by Victor Sharpe, Family Security Matters
I was complimented the other day by a reader of one of my recent articles, titled, Lies, Myths and Obama, which dealt – as many of them do – with the history of Israel: biblical and post-biblical.
I had included in the article the following sentence: “Only one people has ever made Jerusalem its capital and only one people ever established their ancestral and biblical homeland between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea: the Jews.”
I had also added that: “the Jews were the aboriginal inhabitants of the Land for millennia before the Muslim religion was created.”
The reader, nevertheless, had correctly pointed out that most people, because they have been exposed for so long to anti-Israel Arab propaganda, believe that there has not been a continuous Jewish presence in the Land for the last 2,000 years. They are thus unaware that the territory was never Judenrein (that is empty of a Jewish presence). And Arabs would rather you forget also that Jews lived for millennia in Mesopotamia and in what became later known as British created Iraq.
Indeed Jews had resided for 3,000 years in that territory from the Babylonian Captivity onwards. It was when Israel was reborn in 1948 that the Iraqi Arabs drove the Jews from their ancient homes, turning them into refugees who found sanctuary in Israel; an impoverished country barely able to support them at the time. More Jewish refugees were created than Arab refugees as one Arab state after another in the Middle East and North Africa drove out their Jewish populations. A crime, which hardly is ever recognized.
Arabs and their anti-Israel supporters try to convince the world that the Jews just appeared in the early 20th century after being dispersed for two thousand years from their biblical homeland. That is a flat out lie and flies in the face of recorded history. But facts never seem to matter to Arabs and pro-Arabs. So this brief history lesson will be for them an inconvenient truth.
Let me start by quoting from an article written in The Weekly Standard, May 11, 1998 by Charles Krauthammer:
“Israel is the very embodiment of Jewish continuity: It is the only nation on earth that inhabits the same land, bears the same name, speaks the same language, and worships the same God that it did 3,000 years ago. You dig the soil and you find pottery from Davidic times, coins from Bar Kokhba, and 2,000-year-old scrolls written in a script remarkably like the one today advertising ice cream at the corner candy store.”
The Jewish People trace their origin to Abraham, he who is called the Holy Convert, the first Jew, who established the belief in only one God, the creator of the universe. Abraham, his son Yitzhak (Isaac), and grandson Jacob (Israel), are referred to as the patriarchs of the Israelites who lived in what was then the Land of Canaan; later to become known as the Land of Israel. They and their wives are buried in the Ma’arat HaMachpela, the Tomb of the Patriarchs, in Hebron, Judaism’s second holiest city. (Genesis Chapter 23).
The name, Israel, derives from the name given to Jacob (Genesis 32:29). His 12 sons were the ancestors of the 12 tribes that later developed into the Jewish nation. The name Jew derives from Yehuda (Judah) one of the 12 sons of Jacob. You will find the names of the tribes listed in Exodus 1:1. Yehuda (Judea) is also the biblical name of the southern region of what the world calls by its Arab name – the West Bank. Shomron (Samaria) is the northern half.
Modern Israel shares the same language, culture, and Jewish faith passed through generations starting with the founding father Abraham and the Jews have had a continuous presence in the land of Israel for the past 3,300 years.
In 70 AD, Rome destroyed the Holy Temple and conquered the Jewish nation, yet only part of the population was sent into exile. Even after the Second Jewish Revolt against the continuing cruel Roman occupation, Jews, though banned from Jerusalem, survived for centuries in other Jewish towns including Rafah, Gaza, Yavne, Ashkelon, Jaffa and Caesarea as well as throughout Galilee and the Golan. Ruins of synagogues built in post-biblical Byzantine times are found scattered throughout the Golan and an epic act of Jewish resistance to the Roman legions took place at Gamla, high upon the Golan Heights. Here again, the Jewish presence predates the modern Syrian claims to the Heights by millennia.
Interestingly, early seventh century battles raged between the Persians and the Byzantines over the Land of Israel. The Byzantines were oppressing the Jews and a Jewish general, Benjamin of Tiberius, was able to raise an army of twenty thousand Jewish men from villages and towns in northern Israel to support the Persian cause against the oppressors. This again points to extensive Jewish life in the land well after the erroneous Arab claim that Jews had not lived in the land during the last 2,000 years.
The height of Jewish prominence was again achieved in the tenth century. In Tiberius, by the shores of Lake Kinneret, the Sea of Galilee, a symbol system for Hebrew vowels was created which eventually gained universal acceptance. But with the advent of the Crusades in Israel during the 12th century, and the massacres of thousands of Jews in Jerusalem and throughout the land, the Jewish population reached its lowest point. But Jewish populations again revived, strengthened by new Jewish immigrants arriving constantly from the Diaspora. Many such returnees settled in Safed, Tiberius, Hebron and Jerusalem.
These are the four Holy Jewish cities of the Land with Jerusalem, north, south, east and west, the eternal 3,000 year old Jewish capital and veritable jewel in the crown. Jews traveling from Europe, such as the remarkable medieval explorer, Benjamin of Tudela, had to overcome immense perils while crossing lands at war with one another. They had to avoid death or capture by bandits, or at sea from North African pirates and Crusaders based in Cyprus or Malta. That they came at all, however, remains a tribute to the earliest efforts to keep Israel populated with its aboriginal and ancestral folk and abide by the religious commandments to go up to the land of Israel.
A brief list of Jews returning to the ancestral land reveals a constant arrival of people joining existing Jewish villages and communities, themselves always at the mercy of alien occupiers.
According to the Center for Online Judaic Studies, here are just a few of the names of early Jewish returnees:
1075:1141 Yehuda Halevi, poet.
1135: 1204 Maimonides, philosopher.
1210: Settlement in Israel of three hundred French and English rabbis.
1267: Nachmanides arrives in Israel.
1313: Estory Haparchi arrives: The first geographer of Israel.
1538: Renewal of rabbinic ordination in Safed.
1561: Joseph Nasi leases Tiberius from Turkish sultan.
1700: Yehuda HaChasid and his followers arrive in Jerusalem.
1777: Large Hassidic group settles in Galilee.
1797: Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav’s trip to Israel.
1808: Disciples of Elijah, Gaon of Vilna, settle in Jerusalem.
This very partial list of Jewish immigrants, who arrived well before the 20th century, is an inconvenient truth to the Arab and pro-Arab propagandists who would have you believe their myth that the Jews only arrived much, much later.
The national coins, the pottery, the cities and villages, the ancient Hebrew texts…all support the empirical fact that Jews always had a continuous presence in that land for over 3,000 years and the fact that Jewish villages and towns were to be found in all parts of the ancient homeland and throughout all the preceding years, up until the present time, certainly dwarfs any claims that other people in the region may have; especially the Arabs who today call themselves Palestinians.