Coastal Post Online

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January 2001

An Historical Perspective On Israel

By Karen Nakamura

During War World II, the Nazis build a wall around Jews living in the Warsaw ghetto and steadily decreased the size both by shrinking the physical perimeters and by reducing the population through starvation, sniping, shelling, carting away families and assassinating community leaders. History repeats itself. In 1995, at the Fiftieth Anniversary Memorial ceremony, the Palestinian government, with the utmost respect, laid a wreath at the site.

Property rights are a determining factor in many global wars. Many cultures believe that, ultimately, the land is everything. At the moment, perhaps the most important regional property rights dispute is between Israel and Palestine who both lay ancient claim to the same land. Who would have the greatest right if the case were tried in court?

Many Israelis will tell you they own the lands between the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean, the Red Sea and Lebanon by Divine Right. They believe they inherited the land when Moses led the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt to the land of the Canaanites. Who in Europe and the United States can argue with three-thousand-year-old squatters rights? It was on that basis, as we know, that the United Nations created Israel for Jewish refugees after the Second World War.

All of this is well and good except for one simple fact. Moses, as noted before and agreed on by all, led the Jews to a land occupied by the Canaanites. These were the forefathers of the present day Palestinians who have maintained a continuous occupancy of that square of land since a thousand years before Moses when they were granted the land by Abraham. Others were seafarers and melded in with agricultural and nomadic cultures.

This mixed culture has lived on the land since then; during the Ottoman, Byzantine, Persian, Roman and any number of invasions and conquests. Accordingly, they were there when the Hebrews arrived. This act is considered by many to have been an invasion by Moses' successor, Yohusha, and which, according to some historians, resulted in the slaughter of tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of Canaanites. Westerners tend to think the Jews migrated and settled peacefully in an unpopulated or lightly populated area. History, however, shows there was an already established government.

An examination of known facts should shed light on the dispute. The earliest human remains found in the area are estimated to be 600,000 years old. Closer to home, between 10,000 and 3,000 BC, agricultural communities sprang up. One of them, Jericho, is said to be approximately 8,000 years old. These communities, along with immigrants from Semitic tribes in the East, Egyptians, Hittites and various nomadic tribes, stayed.

Between 3,000 and 2,500 BC, the Canaanites, also known as the Phoenicians, legendary sailors of old, settled along the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea around Gaza and Lebanon. People migrating from Crete in the same time period were called Philists. The name evolved to Philistines and eventually became the modern words, Palestinians and Palestine.

Around 2000 BC, Abraham, leader of a Semitic tribe from, most likely, Ur, gave the territory to one of his sons. It was this knowledge of common ancestry that may have led Moses to chose Canaan as a destination after fleeing the Egyptians. About 1250 BC, Jews migrated to the area after wandering in the desert for 40 years according to legend. By 1000 BC, they had forged an alliance among themselves and ruled under the so-called warrior kings, Saul, David and Solomon.

King David is reported to have bought the Temple Mount area from a miller who used the area as a wheat-thrashing floor. It was approximately 965 to 928 BC, that King Solomon built his temple on the site in Jerusalem. By 928, this unity was shattered and two kingdoms, Israel and Judah emerged. However, these two countries were each overrun. In 721 BC Israel fell to the Assyrians and in 586 BC, Judah was defeated by the Babylonians. During this later conquest, the population was deported to Babylon and Solomon's Temple was destroyed. In 539 BC, the Persians conquered Babylon and the people of Judah were allowed to return to Jerusalem. They proceeded to rebuild the temple.

In 333 BC, Alexander the Great conquered the greater Palestinian area still populated by Philistines, Canaanites and Jews. In 323, when Alexander died, the Ptolemics of Egypt and the Seleucids of Syria divided the land between them. In 165 BC, the Maccabean Jews revolted against the Seleucids and established an independent state. In 63 BC Palestine was incorporated into the Roman Empire.

In 70 AD, the second temple was destroyed by Rome. Between 132-135 AD the Bar Kokhbar revolt was suppressed and Jews, for the most part, were barred from Jerusalem. It was 1878, 1800 years later that the Jews returned to Palestine to settle in agricultural communities.

In 1948, the State of Israel was established by the United Nations. They were allowed to displace Muslims and Christians who had lived in the area from the beginnings of recorded time. The claim that Jews have more right to that land is bogus when the history of the area is looked into. Jews ruled the area for a total of approximately 900 years during the past 5000. All of that time, Palestinians lived on the land and are still there. Who is more deserving? Israeli politicians would do well to keep this in mind.

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