Answers to Quora Questions by Yair Davidiy (7 December 2017, 20 Kislev, 5778)
Is the "promised land" argument enough reason to justify mass Jewish immigration to Palestine, and the displacement of Arabs from their native land?
The picture shows Jews from Yemen arriving in Israel. Contrary to what is sometimes stated Jews in Muslim lands suffered grievously .
The Questions was, # Is the "promised land" argument enough reason to justify mass Jewish immigration to Palestine, and the displacement of Arabs from their native land? #
This is a leading question imputing that there was a mass immigration of Jews to Palestine that displaced Arabs from their native land. It did not happen that way. There was a movement of both Jews and Arabs into Palestine that resulted in a portion of the Arabs leaving after they had tried to seize all of what had never really been their native land in the first place.
As we said it never happened in the manner the questioner posited. Nevertheless if theoretically that was what had happened it would still have been justified.
So how do we answer the question?
Do we, describe briefly what did take place?
Or shall we explain what in principle would have been justified if it had have happened in the way the question presupposes?
Let us try to do a little of both.
A. What Really Happened:
The land of Israel had originally belonged to the Israelites but they had been forced by foreigners to go elsewhere. Eventually the Jews after several failed attempts began to return in dribs and drabs to the Holy Land. By the time the British took over in the 1920s Jews were a substantial minority but no more than that. The land however under the Turks had remained underdeveloped and poorly populated. The Jews and British began to develop the country. More Jews came in alongside a great number of Muslims from neighboring countries. The Muslims moved in but they could just as easily have moved out. They did not belong to the place. Meanwhile the Jews in Europe and in Muslim lands were being persecuted so more and more Jews entered the land. The Holocaust resulted in increased Jewish immigration and creating a mass of Jews in Displaced Persons camps with nowhere to go. Pogroms and persecutions against Jews in Muslim lands increased. There was fiction between Arabs and Jews. The British had trouble ruling the land and antagonized both parties as well as their own public. The British decided to leave. The UN attempted to divide the land prior to British departure. Wars broke out. At first the Jews fought against the Arabs inside the country then they fought against Arab armies who invaded them from outside. Many Arabs became refugees mostly by leaving of their own accord hoping to return with invading hosts of fellow Muslims. There were admittedly some (apparently a minority) of the Arabs who had been encouraged to leave by the Jews. Many more Arabs however had been urged to move out by their fellow Arabs who wanted to clear the area in order to kill all that remained i.e. to exterminate all the Jews without impediment. This was what they themselves declared and have never ceased to admit to. In this same period more Jews in Arab lands were forced to leave their homes. They came to Israel. The number of Jews who left Muslim lands was greater than the number of Arabs who had left the Land of the Jews. That should have been the end of it. It was not the end of the matter because Judeophobes in the Middle East, and in Europe and in Japan and even in the USA kept the conflict alive through UN subsidies to Palestinians and other means.
In judging the whole affair it is not really a question of justifiability. It happened. It was not so much something that was planned in advance but rather a reaction to historical processes. We could argue the pros and cons and the niceties and legal and moral quibble etc. On the whole the Jewish case is overwhelmingly the most justifiable. It has to be.
Midrash Rabah (Breishit- VaYishlach) 80;7. # Rabbi Elazar said: Israel is never the first to put his finger in the mouth of an idol-worshipper unless the idol worshipper first puts his finger in the mouth of Israel. #
Explanation of the Commentary "Yafet Toar," Constantinople,1500s CE:
# The ways of the Torah are the ways of peace with all peoples. The Torah does not command us to be antagonistic to anyone unless they are the cause and agent of antagonism. #
B. The Abstract Principles Involved
The Jews existed but their existence was threatened where they were. They had to move out. There was an opportunity to return to the Land they had come out of and most wanted to go back to it. The Arabs at first co-operated and benefited from their new neighbors but also resented them. Antagonisms grew until hostilities broke out. The conflict was resolved with the defeat of one side as happens frequently in the Middle East area. Similar scenarios take place today, every day. As we indicated it is not only a quarrel between Jews and recalcitrant Arabs. It is also a battle between the Forces of Light and Darkness. On one side we have most of Europe, Russia, Japan, the Middle East, and others. Facing them are the Jews, part of the Western peoples, and the Anglophone nations. This is on a good day. On a bad day it sometimes seems as if the Jews are virtually alone and even they are divided. Nevertheless being in the minority numerically does not mean that moral right is not on the Jewish side.
Who was right from an historical perspective does not really interest any one. It does not really interest me. I doubt it interests whoever asked the Question. I doubt if anyone really cares or could be bothered to find out one way or other. There is more to the subject. It is a matter of Principles of Civilization. The Bible says the Land belongs to the Jews. The Jews are here. The Jews need to do what it takes to remain here. The Bible is the fount of Western Civilization. Without the Bible the world would lack a moral compass. It would no longer have an authority beyond itself. That may what the enemies of Israel want. The enemies of Israel are the enemies of the Bible. The Jews are the advocates of the Truth of the Bible even though some of them are loath to admit it. The Bible, among other things, represents Belief in God and acknowledgment of Right and Wrong beyond the reach of human short-term utility. Denying the right of the Jews to the Land of Israel means denial of God Almighty.
Genesis 17: 8 I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.