Aug 23, 2011

Not Stealing, but Purchasing

Daniel PipesBy Daniel Pipes

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Zionists stole Palestinian land: that's the mantra both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas teach their children and propagate in their media. This claim has vast importance, as Palestinian Media Watch explains:

"Presenting the creation of the [Israeli] state as an act of theft and its continued existence as a historical injustice serves as the basis for the PA's non-recognition of Israel's right to exist."
The accusation of theft also undermines Israel's position internationally. But is this accusation true?

Palestinian imagery: A Star-of-David-shark devours Palestine.No, it is not. Ironically, the building of Israel represents about the most peaceable in-migration and state creation in history. To understand why requires seeing Zionism in context.

Simply put, conquest is the historic norm; governments everywhere were established through invasion, nearly all states came into being at someone else's expense. No one is permanently in charge, everyone's roots trace back to somewhere else.

Germanic tribes, Central Asian hordes, Russian tsars, and Spanish and Portuguese conquistadors remade the map. Modern Greeks have only a tenuous connection to the Greeks of antiquity. Who can count the number of times Belgium was overrun? The United States came into existence by defeating Native Americans. Kings marauded in Africa, Aryans invaded India. In Japan, Yamato-speakers eliminated all but tiny groups such as the Ainu.

The Middle East, due to its centrality and geography, has experienced more than its share of invasions, including the Greek, Roman, Arabian, Crusader, Seljuk, Timurid, Mongolian, and modern European. Within the region, dynastic froth caused the same territory - Egypt for example - to be conquered and re-conquered.

Against this tableau of unceasing conquest, violence, and overthrow, Zionist efforts to build a presence in the Holy Land until 1948 stand out as astonishingly mild, as mercantile rather than military. Two great empires, the Ottomans and the British, ruled Eretz Yisrael; in contrast, Zionists lacked military power. They could not possibly achieve statehood through conquest. Instead, they purchased land. Acquiring property dunam by dunam, farm by farm, house by house, lay at the heart of the Zionist enterprise until 1948. The Jewish National Fund, founded in 1901 to buy land in Palestine "to assist in the foundation of a new community of free Jews engaged in active and peaceable industry," was the key institution - and not the Haganah, the clandestine defense organization founded in 1920.

Zionists also focused on the rehabilitation of what was barren and considered unusable. They not only made the desert bloom, but drained swamps, cleared water channels, reclaimed wasteland, forested bare hills, cleared rocks, and removed salt from the soil. Jewish reclamation and sanitation work precipitously reduced the number of disease-related deaths.

Only when the British mandatory power gave up on Palestine in 1948, followed immediately by an all-out attempt by Arab states to crush and expel the Zionists, did the latter take up the sword in self defense and go on to win land through military conquest. Even then, as the historian Efraim Karsh demonstrates in Palestine Betrayed, most Arabs fled their lands; exceedingly few were forced off.

Related Links
Understanding the Geo-Politics of Palestinianism vs. Zionism - BPB (Bill Salus)
Arab League blasts Israel for raid - UPI
Terror Attacks Show Stark Contrasts in Judaism and Islam - Christian Broadcasting Network
Israel: The Super Sign of the End-Times (Part 1) - BPB (Todd Baker)
'Zionist Envoy, Leave Egypt or Die,' Demonstrators Demand - Arutz Sheva