Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ranking Historical Claims to Palestine by Juan Cole

In reaction to an AIPAC speech in which Israel's Binyamin Netanyahu claimed that Israel's Jews have a historic connection to Jerusalem, Juan Cole does a very thorough job reputing the idea that some historical connection gives Jewish people the right to political control of part or all of Palestine. The whole article should be read, and perhaps saved because so far it is the best historical evaluation of the claims of Zionism that I've come across. But one excerpt follows:
8. Therefore if historical building of Jerusalem and historical connection with Jerusalem establishes sovereignty over it as Netanyahu claims, here are the groups that have the greatest claim to the city:

A. The Muslims, who ruled it and built it over 1191 years.

B. The Egyptians, who ruled it as a vassal state for several hundred years in the second millennium BCE.

C. The Italians, who ruled it about 444 years until the fall of the Roman Empire in 450 CE.

D. The Iranians, who ruled it for 205 years under the Achaemenids, for three years under the Parthians (insofar as the last Hasmonean was actually their vassal), and for 15 years under the Sasanids.

E. The Greeks, who ruled it for over 160 years if we count the Ptolemys and Seleucids as Greek. If we count them as Egyptians and Syrians, that would increase the Egyptian claim and introduce a Syrian one.

F. The successor states to the Byzantines, which could be either Greece or Turkey, who ruled it 188 years, though if we consider the heir to be Greece and add in the time the Hellenistic Greek dynasties ruled it, that would give Greece nearly 350 years as ruler of Jerusalem.

G. There is an Iraqi claim to Jerusalem based on the Assyrian and Babylonian conquests, as well as perhaps the rule of the Ayyubids (Saladin's dynasty), who were Kurds from Iraq.
I've never found historical arguments necessary or persuasive. They are far less important, in my way of evaluating than the fact that the US is willing to starve 1.5 million people in Gaza on so that 5 million Jewish people in Palestine can have a majority state, willing to impose or at least maintain an authoritarian dictatorship over the more than 60 million people of Egypt on behalf of Palestine's Jewish population, deny technology and sabotage the economy of over 70 million people of Iran on for the sake of those 5 million people. We could go on and on, to Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Sudan, and on and on and in each case present a stronger moral argument against Zionism than refuting Zionist historical claims.

But the historical arguments do come up from time to time, and when they do, this is a very good resource.


lidia said...

But please, pay attention to the name of his "ranking" :"Top Ten Reasons East Jerusalem does not belong to Jewish-Israelis"

So, it is about how West Jerusalem DOES belong to Zionists? What the difference, by the way, it is the same city with the same history before Zionism

Arnold Evans said...

Excellent point Lidia

Anonymous said...

iran actually financed, from it's own treasury, the construction of the temple whose last remaining section is called the wailling wall after they freed the jews from captivity in babylon. no record of either debt having been paid back.


lidia said...

I suppose Italians could with much more reason pretend to owning London, Paris and a lot of other places - Rome founded and built them all :)