WUJS- The Jewish Right to a State in Israel
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The JEWISH RIGHT TO A STATE IN ISRAEL
There has always been a Jewish presence in the land of Israel. The Jewish people have a religious and historical link to the land.
In 1917 Arthur Balfour wrote a letter to Lord Rothschild of the Zionist Federation which stated that "His Majesty's Government views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people"
After the First World War Britain acquired a mandate for Palestine. An area that covers today's Israel, West Bank, Gaza and Jordan.
In 1947 the UN voted in favour of partitioning Palestine into a state for Jews, and a state for Arabs. The Arab leadership rejected the resolution.
In May 1948 the Jewish population of Palestine declared independence and the Jewish state was born.
Accusation: The creation of a Jewish state displaced the original inhabitants, the Palestinian Arabs.
Rebuttal: Before the Jews came to Palestine it was under-populated and neglected. The Jews cultivated and built the land. They did not displace the local population at this time, nor attempt to do so. All Jewish land was bought and paid for. Most of it was sold by the absentee landlords who owned and neglected it.
The 1947 UN Partition plan, supported by the Jewish leadership, called for the creation of two states side-by-side: one Jewish, one Arab. This would have allowed the two populations to live on the land without displacing one another. The Arab leadership were the ones who rejected the Partition Plan. Even then, Israel's Declaration of Independence guaranteed "complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex". Those Arabs who stayed and did not flee in 1948 were made citizens and allowed to stay in their homes. They were not displaced.
Accusation: Zionism is racism/Zionism is an imperialist ideology.
Rebuttal: In 1975, the UN passed a resolution that declared Zionism to be Racism. This motion was pushed through by an alliance of the Arab states and the Soviet bloc. Throughout the Cold War the Soviets used Israel as a proxy by which to attack the United States. Kofi Anan, Secretary General of the UN described this as the "low point" of the history of the United Nations. The resolution was repealed in 1991. Nonetheless, there are still those who cling to this definition.
Some suggest that the Law of Return, which allows any Jew (and their non-Jewish family) to emigrate to the State of Israel, is racist. However over one million of Israel's six million citizens are not Jews. They are afforded full legal and civil rights. The Law of Return does not prohibit non-Jews from emigrating to Israel. For example Israel accepted a number of Vietnamese boat people to enter and assume citizenship. There are general immigration laws that allow for the consideration of other cases, but history has taught us the need for a safe and secure place for Jews. American Lawyer Alan Dershowitz observed that "A world that closed its doors to Jews who sought escape from Hitler's ovens lacks the moral standing to complain about Israel's giving preference to Jews". Israel has citizens who are Jewish, Muslim, and Christian. Israeli Jews come from Europe, America, Asia, and Africa, and are of all skin-colours and races. All citizens have equal rights. Israel's open and democratic character and its protection of the religious and political rights of Christians and Muslims refute this charge of exclusivity and Racism.
There is an important difference between Nationalism and Racism. Nationalism is a belief in the right of a given nation to rule themselves. Zionism is therefore no different from any nationalist ideology. Racism is a belief that one race is superior to others. Zionism is no more Racism than Palestinian nationalism is Racism. It simply demands that Jews, like other nations, can have their own state. In fact it is racism to suggest that what is acceptable for others (national self-determination) is not acceptable for Jews. Anti-Zionism is frequently just Anti-Semitism in disguise. When once approached by a student who attacked Zionism, Martin Luther King said
"When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You're talking anti-Semitism."
The pernicious accusation that Zionism is Racism reoccurred in August 2001 at the UN World Conference Against Racism in Durban. The Conference was hijacked by certain groups who sought to ignore the very real problems of racism in today's world and instead attacked Israel. This led to both Israel and the United States walking out of the Conference. In July, shortly before the WCAR the White House Press Secretary pointed out that:
"...it's also important to send a signal to the freedom loving nations of the world that we will not stand by, if the world tries to describe Zionism as racism. That is as wrong as wrong can be, and the President is proud to stand by Israel and by the Jewish community and send a signal that no group around the world will meet with international acceptance and respect if its purpose is to equate Zionism with racism."
Accusation: The Arabs of Palestine were the innocent victims of the guilty conscience of the world following the Holocaust.
Rebuttal: The Balfour declaration, which promised a Jewish State in the Land of Israel, was made in 1917, long before the Holocaust happened. The Jewish right to a state in the Land of Israel was not based on the Holocaust. The Zionist movement began in the 1880s. The Holocaust probably increased the urgency for a resolution of the situation but the end of the Second World War saw a general rejection of Imperialism and Empire in favour of national self-determination. In 1948, the same year that Israel was established, India received Independence.
The Palestinian Arabs were not innocent victims. Many supported Hitler and Germany during World War II. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, a major leader, publicly supported Hitler and allied himself with him. Other Arab countries were slow to join the war against Hitler. Only Transjordan joined with Britain in 1939; the rest just waited to see what would happen, not declaring war on Germany until 1945, after it was clear that Germany had already lost. By contrast, 30,000 Palestinian Jews joined the British Army to fight against the Axis powers.
Finally the world did not merely create a Jewish state on Arab land. It offered both peoples in Israel independence in two separate states, as defined in the Partition Plan. Had they accepted this plan the Palestinian Arabs, who had always been ruled by outside forces, would at last have had their own homeland too.
Accusation: There is no Jewish historical link to the land of Israel. The Jews are just 20th century intruders in the land.
Rebuttal: The Land of Israel is the historical birthplace of the Jewish people. Through 2000 years of exile the link was preserved through the habit of praying in the direction of the Temple in Jerusalem, and reciting the statement "Next year in Jerusalem" at the end of Yom Kippur, the end of the Pesach Seder, and at all celebrations. For two thousand years Jews left corners of their homes unfinished and broke a glass at a wedding ceremony as an expression of loss and a desire to return and rebuild Israel. Throughout that time there were Jews living in the Land of Israel, mainly in Jerusalem, Safed, Hebron and Tiberias. In 1856, before the Zionist movement even began, the Jewish population of Palestine was over 17,000. According to the Ottoman census, as reported by Karl Marx, Jerusalem had a Jewish majority in 1844
Christianity and the Koran acknowledge the link between Israel and the Jews. Archeological evidence and secular writings from the Roman and Assyrian empires all confirm this relationship.
Both the Old Testament Bible and the New Testament, are accepted as major religious and cultural documents by Christians and Muslims alike. Even for non-believers, the Bible is testimony of the link that has existed between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel for 2,500 years, and the near universal acceptance of that link in Christian and Muslim civilizations.
Contents - WUJS HANDBOOK ONLINE
Accusations and Rebuttals:
Handbook text is copyright by The World Union of Jewish Students ( http://www.wujs.org.il ). Excerpts have been adapted and are reproduced here by permission. Additional text copyright 2006 by Ami Isseroff.
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