In an earlier incarnation, Scott Wilson worked for several years as the Washington Post's Jerusalem correspondent. So you would think that he learned something about the ancient historical, political, national, and cultural ties of Jews to the Holy Land.
But you would be wrong.
In the Post's May 28 edition, Wilson, currently the paper's White House correspondent, writes as follows in the lead paragraph of his article about the arrival of President Obama in Poland:
WARSAW--Within hours of arriving Friday in this once-occupied capital, President Obama encountered the enduring emotion surrounding the state of Israel, founded as a sanctuary from the virulent anti-Semitism that wiped out much of Poland's Jewish population during World War II. ("Obama visits monument to Warsaw Ghetto uprising" page A10).
In one stroke of the pen, Wilson thus wipes out 4,000 years of Jewish national and territorial attachments to this land. According to Wilson, Israel is merely a recent sanctuary for Jews persecuted elsewhere. This is the same distortion of history that Obama promulgated in his 2009 Cairo speech to the Muslim world when he erroneously connected Israel's existence to 'the aspiration for a Jewish homeland rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied -- anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust.
Of course, this also happens to be what Iranian President Ahmadinejad and countless other Israeli enemies preach -- that Israel is a latter-day colonial implant in the Holy Land because Jews suffered elsewhere and then were sent to Palestine to displace a more indigenous population -- the Palestinians. Why should Palestinians have to suffer for sins committed against Jews by Europeans?
So, let's examine exactly why Wilson offends real history when he writes that Israel was "founded as a sanctuary from virulent anti-Semitism" -- i.e. a protectorate against another Holocaust.
Jewish ties and claims to the land -- i.e. Zionism -- don't have their roots in the Holocaust but date back some four millennia when, according to the Bible in Genesis, Chapter 12," "the Lord said unto Abram: "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto the land that I will show thee. And I will make of thee a great nation."
Here's the real genesis of Zionism through the ages. Israel's first claim to the "land" and to a "nation" in this land.
But if you're not religiously inclined, there are many other historical markers with ample secular evidence. More than 3,000 years ago, King David established Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish people and the Jewish nation. His son, King Solomon, built the first Jewish Temple atop Temple Mount. For more than a millennium, with only a 50-year hiatus of exile in Babylon -- Jewish monarchs reigned in the Holy Land. There were as many Jewish monarchs in that time span as there have been U.S. presidents.
Even after the Roman conquest and the dispersal of Jews to other places, there was a continuous Jewish presence in the land right up to and until modern times. By the thousands and tens of thousands Jews populated the land over the last 2,000 years and established dozens of vibrant Jewish communities. And while no other people established Jerusalem as their capital, Jews the world over continued to cling to it and to pray to it.
In modern times, Jewish claims to nationhood got a huge boost from the 1917 Balfour Declaration, with British Foreign Secretary James Balfour declaring that "His Majesty's Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people." A "national" home, mind you, not just a homeland without Jewish sovereignty.
The Balfour Declaration subsequently was embraced and endorsed by the Allied victors after World I at the San Remo conference, by the League of Nations when it granted Britain an interim mandate in Palestine, and by the U.S. Congress.
When some Holocaust survivors arrived in Palestine, they were greeted by a long-standing, fully organized Jewish community set to declare Jewish resumption of sovereign nationhood.
Jews happen to be the most indigenous people in this land, with political rights, claims, and actual sovereign rule than any other people. They are not the British in India or the French in Algeria.
If one attributes and ties Israel's founding to merely a post-Holocaust adjunct to provide sanctuary to persecuted Jews, any other place would have sufficed and, in fact, several geographic alternatives (Uganda among others) were floated in the last couple of centuries.
But Israel, of course, is not just a sanctuary born from the ashes of the Holocaust, as Wilson would have it. It has a 4,000-year-old pedigree -- with a deeper and longer history than anyone else in the Holy Land.
For a former Jerusalem correspondent to perpetuate this colossal canard is a blot on the Post's credibility.