U.S. Pres. Barack Obama’s demand that Israel not settle Jews in the Biblical areas of Judea and Samaria ignores thoroughly-documented Jewish roots in the Land of Israel, and in Judea/Samaria in particular.
Yoram Ettinger, a former liaison for Congressional affairs in Israel's Washington embassy, lists in the latest of his periodic position papers some of the evidence showing that Judea and Samaria has Jewish, not Arab, roots.
Area Always Known as "Judea and Samaria"
Ettinger negates Obama's claim – enunciated during his June 4, 2009 speech at Cairo University – that "the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in" the Holocaust. For one thing, Ettinger notes, many world-renowned travelers, historians and archeologists of earlier centuries refer to "Judea and Samaria," while the term "West Bank" was coined only 60 years ago.
Jordan gave the region this name when it occupied it after Israel’s War of Independence. No nation on earth other than Britain and Pakistan recognized Jordan’s claim to Judea and Samaria.
Among the travelers, historians and archeologists who referred to Judea and Samaria are H. B. Tristram (The Land of Israel, 1865); Mark Twain (Innocents Abroad, 1867); R.A. MacAlister and Masterman ("Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly"); A.P. Stanley (Sinai and Palestine, 1887); E. Robinson and E. Smith (Biblical Researches in Palestine, 1841); C.W. Van de Velde (Peise durch Syrien und Paletsinea, 1861); and Felix Bovet (Voyage en Taire Sainte, 1864). Even the Encyclopedia Britannica, as well as official British and Ottoman records until 1950, used the term Judea and Samaria, and not the West Bank.
Land Was Named "Palestine" in Order to Erase Jewish Presence
Ettinger goes even further back, and says that the name "Palestine", which had nothing to do with a people as none by that name existed, was given to the Holy Land for the sole purpose of erasing the previous name of the country – Judea – from human memory. The Romans, whose plan this was, similarly sought to extinguish Jewish presence in Jerusalem by renaming it Aelia Capitolina.
Arabs Came in the Last 150 Years
When speaking of “Palestinian national rights,” it must be similarly kept in mind, Ettinger notes, that most Arabs residing today in Israel – anywhere between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean - have their origin in a massive 19th-20th century migration from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and other Moslem countries. They adopted the title "Palestinian", which gives the impression of ancient ties to the land.
Town Names Betray Their True History
Finally, Ettinger says that almost all Arab localities in Judea and Samaria have retained Biblical Jewish names, thus reaffirming their Jewish roots. Examples include the following:
- Anata is Biblical (and contemporary) Anatot, the dwelling of the Prophet Jeremiah.
- Batir is Biblical (and contemporary) Beitar, the headquarters of Bar Kochba, the leader of the Great Rebellion against the Roman Empire, which was suppressed in 135CE.
- Beit-Hur is the biblical (and contemporary) Beit Horon, site of Judah the Maccabee's victory over the Assyrians.
- Beitin is biblical (and contemporary) Beit El, a site of the Holy Ark and Prophet Samuel's court.
- Bethlehem is mentioned 44 times in the Bible and is the birth place of King David.
- Beit Jalla is biblical (and contemporary) Gilo, in southern Jerusalem, where Sennacherib set his camp, while besieging Jerusalem.
- El-Jib is biblical (and contemporary) Gibeon, Joshua's battleground known for his command to stop the sun and moon (Joshua 10:12).
- Jaba' is the biblical (and contemporary) Geva, site of King Saul’s son Jonathan’s victory over the Philistines.
- Jenin is the biblical (and contemporary) Ein Ganim, a Levite town within the tribe of Issachar.
- Mukhmas is biblical (and contemporary) Mikhmash, residence of Jonathan the Maccabee and site of King Saul's fortress.
- Seilun is biblical (and contemporary) Shilo, a site of Joshua's tabernacle and the Holy Ark and Samuel's youth.
- Tequa is biblical (and contemporary) Tekoa, hometown of the Prophet Amos.
Arabs Never Wanted Palestinian State
In another of his posts, Ettinger has negated the US government position that a Palestinian state is the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict and that its formation would resolve the situation. He cites proofs from recent history showing that Arab antipathy to Israel not only predates Palestinian concerns, but often sidesteps such interests.
Israel's war for its independence in 1948-9, for instance, was conducted by the Arab countries at the expense of local aspirations. Though Egypt conquered Gaza, and Jordan took Judea and Samaria, and Syria claimed the Golan, in none of these areas was a government of local Arabs allowed.
When Egypt conquered the Gaza Strip, it proceeded to prohibit "Palestinian" national activities and expel its leadership. Not only did Jordan not grant locals independence to Judea and Samaria, it actually annexed these areas to its own country. When Syria occupied and annexed the Hama area in the Golan Heights, the Arab League outlawed a provisional "Palestinian" government there.
In short, it can be concluded that Arab "rights" to a state in Judea and Samaria are historically weak and were long ignored by other Arab countries.