by indigenous rights activist Ryan Bellerose. I will demonstrate that the Palestinians do not meet either set of requirements. Every indigenous set of criteria applied to the Palestinians will fail because the Palestinians claim to be two different groups of people at the same time. In similar manner, I will show that the indigenous Palestinian argument is a scrambled mess filled with contradictions.

9. José Martinez Cobo’s requirements to determine indigenous status apply to the Jewish people:

Martinez Cobo’s study focused primarily on cultures that existed prior to the arrival of European colonizers; however, his study is still relevant to the Jewish experience. Martinez Cobo’s definition of indigenous status is very simple: Indigenous groups existed before the arrival of a foreign group and still maintained a distinct identity after the invasion. Martinez Cobo listed several characteristics of indigenous people, such as having a continued residence in their ancestral land; this also includes preserving a common bloodline. Martinez Cobo listed the preservation of culture. This can include all kinds of things such as preserving a tradition of earning a living; for example, when a group carries on a tradition of hunting animals on their ancestral land. In addition, Martinez Cobo put a great deal of emphasis on the transmission of a unique religion and language as two major features of indigenous status. 

Martinez Cobo wrote:

“Indigenous communities, peoples and nations are those which, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing in those territories, or parts of them. They form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal systems.

The Jewish people meet all of the elements outlined by Martinez Cobo’s definition. The Jewish people are indigenous to the Land of Israel because their nation, religion, and language all originate in the land. Moreover, the Israelites developed a belief that the Nation of Israel was an instrument of God on earth. The Israelites developed a belief that the Nation of Israel was going to act as a priestly agent to restore the world to God in the end of time. 

Three thousand years ago the ancient Israelites developed the following ideas:

  1. God chose the Nation of Israel. (Deut. 14:2) 
  2. God declared the Nation of Israel to be Holy. (Deut. 14:2) 
  3. God made a covenant with the Nation of Israel. (Ex. 24) 
  4. God proclaimed Israel His, “firstborn Son.”(Ex. 4:22) 
  5. An ancient Jewish source called a “baraita” developed the idea that the Nation of Israel existed even before the Earth was created. (Interpreted from Ps. 74:2)  
  6. God declared that Israel will be a “kingdom of priests.” (Ex. 19:6)
  7. The Nation of Israel will perform sacrifices on behalf of all of the nations in the world. (Seventy bulls as burnt offerings: Num. 29:12-34)

8. The Nation of Israel will be exiled and restored. (Jer. 23:7-8)

9. All of the nations on earth will come to worship the one true God in Israel. (Zech. 14:16)

10. The Messiah will rule as King in Israel. (Jer. 23:5-6)

It should be noted that Martinez Cobo mentioned that indigenous cultures pass down “legal systems.” Jewish people continue to pass down a legal system that was created 3,000 years ago. Charles Krauthammer summed it up, “Israel is the very embodiment of Jewish continuity: It is the only nation on earth that inhabits the same land, bears the same name, speaks the same language, and worships the same God that it did 3,000 years ago.”

There is a common myth that Jewish people left and returned to the Land of Israel. That is not true. The Jewish people have never been fully exiled from the land; instead, they maintained a continuous presence on their ancestral land for over 3,000 years. To illustrate, in the 5th Century, Saint Jerome wrote that the Jewish people living in the Holy Land outnumbered the Christians. In 638 CE, the Arabs came from the Arabian Peninsula and conquered Jerusalem. 

After the Muslims invaded the land, the Jewish people living in the region maintained “a historical continuity with (the) pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories,” such as the Arab conquerors. The Jews also considered “themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing in those territories,” such as the larger Muslim society developing around them. In 1491, a Christian pilgrim decried, “In spite of all the troubles inflicted on them by the Muslims, the Jews refuse to leave the land.” In reality, the Arabs came as foreign invaders to the Land of Israel, and the Jews were persecuted living under the Muslim authorities. Despite the pressure, they still did not convert to Islam.

 Bellerose unpacks one more of the conditions of indigenous rights: “It means that your people have a site-specific connection to their ancestral land.” In this case, the Jewish people have always maintained a site specific connection to the Land of Israel. In direct distinction, the Palestinians maintain a site specific connection to Arabia. The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People explains that “indigenous peoples have suffered from historic injustices as a result of, inter alia, their colonization and dispossession of their lands.” This description perfectly matches the historical experiences of the Jewish people, who suffered from the colonization of their land by the Arabs.

10. The Palestinians fail to meet the Martinez Cobo definition of indigenous status:

After the formation of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Arabs launched a propaganda campaign designed to convince people to believe in a nation that never existed. Nevertheless, reality dictates that the idea of an ancient nation of Palestine is complete fiction. We are asked to believe that the nation of Palestine existed for a few thousand years inside the borders of the Land of Israel, but was never mentioned in a single historical source until after the 1900s.

The Land of Israel was conquered by the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Fatimids, Seljuk Turks, Crusaders, Egyptians, Mamelukes, and the British. If the ancient Palestinian people existed in the Land of Israel, then everyone of this groups should have mentioned them at some point in the historical records. There should be records about whether they were sent into exile with the Assyrians, did they argue with Greek philosophers, were they taken as slaves by the Romans? None of the groups who conquered the Land of Israel ever mention encountering the ancient Palestinian people. The New Testament spends a great deal of time referencing how the Roman occupation of the Land of Israel affected the Jewish people. How did the New Testament fail to mention that there was a nation of Palestine existing inside the Land of Israel at the same time as Jesus? 

In the 600s CE, the Arabs conquered the Middle East. The Arabs had to fight against the Byzantine Empire to conquer the land. If the Palestinians existed as a separate indigenous group from the Arabs, then the Arabs should have encountered the Palestinians for the first time when they invaded the land. There should be some record of when the ancient indigenous Palestinian people first encountered the Arabs. Did the Arabs have to fight the indigenous Palestinians when they conquered the land? Of course, the Palestinians didn’t exist before the Arab invasion, because the Palestinians are Arabs. All of this means that the Palestinians cannot be defined as a separate indigenous group from the Arabs. 

12. Ryan Bellerose lists five qualities to determine indigenous status:

Ryan Bellerose is a Métis indigenous rights activist from the Paddle Prairie settlement in Northern Alberta. Bellerose lists five qualities to determine indigenous status: 1. Land, 2. Language, 3. Culture, 4. Bloodline; and, 5. Spirituality or religion. 

The Jewish people meet all five requirements to be considered indigenous to the Land of Israel:

  1. Land: The Jewish people have a story about Abraham being promised the borders of the Land of Israel. Sometimes people will say that both the Jews and Palestinians believe that God gave them the land. This is not true. The Palestinians simply believe that Muslims own the land because they conquered it. Additionally, indigenous tribes have ancient borders of their homeland which change over time based on encounters and wars with other groups of people. For example, the ancient map of the Kingdom of Israel had different borders than the modern State of Israel. This is why Jewish groups debate about whether the borders of the modern State of Israel should extend to the original size of the ancient borders. Hence, there is no similar debate on the Palestinian side, because there is no such thing as the “ancient border” of the indigenous “nation of Palestine.” 
  2. Language: In 2008, an archaeologist discovered a 3,000-year-old ceramic shard with Hebrew writing. 
  3. Culture: Jewish culture has always been different from the European and Arabic culture.
  4. Bloodline: The Jewish bloodline passes through the mother.
  1. Religion: Judaism

12. The Palestinians fail each of the criteria to be considered indigenous to the Land of Israel:

  1. Land: Indigenous tribes create religious legends attached to specific places of importance where their ancestors had encounters with the gods. The Hebrew Patriarch, Jacob, had a dream wherein he saw a ladder reaching to Heaven from a rock at Bethel. To this day, Jewish people still travel to visit a big rock where they believe this encounter took place. This raises the question: what ancient tales do the Palestinians tell? None. There are no ancient Palestinians myths about the creation of the universe. There are no ancient tales of Palestinian Patriarchs meeting God in the land of Palestine. The Palestinians are missing every feature that would normally be applied to an indigenous family of people. 
  2. Language: The Palestinians speak a language which comes from Arabia. The Palestinians have no name for themselves in their own language because there is no such thing as a Palestinian language. The Palestinians call themselves a name taken from a Hebrew word in the Bible. 
  3. Culture: The PLO charter defines Palestinian culture as being Arab culture. The PLO charter opens with the lines, “The Palestinian people are an integral part of the Arab nation.”
  4. Bloodline: The PLO charter defines Palestinian blood as being Arab blood. The PLO charter asserts, “The Palestinians are those Arab nationals who, until 1947, normally resided in Palestine.” Following the Muslim model of lineage passing through the father: The PLO charter asserts, “Anyone born, after that date, of a Palestinian father – whether inside Palestine or outside it – is also a Palestinian.” 
  5. Religion: There is no such thing as an indigenous Palestinian religion. In fact, a British group of Muslims created a definition of Islamophobia (fear of Muslims). The definition listed examples of Islamophobia such as: “Denying Muslim populations the right to self-determination e.g., by claiming that the existence of an independent Palestine or Kashmir is a terrorist endeavor.” Notice, the definition of Islamophobia states that Palestinian self-determination is a form of Muslim self-determination.

13. Conclusion: 

In this essay, I demonstrated that the argument over indigenous rights to the Land of Israel determines four things: 

1) The Jewish people are the only group of people who meet the requirements of the United Nations to be recognized as indigenous to the Land of Israel; therefore, they are the true owners of the land. 

2) The Palestinians legally define themselves as Arabs in their own constitution; therefore, they have forfeited the right to be recognized as a distinct indigenous group. 

3) Since the Palestinians define themselves as Arab, Israel did not commit the crime of destroying an “ancient indigenous” Palestinian culture because Arab culture is still being preserved in 20 states. 

4) Noting that the Palestinians define themselves as Arabs, then they have not been denied the right to self-determination because Arabs have already been granted the right to self-determination in roughly 20 states. By the same token, since the Palestinians are Arabs, then the Arabs do not have a right to create a state on the indigenous homeland of the Jewish people. 

In conclusion, the Jewish people are the original owners of the land. There is a sentimental belief that no one can judge a people’s narrative and say that it is false. That being said, when a group of people have two contradictory historical accounts regarding the origin of their creation as a people, then one of those narratives is false. In this case, the Palestinians did not form as a nation thousands of years ago. Instead, they are Arabs who started to call themselves Palestinians in the 1960s. Thus, the State of Israel does not need to be dismantled and returned to the ancient indigenous Palestinians because they never existed. The solution to achieve peace is for the Arabs to finally admit that the Jewish people are the indigenous owners of the Land of Israel.

About the Author
Daniel Swindell is a Zionist. He has a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Missouri, and has studied in Yeshiva.
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