The Shame of the Europeans

Americans have been told repeatedly that the English colonies were first settled by the Pilgrims, who landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. These English settlers came holding “deed” to the land against the claims of the indigenous peoples, the Native Americans. Their deed was the Jewish Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament. The claims of these English settlers were not unique. The Catholic Church and the French, Portuguese and Spanish Empires had made the exact same claims, using the same two Bibles. Their settlements and settlers stretched from the southern tip of South America to the Arctic circle of Canada. In fact, the conquest of all of North and South America, Australia, New Zealand and all the lands of the European imperial era were justified using the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. Yet now, centuries after these religious conquests, the modern secular Europeans of today insist that in the Holy Land of Israel-Palestine, Jewish “settlers” in Judea have no rights and must return to Israel’s minuscule nine-mile-wide territory.

Worse still, there is an even greater hypocrisy than the above commentary. The Europeans of today owe a great deal of their vast riches (their high standard of living, or GDP) to this imperial era of wealth expropriation through the institution of African slavery. Slavery, as a function of settlement, was an endemic feature of nearly all the European settlements and settlers from the 16th century clear through to the mid-19th. Global commerce leading to the Industrial Age was essentially financed through the large surpluses engendered through African slavery. For the most part, this immoral (yet highly lucrative) institution was justified by the ancient Biblical use of slavery over twenty-five hundred years ago. Never mind that in the Judaism of the Bible, all slaves were set free after just six years. And that the treatment of those slaves was the most humane (by far) in the world at that time. In contrast to the European era of slavery, the Hebrew Bible was in fact more humane than any European imperial institution clear through to the 20th century. Yet today Europeans refuse to trade or do business with the Jews of Judea (the West Bank), who are said to “illegally occupy Palestinian lands” and “oppress the poor Palestinians”.

Yet, wait! There is an even greater European iniquity directed against the Jewish people, and it directly involves the very essence of Western civilization. After usurping the Hebrew Bible and making it their own, giving it a unique interpretation that undercuts Judaism, and wrapping nearly two thousand years of its content into its own cultural, religious and social history, Europe now has the temerity to claim that Judea is an Arab-only land. Within a few short decades of WWII, a secular, anti-religious Europe has arisen. Within this new secular narrative Europe, the cultural inheritors of a Jewish G-d incarnate, Jesus Christ, now claim that the Arab deed to Judea holds precedence over the Jewish. How can this be? And what is the basis of this secular Palestinian deed?

Europeans claim that the Jews have “occupied” the West Bank. They argue that the West Bank belongs to the Palestinians by some sort of indigenous right. Never mind that Europe itself is being protected by a country (the US) that by Europe’s own standards is the illegal occupier of vast indigenous lands. Europeans simply disregard this ironic twist of history. But by European logic, if the Jewish claim to Judea is bogus by the criteria of indigenous ownership, what then is the justification for NATO or European trade with the US? Will there be a boycott of American products and services?

And what about Latin America? Shouldn’t the Spanish and Portuguese leave South America and return to Europe? And for that matter, shouldn’t the very basis of the Spanish claim to Spain be equal to the Jewish claim to Judea? As justification for their own reconquest of their indigenous lands, the Spanish of today remain adamant that after a seven-hundred-year Arab Muslim occupation, the reconquest of the Iberian peninsula was justified by indigenous right. Why can’t the Jews make the same claim for Judea? After all, the Arabs came out of Arabia (Mecca and Medina) as conquerors. The Jews have a stronger indigenous claim to Palestine than the marauding Arabs. In fact, so do the Berbers of North Africa, the Copts of Egypt, the Assyrians of Iraq, the Armenians of Turkey, or the Greeks of Lebanon.

But the real shame of the modern day secular Europeans is their marked silence in the face of the bold lies presented nearly every day by the Arab Palestinians. The Palestinians reject that the Jews (and therefore Judaism) have any religious claim to historic Israel-Palestine. This assertion is to deny the Jewish religion’s connection to the Land of Israel. This is an affront to Jews, and it goes to the very heart of whether or not the Christian deity ever lived. That is to say, this is not just a question of whether or not Jesus was G-d; it goes much further and negates both the essential history of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament. Furthermore, it attempts to demolish the cultural fabric of Western civilization by eliminating the essence of its spiritual and moral message through the complete denial of history. The Palestinians do this in order to de-legitimize any indigenous claims other than their own.

It has only been seventy years since the conclusion of the European Holocaust against the Jewish people. Yet even in the shadow of such a grave event, Europeans now judge Israel to be the aggressor and the occupier of Palestine. The Jews are neither occupiers nor aggressors. They were urged after WWII by the Europeans to “return home” to historic Israel-Palestine. This was done when the thousands of concentration camp survivors were refused repatriation by most European countries. Israel-Palestine was the essential answer to the vexing post WWII Jewish question of what to do with Europe’s Jews.

The Palestinians (who had supported the German Nazis during the war) refused to compromise and were the aggressors in 1947. When the UN declared that the western area of a truncated Israel-Palestine should once again be partitioned, the Jews accepted the partition. They accepted a Palestinian state. But Palestinians didn’t reciprocate. The Palestinian aggressors lost in 1948, and the Jews won. The very same aggression against a tiny Israel took place in 1967. Once again, the Arab aggressors were defeated. But unlike the Europeans who re-drew the European map after WWII to deny Germany its Prussian heartland (giving the territory permanently to Russia), Europe now claims that the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) are “illegally occupied”.

Yet unlike the Europeans, who after WWII ethnically cleansed millions of Germans from lands outside of Germany where they had been living for centuries, Israel did not forcefully remove the Palestinians from the West Bank after the war in 1967. And unlike the Arabs states, who by legal edict removed millions of Jews from their homes in Arab lands after the first Palestinian defeat, Israel gave citizenship to all Palestinians who remained in their homes after 1948. Israel’s current population is now composed of twenty-percent Palestinians.

In the final analysis, Israelis and Palestinians will either learn to live together, or eventually another big war will drive one or the other into the sea or the desert. Either way, the shameful Europeans will have no say as to the outcome of the conflict. The Europeans are not an impartial party, and they have never been an impartial party. European religious history ended in the shame of the twentieth-century genocide of the Jews. There is literally no hope that Europe could find the appropriate theological language to inspire an Islamic-Judaic reconciliation. Europe, as a moral and religious civilization, has lost its way. It has no one to blame but itself and its own abysmal history. Is it any wonder that a new form of Jew hatred should arise once again on the European continent: anti-Zionism, the desire to weaken the Jewish state with the hope of one day seeing it destroyed.

Underneath all the legal double-talk of so-called international law, Europe knows that Israel could not survive without strategic and historic Judea. Europe has legitimized the “phased struggle” strategy of the Palestinians. Arafat planted the seed, knowing full well that the Palestinian’s best chance at success against the Jews was European anti-Semitism. Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank will be merely the first phase. Europe will appear shocked, but they know the history of their own Crusader defeat in the Holy Land. Whoever holds the high ground of Judea and Samaria controls the destiny of the land. In the Middle East the Jews are a small minority. Without the vital high ground, Israel stands little chance against against a sea of hostilities. And it is against this sea (literally and figuratively) where the shame of European distortions and lies would once again place the Jewish nation. I say — Never Again!

About the Author
Steven Horowitz has been a farmer, journalist and teacher spanning the last 45 years. He resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. During the 1970's, he lived on kibbutz in Israel, where he worked as a shepherd and construction worker. In 1985, he was the winner of the Christian Science Monitor's Peace 2010 international essay contest. He was a contributing author to the book "How Peace came to the World" (MIT Press).