Islamists and their Leftist allies in the West, have a hard time understanding and accepting that Jews are the indigenous people of Israel. They cannot understand or they do not want to, that, according to international law, the Jews have full rights to all of the land of Israel. They cannot deny that the modern misleading notion of the "Palestinian people" was born after 1967 in reaction to the Jews getting back all of Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria (aka 'West Bank'). When Jordan occupied that territory there was no talk of Palestine.
In 1922, the League of Nations recognized the historical connection between the Jewish people and the land of Israel. The Romans re-named it Palestine in the year 136 C.E. and the name was changed to Israel upon independence from British control in 1948. The League enacted the ‘Mandate for Palestine’, which designated all of Palestine, (including that part of historical Judea and Samaria, known to some as the ‘West Bank’), to be reconstituted as the Jewish Homeland.
This fact has never changed and is established in international law. Even though Israel has many times tried to divide part of this historical Jewish land to give a portion to the Arabs, the Arabs never accepted any offer because they are unwilling to recognize any portion as a Jewish homeland.
Despite the West’s naive wish for there to be a “two-state” solution, there has never been any indication from the Arabs that they have departed from their position that they want a Palestinian Arab state in place of Israel not alongside of Israel. The Jews are neither occupiers nor colonialists, but owners, historically and legally to the land of Israel
The Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj al-Amin al-Husseini, appointed by Britain in 1921, will never be accused of loving Jews. In fact, during the Second World War, over 70 years ago the Mufti, who was Yasser Arafat's uncle, met with Adolph Hitler in Berlin to discuss the 'final solution' to the 'Jewish problem’.
According to https://middleeastfacts2015.blogspot.com/2014/12/ , in 1937, the Mufti testified before the Peel Commission, which was looking into the causes of unrest between Jews and Arabs in what was then known as 'Palestine.' The Mufti made a stunning admission: Most of the land that belonged to the Jews, which we are constantly accused of 'stealing,' had actually been purchased by the Jews from the Arabs. And the Arabs were what we lawyers call willing sellers.
The said website shows that the Peel Commission report had some very salutary things to say about the Zionists and their impact on the land and on Arab society and economy. One of the most important for debunking Arab anti-Israel accusations is:
“The Arab population shows a remarkable increase since 1920, and it has had some share in the increased prosperity of Palestine. Many Arab landowners have benefited from the sale of land and the profitable investment of the purchase money. The fellaheen (Arab peasants) are better off on the whole than they were in 1920. This Arab progress has been partly due to the import of Jewish capital into Palestine and other factors associated with the growth of the (Jewish) National Home. In particular, the Arabs have benefited from social services which could not have been provided on the existing scale without the revenue obtained from the Jews…Much of the land (being farmed by the Jews) now carrying orange groves was sand dunes or swamp and uncultivated when it was purchased…There was at the time of the earlier sales little evidence that the owners possessed either the resources or training needed to develop the land.” The land shortage decried by the Arabs “…was due less to the amount of land acquired by Jews than to the increase in the Arab population.” (Chapter V in the report).
Accordingly the Hajj Amin el-Husseini, the intractable opponent of Zionism, a Jew-hater and friend of Hitler, admitted under questioning that no Arab land was stolen; no Arabs were wiped out, no villages destroyed. Rather, the Jews bought hundreds of thousands of dunam (about ¼ of an acre) of land from willing sellers, often from absentee Arab landowners. Moreover, thanks in part to the Zionists and the British, the quality of life for Palestine’s Arab peasantry was vastly improved, with less taxation, more schools, and an increase in Arab population.
That website also notes: “The Mufti also testified that the land was not bought by 'forcibly acquired-compulsory acquisition of land'”. That kind of ruling behavior was the action of the Ottoman rulers and not the Jews. Also the Mufti admitted that any evictions done were by absentee landlords who chose to sell ‘land over the heads of their tenants, who then were forcibly evicted’, and that the majority of these tenants were not Palestinians but Lebanese.”
As the spokesman for Palestinian Arabs, Haj Amin did not ask that Britain grant them independence. On the contrary, in a letter to Churchill in 1921, he demanded that Palestine be reunited with Syria and Transjordan.”
“The Mufti’ is said to have ensured he would have no opposition by systematically having killed Palestinians from rival clans who were discussing cooperation with the Jews.
As the spokesman for Palestinian Arabs, Haj Amin al-Husseini did not ask that Britain grant them independence. On the contrary, in a letter to Churchill in 1921, he demanded that Palestine be reunited with Syria and Transjordan.”
It is a fact that Jordan occupied the 'West Bank' (Judea and Samaria) and east Jerusalem after the Arab attempt in 1948 to crush the nascent Jewish state of Israel. Nothing much was done with it and then in 1967 the Arabs attacked Israel with the idea of “driving the Jews into the sea” - but in fact, the Jews successfully drove the Arabs back and ended up with the land that Jordan had been occupying since 1948.
Upon its capture by the Arab Legion, the Jewish Quarter of the Old City was destroyed and its residents expelled. Fifty-eight synagogues--some hundreds of years old--were destroyed, their contents looted and desecrated. The Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, where Jews had been burying their dead for over 2500 years, was ransacked; graves were desecrated; thousands of tombstones were smashed and used as building material, paving stones or for latrines in Arab Legion army camps. The Intercontinental Hotel was built on top of the cemetery and graves were demolished to make way for a highway to the hotel. The Western Wall became a slum area.
In 1950, Jordan illegally annexed the territories it had captured in the 1948 war–-eastern Jerusalem and the 'West Bank'. Jordan declared “its support for complete unity between the two sides of the Jordan and their union into one State, which is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, at whose head reigns King Abdullah Ibn al Husain...”
Great Britain and Pakistan were the only countries that recognized Jordan’s annexation – all other nations, including the Arab states, rejected it. Great Britain recognized only the annexation of the 'West Bank', not Jerusalem.
In direct contravention of the 1949 armistice agreements, Jordan did not permit Jews access to their holy sites or to the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives.
The Jews who moved to Judea and Samaria after the return of that area to Israeli sovereignty after the 1967 War, are often called “settlers” but how can you “settle” an area that was historically yours already? They were not “settling” so much as “re-settling” but the latter term would be too truthful for the enemies of Israel.
We cannot too often state the obvious: Jews are the indigenous people of the land the Romans called Palestine.
The term “occupier” seems to me to be a term for those who have no legal rights of ownership. It seems that people seek by force (or terrorism) to get something politically that they cannot get by law. The Arabs have tried, in several wars, to eject the Jews from their land; they now try by terrorism and alliances with leftists to get what they could not get by war. The most important legal point is this: The San Remo declaration is the legal foundation that negates the idea that the Jews were illegal occupiers or settlers.
The Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917 and the U.N. vote on the Partition Plan on November 29, 1947 are the two main international political events that led to Israel’s Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948.
Dan Adler points out that there is:
“a misconception that the Balfour Declaration was just a letter of intent, and not a binding legal document. The reason for this misconception ... is that most people are not aware of the San Remo Conference which took place on April 19, 1920, lasted for seven days and published its resolutions on April 25, 1920. These seven days laid the political foundation for the creation of the 22 Arab League States and the one and only Jewish State of Israel.
“The full text of the Balfour Declaration became an integral part of the San Remo resolution and the British Mandate for Palestine, thereby transforming it from a letter of intent into a legally-binding foundational document under international law.
Did the Arabs oppose the creation of a Jewish State at San Remo? The answer is a resounding NO!”
“Why You Should Know San Remo” https://israelforever.org/interact/blog/why_you_should_know_san_remo/
Adler states that the Arabs at that time were focused on the creation of independent Arab states and had no objection to the establishment of a tiny Jewish state in Palestine. This was formalized in the Weizmann-Feisal agreement which led to the League of Nations recognizing the Land of Israel (then Palestine) as the homeland of the Jewish people.
Before the San Remo conference there did not exist a single Arab independent nation state. Almost all of the 22 Arab states that exist today became nation states either as a direct result of the San Remo conference, or much later. Therefore, the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state is exactly equal or greater to the legitimacy of any of such Arab nation states as Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon..
Indeed, World-War I is considered the dawn of most modern nation-states.
After the war, parts of the German, Austro-Hungarian, Russian and Ottoman empires were divided up into nation-states at the same time as both the Jews and the Arabs sought the legitimacy of self-determination and independence to the League of Nations. stepped forward and presented their claims for independence to the League of Nations.
In those days of the decline of the empires mentioned above, the Jewish Legion fought alongside the Arabs and British to capture the east bank of the Jordan river from the Ottomans in 1918.
The Arabs in Palestine at the time saw themselves as pan-Arabistswho were part of Syria. There was no notion of an independent “Palestinian people” and no separate identity beyond pan-Arabism.
Emir Faisal, who was seen as the representative of the entire Arab people in 1918, fully supported the claim of the Jewish people to their historic homeland, while he had his eyes on something bigger: Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon, and Egypt (none of which were independent before WW I). In fact, very few of today’s Arab nation-states existed before World-War I.
The Arabs of Palestine in the post World War 1 period, viewed themselves as Syrian and as pan-Arabs. They had no interest in independence. They were not focused on a conflict of Jews against Palestinian Arabs within that small territory, but rather what it originally was: returning a small patch of Ottoman empire land to its rightful owners, the Jewish people, while dividing 99% of the land among the Arabs.
The results of the Paris(1918) and San Remo (1920) conferences of the League of Nations was the Mandate for Palestine, granted to the British government for the sole purpose of establishing a Jewish homeland in the Land of Israel:
Fifty-one member countries – the entire League of Nations – unanimously declared on July 24, 1922: “Whereas recognition has been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.”
Dore Gold has noted that there are two key legal points in the above statement which establish the Jewish people as the indigenous people of Palestine, and shatter the “Zionists are Colonialists” fallacy.
1. It recognizes that the “historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine” is a pre-existing right (“grounds for“), not a newly-granted right.
2. It calls for “reconstituting” their national home, not building a new national home from scratch.
It is essential that we protect the truth that formal recognition of Israel as the Jewish national home became binding international law not in 1947 or 1948, but in 1920, when the resolutions of the San Remo conference were included as part of the Treaty of Sèvres(August 1920), and were adopted and signed unanimously by all 51 countries of the League Of Nations.
It is also essential to note that the Jewish people were given what was then known as Palestine to “reconstitute" their national home in that country. Palestine is not the national home of any other people. The Jews have throughout history offered to share that national home with Arabs, but the Arabs, supported by antisemites have always declined to share, as offered to them by Barak and Olmert and others - and seek only the destruction of Israel to make it free of all Jews. In this respect Islamist hatred of Jews has won out over the more secular Pan-Arabist approach of a hundred years ago accepting the one Jewish state in the Middle East.
Salomon Benzimra, P.Eng., Founder of Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights, states In “SAN REMO: THE FORGOTTEN MILESTONE TO THE LIBERATION AND CREATION OF ISRAEL” (my emphasis):
"When the notion of ‘occupation’ took root, it soon turned into ‘illegal occupation’, then ‘brutal oppression’ and, finally, ‘apartheid’ which is a crime against humanity in international law. Once corrupted language describes a distorted reality and the distortion spreads, thought becomes corrupt and any resulting action is bound to fail.”
"Since international law more than a hundred years ago gave recognition to 'the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine' and to 'the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country', the continued use of the words, 'settlers' and 'occupiers' are contrary to law."
The mischief of the oxymoron words used to criticize Israel can be seen in American media, the majority of which tilts leftist and is tolerant of Islamists. CNN and CNBC and other television networks are mostly anti-Israel.
The New York Times is an example of this. Recently New York Times reporter Patrick Kingsley wrote an article with the headline, “A House Divided in East Jerusalem”. In this article about disputed ownership of a house illegally built by Arabs in East Jerusalem on the site of a house recognized by the Israeli Courts to have belonged to a Jewish Land Trust, negating the ownership of Arabs who did not comply with the legal requirement to get a building permit in accordance with the usual planning laws. The reporter frames his narrative thus: “The case is part of an effort by Jewish settlers to cement Jewish control of East Jerusalem, a process many Palestinians see as ethnic cleansing.” He doesn’t report on how the Jews see it.
The article acknowledges that “a court said a Jewish trust “has the right to the entire building because the land belonged to it before the foundation of the Israeli state in 1948, To my mind, to term as “settlers” Israelis who have legal ownership that was only discontinued by the Jordanian occupation between 1948 and 1967 is misleading and tries, by the use of one improper word, to hide who exactly is the settler in an “occupation”
In order to cast doubt on the Jewish family’s right to receive back what was stolen after 1948, the reporter says that Israel captured the 'West Bank' from Jordan in 1967 but does not mention that Israel fought a defensive war as it was attacked by the Arab countries. There is no mention of the lynching of Jewish residents of mixed towns by their Arab neighbors or that Hamas, now more popular in the 'West Bank' than Abbas; Palestinian Authority has stuck to its constitutional aims to kill the Jews and take back the whole land, usually phrased as “from the River to the Sea”.
Fortunately the article does quote a Deputy Mayor of East Jerusalem who acknowledges that the land reclamation laws do favor the Jews in order to protect Israel’s character and the Mayor gets to the point: “This is a Jewish state.” And that bothers many people more than anything.
And so, all references to East Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria at public gatherings should have an acknowledgement similar to the one given at public events in Western Canada, where an acknowledgment that the event is taking place at unceded native territory (where no treaty has been yet signed). It should say that “This land is acknowledged as the historical connection of the Jewish people with historical Palestine which is ancient Israel, now reconstituted as the national home of the Jews in our country as recognized by the San Remo Conference of 1920."
Perhaps there should also be added the following: "The continued use of the words describing Jews as 'settlers' or 'occupiers' is contrary to law. We acknowledge that the proper word is “one who returns” or in Hebrew - אחד שחוזר
Recall that a native can be defined as a person associated with a place by birth, whether subsequently resident there or not. All Jews are native to Israel, whether or not we ourselves have been resident there.
We hope that the Abrahamic Accords will once again have Arabs (for now in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Morocco) accepting, for the mutual benefit of all their people, one small Jewish state among a vast sea of Muslims. We hope that the Europeans who killed so many of us will agree to stop using ‘settler” and “occupier” and learn the history of the Jews to know that we are those who have returned to our indigenous Homeland.
Howard Rotberg is the author of four books, including The Second Catastrophe: A Novel About a Book and its Author, Tolerism: The ideology Revealed, and most recently The Ideological Path to Submission... and what we can do about it. He writes for Israel National News, Frontpage Magazine and New English Review, among others. He is president of Mantua Books.