The Jews have no right to their
Old Testament conquests
Associate since 1991
Comments directly to
March 4, 2009
LONDON - Each year, over the ages, at Passover time, religious Jews have intoned the prayer, “Next year in Jerusalem”. Until the twentieth century few really believed it any more than most Christians truly believe in the Second Coming. After the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70 the Jews were thrust into the outer world - many into Arab countries, later to become Muslim, where they were extended protection and tolerance, and later into the Roman and then Christian world where they were accepted for many centuries, with outbursts of truly virulent anti-Semitism centuries apart.
Over two millennia many big tribal groups have been dispersed - the Slavs, the Moguls, the Bantu, the Tamils, the Celts - the list is a long one - but only the Jews have had an idée fixe about where they want to go back to.
During the last thousand years, while the Jews were in the diaspora, the Arabs reinforced their settlements on the same land that some Jews yearned for, just as pre-Arab tribes had settled it in the time before Moses. When in 1897 the rabbis of Vienna sent a fact-finding mission to Palestine they reported back that the bride “was beautiful but married to another man.”
Likewise, Theodore Herzl, the convenor of the first Zionist Conference in the same year, was not obsessed by a return to Palestine. Almost anywhere would do. Argentina was the first choice with its empty fertile spaces. The Uasin Gishu plateau near Nairobi, Kenya, was another.
But the Zionist conference overruled him. The course of the First World War and the likely break up of the Ottoman empire led the British to think that Jewish control of Palestine would be more secure for British interests than Arab. In 1917 came the Balfour Declaration whereby the British cabinet declared that they viewed “with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”
The East was to be Westernised, that was how London saw it.
The only Jewish member of the cabinet demurred. Edwin Samuel Montague denounced the whole project as the reconstruction of the Tower of Babel. Lord Curzon, the former Indian viceroy, denounced it as an act of “sentimental idealism” and said that Britain had a “stronger claim to parts of France.”
The fact is that according to the texts of the Old Testament the ultra religious, settlement inclined, Israelis have it right - the whole of Palestine belongs to them.
That is not where the fault lies. The fault lies - and Jews would say this is sacrilege - with the Old Testament God and his prophet, Moses.
Read Genesis. When the Lord spoke to Moses and told him that he would deliver the Jews from Egypt he also said he would bring them into “a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.” In other words the Jews were to conquer and displace other tribes who had been long possessors of the land now called Palestine, and even other tribes further south such as the Midianites.
Later in the Book of Numbers, the Lord told Moses to “vex the Midianites and smite them”. Moses and his army did. “They slew all the males” and took the women and children captive. Then Moses said to his commanders, “Have ye saved all the women alive?......Now therefore kill every male among the little ones and kill every woman that hath known a man by lying with him.”
The Jews would stop at almost nothing. Genocide, on occasion, was the tool of total conquest. Is this the proud history that present day Jews are fighting to uphold millennia later? The Jews of the Old Testament were as cruel as the Moguls and Tartars and it is as difficult to justify the present day Israeli occupation of Palestine as it would be to justify a Mogul regime in Russia.
If the Jews want the rest of the world's sympathy they have to be able to justify their modern day presence in Palestine better than they do. They have to recognise how wrong were their conquests, both old and new.
If the Arabs and other Moslems are generous, as they seem to be, they will let the Jews stay on within the 1968 borders, as twentieth century European history, evil as so much of it was, would be difficult to be put right in the twenty first century.
And let the Jews, besides making the Palestinians free, contribute to their success by sharing the water, their tremendous knowledge and technical ability to help in lifting up the Arabs rather than once again appearing to want to crush them underfoot as the Israeli government, if led by Benjamin Netanyahu, apparently wants to do.
Copyright © 2009 Jonathan
Jonathan Power can be
reached by phone +44 7785 351172
and e-mail: JonatPower@aol.com
The Quest for Global Justice
of Humanity” poses eleven questions for our future progress, ranging
from “Can we diminish War?” to “How far and fast can
we push forward the frontiers of Human Rights?” to “Will
China dominate the century?”
The answers to these questions, the author believes, growing out of
his long experience as a foreign correspondent and columnist for the
International Herald Tribune, are largely positive ones, despite the
hurdles yet to be overcome. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, London, 2007.
William Pfaff, September 17, 2007
Jonathan Power's book "Conundrums" - A Review
"His is a powerful and comprehensive statement of ways to make the world better.
Is that worth the Nobel Prize?
I say, why not?"
Tell a friend about this column by Jonathan Power
Message and your name
free articles & updates