War in the Levant
Hello everyone!. Today I want to talk a bit about the current battles between the Israeli IDF and the Hamas terrorist group. I am calling it war in the Levant because I want to explore some different perspectives on what is going on there and some of the names being thrown around confuse the issues.
The Levant is a region in the eastern Mediterranean that includes Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Sometimes Cyprus, Turkey and even parts of Egypt are also included. This region is at the crossroads of three continents, Europe, Asia and Africa, and has been the arena for incessant battles and invasions for millennia. Successive bronze and iron age armies of Assyrians, Hittites, Babylonians and Egyptians marched across the Levant, much of which was recorded in the Hebrew Bible. The Levant encompasses much of the Promised Land and one of those conquering armies was the Israelites under Joshua when they marched over Canaan about three thousand years ago.
The people of the Levant are all closely related. They are all considered semitic people and speak semitic languages (the term antisemitism only applies to Jews because when the term was created in Germany during the 1800s the Jews were the only semitic people in Europe). Variations among the peoples in the Levant exist due to the successive waves of invaders of the region over the centuries, plus the long diaspora of the Jews. The primary difference between Israelis and Palestinians is religious and cultural (the cultures arising from the different practices of their religions).
At the time of Jesus, much of the area that is now Israel was part of the Roman province of Judaea which was later merged with Galilee and renamed Syria Palestina. Jewish rebellions against the authority of Rome led to the destruction of the Second Temple and the banning of Jews from Jerusalem, their holiest city. Some Jews remained in the region although many fled to other parts of the Roman Empire. As part of the Byzantine Empire, there were many Christians in the Levant along with various other religions. Muslim Arabs defeated the Byzantines in a series of battles conquering Jerusalem in 638 CE and Caesarea in 640 CE.
The Levant remained Muslim through various caliphates and the Ottoman Empire for more than a thousand years. Many Jews and Christians lived in these Muslim lands and were tolerated fairly well but were clearly second class citizens with restricted rights and subjected to extra taxation. Because of the inability to assimilate in various European countries, in the late 1800s a movement arose among the Jews in Europe to return to the Levant and form a Jewish homeland, a movement called Zionism. After the Holocaust, European Jews flooded into the Levant, intent on creating a Jewish state. The United Nations approved a partition plan to divide the region into a Jewish state and a state of Palestine and Israel announced its independence the following year as the British relinquished their mandate over the region which they had held since the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War One. This prompted the neighboring Arab states to invade the newly formed nation but Israel emerged victorious in the First Arab-Israeli War and in all subsequent wars.
All of this history has a point. Wave after wave of conquering armies have washed over the Levant for millennia. Of course, many parts of the world have had successive waves of conquering armies and multitudes of immigrants. In England, for example, early stone age peoples were supplanted by Celtic immigrants. Celtic Britain was invaded by Caesar in 43 BCE and were finally conquered by Claudius in 43 CE. Roman Britain later saw waves of immigrant Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians in the 4th century as well as invasions by their northern neighbors the Picts. Danish Viking invaders harried English ports and settled in various areas of the island fighting constantly with the forces of Alfred the Great and his successors. In 1066, the English king Harold, having just defeated Norwegian invaders, was defeated in turn by the Norman army of William at the Battle of Hastings. So who are the indigenous people of Britain and does it matter?
The reason I point out all this history is to show that lands have been overrun by many different peoples and many different cultures since the dawn of time. Palestinians have no greater right to the tract of land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea than anybody else. Right now the Israelis hold that land and you try to take it from them at your peril. But get off your high horse of how this is about human rights and social justice. But if it were about human rights and social justice then the land would still belong to the Israelis.
Almost immediately after the brutal Hamas massacre of innocent Israeli citizens, organs of the progressive left in the United States rallied behind Hamas and the Palestinian cause to wipe Israel (and its citizens) off the face of the Earth. Squad member Rashida Tlaib quickly parroted the slogans of “Free Palestine” and “From the River to the Sea,” code words for the destruction of the Jewish state and the genocide of the Jewish people. One might think it reasonable for Ms. Tlaib to support the Palestinians, she is a Palestinian refugee herself. But why is the progressive left joining her in lockstep?
Jews make up a substantial part of the progressive left. European Jews were prominent in the development of Marxist and Socialist causes in the early twentieth century. The author of the leftist handbook, Rules for Radicals, Saul Alinsky was Jewish. The great financier of progressive causes across our country, George Soros, is Jewish. Many leading progressive political leaders are Jewish, including, Chuck Schumer, Bernie Sanders, Jerry Nadler, Jamie Raskind and Adam Schiff. So why are progressives turning on Jews and going on protest marches advocating the destruction of Israel.
The progressive left has become enthralled with postmodernism and the ideology of Critical Theory that divides the world between oppressors and oppressed. And if Palestinians are trapped in Gaza and desperately poor then if follows that they must be oppressed. And if Israel is right next door and occupying Palestinian land then, ipso facto, they must be the oppressors. And if the Israelis are the oppressors, then Hamas combatants are not terrorists but freedom fighters. It all makes perfect sense, until you look at the facts.
It is Hamas that is the oppressor of the Palestinian people in Gaza. In the 2006 election in Gaza after the Israelis withdrew, Hamas won with about 43% of the total. That, of course, was the last election to be held in Gaza. Hamas has used Gaza as a base, funded by Iran, to plot the destruction of Israel. The Palestinian people are useful to Hamas only as human shields against Israeli retribution for terrorist attacks. The people are stuck in Gaza because none of the other neighboring countries want them.
And the people in Gaza are desperately poor, but not because Israeli oppressors stole the land from them. Nearby Muslim countries are also desperately poor with GDPs per capita less than a tenth that of Israel’s. The land of Israel has no more resources than other nearby countries but the Israelis have made it blossom. It has blossomed because the Israelis have adopted the Western model of democracy and free market capitalism while their neighbors next door have rejected that model. The destruction of Israel would not lift the yoke of poverty and oppression from the Palestinian people.
And that is why the progressives have taken on the mantle of antisemitism and post Tik Tok videos for their mindless minions to march for the destruction of Israel. Israel shows the barrenness of their ideology. So it must be destroyed.