The Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the ‘promised land’

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Both the western and local media are generally pro-Israel in their reporting on the Israeli-Hamas war. That should be the Israeli-Palestinian war because both sides don’t care about civilian casualties, including children and infants. On the other hand, there is a Palestinian bias in Arab/Muslim countries although admittedly, my main source is Al Jazeera and whatever else interesting I find in my Google newsfeed. 

The most common reasons cited in justifying Israel’s right to occupy the “holy land” are from the Bible: that Israelis have occupied it since biblical times because it is the “promised land”; that the Old Testament God, the God of Jews, Muslims and Christians, gave it to them. However, a critical reading of the relevant scriptures and independent historical and archeological evidence does not support this claim.

The “promised land” is described in Genesis 12 and 15:18-21: “In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: 19. The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, 20. And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, 21. And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.”

This large area of the “promised land” from eastern Egypt (Wadi of Egypt) to the Euphrates River is the same land area of the “Garden of Eden” (Genesis 2:11-14). No surprise, the ancient Hebrews didn’t know about Europe, India, China, and America; otherwise, they would have included them. 

But what is important is what the Lord specified: It is the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, etc., but no land of the Philistines! The Lord cannot make mistakes; he excluded Palestine. 

It was just a promise. While the Israelites settled in Canaan after escaping from Egypt, Moses hoped to be given the whole area if they were obedient to the covenant—a conditional agreement (Deuteronomy 19:8-9). God will give them the whole promised land if they follow all his rules, commandments. 

Did they? NO! Take adultery, which was punishable by death. The most prominent violators were Israel’s leaders, David and Solomon.

The real meaning of the “rule of law” has a biblical basis: The poor and the weak should follow rules or they go to jail or become victims of extrajudicial killing, while the powerful and rich are exempted from the rules. Remember, God could not find even 10 honest men in Sodom and Gomorrah, so everybody was killed by fire. With Noah, no questions asked, everybody was wicked and drowned. 

What about today’s Israelis? Do they deserve the promised land? NO! They violate all the rules; many don’t even believe the Jewish God (see Pew Research surveys). Consider also Exodus 22:20-26: “You shall not molest or oppress aliens, for you were once aliens in the land of Egypt. You should not wrong any widow or orphan … if you wrong them, I will kill you.” Consider the Israelis’ indiscriminate bombing. Killing Palestinian widows and orphans is a crime punishable by death, by their own rules.

That part of the “holy and promised land” has always been called Palestine since biblical times 1450 BCE, or before the ancient Hebrews (Jews) under Abraham migrated from Ur in southern Iraq to 1948 when Israelis occupied it by war. The area was under Egyptian pharaohs who named it Peleste/Philistia after the Philistines. After the Assyrian defeat of the Egyptians, it was conquered by the Greeks, about 300 BCE, and the Greeks named it Palestine. 

Archeological data indicate that the Philistines originated from the Aegean Sea, thus their Greek affinities. The Greek historian Herodotus had a map of the known world at that time, with Palestine. 

The next occupier was the Roman Empire from about 60 BCE, retaining the name Palestine (Syria Palestine, to be exact). Thus, Jesus was a Palestinian Jew (and not white like Europeans). But the longest occupiers were Muslims, from about 600 CE until 1917 under the Ottomans, who were defeated by the British during World War I. 

At this point, 90% of the population is Arab; the rest are Christians, more than the Jews. While the British government prevented illegal Jewish immigration from Europe, this continued with the help of British and US Zionists—like President Harry S. Truman—arming and training them. Thus, when the Palestinians disagreed with the two-state partition plan, war ensued. 

Note that the hostilities were preceded by Jewish terrorism and landgrabbing, which are considered illegal under international laws, the Geneva Convention and UN resolutions. 

One can’t blame the Palestinians. Israel got 55% of Palestine, more than the original owners since biblical times. Thus, the Palestinians became refugees in their own homeland.

Romy S. Aquino is a consulting geologist.

See: End Israeli apartheid in the West Bank and Gaza, and free Palestine

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