Who was the first Zionist?
Many people today think that Theodor Herzl was the first Zionist, however this is incorrect. Herzl was the father of modern political Zionism. This is a specific branch of an age-old Jewish Zionist movement. Zionism actually dates back thousands of years, beginning with the Jewish forefather Abraham. As described in the Torah, there was a covenant with a chosen man (Abraham) for a chosen land (the Land of Israel). Since the times of Abraham, Zionism has been an integral, inalienable part of mainstream Judaism. Judaism and Zionism cannot be disconnected. See Herut’s ideological explanation regarding the connection between Judaism and Zionism for further information!
Who legally owns the Land of Israel?
The Jewish people legally own the land of Israel. Under several international laws, the entire Land of Israel is designated as Jewish homeland, and the Jews are free to settle (live) anywhere in this Jewish homeland. The following are some of the foundational binding international laws giving the Jewish people the right to live and own their own homeland:
◦ Balfour Declaration (1917) - British foreign Minister declares that the British government views with favor a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine.
◦ San Remo Resolution (1920) - Allied Supreme Council of WW1 ratifies the Balfour Declaration. A Jewish homeland in Palestine is now legally binding under international law.
◦ Mandate for Palestine (1922) - A Jewish homeland in the region is approved by the League of Nations, encompassing the territory of modern-day Israel & Jordan. All this land is designated as a Jewish homeland under international law.
◦ Anglo-American Convention (1924) - The text of the Mandate for Palestine is officially approved and signed. In the text, there is a stated recognition of "the rights of the Jewish people to settle in all parts of the Land of Israel”.
◦ United Nations Charter Article 80 (1945) - The United Nations is established. UN Charter Article 80 states that all mandates passed by the preceding League of Nations are still binding and valid today. This includes the Mandate for Palestine and the San Remo Resolution. This means that under international law, the Jewish people have the right to settle anywhere in the Land of Israel.
What is the history of the name “Palestine”? Why was it ever even called “Mandate Palestine”?
In 136 CE Roman Emperor Hadrian conquered and ruled over the land of Judea. Jews are indigenous to Judea. After the Bar Kochba revolt, Hadrian changed the name of the land in order to humiliate the Jews and destroy their connection to their indigenous land. Hadrian changed the name of the land to "Syria Palestina", naming the land of Judea after the Jews' greatest historical enemy, the Plishtim. The Plishtim were Greek sea people and were already extinct by 136 CE, thus the renaming was merely symbolic. The gesture was meant to humiliate the indigenous Jewish population in Judea. This all happened long before the Arab conquests of the Middle East and hundreds of years before the invention of Islam. The origin of the word "Palestine" is Roman. The British simply kept the name "Palestine" when they became the mandatory power in the region after WW1. In the 20th century, the Mandate system was instituted by the League of Nations. Mandate powers administered non-self-governing territories. The mandatory power in Israel’s case, Britain, appointed by the League of Nations, was to hold the mandated territory (Israel, then called "Palestine") in a temporary trust and to ensure the independence of the population until the population (Jews) was ready to self-govern. A mandate power babysits a region; they do not own it, they simply administer it until a certain time. The British became the mandatory power over Israel when the Ottoman Empire broke apart after WWI. Note that the Ottomans themselves were colonizers (they did not own the land of Israel, they simply occupied it after conquering it). The name “Palestine” from Roman times is in no way connected to modern day, post-Arafat, PLO Palestinians. These names are often erroneously conflated. The term “Palestine” is Roman and was strategically used to disconnect the Jews from the land of Judea. Jews are indigenous to this region (originally named Judea) and have always maintained a presence there. The land was called Judea until Emperor Hadrian changed the name in order to upset the indigenous Jewish population. Modern-day Arabs use the term "Palestinians" anachronistically, in order to strengthen their claim to the land. However, long before the land was renamed "Palestine", it was the kingdom of Judea and the Israelites. Jews are indigenous to Judea. So what role did the British play in administering British Mandate Palestine? Simply put, the British were babysitting the legally Jewish land until the Jews were ready to self-govern in their own land. This was stated and understood under international law. The original Mandate for Palestine actually allotted far more land area to the Jews for a Jewish National Homeland than what is currently Israel. Unfortunately, due to international pressure and Arab violence, the Jewish land was divided in September 1922. 77% of the land was given to the Arabs (creating modern-day Jordan), and 23% was left for the Jewish homeland. Under international law, the Jewish people own the entire Land of Israel.
The Old City in Jerusalem is divided into quarters. Isn’t this segregation?
The Old City of Jerusalem is unofficially divided into quarters (although there are actually far more than four areas of the city) – the Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Armenian quarters. This is self-segregation. There is no enforced segregation of peoples in the Old City of Jerusalem. The reason that there is seeming division between these areas, is because people desire to be around their own community members and institutions. That is to say, Jewish people enjoy living near synagogues and Yeshivas, while Armenians enjoy living in communities of other Armenians, near Armenian prayer houses. This is the way communities develop everywhere around the world. There is no significant differentiation between peoples in the Old city of Jerusalem, nor is there enforced segregation. There are, however, unspoken understandings that there are certain areas unsafe for Jews. This means that if a Jew wandered into certain parts of East Jerusalem alone, or into certain Islamic areas, they would be in physical danger. This is one of the reasons that Israeli police have more of a presence in certain areas of the Old City – areas wherein terrorist attacks occur most often against Jews. On the other hand, there are no areas dangerous to Muslims in Jerusalem.
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