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JOHN CHUCKMAN
 

POSTED COMMENT TO AN EDITORIAL IN THE TELEGRAPH

‘Well the Jews were there 3,000 years ago, 1,600 years before Islam even existed.’

That is typical of the kind of uninformed statements repeated over and over in defense of Israel’s current brutish behavior.

First, there is no history of Jews in Israel 3000 years ago. At that time, they were likely still part of ancient Mesopotamia, lands we today call Iraq, the place where they are thought to have originated.

But even more importantly, when people write about Israel’s additional territorial claims in terms of Hebrew Scripture, for most of the world’s people it makes as much sense as modern Greece claiming Turkey owing to the stories in the Iliad, Homer by the way actually going back about 3000 years and singing of still earlier events.

If you can quote Scripture as authority in Middle East affairs, you can justify literally anything, including killing all non-Jewish residents, for that is what the Biblical Hebrews were enjoined to do, over and over, supposedly by God but actually by their own prophets assuming the authority of God.

Many countries could have a claim on the territory we call Israel if this cloudcuckooland approach were valid, including the Egyptians who long, long ago ruled there, the Lebanese, viewed as the descendants of the ancient Phoenicians who also ruled there, and perhaps even the Iraqis, whose antecedents conquered the territory.

Go back far enough, and you can claim the territory we call Israel for the decedents of the early people who migrated out of Africa many tens of thousands of years ago.

The silliness of this ancient-writing-based claim is made even greater by the important research of an Israeli scholar who says that the Palestinians are, for the most part, the actual descendants of the ancient Israelis.

When Rome conquered territories, it typically did not remove the inhabitants, and it did not interfere with their religion, so long as they accepted Roman rule. Just because, after two turbulent millennia of history, most of the Palestinians are Muslim does not invalidate this concept. Moreover, DNA testing is tending to support this view.

So what we are really talking about with Israel’s modern activities is removing the descendants of ancient Israel who have lived there countless centuries in favor of new immigrants from New York or London. If that isn’t imperialism, I don’t know what is.

On still another level, Biblical claims must be rejected simply because they are dangerous and de-stabilizing. Greater Israel as it has been defined by Zionist scholars – and mind you, there are no maps in the Bible – includes the West Bank and Gaza and pieces of Syria and Lebanon. Does claiming that, or any portion of it, resemble anything but a certain formula for endless war and unrest?

Personal religious views and 2,500 year-old books have no place in international affairs.

In the end, if Israel wishes to be regarded as a state like any other state, then it must behave as we expect other states to behave, and that does not include undefined borders which constantly ooze out over the property of others.

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