Right of Return

If we’re going to do a Right of Return, I think we should be methodical.  Those who had first dibs on the land currently known as Israel get first dibs today.  Let’s work our way down the list:

The first known occupiers were probably the Canaanites.  As far as I know, there are no Canaanites still demanding a Right of Return.

The second known occupiers were the Jews, per the Old Testament.  They have pursued a Right of Return through purchase, diplomatic means and war.  The Jews have occupied the land continuously since the time of Abraham, although some of them left temporarily for destinations such as Egypt, Babylon, and Europe.

The third known occupiers were the Philistines, who gave their name to Palestine, although they are not to be confused with the modern Palestinian Arabs.  The Philistines were probably Cypriots.  As far as I know, there are no Philistines still demanding a Right of Return.  The Jews, incidentally, were in residence during Philistine times.

The fourth known occupiers were the Ancient Greeks.  Again, no ancient or modern Greeks have laid claim to a Right of Return.  The Jews lived on the land during Greek times.

Then there were the Romans, who are a distinct culture from modern-day Italy.  No ancient Romans have resurrected themselves or their claims to the land.  The Jews were there during Roman times.

The Romans gave way to Christians — by which I mean Christians who originated in the Holy Land itself or who arrived there during the Dark Ages and the Early Middle Ages from European lands.  These people pre-dated the Crusades.  Although many modern-day Christians, especially Evangelicals. are deeply supportive of the State of Israel, no one is claiming a Right of Return based upon the post-Roman Christian occupation.  The Jews lived in the Holy Land at this time.

The Christians were driven out by the Muslims — driven out quite brutally.  They tried to fight back with the Crusades, but the effort didn’t work, in large part, I suspect, because the Muslims were on the spot, while the Christians had to engage in endless medieval journeys.  Their hearts may have been in the Holy Land, but their homes were in Europe.  In a way, the Medieval Christians were claiming a Right of Return, but I do believe that modern day Christians have abandoned that claim.  Did I mention that the Jews lived in the Holy Land at this time?

The Muslims turned into the Ottoman Turks, who no longer exist.  There’s still a Turkey, and there are still Muslims, but Ottoman Turks are not demanding a Right of Return. Throughout Ottoman control of the Holy Land, Jews lived there, and were treated extremely badly.

It’s worth pointing out that, by the end of the Ottoman Turk era, the land we now know as Israel was a completely desolate land, inhabited by a few Jews — the direct descendents of the Jews who first displaced the Canaanites — and by an even smaller number of fellahins.  The latter didn’t own the land, they just lived on it, while their landlords swanned about in European Capitals, Istanbul or Alexandria.

When the Ottoman Empire collapsed, the British took over.  Meanwhile, Jews — claiming the Right of Return — actually started returning, beginning in about the 1880s.  They bought the land from those rich Ottoman landowners.  Much of the land was either useless desert or swamp that even the fellahin wouldn’t inhabit.  The Balfour Declaration, which predated the realization that the Arabs sat on the oil, affirmed the Jewish Right of Return.  (The thinking was (a) God gave the land to the Jews and (b) it’s such awful land, why would anyone else want it?)

The Jews did something interesting once they settled in the Holy Land:  applying brute force labor and modern scientific methods, they started turning this scraggly, hot land, a land that alternated between killing swamps and equally killing deserts, into a land of Milk and Honey.  The Arabs were not slow to follow.  By the 1930s, piggy-backing on the Jews’ surprisingly productive Right of Return,  Arabs were pouring into the land now known as Israel.

These Arabs were not claiming a Right of Return.  They were just following the money.  The British, with an eye to oil production, allowed the in-flow of Arabs, even as they did everything in their power to keep the Jews out, not because they denied the Right of Return (as noted, the Balfour Declaration affirmed the Jewish Right of Return), but because they did not want to offend those who sat on top of oil wells.

When the going got tough, the British walked away from Israel.  The British are not demanding a Right of Return.

In 1948, the Arab leaders told the Arab population in the newly created state of Israel to get out of the way of the path of the oncoming Arab armies, with the promise that, when the Jews were all dead, the Arabs could return and take over the Jewish wealth and harvest the Jewish fields.  Things didn’t work out as planned.  The departing Arabs, the majority of whom had arrived after the Jews, left and lost their chance to come back.  It is these people who demand their “right of return.”

Well, I’m sorry.  First come, first serve.  Jews had it first, a core group of them never left it, and the Jews are the first people who took it back.  That’s the real Right of Return.

And speaking of history, if we’re talking pre-1967 borders, here are some pre-1967 borders to talk about.

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Comments

  1. says

    Bookworm: The first known occupiers were probably the Canaanites.  As far as I know, there are no Canaanites still demanding a Right of Return.

    Genetic evidence indicates that Jews and Palestinians share a common Middle Eastern ancestry dating back thousands of years. Canaanites spoke a Semitic language, and genetic evidence suggests a common genetic ancestry. 
    http://epiphenom.fieldofscience.com/2009/01/shared-genetic-heritage-of-jews-and.html

    In any case, right of return depends on the natural tie of people to the land. No one seriously thinks the Americans should give the land back to the Indians. Even if Native Americans suddenly had the power, too many people have made their homes there.  Similarly, though many Jews consider the West Bank part of the Promised Land, people have made their homes there for generations, and it would be inhumane to force them to leave their towns and villages for places unknown. 

  2. says

    Bookworm: In 1948, the Arab leaders told the Arab population in the newly created state of Israel to get out of the way of the path of the oncoming Arab armies, with the promise that, when the Jews were all dead, the Arabs could return and take over the Jewish wealth and harvest the Jewish fields.  

    The evidence indicates that the Israeli army forced thousands to flee (e.g. Lydda and Ramle). Others fled because of reports of Israeli massacres (e.g. Deir Yassin). Still others left to avoid being caught in a war zone, and certainly it would be prudent for the local Arab authorities to attempt to temporarily evacuate civilians until the end of fighting. 

  3. SADIE says

    Someone … please hand me a fly-swatter.
     
    Still others left to avoid being caught in a war zone, and certainly it would be prudent for the local Arab authorities to attempt to temporarily evacuate civilians until the end of fighting.
     
    Still others, like the Jews, who were also civilians, had no place to evacuate to until all the niceties blew over.
    Still others, told the Arabs to leave and return once the neighbors wiped Israel off the map.
     
     
     

  4. says

    The Romans were the first to call the land Palestine so as to remove psychological ownership from the Jews. In the later decades of 19th century as Muslims were being quietly removed from Europe and more pronounced after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, European Muslims were ’returning’ to Turkey. Not wanting so many foreign Muslims, Turkey sent the emigrants to the Levant where the came into conflict with the existing Jews and Bedo peoples. The Balfour Declaration referred to the Jews as the Palestinians for whom the area was reserved, establishing Trans-Jordan for their Arab counterparts. And let’s not kid ourselves, the Balfour Declaration was intended to rid Europe,  especially Britain and France, of the Jews, albeit in a more humane way than previous pogroms and the future Holocaust. The Levant was chosen because quite literally no country would take a new Jewish population. Post-1963 Palestinians could be taken in by the Arab countries, especially Jordan where the majority lives, but that would leave the ummah without an uncontested enemy – Israel. In every Arab and Muslim country in which post-1963 Palestinians live, they live in very poor conditions at lowest end of the socio-economic ladder. Almost immediatlly after the ouster of Saddam, Iraq removed the Palestinian refugees who had found succor there. In Saudi Arabia, they are treated almost as a contagion that must be treated, but without cure. Of the Middle Eastern countries, only Israel has taken in Palestinian refugees and treated them as equals extending full citizenship rights. The pre-1967 borders are not even borders but armistice lines. When Israel declared independence in 1948, the Arab/Muslim neighbors attacked, were defeated, lost much land in the process. When cease fires were declared, the 1948 armistice line was drawn on a map with green ink. The Green Line later became the 1967 Border after the belligerent neighbors lost big time again. Yet again, the border is only an armistice line.

  5. 11B40 says

    Greetings:

    The other evening, I watched a program on the Progressive (neé Public) Broadcasting System about the archeological work being done in Israel. A map was shown delineating Israel and “Palestine”, the latter actually being what has become known as the “West Bank”. A short while later, another map was shown indicating the sites of the archeological digs that had discovered remains of ancient Israel. The large majority of them were located on the “West Bank”, so much so that the “Palestine” label was removed for lack of space. Kind of a science versus mythology type of thing, if you get my drift. As regard “Zachriel” and 1948, the most successful, if that’s the word, of the Arab invaders was King Abdullah and his Anglo-Arab Legion.  He invaded the above mentioned “West Bank” with the intention of annexing it to his TransJordan with the hope of eventually reach the Mediterranean Sea.  If the protecting the “Palestinians” was anywhere on his “to do” list, it was much farther down. The Arab leader concept of protecting varies considerably from the one in the dicitionary.

  6. Allen says

    It would seem that there is consensus, both here, other sites and in Israel that Israel will keep hold and eventually annex the West Bank.

    Am I reading this correctly?

  7. says

    11B40: A short while later, another map was shown indicating the sites of the archeological digs that had discovered remains of ancient Israel. The large majority of them were located on the “West Bank”, so much so that the “Palestine” label was removed for lack of space. 

    There is no reasonable doubt that the Jews have ancient roots in Palestine, including the West Bank. Without seeing the map, it would be difficult to judge, but the entire region is sometimes called Palestine, especially in an historical context. 

    11B40Kind of a science versus mythology type of thing, if you get my drift.

    Not really. Sounds like the ‘Progressive Broadcasting System’ was correct. 

  8. says

    Allen: It would seem that there is consensus, both here, other sites and in Israel that Israel will keep hold and eventually annex the West Bank.

    That is incorrect. Netanyahu made clear that Israel understands the need to give up much of the West Bank.

    “I am willing to make painful compromises to achieve this historic peace. As the leader of Israel, it is my responsibility to lead my people to peace. This is not easy for me. I recognize that in a genuine peace, we will be required to give up parts of the Jewish homeland. In Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers. We are not the British in India. We are not the Belgians in the Congo.”

    Think about it. What would happen if Israel annexed the West Bank. What would happen to the millions of Palestinians living there? 


  9. SADIE says

    Think about it. What would happen if Israel annexed the West Bank. What would happen to the millions of Palestinians living there?
     
    Site for statistics, please.
    What percentage are Arab-Israelis?
    What percentage are Jewish-Israelis?
    What percentage are Christian-Israelis?

  10. says

    SADIE: Site for statistics, please.
    What percentage are Arab-Israelis?
    What percentage are Jewish-Israelis?
    What percentage are Christian-Israelis?

    Excluding East Jerusalem, the West Bank has a population of about 2.5 million, with about 12% being Israeli settlers.

    Of these, 75% are Muslim (primarily Sunni), 17% Jewish and 8% Christian or other. (Many Jews and Christians predate the settlement era.)

    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/we.html

  11. says

    Zachriel: Of these, …

    Meaning of the population of the West Bank excluding East Jerusalem. Not sure of the demographics of the Israeli settlers, but they are certainly nearly all Jewish. In any case, settlers only constitute about 12% of the population.

  12. says

    Fortunately, most Israeli settlers are concentrated near the 1967 borders, so there are plausible boundaries. Unfortunately, some Israeli settlers have insisted on what they consider their Biblical right to settle the wherever they want in the West Bank, and have established what amounts to hilltop forts in the middle of Palestinian territory. These will have to be abandoned if there is to be any hope for peace.

  13. BrianE says

    certainly it would be prudent for the local Arab authorities to attempt to temporarily evacuate civilians until the end of fighting. - Zachriel

    Code words for “until the Jews are driven into the sea.”

    Given that, there is no right of return. Those Arabs that were driven from their land by Israelis should receive compensation. Those that left on orders of the Caliphate should not be compensated. They abandoned their claim. The court system could sort that out.

    The claim to Jerusalem by the Israelis is historical. The Koran does not mention Jerusalem. The Old Testament refers to Jerusalem over 600 times. It is a theme in the Old Testament. The claim Muslims have to Jerusalem is akin to a dog marking its territory, full of odor but signifying nothing.

  14. says

    BrianE: Given that, there is no right of return.

    You can’t hold some old lady forced from her ancestral homes responsible for what political leaders do or say. 
    http://fatwa.islamonline.net/English/Multimedia/Library/MuslimAffairs/2008/05/flash/images/063.jpg
     
    BrianE: Those Arabs that were driven from their land by Israelis should receive compensation.

    Yes, that will be part of any compromise. 
     
    BrianE: Those that left on orders of the Caliphate should not be compensated. 

    A family caught in a war zone is ordered to evacuate. They don’t really have a choice, and they don’t give up the right to their homes and lands. This, too, will be part of any final agreement.
     
    BrianE: The claim to Jerusalem by the Israelis is historical.

    Yes. Both Jews and Palestinians have ancient roots in the land, as archaeology and genetic evidence confirms. 
     
    BrianE: The Koran does not mention Jerusalem. 

    Of course it does, but it’s not directly relevant to the issue. It’s not that the Israelites never lived there, or that Palestinians have lived there for centuries, but that real people live there now and have made their homes there. 

    Think about it. What would happen if Israel annexed the West Bank? What would happen to the millions of Palestinians living there? 
     

  15. SADIE says

    Z, ever wonder why 25% of the ‘others’ are such a problem for the majority in the West Bank/Judea and Sumaria?
    Ever wonder why the Jewish and Christian populations in Arab countries are negligible? Threatened? Hint: Christian Copts in Egypt for starters.
    Ever wonder about the increasing conflicts in western countries from Arab immigration?
    Ever wonder why the PA continues to ask for money? Hint: Suha Arafat receives $100 million annually. Additional hint: The PA pays tribute money to Palestinian prisoners.
    Ever wonder why Jerusalem is such a key issue for the Palestinians, when it was not even mentioned in the Koran? Hint: sura 17.

  16. says

    Sadie, I believe people like Z will force the various leaders of Israel, such as Benjamin Netanyahu, to nuke the Palestinian-Arab alliance in order to secure real and perpetual peace and security. If this should happen in due time, people like Z will get on their high horses and start lecturing people about things like wars of aggression and evil and moral repugnance.

    In reality, they would have been the ones to instigate such a war by backing the Israelis into a corner.

  17. SADIE says

    The cost in disengagement from Gaza Strip. These figures do not include the 8,000 plus rockets fired into Israel since from Gaza and the cost in life and infrastructure, security.
     
    The total cost of the evacuation package adopted by the Knesset was 3.8 billion shekels, approximately $870 million; however, in light of the increase in the number of compensation claims after disengagement, the Knesset’s Finance Committee approved on September 19, 2005, the allocation of an additional 1.5 billion shekels (roughly $250 million). Approximately $176 million was to be given directly to the evacuees and an additional $66 million to the owners of private businesses, while the remaining sum was allocated to finance the government’s pullout-related expenses, mainly those of the defense, agriculture and housing ministries.

    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Peace/compensation.html
     
    Gee, do ya think there would be a problem ‘if’ Israel gave up more land.

  18. says

    Martel has stated before that he believes Israel will use nukes when the situation calls for it. I’m not so sure on that matter. BN (as opposed to Barack Hussein) is hard to read. His intentions would normally be to fight, but he has other things holding him back, like American treats from the likes of Barack and Z international shackles from Europe.

  19. says

    Again, remember, Z says he cares about the Palestinian plight. The same way he does for anyone else in America suffering under the Obama regime and Z policies. So assuredly Z will empathize with the Israeli cost.

    Right? Darou?

  20. BrianE says

    Zachriel,

    Which would you rather be– an Arab living in Israel or a Jew or Christian living in Saudi Arabia.

    Where would you rather live: Egypt with a GDP per capita of $5,300; Jordan with a GDP per capita of $5,300; Syria with a GDP per capita of $4,800; Lebanon with a GDP per capita of $14,200 or Israel with a GDP per capita of $29,500. Which country would most likely offer you the ability to live up to your capabilities?

    The corrupt, authoritarian regimes surrounding Israel have done nothing for their people but line their pockets. Israelis took scabland and turned it into an oasis. It’s not that the Muslim countries surrounding Israel couldn’t have– it’s that they have chosen to fight amongst themselves, using Israel for the scapegoat for their own venal ambitions.

    We have nothing good to say about those governments and those that hold the Palestinean people hostage to their own selfish ambitions, because there is nothing good to say. Israel is not the impediment to peace. Let me repeat. Israel is not the impediment to peace.

    I was shocked some time ago when my Arab, Muslim co-worker stated he wished Israel controlled all the countries surrounding it. This coming from a rabid anti-Zionist. But living in the US, he’s come to see how corrupt, how utterly the regimes of the countries surrounding Israel have failed their people. How the average citizen lives in fear of the authorities, how capricious the governments are, how the idea of progress is non-existant in these countries.

    I do pity the average Palestinean. They are pawns, taught nothing but violence and hatred, forced to live in squalor by their own vile leaders. If you really cared for them, you would expose their leaders for what they are, refuse to give them cover for their corrupt, self-serving governance. Quit blaming Israel. Start blaming the real impediment to a solution– the Palestinean leaders.

  21. SADIE says

    It’s what I detest most about interlopers, who are clueless about the actual realities. Cherry picking photos stories, dates, facts, words and more words, endless amount of words having never experienced life beyond the filters of a computer or television. This holds true for foreign ambassadors as well, who live in the well protected vacuums of their offices and homes. The tourists, politicians and interlopers, who pop in/out of here or elsewhere and think they’ve seen it all or know it all and proceed to suggest or dictate policy that has no bearing on their lives whatsoever,  but feel compelled to direct who or what should do this or that.
     
    What part of “Never Again” don’t they get.

  22. Danny Lemieux says

    Z asks a good question:
    “ Think about it. What would happen if Israel annexed the West Bank? What would happen to the millions of Palestinians living there?”

    I agree – it’s not practical and there is no easy solution. 

    There are 2.7 million Palestinians living on the West Bank. Create a demilitarized autonomous country, like Pakistan and Bangladesh before their civil war.

    Or make it a “mandate”, as the Western powers did with the Ottoman Empire after WW1. 

    Or, status quo for another 50-100 years or so (similar to Taiwan and China).

    What is it about our culture that demands a solution?
     

  23. Danny Lemieux says

    BrianE: “I was shocked some time ago when my Arab, Muslim co-worker stated he wished Israel controlled all the countries surrounding it.”

    I heard the same thing from a Libyan friend, once. His words were, “I wish that I could live in Israel, where I could have rights and vote”. First, though, he had to look around very carefully to make sure that none of his colleagues (some fo which were suspected informers) were listening.

  24. says

    SADIE: Gee, do ya think there would be a problem ‘if’ Israel gave up more land.

    Yes. It will be a mess. Some of the settlers may even fight back with religious zeal. 
     
    BrianE: Which would you rather be– an Arab living in Israel or a Jew or Christian living in Saudi Arabia.

    Life is very difficult for minorities in many Arab countries, and Israeli citizens enjoy great freedom, including religious freedom.
     
    BrianE: Where would you rather live: Egypt with a GDP per capita of $5,300; Jordan with a GDP per capita of $5,300; Syria with a GDP per capita of $4,800; Lebanon with a GDP per capita of $14,200 or Israel with a GDP per capita of $29,500. 

    Anyone would rather have the higher income, but that’s not particularly relevant. It’s like asking someone would they rather be rich or poor. 
     
    BrianE: The corrupt, authoritarian regimes surrounding Israel have done nothing for their people but line their pockets.

    Yes, and the U.S. has often helped prop up those regimes. 
     
    BrianE: Israel is not the impediment to peace.

    Building settlements in the West Bank, and trying to negotiate from there is an impediment to peace. It is certainly not the only impediment, and there is no doubt the Palestinians could have already had justice if not for their decrepit political systems, leadership and their own pride. 
     
    BrianE: I was shocked some time ago when my Arab, Muslim co-worker stated he wished Israel controlled all the countries surrounding it. 

    There’s a difference between controlling and being part of a democratic society. Israel can’t provide effective government for Arab peoples. 
     


  25. says

    Danny Lemieux: Or, status quo for another 50-100 years or so (similar to Taiwan and China).

    Because Israel has blockaded Gaza for decades, and continues to build settlements and walls in the West Bank. And because it has become a pressure point between cultures. 
     
    Danny Lemieux: What is it about our culture that demands a solution?

    The situation is unstable. 
     

  26. Mike Devx says

    The situation is unstable.

    The geopolitical stasis in which the Middle East has been frozen in for forty/fifty years is unstable, too.   While the unfreezing stasis looks bad right now – especially for Israel – the fact that the untenable stasis is finally breaking up could be a good thing.  

    Instability and uncertainty is a fearful thing and dangerous.  But it is also an opportunity.  We might look back twenty years from now and breathe a sigh of relief.

    The “evil empire” of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas has nothing good to offer anyone.  Survive their continued existence long enough, and just perhaps their illegitimacy will become obvious to the blinded lickspittles in the U.N. and across the EU.  Perhaps the evil empire will actually strike against the EU – they *are* terrorists, all of them, after all, and you know what terrorists are compelled to do.   

    Too rosy perhaps.  There’s always, of course, the spectre of an Islamicized Europe.  But if you picture an Islamicized Europe, and you center the globe over Israel and look down at the globe with such an Islamicized Europe, and you would see a tiny country surrounded by a hemisphere of total hatred anyway.  In that world, the “free world” becomes centered around the Pacific.

    Heck, in 2004 the shameful cowardly voters of Spain kicked out the courageous Aznar and let in the socialists.  Seven years later, the voters have just thoroughly repudiated those same socialists.  That may be nothing more than a tantrum, rather than an informed and wise choice, but I certainly never expected to see that happen this year.  Just another example in this turbulent time that we really don’t know what’s coming.

  27. SADIE says

    We might look back twenty years from now and breathe a sigh of relief.
     
     
    Mr. and Mrs. Lot ….
     
    Mrs. Lot: “I just wanna take a quick look … I’ll be right back.”
     
    Mr. Lot: “Are you listening? C’mon, we gotta get going now.”
     
    Mrs. Lot: “What’s the r……”
     
    Moral of the story: Mr. Lot went too light on the salt.
     
     
     

  28. says

    Jose: Uh….., right….

    Though Arafat’s assertion was probably based on wishful thinking, he’s not far off. The male heritage of Jews and Palestinians are essentially the same genetic population, with close connections to the original population of Canaanites and Jebusites. Interestingly, Jews have maintained their separate male lineage through the diaspora.
    http://epiphenom.fieldofscience.com/2009/01/shared-genetic-heritage-of-jews-and.html
     

  29. Jose says

    Z, your interesting article citing genetic similarity between Jews and Palestinians, or Arabs rather, is consistent with the story of the Biblical Abraham. 

    It doesn’t support any connections to Canaanites or Jebusites.  That would, of course, be impossible to prove until DNA samples could be obtained from one.

    And, of course, Arafat was Egyptian anyway.

  30. says

    Jose: It doesn’t support any connections to Canaanites or Jebusites.  That would, of course, be impossible to prove until DNA samples could be obtained from one.

    The genetic data, along with archaeological data, can help reveal the migration patterns. See

    Arnaiz-Villena et al.,

    There is a interrelatedness between the Jews, Palestinians and other indigenous groups.

  31. says

    Hmm, the citation got messed up. 

    Arnaiz-Villena et al., The Origin of Palestinians and Their Genetic Relatedness With Other Mediterranean Populations, Human Immunology 2001.

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