The sovereign nation of Israel has been in existence as a modern nation since 1948, an existence that has been a bone of contention even before its official founding. Anti-Semites and many liberals, both in America and around the world, as well as most Muslim countries, even today declare that Israel should not exist and that the Jews wrested the land by violence from the Palestinians. The land was previously and should now be deemed “Palestine,” these people contend, and Palestine has a right to exist and to receive foreign aid. Even many conservative, or simply less prejudiced, individuals, such as President Donald Trump, acknowledge that the so-called Palestinians have a right to a sovereign nation and that some sort of aid or recompense should be given to them. This attitude, however, raises some important questions. Was Israel founded only by stealing land rightfully belonging to the Palestinian people? Have the Palestinians a right to land currently occupied by Israel and to aid from other sovereign nations? Has Palestine ever actually been a country? And if Palestine does not and never has existed, can any reasonable person justify giving aid and land to the “Palestinians?” This article is the first part of my examination into these questions and their answers, by looking at the history of Israel and its relationship with the Palestinians. In part two I will point out in more detail the dangerous aspects of the Palestinians and their actions and how this connects with Trump’s offer of foreign aid (one of many previous offers).
My father was born ethnically Jewish, and, as a child, both my parents encouraged me to be proud of my Jewish heritage. As a Catholic, reading a Bible which was written primarily by Jews, the religious connection seemed as important as the ethnic one. The reality of Israel as a country, and the non-existence of Palestine (never mentioned in the Bible), was so firmly fixed in my mind that I was dumbfounded one day in catechism class when my teacher became angry at me for crossing out “Palestine” on a map of the Holy Land in my Bible and writing “Israel” instead. “But it was not Palestine in the first century A.D.,” I protested, “and it isn’t today, either.” My teacher disagreed with me on both counts and indicated that I was lacking in knowledge of basic history. This first encounter was followed by numerous others, and it came to the point where I had no idea what to think. Who was right? Was the land Israel or Palestine? And what was the region’s history that induced my teacher, and apparently so many others, to be convinced of Palestine’s existence?
According to Ancient History Encyclopedia, the term “Palestine” was first used in the 5th century B.C. by the Greek writer Herodotus, who used it to refer to a coastal region including Judea. The term was used again by other Greek and Latin writers for some centuries, including Aristotle and Ovid (though it is key to note that the term was used to refer to a land and not a people). The name, as Britannica.com notes, is derived from “Philistia,” the land of the Philistines—the name of one of the most infamous enemies of the Jews in Biblical history. In fact, the term was applied by those who looked down on the Jews to refer to the Jews’ land, indicating that the Philistines had some right to Israel as well as to their own land. The Philistines had attempted to invade the settled land of Israel a number of times, as is recounted in the Bible (David, in 1 Kings, famously slays the Philistine hero Goliath), in order to take over the land by force. In A.D. 70, the Romans officially renamed Israel Palestine after destroying the temple in Jerusalem, doing so specifically because the Philistines were the Jews’ historical enemies. It was also to help destroy any Jewish claims to rule within the Holy Land (now renamed), controlled, at that time, entirely by the Roman Empire. It would seem to me that Palestine, then, is merely a Greco-Roman way of referring to Israel, the land which the Jews occupied and controlled before the Philistine invasions and which the Jews continued to live on throughout the time other nations referred to it as Palestine (starting with the Roman occupation).
The modern Palestine has no more real legitimacy than the ancient one, and the “Palestinians” have no right to lay claim to Israel. Israel, incidentally, as Alan Dershowitz notes (see PragerU’s “Israel’s Legal Founding”), has an almost overwhelmingly legal re-founding in the modern age—the land was set aside and sanctioned through numerous legal agreements, including the 1917 Balfour Declaration, the 1922 League of Nations Resolution, and the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan. Israel bought the land and has since made it an advanced first-world nation. Yet, at its founding, Israel was immediately attacked by a staggering number of “Arab” (more accurately Muslim) states in the 1st Arab-Israeli War, including Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. From 1948 to 1967, the official policy of the surrounding Arab governments was terrorism against Israelis, including civilians. Not only that, the Muslim governments kept Arabs/Muslims who left Israel in refugee camps for decades (they still exist today)—hardly humane treatment. In fact, some of the Palestinians (so-called) today are just refugees in inhumane camps themselves, brainwashed and being used as political pawns by Muslim governments whose official policies include the elimination of the Jewish State of Israel. None of the Muslim refugees were integrated into Muslim countries. Jewish refugees to Israel, on the other hand, were fully integrated. Obviously, Israel is more truly interested in helping refugees than its enemies.
No country in the world is as surrounded by hostile powers as Israel, yet Israel has resorted to violence only when necessary, preferring legal agreements with enemies, including the Peace Treaty with Egypt in 1978. Religious tolerance is law in Israel, as former Canadian PM Stephen Harper (see PragerU’s “Why Don’t You Support Israel?”) has pointed out. For example, 1/5 of Israeli citizens are Muslims, who have the same rights as Jews and enjoy privileges such as government positions—in fact, Israeli Muslims are the freest Muslims in the region. Michael Medved has demonstrated statistically that Muslim (including “Palestinian”) populations in Jerusalem have grown at an even faster rate than the Jewish population. Yet, Muslim governments still encourage terrorism against Israel under cover of benefitting Muslims. Hezbollah and Hamas are only two of the terror groups which have practiced terror on Israel with no justification.
It is also very interesting to note that the only place Palestinians are not kept in refugee camps is Israel. None of the other countries will accept the Palestinians, including Jordan and Syria, even though they are all Muslims. Jordan and the other countries do not want to accept even those Palestinians who are truly in need because they are so easy to exploit as political pawns against Israel.
Hopefully this short history of the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians raises some red flags about the narrative that the media so often pushes. In the second installment of this analysis, I will continue to talk about the problematic status of the Palestinians and why President Trump should not be offering aid to them as to a foreign nation.