Homework Help

Why did the Israeli Jews deserve the land of Palestine and not the Arabs? 

user profile pic

trophywinner | Salutatorian

Posted January 12, 2014 at 11:16 PM via web

dislike 1 like

Why did the Israeli Jews deserve the land of Palestine and not the Arabs? 

2 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

kipling2448 | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 13, 2014 at 12:06 AM (Answer #2)

dislike 1 like

The answer here needs to provide accurate insights regarding European perspectives and a sound scientific or archaeological basis for Jewish claims to the land labeled "Palestine" by the Romans who had conquered it.

First, Jews inhabited the territory known as Palestine for thousands of years, and only "returned" to it following their expulsion.  Archaeological findings repeatedly validate the Jewish presence there before the birth of Jesus and, certainly, before the time of Muhammed.  While non-Jews also populated the region, Jerusalem and the region currently known as "the West Bank" but historically as Judea and Samaria were the birthplace of the Jews.

Second, it is not correct to suggest that the Jews came to dominate the political discourse in the United States and Great Britain and that this influence was decisive in the establishment of the State of Israel.  Any suggestion that there was no Arab minority in Great Britain belies the fact of extensive Arab migration to Britain resulting from the British colonization of the Middle East (as with France, and its sizable Arab population).  The famous -- or infamous -- Balfour Declaration was a British political maneuver intended to ensure American political support for Britain in the Great War then-raging in Europe and in which many in the United States were reluctant to engage.  Influential Jews in the United States certainly lobbied President Truman to recognize Israel, but Truman was already known to be predisposed towards such recognition anyway -- much to the dismay of professional diplomatic communities that decried the effects on relations with Arab monarchies of support for a Jewish state.  It is incorrect to suggest that Jews had more importance to the West than Arabs did. The politics of oil, which resided wholly in Arab territories like the Arabian Peninsula (and the Saudi-U.S. relationship was considered extremely important) made the Arabs far more important to the West than the Jews.  Support for a Jewish state in Palestine was entirely a moral obligation -- not a geopolitical one.  The "smart money" lay with the far more numerous and oil-rich Arabs than with a few million mostly destitute Jewish refugees from Europe, Africa, and Arab nations like Iraq.

Third, the division of Palestine between the Jews and the "Palestinians" envisioned by the newly-established United Nations, which foresaw Jewish and Palestinian states residing side-by-side.  It was the rejection of such an arrangement by the entire Arab nation that precipitated the Jewish war of independence that ended with a State of Israel far larger than the original United Nations-sanctioned entity.  Israelis had accepted the U.N. vote, which sanctioned its existence, and which divided the territory.  The Arabs rejected the U.N. vote, and launched a war against the Jews.

Ideally, both the Israeli Jews and the Palestinians would live side-by-side in peace.  Both Arab nationalist sentiments and Islamic fundamentalism, however, fundamentally reject the notion of a Jewish state in their midst.

user profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 12, 2014 at 11:39 PM (Answer #1)

dislike -1 like

First of all, I do not believe that it is possible to say who “deserves” the land of Palestine/Israel because the word “deserve” has moral connotations.  We cannot objectively state why one group or another “deserves” a piece of land.  What we can say is why the land of Palestine was given to make a Jewish state in 1948 rather than being given to the Palestinian Arabs who had dominated the area for a long time.  There are three main reasons for this.

First, the Jews got this land because the Bible says the land is theirs and Western civilization had arisen from the Judeo-Christian tradition embodied in the Bible.  In the Bible, the Jews took Israel from the people who had lived there before because it was God’s will that they do so.  The Jews were God’s chosen people and he made it possible for them to conquer that land.  In 1948, the West was powerful enough to give this land to whoever they wanted.  Because Western civilization was built on Judeo-Christian foundations, they were inclined to believe the idea that Israel belonged to the Jews.

Second, the Jews got the land because Jews were much more important to the West than Arabs and other Muslims were at that time.  There were two reasons for this.  For one thing, there were many more Jews than Arabs or Muslims in the West.  Countries like the United Kingdom and the United States had small but important Jewish populations.  By contrast, they had essentially no Arab populations.  This meant that there was pressure to give the land to the Jews and no pressure to give it to the Arabs.  For another thing, Middle Eastern oil was not yet very important to the world economy.  Therefore, there was no real need to appease the Arabs from a geopolitical standpoint.    For these reasons, the West was more inclined to give the land to the Jews.

Finally, the Jews got the land because of the Holocaust.  Westerners were horrified by what had been done to the Jews by the Nazis.  They felt like they owed the Jews something because the Jews had been so terribly persecuted.  This made them feel that they ought to give the Jews land to have a state of their own.

For all these reasons, the Jews were given the land that is now Israel.  If we are going to say that the Jews “deserved” that land, we could argue that the Bible and the Holocaust prove that they deserve it.  However, there is no objective way to prove that these factors mean that the Jews had a true moral claim to the land.  All we can really objectively say is why they were given that land.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes