Jul 15 2014

Does Israel have the right to exist?


People ask this question as if Israel is a unique State in the world, as if the answer to this question is some kind of divining rod indicating one’s position on Middle Eastern politics, or the Jewish people. In reality these things are irrelevant to the question.

Does Israel have the right to exist? Of course not. It’s an absurd thing to claim. No State has the right to exist. People have the right to exist, and people have a right to establish societal institutions. They even have a right to name such an institution “Israel” if they wish.

What they don’t have the right to do is impose their societal institutions on other people who do not consent, because those institutions have no rights independent of the people who comprise them. Free people always retain the right to alter or abolish the societal institutions they have created or inherited, so no such institution can be said to have an independent right to exist.


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  1. soultana


    1. Davi Barker

      “Logically” Pfft!

  2. Amir Obeid

    Oh Philip, how wrong you are…..

    Do Israelis have a legitimate claim to the land or not? Of course not. What makes their claim legitimate? I’m assuming you live somewhere in the U.S.A.? What if those tables were turned? What if a large Native American army came into the U.S. and started taking over land because this land was stolen from them and they have a legitimate claim to the land? What if they then forced you out of your home and into a refugee camp, murdered half your family, demolished your home and put settlements up there and regularly treated you like a sub-human animal? Would you then say that this new Native American nation has a right to exist and has a legitimate claim to the land and you should just accept it and move on? Or would you fight for YOUR human rights and YOUR dignity?

    Maybe we should go back to the time of the Cave Men even before the Jews. My ancient cavemen ancestors lived in the land your home is built upon a million years ago (or whatever other number you want to make up since this argument is complete crap anyways) so now everything you own belongs to me and you no longer have any human rights.

    Your entire argument from the right of Israel to the land, to the land being an empty wasteland when Israel took over, to Palestinians having equal rights, is all complete crap and just a bunch of Zionist propaganda which is agreed upon by no one other than propagandists promoting Israeli brutality. There was a rich culture and people living in that land and it was stolen from them. Plain and simple. Palestinians living in Israel (whether part of greater Israel or Palestinian territories, both of which are under Israeli control in terms of water, air space, borders and many other factors) are treated like 2nd class citizens AT BEST and worse than animals at worst. It does not take a fierce warrior to drop a bomb on a city full of kids or to shoot a kid with a rock using a tank. It takes a coward, and that is what Israelis really are…..cowards.

    On a daily basis, Palestinians must endure homes being demolished, children and fathers being kidnapped, family members being injured, killed or tortured, degradation, racism and a whole other wide range of constant abuses. Slowly but surely, the entire WORLD is waking up to the injustices in Palestine, and slowly but surely Israel is losing every single shred of support it has left in the world. The U.S. is their last great ally, and when they fall, so does Israel. NO JUSTICE = NO PEACE.

    1. Phillip Slepian

      @Amir: Just the type of comment I expected from typical M4L readers. Allow me to respond, point-by-point:

      The Jewish claim to the Land of Israel is legitimate to those who acknowledge that, historically, it is the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people. Please refer to my original comments, and, if you know of a nation of people, extant, that has ever had a sovereign nation based in this land (especially if it predates the First Jewish Commonwealth), with Jerusalem as its capital, please share it with us (“cave men” is not a nation).

      The Native American argument is a complete failure. This argument assumes that the Jews are the European settlers, and the Native Americans are the Arab descendants of the 7th century Islamic invaders of Byzantine Palestine. This is patently false. The Jewish nation, as both history and scripture prove, would be the Native Americans in this analogy. The Arabian invaders of the 7th century would be the European settlers. And, as I have stated, the Arabians lost their war to retain control of the land they had occupied, on and off, for 12 centuries. Even though the argument could be made that Native Americans are the true owners of North America, they, too, lost in their battles to control that land to the Europeans. So, whether you look upon the national rights of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel as a matter of historical justice, or as a matter of who has been victorious in war for that land, the Jewish people win, and the Arabs lose.

      As for the refugee issue, please, again, refer to my original comments. The Jews of Israel were willing, from the first days of independence, to grant Arabs rights and legal protections far in excess to what Arabs were willing to grant Jews in Arab lands. It was the Arab rejection of a sovereign Jewish state that lead to war, dislocation, and the refugee issue. Nevertheless, there have been numerous historical instances of refugees from conflicts all over the world. In every case except the Arab one, all of the refugees have been resettled, absorbed, and assimilated into one nation or another that was willing to absorb them. The Arab refugee issue, perpetuated for political purposes by Arab leaders, is nothing more than another tool being used to work toward the Arab goal of destroying the Jewish state. Israel itself absorbed some 800,000 refugees from Arab lands in the early years of the state (more than the roughly 600,000 Arabs who ended up in refugee camps following the War of Israeli Independence). Today, those Jews and their descendants are completely integrated into Israeli society. The fact that the descendants of Arab refugees from British Mandatory Palestine have yet to be integrated into states like Jordan, Lebanon and Syria is hardly Israel’s fault or responsibility, any more than those 800,000 Jewish refugees were the responsibility of Iraq, Iran, or Egypt.

      And if you are going to assert that Israelis “murdered half” of the Arabs who were living in what is now Israel, you need to produce proof. You can’t, because that’s a lie, and battle casualties don’t count. As for the home demolitions, we see how Arab homes are routinely used as weapons depots and missile launch sites. By any non-Muslim definition, that means they are not residential homes at all; they are targets. Historically, yes, some vacated homes were removed for construction purposes, and if legal owners were identified, they were compensated. Even today, any resident of Israel, including the disputed territories, can go to court to sue to prevent the loss of personal property, and often, they are successful. Were Jews in Arab countries able to do that? Still, there are thousands of examples of illegal squatting by Arabs in places legally owned by Jews, but that were occupied by Jordan and Egypt from 1949-1967, or places where the Jews were slaughtered and/or forced out, such Hebron, following the 1929 massacre. The rightful owners of these homes, Jews, have fought in Israeli courts for decades to evict the squatters, with only occasional success. So, let’s be clear, Amir, losing one’s dignity usually accompanies military defeat. That’s reality. If the Arabs wish to fight to restore their dignity, so be it. Just understand that failed efforts of this sort will only increase their level of self-inflicted indignity.

      Your point about the cave men also fails. Do you have any historical record of who they were? Who their leaders were? Can you determine their modern day descendants? Of course not. You have no idea where your cave man ancestors lived. And, most likely, they lived in Arabia, not the Levant. In fact, Arabs were a rarity in the Levant prior to the Islamic conquests of the 7th century. They came as traders, but generally did not settle there on a permanent basis before then.

      You make a lot of unfounded arguments about this land prior to the influx of Jews in the late 19th century, Amir. Have you read Mark Twain’s account of his travels to Ottoman Palestine in the mid-19th century? As for Arab rights, (“Palestinian” was a term used to refer to any resident of British Mandatory Palestine, including Jews, so I eschew that label for Arabs), please do not confuse Israeli efforts to protect its civilians with a lack of equal rights. You are free to disagree, but Israelis are under no obligation to grant Arabs the “right” to slaughter its citizens at will. If that means protective barriers (extremely effective) and border control (also effective, and similar to most other sovereign nations), then that is the price the Arabs must pay for their “resistance”. And nobody “stole” anything from anyone. Jews purchased their land first from the Ottoman Turks, then from the British Mandatory authorities and private sellers. That of course, speaks nothing of the biblical inheritance promised to the Jewish people. What was stolen were the possessions, homes and land of those 800,000 Jewish refugees from Arab lands, who were lucky to get out of those places with their lives. There was indeed Arab-Muslim culture, if not many people, in the pre-state days of Israel, just as there was Jewish and Christian culture there since before Mohammed was born, well before. You fail to make any point there at all. Does this fact somehow countermand the claim of the Jewish people to their land? Does it mean that Israeli military victories cannot stand? And if so, by what force, other than military, will Israeli victories be overturned? This returns us to my original points yet again. As I said, molon labe. If your indignant Arabs can defeat Israel militarily, then you will again possess the land by virtue of military conquest. How’s that working out for you so far?

      And don’t lecture me about “second class citizens” when it is the Arab nations who define that term. If you can show me one single mosque in Israel that has been destroyed in peace time in the way that dozens of churches and Jewish synagogues have been attacked leveled throughout the Arab and Muslim world, please post it. (Hint: mosques used to house weapons and combatants don’t count.) Again, you can’t, because that never happened. Baruch Goldstein? Yes, he attacked a mosque, trying to pre-empt an Arab attack on Jews, and was vilified by Israeli society. Have those who attack Christian churches and Jewish synagogues in Arab lands been similarly vilified, arrested, or punished by the people of those nations and their leaders? The moral equivalency effort fails. Oh, and rocks can kill, and there are news posts to prove it. So, rock, tank, whatever. Violence is violence. Don’t like the weapons? Get your own tanks. No tanks? How about not throwing rocks at armed soldiers in the first place!

      And we are seeing, as I type, how Israel uses its’ weapons to protect its civilians, while Hamas uses its’ civilians to protect its’ weapons. According to the Geneva Conventions, when one side in a conflict uses humans as shields for its military, and those human shields are hurt or killed by the other side, those casualties accrue to the side which used them as human shields. Israel takes more precautions than any nation in history to avoid collateral damage. That’s why, often, Israel sends in troops to hostile areas to arrest enemy combatants hiding in booby-trapped homes, rather than carpet-bomb the whole block, and why Israel warns of air attacks in advance, unlike Hamas, which targets civilian areas with no warning whatsoever. Do you honestly think that there would be any Arabs left alive in Gaza City, Ramallah, Jenin or Qalkilya if Israel’s intention was to slaughter Arabs indiscriminately? Cowards? I think not. I think the cowards are the leaders of Fatah and Hamas who draft other people’s children for suicide missions on public buses and schools, and rock attacks on armed soldiers, and then celebrate the Jewish deaths with candy. Other than the relief that Israel’s enemies and the threat they pose have been eliminated, there is no such celebration amongst Israelis.

      Yes, Arabs who choose to take up arms, missiles and weapons against Israel do indeed see their homes demolished (while they are empty, by the way), but have their lives spared if apprehended (Israel – alone among all of the nations in the Middle East – has no death penalty). The victims of Hamas and Fatah “resistance” are not so fortunate. Their houses stand, but are empty, like the Vogel family’s home. When will the Arabs get it? There is no “cycle of violence”; only Arab attacks, and Israeli counter-attacks to neutralize the threat. As has been said, if the Arabs were to lay down their weapons today, tomorrow, there would be no more war. If the Israelis were to lay down their weapons today, tomorrow, there would be no Israel. Even though you would like the latter outcome, can you honestly dispute this? And if you really think Israel wants to destroy any of the Arab nations around it, then you are only the product of vicious anti-Semitic propaganda. Meanwhile, the goals of jihad are clear, and spelled out clearly in the Hamas charter. And there, in print, is the determination to slaughter the Jews and steal their land. Can you, Amir, put aside your Islamic-superiority beliefs for just a second and still blame the Jews, objectively, for fighting back to protect themselves, their land, and their right to self-determination? Because, from a non-Muslim perspective, that is what they are doing.

      As for the U.S.-Israel alliance, you misunderstand completely this relationship. America has never been a real friend to Israel. Most Americans do support Israel, but since even before WWII, the U.S. government (not a very accurate reflection of the will of the people, as many outside the U.S. mistakenly assume it is) has always been antagonistic to Israel. Yes, there is some congressional support, and some financial support (which is actually inconsequential, more harmful to Israel than helpful, and more than balanced by financial assistance to Israel’s enemies), but Israel would do well to look inward and upward for support, not westward. I think Israel would not only survive without the U.S.A., but would thrive even more than it does now. And lastly, I agree: NO JUSTICE=NO PEACE. I see the Jewish state as a nearly perfect expression of justice in the Judeo-Christian context. Of course, justice in the Islamic context is something altogether different. And on that point, we, along with all Muslims and non-Muslims, will have to agree to disagree.


      1. Anonymous

        The Native American argument Amir used was reversed. He was actually saying that the Native Americans were the Jews and the settlers were the Arabs. The point he was making was that just because the Native Americans once owned the land, like the Jews once owned Israel, that doesn’t mean they can suddenly just decide to expel the ancestors of the settlers who took control of their land, which in this case, would be the Arabs. It works both ways really, as Israel shouldn’t have done what they did, nor should groups like Hamas advocate for similar objectives.

        The main argument this article is espousing, regardless of either of your points, is that government by its very nature violates the rights of mankind, whether Israeli, Arab, or American. Insinuating that some entity can claim the right to a monopoly of force in an arbitrary area of land is no different from gangs claiming turf over neighborhoods. That’s Davi’s point. That’s the fundamental reason he believes the existence of the State of Israel is illegitimate, as all States violate the Non-Aggression Principle inherently. He believes in agorism.

        1. Phillip Slepian

          @Anonymous: I understand Davi’s point in the OP. But I don’t buy the anarchist argument. Anarchy, as history shows, creates a vacuum, which is more often than not filled with tyrants, warlords that are capable of more brutality than any of their competitors. Davi ignores human nature, or at least wishes to subject it to Islamic law as an alternative to anarchy. But, as the Jewish people are a people, and their belief and history indicate that the Land of Israel is indeed their ancestral, present and future homeland, their ability to recover it in the post-WWI era, and retain it by force of arms, is as legitimate as any other group of people which seeks self-determination in any place with defined borders. The problem with anarchy is that it does not work out the way its utopian supporters imagine it will. It simply cannot. A quick look at the power vacuums created in Libya, Sudan and elsewhere provide present-day examples of why anarchy does not give way to utopia. Quite the opposite, in fact.

          That leaves Islam as a world-wide dominating system. While the Islamic system can work in the absence of national identities, it comes with its own ruler, the Caliph, who can easily play the role of tyrant if he is undisciplined. And there are indeed “national” borders, they just happen to include the entire planet. And this says nothing of the fate of the infidel under Islam. The reality is that many non-Muslims simply refuse to submit, convert, or pay the jizya. So, once again, we return to force of arms in the service of self-determination and self-defense of both Muslims and non-Muslims. It’s human nature, Anon, and that does not change. War is the natural state of mankind. Peace is but a rare and temporary exception.

      2. gretel

        ..Did you use “history” and “scripture” as holding the same weight of authenticity? That’s faulty reasoning here. You’re assuming all should accept the Hebrew scriptures as a legitimate source of history, rather than as a reference onto itself.

        Just one of your many fallacies committed here. You were quite a jerk about it, too.

        1. Phillip Slepian

          Thanks for the ad hominem attack, gretel. How, exactly have I been a “jerk”? Because I dared to argue a point, with supporting facts, that differs from your own worldview? How typical of both Leftists and Muslims in an argument. I recently read that the modern definition of a racist is a conservative who is winning an argument with a liberal. 🙂

          While the Jews may accept as divine the Hebrew scriptures, and therefore its historic accuracy. Ignore the archaeological discoveries that support the accuracy of the O.T. if you wish. One could just as easily deny the authenticity of the New Testament or the Koran for the same reasons. But if you read my comments carefully, you will see that there are elements which prove my case without the need to invoke Hebrew scripture. I did say, too, that if one denies the legitimacy of the Jewish People as a nation, there isn’t much to talk about. You say they are not a people, the Jews say they are. Since the implication of denying nationhood to the Jews is to prevent them from self-determination, you are, once again, back to the point of conflict, the only resolution of which is war. And, so, far, the Jewish people, whether you acknowledge it as a legitimate people or not, have been winning the wars fought against it. And, we’re back at the beginning.

          So, thanks for the effort, but your criticism fails to disprove my comments. I await the specifics of my other “fallacies”.

  3. Phillip Slepian

    Sorry. I meant Davi, not David.

  4. Phillip Slepian

    David: The question you pose is a straw man. Israel’s legitimacy as a sovereign state is always called into question by anti-Semites and numerous Islamic leaders, both religious and political. What it boils down to is the Jewish people’s claim to the Land of Israel. Either one agrees it has a legitimate claim to the land, or not. In fact, the current Arab-Israeli conflict, now roughly 100 years old, was never about borders, settlements, refugees, or a “Palestinian” state. It is now, and always has been about whether the Jewish people have national rights in their ancestral homeland or not. Israel’s enemies generally take the position that the Jewish people, (if these enemies even consider the Jews a people, per se), have no national rights on land once conquered by Islamic invaders from Arabia, who came to occupy and colonize this territory by force in the 7th Century.

    You see, David, it all depends on what point at which you decide you are going to let history begin. If one chooses the date of the Arab conquest of Byzantine Palestine in the 7th Century, then yes, it hard to see how the Jewish people, which at the time were a minority in this territory (although most agree there was no majority people there, and the Jews were the largest minority), have national rights there. After all, the Second Jewish Commonwealth had been destroyed by Rome some seven centuries earlier. Of course, this is notwithstanding Islamic texts that suggest that the Land of Israel indeed belongs to the Jewish people.

    However, and this is a very inconvenient set of facts for Israel’s enemies, if one chooses to go back as far as recorded history will allow, there is no people extant other than the Jews (as in Judea), who ever had a sovereign nation in the Land of Israel, with Jerusalem as its capital (the State of Israel is actually the third Jewish commonwealth on this land). There has certainly been no Arabic (as in Arabia) nation based here, as this land was only absorbed into the larger Islamic caliphates from the original conquest right through WWI. And it is in WWI that the Uma lost, by force of arms, control over this territory. The victors, allowing for some fits and starts, eventually acknowledged Jewish National Rights in the Jewish ancestral homeland, and the Zionist dream of return to the land of their forefathers was realized.

    What of the Arab Muslims of this former Ottoman province? It is a fact that prior to the arrival of the early Zionists in the mid to late 19th Century, this territory was a sparsely populated wasteland, home to a few Jews, a few Muslims, a few Christians, a handful of others. With the Jewish settlers, who purchased from the Ottoman Turks land for farms and communities, came a growing economy and job opportunities for laborers. Many Muslims from the surrounding areas, faced with desperate poverty, immigrated into this Ottoman province, and later into British Mandatory Palestine, for jobs working for the Jews. This is the source of most of Israel’s Arab population, most of whom can trace their roots back two or three generations to what is now Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, or Syria.

    When the partition plan was approved by the United Nations in 1947, about half of the land west of the Jordan (Trans-Jordan had been arbitrarily and illegally handed to the Hashemite King in 1922 by the British) was to be an Arab state. The Jews of British Mandatory Palestine agreed completely to this partition. Having no interest in coexisting alongside any state where Jews would have hegemony, especially on land once belonging to the Uma, the Arabs chose instead to forgo any of the preparations for statehood such as the Jews were undertaking, and instead initiated a war of extermination against the new Jewish state. Many Muslims fled the conflict at the behest of Arab leaders who wished to simply kill everyone between the river and the sea, with promises of booty for those who evacuated once the Arabs were victorious. The Arabs lost their war of aggression then (although managing to illegally occupy the West Bank and Gaza for 19 years), and every time since then that they have tried to accomplish the genocidal goal of a second Holocaust.

    So, whether one looks upon this in Machiavellian terms of “to the victor go the spoils”, or whether one looks at this from an objective historical sense, this land belongs to the Jewish people, as long as they have the will and the ability to retain it.

    As for its non-Jewish residents, it is noteworthy that non-Jews in Israel enjoy more civil rights, economic opportunity and protections under the law than any people, Muslim or otherwise, in any of the Arab states that surround it. There are Muslims in the parliament, on court benches, in nearly every branch of government. Arab communities are free to elect their own mayors and councilmen. Non-Jews have all of their religious rights and houses of worship protected, their freedoms of speech, assembly, worship and other liberties are enforced by law. Non-Jews can and do sue in Israeli courts to protect their rights, and are often successful. In fact, just recently, when a Syrian missile killed an Arab Israeli in the northern part of Israel, Israel responded most decisively, attacking several Syrian military targets in retaliation. This demonstrates that Israel considers the safety of its Arab residents every bit as important as that of its Jewish residents. All while non-Muslims throughout the Uma suffer unspeakable suffering and oppression at the hands of Islamic Jihadists. What you, David, might not realize, is that many Arab Israelis or Muslim Israelis now prefer those designations to the canard of the “Palestinian” designation, and large numbers have expressed their desire to remain in Israel, with all of the rights and protections that come with legal residence there. Many are even volunteering for service in the Israeli military and national service. What the Israelis are unwilling to cede, however, is the Jewish character of the State. With 22 Arab-Muslim countries, it is objectively repugnant that there would be any opposition to one tiny state where the Jewish nation would reign and Judaism would be the official faith of the state. After 2000 years of oppression and slaughter in their forced diaspora, at the hands of Christians and Muslims alike, the Jews of Israel understand that there is no other place in which they can freely determine their own destiny, and fulfill the promises they believe were made to them by the God of Abraham. These are not the ghetto Jews of Europe, or the submissive dhimmi Jews of the Uma. The Jews of Israel have recovered their historical tradition of being fierce warriors in the service of their homeland and their people. They will fight for their land and their families. Molon labe, indeed.

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