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      “Here is a thought: How about a deal by which the ‘settlements’ were indeed abandoned, all the Jews were to move to ‘Israel proper’ and all the Arabs living in Israel would be transferred to Judea/Samaria or to wherever else they wanted to go.”

The Myth of “Settlements”
Are they indeed the “root cause” of violence in the Middle East?

One of the enduring myths about the Arab-Israeli conflict is that the “settlements” in Judea/Samaria (often called the “West Bank”) are the source of the conflict between the Jews and the so-called “Palestinians.” If that problem were solved — in other words, if Israel would turn Judea/Samaria over to the “Palestinians” — peace would prevail and the century-old conflict would be ended.

What are the facts?

Erroneous Assumptions: Various fallacies and erroneous assumptions underlie that belief, so often repeated that even those who are friendly to Israel, even many Jews in Israel and in the United States, have come to accept it. Our government, generally friendly to and supportive of Israel, has bought into the myth of the “settlements;” it has regularly and insistently requested that the “settlements” be abandoned and, one supposes, be turned over lock, stock, and barrel to those who are sworn to destroy Israel.

The very designation of the Jewish inhabitants of Judea/Samaria as “settlers” is inappropriate, because it connotes something foreign, intrusive and temporary, something that is purposefully and maliciously imposed. But that is nonsense of course. Why would the quarter-million Jews who live in Judea/Samaria be any more “intrusive” or any more “illegal” than the more than one million Arabs who live in peace in what is called “Israel proper” or west of the so-called “green line”? Nobody considers their presence as intrusive; nobody talks of them as an obstacle to peace.

Most of us, regrettably perhaps, are too worldly and too “sophisticated” to put much stock in the argument that the territories in question, Judea and Samaria, are indeed the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people, that they were promised by God to Abraham and his seed in perpetuity. Jews have lived in that country without interruption since Biblical times. There is no reason why they shouldn’t live there now. Why should Judea/Samaria be the only place in the world (except for such countries as Saudi Arabia) where Jews cannot live?

Legal Aspects: But how about the legal aspect of this matter? Isn’t the “West Bank” “occupied territory” and therefore the Jews have no right to be there? But the historic reality is quite different. Very briefly: The Ottoman Empire was the sovereign in the entire area. In 1917, while World War I was still raging, Britain issued the Balfour Declaration. It designated “Paleatine” — extending throughout what is now Israel (including the “West Band”) and what is now the Kingdom of Jordan — as the homeland for the Jewish people. In 1922, the League of Nations ratified the Balfour Declaration and designated Britain as the mandatory power. Regrettably, Britain, for its own imperial reasons and purposes, separated 76 percent of the land — that lying beyond the Jordan River — to create the kingdom of Trans-Jordan (now Jordan) and made it inaccessible to Jews. In 1947, tired of the constant bloodletting between Arabs and Jews, the British threw in the towel and abandoned the Mandate. The UN took over. It devised a plan by which the land west of the Jordan River would be split between the Jews and the Arabs. The Jews, though with heavy heart, accepted the plan. The Arabs virulently rejected it and invaded the nascent Jewish state with the armies of five countries, so as to destroy it at its birth. Miraculously, the Jews prevailed and the State of Israel was born. When the smoke of battle cleared, Jordan was in possession of the West Bank and Egypt in possession of Gaza. They were the “occupiers” and they proceeded to kill many Jews and to drive out the rest. They systematically destroyed all Jewish holy places and all vestiges of Jewish presence. The area was “judenrein.”

In the Six-Day War of 1967, the Jews reconquered the territories. The concept that Jewish presence in Judea/Samaria is illegal and that the Jews are occupiers is bizarre. It just has been repeated so often and with such vigor that many people have come to accept it.
How about the “Palestinians,” whose patrimony this territory supposedly is and about whose olive trees and orange groves we hear endlessly? There is no such people. They are Arabs — the same people as in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and beyond. Most of them migrated into the territories and to “Israel proper,” attracted by Jewish prosperity and industry. The concept of “Palestinians” as applied to Arabs and as a distinct nationality urgently in need of their own twenty-third Arab state, is a fairly new one; it was not invented until after 1948, when the State of Israel was founded.

But here’s a thought: How about a deal by which the “settlements” were indeed abandoned and all the Jews were to move to “Israel proper.” At the same time, all the Arabs living in Israel would be transferred to Judea/Samaria or to wherever else they wanted to go. That would indeed make Judea/Samaria “judenrein,” and what are now Arab lands in Israel would be “arabrein.” The Arabs could then live in a fully autonomous area in eastern Israel and peace, one would hope, would descend on the holy land.

This ad has been published and paid for by

Facts and Logic About the Middle East
P.O. Box 590359
San Francisco, CA 94159

Gerardo Joffe, President

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