“Decolonize Palestine” and “Colonizers Back to Europe” are the demands of pro-Palestinian activists at protests that erupted in North America and Europe after October 7. Based on the lie that Israel is a European colonial-settler enterprise, these slogans ignore the fact that more than 50 percent of Jews living in Israel today are from the Middle East, many violently expelled from the Arab/Muslim world after the establishment of Israel. Moreover, these slogans deny the historic connection between the Land of Israel and the Jewish people, and fail to acknowledge the continuous presence of Jews in the Holy Land through the centuries.
Indiscriminate rocket attacks from Lebanon on northern Israel, by the terrorist group Hezbollah, have accompanied the current war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. On reading that Kibbutz Bar’am, located close to the border, was one of many Israeli sites evacuated, I remembered my first visit to Israel 45 years ago. It was a 10-month sabbatical visit to Haifa with my wife and children.
We bought a small car that we used extensively for day trips to archeological sites, mainly in Galilee, and the very first site we visited, Bar’am, stunned me. Here was the ruin of a large synagogue, an architectural gem, built in the 3rd century CE, and used as a synagogue for centuries, perhaps as late as the 13th century!
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Palestine is the name given Judea by the Romans in 136 CE, as punishment after the failed Bar Kokhba revolt. The Arab conquest of Palestine took place in 637 CE, when Umar Al Khattab captured Jerusalem from the Byzantine Empire. Now, in a deliberate inversion of the truth, the indigenous homeland of the Jews is “occupied” when Jews live there.
Jacob Sivak, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, is a retired professor, who taught at the University of Waterloo.
View this Algemeiner Report from January 23rd