Israel Is Real

By September 4, 2017

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 578, September 4, 2017

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The democratic Jewish state of Israel defies revisionist historicism. It looks Muslim hate in the eye and although stirred, remains unshaken: Israel is here to stay.

In October 1999, intent on “Deconstructing the Walls of Jericho,” archaeologist Ze’ev Herzog declared that, after 70 years of digging across the Land of Israel, his field had developed knowledge enough to conclude that the Israelites were never in Egypt, had not wandered in the desert, and did not conquer the land in a military campaign to pass it on to the 12 tribes of Israel. The “united” monarchy of David and Solomon, described by the Bible as a regional power, was a small tribal kingdom at most. And YHWH, the God of Israel, had Asherah, his very own female consort. The early Israelite religion adopted monotheism not upon receiving it on Mount Sinai, but by adhering to it during the period of decline of the monarchy.

If true, does any of this adversely affect the legitimacy of the democratic Jewish state of Israel? Not in the least.

In May 2015, an independent scholar named Noah Kennedy, in a piece entitled “Ze’ev Herzog and the Historicity of the Bible,” reported that religious Jews’ reactions to Herzog’s piece had not been “bitter”; and that even many intensely engaged nationalist/religious-leaning Jews had been perfectly “civil” in their search for discussion and debate (with a “maybe you just haven’t found the evidence yet” rebuff, at most). The few reactions from devout Muslims might be paraphrased as, “I don’t care if the Bible is historically accurate or not; my beliefs come from the Quran, so they have to be true.” Only one non-believer expressed disappointment that archaeology seemed at times to support the Biblical narrative. The only indignant personal responses reportedly came from American Christians, who sent the archeologist many “angry letters warning him of the divine retribution headed his way.”

Israel is a country where every topic can and, indeed, incessantly continues to be thoroughly debated.

What has made Israel so resilient for so long despite the challenges to which it is daily exposed, from both within and without? Steadfastness of purpose; self-reliance through hard work; pride through self-fulfillment; and hard-earned skills conducive to a sense of earned freedom sustained through continual self-reappraisal, among other qualities of valor.

Neither the revelations of the “New Historians,” nor the questions and doubts of Jewish voices from both left and right, could thwart Israel from affirming its existence and excelling, despite its inimical surroundings and circumstances.

Second to none in such contests, a chorus of dissonant Muslim and Christian Arab “Palestinian” voices coming from all directions, and in this instance correctly conflating the typifying attributes “Israeli” and “Jew” the better to keep protesting the right to exist of either, continue making life difficult.  Techniques used include:

Denial by appropriation:  ([Imran 3.67]: “Ibrahim was no Jew, no Christian – but an upright – a Muslim.”)

Accusation by hearsay: ([Tossavainen, 2005]: “Although Radio Islam has Sweden’s most aggressively and systematically anti-Semitic Muslim website, it is not the only one. Other sites run by Swedish Muslims…disseminate anti-Semitism…less relentlessly… [but] the content of their anti-Semitism is little different. The idea that Jews…behave in a certain way…have specific character traits is common…Jews [are] portrayed as cruel…bloodthirsty, greedy and cheap, power-hungry…arrogant, cowardly…duplicitous…[They are] regularly accused of sexual perversion…[O]ne site… describes “Jewish capital” as controlling pedophilia and child pornography, Jews are charged with sexual misconduct and racism toward Gentiles.”)

Deprecation by self-arrogating competitive advantage: ([Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 2000]: “The Muslim Ummah is more respected and honored before God….has a more perfect legislative code and system of life…has the most honorable Prophet, the larger kingdom, more provisions, wealth and children, a larger domain and more lasting glory than the children of Israel.”)

Immunity via self-righteousness: ([Pew Research 2006]: Majorities in Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, and Turkey, each a Muslim country with ties to the US, said they did not believe Arabs carried out the September 11 attacks in the US. Muslim respondents in several surveys even said they could conceive the hand of Jews in such evil.)

Acquired visceral dislike of Jews, disseminated via disinformation ([Pew Research 2006]: Unfavorable Muslim views of Jews were 100% in Jordan; 98% in Egypt; 99% in Lebanon; 88% in Morocco; 76% in Indonesia, 74% in Pakistan; and 60% in Turkey.)

Bans and boycotts: (In addition to Islam’s financing anti-Israeli “Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions” in the West, the following Muslim countries still ban Israeli Jews from entry: Algeria, Bangladesh, Brunei, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, the UAE, and Yemen.)

Step-by-step annihilation: ([Sari Nusseibeh/Al Quds, 2011]: “We offer the suggestion that Israeli leaders ask instead that Palestinians recognize Israel (proper) as a civil, democratic, and pluralistic state whose official religion is Judaism, and whose majority is Jewish…there is no reason why Israeli Jews should not want the religion of their state to be officially Jewish. This…reasonable demand…may allay the fears of Jewish Israelis…becoming a minority in Israel, and…not arouse fears among Palestinians and Arabs about being ethnically cleansed in Palestine…recognition of Israel’s official religion as Judaism, rather than…recognition of Israel as a “Jewish State”, would…mean Israel continuing to be a democracy.”) Not a word on dhimmitude, demographics, citizenship, allegiance in officially religious democracies, etc…

And the odd if incomplete sound of serenity: ([Supreme Justice Aharon Barak, 2005] “[The] Jewish State is the state of the Jewish people…it is a state in which every Jew has…[the] right to return…[the] Jewish state derives its values from its religious heritage, the Bible is the basis of its books…Israel’s prophets are the basis of its morality…[the] Jewish state is a state in which the values of Israel, Torah, Jewish heritage and the values of the Jewish halacha [Jewish religious law] are the bases of its values.”)

What next? Rome was not built in one day; but it could have been destroyed in less than one, had today’s technology been around then. Israel must continue to be vigilant.

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Jose V. Ciprut is a conflict analyst, social systems scientist, and international political economist.

BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family