Israel: Some Basic Facts
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Nothing could attest to that fact more than the Israel-Arab conflict, which in reality is the Israel-Islamist conflict.
This is not a territorial dispute between Israel and those Arabs who call themselves Palestinians, though it is framed as such. No, the stark reality of the Muslim war against the Jewish state is rooted in one fundamental fact: namely, the unchangeable refusal by Muslims to ever accept a non-Islamic nation in territory once conquered in the name of Allah, even if that nation -- the Jewish nation -- precedes Islam by millennia.
Peace overtures and endless territorial concessions by tiny Israel to the giant Muslim and Arab world have been, and are, as worthless as a thirsty soul in the desert seeking to survive by staggering towards an inviting mirage.
Back in 1976, Prime Minister Golda Meir visited Britain and was asked what needed most to be done for her country in combating the relentless challenge to Israel's survival in a hostile media. Her answer: "Tell the people the basic facts about Israel and Israel's case over and over again."
It was crucial then but even more vital today, for the world is fast succumbing to a veritable anti-Israel propaganda blitzkrieg, believed by legions of the confused and gullible who worship at the altar of moral equivalence and liberal kumbaya.
Those still willing to see clearly have to accept that Israel's Muslim neighbors will never be able to reconcile themselves with a non-Muslim state unless Islam reforms itself, and Islam cannot do that without self-imploding.
Since 1973, when the same Muslim-Arab world attacked Israel on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, members of the "religion of peace" have sensed a growing opportunity to destroy Israel root and branch. Even now, Iran's mullahs and the devil-clown Mahmoud Ahmadinejad call not only for the destruction of the embattled Jewish state, but also for the extermination of Jews worldwide. In this they echo the same call by Gaza's Hamas rulers, who are the junior partner of the Muslim Brotherhood.
That such words are not condemned utterly by nation-states reveals the moral decay so prevalent in the world today, just 66 years since the Holocaust ended.
Entire books have been written about the basic facts of Israel's place in the family of nations as both a state and a people. Their purpose has been to explain why Israel and its people claim the right to an independent state in a small corner of the Middle East -- roughly one quarter of the geographical area known as Palestine (a territory, by the way, that has never been an independent state by that name in all of recorded history, and certainly never an Arab state).
It is Judea and Samaria (known by its Jordanian name, the West Bank) which now a hostile world wishes to snatch from Israel and give to the Arabs who call themselves Palestinians. This will create an anti-Israel terror-state within the ancient Jewish patrimony and biblical heartland. How strange that the more than 3,000-year-old names, Judea and Samaria, can so easily be supplanted by a name -- the "West Bank" -- employed by the occupying Jordanian Legion, which existed for a mere nineteen years, from 1948 to 1967. It speaks volumes about the world we live in.
If Israel succumbs to a hostile world, it will be reduced to less than 10,000 square miles -- much less than one hundredth of the surrounding Arab world, which enjoys a land mass of some 5,000,000 square miles -- and that does not include the vast territory of the non-Arab Muslim world, including Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Indonesia.
The basic facts, which should be self-evident, need to be repeated again and again, as Golda Meir urged nearly forty years ago. Perhaps the following is the most basic and pernicious falsehood leveled at the reconstituted Jewish state. It is predictably made by a hostile Muslim and Arab world, but it is echoed by their useful idiot supporters in the West.
The charge is this:
After the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD, the Jews lost their country and forfeited any right to it by going into exile for nearly 2,000 years.
Indeed, the destruction of Jerusalem ended the Jewish state with appalling loss of life. But the Jews maintained a continuous presence in their homeland, and it is this continuity which gives them an absolute, inalienable right of self-determination, historically, spiritually, and politically, in the reconstituted Jewish state.
In AD 132, the charismatic Jewish hero Simon Bar Kochba rallied his countrymen against continued Roman persecution. Another war of liberation -- the second Jewish uprising -- was launched against Rome. Bar Kochba's Jewish warriors freed large areas of the homeland from the Roman yoke, just as Jewish fighters had similarly freed the homeland from Greco-Syrian occupation in 165 BC, liberating Jerusalem and the Holy Temple and giving the world the festival of lights, Hanukah, which every year falls on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev.
Bar Kochba (known as Son of the Star) also liberated Jerusalem, but the Roman emperor, Hadrian, who wanted to build a giant temple to the god Jupiter in place of the Holy Temple, sent an army of 35,000 soldiers against the Jewish warriors. After a desperate three-year struggle, the Jewish resistance ended at the fortress of Betar. It is estimated that in the ensuing Roman repression, some 500,000 Jews were either killed or sent into slavery throughout the Empire.
Even after this second catastrophe, the Jews nevertheless remained an absolute majority in the land up until the 5th century AD, and they were the single most important community up until the Arab conquest in the 7th century.
In 1099, the Crusaders arrived and massacred not only Jews, but also Muslims. On July 15, the entire Jewish population of Jerusalem was forced into the chief synagogue, and the building was set on fire. The Crusaders marched around it, singing, "Christ, we adore thee" in a diabolical accompaniment to the screams of the men, women, and children burning alive.
In the ensuing centuries, during which the land was invaded by successive alien conquerors, the Jews maintained themselves in whatever numbers they could sustain. In fact, they refounded the holy Jewish city of Tiberius in Galilee three separate times. In the 16th century, some 15,000 Jews lived in another holy Jewish city, Safed, in Upper Galilee -- a center of Jewish mysticism known as Kabbalah.
Throughout the dark centuries of exile, Jewish pilgrims and refugees returned again and again to restore the ancestral Jewish homeland. Jewish prayers and festivals recited and celebrated in synagogues throughout the Diaspora, then as now, are based in large part upon the agricultural cycle of ancient Israel attesting yet again to the inextricable spiritual and aboriginal links with the ancestral homeland.
In the 1850s, the first Jewish agricultural villages were re-established in what was then largely barren and empty territory under Turkish Ottoman occupation. By 1844, the Jews constituted the largest community in the eternal Jewish capital, Jerusalem.
In that year, according to the Prussian Consul, there were 7,120 Jews, 5,000 Muslims, and 3,390 Christians in Jerusalem. Even before the State of Israel was re-established in 1948, Jerusalem was primarily a Jewish city, with 100,000 Jews out of a total population of 165,000. Many of the non-Jews were not Arabs at all, but Europeans, Americans, Ethiopians, and other Christians.
The assertion that Jewish ties to the ancestral homeland came to an end in 70 AD is utterly without foundation. Those Jewish ties have remained unbroken since Abraham, the first Jew, came to Hebron, the other Jewish holy city, and purchased a burial plot for his wife Sarah, his son Isaac, his grandson Jacob, and some of their wives. These are the Patriarchs and Matriarchs of the Jewish people, who are buried in Hebron.
The truth, then, is that Jews always maintained a continuous presence in their own land despite the depredations of a succession of alien occupiers. There is an absolute continuity between the Israel of the Bible and the Israel of today.
It is the same land, the same people, the same language, the same God, the same prophets, the same holy Book. There has never been a time in the last 35 centuries when there haven't been Jews living in Israel -- sometimes as a sovereign nation, sometimes as isolated enclaves occupied by an enemy power.
And when Jews have been few in number inside Israel itself, they have nevertheless continued to pray for its welfare daily, to pray daily for their return to nationhood, to recount the biblical promises, and to pray for a quick return.
This is continuity par excellence. Why is this important? Because part of the Big Lie of today is to deny it and to consider the Jews illegitimate newcomers to the land who can legitimately be pushed right back out. Yet the continuity of the Jewish people in Israel is a basic fact.
Victor Sharpe is a freelance writer and author of the trilogy Politicide: The attempted murder of the Jewish state.