Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Disclaimer: the views expressed here are solely those of the author, weekly Judean Rose columnist Varda Meyers Epstein.

Contrary to popular antisemitic belief, Jews are not “white Europeans” who so rudely colonized land where “Palestinian” Arabs had lived for thousands of years. First of all, Jews are neither European nor white. Secondly, one cannot colonize one’s own land. Thirdly, “Palestinian” Arabs did not live in pre-state Israel for thousands of years.

It’s all a big, fat lie.

Middle Eastern Political and Religious History Analyst Joseph E. Katz, citing a 1937 Palestine Royal Commission Report out of London, writes:

“The Jewish presence in ‘the Holy Land’ -- at times tenuous -- persisted throughout its bloody history. In fact, the Jewish claim -- whether Arab-born or European-born Jew -- to the land now called Palestine does not depend on a two-thousand-year-old promise. Buried beneath the propaganda -- which has it that Jews ‘returned’ to the Holy Land after two thousand years of separation, where they found crowds of ‘indigenous Palestinian Arabs’ -- is the bald fact that the Jews are indigenous people on that land who never left, but who have continuously stayed on their ‘Holy Land.’ Not only were there the little-known Oriental Jewish communities in adjacent Arab lands, but there had been an unceasing strain of ‘Oriental’ or ‘Palestinian’ Jews in ‘Palestine’ for millennia.”

Katz goes on to cite Reverend James Parkes, an authority on relations between Jews and non-Jews in the Middle East. In 1949, Parkes assessed what he called the Jews’ “real title deeds” censuring the Zionist movement for its failure to stress that the Land of Israel has NEVER been without Jews.

It was, perhaps, inevitable that Zionists should look back to the heroic period of the Maccabees and Bar-Cochba, but their real title deeds were written by the less dramatic but equally heroic endurance of those who had maintained the Jewish presence in The Land all through the centuries, and in spite of every discouragement. This page of Jewish history found no place in the constant flood of Zionist propaganda.... The omission allowed the anti-Zionists, whether Jewish, Arab, or European, to paint an entirely false picture of the wickedness of Jewry trying to re-establish a two thousand-year-old claim to the country, indifferent to everything that had happened in the intervening period. It allowed a picture of The Land as a territory which had once been "Jewish," but which for many centuries had been "Arab." In point of fact any picture of a total change of population is false....

It seems possible, even probable, that the failure of Zionist Movement to depict the Jewish presence in the Land in its proper context, is what led to the myth à la mode that Jews are “white” Europeans who up and stole “Palestine” from poor peaceful Arabs who’d lived there for “centuries.” The fact is that there has been a continual Jewish presence in the Land of Israel. There was never a time when there were no Jews living in the Land of Israel, and in fact there is robust evidence that there were significant numbers of Jews living in the Land, throughout time.

Katz tells us that despite physical violence against Jews in the Holy Land by post-Roman Christians, there were over forty Jewish communities that could be traced to the 6th century, comprising "twelve towns on the coast, in the Negev, and east of the Jordan, and thirty-one villages in Galilee and in the Jordan Valley.”

In 438 CE, says Katz, Galilean Jews declared an end to the exile when Empress Eudocia allowed Jews to once again pray on the Temple Mount. Archaeological findings, Katz tells us, bear testimony that in 614 CE, the Jews fought alongside invading Persians to overwhelm the Byzantine garrison in Jerusalem. Yet when the Arabs seized Jerusalem two decades later, they found a city with a strong Jewish identity. The prevailing culture of Jerusalem was Jewish. Despite all the foreigners who had come and gone, raping and pillaging Jewish land, the Holy City remained Jewish in everybody’s minds. Because it was, is, and always will be.

Katz goes on to describe the tragedy that was life for the Jews under Arab Muslim invaders and occupiers. Spoiler Alert: it wasn’t good for the Jews. And still, the Jews, as stiff-necked as their reputation, clung on to the Holy Land, however they could. Sometimes they couldn’t, against their will. So they wandered the earth, and some of them settled in Europe, praying to return.

Other Jews however, never left but stayed in the Land of Israel. They stayed and stayed. It was hard. But they stayed in the Land, their indigenous territory. Only here could they fulfil the commandments.

And here is where people get stuck. They don’t understand or don’t want to understand that Jews and the Land of Israel are indivisible. The Jews have to be in Israel. This is commanded of them by God.

We pray “Shema Yisrael!” Listen Israel! The Jews are called “Israel.” The Land of Israel literally means "Land of the Jews."

Even in faraway non-Jewish lands, the Jewish people are synonymous with the Land. They read the same prayers with variations related specifically to living outside the Land, outside the place where Land and Jews are one. And still, these exiled Jews are tied to the Land in ways that can never be undone. All Jews are. We all have that holy connection.

When a European minyan, a quorum of ten, prays for rain, they are praying for rain in Israel. When a Jew in Cleveland eats bread, he says an after-blessing, thanking God for giving him the Land of Israel, and praying for the Temple to be rebuilt in Jerusalem, speedily in our time.

The enemy in Gaza and under the PA has none of this weighty history, and no valid claim to any land at all. They are but an odd admixture of people who call themselves “Palestinian” while claiming Jewish land—it’s right out of the Roman playbook. But there are censuses. And people with brains can think for themselves. The enemy is a liar and a thief, or rather a wannabe thief, because the land will never be theirs. 

The Land will always be Jewish land, and there’s nothing they can do about it. Even after October 7, even now, there is nothing that can ever change this singular fact: The Land of Israel belongs to the Jews, forever.

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