What was there before the Jewish Occupation of Palestine?

Palestine. Israel. The Land of Israel.

These are just some names given to a piece of land that, in this world, is small in size but large in impact. The names of this piece of land are disputed. It would be a blessing to mankind if it were only the name that was disputed.

The land itself is disputed. Many parties claim the land to be theirs. Many people are willing to die for the land, and many more are willing to kill for the land.

Religious Jews, claim that the land was promised to them by God. Their Torah describes how God promised the land to Jews, to be their spiritual homeland for eternity. They go even further than quoting verses from their Torah. To these Jews, their religious practices, dating back more than 2000 years, are intertwined with the land. Daily prayer services require these Jews to face Palestine. These Jews go on to say that according to their religious dictates, many religious services and practices can only be practiced in Palestine.

These Jews believe that their two Temples, representing God’s home on earth, were located in Jerusalem. To them, Jerusalem has not only been sacred for thousands of years, it is, to them, the center of the universe. Remnants of that second temple still stand in Jerusalem today, one wall of which is referred to as the Wailing Wall.

There is a small group of religious Jews, numbering a few hundred, who oppose the current form of Jewish governance of Israel. They want the Jewish Messiah to return, before Jews govern the land of Palestine. These religious Jews are used by Pro Palestinian activists to highlight Jewish opposition to the State of Israel. Despite these Jews’ opposition to the current State of Israel, make no mistake that the belief is indeed universal among all religious Jews: Palestine is the physical and spiritual homeland of the Jews.

However, not all Jews are religious. Most Jews, from a religious practices perspective, are non-practicing Jews. Most of these Jews claim that Palestine is the homeland for the Jews for other reasons. These Jews cite multiple, differing, reasons for their support of the homeland for the Jews. Some cite the historical, archeological evidence, dating back thousands of years. These people claim that the archeological evidence in Palestine shows a long history of rich Jewish culture and practices. Other non-religious Jews cite the long history of Jewish settlement in the land of Palestine. While Jews have not ruled over the land since the Roman destruction of Jerusalem, these Jewish supporters of the Jewish homeland claim evidence of unbroken, albeit at times limited, Jewish settlement within the land of Palestine.

There are other Jews, who cite the long history of antisemitism, as being a reason for Jews to have a homeland of their own. And there are Jews, who from a cultural and social perspective, acknowledge the deep connection of the Jewish people to the land.

There are indeed Jews who do not see a religious, social, historical or cultural connection of the Jews to the land of Palestine. For these Jews, they believe that Jews have no claim to the land of Palestine. I live in South Africa, and there are some Jews, or people of Jewish descent, who oppose Jewish claims to the land of Palestine. These Jews are vocal, and some of them are prominent members of government, business or the entertainment industry. While this group gains attention with “not in our name” campaigns, they number approximately 200 individuals. The rest of the 60,000 South African Jews, or people of Jewish descent, unashamedly support the concept of the land of Palestine being the homeland of the Jews.

Mecca is central to Islam and Moslems. A Moslem, for example in Jerusalem, faces Mecca during prayer. Likewise, a Jew, anywhere in the world, faces Jerusalem during prayer. There are indeed many people around the world who oppose Jewish settlement of the land of Palestine. Jews have been accused of ‘Judaizing’ Jerusalem. To most Jews (not the 200 ‘not-in-our-name’ South African Jews and their ilk), the accusation of ‘Judaizing’ Jerusalem or ‘Judaizing’ the land of Palestine, would be akin to accusing Moslems of ‘Islamizing’ Mecca, or Catholics of ‘Catholicizing’ the Vatican. From a religious perspective, or a cultural perspective (or both), Jerusalem, and the land of Palestine, is central to Judaism and Jews.

So, what was there before the Jewish Occupation Of Palestine?

The Jews’ Pre-Occupation With Palestine

About the Author
Uri Marks lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, with his wife and three children. He is an arm-chair Zionist and laid back Jew, and is very opinionated on both topics.
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