Top Ten Reasons East Jerusalem does not belong to Jewish-Israelis

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the American Israel Public Affairs Council on Monday that “Jerusalem is not a settlement.” He continued that the historical connection between the Jewish people and the land of Israel cannot be denied. He added that neither could the historical connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem. He insisted, “The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 years ago and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today.” He said, “Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is our capital.” He told his applauding audience of 7500 that he was simply following the policies of all Israeli governments since the 1967 conquest of Jerusalem in the Six Day War.

Netanyahu mixed together Romantic-nationalist cliches with a series of historically false assertions. But even more important was everything he left out of the history, and his citation of his warped and inaccurate history instead of considering laws, rights or common human decency toward others not of his ethnic group.

So here are the reasons that Netanyahu is profoundly wrong, and East Jerusalem does not belong to him.

1. In international law, East Jerusalem is occupied territory, as are the parts of the West Bank that Israel unilaterally annexed to its district of Jerusalem. The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and the Hague Regulations of 1907 forbid occupying powers to alter the lifeways of civilians who are occupied, and forbid the settling of people from the occupiers’ country in the occupied territory. Israel’s expulsion of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem, its usurpation of Palestinian property there, and its settling of Israelis on Palestinian land are all gross violations of international law. Israeli claims that they are not occupying Palestinians because the Palestinians have no state are cruel and tautological. Israeli claims that they are building on empty territory are laughable. My back yard is empty, but that does not give Netanyahu the right to put up an apartment complex on it.

2. Israeli governments have not in fact been united or consistent about what to do with East Jerusalem and the West Bank, contrary to what Netanyahu says. The Galili Plan for settlements in the West Bank was adopted only in 1973. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin gave undertakings as part of the Oslo Peace Process to withdraw from Palestinian territory and grant Palestinians a state, promises for which he was assassinated by the Israeli far right (elements of which are now supporting Netanyahu’s government). As late as 2000, then Prime Minister Ehud Barak claims that he gave oral assurances that Palestinians could have almost all of the West Bank and could have some arrangement by which East Jerusalem could be its capital. Netanyahu tried to give the impression that far rightwing Likud policy on East Jerusalem and the West Bank has been shared by all previous Israeli governments, but this is simply not true.

3. Romantic nationalism imagines a “people” as eternal and as having an eternal connection with a specific piece of land. This way of thinking is fantastic and mythological. Peoples are formed and change and sometimes cease to be, though they might have descendants who abandoned that religion or ethnicity or language. Human beings have moved all around and are not directly tied to any territory in an exclusive way, since many groups have lived on most pieces of land. Jerusalem was not founded by Jews, i.e. adherents of the Jewish religion. It was founded between 3000 BCE and 2600 BCE by a West Semitic people or possibly the Canaanites, the common ancestors of Palestinians, Lebanese, many Syrians and Jordanians, and many Jews. But when it was founded Jews did not exist.

4. Jerusalem was founded in honor of the ancient god Shalem. It does not mean City of Peace but rather ‘built-up place of Shalem.”

5. The “Jewish people” were not building Jerusalem 3000 years ago, i.e. 1000 BCE. First of all, it is not clear when exactly Judaism as a religion centered on the worship of the one God took firm form. It appears to have been a late development since no evidence of worship of anything but ordinary Canaanite deities has been found in archeological sites through 1000 BCE. There was no invasion of geographical Palestine from Egypt by former slaves in the 1200s BCE. The pyramids had been built much earlier and had not used slave labor. The chronicle of the events of the reign of Ramses II on the wall in Luxor does not know about any major slave revolts or flights by same into the Sinai peninsula. Egyptian sources never heard of Moses or the 10 plagues & etc. Jews and Judaism emerged from a certain social class of Canaanites over a period of centuries inside Palestine. (See Daniel Lazare’s Harper’s article on the archeological disproof of the Bible, preserved at this website (I am not endorsing the web site).

6. Jerusalem not only was not being built by the likely then non-existent “Jewish people” in 1000 BCE, but Jerusalem probably was not even inhabited at that point in history. Jerusalem appears to have been abandoned between 1000 BCE and 900 BCE, the traditional dates for the united kingdom under David and Solomon. So Jerusalem was not ‘the city of David,’ since there was no city when he is said to have lived. No sign of magnificent palaces or great states has been found in the archeology of this period, and the Assyrian tablets, which recorded even minor events throughout the Middle East, such as the actions of Arab queens, don’t know about any great kingdom of David and Solomon in geographical Palestine.

7. Since archeology does not show the existence of a Jewish kingdom or kingdoms in the so-called First Temple Period, it is not clear when exactly the Jewish people would have ruled Jerusalem except for the Hasmonean Kingdom. The Assyrians conquered Jerusalem in 722. The Babylonians took it in 597 and ruled it until they were themselves conquered in 539 BCE by the Achaemenids of ancient Iran, who ruled Jerusalem until Alexander the Great took the Levant in the 330s BCE. Alexander’s descendants, the Ptolemies ruled Jerusalem until 198 when Alexander’s other descendants, the Seleucids, took the city. With the Maccabean Revolt in 168 BCE, the Jewish Hasmonean kingdom did rule Jerusalem until 37 BCE, though Antigonus II Mattathias, the last Hasmonean, only took over Jerusalem with the help of the Parthian dynasty in 40 BCE. Herod ruled 37 BCE until the Romans conquered what they called Palestine in 6 CE (CE= ‘Common Era’ or what Christians call AD). The Romans and then the Eastern Roman Empire of Byzantium ruled Jerusalem from 6 CE until 614 CE when the Iranian Sasanian Empire Conquered it, ruling until 629 CE when the Byzantines took it back.

The Muslims conquered Jerusalem in 638 and ruled it until 1099 when the Crusaders conquered it. The Crusaders killed or expelled Jews and Muslims from the city. The Muslims under Saladin took it back in 1187 CE and allowed Jews to return, and Muslims ruled it until the end of World War I, or altogether for about 1192 years.

Adherents of Judaism did not found Jerusalem. It existed for perhaps 2700 years before anything we might recognize as Judaism arose. Jewish rule may have been no longer than 170 years or so, i.e., the kingdom of the Hasmoneans.

8. Therefore if historical building of Jerusalem and historical connection with Jerusalem establishes sovereignty over it as Netanyahu claims, here are the groups that have the greatest claim to the city:

A. The Muslims, who ruled it and built it over 1191 years.

B. The Egyptians, who ruled it as a vassal state for several hundred years in the second millennium BCE.

C. The Italians, who ruled it about 444 years until the fall of the Roman Empire in 450 CE.

D. The Iranians, who ruled it for 205 years under the Achaemenids, for three years under the Parthians (insofar as the last Hasmonean was actually their vassal), and for 15 years under the Sasanids.

E. The Greeks, who ruled it for over 160 years if we count the Ptolemys and Seleucids as Greek. If we count them as Egyptians and Syrians, that would increase the Egyptian claim and introduce a Syrian one.

F. The successor states to the Byzantines, which could be either Greece or Turkey, who ruled it 188 years, though if we consider the heir to be Greece and add in the time the Hellenistic Greek dynasties ruled it, that would give Greece nearly 350 years as ruler of Jerusalem.

G. There is an Iraqi claim to Jerusalem based on the Assyrian and Babylonian conquests, as well as perhaps the rule of the Ayyubids (Saladin’s dynasty), who were Kurds from Iraq.

9. Of course, Jews are historically connected to Jerusalem by the Temple, whenever that connection is dated to. But that link mostly was pursued when Jews were not in political control of the city, under Iranian, Greek and Roman rule. It cannot therefore be deployed to make a demand for political control of the whole city.

10. The Jews of Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine did not for the most part leave after the failure of the Bar Kochba revolt against the Romans in 136 CE. They continued to live there and to farm in Palestine under Roman rule and then Byzantine. They gradually converted to Christianity. After 638 CE all but 10 percent gradually converted to Islam. The present-day Palestinians are the descendants of the ancient Jews and have every right to live where their ancestors have lived for centuries.


PS: The sources are in the hyperlinks, especially the Thompson edited volume. See also Shlomo Sands recent book.

End/ (Not Continued)

60 Responses

  1. Juan, once again you have demonstrated yourself to be an invaluable resource of facts and level thinking.

    Thank you for taking the trouble to provide this historical timesheet and analysis.

  2. Israel claims it is pre-ordained to exist in the Middle East by historical facts and its sacred texts.
    This presupposes a long term perspective.

    It is unfortunate that Israel hubris has simply ignored the concerns of its larger Middle East caused by its colonial expansion at the expense of the indigenous Palestinians.
    Israel has built its new and vigorous civilization analogous to the Singapore City State.

    When Singapore became independent their neighbors were hostile.
    Now Singapore is a secure and wealthy small nation that is respected and valued by their neighbors.
    We now witness a rising Asean region focused on amity instead of hostility.

    What has Israel gained with their short sighted military conquests?
    How long can Israel exist within a region populated by nearly a billion Muslims?
    Middle Eastern history has witnessed the demise of serial invaders over time.
    What are we to make of Moses leaving the Promised Land in this context – will there be another exodus because of hubris and cruelty?

    Some reputable archeologists suggest unearthed evidence question the historical veracity of some sacred texts is hard to reconcile.
    Secular interpretations suggest the sacred text were political organizing concepts to bring the Jewish tribes together.

    The Jewish people for generations were persecuted and nearly wiped out by histories worst Holocaust in Europe during WWII.
    Of all people, how can the state of Israel be so cruel and callous since independence?

    Why not learn from Singapore and become a valued neighbor in your region.

  3. I don't know why these historical quibbles are necessary. Jordanian municipal Jerusalem was 6 square km – 1 sq. km inside the walls and 5 more of adjacent villages. Israeli municipal "Jerusalem" covers 72 sq. km. This is a naked, obvious, land grab through the cynical exploitation of religious sentiment. "Jerusalem!!!!!" My grandfather did NOT pray to be "next year in the rebuilt" Abu Dis, al-Azaria or even Sheikh Jarah.

  4. A lovely history, albeit w/o footnotes. A book should be written (or referred to if already written).

    It somewhat overlaps Shlomo Sands's book "The Invention of the Jewish People" but has more about various ancient invasions.

  5. Great and and very comprehensive reply to the Binyamin speech

  6. Possibly ordinary Israeli intolerance of Palestinian rights was always there and I never realised it, only attributing intolerance to the most conservative political parties, but I understand now that there is an abiding commonplace intolerance of Palestinians in Israel and I have no idea of how this will be lessened.

    Israel is in effect becoming ever less democratic, ever more authoritarian with respect to Palestinians or other Arab peoples in Israel.

  7. Great post, Prof. Cole. But don't tell Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

  8. NEW YORK TIMES:

    The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary…

    Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

    link to nytimes.com

  9. I sure feel sorry for you when you come face to face with God. The land of Israel was promised to Abraham, Issac and Jacob and all of their decendants. Stop trying to change the facts.

  10. Beautiful!! Shlomo Sand ditto. This chronology should be compulsory reading in US High Schools, not to mention in our Congress.
    Thank you Juan,

    Nayla

  11. Another interesting historical fact is the British elite giving consideration for other territories to base Jewish Colonists beholden to British Strategic interests…Of course the endgame was the Palestinian Mandate & now we have Isreal

  12. .
    12:35 PM, Anonymous said:

    "The land of Israel was promised to Abraham, Issac and Jacob and all of their descendants. Stop trying to change the facts."

    But if the Arab is the descendant of Abraham, wouldn't the promise still be fulfilled if that land was shared with them ?
    .

  13. Of course, Israel is finding archaeological "evidence" every day. I am reminded of that ivory pomegranate that supposedly came from Herod's temple, was purchased by the Israel Museum for some $550,000 and later proven to be a fake. Israel has a very rich history in archaeological fakes. It is one of the very few countries where finds to not have to have provenance.

    To this day, Israel destroys Muslim and especially Palestinian sites to erase their historical claim to the land. Even Haaretz has reported on this.

    More history: Over centuries, the Temple Mount area had become a dump. It was a Muslim conqueror, al-Malik, who instigated the clean-up of the area, traditionally collecting the first heap of refuse himself. If a significant number of Jews lived in Jerusalem and considered Herod's temple to be important, surely they would have kept the area clean?

    Nor was Herod, the builder of the Second Temple of the Wailing Wall, of "Jewish" origin. He was a quisling of the Romans who not only traditionally massacred all those children referred to in the New Testament, but crucified about 3,000 Jews to quell a Jewish revolt.

  14. "I sure feel sorry for you when you come face to face with God. The land of Israel was promised to Abraham, Issac and Jacob and all of their decendants. Stop trying to change the facts."

    Ah, but Muhammad is a descendant of Abraham, which means that using your logic the Arabs also can claim the Holy land.

  15. Juan, you need to site your sources so that when we go out to spread the history you so painstakingly offered us, we can pass it on with authority.

  16. I sure feel sorry for you when you come face to face with God. The land of Israel was promised to Abraham, Issac and Jacob and all of their decendants. Stop trying to change the facts.

    Even the ones that aren't Jewish?

    The evidence supports the belief that most of the inhabitants of ancient Judea would have converted over the centuries to Christianity and Islam. Both from the knowledge that the earliest Christians were Jews, and also from the awareness that that has been the general trend in lands that have come to be colonised by practitioners of the two faiths. At least in the places where they have proven to have an enduring presence.

    Further, it's not exactly a closely kept secret that the Prophet is said to be descended from Abraham through his older son Ishmael. By your reasoning that actually supports the arab claim to Palestine and Jerusalem.

  17. Juan,

    As much as I appreciate your history, I am surprised that you have nothing to say about Israel's claim to *West* Jerusalem, where I live.

    Israel's claim is by virtue of the conquest of Jerusalem in 1948, in contravention of the 1947 partition plan. Israel's sovereignty over West Jerusalem has not formally been recognized, as far as I know, by any country.

    It is important to point out that Israel's borders have not been recognized by most states. Ben Gurion preferred not having the 47 cease fire lines recognized as borders. No doubt the Palestinians will be forced to concede West Jerusalem, as they already intimated that they would. But nothing is set in stone, and we shouldn't take anything for granted. If they concede West Jerusalem, they should get something in return.

  18. Clinton at March 22 AIPAC conference:
    "For President Obama, for me, and for this entire administration, our commitment to Israel's security and Israel's future is rock-solid, unwavering, enduring and forever"

    Shouldn't we ask her for ten reasons this is so?

    Sounds like a bi-national version of "my country right or wrong".

    Prior to the the Iraq invasion we turned considerable venom on France for not supporting us (Freedom Fries). The hatred for that country was in full bloom. Yet we would never act the same towards Israel, regardless of its behavior – until some time after forever.

    Seems like the archeological record pretty much disputes the Moses and Ten Commandments scenario. If not divine, the Commandments must be secular. Moreover, the archeological record puts the MYTH stamp on the whole Judeo-Christian ball of wax. Good enough to instigate wars and subjugate peoples, but not much ammo for polemical battles against atheists.

  19. Do you need all this ancient history to justify Zionism? Maybe yes. Maybe no.

    There was a Jewish vassal/client state in the land that is now Palestine Israel during the Roman period. There were parts of that territory in which those people who worshipped Yahweh exclusively were the majority. Some of the worshippers of Yahweh were not Jews, such as Samaritans. Some were Jews and called Jews and seen as a distinct people with special privileges granted by the Roman authorities. The vast majority of Jews did not live in Israel/Palestine. Josepheus is the only comprehensive source for much of this material.

    Still, there was a people called Jews with a temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD and there was a people called Jews who venerated the idea of Jerusalem in 1940 AD.

    The Jews of 70 are not genetically connected to the Jews of 1940. They do not speak the same languages. They do not follow the all of the same religious practices, which varied in both periods.

    Still, there is some continuity between these peoples the first five books of the Torah, the food laws, the holidays. Is that enough to justify the creation of a state in a territory?

    The Palestinian gene pool certainly contains the highest concentration of genes of those people who lives in the land in 70 AD. But they are not Jews. Should there not be a place in the land for people who continue to venerate the books venerated in 70 AD, since the Jewish people never relinquished their claim to a piece of the land and some sort of Jewish people continued to exist, even if the modern Jewish population is descended from the Jews of the Hellenistic Diaspora.

    When Cyrus the Great allowed the elite Judeans to return to Jerusalem following his conquest of Babylon, returning exiles and those followers of Yahweh who remained did not see eye to eye. In fact, the first prohibitions against intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews deal with marriages between those followers of Yahweh who were sent to Babylon and those that remained in the land of Judea under the Babylonians. Israel had already been conquered by the Assyrians and the Samaritans were the decendants of the proto-Jews left behind.

    In the 5th century BC, there was conflict between an elite group of returnees and their kin left behind. There are some rough parallels to the situation today.

  20. I don't think the israeli's care. They'll continue building.

  21. The sources are in the hyperlinks. See also Shlomo Sands, The Invention of the Jewish People.

    cheers Juan

  22. A good read is "What Price Israel" that disects Zionism and the ill-effects of middle east rivalries all peddling influence here in America.

  23. I'm a secular Jew and a I like Juan Cole; I am a supporter of Israel but not its corrupt government of right wing thugs. I believe in a two state solution and a shared Jerusalem.

    However, I have to point out a very silly error in this post not typical of Juan Cole's posts.

    First, let me start off by saying that I am a secular Jew and I understand that there is little to no evidence of an Exodus or a mass slave population of Jews in Egypt. I generally enjoy your blog and appreciate your perspective and erudition.
    But something in your post on Israelis nationalist myths really irked me: maybe you were tired or had been grading too many papers or something, but you constructed an argument against the Exodus that included the following.
    "The pyramids had been built much earlier and had not used slave labor"

    Now, if the Bible ACTUALLY contained a howler as massive as that: the story of how Jewish slaves built the PYRAMIDS, (which everyone knows are about 1000 years earlier than when the Exodus is reputed to have happened by most Biblical literalists) then it would have been tossed out as rubbish years ago. In fact, the Jewish slaves are said to have built the Egyptian cities of Pithom and Rameses: nowhere in the Bible does it say anything about Jews building the Pyramids. You seem to have gotten the Biblical account mixed up with various pop-culture representations. Heck, even the Hollywood film versions–The Ten Commandments and The Prince of Egypt–both make references to the presence of the Pyramids as the great and ancient monuments of Egyptian culture during the time of the Exodus.

  24. If anything can be considered a settlement it is the al asqa mosque which the Muslims built on top of our Jewish temple to establish facts on the ground

    The jewish temple predates any Muslim,Christian claims to Jersualem I think yuo will find

  25. Apparently "anonymous" at 10:51am did not read the article which disproves his statement.

    Daoud

  26. Go to Democracynow.org, and hear NOrman Finkelsteins take on the Zionist expansionst ideas. Its still up on line.

  27. I think we have to accept that ideology, or faith, usually trumps historical accuracy, especially where a "volk" is determined to grab another "volks" territory.

    Throughout history people grab and settle territory, if they have the power to do it. It's unlikely this long, long, process is over.

    The land was taken by the sword, it will probably be taken back by the sword. Unfortunately for all of us the sword has now been replaced by nuclear weapons.

  28. Read:
    Thomas Thompson's "The Mythic Past: Biblical Archaeology And The Myth Of Israel".

    Shlomo Sand's "The Invention of the Jewish People".

    Israel Shahak's "Jewish History, Jewish Religion".

    In view of Israel's growing militaristic intransigence, it's time that the world followed the Israeli example. Israel was created by international fiat. It's time for Palestine to be restored today, by such fiat, on pre-June 1967 lands.

    Then the two entities will have all of Eternity to "negotiate" the details.

  29. how can jews claim that palestine belongs to them as the promissed land given to abraham while Judaism was the relegion sent to moses. moses lived centurys after abraham?!!!!!!!

  30. All of Juan's evidence is historically correct, except for a minor point on the Seleucids and Ptolemies – who were Alexander's 'successors', and not his descendants.

    It's time people started confronting Israel with the historical reality (ie. Israel is a 20th century mixed descent colony that happens to be predominantly of the Jewish faith – note, not 'race' – due to the second world war Nazi holocaust and political machinations by the US and others thereafter) instead of blithely accepting its contrived Zionist myths, which are absolute bunkum.

    One of the great moments in Shlomo Sand's book is how he reveals the bizarre collaborations between the Zionists and Nazis right up to 1941.

    ARIS

  31. All this drivel about ancient archeology. Seriously, does it matter? Why not simply say, "The Jews have a right to live there, and so do the Arabs"?

  32. Great discussion, but a correction is in order on one point of the early chronology: the neo-Assyrian empire conquered Samaria, capital of (northern) Israel, in 722, but Jerusalem, capital of (southern)Judah, containing the first YHW temple, remained out of Assyrian hands. Sennacherib assaulted 46 Judaean cities in 701 and forced Jerusalem to pay tribute, but did not capture or occupy the city. It remained independent until after the fall of the neo-Assyrians, when it succumbed to neo-Babylonian assault.

  33. I think Prof Cole is using a wellknown fallacy, that the fact that a certain issue is historically debatable and/or currently unprovable, MUST mean that its claims are false.

    Some of the points are rather peculiar though. If Jews only ruled Jerusalem in the 2nd century BC, then who did the Assyrian supposedly conquer the city from in 722BC? Artifacts such as the Siloam inscription proves that the Jews had authority over the city from at the very least the 8th century BC

  34. hey! my ancestors were Crusaders (my family name comes from the Teutonic Knights), do I get a claim to Jerusalem too?

    (I know this is no laughing matter, just being ridiculous)

    also, you forgot to mention that most Jews today are descending not from the Jews that lived in Palestine, but from a Jewish kingdom that was established in Kazakstan, according to the latest research

    the descendants of the Jews who lived in Palestine at the time of Christ all converted to Islam and are now called Palestinians.

  35. The Ashkenazim Jews are not descendants of Abraham, Issac and Jacob and make up aprox %80 of Jews living in Israel.

    I wonder how non native Americans would react if the Native American population decided to start knocking down buildings and replacing them with their own here in the US.

    This directly correlated argument never seems to make it into our public discourse.

  36. I would hope that Americans, for obvious reasons, would be wary of the idea of ancient claims to a piece of land based off of romanticized belief and ancient history.

    The truth, of course, is that nations are relatively recent things. They may have had a predecessor in the form of a longer-lasting state (the kingdoms of France, Sweden, Spain, Great Britain, and the like), but a state is not the same thing as a nation.

  37. Israel is completely dependent on her trade with the EU and the US, both economically and politically.

    Restrict the trade, (as the EU is now seriously considering), and the Israeli government overnight has no more influence than a bagel. All else is commentary.

    CD

  38. To the winner go the spoils. As Mao once said "political power grows from the barrel of a gun". The Arabs fought and lost, the Israelis won.

    The original partition plan became invalid when the arab nations launched an all-out attack and lost. The Palestinian Arabs lost their claim to Israel when they revolted and fled across the river Jordan. "International law" is flawed concept and used as a propaganda term since there is no international government only member states.

    What is the point of this article and the historical revisionism? It does not change the fact that the Arabs have lost the war for Israel.

    I do not understand why there is so much hostility towards the only democracy in the middle east. Giving Palestine its own state at this point is to condemn the region to even more devestation.

  39. Thanks Juan. Keep up the good work. We need it now more than ever.

  40. Thank you Professor Cole for a concise, fact-based history of Jerusalem and the general region.

    It is indeed a matter of sad and supreme irony that the descendants of the original Jews – the present-day Palestinians (many would say the real Jews, from a demographic/ethnic standpoint) – are being deprived of their land/livelihood and subjected to daily cruelty/humiliation by the descendants of the ‘newly converted’ ones, all in the name of the 'Jewish people'.

    Indeed the biblical stories about the history of Israel and the Jews is mythological, although it is true, as you point out, that Jews and the Jewish religion

  41. He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future.

    – George Orwell.

    Does the author think by providing facts mixed in with a few mis-truths (lies) that would suffice to sway people to his viewpoint?

    What a joke!

    Fact – Jerusalem is an important city to three of the world's greatest religions.

    Fact – What a disgrace this guy is.

    Fact – To those who have not done their homework, there is strong archeological evidence for the existence of a Jewish Kingdom:

    – 1993/1994 Discovery of the Tel Dan Stele (9th century reference to the House of David)

    – 1994 Discovery of the Mesha Stele (9th century reference to the House of David)

    – First and Second Temple Mount (excuse me but the remnants of the first and second temple mount are STILL there!)

    – Discovery of the Palace of David in Jerusalem

    Also Ask the Moslem Waqf why they destroy every bit of jewish archeological evidence they find?

  42. @ Anonymus 4:03 AM

    ”— One of the great moments in Shlomo Sand's book is how he reveals the bizarre collaborations between the Zionists and Nazis right up to 1941.—”

    Actually right up to 1944. In mid-44 Adolf Eichmann negotiated with Rudolf Kasztner about deportation of prominent Hungarian Jews.

  43. "When Singapore became independent their neighbors were hostile. Now Singapore is a secure and wealthy small nation that is respected and valued by their neighbors."

    I admit to knowing virtually nothing about the history of Singapore. Was it established by an ethnic-exclusivist group of foreigners from another continent, who declared it their land, colonized it, ethnically cleansed it of its indigenous population, and then declared it an independent state exclusively of their ethnic group? If not, then there really is no analogy to speak of here. The initial hostility toward Israel in its region was not based merely on a declaration of independence.

  44. "Possibly ordinary Israeli intolerance of Palestinian rights was always there and I never realised it, only attributing intolerance to the most conservative political parties…"

    Anyone who has studied the history of Zionism knows very well that from its very inception there was not merely intolerance of Palestinian rights, there was with extremely rare exceptions no recognition that Palestinians in particular, and native populations in general had any rights at all, and this has crossed virtually all ideological lines. Read any truthful history of Zionism. Better yet, read Zionist writings starting with Herzl's earliest works on the subject. They are more revealing than most things written since. The Zionists with rare exceptions found it perfectly acceptable to, as Herzl put it, "spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it any employment in our own country …. expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly." Throughout Zionism's history in Palestine prior to the creation of Israel there were numerous "transfer" schemes intended to rid the land of its native non-Jews. Decades after Herzl wrote the above words Ben Gurion would explicitly order economic measures specifically intended to squeeze Palestinians out. When less overtly violent means proved ineffective, the Zionists and later the Israelis resorted to "any means necessary", including but not limited to terrorism.

    And no, this lack of recognition or regard for/intolerance of Palestinian rights has never been limited to the most conservative parties. Quite the contrary in some respects, in fact. We used to observe back in the day that Likud talks about "settlements", while Labour builds them.

  45. My understanding is that what we now know as "semitic" people have occupied the region of Palestine/Israel for at least ten thousand years. As the author rightly points out, tribal affiliations via race/creed/culture/religion have ebbed and flowed.

    It is strange that one small subset should claim exclusive rights.

    Understandably, this audacious land grab is akin to lighting the fuse to a keg of powder.

    With the region proliferating with nuclear armaments, it is incumbent on the entire human population to ensure that a fair resolution is reached.

  46. Despite a lot of nonsense from Koestler & others (most of the others being Antisemites) repeated here by a number of commentators, the Jews of Europe are NOT mostly descended from the Khazars but mostly from migrants from the Middle East. This has been demonstrated by widely reported recent genetic studies, but some people on both sides of the Israel/Palestinian issue prefer their politically desired myths to science.

    As for Cole's first point about international law, let's put East Jerusalem in its real historical context. It was the Jordanians who expelled the Jews of Jerusalem from the Jewish Quarter and razed their synagogues when their troops took over in 1948. But Cole wants us to ignore that and declares that the resettlement of the old Jewish Quarter is the crime. That doesn't wash. All of Jerusalem was supposed to be an International open city before the conquests of the 1948 war made it otherwise. Who now, besides the Catholic Church, calls for an Internationalization of Jerusalem that is as unacceptable to the Palestinians as to the Israelis? Israel has at least as good a claim to the historic (though not the currently expanded) territory of Jerusalem as anybody else.

    • When given to the 1948 Jews, the British Mandate specified that, the state of Israel should give equal rights and citizenship to all who live there.

  47. First of all, God is not in the real estate business. She has better things to do that promise Israel to the jews. Second, Palestinians are Christian and Muslim, so the Jews in Israel, most of whom have been there less than 50 years, have wrenched to land away from Christians and Muslims in an attempt to make a 'white colony' in the midst of the Middle East. This conflict is about racism and not about religion

  48. "It was the Jordanians who expelled the Jews of Jerusalem from the Jewish Quarter and razed their synagogues when their troops took over in 1948."

    This is a distortion of history. The evacuation of the Jewish quarter in Jerusalem was mutually agreed upon in a meeting between the Zionist leaders and the Jordanians. The Jordanians then carried it out in a manner that was praised even by the evacuees themselves as humane and compassionate. Several Jordanian soldiers were killed or wounded protecting the Jewish evacuees.

    As for the "razing of the synagogues", that, too, has been misrepresented. The Hurva synagogue provides one of numerous examples in which synagogues were destroyed as a direct result of the Haganah having chosen to use them to fight from. As UN Secretary of the Palestine Commission Pablo de Azcarate observed the Haganah had turned synagogues such as the Hurva into "their last redoubt", making it difficult to determine whether it was the Arab Legion or the Haganah that should be held responsible for their destruction.

    Stan is also incorrect when he insists that "Internationalization of Jerusalem…is as unacceptable to the Palestinians as to the Israelis". The fact is that internationalization of Jerusalem is one of several solutions that the Palestinians have put forth at one time or another as acceptable to them. It is the Israelis who have rejected this along with other solutions that would not result in absolute Israeli ownership and control of the entire city.

  49. "Irish" claims Jews, who are "white" don't belong in the Middle East (never mind that the majority of Israeli Jews originated from the Middle East) and charges others with “racism”?

    Note that Europeans historically did not consider even the so-called "European" Jews to be "white". Modern genetic DNA analysis shows that “European” Jews are genetically closer to Mideast populations than to Europeans.

    Does “Irish” really mean to imply that Middle Easterners are out of place in Europe today? Why would a person who describes them as a “brown colony” in Europe be any less racist than “Irish”?

  50. Why does Prof. Cole ignore the genetic DNA data showing that Jews (including "European Jews") and Palestinian Arabs share common ancestry 10,000 years ago? This definitively refutes his concluding sentence that "present-day Palestinians are the descendants of the ancient Jews."

  51. After all the reasons why the Jews don't have enough historical claim to Jerusalem, the final sentence of Cole's essay claims "the present-day Palestinians are the descendants of the ancient Jews and have every right to live where their ancestors have lived for centuries." How can they inherit a place Cole is insisting we never had?

    He also ignores that there were THREE major religions of those who lived in the Palestine area before the state of Israel was created: the Jews of Israel are mostly of Palestinian Jewish heritage.

    Israel has lots of Muslims and Christians of Palestinian background as well as Jews and others. It sounds like only the Jewish ones are being targeted for reassignment.

  52. Strange to see Prof. Cole claim that there is no evidence that Jews ruled Jerusalem in the First Temple period only to then say that the Assyrians and Babylonians conquered it in 722 and 597 BCE. From whom does he think these foreign occupiers conquered it?

    The Assyrians conquered the northern Kingdom of Israel but failed to take Judea and Jerusalem, its capital.

    The Babylonian Chronicles call Jerusalem "the city of Judah".

    The Persians restored the Jews to Jerusalem, the Temple being rebuilt and the period that follows being known as the Second Temple Period (it is this Temple that the Maccabean Revolt liberated some 350 years later).

    So contrary to the author's claim, even if there is some academic debate over when Jewish rule of Jerusalem began, archeological and historical evidence show that Jews ruled Jerusalem or lived under foreign occupation throughout the first millennium BCE.

  53. [...] Who Were Not Threats — Justin Elliott 8. Taking Sides — John Mearsheimer and Top Ten Reasons East Jerusalem Does Not Belong to Jewish-Israelis — Juan Cole 7. 10 Questions for Finance Reformers — Barry Ritholtz and The Lone Star Secret — [...]

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