|A RIGHT TO EXIST?
by Giveon Cornfield, Ph.D
|IHC [Israel Hasbara Committee] Abstract
The author, a third generation Israeli, details Jewish inhabitancy in the land of Israel for millennia. He reminds friends of Israel
not to use the phrase "right to exist" when referring to Israel, as it implies there is a question about her existence.
There is a catch-phrase constantly being bandied about by news people, which never fails to make my blood boil. It is "Israel's Right to Exist." The term is even used by well-intentioned friends and worse yet - by some of our own tactless people! This offensive expression should be expunged from the vocabulary of anyone who is (or pretends to be) a friend of Israel.
The nation of Israel existed in its own land thousands of years before Muhammad was even a gleam in his father's eye.
Continued Jewish residence in the Land of Israel (Zion, in the Bible) continued throughout the 2 millennia of exile that followed
the Roman conquest. When Jews from Europe and other countries began to return to the land of their ancestors in the late 19th century, it was to be a wasteland, a virtually uninhabited backwater province of the Ottoman empire. My own grandfather settled in Rosh-Pina, a small village near the Syrian border, in 1882.
Against all odds, and by virtue of hard work and perseverance, those people, called Zionists, recreated Israel. It grew and pros-pered, in spite of the British Mandate authority's restrictions, and constant attacks by marauding Arab bandits.
Impoverished peoples from neighboring Arab countries began to come to Palestine (as it was called under the British) to benefit
from new economic opportunities created by the Jewish community. As both sectors grew and prospered, peaceful coexistence was taken for granted. My father, born in Rosh-Pina in 1901, had many Arab friends who visited our home, as we visited theirs. Under a French-installed Christian Maronite-dominated leadership, Lebanon to the north became the "Switzerland of the Middle East", with its progressive banking system and thriving tourist industy.
One of the chief Arab troublemakers in 1930's Palestine was the "Grand Mufti" of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini. The British eventually exiled him, as the clouds of the WWII began gathering. He went to Germany, where he became an advisor to the Nazis on Jewish questions, and was even photographed at Hitler's side. It was Hitler's plan to confis-cate all Jewish property and exile the Jews to Palestine, but the Mufti convinced him that killing them would be a better solution to "The Jewish Problem".
Jewish refugees from Nazism joined the Yishuv, the Jewish community in Eretz Yisrael, which numbered some 600,000 at the outbreak of the war. The British allowed some survivors of the Holocaust to trickle in, but even more were smuggled in between the end of the war and the November, 1947 UN resolution establishing the State of Israel in May, 1948.
The combined forces of all neighboring Arab states promptly attacked Israel, and were defeated as they were time and time again. Even as these lines are written, Israel is again forced to assert its sovereignty over its land, by rooting out Arafat's terrorists.
Arafat is a direct heir to the Mufti's legacy, as is Iraq's Saddam Hussein, who openly professed his admiration of Hitler.
So please, let's hear no more about a "Right to Exist!" Israel has never ceased to exist, and it will survive all adversity.
|Source: Original article contributed by the author, an IHC member, 4 August 2002.
The author served in the Hagana, in the Royal Air Force in WWII, and in the Israel Defense Forces during the War of Liberation (1948/9). He is the author of several books, including "Zion Liberated", a historical biography set in pre-State Israel.
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