Were there no Jews in the Hasmonean kingdom?Were there no Jews in Rome's Judea province? Were there no Jews in the Arab caliphate? Were there no Jews in the Ottoman empire? The Jews were there and so were the Arabs.
In its 1914 proclamation ‘to the natives of Arabia, Palestine, Syria and Mesopotamia’, the British government stated that: ‘One of [the government’s] fundamental traditions is to be a friend of Islam and Muslums [sic] and to defend the Islamic Khalifate even if it was a Khalifate of conquest and necessity as the Turkish Khalifate which England had defended with money and men and influence several times … There is no nation amongst Muslums who is now capable of upholding the Islamic Khalifate except the Arab nation and no country is more fitted for its seat than the Arab countries’. Source: Mark CurtisArab states and Turkey today comprise 98,5 % of the area the Ottoman empire covered in 1917. Israel’s 1,5 % dips to less than 1% when one accounts for Egypt and other Arab lands taken from the Ottomans by France, Britain and Italy before World War 1. Why should the Turks get Turkey, the Arabs get numerous states, but the Jews get nothing?
Had the original promise made to the Jews in 1920 been kept, to include territory east of the Jordan river, Israel would have had 5% of the 1917 Ottoman lands. It was not to be, for Arab maneuvering, diplomatic pressure and violence convinced the British to split the mandate into two. By 1922, the Arabs got the land of Transjordan, a population to provide recruits to the Arab legion, and a staging area from which to invade the west bank of the Jordan.
During Europe’s relatively peaceful interwar period 1919-1939, the British Mandate saw a significant worsening of the security situation as Arabs increased their attacks on Jewish civilians. The list is long, but I will just mention the Jaffa riots of 1921 and the Palestine riots, Hebron and Safed massacres of 1929. Those resulted in the death of hundreds of Jews and significant destruction of Jewish property. The Arab violence was used to protest Jewish immigration and access to the Western wall. Beginning in 1920 the key figure behind the Arab rioting and anti-Jewish agitation was Mohammed Amin al-Husseini, a nationalist and political activist who became the Palestinian’s spiritual leader as Grand Mufti of Jerusalem from January 1922 to July 1937. Thereafter he fled abroad to escape police arrest.
The 1930s saw more Arab riots and increased emphasis on targeting vulnerable Jewish villages and vehicles. The 1936-39 Arab riots targeted mainly the British, who the Arabs felt had become too supportive of Zionist aspirations. Though the death toll included hundreds of British security forces and about 5000 Arabs, hundreds of Jews were killed, as well.
After Hitler’s rise to power, Arabs intensified their efforts to deny Jewish immigration even when it meant a trip to German concentration camps, and even when those refugees were children. The then ex-Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hitler’s honored guest in Berlin 1941-1945, played a prominent role in this.
In 1948 about 725 000 Palestinians left Israel, in a war the Arabs started. Afterwards, 900 000 Jews were expelled from or left Arab or Muslim countries, fearing for their safety. Their wealth and land were confiscated. Most of those Jews had roots there going back hundreds and even thousands of years as a result of the Assyrian, Babylonian and Roman exiles. Between 1948 and 1972, two thirds of the Jewish exiles from Arab and other Muslim countries had moved to Israel. Does Israel still have no right to exist?
Most “Palestinian” Arabs in 1948 could not trace their roots in Israel (including Gaza, Judea and Samaria) beyond 1880. Indeed, the area was typically called southern Syria and only after the Balfour declaration did the name Palestine become common. Palestinian Arabs should perhaps call themselves neo-Palestinians or something else entirely.
Israel did not interfere with Arab countries’ immigration policies. Why do Arabs still complain about Jewish immigration to Israel? Israel took in all Jews who wanted to come. Instead, Arab countries put most of their displaced Palestinian Arab brothers and sisters into squalid refugee camps where they, their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren live to this day.
Arabs claim that had indigenous Jews accepted to stay as a minority under a Palestinian government in a Greater Palestine, all would have been well. They say Jews could have remained in all other Arab countries as protected minorities. This does not see the reality that engulfs Arab nations in cycles. When a non-Muslim enemy is lacking, they eventually find a way to be at war with each other. It is then the minorities who suffer the most. In fact, having minorities becomes a recipe for violence and chaos which tempts groups to extort “protection money” from minorities. Egypt today has about 92 million inhabitants of whom roughly 9 million are Copts and other Christians. Ask them how safe they feel.
After the Holocaust, it was imperative for Jews in the Middle East to safeguard their own security. Having their own country with a majority Jewish population greatly improved that security.
By fiercely opposing Jewish immigration, especially after the 1917 Balfour declaration, the Arabs tried to deny Jews any chance of ever achieving a majority west of the Jordan river. By attacking Israel in 1948, the Arabs attempted to deny the Jews their own country. Out of the immense area left by the Ottomans, Arabs think that only they should be allowed to run countries, and those countries have to have a Muslim majority.
Every country founded by Arabs after each world war had a Muslim majority, with the exception of Lebanon where Christians made up 53% of the population at the time of independence in 1943. That number has since decreased to 38%. Such demographic trends show the folly of a one-state solution for Israel’s Jews.
Proponents of a two-state solution with a Palestinian state west of the Jordan river question the need for total Israeli control and for increased Jewish habitation throughout Judea and Samaria. They should be aware that when the Arab armies attacked Israel in 1948, Palestinians living west of the Jordan also raided Israeli territory and shot mortars from advantageous heights. Palestinian infiltration and raids took place in 1967, before the Israeli pre-emptive strikes on Arab forces. Palestinian militias were embedded with Arab armies in 1973. Collectively, they have been more of an enemy than a friend. They are in many ways more dangerous than invading armies, for they know the landscape, have access to supporters and safe houses, and speak the local Arabic dialect making it difficult to tell civilians from combatants.