Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Falsifying History

In the media, on university campuses and certainly in the political debate, there is a systematic movement to falsify and rewrite history in regards to Israel and the Middle-East. It has been the official policy of the Palestinian Authority, Fatah and Hamas, to deny and to minimize Jewish historical connections to the Land of Israel. Even as Mahmoud Abbas conducts "peace" negotiations with Benyamin Netanyahu, PA-run television aired a documentary on Rosh HaShanah in which, panning to the Western Wall, the narrator explained, “They [Israelis] know for certain that our [Arab] roots are deeper than their false history. We, from the balcony of our homes, look out over [Islamic] holiness and on sin and filth [the Jews praying at the Western Wall].”

To combat this insidious campaign of denial and revisionism, it is necessary to make a few points clear. One of the most ridiculous claims are references to "Palestine". Never in the history of the civilization has there been a sovereign country, ruled by a distinct Arab people, called Palestine. The only independent states that have ever taken shape in the Land of Israel (besides the brief rule of the Crusaders) have been Jewish. Furthermore, the notion of a Palestinian people only took root during the 1960s. Before then, it was the Jews of Israel who were referred to as Palestinians! Only once the Jews became "Israelis" could the Arab appropriate that name for themselves.

Another common claim is that the Land of Israel is sacred to all three major monotheistic religions. This, of course, is nonsense. "Palestine" and Jerusalem are not mentioned at all in the Qur'an! (The Land of Israel, however, is mentioned in relation to Allah bringing the Children of Israel into the Promised Land). The only Islamic connection to Jerusalem is the later claim that Muhammad spiritually visited Jerusalem and ascended to heaven from there. To mark this spot, Muslim caliphs built the Dome of the Rock and the Mosque of Omar on the Temple Mount, emphasizing that the reason why this spot is sacred to Muslims is because the Jewish Temple stood on that spot. Besides these two mosques, Jerusalem plays no other significant role in Islamic theology. The Land of Israel also has no particular sacredness attached to it in Islam, making it different than any other conquered territory. The holy land of Islam is Arabia- not Israel.

In contrast to this, it is in the Land of Israel that the Jewish people developed, flourished and ruled themselves. It is the Promised Land of the Torah. Jerusalem is mentioned over 700 times in the Bible! It has been at the heart and centre of the Jewish conscious ever since King David conquered the city and made it his capital over 3500 years ago. It was to Jerusalem that every single Jewish male made pilgrimage three times a year during Temple Times. It is towards Jerusalem that Jews pray three times a day (Muslims pray towards Mecca), beseeching G-d: "And to Jerusalem, Your city, in mercy return, and dwell in it as You have spoken, and rebuild it speedily in our days, as an eternal structure." Every Jewish wedding is marked with the breaking of a glass in remembrance of the destruction of Jerusalem and the solemn vow of "if I forget thee, O Jerusalem." Every single Passover seder and Yom Kippur fast is ended with the fervent hope and declaration of "Next Year in Jerusalem!" Clearly, not all claims are equal.

One of the most repulsive libels about Israel is that the Arabs are being forced to pay for the sins of the European Holocaust. It must be stated as forcefully as possible that Jews have been in Israel since biblical times, thousands of years before the Arabian tribes burst out of their peninsula, long before Muhammad ever received his first revelation and millennia before the rise of Nazism. It was in the 1920s, two decades before the annihilation of European Jewry, that the world recognized the right of the Jewish people to a homeland in the Land of Israel- they didn't create or bestow these right, but rather recognized preexisting ones.

These false claims are part of a campaign to delegitimize the very foundations of the Jewish state, which are the unbroken Jewish presence in the Land of Israel. Before any significant negotiations or agreements can be made, the world, and particularly the Arab and Muslim world, must recognize the right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel. Without that, there can be no coexistence.