A close-friend wrote to my wife with serious concerns about her nephew, a bright and idealistic young man who came home from his elite university full of indignation about the state of Israel and its alleged destruction of the once flourishing nation of Palestine. In response, I wrote back with a general point about any nation's "right to exist" and four specific questions about the recent history of the Middle East:
If Israel has no right to exist, what is America's right to exist?
Both countries give the same answer: refugees and settlers from around the world came to our land and built up a nation over more than a century, making major sacrifices in blood and toil to establish a new nation based on shared ideas rather than long-time indigenous residence. If anything, Israel's claim to legitimacy is MUCH stronger than the US claim for three reasons:
1) No one claims that the Brits (and others) who settled North America were coming back to an ancestral homeland.
2) No international organization ever recognized their right to that homeland, as the League of Nations did for Israel in 1923 and the United Nations did in 1947.
3) No one can possibly claim that Israeli settlement caused a demographic disaster for the native population since the PALESTINIAN population of the country is more than 50 times greater than it was when Jewish return began in earnest in the 1880's. At no time—in no decade—did Palestinian population decline, but the Native American population drastically declined (mostly through disease, by the way) from the beginning of European colonization (1607) until 1900 (when Indian numbers began a dramatic rise).
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