On the Jews’ Claim to Palestine
by David Sims
BELIEVE IT OR NOT, there were thousands of years of human existence prior to Abraham, who was born in southern Sumeria around 1800 BC. Before Abraham was born in Ur, and for some time afterward, the region to the west known as Palestine was not uninhabited. It was already the home of several peoples, some Semitic and some Aryan. (ILLUSTRATION: An imagined image of the Abraham of Jewish myth)
According to the narrative in Genesis, Abraham led his household and some servants and followers to the west, into Canaan, which is roughly where Israel now stands. He came as a traveler, and (according to the Jews) for some inexplicable reason God decided to give the whole territory to him, rather than to the native inhabitants of the land. However, the Torah account which makes this assertion is now believed to have been written by Jews in the 6th and 5th centuries BC, precisely for the purpose of giving the Jews of the time, and thereafter, an apparent claim upon that region.
That is, the Jews have no special religious title to that property. Jews have lived in Palestine in an on-again, off-again basis, since the 2nd millennium BC. If you count Abraham as a Jew, and assuming that Abraham was a real historical person rather than a fairy tale, then he traveled there, and lived there. On again. But then he abandoned “his” land when a drought and a food shortage made things difficult in Canaan. Off again.
When Moses led the Hebrews out of Egypt, they found Palestine occupied. Moses decided to steal the land of Palestine for the Hebrews and put much of the native population to genocide. This is the first instance in which “the Jews” stole the land from its rightful owners by military force. Once they were the masters of the land, they renamed it Judea. On again.
Judea had its own problems with foreigners. Babylon, for example. Some of the Jews were captured and taken there for a while. Then the Romans came along and subjugated Judea, turning it into a tributary province. The Jews didn’t like that, so they revolted. Despite some early success, the Romans came swooping down and put the whammy on the Jews, who then dispersed. Off again.
In the historical big picture, the relationship of the Jews to Palestine is that of itinerants. They move in, displacing others who were already there, usually forcibly. They eat up the fat of the land. And then when some other place looks better to them, they leave. Maybe “itinerants” is too generous a word. Locusts might be better.
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Source: David Sims