Anti-Zionists say the Jewish claim to Israel is illegitimate because, before 1948, it had been nearly 1,900 years since Jews exercised sovereignty there – and it is absurd to argue that any group still has rights to land they last governed such a long time ago.
But on what basis do they say the Arabs have a legitimate claim to that same land? On the basis of the claim that the Arabs last exercised sovereignty over that land 1,000 years ago. So, while 1,900 year-old-claims are inadmissible, thousand-year-old claims are indisputable.
It must be emphasized here that even the thousand-year Arab claim is not the same thing as a claim on behalf of “Palestinian Arabs.” After all, the last time Palestinian Arabs held sovereignty over Palestine was … never.
It is true that Arabs once exercised sovereignty over parts or all of historic Palestine. There were small Arab kingdoms in the south of Palestine already in late biblical days; they were important military and political allies of the Jews, who exercised sovereignty back then in the Land of Israel.
After the rise of Islam, Palestine was indeed part of a larger Arab kingdom or caliphate. But that ended in 1071, when Palestine came under the rule of the Suljuk Turks. And that was the last time Palestine had an Arab ruler.
In any case, why does the fact that Palestine once belonged to a larger Arab empire make it “Arab” when it has also been part of larger Roman, Greek, Persian, Turkish and British empires?
Why do anti-Zionists insist a thousand-year claim by Arabs who were never ruled by Palestinian Arabs has legitimacy while a 1,900-year claim by Jews should be rejected outright, even though the United Nations granted Israel sovereignty in 1947? The anti-Zionists say it is because the thousand-year Arab claim is more recent than the older Jewish claim.
But that argument can of course be turned around on anti-Zionists, because if national claims to land become more legitimate the more recent they are, then surely the most legitimate claim of all is that of the Jews to Israel, because the modern Jewish state of Israel is a mere 62 years old!
The other claim by anti-Zionists is that Jews have no rights to the land of Israel because they moved there from other places. Never mind that there always was a Jewish minority living in the land of Israel, even when it was under the sovereignty of Romans, Greeks, Arabs, Crusaders, Turks or British. Does the fact that Jews moved to the land of Israel from other places disqualify them from exercising sovereignty there?
The claim would be nonsensical even if we were to ignore that fact that most Palestinian Arabs also moved to Palestine from neighboring countries, starting in the late nineteenth century. But more generally, does the fact that a people moves from one locality to another deprive it of its claims to legitimate sovereignty in its new abode? Does this necessitate the conclusion that they need to pack up and leave, as anti-Zionists insist?
If it does, then it goes without saying that the Americans and Canadians must lead the way by returning to their original owners all lands seized from the Indians and the Mexicans and going back whence they came.
For that matter, Mexicans of Spanish ancestry also need to leave. The Anglo-Saxons, meaning the English, will be invited to turn the British isles over to their original Celtic and Druid owners while they return to their own ancestral Saxon homeland in northern Germany and Denmark. The Danes will be asked to move back to their Norwegian and Swedish homelands to make room for the returning Anglo-Saxons.
But that is just a beginning. The Spanish will be called on to leave the Iberian Peninsula they wrongfully occupy and return it to the Celtiberians. Similarly the Portuguese occupiers will leave their lands and return them to the Lusitanians. The Magyars will go back where they came from and leave Hungary to its true owners.
The Australians and New Zealanders will have to end their occupations of lands that do not belong to them. The Thais will leave Thailand. The Bulgarians will return to their Volga homeland and abandon occupied Bulgaria. Anyone speaking Spanish will be expected to end the forced occupation of Latin America.
It goes without saying the French will lose almost all their lands to their rightful owners. The Turks will go back to Mongolia and leave Anatolia altogether, returning it to the Greeks. The Germans will go back to Gotland. The Italians will return the boot to the Etruscans and Greeks.
That leaves the Arabs. First, all of northern Africa, from Mauritania to Egypt and Sudan, will be immediately abandoned by the illegal Arab occupiers and returned to its lawful original Berber, Punic, Greek, and Vandal owners. Occupied Syria and Lebanon must be released at once from the cruel occupation of the Arab imperialists.
Iraq will be returned to the Assyrians and Chaldeans. Southern Arabia will be handed back to the Abyssinians. The Arabs may retain control of the central portion of the Arabian peninsula as their homeland – but not the oil fields.
The Palestinian Arabs will of course have to return the lands they are occupying, turning them over to their legal and rightful owners (the Jews).
And right after all this, Israel will be most happy to implement the road map in full.
Steven Plaut, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is a professor at Haifa University. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at [email protected]