For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
Myth 1: "Israel was created because Europe felt guilty about the Holocaust."
This left wing myth has been widely repeated, most recently by Desmond Tutu. While blatantly false on a level that even the most serious anti-Israel historian can recognize, it persists because its function is to delegitimize as the product of post-war colonial guilt, rather than longstanding Israeli national aspirations.
Israel was not created in 1947. By 1947, Israel already was a functioning country with a language, culture, agriculture, universities, newspapers and military forces which proved capable of defending against the armies of several Arab nations. The only thing that happened after the Holocaust was a UN vote in 1947 was for a partition plan that was never implemented because the Arab world instead chose to try and destroy Israel. Israel however would have declared independence and fought for its own survival, with the same exact outcome, regardless of UN Resolution 181. This vote is often described as creating Israel, but it was more accurately an attempt to settle the borders of Israel that failed because of Arab genocidal hostility that expressed itself not only toward Israel, but toward the Jews living in Arab lands.
Nor did post-war European colonialism create Israel. Britain, which was the colonial power in the region, was against Israel's independence and abstained in the UN vote. The majority of votes for Resolution 181 came from non-European countries, primarily in Latin America and Eastern Europe, such as Bolivia, Brazil, Panama, Peru and Poland, Ukraine and the Soviet Union. 7 European countries voted Yes, most of them Northern European states such as Sweden and Denmark, which experienced only a limited impact of the Holocaust. 12 Latin American countries voted Yes. Twice the number. And all of them countries that had their own national aspirations and had fought against colonialism.
Post-Holocaust guilt was not the reason Resolution 181 passed. Less than a third of the 33 votes came from countries where the Holocaust had taken place. The reasons were varied and different. Some Latin American countries identified with Israel's national aspirations and some sought economic ties. Truman was influenced by the desire for Jewish votes in an upcoming election. The Soviet Union wanted to sabotage Britain's colonial program. The motives of different countries were varied and complex. Iran for example voted against the resolution and yet became the second country to recognize the new State of Israel.
Left wing activists may insist that Resolution 181 was a racist act, but in fact half the countries who voted for it were non-white, and most of the countries who voted for it were non-European. Therefore the myth that Israel was created after the Holocaust by guilty Europeans, a myth that has been bandied about by everyone from Desmond Tutu to Wallace Shawn to Barack Obama is just that, a myth. Israel would have existed regardless of the Holocaust or UN Resolution 181, which was voted for primarily by non-European countries in any case. Those who repeat the myth are therefore demonstrating either extreme ignorance or extreme deceptiveness.
Myth 2: "European Nations Gave the Jews a Land Already Inhabited by a People."
This is one of the more common myths that seeks to strike at the legitimacy of the creation of the modern state of Israel, and treats the Jews as a foreign body within the land. This is a continuation of the anti-semitic stereotypes of the Jews as eternal wanderers and eternal foreigners.
The fact of the matter is that Jews had an ongoing presence in the land going back thousands of years, that was only interrupted by massacres and expulsions, after which the Jews population would once again attempt to reestablish itself. Greek, Roman, Arab and Ottoman colonialism expelled Jewish populations and attempted to replace them with their own populations in order to gain a foothold in the land. Unlike them however the Jews remained the land's indigenous population.
Throughout history Jews struggled to achieve independence with armed revolts from Roman and Byzantine rule. The last such revolt took place somewhat more than a thousand years before the creation of the modern State of Israel, rather than two thousand as most people believe. Jewish attempts to revive the State of Israel were repeatedly and brutally suppressed, in at least one case by outright genocide. Nor was that the only genocide that Jews in Israel experienced.
Nevertheless attempts at a fledgling Jewish state continued even after the Crusader genocide of the Jewish population in the 1500's with an attempt to create a Jewish autonomous territory under Selim I by Don Yosef Nassi, as Lord of Tiberias. Further negotiations for the creation of a Jewish state continued in the 18th and 19th centuries. After Ottoman obstinacy made it clear that statehood was hopeless, Jewish freedom fighters in the form of the NILI group and the Jewish Legion aided in the British conquest of the region hoping to receive their own state.
While indeed much of the population of Israel came from outside the land, that was because thousands of years of massacres and warfare had depopulated the area. When Western observers visited Israel in the 19th century, they found that the land was barren and had a low population, both Jewish and Arab. In fact Israel was so sparsely populated, that its entire population in 1850, a mere 350,000 people, could fit into modern day Tel Aviv with room to spare. This is all the more striking when you consider that we are talking about a territory several times the size of modern day Israel.
Alphonse de Lamartine visited Israel in 1835 and wrote; "Outside the gates of Jerusalem we saw indeed no living object, heard no living sound, we found the same void, the same silence ... as we should have expected before the entombed gates of Pompeii or Herculaneam a complete eternal silence reigns in the town, on the highways, in the country ... the tomb of a whole people". 30 years Mark Twain wrote, "There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent – not for thirty miles in either direction. ...One may ride ten miles (16 km) hereabouts and not see ten human beings."
In 1857 the British Consul James Finn wrote a book called Byeways in Palestine that chronicled his journeys across the region. In his introduction he wrote rather prophetically, "These notices will show that the land is one of remarkable fertility wherever cultivated, even in a slight degree—witness the vast wheat-plains of the south; and is one of extreme beauty—witness the green hill-country of the north; although such qualities are by no means confined to those districts... Thus it is not necessary, it is not just, that believers in the Bible, in order to hold fast their confidence in its predictions for the future, should rush into the extreme of pronouncing the Holy Land to be cursed in its present capabilities. It is verily and indeed cursed in its government and in its want of population; but still the soil is that of “a land which the Lord thy God careth for.” There is a deep meaning in the words, “The earth is the Lord’s,” when applied to that peculiar country; for it is a reserved property, an estate in abeyance, and not even in a subordinate sense can it be the fief of the men whom it eats up. (Numb. xiii. 32, and Ezek. xxxvi. 13, 14.) I have seen enough to convince me that astonishing will be the amount p. viiiof its produce, and the rapidity also, when the obstacles now existing are removed."
Finn repeated this theme when writing to the Earl of Clarendon, "the country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is that of a body of population." That population would and did have to come from abroad.
Two generations later in 1920, after the British conquest, the Arab population had hardly doubled. Yet in only a generation after that it had reached 1.3 million, primarily from Arab immigrants to Israel from Egypt attracted by growing Jewish industry. Those immigrants would in turn make up the bulk of the "Palestinian cause" with prominent Palestinian Arabs such as Yasser Arafat and Edward Said stemming from Cairo. Then there was the Lebanon born original chief of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Ahmed Shukairy.
Cairo, unlike Jerusalem, had been a booming center under the Ottoman Empire, with a bulging population. From the 1880's to the 1930's, Cairo's population tripled. The resulting stresses vastly overpopulated the area leading to the extreme slum conditions that European visitors would often describe. And part of that excess population came Israel's way.
While Jewish immigration to Israel was visible, Arab immigration was invisible, requiring only that a Syrian or Egyptian get on a donkey and ride in the right direction. But the rising role of Israel produced both Arab and Jewish immigration to the land, for economic and political reasons.
Those same critics of Israel did not and do not object to Arab immigration, even though it was part of a colonizing process that displaced the native Jewish population. Instead they show their double standard by objecting only to Jewish immigration. Ironically enough today it is the Arab migration to Europe that occupies the countries of many of those same critics as the newfound populations begin taking over countries that "already have a people."
In Australia and elsewhere, Muslim immigrants has already begun laying out a new history, claiming that the land belonged to them all along. In France, the riots have been described as a French Intifada. Both processes demonstrate how ethnic and national groups can create a mythology of ownership from square one in countries where they never had much of a presence. That same mythology is behind the claim that the Palestine territory administered by the Romans was actually some sort of unique Arab nationality whose rights have been denied.
Europeans did not "give" Israel a land already inhabited by the Arabs. The Arabs were simply one of the regional populations, and were in the majority because they had conquered and displaced local populations. And while there are numerous oppressed indigenous populations in the Middle East, including the Assyrians, the Kurds, the Copts, the Gypsies of the Middle East (the Dom), the Azeri and the Zoroastrians. Arab Muslims are not on that list except in the minds of Western liberals. Instead Arab Muslims rule all but two countries in the Middle East and 99 percent of the region. 11 million square kilometers to Israel's 20,000.
I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"