ARAB CLAIMS TO THE LAND OF ISRAEL ARE FALSE
A common misconception is that the Jews were driven out of Israel by the Romans in 70 AD and that there were no Jews living in the Middle East until the mass immigration of Jews to Israel fleeing Nazi persecution in the late 1930s and into the 1940s. The belief is that the Jews then took over the land referred to as “Palestine” from the Arab people living there by illegally declaring it a Jewish state. The Arab contention that the Jews invaded Eretz Israel and then illegally declared statehood has resulted in the many conflicts between the Arabs and the Jews and still continues to the present time.
The reality is that there has always been a continual Jewish presence in the land and, the population of Jews increased during the 16th century after Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand expelled every Jew from Spain in 1492, resulting in many Jewish families settling in the then Ottoman Empire. Again, in the 1800s (especially in 1881 after the start of the Russian persecutions) more Jews fled to the safety of Eretz Israel. It was the industriousness of these Jews that made the land productive and attracted Arabs who were looking for work in the area.
The land of Israel belongs to the Jew for four very strong reasons:
- God promised the land to the Jewish patriarch Abraham, as recorded in Genesis 13:15-17. God showed Abraham the Promised Land: “Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. All this land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever.” What was given to Abraham was given him without any conditions, to be fulfilled by the integrity of God alone. The New Testament book of Hebrews confirms for Christians the unconditional nature of God’s promise to Israel, when the author writes that when God made His promise to Israel, He swore by Himself in order “to make the unchanging nature of His purpose very clear” (Hebrews 6:17). Scripture makes it plain for Jew and Christian alike that the land of Israel is given by God to the Jews in an unbroken, unconditional covenant.
- The Jews have been settled in this desert land since 1405 BC and when they farm the Land, it blossoms and flourishes. This was the case at the time of the origin of the nation under Joshua and is also the case now. Wherever the Jews farm in Israel, the land flourishes. This is the irony of the Arab claim: it was because of the pioneering spirit of the Jews in dedicating themselves to the task of working the land that jobs became available and Arabs started populating the area in large numbers. The very reason there was an increased number of Arabs in the land was because of the prosperity there which came about from Jewish industriousness and relationship with their land.
- The international community is responsible for recognising the land as historically Jewish and restoring the land to them. The British government set the land aside for the settlement of the Jewish people with the idea of a Jewish homeland, supported by the Balfour Declaration in 1917, and then the United Nations voted that a Jewish nation should be formed as part of a partition resolution plan in November 1947. Israel was then accepted as a member nation of the United Nations in 1949.
- David Ben-Gurion did not stipulate the boundaries of the new nation of Israel when he declared Israel as a nation on 14 May 1948, as the Jews had accepted the partition plan put forward by the United Nations. However, the Arabs had not, and in doing so, they forfeited the right to the partition plan. The borders of the new State of Israel would be decided by war. When the Arabs lost territory to the Jews in subsequent wars the same law applied. The Arabs have forfeited the right to land being determined by negotiation because of their declaration of war, therefore any land conquered in those wars belongs to the victor. This is the way the Arabs wanted the land problem decided – not the Jews – yet they now refuse to accept the results because they lost out on what they thought was a ‘sure thing’.
Written below is the thread that flows through the history of Israel which gives a more complete picture of the true story and the facts pertaining to the rightful ownership of Israel by the Jews.
Prior to the start of World War I, Eretz Israel was a part of the Ottoman Empire and was ruled by the Turks. At the start of World War I in 1914, Turkey sided with Germany and Hungary against the Allied Forces of Britain, France, and Russia. In 1915, representatives of Arab groups met in Damascus with the idea of throwing off Turkish rule over Arab areas. The plan was to barter between the Turks and the British and support the side that gave them the better deal. The British, in a letter from Lord Kitchener through his aid McMahon, stated that the agreement that the Arabs (in support of the British) would gain control of Arab areas would stand, but that “the Arabs would have to surrender their claims to the west of the districts of Damascus, Aleppo, Hama and Homs. That is according to McMahon, the area of coastal Syria (including present day Lebanon) and the land of Israel” (1). From the very beginning, the Arabs knew that if they sided with the Allied forces, they would be entering an agreement where they would have no claim over Eretz Israel.
It was only in 1916 after the battle of Romani, with a decisive victory in the Sinai by the British, that some of the Arabs decided to enter the war. This was done by attacking the Turkish Garrisons in Arabia. Most of the Arabs, including those that lived in ‘Palestine’, served on the side of the Turks during the war – a total of some 300 000 men. While the majority of Arabs were supporting their Muslim brothers – the Turks – the Jews were firmly in support of the allied fighters, with 40 000 Jews serving in various British units. More Jews joined the British army in 1917 to be a part of the British drive north through Eretz Israel that released their homeland from the rule of the Turks.
In 1917 Lord Balfour, the British foreign secretary, announced Britain’s official support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” The war cabinet had been hesitant to support this before this time in case it upset the alliance the British army had with the Arabs. The Balfour Declaration stated that all of the land of Eretz Israel belonged to the Jews. This included the entire land that is now called Israel, including Gaza, the West Bank and the Transjordan which is called Jordan today. An area of 65 436 square kilometres was given to the Jewish people – proclaimed by England as a Jewish national homeland. When in 1918 the British had captured the northern regions from the Turks, the agreement was further clarified: France was to rule over the coastal area of Syria including Lebanon, and the inland region was to be controlled by the Hashemite Arabs with support from the French government. This agreement was made clear to Prince Faisal, by Allenby, when Allenby relinquished British control of the region. The rest of the land that included Eretz Israel was then a part of the British Empire. No other group had claim to the land. The conqueror (Britain) controlled the land and there was no recognition of a people group called the Palestinians; they did not exist. Sharif Hussien, on behalf of the Arabs at the beginning of the war, stated that should there be a collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Arabs would want an independent state. The area he requested for their Arab state did not include Syria or ‘Palestine’. Hussein considered ‘Palestine’ a Jewish country and said that the Arabs would benefit from a Jewish state.
The Arabs were told by the British that they would be given land and independence at the end of the war if they sided with the British, French and Russians during the war, and that this agreement would be dependent on their performance during the war. Only about 3 000 Arabs fought with Lawrence of Arabia on the side of the British, 1% of the Arab number that fought for the Turks. The majority of the Arabs sided with the Turks because of loyalty to their Islamic brothers and because of their belief that Islamic land should not fall into the hands of infidels. The Arabs did not fulfil the expectations of the British yet they received their land and independence. The Jews who committed themselves whole-heartedly to the allied effort, and despite the Balfour Declaration’s support of the formation of a Jewish homeland, received nothing.
At the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, the Balfour Declaration – authored by Arthur James Balfour – proclaimed support of the Zionist movement’s aspirations to build a ‘national home’ in Palestine and this was ratified. This Jewish national homeland included the entire land known as the Transjordan. At this conference, representing the Muslim nations was Emir Faisal, son of King Hussein. He agreed that Eretz Israel should be earmarked as an area where Jewish settlement could take place and be governed by the Jews. This sentiment was repeated by him in a letter (on 3 March 1919) to Professor Felix Frankfurter, who held the position of Justice of the United States Supreme Court. In the letter he stated that he was fully aware of the proposal submitted by the Zionist delegation to the peace conference and finished his statement saying that, “We will do our best insofar as we are concerned, to help them through. We wish the Jews a most hearty welcome home” (2).
Britain and France met with the League of Nations in San Remo, Italy, in 1920 and Britain was given a mandate over ‘Palestine’, with the aim of establishing a Jewish homeland there. Accepting this mandate, Britain promised to replace the heavy-handed rule of Turkey with modern European rule and Christian-based morals. History would show that its morals lay elsewhere. The territory reserved for the Jews encompassed not only all of the present-day Israel, but also all of what is known today as Jordan. A group of Arabs from the land of Eretz Israel presented the British government with a resolution opposing Zionism and asked for the land to become part of greater Syria. The Arabs then began rioting in protest and fought day and night to destroy nearby Jewish communities. The irony of this is that many of these Arabs that were reviled at the promise of the creation of a state of Israel had immigrated from surrounding areas after the Jewish settlers had begun to reclaim the land. With the Jews came new job opportunities, improved conditions and medical care, yet the Arabs still reviled.
A major problem arose in the Middle East when in April 1920 the San Remo conference gave France the mandate for Syria. This led to the Franco-Syrian War which resulted in the French ousting Faisal, who had only just been proclaimed King of Syria in March. Faisal was exiled to Britain, while Faisal’s brother Abdullah moved to Transjordan with plans to continue the conflict from there. Churchill did not want the war to continue between two of Britain’s World War I allies, so he solved this dilemma by making Faisal monarch of Iraq and partitioning the land promised to the Jews – cutting off 76% of the original Palestine Mandate land, and giving it to Abdullah bin al-Hussein, creating the Jordan nation. This left Israel with 12 907 square kilometres. This was the first time in a long succession of requirements for the Jews to sacrifice their land to appease the Arabs. Sir Alec Kirkbride, the British Resident at this time, mentions in his book A Crackle of Thorns that the British intent was to move all the Arabs from the west of the Jordan River to the east of the Jordan. The resettlement of the Arabs was to make way for the planned Jewish homeland. Unfortunately, this never took place. The Jews agreed to this settlement, wanting others to realise that they were not selfish. This attitude of appeasement cannot be understood by the Arabs because they consider appeasement to be an attitude of weakness, rather than an example of a strong character and a possible means of reconciliation.
The extent of the land that was allocated to the Arabs was equivalent to twice the size of the United States, 640 times larger than the land allocated to Israel. Historical evidence clearly shows that rather than the Jews moving into and stealing Arab territory from the Arabs, land has consistently been taken away from the Jews to give to the Arabs. The new countries formed for the Arabs had no previous national history or independent culture.
From the time that Britain was given the mandate over ‘Palestine’ in 1920 they restricted Jewish immigration to Ertez Israel because they continually succumbed to Arab pressure. In the late 1930s this meant that Britain was forcing Jews to return to Europe under the threat of the Nazis and being sent to the death camps. Despite this, when war broke out in 1939, 20 000 young Jewish men and women volunteered to serve in the various forces in the British army. The Jewish people were later to feel the same threat of the Nazi menace on the doorstep as the British had after Dunkirk. The difference is that there was no English Channel between the Jews in Eretz Israel and Rommel in North Africa. To be fair to the Jews, there was always a commitment by them to the British even before the atrocities in Europe became fully apparent – the need was just more urgent. At the same time, during Rommel’s advance across North Africa, close to a third of the 8 000 Arab soldiers in the British Army deserted with their rifles. Haj Amin, the Mufti of Jerusalem, sided with the Nazis and was responsible for the formation of an Arab legion that fought for Nazi Germany. He also called on the Muslims of the world to join the Axis powers in a Jihad against the Allies.
On 29 November 1947, Great Britain decided to terminate its mandate over Palestine and took the matter before the United Nations. The UN members voted “yes” (33 to 13) in favour of a partition plan. The majority that voted “no” were Muslim nations [Resolution 181 (11) (A)]. After 1 900 years of dispersion, there would be a nation of Israel once more. The newly independent Arab states objected to the formation of the nation of Israel and rejected the decision of the UN outright and declared they would destroy any Jewish state. This was a menacing decision made by the Arab nations, because their rejection of a provision for Arab people in ‘Palestine’ made by the UN, and their resolution to “throw the Jews into the sea”, clearly identified their attitude on how the land issue would be settled by war. Any land lost by a nation during conflict would belong to the victor. They already had plans for the land of “Palestine” and it did not include a Palestinian state. If the Arab League nations had been the victors, the land would have been divided among themselves. Therefore, there should have been no claims to any territories lost by the Arab nations to the Jews, especially seeing they were the ones responsible for the conflict. This also applies to the subsequent conflicts of 1967 and 1973.
From 1948 until the early 1970s, between 800 000 and a million Jews left, fled, or were expelled from their homes in Arab countries. 260 000 of them reached Israel between 1948 and 1951 and 600 000 by 1972. Israel – a nation a fraction the size of its Arab neighbours – absorbed the 800 000 + Jews with great difficulty and at great expense. It was also expected to bear the burden of the 700 000 Arab refugees who did not want to be a part of Israel, by having to give up portions of Israel’s own land so that these refugees could form their own state. The Jews were forcibly expelled by Arab governments and were left empty-handed. These oil-wealthy nations have stoutly refused to compensate the Jews for their homes and properties left behind, valued at today’s prices at billions of dollars. Israel has compensated Palestinians many times over via funds poured into the camps.
The majority of the Arab ‘Palestinian’ refugee problem was caused by Arab ambition and boastful rhetoric. The Arab world has done what it is best at: refusing to accept blame or responsibility for its blunders. The Arab nations have manipulated the refugee issue to create reason for the world’s censure of Israel. In truth it is they who should be using their petro-billions to assimilate the Palestinians into the abundant territories they have inherited. Arab nations have refused to welcome their brothers of the same faith, colour and language and have refused to build them decent housing. Instead, they imprisoned them in atrocious refugee camps. These refugees blame their plight and poor living conditions on Israel! For several years the Israelis offered at the UN to tear down the hovels that were present in Israel and put up housing. Each time the offer was made it was rejected by the Arab UN members.
At an Arab summit in Syria on 15 July 1957, regarding the Palestinian refugees, the Arabs attending reached this conclusion: any discussion aimed at a solution of the Palestinian problem which was not based on ensuring the refugees’ right to annihilate Israel would be regarded as a desecration to Arab people and an act of treason (Beirut al Massa, July 15, 1957).
In 1958 Ralph Galloway, the former director of the UNRWA, noted: “The Arab states do not want to solve the refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as an affront to the United Nations and as a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders don’t give a damn whether the refugees live or die.” This succinct statement sums up the Arab world’s attitude to the Palestinians; they are no more than pawns in a chess game being played out for the Arab claim to the land of Israel.
Arab states channelled funds from their ample oil reserves into the formation of a Palestinian army. These vast sums which could have been used to alleviate the poverty and hardships of the refugee camps went to supply the young men of those camps with the training, skills and weapons needed to vent resentment for their circumstances on the Jews. On the other hand, while the United Nations pours millions in aid into the Palestinian refugee camps, the oil-rich Arab states contribute very little.
The irony of the situation is that Israel is continually portrayed as the bully but the truth is that it is the Muslim nations who are cruel and heartless bullies, who show no compassion even to their own kind. These nations will manipulate the Palestinians and use them for their own gain no matter the cost to these people’s lives.
- Crombie, Kelvin. Anzacs, Empires and Israel’s Restoration 1798-1948. Nicolayson’s Jerusalem, 2007.
- Crombie, Kelvin. Anzacs, Empires and Israel’s Restoration 1798-1948. Nicolayson’s Jerusalem, 2007.