The Palestinian-Israeli question has been a thorn in the world’s side for some time now. And clearly, many people—not just Arabs—sympathize with the uprooted Palestinians. The argument, in a nutshell, is that Israel was forcefully and artificially created and populated by people who, unlike the Arabs, are not truly indigenous to the land of Palestine. Moreover, the “true” inhabitants—the Arabs—have been forcefully ejected, oppressed, not given a “voice,” etc. In a word, the Jews have seized another people’s land.
But it’s somewhat ironic that while the Arabs are crying out for “humanitarian” justice (via the dissolution of Israel), and many non-Arabs want to see them receive it, few consider this matter with the aid of those two disciplines that were originally the backbone of all intellectual discourse and which can truly better elucidate the situation: history and philosophy, or simply, common sense.
Historically, the land of Palestine has been conquered, and conquered, and conquered again—by a myriad of peoples, including Hebrews, Babylonians and Persians, Greeks and Romans, Arabs, Crusaders, Turks, and now finally, modern-day Jews. Conquest and “land-grabbing” have always been something of a natural occurrence throughout world-history: lands were conquered and that was the end of it—till the next conqueror came along. In fact, if modern-day Jews have usurped Palestine, so too have the Arabs before them. In the early 7th century, the Arabs, recently unified under the banner of Islam and its Prophet, burst out of Arabia and conquered as many lands as they possibly could—the entire globe being the (currently unrealized) goal. Thus Palestine, originally, was not “Arab” and definitely not “Muslim.” Generally speaking, it was Semitic.
So, if Palestine was forcefully usurped from Christian Byzantium by invading and often ruthless Muslim hordes (who did not ask for or give “humanitarian” justice), how does that make it “officially” and “rightfully” theirs, once and for all? Granted: the Jews too have through the force of arms taken Palestine. But exactly how is that any different than what the Muslim Arabs did nearly 1400 years prior? Nor does the passage of time justify ownership—and even if it did, still the Jews have a greater claim since Palestine was theirs centuries before the Muslim occupation (though the Canaanites might beg to differ). And by our standards of justice, the passage of time never exonerates any crime: many aged men are arrested and brought to justice decades after their original transgression.
Realistically speaking, almost every major nation today—including the U.S.— is a product of one people’s conquest over another. Let us not forget that throughout world-history whole peoples have been either entirely wiped out or assimilated with their conquerors, their names, languages, cultures, and religions relegated to a historical footnote. Today’s countries are peopled by an amalgamation of the descendants of the conquerors and the conquered. So why should one group—Arabs—have a special, “legitimate” case against their conquerors?
Istanbul, what was once known as Constantinople and the jewel of all Christendom, was violently sieged for centuries by its hostile Islamic neighbors, till it fell in 1453, its original Christian inhabitants massacred, and Christianity’s most exalted church, Hagia Sophia, converted into a mosque. (At least the Jews, unlike the Muslims, haven’t converted the al-Aqsa Mosque into a Jewish temple, the former itself built atop the remains of Solomon’s Temple). Thus Palestinians have as much right to Palestine as do the descendants of evicted Christians to Anatolia: but can we imagine that, based on “justice” and “rule of law,” Turkey will give up its hard-earned conquests back to the rightful owners?
Besides Turkey, all of today’s Muslim countries were taken by force and bloody conquest—often from Christian, Zoroastrian, Hindu, or even pagan peoples. Should Muslims, then, in the interest of “humanitarian-justice,” which they constantly evoke in their own cause (while uttering jihad among themselves), withdraw from all those countries? Obviously an impossibility—not least because they have no “true” home that was not taken by force to withdraw to. Even Arabia, home of Islam, was militarily conquered by that religion. Moreover, the original inhabitants who would have a claim to these lands are no more, extinct or assimilated through conversion and Arabization.
Logically, if Israel should cease to be, then so should almost every major nation today. Along with the entire Islamic Nation, Americans should be prepared to pack up and evacuate the U.S., giving it back to the natives; people of Norman-Saxon blood should leave Britain to the Britons; and only Gaelic speakers should flourish in France. Surely this all sounds ridiculous. But exactly how less ridiculous is it for the Palestinians to demand that Israel cease to be—especially when they predicate this demand on things such as “international-justice,” a word that is meaningless for Muslims outside of an Islamic framework, where “justice” is defined by Islamic, not humanitarian nor international, law. And Islamic law says it’s just, indeed, compulsory, for Muslims to seize the infidels’ lands by the sword.
The problem, of course, is that the West is plagued by naïve utopianism. And the Muslim world, ever the realistic entity, is quick to exploit this disease: they call for an unprecedented form of utopian justice, which they know is a naïve West’s soft spot, while among themselves they acknowledge their theological right to conquer the world in the name of Allah. In a “perfect world,” (itself an oxymoron), no nation would ever disturb the sovereignty of another. But even if one group of people can agree to this does not mean all people will reciprocate—even if they are the initial beneficiaries.
The West should beware that utopianism is an intellectual product of power and prosperity—not reality. While power and prosperity always fluctuate at the hands of time and chance, reality is always consistent. And reality, in all its ugliness, has always shown that, in the end, utopian dreams dissipate, and only the strong survive.