“So, is Israel, like, a fake country?”
A preposterous question? Or common thought?
A few weeks before the drama with the Trump administration formally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital broke out, a friend confronted me with this question. It wasn’t meant to be malicious. It was, rather, a reflection of common opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, particularly among the American and European Left.
Most people don’t know much about the conflict. They hear about the Israeli “occupation” of “Palestine” on the news. The evil Israeli Defense Forces murder Palestinian children in Gaza and shoots innocent Palestinian civilians. Palestinians live under Israeli apartheid…or something. Israel must be a “fake country.” After all, “Israel was only created in 1948 because the world felt guilty about the Holocaust.” (I know you’ve heard that one before.) But don’t worry, none of this is anti-Semitic because anti-Zionism—that is, the rejection of Jewish statehood—isn’t anti-Semitism. Haven’t you heard?
Israel’s Right to Exist
This friend of mine is an apolitical guy but said he had watched a few documentaries on the subject. I, too, must confess I’ve watched a fair amount, and the level of absurd bias against the Jewish right to self-determination astounds me every time.
I recall one documentary in particular that I watched in an Israeli Politics class my sophomore year, a 2007 PBS documentary on the 1967 Six-Day War called “Six Days in June.” My professor told us it was the most unbiased one she could find, but even in this most-unbiased documentary, there remained an underlying tone of vitriolic hatred for the Zionists.
My professor, being pro-Israel, would pause the documentary from time to time and point out the incongruity, the bizarre moral equivalence the filmmakers attempted to draw between Israel trying to survive as a sovereign Jewish state and the four Arab League states surrounding it that swore to eradicate it from the face of the earth.
There was one point when the documentary sorrowfully discussed President of Egypt Gamal Abdel Nasser’s “shattered dreams” but somehow conveniently neglected to mention that the pan-Arab nationalist president’s dream was to push the Jews into the Mediterranean and, to use Nasser’s own words from a 1967 Cairo Radio interview, “wipe Israel off the map.”
For some reason, the world has decided that every nation, every people, should get its own sovereign state. It’s unjust for Germany to infringe on the sovereignty of Belgium. Germans aren’t Belgians. It’s unjust for Britain to infringe on the sovereignty of India. Brits aren’t Indians. It’s unjust for France to infringe on the sovereignty of Vietnam. Frenchmen aren’t Vietnamese. Why, then, does the world so bitterly and fervently detest the idea of Jewish statehood?
For this reason, whenever I talk with someone about Israel, I start off the conversation by saying, “Be wary of what you hear, and remember this: the world hates the Jews.”
President Trump’s Move to Jerusalem
In early December, the Trump administration announced that it would, at last, be faithfully adhering to a 1995 US statute that formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and would be taking steps to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
And the Left went berserk.
They said it would cause violence, perhaps a Third Intifada, (conveniently leaving out that this violence would come in the form of Palestinian terrorism) and make peace negotiations harder (conveniently forgetting how well those peace negotiations worked out when Israel gave up the Gaza Strip in 2005 in order to appease the Palestinians and bring an end to the Second Intifada).
In case you forgot, Gaza is a quasi-terror-state overrun by Hamas, an Iranian-backed Palestinian terrorist organization that fires offensive rockets into Israel on a daily basis. Hamas won a 2006 election by a margin of 44% and took over the Palestinian National Authority legislature (if it can even be called that). So yeah, handing over the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority sounds like a swell way to promote peace!
What is Palestine?
In order to understand anything about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, especially the Jerusalem debate, you need some backstory.
First things first (and trigger warning): There’s no such thing as “Palestine.”
That is, “Palestine” was the name the Roman Empire gave the Roman Province of Judea to spite the Jews after the Jewish rebellion, the Bar Kokhba Revolts, in the 2nd century A.D. The word “Palestine” was the Greek word for “Philistine,” the historic enemies of the Jewish people. (Remember David and Goliath? Goliath was a Philistine.)
The Philistines, an extinct people, have no ethnic, linguistic, or historic link to the modern Arabs who call themselves “Palestinians.” In fact, these modern-day “Palestinians” didn’t even start calling themselves “the Palestinians” until about 50 years ago. They’re not a nation; they’re not a people. They’re just Arabs, just regular ole’ Arabs, like all the other Arabs in the five Arab states that encompass Israel’s borders. (There are 22 Arab League states. There is one Jewish state.)
Great. Now that you’ve got that historical context under your belt, let’s move onto the charge of “illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine.” It takes a lot of international law to explain this one, so I’ll sum it up as simply as I can…
In order for “Palestine” to be the legitimate power described in Hague Convention Articles 42 and 43, it would have to have been a legitimate, sovereign state sometime prior to Israeli “occupation.” The only sovereign states to exist in the land that became known as the Roman Province of Palestine, with a people that exist to this day, were the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah (or Judea).
The Eternal Capital of the Jewish People
Now, finally, we can move on to the hot topic of the day: Jerusalem as the historic and religious capital of the Jewish people.
The idea that Palestinians have religious claims to Jerusalem is nonsensical for three reasons: 1) Palestinians are just Arabs, 2) Arabs aren’t a religion, and 3) Even if Arabs were a religion, there are 22 Arab states. So, which Arab state gets sovereignty over Jerusalem? The assertion, more logically, is that Muslims have a religious claim to Jerusalem.
However, Israelite King David established Jerusalem as his capital at least 1,500 years before before the birth of Islam. Jerusalem is mentioned 669 times in the last two sections of the Hebrew Bible, the Nevi’im (“Prophets”) and Ketuvim (“Writings”). It is not mentioned once in the Quran.
As Ben Shapiro pointed out at The Daily Wire, if Jews don’t have a right to Jerusalem, they don’t have a right to anywhere in Israel.
Jerusalem is the historic, religious, and lawful capital of the Jewish people.
Anti-Zionism or anti-Semitism?
The motivation behind some political commentators’ and Palestinian activists’ objections to Israel or its tactics is sometimes unknown. To an extent, it’s true that anti-Zionism doesn’t always mean anti-Semitism. To criticize an ideology—whether it be conservatism or liberalism, Calvinism or Catholicism, Zionism or nationalism, Christianity or Islam—certainly isn’t racist. It’s just a battle of ideas, some good and some bad.
But that doesn’t mean anti-Zionism is never anti-Semitism. In fact, I would make a strong argument that it is rooted in anti-Semitism more times than not.
To single out the lone Jewish state, as the United Nations has repeatedly done, as the single greatest human rights violator in the Middle East—when Saudi Arabia punishes women with 200 lashes for being raped and requires four witnesses for a man to be charged with the crime, when the Islamic totalitarian regime in Iran funds terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas, when the Iranian-backed Assad regime in Syria conducts chemical tests on its own people, when the 10 countries in the world where homosexuality is punishable by death are in the Middle East and Israel is not among them—stems from nothing but an ancient hatred for the Jewish people.
Whatever you hear on the news, whatever you hear from your friends or from an allegedly reputable documentary on PBS, be wary of what you hear, and remember this: the world hates the Jews.