Letter: It’s inaccurate to call Israel an ’imperialist’ state

I write to address certain misstatements contained in two recent letters about the war between Israel and Hamas, and in particular to clarify the historical record. One of the letter writers accused Israel of being an “imperialist” state, while the other wrote it as a colonizing force that forcibly removed Palestinians from their homeland. This is false history.

Jews made up the vast majority of the population of Israel for over 1,000 years before the Romans evicted most of the population, making the Jews the first refugees from the land. Although at times small, there has been a continual Jewish presence in Israel for over 3,000 years.

As early as 1892, 62% of Jerusalem’s population was Jewish. Before the United Nations partitioned the land into two states in 1947, there is no evidence whatsoever that the Jewish population forcibly displaced a single Palestinian. The Jews purchased every piece of land they lived in, most of which originally was barren swampland or desert. The Romans, Ottomans and British were colonists whose armies conquered the land and returned the economic spoils to the mother country. The Jews who returned to Israel in the 20th century were poor refugees escaping pogroms in Russia, survivors of the Holocaust, or among the 850,000 Jews who were expelled from Arab countries after 1948.

These were hardly colonialists as there was no mother country to return spoils, and in any event, you can’t colonize your own homeland. In 1947, the Israelis accepted the U.N. two-state solution Partition plan, offered to live in peace with their Arab neighbors, and promised those Palestinians living within Israel full citizenship. The Palestinian leadership and surrounding nations rejected the plan and invaded Israel, promising that the rivers would turn red with Jewish blood. Israel fought and won a defensive war.

Since then, Israel has repeatedly offered the Palestinian Authority a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza, but the Palestinian leadership has rejected every Israeli peace proposal, responding instead with terror attacks and threats that they will destroy Israel. When Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza and turned control over to the Palestinian Authority without conditions in hope that it would lead to a broader peace, what it got instead was Hamas and terror. This is why this tragic conflict continues.

Richard Mandell
Steamboat Springs

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