The Occupation of Palestinian Land Allegation:
An allegation that is often made against Israelis is that they are occupying Muslim land.
One counterargument against this is that the nation of Israel dates back to 1272 BC which is 1800-1900 years before the Muslim faith existed. Although in 70 CE the vast majority were exiled by the Romans those Jews who could, remained.
The argument that there was a Jewish presence in Israel, even after the Romans exiled the Jews is supported by the fact that two famous Jewish works, the Mishna and the Jerusalem Talmud were both written around 200 CE. The Shulchan Aruch was written in Safed in the 1500s. An online documentary about Gaza [i] shows hebrew stone inscriptions demonstrating a historical presence of Jews there.
Another counterargument to the claim that these areas are occupied Arab land is that the majority of Arabs living in the “occupied” areas are recent immigrants who immigrated there after the Jews created a thriving economy and made the desert bloom.
The argument that most of the Arabs are recent immigrants is supported by the observations of two neutral observers of the region, Mark Twain and Ladislas Farago. Mark Twain, in a book called The Innocents Abroad[ii] wrote about the emptyness and desolateness of Palestine:
“Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies… Nazareth is forlorn; about that ford of Jordan where the hosts of Israel entered the Promised Land with songs of rejoicing, one finds only a squalid camp of fantastic Bedouins of the desert; Jericho the accursed, lies a moldering ruin, to-day, even as Joshua's miracle left it more than three thousand years ago; Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and their humiliation, have nothing about them now to remind one that they once knew the high honor of the leader's presence; the hallowed spot where the shepherds watched their flocks by night, and where the angels sang Peace on earth, good will to men, is untenanted by any living creature, and unblessed by any feature that is pleasant to the eye. .. The noted Sea of Galilee, where Roman fleets once rode at anchor and the disciples of the leader sailed in their ships, was long ago deserted by the devotees of war and commerce, and its borders are a silent wilderness; Capernaum is a shapeless ruin; Magdala is the home of beggared Arabs; Bethsaida and Chorazin have vanished from the earth, and the "desert places" round about them where thousands of men once listened to the leader's voice and ate the miraculous bread, sleep in the hush of a solitude that is inhabited only by birds of prey and skulking foxes.”
Ladislas Farago travelled through Palestine in the 1930s and wrote[iii]:
"One always finds in Palestine Arabs who have been in the country only a few weeks or a few months...Since they are themselves strangers in a strange land, they are the loudest to cry: 'Out with the Jews!'...Amongst them are to be found representatives of every Arab country: Arabs from Transjordan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Egypt, the Sudan and Iraq."
In "From Time Immemorial," author Joan Peters wrote: (p. 168-9), "The peoples who roamed the country in the 19th century were not... indigenous to the land. They did not stay on the land. Of the sparse population who were later counted as 'original' settled 'Arabs' in the 19th century when the arriving Jewish immigrants united with the native Palestinian Jewish population, many were in fact imported Muslim peoples from Turkey and other lands... Kurds, Turcomans, Naim, and other colonists arrived in Palestine around the same time as the Jewish immigration wave began. 18,000 'tents' of Tartars, the 'armies of Turks and Kurds,' whole villages settled in the 19th century of Bosnians and Moors and 'Circassians' and 'Algerians' and Egyptians, etc. - all were continually brought in to people the land called Palestine."
In 1948, no Palestinian state was invaded or destroyed to make way for the establishment of Israel. From biblical times, when this territory was the state of the Jews, to its occupation by the British army at the end of World War I, Palestine had never existed as a distinct political entity but was rather part of one empire after another, from the Romans, to the Arabs, to the Ottomans…
As is well known, the implementation of the UN's partition plan was aborted by the effort of the Palestinians and of the surrounding Arab states to destroy the Jewish state at birth. What is less well known is that even if the Jews had lost the war, their territory would not have been handed over to the Palestinians. Rather, it would have been divided among the invading Arab forces, for the simple reason that none of the region's Arab regimes viewed the Palestinians as a distinct nation. As the eminent Arab-American historian Philip Hitti described the common Arab view to an Anglo-American commission of inquiry in 1946, "There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not."..
“There are no differences between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. We are all part of one nation. It is only for political reasons that we carefully underline our Palestinian identity in contrast to Zionism. Yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity is there only for tactical reasons. The establishement of a Palestinian state is a new expedient to continue the fight against Zionism and for Arab unity.”
Counterargument 2: Ephraim Karsh wrote that:
[O]n January 20, 1996, elections to the Palestinian Council were held, and shortly afterward both the Israeli civil administration and military government were dissolved…
Since the beginning of 1996, and certainly following the completion of the redeployment from Hebron in January 1997, 99 percent of the Palestinian population of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have not lived under Israeli occupation.”
[i] Stop the Deportation, a documentary by Yedidim of Israel and Ariel Center for Policy Research http://www.acpr.org.il/films/stop_deportation_katif.wmv
[iii] Ladislas Farago, Palestine at the Crossroads, New York: Putnam 1937 p17
[iv] Karsh E, “What Occupation” Commentary Jul/Aug 2002
[vi] Trouw (Dutch newspaper) March 31, 1977