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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Zionism: Our Call To Freedom to Survive-and to Build

Nadene Goldfoot
Jews returning to their land  or becoming Zionists is not a modern idea only found in the 20th century.  Jews returned twice before from their Babylonia exiles and rebuilt their land, only to go through it a 3rd time in August of 70 CE when the invading Roman armies occupied and destroyed their ancient capital of Jerusalem, causing our Jewish independence to halt.  Thousands of Jews were driven out of their homeland then.  The exile lasted for 20 centuries but our nationalism never died.  It finally happened in the rebirth of the Jewish state on May 14, 1948.  The miracle was that the land had lain barren and empty; something nobody was interested in, as if it were just waiting for the rightful tenants to return because they were the only ones who really loved the land. 

Zionism now is a dirty word to many Arabs, some of who are even visiting Portland's  Lincoln High with a presentation about these "terrible racist Zionists" this week.  However, Zionism is the term of calling us back to our ancient homeland to farm and industrialize it, to build new towns and villages and live there.  Theodor Herzl was the founder of the Zionist Movement at the end of the 19th century.  Thousands of Jews began the "aliyah"-the going up to the land to live there once again along with Jews who had never left.  It was a time of buying land back that had once been in our hands.    

Along came the Bilu movement with Russian Jewish students who settled agricultural kibbutz'm in 1882 This had followed terrible pograms where Jews were attacked and killed in Russia. My grandfather, Nathan, must have been in those pograms as he was born in 1872, and I know my grandmother, Zlotta, was as she came out of it with broken legs. 

In 1893 Nathan Birnbaum coined the term Zionism as Mount Zion in Jerusalem has always symbolized the Land of Israel.

In 1897 the first Zionist congress was created by Herzl where the Jews defined their movement of establishing for the Jewish people their national home in Palestine.  Jews are a people or nation as well as having a religion  who wish to retain their identity as a national community.  By 1901 Herzl had created the Jewish National Fund with the practice of children giving their pennies of caronom'm to be used to buy land.  Land was bought at extremely high prices from Arab landowners usually living outside of Palestine who were glad to get rid of it. 
I was one of the recent people making aliyah, returning in September of 1980 to Haifa. It was a privilege to be a part of the prophecized "ingathering" of exiles from all over the world. 
The Arabs, meanwhile, have had ample time and chances to create their own state of "Palestine", since we took the ancient name of Israel to remember our roots, but they refused over and over, choosing instead to attack Israel with massive wars and constant bombings in their attempts to drive us into the sea and be gone.  Now they are saying that they intend to create a state but want part of Jerusalem as their capital.  Yet they refuse to sit down without preconditions and barter with us.  They use Israel's building as the reason why they won't even palaver.  They won't even accept us as a "Jewish" state.  Abbas, leader of Fatah, has recently stated that he regrets that they didn't choose to become a state in 1947-1848. 
Israel plans building 1,650 units in apartment houses in Jerusalem, it's capital in their annexed land regained from Jordan's illegal takeover that was recovered in 1967.  Other building will happen in Efrat and Maale Adumim, neighborhoods in the SE sector.  This land was already deemed to stay in Israel's hands no matter what the Arabs had decided to do with their statehood.  Yet the Palestinians claim the land as part of their future state and the international community has never recognized Israel's ownership.  In fact, they even have condemned Israel's building plans, much to their dishonor.  What irks Israel is that they had a moratorium of 10 months when they didn't build even a merapeset (balcony outside a window in an apartment building)or anything but the Arabs continued to not meet for a peace consult.  They had the chance to do something and balked.  The Arabs wouldn't discuss peace plans seriously when Israel wasn't building in Jerusalem and won't now, demanding that Israel have a complete halt in construction as a condition for resuming peace negotiations. 
Israel is in dire need of housing.  Most everyone in Israel lives in high rise apartment buildings.  Judea and Samaria were once part of the package offered by Britain and the League of Nations as the Jewish National Home, but the Arabs are claiming these places as well.   The land of Israel is but a postage stamp in size compared to other states, and yet the Arabs, who already have a majority in 47 or more states, want our capital of  Jerusalem as well.  They seem to want things only after they are developed and beautified by the Jews. 
The Arabs do not have a historical connection with Eretz Israel, or Palestine.  Their homeland is Arabia, which is the SW peninsula of Asia.  There they have 1,027,000 square miles or 2,630,000 square kilometers where Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Kuwait, Bahrein, Qatar, Trucial Oman sit on the Persian Gulf along with Muscat and Oman, and South Yemen.  They only came to "Palestine" through Damascus in the Omayyad dynasty and held the land for a little over a century.  They were overthrown in 750 by the Abbasids from Persia and then by the Turks.  The Abbasids were defeated by the Fatimids.  Their success wasn't in governing the land, it was in their language of Arabic and with Islam which became their major religion. 
As far as the present day Arabs living in Palestine,  most came there from the surrounding lands in order to secure jobs with the Jews that were building. 
What I can't understand is:
1. Why has the international community sided with the Arabs who do nothing but attack Israel's civilians with missiles and mortars and who refuse to come to peaceful terms with Israel?  Does oil really take priority in view of morality? 
2. How can Arabs call us racist when Jews are not allowed into any Arab land today such as Saudi Arabia?  Those that had lived in Muslim lands for centuries were forced out in 1948 with the rebirth of Israel, and had been living as 2nd class citizens or dhimmis.  They were not allowed to ride horses or camels, to build synagogues or churches taller than mosques, to construct houses higher than those of Muslims or to drink wine in public; were forced to wear distinctive clothing and were not allowed to pray or mourn in loud voices that might offend Muslims, they had to always yield to Muslims and give them the center of the road, was not allowed to give evidence in court against a Muslim and his oath was unacceptable in an Islamic court, and to get a witness in court had to buy them, leaving little or no legal recourse when harmed by a Muslim.  The attitude of Muslims towards Jews and Christians was that of a master towards a slave, tolerating them as long as they kept their place.  If you tried to act as an equal, this was repressed immediately. 

Resource:  Book: Battleground; fact and fantasy in Palestine by Samuel Katz
Oregonian Newspaper 11/2/11 page A8 Israeli settlements-Pace will increase in contested areas
Standard Jewish Encyclopedia : Zionism
Israel-Embassy of Israel, Washington D.C.
Book: From Time Immemorial by Joan Peters
Book: Myths and Facts-a concise record of the Arab-Israeli conflict by Dr. Mitchell G. Bard, Joel Himelfarb

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