Jacob Report #5.2 – How did Judah (Judea) Become the Occupied Territories?

End of Jewish Rule in Judea and Jerusalem

The date of 70 C.E. marks the end of sovereign Jewish rule over the city of Jerusalem and the land of Judah. During the following centuries, until the 19th century, whenever a Jewish population attempted to settle and collect in the suburbs of Jerusalem, they were warned off by the reigning empire, and frequently by force. Whether Roman, Moslem or Christian, no matter who was in control of Palestine, the Jews were not welcome.

From the decree of Rome banishing the Jewish people from the city of Jerusalem and the region the Roman government renamed “Palestine,” the Jewish people suffered prejudice and persecution as a people, but not as a nation.  There ceased to be a Jewish nation; not Israel, not Judah.

As the prophets predicted, the people were scattered into all the earth.  The miraculous thing is that wherever they found themselves, the people reminded themselves of their calling, and of their deliverance from Egypt.  Each year the holiday of Passover was observed.  At the conclusion of the Seder, the cry “Next year in Jerusalem!” was heard wherever the Jewish people dwelt.  The land and the city were never forgotten.

In the later portion of the 19th century, events began to transpire which would eventually give birth, after almost two millennia, to the modern Jewish state of Israel.  Two things began to occur.  The first was the “Aliyah movement.”  Aliyah is Hebrew for “to go up.”  Its meaning had been previously used within Jewish services to speak of someone called forward to read from the Holy Torah.  It came to refer to a movement which burst forth more or less spontaneously, amongst a new generation of Eastern European Jewish young adults. The Aliyah movement was a response to the historic and repeated persecution of European Jews.

The first Aliyah in 1881-82 was primarily a reaction to pogroms in Czarist Russia.  This generation of Jewish young adults determined to leave their countries of origin, and to “go up” to the land of Palestine.  There in the ancient land of the Patriarchs, they would attempt to build new families in the new land of Jewish inhabitants.  The first Aliyah would eventually include almost 35,000 refugees.

The second significant event in the latter half of the 19th century was the emergence of Zionism under the initial inspiration and leadership of Theodor Herzl.  Herzl, a successful Jewish journalist from Vienna, became convinced Jews would never enjoy equality within the confines of a “Christian” nation.  He was persuaded prejudice and persecution were eternal threats, especially in Europe, and could only be contained for relatively short periods of time, no matter how it appeared on the surface.  The solution, according to Herzl, was a Jewish homeland, preferably in Palestine, the ancient land of the Jewish people.  To this end, he organized the First Zionist Council, which was held in Basel, Switzerland in 1897 with about 200 delegates in attendance.

During the 19th century, as the First Aliyah began to unfold, and the First Zionist Conference in Basel, Christian leaders were of entirely mixed opinions as to the significance of these matters.  Some read the scriptures and were certain the nation of Israel had to be reborn.  Others were just as certain Israel and the Jews were “the cursed fig tree” which could never again bud with life.  Denominations took positions on these matters!  Depending upon the denomination, churches were for or against (moral) support to the Zionist cause.  This debate continued right up until the UN voted in 1948 to make a way for a Jewish homeland. The debate continues to rage to the present day.

Is It Prophetic or Political?

The fact is that, whether it is a Russian diplomat acting in behalf of the Czar, a U.S. President, or the U.S. Secretary of State, religious beliefs and/or political beliefs lie immediately below the surface of action (or inaction).  “Beliefs,” as well as self-interest, specifically affect individuals and nations’ positions on the events taking place in the Middle East today.  Beliefs and political necessity, right or wrong, are at the core of what is and will continue to drive the “agenda” of the Middle East.

Significance of the Industrial Revolution upon Middle East Policy

An additional event occurred in the 1830’s which would eventually  have a central significance upon the future of the area of the Middle East, then designated Palestine, which later became the modern state of Israel.  This additional event was the birth in England of the industrial revolution, first exemplified by the development of the railroads.

The energy for this “revolution” was originally coal.  However, in the beginning of the 20th Century, a young Lord of the Admiralty of Great Britain, Winston Churchill, pushed to have the entire naval fleet of Britain converted to diesel power just before WW I broke out.  At the time, the decision was considered highly controversial.  Britain was well endowed with coal, but crude oil was not readily accessible.  Churchill lobbied and campaigned for it, maintaining that crude oil and diesel was the energy of the future.  The Kingdom upon which the sun never sat could and would acquire the necessary crude oil at locations of its empire elsewhere, outside of Great Britain.

This decision immediately had implications upon Britain and its empire, which translated into policy in the Middle East.  Thus, when Briton’s Lord Balfour published a declaration which seemed to be the answer to Herzl’s quest for a Palestinian homeland, its implementation ran into a buzz saw of resistance inside the British government. (See the Jacob Report #3Broken Promises: The Balfour Declaration.) England was dependent upon the expanding crude oil development of the Middle East and thus, it was believed, the good favor and support of the Arab populations and states that ostensibly controlled the crude reserves.

At the conclusion of WWI, as is said, “To the victors belong the spoils.”  The Allies, at the encouragement of Great Britain, made several “modifications” to the map of the Middle East, breaking up much of what had been under the control of the Ottoman Turks, aligned with Germany in the “Great War,” aka WW I.  Included in the map making was the creation of several new countries, which had never existed before, such as Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and others.  The “Great Nations” behind this new map of the Middle East were Great Britain and France and, to some extent, Russia.

With all of this “new country” creation,  Herzl had realistic expectations, especially in light of the apparent “commitment” of the Balfour declaration, that Great Britain would have pushed for at least a sliver of land in Palestine for the new Jewish homeland, the first in two millennia.  This did not happen.  The “national security” voices within the British foreign office prevailed with the argument that the vast Arab majority of the Middle East, where the largest concentration of future crude oil was certain to be, would not permit the insertion of a Jewish state, no matter how small.  In order to keep the peace in this growing trouble spot, the League of Nations placed Great Britain in charge of the area designated as Palestine.  This, of course, was the result of Great Britain’s policy, the result sought by the British Foreign Office to contain the potential and growing conflict.

Whether supported by the League of Nations and Britain or not, pressure mounted for a Jewish homeland.  This was primarily driven by ever-growing prejudice and hostility toward world Jewry and their religion.

As the 20th Century developed, it became clear a Jewish homeland in Palestine might never be achieved. With hostility increasing all over Europe, Jews began to resort to “illegal” means to enter and settle in Palestine.  Even at the apex of Hitler’s efforts to exterminate the Jewish population of Europe, Great Britain resisted entry of refugee European Jews to Palestine.  British motives were completely strategic.  Britain needed Arab oil and Arab good will in order to survive Hitler.

Once Hitler was finally defeated, Europe found itself with millions of DP’s – “Displaced Persons.”  A large percentage of these European “survivors” were Jewish survivors of the Hitler extermination machine.  These Jewish survivors soon discovered they were not welcome even to return to their former European homes or cities.  When a few brave souls attempted, they were greeted not as survivors of Hitler, but as the “cause of the war!” A significant number survived Hitler only to be killed by angry mobs when they attempted to return to the homes they had lost. “Hitler should have finished the job!  Why aren’t you dead?”  The Allies decided it was too risky to allow these Jewish survivors to “just run loose.”  So, the Allied occupation command decided to convert many of Hitler’s “death” camps to “DP camps,” camps for displaced persons.  Once again, the Jews were locked up!  However, pressure was mounting on Britain to let some of these pathetic wretches enter Palestine!  Britain’s Prime Minister, Earnest Bevin, vehemently resisted for the same historic reasons (and some, not-so-subtle anti-Semitism.)  It was against Britain’s strategic interest to provoke an almost certain Arab outcry!

By the fall of 1947, the pressure upon Britain had grown almost intolerable. Harry Truman, the U.S. President, led the way. Great Britain was deluded to the point that they felt Britain was the only option to keeping peace in the area of Palestine, between the growing (illegal) Jewish population and the Arab population.  Finally, Great Britain agreed to have the idea of ending the mandate (trusteeship) submitted to a vote by the newly created United Nations general assembly. Britain lobbied in behalf of a proposal which called for the simultaneous creation of an Arab state and a Jewish state, dividing the previously undivided Palestine.  Britain thought there was not sufficient support for this and that they would be vindicated in the UN.  What Great Britain did not count on was the growing aspirations of the Soviet Union in the Middle East.  The Soviet Union, with all of their vassal states, voted for the end of the mandate and for the creation of an independent Jewish state.  The logic of the Soviet Union was that anything to reduce the influence of Great Britain in the Middle East was positive for the Soviet Union!  Even if there were a war between the Arabs and the Jews, Britain would be blamed and that was good for the Soviet Union!  The Soviet backing was enough. When the vote occurred on November 29, 1947, the mandate was overturned and the British rule of the region was scheduled to conclude.

The end of British “administration” of Palestine also brought an end to the blockade of the refugee European Jewish populations.  Immediately upon the withdrawal of the last British troops from Palestine, the Jewish population declared its independence and statehood, electing to name the Jewish state “Israel.”  A nation was truly born in a day, May 14, 1948 (Isa. 66:8).

Who is who in the New Jewish State?

Following the death of Herzl in July, 1904, the banner for a Jewish state was carried by a new generation of secular, humanist, European Jews. Chaim Weizmann and David Ben-Gurion were the most notable.  The newer generation was not at all motivated from a historical longing for the return to the land of their fathers.  On the contrary, these men were Jewish in name only.  Some barely believed in God, and many did not believe at all.  Their motivation was “humanitarian” to the extent that they were convinced there could never be peace for the Jews in any non-Jewish country.  Under all circumstances, whenever events turned negative, be they political, economic, or even a climate change, the Jews would remain the ready fallback for blame.  Even in the USA it was widely held among the general population that “the Jews were behind the banking crisis and the Great Depression.”  Prior to Pearl Harbor, almost half the American population believed that a European Jewish conspiracy was behind an effort to get the US into war in Europe again.

The driving force behind the struggle for a Jewish homeland was driven by men who were very liberal, even socialist, in their beliefs and politics.  Religious Judaism was not significantly represented among the early leaders of what became the first Israeli politicians.  In fact, religious Judaism was skeptical of any effort to create a new Jewish state.  Many Orthodox rabbis spoke openly against it, even maintaining it was up to the Messiah to reestablish the nation!  Many went so far as to say working for a (secular) Jewish state was blasphemous.  It is a testament of just how far the secular, political, humanitarian Jews were from the religious dreams of a renewed Jewish state that, mere hours prior to the official declaration of the new Jewish state, there was disagreement as to what to name it!

Many resisted the idea of naming it Israel, because they felt it was a mistake to connect the fate of the modern, political nation to the ancient Biblical “mythology.”  It might even give too much power to the religious Jews, the last thing these secular leaders had in mind.  In the end, it was decided the only name which made sense was “Israel” and there might be some benefit to claiming historic heritage of this land they were now trying to claim and raise up with a 20th Century nation among the nations.

Once the new nation was declared, much of religious Judaism immediately got on board.  The reason; “If there is to be a Jewish nation; the religious Jews should certainly help shape the laws and not miss out on the opportunity to share in the power.”

Israel’s Original Boundaries as Proposed by the UN 

Once the UN had voted to end the mandate clearing the way for a Jewish state, the UN in its wisdom, began to establish the permissible, likely borders.  In addition, it was envisioned that an additional Arab/Palestinian state would simultaneously be carved out of the former British Trusteeship of Mandate Palestine.  Of course, the existing (Islamic) Arab nations resisted the idea of a Jewish state, no matter how small, ever emerging in the Middle East.  At the core of the Arab opposition was a fundamental tenant of Islam. Their objection was strictly religious, not racial. Once a land or territory has been “conquered” by Islam, from that time on it is an inviolable precept of Islam that the land remains Islamic!  All true followers of Islam are committed to go to war and even to die to enforce this Islamic dictum!

To the secular nations, including the emerging secular leadership of the (then) proposed Jewish state, it seemed impossible to reason with such religious dogma.  It appeared that war would be the only solution, since war was the only honorable solution prescribed by Islam. The outnumbered, out gunned, Jews of the new state were seen as enormous underdogs.  It was widely believed the Jewish state would be still born; born and die in a single day.  Britain had no desire to see the Jewish state succeed.  Israel’s early destruction would be vindication for the British historic resistance to the interjection of a non-native, Jewish population into a predominantly Arab, Islamic Middle East.  Prior to evacuating Palestine, the British used all means possible to manipulate the outcome in favor of the local Arab population.

The Dispute Over the Status of Jerusalem

In the original discussion of ending the British presence in Palestine, the issue of Jerusalem was treated as a separate issue.  Long discussions were spent over the subject of that historic city.  Three of the world’s greatest religions all claimed it as a holy city.  The UN discussed it and discussed it.  The Vatican held the position that Jerusalem could not be allowed to fall to either an Islamic or a Jewish state.  The Vatican lobbied to be a “trustee” on behalf of the UN, making Jerusalem an open, international city. This “discussion,” (argument) was carried on right up until the sudden and premature evacuation of Britain precipitated the eruption of the “war of independence.” For Israel, it could have been better called, “war for survival.”

Rebirth of the Jewish Nation

The Modern State of Israel was announced in Tel Aviv by David Ben-Gurion on May 14th, 1948. Immediately, as promised by the Arab countries surrounding Israel, the Islamic forces rushed forward in an attempt to extinguish the New Jewish state. Jordan pounced upon areas designated by the UN for a new Arab Palestinian state.

After days of fighting and much loss of life on both sides, the new nation stood alive and well.  During the fighting the two opposing sides, Jewish and Islamic, fought to a draw in the middle of Jerusalem.  Jordan immediately annexed the Eastern half of Jerusalem and the new Jewish state of Israel incorporated the Western portion.  The UN program to make Jerusalem an international city never transpired, but was never forgotten.  The UN would never let the little Jewish nation forget it had thumbed its nose at the International Body which had cleared the way for its existence.  The perceived “affront” was the ingratitude of the new Jewish state. The fact that Jordan had swallowed half the city of Jerusalem was not even acknowledged.

The 1967 Six-Day War: Jerusalem Reunited

From the birth of the modern state of Israel up until 1967, war was never far away.  Peace was ever-elusive.  If the Arab nations weren’t at war with Israel in fact, (peace was never agreed to) yet they refused to acknowledge Israel’s existence, much less make peace with the small, Jewish nation. In addition, state sponsored Arab “resistance” groups continued to spring up, constantly seeking to disrupt the lives of the Jewish citizens.

Unti1 the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the politics of Israel was predominantly directed by the left wing, liberal, secular, socialist-leaning, Mapai Party (Labor.)  These leaders had as little to do with “religious” Judaism as they could politically get away with.  Accordingly, when the Six Day War erupted, (June 5-10, 1967) Labor was in charge of the government.

The Six-Day War, like others before, was an attempt of a United Arab (Islamic) coalition to overwhelm the small, outnumbered, Jewish state and to “throw it into the (Mediterranean) Sea.” The Arab, Islamic, states led by Egypt and Syria were certain it was the “will of Allah” that they invade and obliterate the two-decades-young nation.  Israel had intelligence that described in detail the plans of the Arab states.  At the last movement, before the Arab invasion could get off the ground, Israel launched air strikes followed by tank battles to push back their adversaries.

The most moderate of Israel’s neighbors had been Jordan.  Before fighting began, Israel had warned Jordan not to get involved and Israel would not invade the territories of Jordan which included East Jerusalem as well as the rather large territories between the West Bank of the Jordan River and the existing borders with Israel. These were the same territories grabbed by Jordan which the UN had previously designated in 1947 for an additional (Islamic) Arab state.

Jordan was convinced all the advantages were in favor of the invading Arab Islamic forces.  It was not willing to be left out of any “spoils of war,” and so, ignored Israel’s warning and joined in the attack. What is bizarre is that by the time Jordan began its attack, Israel had already soundly beaten the Egyptian and Syrian armies.  However, the Arab radio broadcasts from Cairo boasted of great victories on all fronts. Jordan, believing the reports were true, joined the conflict just in time to lose! The end result was a vast increase of the territories of Israel, located mostly west of the Jordan River, hence the “West Bank,” territory previously seized by Jordan during the 1948 war. These “territories” also happened to be the ancient land of the tribe of Judah, the territory of King David, the historic Southern Kingdom of Judah, as well as some of the Northern Kingdom of Samaria.  Jordan had “possessed” these areas, including Jerusalem, from 1948-1967, or a total of 19 years. As of this writing, Israel has “occupied” these same lands for 45 years, more than twice as long as Jordan ever did!

This was not the least of it. Fighting between the Jordanians and Israelis had also erupted in Jerusalem, a city which for the past nineteen years had been split East and West between Israel and Jordan since the 1948 War of Independence. Jordan’s forces were thrown back on every front. Jerusalem was, after 2,000 years, entirely in the hands of a Jewish state! This city of Jerusalem included the Temple Mount where Solomon’s Temple was built and later destroyed by the Babylonians. The same Temple Mount where the Second Temple was built under the direction of Ezra, and remodeled into great splendor by Herod, only to be destroyed for the second time by the Romans in 70 C.E. Now, at last, after 2,000 years, the City and the Temple Mount were again in the hands of a Jewish people and a Jewish nation.

Once again, an overwhelmingly superior Arab force had fallen to a small, greatly outnumbered, Jewish force.  A kind of religious fervor began to bubble up and to burst forth within the Israeli population.  A widespread sense of destiny began to surface amongst a population that, by and large, was secular and had little deeply held religious convictions. There was an emerging sense that this was all more than historic, perhaps even prophetic. This became the topic discussed and debated by every average Israeli citizen.

However, the Israeli government of the secular, liberal left wing, Socialist Labor Party who continued to maintain control, saw things differently.  Good planning, good training, and good intelligence explained everything!  Furthermore, the nation was still outnumbered.  Fearing the growing religious fervor, the Labor government immediately sought to appease and to placate their defeated Islamic Arab foes.  The Israeli government announced control of the Temple Mount where the Mosque of Omar stood, would be undisturbed.  Furthermore, in order to keep the peace, the Labor Party decided the status quo would be maintained meaning Jews would continue to have greatly restricted access to the Temple Mount even though there was now a Jewish nation in control. The Labor Party decided to return administration of the Temple Mount to an Islamic council, known as the Muslim Waqf.

This was a monumental decision. The Arab forces were completely demoralized after their sound defeat.  They were starting to wonder if the God of the Jews was not, indeed, superior to Allah.  Had the Israelis immediately blasted the mosque of Omar, clearing the way for Jewish worship and presence on the Temple Mount, there would have been little resistance.  In fact, the secular Israeli government feared most the rising tide of Jewish religious fervor more than its Islamic, Arab foes. It was its own Israeli, Jewish population the government sought to suppress, fearing the rise of radical, revivalist Judaism more than anything else!

Following the overwhelming victory of the Six-Day War, the Labor government of Israel expected the Arab nations to come to the peace table.  Up to this time, these Arab nations and their surrogates had refused to acknowledge even the right of Israel to exist. Finally, they were completely beaten and would certainly seek peace through a treaty.  Labor expected and intended that, as part and parcel of any peace agreement with their Arab neighbors, Israel would be asked to surrender the territory it had captured in the Six-Day War, including Jerusalem.

Labor was fully willing to pay this “price” for the prospect of peace. Judea was of no special consequence to this secular Labor government.  In fact, the Labor government saw only problems with controlling a large Arab population.  The Arab nations, however, made no offer of peace.  In fact, they became more determined to redeem themselves from their “embarrassment.” 

In October, 1973, Egypt and Syria once again launched an attack upon the Jewish nation.  This time, there was little preparedness.  The relatively new Jewish nation was close to obliteration when reversals occurred on all fronts and the Jewish nation due to apparent lack of preparedness. This near national catastrophe led to a major upheaval in Israeli politics.  Shortly after the Yom Kippur War, the Likud Party emerged under the leadership of Menachem Begin.

No party in Israel had a large enough constituency to form a government on its own.  The nation of Israel had adopted a Parliamentary style system.  When a party cannot form a government by itself, it must make deals with the other smaller parties to form a coalition government.  Likud’s primary community was not the European Jews who escaped the hostilities of Hitler’s Europe, but Middle Eastern Jews, Sephardic, who had their roots in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Egypt and Morocco, and even Yemen.   These “middle eastern” Jews had centuries of history with the Arabs, going back to the Babylonian captivity.  This constituency was much more religious in its makeup.  This Sephardic population was a natural ally to the Orthodox religious parties that began to spring up looking for a share of the political power.

Almost as soon as the Likud came to power, its leadership felt it was its “destiny” to settle the lands of Judea with Israeli citizens.  The policy of settlements of creating “facts on the ground” was quite in contrast to the Labor left who saw these “occupied” lands as a mere bargaining chip in any future “land for peace” deal.  The committed right, the religious parties, were horrified at the thought of ever surrendering the historic territory of the family of David, Judea!

At the center of this drive to “settle” the areas captured during the Six-Day War was Ariel Sharon.  He became, in fact, the father of the settler movement.  These settlers were largely religious and believed in the destiny of historic Israel.  To these “right wing” conservatives, the mere mention of surrendering Judea, David’s territory, much less the city of David, Jerusalem, was horrifying!  It could never be!

From 1973 to the present, the government of Israel has gone back and forth from the Labor of the left of Rabin, Peres, and Barak to the Likud right of Begin, Shamir, Sharon and Netanyahu.  It has always been the contention of the Israeli left that the “occupied territories” must eventually be surrendered.  The Labor left has, also, been open to the possibility of “making a deal” on Jerusalem.  During the brief leftwing government of Barak, an offer was made to Yasser Arafat that would have given up 98% of the “occupied territories” (lands captured by Israel during the 1967 war) and would have given all of Jerusalem to the Arabs.  Arafat declined the deal.

This brings us to the second Netanyahu administration.  What is exceptional about this time is that a liberal left wing, socialist-leaning American government has based its Middle East policy upon pressuring the conservative, Likud government of Netanyahu to surrender the settlements of Judea and Samaria.  Never before (except possibly during the Clinton Administration,) has there been so much pressure put on Israel to implement a left wing agenda and surrender the settlements (Judea and Samaria) and Jerusalem.  Coincidentally, it was the last Netanyahu Administration that repelled the Clinton’s “Middle East” peace agenda.

In future Jacob Reports we will see how this single area, Judea, and the city of Jerusalem are destined to bring the entire World to the brink of annihilation. We will see how the final “outcome” was predicted over 2,000 years ago.


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