Settlements: The truth, not fiction

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East Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. On the far right is the Temple Mount with the rest of the Old City behind. Silwan and other neighborhoods are to the left and center. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Do you know there is a subject that if any UN official brought up, he or she would be mocked and instantly silenced? Have you heard that Jewish communities spread across Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) – some more than a century ago – but were destroyed by Arab marauders before Israel became a state?

Jewish pioneers chose those barren hills, built their homesteads and established communities – much like early Americans did in the 19th century. But unlike the unknown frontiers of America, Jews began coming back to Judea and Samaria and the Old City of Jerusalem including the areas of Zion and the pool of Siloam (Shiloach) where their ancestors had lived 2000-3000 years ago! But then, thriving Jewish communities were ethnically-cleansed by Arab forces in the early 20th century during the British occupation. Let me tell you some real stories about these “illegal settlements.”

Zion

Before the establishment of the state of Israel, everybody living in the Holy Land called themselves Palestinians. Since there was no state and no national identity, that was the only name around – given by Roman Emperor Hadrian.

In Jerusalem, just south of the Mosque of Omar, is an area called Silwan.

It is considered by archeologists to be the site of the ancient Israelite capital where King David reigned, also called Zion in the Bible – the city of David and the city of God:

“The Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the other dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are said of you, city of God.” Psalm 87:2–3

How can a pagan world which almost exclusively receives its information from the liberal media, believe that the God of Heaven and Earth loves Zion? And incidentally, you probably know that the most demonized description with which Islam slanders Israel is none other than “the Zionist entity.”

In 1884, the Old City of Jerusalem (including Zion/Silwan) was not much more than a run-down, neglected village. But because of its significance to Judaism, Yemenite Jews settled here that year. The Jewish neighborhood flourished for over 50 years until they were expelled by Muslim mobs in 1938. Zion would not see its Jewish people who “take pleasure in her stones,” until the 1967 war when Jerusalem again was back in the hands of Israel.

About 35 years ago, devout Jews revisited Silwan and began to buy property in this area. They have since returned to live in that neighborhood, amidst, as you can imagine, a great outcry from the world. But for these “settler” families, this city is a priority in their struggle to reclaim their national Jewish heritage. They have bought homes, much to the rage of arab officials, the UN and the EU, not to speak of the Muslim nations of the world. But as you can imagine, the Jews who have returned to live on Mount Zion will never leave their roots again, no matter what resolutions are passed by the UN.

Danny Mass, commander of the 35 soldiers massacred on their way to bring supplies to 480 Jews in four besieged kibbutzim (communities) in 1947. Today Danny Mass is esteemed in the Israeli army as a hero and role model as a Jew who did not kill an innocent Arab civilian, even though it ultimately cost his convoy their lives.
Danny Mass, commander of the 35 soldiers massacred on their way to bring supplies to 480 Jews in four besieged kibbutzim (communities) in 1947. Today Danny Mass is esteemed in the Israeli army as a hero and role model as a Jew who did not kill an innocent Arab civilian, even though it
ultimately cost his convoy their lives.

Gush Etzion

In February 1968, I was studying in a Hebrew language class in Jerusalem. On the Jewish holiday of Tu BiShvat (the New Year of Trees), our students were taken in buses to a place south of Jerusalem called Gush Etzion. I remember the day well. It was a foggy cold morning, with soldiers on the slopes around us quietly guarding our group as we planted new trees in this place where four Jewish communities were founded in 1927. They had been attacked and destroyed by Arab mobs in 1947 when the United Nations voted to partition Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state.

(Note that in 1947, the UN didn’t say a word about Palestinians because there were no Palestinian people then. Only Arabs. The Arabs refused the partition. It was all or nothing for them. They wanted the whole land.

As our guide began to tell us the history of this place, standing in front of us was a young soldier who told us the following story:

The 35

A convoy of 35 men on foot were sent by the Haganah (pre-state Jewish fighters) to bring supplies to these communities under siege. They started out at 11:00 p.m. but had to make a detour in order to not be detected by British authorities who were pro-Arab. The weight of the 110 pound sacks on their backs as they climbed the freezing hills also slowed them down. Therefore, they did not reach Gush Etzion before daylight as they had planned. An Arab shepherd boy spotted them. It is supposed that the 35 Jewish fighters discussed whether or not to kill him. They decided not to.

The shepherd disappeared and ran to tell his Arab community, which then fought against the Haganah men until the latter ran out of ammunition. The British found them all massacred, some beyond recognition. The soldier telling us this story was the son of one of the 35. He told us that he, together with other children of the 35 soldiers, had come back to rebuild their community which had been founded forty years ago.

Gush Etzion was one of the very first “illegal settlements” the people of Israel rebuilt.

Many settlers rebuilt what Arabs had destroyed

There were others. Jews had lived continuously in the city of Hebron for millennia – where the bones of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were buried. They were forced out by Arab mobs that went on a rampage of massacre in 1929. Some Jews tried to return in 1931, but the British would not permit them. But immediately after the Six Day War in 1967, Jewish families, some who were descendants of the earlier community, returned once again to the place of their ancient roots. Today there is a community in Hebron, a “settlement” that is the bane of the Palestinians, and cursed by the UN.

And so it was with other places. In the Old City of Jerusalem itself some 2,000 Jews had lived for centuries until they were expelled in 1948. In fact, on May 28, 1948, just two weeks after Israel was declared an independent state, Jordanian soldiers conquered and occupied East Jerusalem. Jordan had never before controlled Judea and Samaria or Jerusalem, but now no one was stopping them. They immediately drove out all the Jews. It was a Friday night, the beginning of the Sabbath, when those 2,000 men, women and children who had lived in the ancient Jewish Quarter of Old Jerusalem, gathered on their backs whatever they could take, and in great bitterness found themselves forced to flee on Friday evening – thereby defiling the Sabbath.

 

View of construction in Beitar Illit in Gush Etzion, January 17, 2017. (Photo: Nati Shohat/Flash90)
View of construction in Beitar Illit in Gush Etzion, January 17, 2017. (Photo: Nati Shohat/Flash90)

My visit to Jerusalem

I myself visited East Jerusalem, when I was in Jordan as a teenager in 1959. Jerusalem was still a neglected, run-down backwater town. As I walked through the Old City, all I could see were dark alleys between ancient stone houses and shops. When we arrived at the Western Wall, it too was in a narrow alley. One of our group looked toward the Wall and began to pray. The Jordanian guide (Arabs called themselves Jordanians for that 19-year occupation period) instantly told him to stop or we would all be arrested.

I am convinced that during the 19 years of Jordan’s occupation of the Old City, none of the Arabs ever dreamed of making that small town – more a medieval village – a capital of anything. Remember, even in 1959, no one had yet invented a Palestinian Muslim people. Perhaps it was in the minds of a few like the Egyptian Yasser Arafat who made it his life mission to create this new people, but he only got started in 1964.

The Old City of Jerusalem, the way it looked when I visited it in 1959. It was then under Jordanian occupation and no one dreamed about making it a Muslim capital in those days!
The Old City of Jerusalem, the way it looked when I visited it in 1959. It was then under Jordanian occupation and no one dreamed about making it a Muslim capital in those days!

The incredible Six-Day War

Jordan had occupied the West Bank and Jerusalem for 19 years when again the Arab armies declared that once and for all they would throw Israel into the sea. Instead, in six days, the Israeli army, obviously backed by the armies of the Lord, conquered the Old City of Jerusalem and all of Judea and Samaria, pushing the Jordanians back across the Jordan River. Israel also captured the Sinai Desert and Gaza from Egypt and the Golan Heights from Syria! In six days.

I moved to Jerusalem four months after that war. I found the people of Israel walking as if in a dream. There was euphoria in the air. The Jewish people had come back home! The ancient Western Wall was back in their hands.

The Israeli people found that the old Jewish quarter had been decimated by the Jordanians, including 35 synagogues. The former Jewish homes were now occupied by 6,000 Arabs. But the Jews went to work immediately to rebuild the Jewish Quarter. And build they did. They cleared the shacks which had been built around the Western Wall, and evacuated the 6,000 squatters. Today all the world has seen pictures of the large pavilion of the Western Wall dedicated to the people of Israel – actually to all peoples – who want to come and pray near the stones of the wall which once surrounded the twice-built Temple of the Lord. And the Jewish Quarter is once again filled with Jewish families.

The Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem
The Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem

Fighting God isn’t a good plan

This ancient city of Jerusalem is the place where John Kerry announced to the world, and Barack Hussein Obama legislated into international law, that East Jerusalem belongs to the Muslim people alone.

They declared that the city of David, the city that God designated to be the place where Yeshua of Nazareth, the King of the Jews will one day reign, is illegally occupied by Israel and belongs only to the Islamic, newly created Palestinian people.

But then here’s what the God of Israel has to say about it.

And the Lord will take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land, and will again choose Jerusalem… For thus says the Lord of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye. – Zechariah 2:12,8

The former President and the former Secretary of State have just stuck their fingers in God’s eye.

This article originally appeared in the Maoz Report, February 2017, and reposted with permission.