1880 marked 1810 years since the temple and the Jewish holy city of Jerusalem were destroyed. It also marked the beginning of change for the Middle East. Jews, hearing that for the first time in generations they could return to their homeland, began to leave the lands of their exile and return to the Promised Land – the land of Israel. The returning exiles found a desert land void of almost all life, inhabited only by a few nomadic people groups and some desert plants. The fact that the land seemed unlivable mattered little to the Jews, after all it was the land of their history; their home.
A few years before the return began, Mark Twain reported what he saw during his journey in the land: “Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes...Nazareth is forlorn; about [the] ford of Jordan where the hosts of Israel entered Promised Land with songs of rejoicing, one only a squalid camp of fantastic Bedouins of desert; Jericho the accursed lies a moldering today, even as Joshua's miracle left it more three thousand years ago; Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and their humiliation, have about them now to remind one that they once the high honor of the Savior's presence. The hallowed spot where the shepherds watched their flocks by night and where the angels sang, "Peace on earth good will to men," is untenanted by any living creature, and unblessed by any feature that is pleasant to the eye. Renowned Jerusalem itself; the stateliest name in history; has lost all its ancient grandeur and is become a pauper village. The riches of Solomon are no longer there to compel the admiration of visiting Oriental queens...The noted Sea of Galilee where Roman fleets once rode at anchor and the disciples of the Savior sailed in their ships was long ago deserted by the devotees of war and commerce and its borders are a silent wilderness. Capernaum is a shapeless ruin Magdala is the home of beggared Arabs Bethsaida and Chorazin have vanished from the earth and the desert places round about them where thousands of men once listened to the Savior's voice and ate the miraculous bread sleep in the hush of a solitude, that is inhabited only by birds of prey and skulking foxes. Palestine is desolate and unlovely.”
Regarding the vegetation, Twain attested: “There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country. No landscape exists that is more tiresome to the eye than that which bounds the approaches to Jerusalem” 
It was to this inhospitable land that the descendants of Abraham returned, but despite the barren landscape the Jews were determined to remake Israel into a home. As they began rebuilding the cities and irrigating the fields, the country began to actually become habitable. Arabs, looking for more opportunities, moved into Palestine.
After the fall of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War, the British gained control of much of the Middle East, including Palestine. The British decided to give part of the land to the Jews as their national home. For the first time since Babylon it appeared the Jews would have their own country. The territory promised by the British included all of present day Israel plus the country of Jordan. Unfortunately, a decade after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Britain went back on her word. The Muslims protested Jewish immigration by holding riots in the major cities of the Promised Land and killing thousands of people. In 1922 the British decided to give 4/5 of the original land promised to the Jews to the Arabs.  Eight years later the British cut off Jewish immigration to the area. Three years later, in 1933, Hitler came to power in Germany. Despite the desperate attempts by European Jews to get out of the path of Hitler, the British doubled down on their anti-immigration policies. In 1939 (the year World War II began) Prime Minister Chamberlin announced that Britain would no longer support a Jewish State. With nowhere to go, millions of Jews were caught in the shadow of the Swastika.
In 1941 the British-appointed head of government in Jerusalem began an alliance with Hitler, and began working toward the Nazi “final solution.” At the end of the war Nazi war criminals were granted refuge in many Middle Eastern nations – never to be brought to justice for their crimes. 
In 1948 the world again began to discuss the idea of a Jewish National Home. Israel was granted a strip of land approximately 40 miles wide (at its widest point) and 263 miles long. This area was less than 1/5 of what Israel had originally been promised, but the Jewish people were more than willing to make it a home. The rest of the land went to make a Palestinian state – the original two state solution.
Then in 1949, less than a year after Israel’s birth, five nations attacked Israel. Israel’s fledgling army was able to stop her enemies a mere 10 miles from the Mediterranean Sea. When a peace agreement was reached, a foreign invader occupied almost half of modern Israel. Jerusalem and all the land to the West was controlled by a hostile nation. All of the area that has historically been known as Judea was in the hands of Jordan (today Judea is known as the West Bank). The Israeli boarder was only a three hours walk from the Sea. Even though part of Judea had not been given to the Jewish State, many Jews lived on the West Bank. Jordan ordered that all Jews had to leave the Jordanian occupied territory. This all changed again in 1967 when again five nations attacked Israel. This time rather than losing ground the Jews gained back all of the original land given to them, plus the Sinai Peninsula and part of the Judea. Israelis whose land had been taken during the Jordan occupation hurried to their homes to see what was left. These families began to rebuild their lives, when much to everyone’s surprise they were told that they were the occupying force in what the international community referred to as the “West Bank.”
While any Arab homes in the West Bank remained in the hands of the Arab families, most of the land had belonged to the Jordanian Government, and so Israel’s Government naturally took ownership of these areas and began to sell them for development. The Jews were not displacing anyone in the West Bank, they were merely developing the land that had been granted to them.
Today many do not understand why Israel continues to refuse to give up the West Bank. On maps the West Bank is drawn as a separate country. The UN insists on referring to it as an “occupied territory” even though under the 1967 agreement it is rightfully Israel’s. There are several reasons Israel refuses to give up the territory, but the first is the only one which I will discuss. The West Bank is a mountainous area, and highly defensible. From the mountains in the West Bank one can see all of the coastal plain of Israel. If Israel were to give up this area to a Nation that might at one point become hostile (as with Gaza) the enemy would have a view of all of Israel’s troop movements. Also it is a rather short walk from the West Bank to the Mediterranean Sea (10 miles) an army could easily traverse this small expanse in a day, splitting the Nation in two and thus destroy the country. Also no part of Israel would be free from the fear of a short range rocket attack. The West Bank provides Israel with a marvelous defense, for tanks and heavy weaponry cannot cross into the mountains. It is highly defensible, protecting the most vulnerable Israeli coastal plain and it pushes Israel’s boarder to at least 40 miles from the Mediterranean.
People like to state that Israel should allow the creation of a Palestinian State, but they forget that one was created at the same time as the Jewish Nation. Jordan, originally granted to Israel, was separated and given to the Palestinians as their own country. The fact that many Arabs do not want to leave the West Bank and move to Jordan does not give them the right to demand more land from their Jewish hosts.
As far as Israeli policy concerning the Gaza Strip, one may recall that Israel had control of Gaza until 2005 when Israel granted Gaza its independence. The Gazan people proceeded to elect Hamas as its government – a terrorist organization that had vowed to do all it could to destroy Israel. Israel, seeing no other option, proceeded to stop all flow of weapons into Gaza. This did not stop Hamas terrorists from manufacturing short range missiles and building tunnels which it could use to terrorize Israeli civilians. In August 2014, three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and killed by Hamas. Consequentially, all three were Arab and Muslim. Hamas began pouring rockets into Israeli cities. Israel proceeded to return fire on Hamas. They invaded Gaza and destroyed the tunnels used by the terrorists. Unfortunately, the Hamas terrorists hid their rocket launchers in civilian areas. Israel had to protect her civilians and therefore had to take out the threat of the rocket launchers. Hamas, attempting to protect itself via international outrage at Israel, worked to keep civilians in the areas that they knew Israel was going to target. Israel warned the civilians in the areas, but ultimately Israel had to act. Cease fire after cease fire was signed and then broken by Hamas. Hamas proved that it cared for little else but the destruction of the Jewish state.
Some have claimed Israel wanted to commit genocide, but if this was the case why does Israel protect her own Palestinian population with the same tenacity that she protects her Jewish population? Why did her army provide medical care for the wounded in Gaza? Why did she attempt to warn the civilian populations? And finally why did she grant Gaza independence at all. If Gaza, a strategically unimportant strip of land, can be so harmful to its Jewish neighbor, imagine what damage could be caused by a Palestinian neighbor that controlled the high lands above Israel.
Israel’s right to the land is clear. Israel is a sovereign nation and must be judged as such. The first duty of any sovereign nation is to protect her people. Israel has worked hard to accomplish this goal. She has worked hard to even protect the civilians of her enemies, and yet the world only attacks this nation that is barely the size of Maryland. Perhaps it is time to stand with Israel against the terrorists who have vowed not only to wipe out Israel, but all of Western Culture. Perhaps now after almost 2000 years of being without a homeland, it is time for the world to recognize that the Jews are home.
 The Writings of Mark Twain: The innocents abroad, The new Pilgrims' progress
 A Place Among the Nations – Benjamin Netanyahu pg. 348
 A Place Among the Nations – Benjamin Netanyahu pg. 193
11/22/2014 07:00:27 am
As a believer in the God of creation and the existence of Israel, Israel's right to the homeland is unquestionable. If you question their right to live in the Promise Land, you Question God's Authority.
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