Muslim and other pro- “Palestinian” interest groups have fired the first public shots in the latest round of the anti-Israel campaign down-under.
Apart from the silly and pointless noisy demonstrations outside perceived and real Jewish-owned stores and Israeli products in the major cities, the anti-Israel movement is building steam in the media and in Federal government.
On 1st May 2014, former Labor Foreign Minister Bob Carr, published his memoirs where he caused a media sensation when he publicly made claims about the impact of the “the Israel lobby” in Canberra.
Approximately a week after that, two South Australian public personalities. A journalist and a former state (now federal independent) senator, visited Judea and Samaria for a few days with the Adelaide Friends of Palestine. It was their first trip to Israel.
On May 10th 2014, the Middle East correspondent in Jerusalem for the national daily The Australian , John Lyons, reported on the visit of the Adelaide Friends of Palestine and the Australian independent Federal senator Nick Xenophon. Reporting from “…deep in the heart of the Palestinian territories…” (sic), Lyons quotes Xenophon who tells him “’What I saw in Hebron was heartbreaking – the division, the segregation, the palpable fear in the community.”
On May 17th 2014, the recently returned and enervated journalist, Peter Goers, wrote a puff-piece which lionised the ‘tragic life of Hebron Arabs’ and slammed what he called the “shame of Israeli apartheid.”
He also drew a startling analogy between himself and that other Jew, Jesus: “JESUS wept. In Palestine, Jesus wept and so did I. I weep for the Palestinians living under the Israeli apartheid…” Goers writes for the sole South Australian daily, The Advertiser.
On June 5th 2014, Liberal Party Attorney General George Brandeis was heckled by a former Australian Communist party member, Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, about his dropping the use of the term “occupied” in relation to East Jerusalem.
Brandeis was quickly reminded that he was still just a politician at the behest of his donors. Eighteen Arab and Muslim diplomats wrote a strongly worded letter of protest to him, and there were noises made about how Australian wheat exports and the live meat trade to the Middle East could suffer.
A few days later, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Prime Minister Abbott both began walking back the Brandeis statement, but clarifying that their policy vis a vis Jerusalem and the “territories” had not really changed, just the terminology.
On 25th June 2014, Senator Xenophon, recently back from Hebron, deep in the heart of the Palestinian territories, requested that the matter of Mr Brandeis’ dropping of the term “Occupied” when he referred to East Jerusalem be brought to the Australian people as an item of “public importance. He stated he would provide irrefutable legal evidence which showed the stance of the Liberal Australian government of Tony Abbot regarding the terminology used by people like Attorney General Brandeis to be “…factually untrue…[and] legally ignorant. Mr Xenophon then uploaded his speech to YouTube.
On 26th June 2014, a small, niche leftist newspaper crowed that in Parliament, Mr Xenophon “Smashe[d] [Abbott Liberal government] spin on Occupied Territories”. Nobody much noticed.
And so, we come to the subject of this blog: have Judea and Samaria and East Jerusalem been “occupied” by a belligerent army of Jews?
Have the Israelis taken away land that rightfully belong to the “Palestinian people”?
Have the Jews denied the “Palestinian nation” their birthright and are crushing crushed their immutable cultural, spiritual and religious connection to a land rooted in the annals of time?
Is Israel’s current presence in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria in flagrant violation of international law, and does that make the League of Nations Mandate which eventually made for a Jewish and an Arab state itself illegal?
That is to say, if anybody international legal body, which today represents 193 members, shall make a finding which occludes the wishes of the new Muslim ummah, should the decisions of that body be annulled?
The phrase ‘occupied territories’ has come to mean only one particular place in the entire world — namely Judea/Samaria (i.e. the West Bank). That phrase is the battle cry in a rising tide of global anger directed against Israel. Gaza too was once “occupied” by Israel, but that line of delegitimization died with the Israeli pull-out in 2005. Today, Gaza, for the ummah and its western backers, is merely under “siege”.
But Judea and Samaria still remain “occupied”; as is East Jerusalem…….
For the intellectually curious, even a cursory overview of the non-legal antecedents to this conflict will show the facts of the Muslim claim on East Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and the land of Israel.
Consider two questions: What entitles any group of people to possess any particular tract of land? How can we decide whether Jews or Arabs have the true rights to possess the ‘occupied territories’?
In the absence of any universally accepted rules, and in general practice among the nations, it usually boils down to who was there first and also right by conquest, especially if the conquest occurred long ago.
Today, there are 193 member nations in the U.N. with several having major territorial conflicts of their own, such as India and Pakistan regarding Kashmir.
Also, within nations there are separatist groups that seek independence, such as Basques in Spain, the Kurds in Turkey and what’s left of Iraq, and the Chechens in Russia. China’s woes with the Muslim Uyghur have only just begun in earnest.
An added facet is the appearance and disappearance over time of peoples and of nations. Many peoples of antiquity have long ceased to exist. Also, nations and even empires, come and go over the centuries.
But Jews and Arabs are still around and trace their origins back to Abraham of the Bible.
Jews descended through Abraham and Sara, Isaac and Jacob (who was later renamed Israel).
Arabs descended through Abraham and Hagar the Egyptian, and through their son Ishmael whose daughter Mahalath also married Esau, the brother of Jacob.
Thus Jews and Arabs are actually two branches of the same family which have diverged over the centuries and Jews and Arabs come to pray at the tomb of Abraham and Sara.
The Bible, in the book of Genesis, clearly states that descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will eventually receive their inheritance in the form of the Promised Land, which is later identified to include the general location of present day Israel.
But Ishmael and his descendants ere also promised an inheritance,
‘…for I will make a great nation of him [i.e. Ishmael]’ Gen. 21:18.
In the Bible, the Jews are assigned only a modest portion of the land in the Middle East, with remaining lands distributed among the other nations.
Unlike certain other empires and religions throughout history, the Jews are not promised, nor commanded to seize, all of the lands in the world, nor to convert all others to their beliefs.
This promise was made at the time of Abraham, about 4,000 years ago (some 2,300 years before the birth of Muhammad) and takes further shape in the time of Moses, about 3,300 years ago (some 1,600 years before advent of Mohammedanism), where the Jewish People became irrevocably linked to the land of Israel, the “Promised Land.”
The Bible assigns this one people to this one specific land and does not do this for any other people.
Over two billion Christians, plus 18 million Jews, accept the Five Books of Moses as a pillar of their religion. They all embrace a religion which clearly defines that land as belonging to the Jewish People in perpetuity.
Those who deny the validity of this Biblical assignment must then fall back on man-made rules which are subject to constant alteration, disagreement, and conflict.
At the time of Mohammed, about 1,400 years ago (some 2,600 after Abraham’s covenant), the Arabs, along with Jews, Christians, and others, lived in the Arabian Peninsula.
Before being forced to convert to the teachings of Allah by Muhammad in the 7th C.E., Arabs had deep-rooted love for the tribe to which they belonged.
This belief in the greatness and excellence of their tribe led them to carve a deity of their own and they sang hymns in its praise in order to win its favour. Thus the tribe called Kalb worshipped Wadd, the Hudhayl worshipped Suwa. The tribe of Madh’hij as well as the people of Quraysh worshipped Yaghuth, the Khaywan worshipped Ya’uq. Similarly the tribe of Himyar adopted Nasr as their god and worshipped it in a place called Balkha. The Himyar had also another temple (bayt) in San’a. It was called Ri’am, the people venerated it and offered sacrifices to it.
The most ancient of all these idols was Manah. The Arabs named their children after them as ‘Abd Manah and Zayd Manah. Manah was erected on the seashore in the vicinity of Mushallal in Qudayd, between Medina and Mecca and all the Arabs used to venerate her and offer sacrifices to her.
Another goddess which was ardently worshipped by the Arabs was known as al-Lat. “She was a cubic rock beside which a certain Jew used to prepare his barley porridge (Sawiq). Her custody was in the hands of Banu Attab Ibn Malik of the Thaqif who had raised an edifice over her. She was venerated by the Quraysh and almost all the tribes of Arabia and they named their children after her, e.g., Zayd al-Lat and Taym al_Lat.
So, prior to the arrival of Mohammad in the polytheistic Arab Peninsula, only two, monotheistic Abrahamic faiths existed: long-established Judaism following the word of the omnipotent Yahweh, and early Christianity which believed in the Trinity.
The Arabs of the Peninsula were pagan worshippers who practised polytheism.
Not then, and not at any time after that, have the teachings of Muhammad as encoded in the Qu’ran, ever considered either Judea or Samaria or Jerusalem as significant in the new, nascent Muslim faith. Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria simply figured little in Islam.
The table below shows the frequency with which key words to the three faiths are a signifier of their importance to the three Abrahamic faiths:
Book Subject Number of times mentioned
Jewish Bible Jerusalem 669
Jewish Bible Zion (i.e. Jerusalem 154
or the land)
Christian Bible Jerusalem 154
Christian Bible Zion 7
Both Jewish and
Christian Bibles Judah or Judea 877
Both Bibles Samaria 123
The Qu’ran Israel or Israelites 47
The Qu’ran Jew or Jewish 26
The Qu’ran Christian or Christians 15
The Qu’ran Mecca and Medina 8
The Qu’ran Jerusalem Zero!
We are sophisticated readers, all of us, and we are all familiar with the urban myth that numbers can be made to tell any story one chooses to.
What, however, is incontrovertible from the numbers above, is just how many references in both the Hebrew and Christian Bibles testify to the integral historic connections between the Jewish People and the Land of Israel and also to Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Judaism and of the Jewish People.
It is also incontrovertible that that same Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, of which “Palestinians” (sic) are allegedly “disposessed”, are of no historical, spiritual or even religious significance to Muslims in any way. The Qu’ran shows that this is so.
Jerusalem was the capital of Israel 3,000 years ago under King David.
The Qu’ran was written about 1,600 years later. An the focus of the nascent Muslim faith was always Mecca.
Together with that, the Qu’ran has more references to things Jewish and Christian than to their own two holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
This indicates their keen awareness of Jewish roots in that region.
And, of course, most remarkable statistic is that the Qu’ran fails to mention Jerusalem even once.
Thus, with Muslims facing towards Mecca while praying, while Jews have turned to Jerusalem since antiquity, it is clear that Islam has no Qu’ranic connection to either Jerusalem or to the land of Israel, and therefore no spiritual, religious or cultural claim to either.
The Qu’ran simply confirms that this is so.
Islamic scholars themselves, such as Khaleel Mohammed, state that the Qu’ran actually supports the right of Jews to the land of Israel. He cites Sura 5:20, 5:21 in the Qu’ran which are translated as follows:
5:20. Remember Moses said to his people: ‘O my People ! call in remembrance the favor of Allah unto you, when He produced prophets among you, made you kings, and gave you what He had not given to any other among the peoples.
5:21. ‘O my people ! enter the holy land which Allah hath assigned to you, and turn not back ignominiously, for then will ye be overthrown, to your own ruin.’ (The Meaning of the Illustrious Qur’an by A. Yusuf Ali)
Further, the Qur’an explicitly refers to the return of the Jews to the Land of Israel before the Last Judgment – where it says: “And thereafter We [Allah] said to the Children of Israel: ‘Dwell securely in the Promised Land. And when the last warning will come to pass, we will gather you together in a mingled crowd.'” [Qur’an 17:104]
The messages in the Islamic Qu’ran are therefore very similar to that in the Jewish Bible which preceded it by one and a half millennia.
But this Qu’ranic message is not taught, or is conveniently forgotten by those radical Muslims and their European enablers and financial backers who would de-legitmise and wish for the demise of the Jewish state.
The Qu’ran also never mentions Palestine or Palestinians because there was such a nation, a people, or a political entity never existed.
We now have the holy books of Judaism, Christianity, and even Islam, recognizing the Jewish claim to the Land of Israel. Those three religious represent half of all humanity.
And lest anti-semitic zeal conflate fact with myth, we should remember that two thousand years ago, before the birth of Muhammad, Rome ruled much of the known world.
The Jews in the land of Israel (called Judea at that time) were a colony of Rome with their capital in Jerusalem. The Jews revolted against harsh Roman rule and were defeated after a long and brutal war.
As punishment the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and renamed that city Aelia Capilolina and renamed the geographical location from Provincia Judea to Provincia Philistia/Palaistina in an attempt to totally erase Jewish history and prevent another uprising.
No Arabs were involved in this action.
And it is this Roman nomenclature used to put down a Jewish revolt, with no input from Arabs who were not actors in this episode of history, which has been commandeered by the terror leader Yasser Arafat after the second defeat of monumentally large Arab Muslim armies by the numerically insignificant Jews in 1967.
The foundations of the chimera of a “Palestinian” ‘people’ and a “Palestinian nation” with Jerusalem as its capital, was laid progressively by an Arab Muslim leadership, furious at a second resounding physical defeat by a numerically weaker opponent.
With the exception of the Arab fight-back and subsequent defeat in yet a third war in 1973 , the delegtimisation and attempted destruction of Israel by law-fare rather than full-frontal violence, had begun.
The name Aelia Capilolina later reverted back to the ancient word Jerusalem after the Romans and their empire disappeared. The name Philistia/Palaistina evolved into Palestine and came to designate a region, but never a country or a people.
Thus the ongoing enthusiasm of the Muslim world to destroy a Jewish state is not only not based on any Arabic name for any Arab land, nor even any city held sacred by Muslims and/or Arabs, but rather on the Roman term ‘Palestine’ which was historically used by a now-vanished Roman people and empire to describe an area inhabited by the indigenous Jewish inhabitants of antiquity.
So much for the historical ‘first-dibs’ Abrahamic narrative.
The legal narrative why, in international law, Israel does not occupy East Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Judea or Samaria may be the focus of a later blog.
In his May 10th, 2014 article for The Australian, correspondent John Lyons said that Mr Xenophon had a message for Australian politicians. It was this: “I would urge Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to have a good look at the International Court of Justice’s statement on Israeli settlements,” he said. “The ICJ statement is crystal clear…”
I believe the Senator and those like him who may not have the time (or inclination) to fully study the issue, would be surprised by just how crystal clear international law really was, and is, in relation to Israeli settlement in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria………
Meanwhile, the push-back against bias and demonisation of a legitimate legal entity by those publicly committed to its demise, will continue.
Sooner rather than later, the persistent presentation of truth and fact, backed by law, will expose the true face and motives of a rejectionist and revisionist Arab political culture which has historically been intolerant of “other”.