By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Inconvenient Facts for Anti-Israel Political Correctness

Map of Israel, the Palestinian territories (We...Image via Wikipedia
Here are some points to consider:

1. There has never, ever been a Palestinian nation or state in the Holy Land until very recently as, ironically, the modern Jewish state of Israel has cooperated in laying the foundations for an independent Palestinian state for the very first time in Middle Eastern history. Before the modern state of Israel, the Holy Land was part of the Ottoman Empire and, before the Ottomans, part of other Islamic empires. There never was an independent Palestinian nation or state during all of that time.

2. It is clear that the Holy Land is indeed Israel--an Israel that fought against the oppression of Assyrian, Babylonian, and Hellenistic rulers and was ultimately crushed by the Romans (followed by the related Byzantines) who were the first to begin calling the land "Palestine" in an effort to efface the troublesome, rebellious historic Jewish identity of the patch of land known as Judea. Interestingly, the name "Palestine" derives from the Philistines who likely entered the area by crossing the Mediterranean and who concentrated in the region that is now known as Gaza, not in the heartland of the Holy Land. Israel has, to my knowledge, never laid claim to the Gaza region. Readers of the Bible will recall the Philistines as the longstanding enemies of the ancient Israelites. (Interestingly, modern archaeologists and historians today stress the native, Canaanite origins and roots of the Israelites, a troublesome twist to the agenda of those who persist in wishing to view Jews as aliens to the region.)

3. The Jewish state of Israel represents the recovery of an ancient homeland by people who were unjustly denied their freedom and independence and who were targets of national suppression, much as Poland was in later centuries. This recovery of the ancient Jewish homeland is a victory for social justice in the face of centuries of oppression in the Holy Land and elsewhere.

So, today's controversy over the right of a the Jewish state of Israel to exist in the Holy Land is not a conflict, as often misrepresented, between "European" Jews coming to usurp an assumed pre-existing Palestinian nation--a nation that never in fact existed. (The emphasis on the European geographical origins of Jewish settlers also fails to take into account the very important Sephardic component from other parts of the Middle East in modern Israel. Moreover, DNA studies have confirmed a persistent Semitic, genetic component among Ashkenazic Jews who are thus genetically distinguishable from many other inhabitants of Europe.) The Jewish state of Israel represents a liberation of the ancient Jewish homeland from centuries of foreign Islamic domination. It is not really a conflict between Jews and Palestinians--we are in fact witnessing a conflict arising from a just rollback of Islamic imperial conquest and oppression, an anti-imperialistic rollback that is anathema to most (not all) of the Islamic world with its belief in the manifest destiny of Islamic imperial expansionism and exceptionalism.

The above facts are highly controversial today, even on some college campuses in the United States, where there seems to have been no effort to understand the historical facts before jumping to ideological conclusions which absurdly view the overdue recovery of an ancient homeland by an ancient Semitic people from Islamic imperialism, as somehow being equivalent to an alleged new instance of European colonialism. A close study of history supports the case for the legitimate and permanent existence of the Jewish state of Israel, a state that is ready to cooperate in the formation--for the first time in history-- of a sovereign Palestinian state which has never before existed. How different this narrative is from what is often pushed by confused ideologues (of both the left and the right) looking for another "colonial, European" enemy to demonize. Yes, there have been many European colonial abuses in modern history; but the Jewish state of Israel is certainly not one of them.