It should come as no surprise that some of the same angry leftists who stridently deny Israel’s “right to exist” similarly challenge the claims to nationhood of the United States of America.
After all, the two allied and embattled democracies achieved independence in the same way – the patient settlement of largely desolate and under-populated land, the building of a new civilization virtually from scratch, and a long, bloody fight against determined, sometimes implacable opposition.
In fact, Israel boasts a far stronger “right to exist” than does its American counterpart (or many other nations) because of its ancient claim to the disputed land, and long-standing endorsement by international organizations.
In order to place these realities in proper perspective, it’s first necessary to reject some thirty years of wildly irresponsible anti-Israel propaganda. First of all, it’s not true in any sense that the modern Jewish State ever supplanted or destroyed an existing nation of “Palestine.” From the time of definitive destruction of the ancient Jewish commonwealth in 70 A.D., the land that comprises the current State of Israel never enjoyed independent existence but, rather, passed back and forth among competing world empires—Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Crusader, Mamaluke, Ottoman and British. Over the course of more than 1,800 years, no nation with the name “Palestine” appeared on any maps, anywhere. The distinguished Arab-American historian Philip Hitti, professor at Princeton University, testified to the Anglo American Committee in 1946: ‘There is no such thing as ‘Palestine’ in history, absolutely not.”
Mark Twain visited the Holy Land in 1867, shortly before the commencement of modern Jewish resettlement, and described it as “a desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds—a silent, mournful expanse… A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action.” According to the careful population figures of the Ottoman Empire, in 1882 (at the very beginning of the modern, organized Jewish immigration back to the ancestral home), the total population of land between the Jordan and the Sea was less than 250,000 – in an area that today supports ten million people, Israelis and Palestinians.