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beforenakba

 

A Disputed land: The fame of Palestine comes from the over 80 years dispute between its local Arab population and the immigrant Zionist Jews who strove and later managed to establish their own political entity, the “State of Israel”, expelling and depriving the local population. Zionism in brief is a political ideology that believes in the establishment of a “national” home for the Jewish people in Palestine, it works to realize its aim through all possible means, with violence on top of the agenda.

 

It validates its belief and actions with certain religious arguments derived mainly from Judaism and historical arguments that are based mainly on the Old Testament. However, this neither implies that all Jews are Zionists nor that all Zionists are Jews. There are some non-Zionist and even anti-Zionist Jews and there are many non-Jewish Zionists, most of whom are Protestant Christians. On the path to achieve their goals, the Zionists fought six wars, killing and displacing Palestinians inside or even outside Palestine, who escaped to safety in Lebanon, (For more information see the sections on Zionism and Arab-“Israeli” wars). However, the Zionist view does not consider those killed and displaced as victims; on the contrary, it maintains that its actions are legal and ethical, defending the “undisputable” right of the Jews in their homeland. Let us, now examine this so called undisputable right…

Zionist Religious Claims: As the chosen people, God rewarded the Jews with the blessed land, the land of milk and honey, in which they established their great righteous kingdoms from which they were expelled by the Assyrians. It is time now for the Jews to get back to this land that was given to them by a divine decree, it is time for them to end their miserable, two-millenniums long Diaspora. This rhetoric validates itself with verses from the Old Testament like: “…The Lord said to Abraham: Leave your land, your tribe, the house of your father and go to the land I am leading you to … .So, Abraham went as the Lord told him … Then, they came to the land of Canaan … and the Lord appeared before Abraham and said: ‘To your progeny I give this land’….” (The Book of Creation, 12/1), and: “…And (Abraham) lived in the land of Canaan. Then the Lord said to him: 'Raise up your eyes and from the place where you were, look around you to the north, south, east and west, because all the land that your eyes can see I give to you and to your progeny for ever'….” (The Book of Creation, 13/14) The Old Testament also includes: “… The Lord made a covenant with Abraham saying to your progeny I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river; the Euphrates…” (The Book of Creation, 5/15).

However, it should be clear to any intelligent person that this pledge is valid only to its believers; hence, Jews do not have the right to force the local Muslim and Christian population, who do not share this belief, to surrender to it; had they believed in such claims their would have been no dispute from the beginning. Religious claims then are not able to validate anything as long as they are acceptable to one side only, which is the foreign and immigrant side.

On the other hand, the overwhelming local Muslim majority believes that:

First: Muslims are the legitimate heirs of all Prophets who led the struggle of monotheism on this land, the belief in the prophethood of those Prophets is an indispensable part of the Muslim faith, thus, by this logic, the land is theirs. According to the Quranic doctrine, all Prophets were Muslims in faith, hence, Muslims are their most legitimate heirs because their relationship with the Prophets is one of faith, not of language or race; Prophets belong to those who share them the faith, the Muslims. They believe that the existing Torah of the Jews of today, is a distorted one that was rewritten by the Jewish rabbis to suit their goals and needs, therefore it is viewed very skeptically.

Second: Muslims, however, believe that this land was once given to the followers of Moses. This belief comes from what Quran told: “(Moses said):O my people! Enter the Holy Land which God hath assigned unto you, and turn not back ignominiously, for then will ye be overthrown, to your own ruin. They said: O Moses! In this land are a people of exceeding strength: Never shall we enter it until they leave it: if (once) they leave, then shall we enter. They said: O Moses! While they remain there, never shall we be able to enter, to the end of time. Go thou and thy Lord, and fight ye two, while we sit here (and watch)”… “Moses said: O my Lord! I have power only over myself and my brother; so separate us from this rebellious people! Allah said: 'Therefore will the land be out of their reach for forty years: In a distraction will they wander through the land: But sorrow thou not over these Rebellious people” (Al-Ma’idah, 21-22, 24-26)

God assigned the land to Jews on condition that they constitute a leading monotheistic paradigm based on the revealed teachings, but they did exactly the contrary, and the agreement therefore is null and void. Since this condition was not fulfilled, God sent his messengers to other people so that they promote the faith to humanity in a better way than the sons of Israel did. And from that time, the right to the holy land went to those who lead this mission of creating the leading example based on the divine revealed teachings, i.e. the Muslims. Indeed, Jews themselves had admitted that they no longer deserved the land because of their deviation and sins, this was said by their Prophet Armiah to Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldeans. He said: “Alas, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corruptors! They have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked to anger, The Holy One of Israel, They have turned away backward”. (The Book of Isaiah, 1.4) In other parts, Scriptures adds: “The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants, because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.” (The Book of Isaiah, 24: 4,5.)

Third: Even if we endorse the belief of the Jews that the land was given to Ibrahim and his children, then the Arabs have a right to the land as well because Ismaceel (Ishmael), the second son of Abraham, is one of their great grandfathers. Thus, according to the same logic, they have equal right to that of the Jews

Fourth: For Muslims, Quran has explained clearly the meaning of choosing the progeny of Ibrahim for leadership: “…God said: I will make thee an Imam to the Nations. Ibrahim pleaded: And also (Imams) from my offspring! He answered: But My Promise is not within the reach of evil doers [tyrants] (Al-Baqara, 124).” The condition for this leadership is not to do evil things, but, on the contrary, the Zionist Jews are using it as an excuse to kill, displace, torture and oppress, as if God chose them to be given a free license to do evils.

Zionist Historical Claims: Based on the stories narrated in the Torah, the Zionist Jews claim that they are the original people of Palestine and that this land belongs only to them; everybody who entered this land came after them and is considered a colonizer of the land of Israel; he deserves then to be expelled for taking a land that is not his. Many historical studies were directed to support this contention; but they are far from being academic and are value driven as they disregard a huge amount of historical evidence that will be discussed here.

First: Bearing in mind that Prophet Musa (Moses) came in the 13th century B.C. it is easy to refute these claims. Indeed, the rich history of Palestine starts far before this age. Traces found in Palestine show that it was inhabited since the early stone age (500,000-14,000 B.C.) and continued to be inhabited in the middle stone age (14,000-8,000 B.C.) when the first known civilization in human history, Natufian Civilization, started. Natufians took their name from the caves in the area north of present day Al-Quds (Jerusalem); in 8000 B.C. they established Jericho, which was the first form of human settlement, i.e. the first city in History. The recorded history of Palestine started with the migration of Semitic groups from the Arabian Peninsula. These groups included the Amorites, the Canaanites; the Jebusites and the Phoenicians, who were all sub-groups of the Canaanites.

The Canaanites, and to a lesser degree the Jebusites, settled in large numbers in the Mountains of Palestine; the Phoenicians settled in Northern Palestine and Lebanon; and the Amorites settled in Jordan. The Canaanites became the dominant population group of Palestine and consequently the land was named after them (The Land of Canaan), a name used even in the Torah. The Canaanites built more than 200 cities and villages; including Shechem (Known now as Nablus), cAkka (Acre), Haifa, Isdud, Beer Al-Sabec (Beersheba) and Beit Lahm (Bethlehem). Excavations in the sites of the ancient Syrian civilization of Ugarit, which was affected to a large extent by the Canaanites, discovered a huge sum of cuneiform inscriptions that revealed much about the Canaanite religion and mythology. They were stunningly similar to the mythology of the Torah, leading to the conclusion that the Jewish rabbis depended much on the Canaanite literature in writing the Torah, but attributed it to themselves or even to God. Indeed, the Temple of Solomon, mentioned in the Torah, is very much similar to the House of Bacal (built by the Canaanites in the same city in 2600 B.C.); Bacal was the Canaanite god of fertility.

Second: Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) came to this land around the year 1900 B.C.; in narrating this story Torah called the area “The Land of Canaan”, admitting the existence of a civilization on this land prior even to the coming of Prophet Ibrahim, the great grandfather of Arabs and Jews. His grandson, Yacqoob (Jacob or Israel), from whom Jews descended, migrated with his children from the Land of Canaan to Egypt, where they stayed until the year 1250 B.C. in which Moses took them to the Holy Land.

Third: The History of the Jews in Palestine started during this period, between the years 1250-1000 B.C., but they managed only to settle in few areas, around Al-Quds and in the north. From that time, the rule of Prophets Dawud (David) and Sulaiman (Solomon) started, marking the real beginning of Jewish rule over Palestine. The reign of the two Prophets lasted only for 80 years (1004-923 B.C.).

Fourth: Following the death of Sulaiman (Solomon), the 12 Jewish tribes engaged in a dispute over who will take the thrown:

The Kingdom of Israel (923-721 B.C.): 10 of the Jewish tribes did not support Rehoboam, the son of Sulaiman, and preferred to have Yeroboam from the tribe of Ephraim as their king. They established the Kingdom of Israel, with Shechem, Terza and finally Samaria as its capital, which had, however, progressively disintegrated by a wave of incursions and invasions, until it finally collapsed at the hands of the Assyrians under Sarjon II. The latter expelled the Jews of these ten tribes and took them to the areas of Iraq, Kurdistan and Persia where they integrated with the local people and remained there.

The Kingdom of Judah: (923-586 B.C.): the remaining two tribes supported Rehoboam and established the Kingdom of Judah, with Jerusalem as its capital. It lasted longer than its counterpart, but was weak and subjected to strong foreign influence. The rulers of Assyria and Egypt invaded Jerusalem frequently, but the kingdom continued until the time of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, who destroyed it and enslaved 40,000 Jews, while the remaining Jewish population escaped to Egypt.

Bearing the above in mind, it is clear that the Jewish rule in Palestine continued for four centuries if we include the longest interval, during which they never managed to control the whole area of Palestine, with continuous declination and increasing foreign influence until they eventually vanished. Indeed, even during the times of their greatest kings, Prophets Dawud (David) and Sulaiman (Solomon), the Jews did not have full control over the whole area of Palestine; the southwestern coastal areas almost from Yafa (Jaffa) to Gaza.

Fifth: Palestine was then incorporated in the Persian Empire (539-332 B.C.), Cyrus II, the Persian Emperor, allowed the Jews to leave Babylon to Palestine. Few of them left and settled in Jerusalem, where they were allowed to establish their autonomy over a radius of 20 km around the city (around 2.8% only of the area of contemporary Palestine). The rest remained in their new home, Babylon, and seem to have settled there permanently.

332 B.C., Alexander The Macedonian conquered Palestine which was subjected to the Hellenistic rule. Despite continues wars over the area between the generals of Alexander, The Jewish autonomy remained untouched in the early Hellenistic rule under the Ptolemies, the rulers of Egypt who managed to control the area from 332 until 198 B.C. However, things changed when the Seleucids, the rulers of Syria, defeated the Ptolemies and captured the areas they controlled in Syria and Palestine in 213 B.C. By 198 B.C., the Seleucids forced the Jews to abide to Greek traditions and faith, but they later revolted and once more gained a kind of autonomy over Jerusalem that fluctuated between strength and weakness according to the hegemony of the surrounding powers.

Subsequently, the Romans controlled the area in 63 B.C., they kept the Jewish autonomy over Jerusalem intact until 6 A.D., when they assumed direct control over it. The Jews revolted between the years 66-70 A.D., but the Romans brutally suppressed this revolution and destroyed Jerusalem and its new temple built by Herod. The Jews revolted again and for the last time in 132-135 A.D., the Romans responded more aggressively aiming to end any possible future instability to be brought by the Jews, they annihilated the city that they replaced by a new one built over the area and called it Aelia Capitolina. They placed the statue of Jupiter, the Roman God, over the ruins of the Temple of Herod. By this time, the Jewish effective presence in Palestine came to an end.

Sixth: From that time, 135 C.E. and until the beginning of the twentieth century, the Jews did not have any form of physical ties with Palestine or Jerusalem. However, they claim that their spiritual ties with Jerusalem have always been maintained, and that they would have gone there had the political conditions allowed them to do so. However, this claim seems to be untrue and exaggerated, especially when we bear the following facts:

When the Persian Emperor Cyrus II allowed the Jews back from Babylon, only a minority returned, while the rest continued to stay in their places of deportation. Historians note also that the number of Jews who stayed in Jerusalem before its destruction in the first century was less than one third of the total population of Jews at that time, (though their autonomy reached the form of a small independent kingdom between 141-27 B.C.). Even today, 60% of the world’s Jews live outside the Zionist state, and refuse to migrate to “the home land”, especially those who enjoy prosperous economic conditions in the U.S. and Western Europe.

Seventh: Indeed, going back to Palestine was religiously prohibited until the beginning of the twentieth century and the emergence of Zionism. Jews believed that God has deprived them from living in Palestine because of their evil deeds, and they can only go back when the Messiah, their savior, comes and guides them to the good again. Any Jew who called for going back to Palestine to establish a Jewish community there was considered a heterodox.

Eighth: 395 C.E. the Roman Empire was divided into two parts; Eastern Byzantine with Constantinople as its capital, and Western Rome with Rome as its capital. Palestine remained under continuous Byzantine rule except for few years when Persia captured the area (610-624 C.E.). The Byzantines maintained indirect rule through their agents in the area, the Arab Ghassani tribes, who migrated from Yemen and embraced Christianity in the fourth century. No massive migration took place from Europe, as the Romans wanted this area to be their frontline during wars and a source of wealth, thus the local demography remained almost the same.

Ninth: Muslims, under the leadership of the orthodox Caliph Omar, opened the area in the year 636 C.E./ 15 H. Omar had personally taken the keys of Jerusalem from its Patriarch and undertook to grant the people freedom of religion, and the right to keep their churches in the famous Covenant of Omar (Al-cUhda Al-cUmariyyah). The city witnessed no bloodshed this time. Since then, most of the local population, who descended from the Canaanites and Philistines, embraced Islam. During the Umayyad Caliphate, the Dome of the Rock, one of the finest pieces of architecture on earth, was built on the rock from which Prophet Muhammad (Peace been upon him) started his journey to heaven (Micraj). The local population mixed with the immigrants who came from the Arabian Peninsula, and adopted their Arabic language.

Tenth: The continuous Muslim rule was interrupted by the Crusades. The Crusaders managed to occupy Al Quds (Jerusalem) in 1099 C.E; they inflicted the city with the worst bloodshed that it had ever witnessed. They established “the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem” that continued for 88 years until it was crushed by the sword of Salahuddin Al-Ayyubi (Saladin). After the battle of Hettin in July 1187, Salahuddin marched to Al Quds (Jerusalem) and returned it to the Islamic folk in 2 October 1187 C.E.

For 1200 years, Palestine was inhabited and ruled by Muslims. For the first time since the time of the early Canaanites, this land was ruled and inhabited by one and the same people. The Muslim era was the longest in the history of Palestine and was only interrupted by the brutal crusades. Until 1918, followers of the three faiths, Islam, Christianity and Judaism, experienced peace and harmony in Palestine for most of this era, thanks to the accommodating Muslim rule.

Eleventh: Even if we assume that Palestine belonged to the Jews as a race, there is no evidence that today’s Jews are the direct descendants of the ancient Jews. On the contrary, historical evidence suggests that they are not. Most of the Jews living in today’s world are descendents of the Khazar Jews, a Tatar-Turkic tribe that lived in the Caucuses around the area of the Caspian Sea. Its king, Bulan, became a Jew, probably for strategic reasons, in 740 C.E., and the whole tribe adopted Judaism. Their kingdom was destroyed by a Russo-Byzantine alliance, and the Khazar Jews dispersed in Russia and Eastern Europe. 90% of today’s Jews, known as the Ashkenazim, come from this origin. Consequently, if the Jews of our days ask to live in the home of their ancestors, it is to southern Russia where they should go, not Palestine.

Twelfth: The modern rule of the Zionists has been based on violence and tyranny; it displaced others and deprived them from their basic rights. Even if the land belonged historically to the Jews, it is by no mean acceptable that they deprive any other people from their right, especially since those people are not responsible for the Jewish miserable plight.

Conclusion: In the long and rich Palestinian history, the Jewish history measures like an hour to a week as you may have seen. The Jewish tribes were nothing more than invaders who tried to establish their rule over a nation that is rich materially and culturally. They ended up destroying the land and claiming its culture to be theirs. Commenting on the Jewish history in Palestine after the destruction of their two kingdoms, the famous historian G.H Wales records in his concise history that: “the life of the Hebrews in Palestine was like the life of a man who insists to live in the middle of a busy road so he is always struck by vehicles”.

The Canaanites and Philistines, who accepted Christianity during the Byzantine era, and subsequently Islam, are the same people who continued to inhabit the area until 1948, and for the last 4500 years. Thus, they are the legitimate autochthons of this land. Any forceful occupation of their land and denial of their rights should not be legitimized under any conditions whatsoever because it is the basic right of a nation to determine its fate. Due to the Zionist terrorism, and until 2002, there were 4.8 millions Palestinians living as refugees around the world and 1.6 millions in refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, most of whom are direct descendents of the Canaanites and the Philistines who had once given this land its fame as the land of milk and honey.



Agencies

By Dr. Mohsen Salih

Historian, Researcher and Academic

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