Israel Part 1: The 7th Century to 1948

Israel is making big news these days with their “war” with the Palestinians. I say “war” in quotations because it really isn’t a war, or at least a conflict like the media portrays it. It isn’t two equal sides facing off and contrary to what the media tells you, you would be surprised who the stronger group is.

To understand this mess we have to go back in time to the founding of the modern state of Israel. Israel was founded in 1948 as part of a United Nations Partition plan. It was an idea to separate the Arabs and Jewish people in their own Providences. The map here shows the original division of the land.

It’s important to note that the Arabs of the region were evicted from what had been their homes for a while (Palestine had been Arab since the 7th Century, that’s about 1200 years). 711,000 to 726,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes. This number is disputed but what is not argued is that 80% of the Arab population was displaced in order to give the Jewish people their Ancestral home back. You can imagine that this upset a lot of the Arab population in the area. These westerners (the U.N.) have come in and told them they have to move because they say so.

This is in sharp contrast to the propagandized revision of history that the Jewish people showed up and bought land and were attacked by these angry evil Arabs. The Pro-Israel side wants you to believe that it was the Arab antisemitism that started this conflict. That simply is not true. They were kicked out of their homes and their way of life was threatened by Jewish immigration backed by these Western Nations. If this were to occur with any other nation or group of people we would have said this to be immoral I’m sure.

Arab Refugees in 1948.

“But Israel and Jerusalem is the Jewish homeland, they deserve to get it back!”

I have heard this said with multiple people I have talked to on the subject. It was their home and it was taken from them a long, long time ago. We should give it back right? Well under that logic we should give North America back to the Native Americans. They were here first and it was their ancestral homeland. But I don’t see many of these same people advocating for this.

So any antisemitism on the part of the modern Arab takes its roots in being kicked out of their 1200 year old homes. That doesn’t mean that the blind hate is justified (because it is not), only that a legitimate anger is the root cause. All of those Palestinians in Gaza are either refugees from this era or the offspring of refugees. Back then, Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq attacked Israel in the UN sanction partitions claiming self determination for Arabs across all of Palestine. One can argue that if the Israelis can essentially make such a claim to “retake” their “ancestral homeland”, the Arabs that have lived there for 1200 years can too. The Israelis were victorious and pushed the Arabs out, even out of what was sanctioned for the Palestinian people.

The Zionists knew what they were doing. Theodore Herzl, founder of Zionism, stated that “We shall try to spirit the penniless [Arab] population across the border by procuring employment for it in transit countries, while denying it employment in our own country… Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly.” This is in stark contrast to the Jewish people that lived there prior to the 20th Century. Most Jews were part of the Yishuv and lived peaceably with their Arab neighbors so it’s really hard to believe that the Arab’s hate for the Jew started as pure antisemitism. In fact the Jews in Palestine that were part of the Yishuv were against the formation of an Israeli State. They did not see a need for a Jewish state and did not want to strain ties with their Arab neighbors. In fact in the middle-ages, North Africa and the Middle East became places of refuge for the persecuted Jews of Spain and else ware. They lived in relative harmony with their Arab neighbors until the Zionists decided that all of “Israel” is the rightful property of the Jewish people.

This straining of ties occurred in the 1880s when the first Jewish Zionists started to immigrate into the area. In order to understand how the Zionists purchased land, you have to understand how the Ottoman law viewed property in Palestine (since Palestine later become a providence in the Ottoman Empire). The law required the registration in name of the property owners. However, most of the land had never been registered prior to this law or was held traditionally as masha’a or communal usufruct (the right to enjoy the use and advantages of another’s property short of the destruction or waste of its substance).

This meant that there was a lot of land people had been living on for generations. It was practically theirs by homesteading it, yet they could lose not just the title (which they rarely held) but the right to live on it, plant it, and pass it on to their heirs. This meant that upper class elites good at manipulating the legal system could register large tracks of land in their name. The Arab peasant working the land would find out one day that the land that their families had lived on for generations was all of a sudden sold to a Jewish Zionist immigrant. This is the root of the tension between the Jew and the Arab in the region in 1948. It wasn’t blind antisemitism as the Pro Israel propagandists like to make it out as, but basic property rights disputes about who owns the land. And under homesteading principles ( “the principle by which one gains ownership of an unowned natural resource by performing an act of original appropriation. Appropriation could be enacted by putting an unowned resource to active use”), it’s the Arab that had lived there since the 7th century, not the Zionist.

Next we will talk about how Israel created Hamas and how the west encouraged the radicalization of Islam.

Israel Part 2: The Creation of Enemies
Israel Part 3: That Awkward Moment When You Realize Nobody is the Good Guy…

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