Monday, June 7, 2010

The History of Modern Israel

| June 6, 2010 | Michael Bugg

Posted on Sunday, June 06, 2010 4:29:41 PM by Buggman

Following the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 CE, a would-be messiah named Simon Bar-Kochba incited another revolt in 132 CE and drove the forces of Emperor Hadrian from Jerusalem for three years. When the rebellion was finally put down, the Romans forcibly removed the Jews from Judea and scattered them across the empire, and renamed the land Palestine (for the Philistines, the Jews’ ancient enemy). For the nineteen centuries since, Jews in the Diaspora have celebrated Passover with the hopeful phrase, “Next year in Jerusalem!”

Following the rise of Islam, the Dome of the Rock was built by Caliph Abd-al-Malik in 691 CE. Jerusalem became a rallying point for western crusaders in the dawn of the second millennium, and the Muslims fought back vigorously to retake it. However, except when they were defending it from the infidels, the Muslim world seems to have largely ignored both Jerusalem and the land around it. The Land of Milk and Honey became an oppressive desert. In 1869, Mark Twain described the land as “rocky and bare, repulsive and dreary,” an utter desert waste. “No landscape exists that is more tiresome to the eyes than that which bounds the approaches to Jerusalem.” He marveled that Jerusalem itself had become a tiny, poverty-stricken village, and noted, “Rags, wretchedness, poverty, and dirt, those signs and symbols that indicate the presence of Muslim rule” (quoted by Price in Jerusalem, p. 200). It was not until the Jews regained control of the land and restored it to its previous beauty that this forlorn city suddenly became such a “holy” and important site to the Islamic world.

Though they were not in control, through all these long centuries there remained a continual Jewish presence in what had become known as Palestine, so named by the Romans after Israel’s enemies, the Philistines. Thousands of Jews were victimized by both sides in the Crusades. In fact, as early as 1865, there was a Jewish majority in Jerusalem for the first time since Titus Vespasian destroyed it. These Jewish immigrants quietly moved in, bought property of little value—ruins, desert, and marshland—at exorbitant prices, and worked at restoring it. The popular myth that the Jews just suddenly appeared out of the blue and started colonizing the land in 1947 is just that—a myth, propaganda by Israel’s enemies.

In 1917, Sir Edmund Allenby defeated the Turks who at that time controlled Palestine, and as a result the land came under the control of Great Britain. In the same year, Britain issued the Balfour Declaration, calling for the establishment of Palestine as a homeland for the Jews. The area that was set aside for the Jews was not only modern-day Israel, but the Trans-Jordan region as well. The Declaration came through the efforts of Lord Arthur Balfour, for whom it was named, and Chaim Weizmann, a Jewish chemist who produced large quantities of explosives for the British war effort and one of the leading figures in Jewish Zionism.

Duvernoy credits this declaration to the “favorably inclined frame of mind of a great many British politicians, whose Protestant background and education had imbued them with Biblical notions. Indeed, for many centuries a truly Zionist theology had been developed in Great Britain” (Duvernoy, Zion, p. 143). Telushkin agrees that “Lord Balfour’s motives for issuing the declaration definitely seem to have sprung more from idealism than realpolitik. ‘The treatment of the [Jewish] race has been a disgrace to Christendom,’ he declared on one occasion, and he saw his support for a Jewish state as an act of amends” (Telushkin, Literacy, p. 275). It was that and more. This return to a Biblical perspective on the role of Israel was not unique to Britain; in August of 1897, Theodore Herzl spoke to the first Zionist Conference in Basel, Switzerland and predicted in his diary, “Today, I established the Jewish state. If I said it out loud, I would be laughed at. But it will happen. In five years or in fifty years, it will happen.”

However, Britain reneged on that declaration, restricting Jewish immigration to Palestine with the publication of the infamous White Paper of 1939, “which better deserves the name of ‘blood-red paper’” (Duvernoy, Zion, p. 146). As a result, millions of Jews who might otherwise have been able to flee there for safety during Hitler’s reign instead went to the gas chambers of the Third Reich. “For Jews the White Paper represents two things: the betrayal of England of its commitment to Zionism . . . and a clear message to Hitler that Britain really did not care about what he did to the Jews” (Telushkin, Literacy, p. 287).

As a result of the White Paper, British navy intercepted ships carrying Jews to the Holy Land, forcing them back to the Continent. Ironically, the first British shots fired in WWII were not on Germany, but on the Tiger Hill, a boat carrying fourteen hundred Jewish refugees to the Holy Land. Another boat, the Struma, was refused entry into Palestine and escorted to Istanbul, where it broke down. After two months, Turkish officials had the unseaworthy boat towed of the harbor, where it sank, resulting in the drowning deaths of over seven hundred Jews, including 70 children. The United States was little better, refusing the 925 refugees aboard the SS St. Louis entry here!

Even after the end of World War II, after the full extent of the European genocide against the Jews became known, the White Paper continued to be enforced! As late as 1947, the Exodus, packed with forty-five hundred Jewish refugees, was refused entry into Palestine. Under threat of being sunk by gunfire, the ship was stripped of her passengers, who were taken first to France, where they refused to disembark, and then ultimately back to Germany. “There, club-wielding British troops forcibly carried the Jews off the boat.” While the Jewish refugees wept at being returned to the place of their persecution, their protracted struggle was not in vain.

For the British, the defeat they inflicted on the Exodus and its passengers proved to be a pyrrhic victory. The details of the ship’s tragic journey, transmitted daily and in great detail around the world, aroused tremendous international sympathy and support for Zionism. There were 250,000 Jewish refugees in Europe, the world now knew, who had but one place they wished to go, Palestine . . . (Telushkin, Literacy, p. 289-290).
It wasn’t until later that year that the United Nations General Assembly, both feeling guilt for the horrors of the Holocaust and recognizing the continual Jewish presence in the Land for the last 2000 years, issued a plan to partition the Trans-Jordan territory and to give the Jews a portion for their homeland.

Paul Johnson writes,

Timing was absolutely crucial to Israel’s birth and survival. Stalin had the Russian-Jewish actor Solomon Mikhoels murdered in January, 1948, and this seems to have marked the beginning of an intensely antisemetic phase in his policy. The switch to anti-Zionism abroad took longer to develop but it came decisively in the autumn of 1948. By this time, however, Israel was securely in existence. American policy was also changing, as the growing pressures of the Cold War . . . forced Truman to listen more attentively to Pentagon and State Department advice. If British evacuation had been postphoned another year, the United States would have been far less anxious to see Israel created and Russia would almost certainly have been hostile. . . . Israel slipped into existence through a fortuitous window in history which briefly opened for a few months in 1947-48. That too was luck; or providence. (Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews, p. 526, quoted by Telushkin, Literacy, p. 291)
This plan did not have overwhelming support; in fact, it passed by one vote only because “for the first time the United States and the Soviet Union took the same stand and voted against Great Britain!” (Duvernoy, Zion, p. 149). The Trans-Jordan area, comprising about 76% of what was considered Palestine at the time, was partitioned for the Arabs. Furthermore, while the Arabs did have a 2/3rds majority in the Trans-Jordan region as a whole, “the Jews were a majority in the area allotted to them by the resolution, and in Jerusalem” (Bard, Myths, p. 31).

Arab claims that the Jews had stolen their land did not arise only after Israel’s independence. In 1931, Lewis French conducted a survey of “dispossessed” Arabs, even offering new plots to those who were truly landless; only 600 of the 3000 applicants qualified, and only 100 of those accepted the new plots. In 1937, the Peel Commission investigated further claims by the Arabs of Jewish theft and issued a report finding such claims baseless.

[M]uch of the land now carrying orange groves was sand dunes or swamp and uncultivated when it was purchased. . . . there was at the time of the earlier sales little evidence that the owners possessed either the resources or training needed to develop the land. (Palestine Royal Commission Report (1937), p. 242, quoted in Baird, Myths, p. 19)
Modern satellite maps of Israel reveal that even today, territories controlled by Israel are blooming green and fruitful, while Palestinian territories languish as desert, not due to Israeli oppression, but the shortcomings of a government dedicated wholly to war and death instead of shalom and life.

It should also be noted that more than 70 percent of the land in what would become Israel was not owned by individual Arab farmers, but was controlled by the government. When the British defeated the Turks, that 70 percent was controlled by the British. When the British withdrew, it came under the control of the fully legal government of Israel. Of the remaining 30 percent, 9 percent belonged to private Jewish owners and 21 percent to Arabs. Of that 21 percent, 18 percent abandoned their properties both before and after the failed Arab invasion of Israel; the rest belongs to the Arabs that remained as citizens of the Jewish state (Baird, Myths, p. 29). In contrast, 100 percent of Jewish properties in Arab lands were confiscated—not sold, and not abandoned—when the Jews were expelled.

The U.N. partition was rejected by the local Arabs and the Jews in Jerusalem came under immediate assault in a three-month shelling spree by the Muslims. This siege was only broken by the opening of the underground Burma Road. When Jewish Agency representatives David Horowitz and Abba Eban attempted to reach a compromise with Arab League Secretary Azzam Pasha on September 16, 1947, they were told bluntly, The Arab World is not in a compromising mood. It’s likely, Mr. Horowitz, that your plan is rational and logical, but the fate of nations is not decided by rational logic. Nations never concede; they fight. You can, perhaps, get something, but only by the force of your arms. (Horowitz, State, p. 233) The following year, on May 14, David Ben-Gurion declared Israel an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital, citing this as the fulfillment of Isaiah 66:7-8:

“Before she travailed, she brought forth;
Before her pain came, she delivered a son.

Who has heard such a thing?
Who has seen such things?
Shall a land be born in one day?
Shall a nation be brought forth at once?
For as soon as Zion travailed,
She brought forth her children.

This is also the fulfillment of Isaiah 11:10-12, which says that God would gather His people Israel from their dispersal among the nations “the second time” after the Branch, the Messiah, had become a rallying point for the Gentiles.

The very next day, the Arab League declared its intent to invade Palestine. Azzam Pasha, the League’s secretary general, openly declared, “This will be a war of extermination!” Telushkin notes, “The spiritual leader of Palestine’s Muslims, Haj Amin al Husseini, delivered a similarly edifying message to his followers: ‘I declare a Holy War, my Muslim brothers! Murder the Jews! Murder them all!” (Telushkin, Literacy, p. 297)

It is interesting that King Abdullah of Jordan had a more subdued response to the impending Jewish statehood. He knew himself to be surrounded on all sides by enemies and that the Jews who had resettled the Land were his only true friends—and he did indeed cultivate friendship with them. It was for this reason that Mrs. Golda Meyerson (later Meir) made a dangerous journey into Transjordan to ask him for his support. His response was unusually enlightened: “I firmly believe that Divine Providence has restored you, a Semite people who were banished to Europe and have benefited by its progress, to the Semite East, which needs your knowledge and initiative.” Nevertheless, he urged Israel not to declare its independence because of the tense situation that existed, and in the end, joined with the other Arabs in the attack on Israel (Sachar, Israel, p. 323).

Radio announcements made by the Israeli government at the time urged the Muslim Palestinians to take part in the foundation of a new state where they would be equal citizens with their Jewish neighbors:

Israel, it was announced, would be open to all Jews who wished to enter, would extend social and political equality to all its citizens without distinction of religion, race, or sex, and would guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, education, and culture to all. On the eve of the Arab invasion, the authors of the declaration [of independence for Israel] issued a final plea: “We extend our hand in peace and neighborliness to all the neighboring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is prepared to make its contribution to the progress of the Middle East as a whole.” (Sachar, Israel, ibid., p. 311)
There were instances, “in which Israeli troops forced the local Arab population to leave their homes.” However,
These were acts of self-defense in a war that killed six thousand of the six hundred thousand Jews then in the country, and it is clear that Israel did not, as alleged, mastermind a large-scale expulsion of Palestinians. According to their own testimonies, most of the Palestinians left because of the threats and fear-mongering of Arab leaders. . . . The Arab and Palestinian responsibility for the population exchange that occurred weakens their argument for a "return" and highlights the double standard the UN has consistently applied to the conflict. (Berker, “Forgotten Narrative,” emphasis mine)
While the Jews of Israel did not expel all Arab “Palestinians” from their lands, the same cannot be said of the reverse:
Although they exceed the numbers of the Palestinian refugees, the Jews who fled are a forgotten case. Whereas the former are at the very heart of the peace process with a huge UN bureaucratic machinery dedicated to keeping them in the camps, the nine hundred thousand Jews who were forced out of Arab countries have not been refugees for many years. Most of them, about 650,000, went to Israel because it was the only country that would admit them. Most of them resided in tents that after several years were replaced by wooden cabins, and stayed in what were actually refugee camps for up to twelve years. They never received any aid or even attention from the UN Relief And Works Agency (UNRWA), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, or any other international agency. Although their plight was raised almost every year at the UN by Israeli representatives, there was never any other reference to their case at the world body. (Berker, “Forgotten Narrative”)
Indeed, threats against Jews living in Arab countries were being issued through official channels as early as 1947. When we discuss the Palestinian issue, should we not address the question: If Israel, impoverished, tiny, and tactically indefensible Israel, could settle 650,000 Jewish refugees within its borders, why could not the Arab nations, wealthy from oil revenue and having a thousand times the volume of land as tiny Israel, resettle the Palestinians?

The modern-day nation of Jordan had already been established since 1921 under King Abdullah. Contrary to what has been portrayed by Israel’s enemies, Jordan is the already-existing homeland of the Palestinian people, as has been acknowledged by that nation’s own leadership:

Palestine and Jordan are one..." said King Abdullah in 1948.

“The truth is that Jordan is Palestine and Palestine is Jordan," said King Hussein of Jordan, in 1981.

Let's closely examine the facts of history from the Arab perspective, rather than the Jewish one, regarding Jordan and Palestine.

"Palestine is Jordan and Jordan is Palestine; there is only one land, with one history and one and the same fate," Prince Hassan of the Jordanian National Assembly was quoted as saying on February 2, 1970.

Accordingly, Abdul Hamid Sharif, Prime Minister of Jordan declared, in 1980, "The Palestinians and Jordanians do not belong to different nationalities. They hold the same Jordanian passports, are Arabs and have the same Jordanian culture."

In other words, Jordan is Palestine. Arab Palestine. There is absolutely no difference between Jordan and Palestine, nor between Jordanians and Palestinians (all actually Arabs). (Fitleberg, “Jordan is Palestine”)

Despite the odds, when the Arab attack came the untrained Israeli militia, having little more than bolt-action rifles and antiquated one-seater planes, were miraculously able to win out over Arab tanks—and if that doesn’t demonstrate to the reader which side God was on that day, what would? “Throughout Galilee the word ‘miracle’ was in everybody’s mouth, even those who were far from religious, and it was even used by the not particularly mystically inclined army commanders!” (Duvernoy, Zion, p. 151).

Israel’s existence has been threatened many times since then. In 1956, Israel took the offensive against the Egyptian blockade of the Suez Canal and the Gulf of Aqaba. In 1967, another attempted invasion by Israel’s neighbors resulted in further disaster for the Arab world. This time, the Israelis captured eastern Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and the West Bank, all of which remain major points of dispute to this day. The portion of Jerusalem that was captured included the Temple Mount, and we might well have seen the rebuilding of the Temple a long time ago if not for then-Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan. Dayan, a secular Jew, gave control of the Temple Mount to the Waqf who retain control and restrict access to it to this day.

Tensions between Israel and her neighbors were further exacerbated in 1970, when Yasser Arafat and the PLO attempted to assassinate King Hussein of Jordan. They were expelled into the East Bank and Golan Heights, where they continue to stir up trouble today. Israel succeeded in taking the entire Sinai Peninsula in the 1973 Yom Kippur war, most of which were returned to Egyptian control in return for a peace treaty which both sides have kept since.

The world, demonstrating a clear double-standard, says nothing about this expulsion of the Palestinians from Jordan, but screams in anger when Israel builds a wall to contain the PLO terrorists in order to protect Jewish children. If this were any other nation, the West—with its tradition of admiring the noble underdog—would have sided completely with Israel against the Arab “bullies” that keep trying to destroy her . . . but this is not the case. Instead, a not-so-subtle anti-Semitism has settled comfortably into European politics, consumed the UN, and has seeped into Washington as well, causing official condemnations to ring out every time Israel takes any action to protect herself from those whose announced intention is another genocide.

Supposedly, they are acting in a spirit of religious plurality, accepting Islam’s current claim that the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is their third holiest site. In truth, the world tiptoes around the Muslim Arabs because they control the majority of the world’s oil supply. Joseph Farah summarizes the current situation and that particular myth when he writes:

Palestine has never existed -- before or since -- as an autonomous entity. It was ruled alternately by Rome, by Islamic and Christian crusaders, by the Ottoman Empire and, briefly, by the British after World War I. The British agreed to restore at least part of the land to the Jewish people as their homeland.

There is no language known as Palestinian. There is no distinct Palestinian culture. There has never been a land known as Palestine governed by Palestinians. Palestinians are Arabs, indistinguishable from Jordanians (another recent invention), Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqis, etc. Keep in mind that the Arabs control 99.9 percent of the Middle East lands. Israel represents one-tenth of 1 percent of the landmass.

But that's too much for the Arabs. They want it all. . .

In fact, the Koran says nothing about Jerusalem. It mentions Mecca hundreds of times. It mentions Medina countless times. It never mentions Jerusalem. With good reason. There is no historical evidence to suggest Mohammed ever visited Jerusalem. . . Meanwhile, Jews can trace their roots in Jerusalem back to the days of Abraham. (Farah, ”Myths of the Middle East” )

No “peace-process” and proceed on the basis of a lie, and all too often, we have allowed lies and myths about the birth of Israel to go unchallenged. It’s time to make sure we are prepared to answer Israel’s detractors with facts wherever their lies pop up.


Baird, Mitchell G., Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict (AICE 2006)

Berker, Avi, “The Forgotten Narrative: Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries,” Jewish Political Studies Review 17:3-4 (Fall 2005), retrieved from on June 6, 2010

Duvernoy, Claude, Controversy of Zion (New Leaf Press, 1987)

Farah, Joseph, ”Myths of the Middle East,” WorldNetDaily (2000), retrieved from on July 2, 2004

Fitleberg, Gary, “Jordan is Palestine,” The Israel Report, Feb. 2, 2004, retrieved from

David Horowitz, State in the Making (Knopf 1953), p. 233

Sachar, Howard M., A History of Isarel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time (Knopf, 1985)

Telushkin, Rabbi Joseph, Jewish Literacy: The Most Important Things to Know About the Jewish Relgion, Its People, and Its History (Morrow, 1991)

1 comment:

Paul MacPhail said...

Thanks. That was a good read.