Settlements and Samoa
Settlements and Samoa

Just in time for Passover, I received a present of sorts in the mail from my old friend Philip.

As the first Seder on the eve of Passover fell this year on the same day on the Western calendar (the Hebrew calendar is lunar, and equivalent Western dates change on it each year) as Christianity’s Good Friday, it’s worth noting that the meal Yehoshua (Joshua)/Jesus had on this day was a Passover Seder shared with close friends. The only folks seriously doubting this are mostly those who, for centuries, have tried to disassociate Jesus from the history of the Jewish people and their longing for delivery from oppression under Roman occupation.

Those were, indeed, very Messianic times--especially during the holiday of Passover--the Hebraic celebration of freedom. Whatever theological beliefs Christians have come to have regarding Jesus, solid history cannot be denied related to these matters--as ancient Roman historians living around those times and modern scholars have written themselves…

Years ago, while we were discussing much of the world’s problem with Judeans—Jews--wanting to live in a less vulnerable, resurrected nation larger than a compacted sardine can ghetto a mere nine to fifteen miles wide (as UN-imposed armistice lines, not official borders, left Israel in 1949 after it repulsed the attack of a half dozen Arab states immediately upon its rebirth in 1948), the hypocrisy of those vilifying Israel over this issue was as blatant then as it remains today.

Hence the commotion over Prime Minister Netanyahu’s announcement about annexing [parts of'] Judea and Samaria to Israel proper. And the shameful, spineless actions of some leading Jewish organizations now complaining to President Trump over this issue themselves. 

When I opened the envelope containing Philip’s present, to my surprise, out popped a coin from American Samoa. Unfortunately, the latter made news some years ago when tragedy struck the South Pacific in the form of a tidal wave. American Samoa is an unincorporated state southeast of independent Samoa.

As reports came in at that time, and with the on-going vilification of Israel over the settlement and annexation issues, I still can’t help but ponder the irony inherent in the use of such expressions as American Samoa. Consider the following, for example…

The Polynesian peoples living on those islands and others as well didn't ask to be converted, conquered, given The Godfather’s Don Corleone-esque offers they couldn't refuse, and so forth. Yet the French, Germans, and Americans wound up dividing the islands among themselves--thousands of miles away from home, and with no prior historical connections to the land.

The U.S. Navy secured Deeds of Cession of Tutuila in 1900 and of Manuʻa in 1904. The last sovereign ruler of Manuʻa was forced to sign that Deed of Cession following a series of U.S. Naval trials in Pago Pago, Taʻu, and aboard a U.S. Navy warship.

Again, Samoa is very far away from America, Washington has no historical ties to the land, but--in the name of national interests--eastern Samoa became American territory as a result of the Tripartite Convention dividing the archipelago in 1899.

Now consider the territories where, on the other hand, Jews indeed have historical connections for millennia--clear up until their massacres by Arabs in the 1920s and 1930s…Judea and Samaria. These lands make up what is often termed the "West Bank" (of the Jordan River). The latter designation did not exist until the early 20th century, when, after the defeat of the centuries old Ottoman Turkish Empire in World War I, the British and the French divided up much of the region's spoils of war.

In 1922, to reward Hashemite Arab allies in the Arabian Peninsula, the British chopped off almost80% of the original Mandate of Palestine received on April 25, 1920 and handed it over to the Hashemites, who were in the process of getting their derrieres booted out of the peninsula by Ibn Saud and his allies—hence, Saudi Arabia today..

Since all of this land gifted to Arab nationalism, in one of its many hues, consisted of the original 1920 Mandate of Palestine’s territory across (east of) the Jordan River, the East Bank became known as the Emirate of Transjordan. And thus arose the term "West Bank"--formerly known for millennia as Judea and Samaria--located on the opposite shore.

When Transjordan illegally seized the non-apportioned territory of the Mandate on the "West Bank" in 1948 (where Jews, Arabs, and others were legally allowed to live), after it joined other attacking Arab nations to try to nip a minuscule reborn Israel in the bud, it further emphasized this “West Bank” designation to distinguish its newly conquered territory from the land of the original 1922 Emirate. Note that the leader of that land, Emir Abdullah, wrote that he received it not as a gift from London, but as “a gift from Allah” in his memoirs.

Unlike America in Samoa, Great Britain in the Falkland Islands, French Guiana, Martinique, the British Virgin Islands, The Netherlands’ Curacao, Russia in Chechnya, etc. and so forth, Judeans--Jews--have lived and owned property in Judea and Samaria--right on Israel’s side porch--for thousands of years. The Roman Wars, the hated Byzantines, the crusades, and other events took their tolls under various imperial conquerors which succeeded each other since the fall of Judea to Rome some two thousand years earlier. Open to see a Roman Iudaea( Judaea) Capta coin issued after the first major revolt of the Jews for freedom in 66-73 C.E.

Note please: Judaea Capta--not “Palaestina” Capta….

As soon as Transjordan seized Judea and Samaria, as in Transjordan itself, it declared that no Jew could live there. Imagine the outrage if Jews would do this with their own Arab population in Israel…Places such as Hebron, Beth-El, Shilo, Bethlehem, Shechem, Jericho, Jerusalem itself, and so forth are known to the world primarily via the Hebrew Bible.

This is not to deny that Arabs, largely as a result of their own conquests, settlement, and colonization (including in modern times--as the Minutes of the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations, quotes from Winston Churchill, and other valid sources testify to after World War I), have rights as well. But, with few exceptions, it’s easy to discover that almost all the towns on the “West Bank” were re-named from their original Hebrew sites in Judea and Samaria in the Arabization process.

Check out these excerpts (“What’s In A Town’s Name?”) for starters. After Muhammad’s successors’ caliphal imperial conquests and colonial expansion of the 7th century C.E….

“…as with Dor and Tantura, the original name-changers in Palestine were the Arabs, who Arabized hundreds of Hebrew place names when they replaced the Jewish population of the country after the Muslim conquest.

In the great majority of cases, Arabization took place by adjusting old Hebrew names to Arabic phonetic patterns. Sometimes these changes were minor, leaving the old names recognizable.

Biblical Anatot near Jerusalem, the birthplace of the prophet Jeremiah, became the Muslim village of Anata; Modi’in, where the revolt of the Maccabees (in the Chanukah story) broke out, turned into Midia; Bet-She’an, in the Jordan Valley south of Tiberias, was called Beisan.

Often, however, the changes were great enough to obscure the original name. One might never guess from the sound of it that Jenin, the West Bank town that was so controversially in the news a while ago, was once the Hebrew Ein-Gannim; that the Palestinian village of Jib was the biblical Giv’on, where the sun stood still so that Joshua could finish routing the Amorite kings; or that Bet-El, “the House of God,” the name given according to the Bible by Jacob to the site on which he dreamed of a ladder to heaven, is now the Palestinian Beitin…”

The very name “Palestine” itself, for the land of Israel/Judah/Judea, arose as a consequence of the Jews’ second major revolt for freedom against Rome in 133-135 C.E… It was Roman salt deliberately poured onto the wound of the Jews’ defeat. Check out this quote from the contemporary Roman historian, Dio Cassius, along with some other excerpts from the linked article below:

“‘…580,000 men were slain, nearly the whole of Judaea made desolate. Many Romans, moreover, perished in this war (the Bar Kochba Revolt). Therefore Hadrian in writing to the senate did not employ the opening phrase commonly affected by the emperors, ‘I and the legions are in health.’”

The Emperor was so enraged at the Jews’ struggle for freedom in their own land that, in the words of the late esteemed modern historian, Bernard Lewis…‘Hadrian made a determined attempt to stamp out the embers not only of the revolt but also of Jewish nationhood and statehood… obliterating its Jewish identity.’

Wishing to end, once and for all, Jewish hopes, Hadrian renamed the land itself from Judaea toSyria Palaestina--Palestine--after the Jews’ historic enemies, the Philistines, a non-Semitic (let alone non-Arab) invading Sea People from the eastern Mediterranean or Aegean area around Crete...”

Most Arabs came into the area after their own imperial conquests in the 7th century C.E. They ruled, first out of Damascus and then out of Baghdad, for several centuries and were then conquered themselves by the next of Judea's imperial settlers and colonizers.

Those now insisting that no Jews should be allowed to live in Judea or Samaria thus also must demand that Israel abandon what the final draft of UNSC Resolution 242 promised Israel after the June '67 War--a territorial compromise that would yield secure and defensible borders instead of the previous '49 Auschwitz/ armistice lines which made it virtually invisible on a world globe…And nations demanding a Jew-free Judea do so for the sake of creating a 22nd Arab state--and second,not first, in the original 1920 borders of “Palestine.” See what the chief architect of 242, Lord Caradon, had to say about this here…

While other nations have acquired lands hundreds or thousands of miles away from home for their own interests, they claim Judea and Samaria must be Judenrein. It would be laughable if not tragic.

Unlike Samoa to America, the Falklands to Great Britain, etc. and so forth, Judea and Samaria--the latest current focus of the annexation debate--are virtually a stone's throw away from Israel's heartland, are an integral part of four thousand years of Jewish history, and are positioned to allow a hostile army entering from the east to cut a pre-’67, 9-15 mile wide Israel (where most of its vulnerable population and infrastructure are located) literally in half.

Thanks, again, Philip, for reminding me, with your Samoan gift, that the time to retell this message had indeed arrived.