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Home Questions in Judaism Between Israel and the Nations DOES THE HOLY LAND BELONG TO THE PALESTINIANS?
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Question - - 02/28/2013
Do religious Jews have an answer to the Palestinian claim that the Holy Land belongs to them?
Answer by Arachim
We will not dwell on the philosophical question of the Land being promised by G-d to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, our forefathers. (This sort of claim is dealt with in a separate question under this heading: "What is the basis for your claim that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish People?")
Here we will answer the Palestinian arguments using historical facts, including the prophecies recorded in the Bible and the books of the prophets:
The Bible tells us:
And I shall render the land desolate, and your enemies, dwelling in it, will be astonished … and your land will be barren, and your cities will be a ruin.
(Leviticus 26:32-33)
This prophecy, written over 3,000 years ago, makes it clear that in Biblical times, the Holy Land was productive and highly fertile. However, when deprived of her children, it is destined to become barren and desolate.
This is exactly what happened when the People of Israel went into exile.
Over a period of nearly two thousand years, various gentile nations made attempts to settle the land, but none succeeded. The Land of Israel reserved its fruits and its blessings only for her own children, the People of Israel. In their absence, the Land became a desolate expanse of wilderness and swamps. Pilgrims and travelers who passed through the region noted that the country had become nearly uninhabitable. Its population remained minimal.
In 1835, the French poet, Alphonse de Lamartine, visited Palestine. He wrote:
Outside the gates of Jerusalem, we saw indeed no living object, heard no living sound. We found the same void, the same silence … as we should have expected before the entombed gates of Pompeii … a complete, eternal silence reigns in the town, on the highways, in the country … the tomb of an entire people."
Recollections of the East, Vol. I, 1845
Mark Twain visited Palestine in 1867. He described his visit in Innocents Abroad:
There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.
A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action. We reached Tabor safely. We never saw a human being on the whole route".
Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies. Palestine is desolate and unlovely. And why should it be otherwise? Can the curse of the Deity beautify a land?
Palestine is no more of this workday world. It is sacred to poetry and tradition, it is dreamland.
Charles Warren, British archeologist and researcher who did extensive research in Jerusalem, wrote in the year 1870:
The Land of Israel is bound up in the chains of its curse which hangs over it. The land has no redeemer, and it is a wasteland with no one to cultivate it or care for it.
According to Ottoman statistics studied by the American historian, Justin McCarthy, the population of Palestine in the early 19th century was 350,000; in 1860 it totaled 411,000. In 1900 Palestine had a population of about 600,000 of which 94% were Arabs. In 1914 Palestine had a population of 780,000 Arabs and the Jewish population had grown to 59,000.
The first Jewish settlers found a land smitten by malaria from the vast swamplands that desolated its once fertile expanses. The total population was scattered throughout the country. The majority dwelt in isolated villages, cut off from one another. There was no united national body. Neither did the population view Palestine as its national homeland. In fact, apart from the Jewish People, no nation at the time laid claim to the Holy Land as their homeland.
These descriptions testify to the fulfillment of the visions of the prophet Ezekiel, thousands of years previously. Only to the Jews, the true sons of the land, will the Land provide its fruits:
And you, O mountains of Israel! Give your branches, and bear your fruits for My people, Israel, for they are drawing near, to come.
Ezekiel 36:8
The land will welcome its returning sons with warm greetings, and will bestow its produce upon them.
When the Jews began returning to the Land and it again became green and verdant, many Arabs from neighboring areas also flocked to Palestine, hoping to benefit from its renewed fertility and prosperity. Arab refugees settled in the country, and presented themselves as long-time, well-established residents of the region whose families had resided there for generations.
Until recent times, no ethnic group was known as the Palestinians. The group that claims that name today is a collection of individuals from various countries who do not share a common history. Neither does this group possess the usual characteristics that define a nation as such. It is only the contemporary Arab-Israel conflict which serves to unite them. The image of a deprived and persecuted Palestinian people was invented for the purposes of anti-Israel propaganda, but the Land of Israel was not to be duped. It refused to recognize the Palestinians — who for centuries, had refused to live within its borders — as her children. Faithful to its sons in exile, it withheld the crops and harvests it had guarded for nearly two millennia from the pretenders to its blessings.
The Torah's predictions have been fulfilled. After World War One, Palestine and the present-day Jordan were home to only 700,000 souls. Today, less than a hundred years later, the population of Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank alone — excluding the Kingdom of Jordan — numbers over ten and one half million. This represents a 15-fold increase!
The facts demonstrate that this is a country which will flourish only when it is serving as the Jewish homeland. Its loyalty to Am Yisrael is indisputable.
As for the Palestinians assertion that Israel belongs to them, the Land itself is the first to refute this claim. The fact remains that the Palestinians have no history as a nation; neither have they any past ties to the land they seek to wrest by force from the Jews, whose return has brought it renewed life.
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