Who Is Occupying Whom?

Adapted from WikiMedia Commons--12 tribus de Israel.svg: Translated by Kordas12 staemme israels heb.svg: by user:יוסי12 staemme israels.png: by user:Janzderivative work Richardprins [CC BY-SA 3.0
Adapted from WikiMedia Commons--12 tribus de Israel.svg: Translated by Kordas12 staemme israels heb.svg: by user:יוסי12 staemme israels.png: by user:Janzderivative work Richardprins [CC BY-SA 3.0

This week, we celebrated the joyous Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day). It’s the 71st anniversary of the modern State of Israel.

Yom Ha’atzmaut comes just a week after Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance) just as the founding of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948 occurred just 3 years and a week after the end of the Holocaust (Germany’s surrender to the Allies) on May 7, 1945.

But while we celebrate the return to the Jewish Promised Land, others continue to seek to take away that which G-d gave to us.  Really nothing has changed throughout the challenging history of the Jewish people–from the Assyrians to the Babylonians and Romans–in every generation, they rise against us.

In modern times, we are once again forced to fight for our national survival in our single Jewish Homeland…this time with the Palestinians. Through countless wars and terror, the Palestinians as represented by the Arab League have not succeeded to wrest away that which G-d has bestowed on us.  So since 1967, the Arabs have wrought an endless war of propaganda–everywhere from the streets of capitals of Europe to the Halls of the United Nations, and now even the chambers of Congress, they chant:

“End the occupation!”

But who is occupying whom?

Historically, Israel is the unequivocal Jewish homeland. Since the 17th century BCE, our Forefathers (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) all lived in the land of Israel.  And G-d promised Abram (Genesis 15:8):

“To your descendants I have given this land–from the river of Egypt to the great river Euphrates–the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.

This promise was reiterated to Isaac (Genesis 26:3) and to Jacob (Genesis 28:13).  In the 13th century BCE, after our Exodus from Egypt, we settled as a free people in the land of Israel and divided up the land amongst the twelve tribes of Israel on both sides of the Jordan River!  In the 10th century BCE, Jerusalem was made the capital by King David. Our first temple was destroyed in the 6th century BCE, and the second temple was destroyed in the 1st century CE.  Vast numbers of Jews were forcibly exiled from Israel by the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and the Romans, but throughout history, Jews have lived in the land of Israel even when we were not in charge of it.  Moreover, without a Jewish nation state, it was “open season” for the persecution of Jews, and this culminated in the genocide of 6,000,000 in the Holocaust.

In the book, “A Durable Peace” by (Prime Minister) Benjamin Netanyahu, he quotes the conclusion of the 1937 British Royal Commission on the disposition of the land:

In the twelve centuries or more that have passed since the Arab conquest, Palestine has virtually dropped out of history…In economics as in politics, Palestine lay outside the main stream of the world’s life. In the realm of thought, in science or in letters, it made no contribution to modern civilization.

As Netanyahu explains and documents from numerous visitors and historians at the time, the country was virtually devoid of inhabitants, such that by the 3rd quarter of the 19th century, only 400,000 Arabs and Jews lived in the entire country!

Even the name Palestine is a derivation from Philistia, the Greek name for the strip of land where the Philistines lived in the 12th century BCE.  The designation has been ever changing with the Romans using the term “Syria Palaestina” in the 2nd century CE to connote the southern Syrian province. Then again, the “British Mandate” for Palestine in the 20th century included both Israel and Jordan!

While the British then pruned the land of TransJordan from Palestine in 1922, the United Nations voted to recommend Partition of the remaining “Palestine” in 1947 into a Jewish state and an Arab state.  Still, with both the larger Transjordan and another proposed Arab State in Palestine, the Arabs rejected this proposal, and instead attacked Israel seeking their utter annihilation.

In the 1948 War of Independence, the West Bank was seized by Jordan and Gaza by Egypt when they invaded Israel. They in turn administered these.

  • Thus, Palestine was never a state, nor one ever administered by Palestinians. 

In the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel was again attacked by it’s Arab Neighbors.  At this time, Israel captured the West Bank (as well as the Golan Heights which Israel annexed in 1981, and the Sinai which Israel returned to Egypt for peace in 1982), and assumed the administration of this territory.

  • Therefore, Israel is not occupying any foreign sovereign’s land, so it cannot legally be considered an occupier.

For over 70 years, the Arabs have continued to reject any partition plan, with 17 of 22 Arab League countries (almost 80%), still refusing to this day to recognize Israel.

  • Consequently, there was never any partition plan accepted by the Arabs or implemented, so Israel is not occupying anything. 

In the 20th century, it is not Israel that has occupied or expelled the Palestinians, but rather the Arabs encouraged their brothers to leave Israel, so they in turn could attack in 1948 and “wipe Israel off the map.”  Yet, the Arab countries rejected their brethren, never settled these refugees, or gave them citizenship, instead sentencing them to a life in the squalor of refugee camps.  At the same time, the Arab Nations and Iran expelled over 850,000 Jews, while Israel provides 1.6 million Arabs citizenship, allows 2.5 million to live in Judea and Samaria, and unilaterally withdrew from Gaza providing the 2 million Arabs there to govern themselves (even while they incessantly dig terror tunnels and send missiles into Israel).

  • Hence, it is Israel that has continuously opened itself to the Arabs as citizens and settlers, while the Arab countries have rejected their own Arab brethren and exiled their Jews. 

In short, Israel is the Promised Land to the Jewish People, where the Jews have lived throughout the ages.  For hundreds of years leading up to the 20th century, most of the land was empty of people and devoid of life.  The Jews accepted the 1947 Partition Plan, which the Arabs have continuously rejected vowing instead to “drive the Jews into the Sea.”  In contrast, Israel has extended citizenship, self-administration, and self-rule to the Arabs living there, and could do more if there was a cessation of hostility.  Throughout, there has never been a State of Palestine, nor one administered by Palestinians, and Israel is not occupying anyone’s sovereign land.

Thus, if the Arabs, who are “occupying” Israel’s land, finally accept Israel’s right to exist, I am certain that they are not only welcome but will be sincerely respected and can become over time, true friends and neighbors. However, if they instead continue to hate, incite, and terrorize Israel, then they are free to choose to go and live in any of the other 22 Arab League countries, and give Israel their justly deserved single piece of land and peace of mind.

About the Author
Andy Blumenthal is business and technology leader who writes frequently about Jewish life, culture, and security. All opinions are his own.
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