By Dr. Alex Grobman, Israel National News—
A popular myth perpetuated by Israel’s enemies is that Jews are intruders in the Middle East who have no historical, legal or religious connection to the land of Israel and have taken land from the indigenous Arab population. Nothing can be further from the truth.
Palestine as an Independent State
From the destruction of the Second Commonwealth by the Romans in 70 CE until the establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948, historian Moshe Gil writes that Palestine (the name given to the area by the Roman conquerors with no connection to Arabs or Muslims who were nowhere near the area in the former case and as yet non-existent in the latter, ed.) was neither a home for any other people, nor ever been considered a separate geopolitical entity. When the Muslims invaded Palestine in 634, ending four centuries of conflict between Persia and Rome, they found direct descendants of Jews who had lived in the country since the time of Joshua bin Nun, who led the Jews into Canaan. For 2,000 years, Jews and Christians constituted the majority of the population, while the Bedouins were the ruling class.
Diaspora Jews, particularly believers in messianic redemption, returned to Palestine throughout the centuries, making aliyah (immigration to Israel) and settling the land as historian Arie Morgenstern notes.
Messianic Drive for Aliyah
Starting in the year 1240 (5000 on the Hebrew calendar), Morgenstern adds there was a mystical expectation at the beginning of each century that Jews could be redeemed if they returned to their land. Although these groups were never more than a small percentage of world Jewry, the fact that they involved leading Jewish figures from around the world had a profound effect on the majority of the Jews who remained behind.
The messianic impetus for aliyah and the centrality of the land of Israel became a vital part of Jewish spiritual life Morgenstern asserts. Although modern Zionism rejected the messianic tradition, it still embodied the belief in national redemption and the yearning for return to the land and even the re-establishment of sovereignty. The existence of the pre-modern Zionist aliyah movement from the thirteenth to the nineteenth centuries demonstrates that a number of Jews were not content only to pray for the return to Zion, but also saw aliyah as a realistic objective. In view of the difficulties of the journey, the uncertainty of finding employment and of being able to live in peaceful surroundings, it is understandable that more people did not go. Continue Reading….