The Jewish State
The Jewish people have seen more than their shared of persecution and genocide many times over since being massacred by the Romans in Jerusalem around 70CE. Even before the events of the holocaust, The Jewish people longed for a place to not be afraid to be who they are. The Jews had experienced every type of persecution from being forced into slavery by the Muslims in Spain to the forced baptisms and gruesome tortures dealt by the Spanish kingdom under the catholic King Ferdinand during the Spanish Inquisition. Being forcibly dispersed to different regions of the world caused the Jewish population to be stuck in a circle of poverty and servitude having to live while conforming under the control of whomever controlled the land. This caused the Jewish people to ask why they don’t have a homeland for themselves creating the idea of Zionism. The idea of Zionism is a movement for the re-establishment, the development, and protection of a Jewish nation. This movement gave the Jews hope of one day finding a place for themselves, Israel.
The land now known as Israel has gone through difficult and sometimes deadly turmoil. With the history of the Jewish people being filled with pain and evidence of multiple reports of expulsion, there was finally a need for a homeland to be created. United States and the United Nation intervention started to increase the strength of support for the Jewish people giving the Israeli government the ability to use their military power to take Palestinian lands. The Jewish people have suffered from bias everywhere they have tried to settle making them more aggressive in their immigration against the Palestinians forcing them to leave their homes. The Palestinian people looked at this invasion as another imperialist power trying to take control of them creating a deep hatred for the idea of Jewish immigration into their land. The culture of the Jewish people with the idea of Zionism started a movement of creating a powerful Jewish majority in the land they desperately want. The Ben Gurion government with the United States and western countries justified the Palestinian resettlement in 1948 due to specific political agendas, religious biases, and the idea of zionism.
Jewish life beginning in Israel has been recorded in different pieces of religious texts like the Torah and the Bible. Many Jewish people believe that god had promised the land to them and they deserve to be the one inhabiting the area. Around the year 70 CE, the Roman Catholics invaded Jerusalem destroying most of the city and massacring thousands of Jewish people and sold the survivors into slavery. With the Jewish people gone it left the land open for the Byzantine Empire to control the land until the conquest of Rashidun Caliph Umar I took the land from Byzantine control. Jerusalem remained under Muslim control until the crusades began. While the Muslims were fighting with the Byzantines and other resistances, some of the Jewish people were living under Muslim control in Spain. The Muslim’s protected the Jewish people ,they too believed in the writings given to them by god, as long as they lived as second class citizens to them. Under Muslim control, the Jewish people were given the opportunity to get ahead instead of being at the bottom of the social ladder. As Michael Cohen states in his article Jews, Muslims and the Myth of the Interfaith Utopia, “…By the high Middle Ages Jews were considered ‘serfs of the royal chamber, ” The special “ property’ of monarchs or barons or towns. Sometimes the Church asserted exclusive power over the Jews”. The Jewish people have risen in the social hierarchy becoming tax collectors and financial counselors giving them power above being a slave, which they came as originally. Under relative peace with the Muslims and the Jews in Spain, the Spanish Kingdom had been gaining land throughout Europe spreading christianity and moved to try and wipe put the Jews in 1391 by the leadership of Ferrand Martinez increasing the hatred of the Jews so much that the people in the towns began to support him in the murders, forced and brutal baptisms, and expulsion of most of the Jews from their homes in Spain. Then again on March 31, 1492 the Spanish King Ferdinand and the Queen Isabella declared an Edict of Expulsion to essentially expel any Jew from inside the Spanish Kingdom that didn’t convert to christianity. King Ferdinand saw Judaism as corrupting the souls of Christians and he felt they needed to conform or die. After The Spanish Inquisition, The Jewish people scattered to find protection from the Catholics where they stayed in relative safety besides some residual antisemitism that followed them everywhere until after World War II when the need for a homeland became essential to the survival if the Jewish people. The Jewish people undoubtedly followed their faith, sometimes outside of their control and for their safety, anywhere they felt they could avoid oppression. This actualized the legitimate reasoning for the creation of Israel in the land they once lived and were forcibly removed from.
There was an idea that the land fought over between the Palestinians and Jews could be divided into a two state solution. The Balfour Declaration of 1917 gave the Jews the right to immigrate into the land known as Palestine as a new homeland for the Jewish people. This caused an influx of immigrants into that area. The British had promised to support and help the Palestinians protect their land, but when the British government saw a way for support of the Jewish people leading to a victory for the Allies against the Axes powers Britain did what was best for itself over the Arabs. Leaving the Palestinians defenseless, the Jews came in with their military and support of the United States to take control of the land they wanted. There was a need for the heterogeneity between the two different types of people for the two state solution to work, but the Jewish people were not interested in sharing the land and becoming second class citizens again. The idea of Zionism came into effect in the idea of creating a homogeneity society among the residents of Israel making the Jews the majority and dominant power driving the Palestinians from their homeland to make everyone follow the ways of the Jewish majority. As Dr. John Docker believes in: The Two-State Solution and Partition: World History Perspective on Palestine and India, “…I would date it from 1492, in the expulsion of the Sephardic Jews and the final defeat of Muslim Spain at Granada that seek a unity of ethnos, religion, and values”. Dr. John Docker sees that if the two-state solution were to become homogenous it would resemble the Spanish Inquisition as King Ferdinand wanted everyone under his rule and to follow whatever he believed. The Jewish people, who were brutalized by this, seemed to like that way of set up making them in power. Both Palestinian and Jews believed that they deserved to live their as their homeland. It is difficult to determine who has the right to live there if the Jews feel that god had promised them Israel and the Palestinians who already inhabited the area for generations.
The Jewish forces came in and took the land they wanted from the Palestinian people declaring it is their home. The Israeli forces neutralized any sort of defenses that the Palestinians had to conquer and annex most of the region into Jewish control. The Israeli forces made easy work to control most of the land held by the Arabs being underestimated from the beginning by the Palestinians. From an Arab perspective this invasion is seen as a complete domination by the Jewish people supported by two super powers in the world, the United Staes and the Soviet Union. Many Palestinian Arabs were forced to leave their homes and move into different regions that were under Arab control. The population influx of Jewish people into Israel began to grow compared to the dropping Palestinian presence creating more tension with the Palestinians calling for the reduction of immigration visas allowed into their country. The Jews came in with their military against the Palestinian forces that relied on British support which was more interested in their own political agenda after World War II. With the limited support of Britain, being pressured to accept the immigrating Jewish people into Palestine, the Palestinians felt they had no choice but to leave to escape the Jewish idea of Zionism taking control of the majority. With the rise of Zionism making the idea of a powerful Jewish state possible in the newly conquered areas, the Arabs felt pressure from the new waves of Jewish immigrants taking the support they needed to control their homeland resulting in the mass exodus of the Palestinian Arabs out of Israel to escape the idea of a dominant Jewish state.
The decision to create a homeland for the Jewish people has been highly debated for many years. Between the already settled Palestinian Arabs that have lived in Israel and the Jewish people who believe god gave them Israel, the idea of a two state solution would not be easy to accomplish. With the two state solution it would create a split for the newly immigrating Jewish people and the existing Arab population in Israel already. Both sides of the arguing parties would need to be able to split the land and the economic environment evenly, but there were so many Jewish immigrants coming to the state that it overwhelmed the Arab population taking the majority of the Palestinians. This immigration of the Jewish people caused the governments to take care of the refugees creating even more unrest forcing the Arabs to deal with the new immigrants struggling to survive relying on government intervention. The Palestinians felt helpless after their ally, Britain who was also being pulled in Israel’s direction, turned their back on them they felt they had no other choice but to surrender to the Israelis. The Israeli people felt they had the right to take the land from the Palestinians making the two-state solution not feasible in this situation.
The United States was reluctant to establish a secure homeland inside the U.S making a stronger claim for a homeland in the Middle East. The United States greatly supported the Israeli military in the seizure of land from Palestinian control. The President of the United States, Harry Truman, wrote a letter to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom with a report he had conducted on the lives of the Jewish population after the tragic events of the Holocaust and World War II. Harry Truman tried persuading Clement Attlee in a personal letter to support the increase of immigrants allowed into Palestine to protect the Jews by saying, “…I concur in the belief that no other single matter is so important for those who have known the horrors of concentration camps for over a decade as is the future of immigration possibilities into Palestine. The number of such persons who wish immigration to Palestine or who would qualify for admission there is, unfortunately, no longer as large as it was before the Nazis began their extermination program”. Harry Truman draws attention to how the Jewish population was treated by the Axis powers such as Germany and the Nazis. Harry Truman uses a sympathetic approach to feel how the Jews were treated as well as the actual evidence that Earl G. Harrison, the United States Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization, and the Representative on the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees, found when he went to visit the refugee camps for the displaced people from World War II. Earl G. Harrison conducted his report on the conditions being extremely bad stating:
What is more unfortunate, to draw comparisons between their treatment “under the Germans” and “in liberation”,[and] they have witnessed great activity and efficiency in returning people to their homes but they hear or see nothing in the way of plans for them and consequently they wonder and frequently ask what “liberation” means.
Earl G. Harrison sees when he visits the refugee camps for the displaced people of World War II, the conditions are really no better than they were in the concentration camps without the fear of torture or death by gas chamber. The governments around the areas of refugee camps did little to help as the refugees fight to stay alive on minuscule rations of black coffee and burnt bread, ill-prepared housing to handle the winter, and the lack of clothing to clothe themselves other than their death camp outfits and old SS uniforms. With the support from the United Sates putting pressure on the Allied powers, the Israeli army, made up of Jewish people that avoided the concentration camps and the refugee camps, fought with the Palestinians for control over the main cities in Israel. Many believed that the Arabs in Palestine would actually defeat the Jewish immigrants just like the Central Intelligence Agency reported: “ Given the lineup, given the well known Arab facility for warfare and mayhem, the United States would be plain foolish to back the Jews-not that there was any reason to do so. The Arabs had the numbers, the choice of location, and, of course, all that oil. The CIA kissed off Israel”. With the lack of confidence from most countries in Israel defeating the Arabs, the western countries felt they didn’t need to help the Arabs with what they thought would be an easy victory for them. The Jewish military did have support from some countries like the Soviet Union, which was short lived, and the United States which made getting whatever the Jews needed easily to fight the Arabs. Richard Cohen states in his book, Israel: Is It Good for the Jews? “The Jews had no population advantage and no tactical advantage-such as a better knowledge of the land or control of the high ground-although they did have more at stake, since they were either fighting for their lives or thought they were. In the end desperation and knowhow made all the difference”. Even though the Jewish people were undervalued by the other countries, their will to create a homeland that they can live in freely greatly outweighed the idea of losing to the Arabs.
With the idea of trying to create a Zionist party to lead the Jewish people to power and freedom in their own homeland, the main focus was not just to take away all the land from the Palestinian Arabs. The Jewish people were willing to take less land, as long as they had enough to comfortably live, as long as they had control over their own land. In the beginning of the talks for a partition between the Palestinians and Jewish land, the Zionist didn’t have much power or support behind them so the Zionists leaned heavily on British support and action to help further the Jewish state. The idea of Partitioning the land between the Arabs and the Jews came from the British government causing a lot of turmoil as well as a need for compromise on the amount of land that would go to each group of people and where they would be located. The partition meetings between the different sides of the argument were not always filled with tension, the Zionist party was willing to work with Britain and the other countries in the League of Nations to find a suitable place to create Israel instead of fighting as stated by Itzhak Galnoor: “Although the 1919 map was based on several internal drafts, its preparation was not accompanied by a heated debate within the Zionist movement about territory versus other considerations”. The Zionist movement coinciding with the British Mandate was willing to accept less land than the lad it hoped for by stating, “The 1919 map presented the Zionist territorial aspirations, but it already included a “partition element”, a pragmatic willingness to weigh non-territorial goals, and the political constraints of that time. The territory; claimed was smaller than the definition of the “Land of Israel in its natural’ boundaries”. The Zionists that were fighting for their chance at a homeland were willing to give up land they could use as long as they are able to be free and govern themselves. The idea of Zionism has a negative connotation among most people in the Middle East in the ways the Jews are willing to do whatever needs to be done to advance their own agenda, but they are the extremists that are willing to what is necessary for themselves as their own country and secure their future as a homeland.
The Jewish people have gone through more than most can imagine starting from the years of slavery and servitude under Muslim and Catholic rule to dealing with the effects of a post-World War II environment trying to establish a secure environment. The Jews have been resilient bouncing back from everything history has thrown at them while they remain pushing towards the goal of a Jewish state. With the Palestinian people claiming their own historical ties to the land, it created more obstacles that they needed to overcome. The outnumbered and undervalued Jewish people, with the support of the world’s super powers, encouraged the idea of Zionism and the ability it had to rally the Jewish fighters in a collective movement against the Arabs. The United States along with Britain and the United Kingdom came together to use the Israeli Palestinian conflict as a way to establish relations with the Middle East using it as a way to take the possibility from their adversaries who could use it against them in future conflicts by means of land position and oil resources. Also stemming from generations of religious persecution, the creation of Israel finally gave the Jewish population a place to live in general peace not worrying about another group coming to force them out. The Ben Gurion government of Israel with the backing and support of western countries was able to justify the resettlement of the Palestinian Arabs due to long standing religious biases and persecution, political agendas resulting from the end of World War II, and the overpowering ideal of Zionism giving the Jewish people a chance at a homeland.
Martin Gilbert, Israel (Great Britain: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1998), 3-186.
“Historical Background 70 Ce-1917,” Israel and Judaism Studies, accessed December 8, 2014, http://www.ijs.org.au/Historical-Background/default.aspx.
Cohen, Michael. “Jews, Muslims and the Myth of the Interfaith Utopia.” Qantara.de. November 19, 2007. file:///Users/mishanovak/Library/Application%20Support/Zotero/Profiles/dh18bl86.default/zotero/storage/JECX28M5/al-andalus-jews-muslims-and-the-myth-of-the-interfaith-utopia.html.
Docker, John. “THE TWO-STATE SOLUTION AND PARTITION: WORLD HISTORY PERSPECTIVES ON PALESTINE AND INDIA.” Two-State solution for Palestine and Israel, Sydney, Australia, 2010. Accessed December 9, 2014. http://libproxy.uww.edu:5209/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=48d3f411-03b3-468b-8933-7842abedffe3%40sessionmgr4002&vid=1&hid=4109.
Truman, Harry. “188 Letter to Prime Minister Attlee Concerning the Need for Resettlement of Jewish Refugees in Palestine. November 13, 1945.” Letter from Harry Truman to Clement Attlee.
Harrison, Earl G. “Jewish Displaced Person Project.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (1945): 1. Accessed December 9, 2014. http://www.ushmm.org/exhibition/displaced-persons/resourc1.htm.
Galnoor, Itzhak. “The Zionist Debates On Partition (1919-1947).” Accessed December 9, 2014. http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/30245854?uid=3739976&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21105414559833.