Some have questioned why Jews should be allowed to resettle areas in which they didn't live in the years preceding the 1967 war, areas that were almost empty of Jews before 1948 as well. But why didn't Jews live in the area at that time? Quite simple: They had been the victims of a three-decades-long ethnic cleansing project...In 1929, Hebron's centuries-old Jewish population was expelled as a result of an Arab pogrom that killed almost 70 Jews. Jews that year removed themselves from Gaza, Nablus and Jenin. The return of my family to Shiloh -- and of other Jews to more than 150 other communities over the Green Line since 1967 -- is not solely a throwback to claimed biblical rights. Nor is it solely to assert our right to return to areas that were Jewish-populated in the 20th century until Arab violence drove them away.
During this past week I got to thinking that there are probably people who simply don't believe what I wrote.
Well, here's a chart from the 1931 British census of the Mandate, taken from the Palestine Royal Commission Report of July 1937:
If you add up the number of Jews in Gaza, Hebron, Bethlehem, Jericho, Ramallah, Nablus and Jenin, the sum is 856. If you add Tulkarm, it becomes 1522 but I am not sure if that area was solely an Arab district but rather included kibbutzim in the area that would be considered in Israel today. In 1921, the sum total was 799, again without Tulkarm which was 23.
And if you go here, you can count the number of Jews in the area of Judea, Samaria and Gaza yourself and understand why I am suspect of Tulkarm. I add up the figures 3540 Gaza (which probably includes kibbutzim the the western Negev as well as Kfar Azza and 300 in Hebron (Bethelehem isn't listed so this would include the Gush Etzion kibbutzim which, of course, increased by 1948). So, perhaps there were just under 1000 (the numbers for the other districts previously populated by Jews is "negligible").
Which proves my two points:
a) the claim by Jews today to return to Judea and Samaria is not based solely on an ancient "Biblical right" but a demographic reality of the 20th century.
b) the reason more Jews weren't in those areas was a campaign of Arab ethnic cleansing by pogrom and riot and rape and rapine.
I almost rest my case.
One more element. In the back of the Report, I found a map of "Jewish-owned Land", marked in yellow.
Here's the big picture:
and here's the area of Judea, Samaria and Gaza:
you will, of course notice, that land-purchases had been made. And there were another 10 years left to the Mandate and additional purchases were made.
Jews were and belong in YESHA: Judea, Samaria and Judea.
I had just clicked on this to upload and then I thought I'd take a look at the LATimes and if any letters were published.
Lo and behold, I read these:
Are settlements over the line?
Re “On rocky ground: Israel’s settlements in occupied territory violate the rights of Palestinians, and international law says they must go,” Opinion, June 28, and
Yisrael Medad's article on Jewish settlements would be laughable if it weren't so tragic. Through specious logic and linguistic sleight of hand, he has attempted to make the Palestinians guilty of ethnic cleansing and denying the Jews the right of return. Does he really think we're that gullible?
Paul McDermott, Los Angeles
[Last year, Paul was horrified: "Paul McDermott — United States (11/20/2008 2:52:38 PM) - As a former archaeologist I am horrified by the work done by Elad in the King David National Park. From what I have read this group is serving only the goal of advancing Jewish nationalism in Palestine and not historical truth. and five years ago, Paul McDermott, Teacher, Los Angeles, CA signed on to an anti-Iraq war petition]
An inspired choice to let Medad be the spokesman for the pro-settler position.
Out of his own mouth, he proves that the settlements are purely an Israeli land grab with no modern legal justification at all.
I love the principle that "every Jew is entitled to live wherever he pleases." By that logic, no country in the world has the right to use immigration controls to restrict the inflow of Jewish immigrants. So if all the Mexicans who wish to immigrate to the U.S. just converted to Judaism ... well, that's an immigration problem solved.
Heck, the Mexicans are "revenants" too.
Erica Hahn, Monrovia
[an "Erica Hahn, member of Arbeiterring, Huntington Beach" signed on to a Women in Black petition in 2006 and was a pro-Pal. talkbacker, #67,here and #59 here]
Bravo, Sarah Leah Whitman.
She has, in a few concise paragraphs, clearly summarized the situation in Israel/Palestine and suggested what should be an obvious solution to the problem: Move the settlers back to Israel, thereby protecting their rights without violating the rights of the Palestinians.
Judy Neunuebel, Santa Barbara
[if you search her, seems she's an official of Americans for a Just Peace in the Middle East and a talkbacker at some "Third Way" initiative, #4 and signed a "Jewish Voice for Peace" petition, #21]
In his commentary, Medad seems to use "nothing illegal about a Jew living where Judaism was born" to justify the settlers' taking of property in the West Bank for their own use.
This attitude seems incredibly arrogant and dismissive of the rights of the Palestinians with homes or other property in the West Bank. Medad needs to consider the rights of the Palestinians. In fact, having lived there over that same period of time, wouldn't Palestinians have at least the same rights to the land as the Israelis?
It seems as if Medad is offering a very poor rationalization for taking something that does not belong to him.
William T. Parker, San Diego
Medad claims that preventing Jews from living in the occupied territories would smack of racism.
Well, how about Israeli policies that keep Palestinians from living in most of Israel, whether they're stateless residents of the West Bank and Gaza or non-Jewish citizens of Israel itself?
Steve Roddy, San Francisco
[a University professor, he's a pro-boycott person, #122 and he's #146 here
Thank you for publishing these courageous Op-Ed articles. I was thrilled to see a newspaper allowing both sides of the story to be told.
Hana Gheith, Oak Lawn, Ill.
No doubt some may hurl epithets at Whitson for drawing attention to the fact that the Israeli settlements are illegal under international law.
But, like many American Jews, I agree: The settlements are not only illegal but the primary obstacle to peace.
Medad, on the other hand, has some strange ideas about law and history. He seems to think that a law or proclamation can't be superseded, or that a set of "principles" carries the force of law and justifies the violation of another people's fundamental rights.
I agree that Jews should be allowed to settle in the West Bank. In fact, the Palestinian Authority has made clear that, with the resolution of property claims and compensation as appropriate, Jews would be welcome -- under Palestinian sovereignty.
If Jews could be citizens in a Palestinian state -- much like Christian and Muslim Arabs can be citizens in Israel -- would Medad accept it? Or would he be afraid that the Palestinians would treat their Jewish citizens like Israel treats its Arabs?
Mark Kaswan, Sherman Oaks
[he's a Doctoral Candidate in Political Science who is a Jew who won't be celebrating Israel's Independence and he also moderated the “Co-existence, Co-resistance and Co-operation” educational program on May 15, 2004 entitled “The Past, Present and Future of Israel/Palestine.” He defended Rashid Khalidi over here and signed on a support petition, he's 18657, for Israeli soldiers to refuse to serve.
Ultimately, there will be a two-state solution, but there will have to be some negotiation about territory. The Green Line is simply where fighting stopped.
A Palestinian state may have to accommodate some Jewish minority living in its territory, as Israel has an Arab minority living in its.
The ability to negotiate around such distributions of populations may prove the real test of whether peace in the region is possible.
Elliott Oring, Long Beach
I guess I should be honored that so many professional pro-Pal. activists felt the need to respond.
I just can't believe that no similar pro-Israel letters were not sent.