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by Rachel Neuwirth
Why is it that people are proposing a Middle East peace plan that will make Judea and Samaria Judenrein (the Nazi term for a place with no Jews)?
It is the historic homeland and birthplace of the Jewish people, yet many world leaders - including every American president - believe that the removal of Jewish communities from Judea and Samaria is a crucial prerequisite for a peaceful resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Unfortunately, every Israeli prime minister has been pressured to follow this policy.
Jews have lived in Judea and Samaria for thousands of years. In fact, the Jewish religion and people were birthed in Hebron. We know of the ancient Jewish presence there from both the Hebrew and Christian Bibles and from abundant archaeological and documentary evidence.
No one denies that the oldest document showing the historical connection of the Jewish people to the land of Israel, including Judea and Samaria (a.k.a. the West Bank), is the Bible. Genesis 24:18 says: "And Abram moved his tent, and came and dwelt by the terebinths of Mamre, which are in Hebron." And the world's oldest documentation of real estate being purchased for full price is also in the Bible (see Genesis 23:9). And for those who doubt biblical references, there is substantial evidence in archaeological findings (see http://www.sciencedaily.com/encyclopedia/History_of_ancient_Israel_and_Judah).
Historically, the Jewish homeland included what is today called Judea and Samaria, the Golan Heights, and a considerable part of today's Jordan. The land was inhabited mainly by Jews and was ruled by Jews. Therefore, Lord Robert Cecil, former acting British foreign secretary, was right to use the name "Judea" for the whole land in his famous remark: "Our wish is that Arabian countries shall be for the Arabs, Armenia for the Armenians, and Judea for the Jews." (December 2, 1917). (Elliott A. Green, "What Did Rome Call The Land of Israel And Where Were Its Borders?" http://www.esek.com/jerusalem/iudaea.html). [2016 update: available at http://bka-jerusalem-palestine.blogspot.com/2010_12_01_archive.html]
The Jewish presence there has been continuous, except for 19 years from 1948 to 1967 when the area became judenrein. And during that 19 year period, the Jordanians and Arabs of the remaining portion of "Palestine" desecrated Jewish holy sites and cemeteries in an attempt to deny that the Jews ever lived there.
Those who advocate the dismantling of the Jewish communities in this territory are advocating a policy of ethnic cleansing. This may sound extreme, but from the early 1900s, the Arabs carried out a policy of ethnic cleansing that included the massacre and pogroms in 1929 and 1936 in Hebron. Both the spirit and practice of ethnic cleansing are being continued in the current conflict (see http://www.palestinefacts.org/pf_mandate_grand_mufti.php).
So, what did UN Secretary-General Kofi Anan mean in his 2001 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech when he said, "A genocide begins with the killing of one man - not for what he has done, but because of who he is. A campaign of 'ethnic cleansing' begins with one neighbor turning on another."
Does this not also apply to the Israeli Jews who have re-established homes in Judea and Samaria? Should they be ethnically cleansed from the heart of their historical homeland? Does the Nobel recipient not know a real victim of ethnic cleansing when he sees one?
The same people and countries that condemned ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, Cyprus, Rwanda and Tibet totally reverse themselves when it comes to the right of Jewish people to live in the lands of their historic patrimony. If Chinese people were forbidden to live in China, Buddhists barred from Tibet, or Irish-Catholics banned from South Boston, there would be a tremendous outcry against such injustices. But where is the outcry against the removal of Jews from Judea - their historical homeland?
Is there any other nation on earth that has such a legitimate birth certificate as Israel? And if the Jews have no such document, then the Old and New Testaments are worthless.
The war for Israel's independence ended in 1949 with the Jordanians in full control of Judea and Samaria and the Old City of Jerusalem (the "West Bank"), cutting the Jewish people off from their most holy religious sites. The official status of these areas, then, was disputed territories, as no one had held sovereignty there since the defeat of the Ottoman Empire. Only two countries, Pakistan and Britain, recognized the 19-year Jordanian "illegal occupation". Even the entire Arab world refused to recognize it and, consequently, it was illegal and illegitimate ab initio.
After the 1967 war, the Jewish people have simply been returning to the land from which they were forcibly expelled during the first Arab-Israeli war of 1948-49.
This territory has always been known as Judea and Samaria. Do the names "Jew" (for Judea) and "Samaritan" (as in "good Samaritan") sound familiar? In fact, Shemer, founder of Asher, a clan of one of the twelve tribes of Israel, was the owner and eponym of the hills of Samaria. Is there anything Arab or "Palestinian" about either? Even UN Resolution 181, the Partition Plan of 1947, refers to these territories as Judea and Samaria (http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/mideast/mideast.htm; specifically, http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/un/res181.htm).
The word "occupiers" does not apply to the Jews. Prior to the illegal Jordanian occupation of 1948-67, Jews had maintained several thousand years of continual residence in the area. However, the term does apply to both the Jordanians and the "Palestinian" Arab squatters of today[*] (http://www.tzemachdovid.org/Facts/islegal4.shtml).
In the early part of the 20th century, the Arab population carried out a war against the Jewish inhabitants of the area. This resulted in a series of massacres in Hebron, the birth place of Judaism, in 1929, as well as numerous other violent attacks, such as the 1936-39 pogroms against Jews, ending in the total expulsion of the Jewish population from much of Judea, Samaria and the Old City of Jerusalem.
As a result of the Israeli victory in 1967, Jewish people returned to this area and re-unified the historic capital of Jerusalem. Many of the Jews who had been expelled from this territory, or whose parents and grandparents were murdered by rampaging Arabs, have merely returned to their previous homes. And in subsequent years, additional Jewish communities (not "illegal settlements") were built, mainly for security purposes, and others for historical and emotional reasons on mainly state-owned land and historical outposts.
Judea and Samaria were liberated, not stolen or occupied, from Jordan (see Moshe Dann, "Legality of the Settlements", http://www.tzemachdovid.org/Facts/islegal3.shtml and Marc Zell, "A "Settler's History of Settlements", http://www.internationalwallofprayer.org/A-143-A-Settlers-History-of-Settlements).
Since 1967, 261 new Arab settlements have been built in Judea and Samaria. According to international law, all of these are illegal, as no sovereignty was ever recognized over these territories; yet no one calls for their removal. Why is it that no one talks about those Arab settlements as obstacles to peace - especially when they are bases for carrying out terrorism, and their inhabitants are constantly taught virulent hatred toward the Jewish people and the West?
Dismantling the Jewish communities in these territories will only reward terrorism.
The Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, are a litmus test of Arab intentions. Why can't Jews live in their historic homeland if there really is peace? After all, there are 1.2 million Arabs living as citizens of Israel in the one Jewish country in the world, while there are only a handful of Jews living in any of the 22 Arab countries. In fact, in Jordan and Saudi Arabia, not only is it illegal for Jews to be citizens, they are not even allowed to live there.
Therefore, instead of Israel being the "apartheid state" in the region, it is the Arab world that is not only apartheid, but also racist and religiously exclusive.
[*] Eugene V. Rostow's essays, "Are The Settlements Legal?", are available in the July-August issue (http://www.think-israel.org/rostowNR.html).
Rachel Neuwirth is a Los Angeles-based analyst on
the board of directors of the West Coast Region of the American Jewish
Congress and the chairperson of the organization's Middle East
This article appeared as an Opinion Piece on the Arutz Sheva website
(http://www.IsraelNationalNews.com) January 6, 2004.
This article appeared as an Opinion Piece on the Arutz Sheva website (http://www.IsraelNationalNews.com) January 6, 2004.
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