Y – Yishuv Has Been There All Along

An opinion column by house columnist Stu Bykofsky in the Philadelphia Daily News (4/5/10) commented upon a statement made by Palestinian Arab activist Hanan Ashwari on her visit to Philadelphia a few days before:

To me, the most painful thing she said, about Jewish claims on the land, was this: “How can you tell us someone who came from Poland yesterday has more rights than I do?” This is the current, insidious Arab claim that Jews are interlopers and latecomers to the land they have lived on for some 3,500 years. Jews are a majority [emphasis original] in Jerusalem since at least the 1860’s.

The misperception inherent in referring to today’s Palestinian Arabs as “the Palestinians” is that it conveys an image of them as the aboriginal inhabitants of the land called Palestine. As recently as December 2011, Palestinian Arabs have made the claim of their descent from the Jebusites of the Second Millennium B.C.E. [See Section 2, IV] Defining “Palestinian” as meaning exclusively Palestinian Arabs is a fairly new usage of the term “Palestinian,” begun in earnest in the 1960s. (See the section on “Palestinians” above.)

There is a second misperception about a people’s presence in Palestine, that people being the Jews. Although many people believe that Jewish presence in the land of Israel came to an end with the Romans’ final destruction of the Jewish kingdom Judea in the year 135, and that the Jews were exiled by Rome (see, e.g., Jimmy Carter, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, p. 2), and that the Jews did not begin to return in meaningful numbers until the Zionist movement in the late 19th century, that is not the historical fact. The historical fact is that the Jews never left.

The M.S.M.’s insistent mischaracterization of Palestine’s attempted 1948 partition between its two populations as the “creation” and “founding” of Israel (see “Creation of Israel” and “Founding of Israel” above) purveys images of newness and artificiality to modern Jewish presence in Palestine. The M.S.M.’s coupling of this with attendant displacement of “Palestinians” heightens these images. But even the A.P., in a December 11, 2011 (Inq., A4) news article stated that during the Mandate “Muslims, Christians, and Jews living there were ALL referred to as Palestinians.” In reality, the term “Palestinian” was mostly used by Palestine’s Jews. [See “Palestinians” and Section 2, IV]

The fundamental fact which the media obscures through insistently using the terms “Israel’s 1948 creation” and “founding,” and displacement of “Palestinians,” is that all through the long-dark foreign rule centuries following Rome’s destruction of ancient Judaea, Jews – not as stray individuals, but as the organized, openly-Jewish, homeland-claiming Yishuv – remained in the land.

The Jews’ continuous homeland presence all through the long, dark Hadrian-to-Herzl foreign-rule centuries, largely unknown to Christians and even to Jews in the West, is recounted in Section 2, III. Here we address, not the historical fact of that continuous Jewish presence, but the consequence to Western public perceptions of Arab and Jewish Palestine equities of that presence not being known in the West. As with the M.S.M.’s voicing, through quotation of Israel’s adversaries, of canards like “Israel is a colonial Zionist entity” and “Israel was created because of the Holocaust,” this canard that the Jews were absent for most of the past two millennia–”How can you tell us someone who came from Poland yesterday has more rights than I do?”—has to be countered through M.S.M. inclusion in news articles of the actual historical facts, either by the M.S.M. stating them on its own account or quoting Israeli or Diaspora Jews.

Many people regard the term “Yishuv” as referring to homeland Jewish communities during just the past few centuries, but the scholars who authored The Jews In Their Land, a detailed study conceived and edited by David Ben-Gurion (p. 108), define “Yishuv” as referring to “the Jewish population of the Land” as far back as the biblical kingdoms in the first half of the first millennium B.C.E.

That the Yishuv never left is attested to by writers including historians and Israeli prime ministers.

Eminent mid-20th century British historian James Parkes expressed it this way:

It was, perhaps, inevitable that Zionists should look back to the heroic period of the Maccabees and Bar Cochba, but their real title deeds were written by the less dramatic but equally heroic endurance of those who had maintained a Jewish presence in The Land all through the centuries, and in spite of every discouragement. (“Whose Land? A History of the Peoples of Palestine,” p. 266)

Samuel Katz, in his introduction to “Battleground: Fact & Fantasy in Palestine” (pp. xv-xvi) wrote that “the gap between what is generally known and the facts of the continuity of Jewish life in Palestine since the destruction of the Second Temple” is an “astonishing area of Jewish neglect.” Then P.M. Begin, in his Foreword to Battleground’s second edition in 1977, wrote: “The most moving chapter in the book is that on the continuous Jewish presence in Palestine. I was glad to learn that this particular chapter has been disseminated in special editions in several languages.”

Israeli Premier Ariel Sharon to the Foreign Press Corps in Israel, January 11, 2004:

The Jewish people was born as a people 4,000 years ago, and as a matter of fact, never left. There were Jews that never left this country. And that one must understand….For years we talked mostly about security. I think that this approach was a mistake….I think that Israel made a mistake and I include myself in one of those not to speak about the Jewish rights over this country. It’s painful….We speak about the history of the Jewish people. And the Jewish people as Jews have existed for 4,000 years and never left this country.

Israeli P.M. Netanyahu (12/1/10):

A few days ago I heard that the Palestinian Information Ministry was publishing a study that claims that the Jewish people has no connection to the Western Wall.…It is not only a religious bond, it is a religious and national bond, a historic link of the highest level that has been going on for thousands of years, and that too is not trivial because there is a test point here.

I say to Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] to condemn this, denounce the study; turn to your people and tell them: “There is a Jewish people here, it has been here for close to 4,000 years, we recognize this people, we recognize their historic bond with this land and this city.” (Israel Prime Minister’s Office, “PM Netanyahu’s Speech at the 40 Signatures Knesset Discussion,” 12/1/10)

Joan Peters, “From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict Over Palestine,” p. 83:

The Jewish presence in “The Holy Land” – at times tenuous – persisted through its bloody history….Buried beneath the propaganda – which has it that Jews “returned” to the Holy Land after two thousand years of separation, where they found crowds of “indigenous Palestinian Arabs” – is the bald fact that the Jews are indigenous people on that land who never left, but who have continuously stayed on their “Holy Land.” Not only were there the little-known Oriental Jewish communities in adjacent Arab lands, but there had been an unceasing strain of “Oriental” or “Palestinian” Jews for millennia [citing “Palestine Royal Commission Report (London 1937), pp. 2-5, 7, 9, particularly p.11, par. 23”].”

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