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For most of this period, the historic connection of the Jews to our land was almost universally recognized and understood by Christian and Muslim alike, though Christian replacement theology insisted that the inheritance of the land had been taken from the Jews as punishment.
Since the publication of the Protestant Vulgate Bible in the 16th century, the historic right of the Jews to their homeland became evident to most Christians, in accordance with their own beliefs. The restoration of the Jews was a beloved project of nineteenth century American and British statesmen, theologians and dreamers. Numerous American presidents including Abraham Lincoln spoke out in favor of the rights of the Jews in Palestine.
Muslims and Arabs also understood the rights of the Jews in Palestine. The Emir Feisal, son of Sherif Hussain and later King of Iraq, indicated the willingness of Arabs to welcome Jews to Palestine, and implicitly recognized that the land of Israel is the historic homeland of the Jews. He wrote to Justice Frankfurter at the Paris peace conference in 1919:
I want to take this opportunity of my first contact with American Zionists to tell you what I have often been able to say to Dr. Weizmann in Arabia and Europe.
We feel that the Arabs and Jews are cousins in having suffered similar oppressions at the hands of powers stronger than themselves, and by a happy coincidence have been able to take the first step towards the attainment of their national ideals together.
We Arabs, especially the educated among us look with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement. Our deputation here in Paris is fully acquainted with the proposals submitted yesterday by the Zionist Organisation to Peace Conference, and we regard them as moderate proper. We will do our best, in so far as we are concerned, to help them through: we will wish the Jews a most hearty welcome home. (emphasis added)
With the chiefs of your movement, especially with Dr. Weizmann, we have had and continue to have the closest relations. He has been a great helper of our cause, and I hope the Arabs may soon be in a position to make the Jews some return for their kindness. We are working together for a reformed and revived Near East, and our two movements complete one another. The Jewish movement is national and not imperialist. Our movement is national and not imperialist, and there is room in Syria for us both. Indeed I think that neither can be a real success without the other.
There are still not a few Muslims who support the cause of the Jews in our own land.
The establishment of Israel in 1948 was the fulfilment of an historic desire, an age-old dream of many Christians as well as Jews. The longest occupation in the world had ended.
The Jews unfortunately had recited "Next Year in Jerusalem" for so long, and with so little result, that some among us no longer believed the words they were saying. Others were reluctant to accept our good fortune as reality, after so many bitter disappointments and setbacks. But the flame of national feeling had not died in the hearts of most of the Jewish people.
How sad it is, that after the achievement of this dream of one hundred generations, the world is suddenly being made to forget what it once believed, and to deny what it took for granted not so long ago! The Arabs, far from wishing the Jews a hearty welcome home, gave us many twenty one gun salutes, with loaded guns. The kindness of Weizmann to the Arabs was returned by rioters incited by the Grand Mufti, Hajj Amin Al Husseini. Failing to destroy Israel with guns, the Arabs enlisted anti-Zionists and the USSR to claim that Zionism is racism, Zionism is a colonialist movement, and more recently, to conduct a concerted campaign to erase the historic right of the Jews to Israel (or "Palestine") from the collective memory of the world.
This campaign is being conducted on many fronts and in many ways. The first and most subtle challenge to Jewish rights was the thesis that Israel was created only as a shelter for persecuted Jews or that it was created as the result of the Holocaust. It is evident for example, in this misleading and inaccurate definition of Zionism, which seems harmless at first:
A Jewish movement that arose in the late 19th century in response to growing anti-Semitism and sought to reestablish a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Modern Zionism is concerned with the support and development of the state of Israel.
This is a definition that most people would accept, but it is not entirely correct. Zionism was founded as the national movement of the Jews. The word "Zionism" was coined by Nathan Birnbaum, before the first Zionist congress, but the idea of Jewish return to Israel was as old as the Diaspora, and proto-Zionists began settling the land and talking and writing about return long before Birnbaum coined the term. Zionism arose because Jews understood that they could not exist long as a people in a modern world of nation states without their own land.
From the argument that Israel was founded as a refuge for Jews from anti-Semitic persecution, it is a short jump to a pernicious claim. The word "reestablish" in the above definition is changed to "establish" and the historic tie of the Jews with Israel and with Jerusalem is erased. This becomes the basis for the argument that the Arabs and Muslims should not have to "pay for the sins of Europe," and to the argument that "Nakba," as they call it, of the Palestinian Arabs, was another "Holocaust" created by attempts to redress the wrongs done to the Jews. Consequently, Israel Independence day is turned from a day of celebration to a day of mourning. The Arabs of Palestine created their own Nakba when they, along with the Arab states, tried to destroy the Jewish state, rather than accepting it alongside their own state. The Arab refugees of 1948 were no more victims than the Germans of the Sudetensland who tried to destroy Czechoslovakia.
That is one sort of attack on the legitimacy of the Jewish state. The "Apartheid Israel" campaign popularized by Jimmy Carter's Apartheid book is a second approach. Along with the idea that Israel was created as a refuge for the Jews, and a special favor granted by the Christian world out of their magnanimity, Carter ignores Zionism almost entirely and portrays Israel primarily as the "homeland" of Jesus and Christianity, but he doesn't deny the rights of Jews to a homeland in our own country. However, the apartheid campaign itself was created explicitly with the intent of promoting the idea that Zionism is an evil ideology, equivalent to the white supremacism of South Africa.
At the same time, there is a constantly growing din of voices in the Jewish community, led by anti-Zionists, who use "legitimate criticism of Israel" as a slogan to cover their real intent. Their ideological position and their agitation has nothing to do with the occupation and did not arise because of it. The people who are running this campaign are not going to stop at Hebron or Ariel or even East Jerusalem. They want "Palestine" from the river to the sea, and they do not hide their intentions.
In masking themselves as "peace" groups or groups that advocate democracy, anti-Zionists have set up dangerous traps both for those Zionists who oppose the occupation and for advocates of Greater Israel. Those who oppose the occupation are tempted to form alliances with anti-Zionists with the best intentions. They may join the bandwagon in order to demonstrate their loyalty to "progressive" causes. They become dupes aiding in their own destruction. The Greater Israel advocates can fall into the trap by vociferously insisting on unrealistic goals and military solutions, providing the "proof" that the anti-Zionists use to show that "Zionism" is identical with "Greater Israel" and with "colonialism," and is opposed to peace.
The is a campaign to erase the historic tie of the Jewish people to our land and to break the foundations of the recognized right of the Jewish people to a state in Israel. It is potentially the ultimate threat to Israel and to the existence of our people as a nation. If it succeeds, it will destroy Israel with much more certainty, and more completely and permanently, than the genocidal terrorists of the Hezbollah and the Jews will return to being a religious sect or ethnic group, living as guests at the mercy of all the nations of the world, including the Arab masters of "Palestine." It is doubtful, however, that a dispersed group of this type could long survive as a group, especially after the blow dealt to Judaism by the Holocaust. A remnant might survive in isolated communities that maintain the medieval traditions that are no longer relevant to modern life. Nothing would be left of the Jews but groups such as the Neturei Karteh. Remember, Zionism arose because Jews understood that they could not exist long as a people in a world of modern nation states without their own land. Anti-Zionism can destroy the Jewish people if it succeeds.
As we celebrate the anniversary of the end of the longest occupation in the world, we must remember: Fighting the delegitimization of Israel and the denial of the right to self determination to the Jewish people is the most important task of every Zionist organization, regardless of political differences about the occupation, peace negotiations, or any other consideration.
Happy Yom Haatzmaut!
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Christian Zionists believe and support the fulfillment of the many prophecies that foretold the restoration of Jews from all over the world to the Promised Land of Israel. Christian Zionists oppose those who would seek to undermine or destroy the Jewish Homeland for the myth of Palestine that is against the Word and Will of God.
Christian Zionists put many Jews and Israelis to shame, especially those who remain in a self-imposed exile contrary to the clear teachings of Judaism and those like Shimon Peres who are out in left field and would surrender Jerusalem to sworn enemies if the price is right.