ANTI-SEMITISM has been a running theme within the media recently and it is often conflated with anti-Zionism or anti-Israelism, but all three are different concepts. This looks at Zionism and its origins, along with the argument made by Israel and their supporters that Jerusalem ‘rightfully’ belongs to the Jews.

Many make the argument that the holy scriptures of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, state that God bestowed Jerusalem onto the Jewish people, but as always, history tells a different story.

Zionism

The history of Zionism is long, complex and there are multiple forms of Zionism that range from softer more spiritual endeavours to the hard-line forms that are followed by the majority of those in power in Israel.

Many of those point to King David and his conquering Zion, which is a specific hill located in Jerusalem, just south of Mount Moriah which was subsequently renamed the City Of David. The precursor to modern Zionism date back 1160, David Alroy led a Jewish uprising in Kurdistan that aimed to reconquer the promised land. Then again in 1648 Sabbatai Zevi from modern Turkey claimed he would lead the Jews back to Palestine and in 1868 Judah ben Shalom led a large movement of Yemenite Jews to Palestine.

But Modern Zionism was considered to be founded by Theodor Herzl, he wrote Der Judenstaat (The State of the Jews) and with this attracted significant international attention and he stated within in that if the Jews were to be able to live without persecution, then it would have to be in their own state.

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Whilst he gathered many supporters, he was vilified amongst Jewry and condemned for going against God. But his legacy lived on and from it was eventually born the state of Israel, however, what isn’t mentioned is the fact that by 1895 he was already planning the violent expulsion of the Palestinians, a scheme that he only mentioned in his diary. But it is something that has been a common theme since the Balfour Declaration and the creation of Israel through the British mandate.

Israel

For around 1000 years the Jewish population were the majority and controlled the region of Jerusalem, then prior to the recent creation of Israel, the Jews hadn’t been a majority population or in control within the region for 2000 years after they were forcibly expelled by the Roman Empire. The story of King David and his conquering of Zion, as previously mentioned, along with the scriptures reading that Jerusalem was given to the Jews by God is a key argument used by Zionists. But prior to King David invading Zion, the Jewish population were not the majority and after Zion was conquered, the Israelites – modern day Israelis – and Philistines – modern day Palestinians – lived amongst each other within the City of David as David himself had previously defected to aid the Philistines whilst Mad King Saul was ruler of Judea.

But before King David took Zion, the population consisted of what was known as the Jebusites, there isn’t much historical documentation apart from the testaments in the Hebrew Bible that match up with the little historical data there is of them. The Jebusites are likely descendants from the Hittites, whom are mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, and they had a vast Empire which was centred on Anatolia, which is modern Turkey, and stretched as far down as Aleppo and North Mesopotamia and they came into conflict with the Egyptian Empire and Assyrian Empire. After expanding quickly and building a vast and powerful empire, they were soon dismantled and eventually the splinter groups were subsumed by the Assyrian Empire.

But when the Hittite Empire collapsed, many of the population fled south towards Egypt and it is assumed that many made their life within the Egyptian Empire, which at the time stretched as far north as Syria and encompassed modern Jerusalem. In the Hebrew Bible they are known as the Biblical Hittites and mentioned to be the descendants of Canaan (The son of Ham and the grandson of Noah), making them one of the Canaanites and one of the other groups of people descendant from him are the Jebusites, which means it is likely that they have a closer ancestral connection. It is not known what happened to the Jebusites after David had invaded as there is little historical data but it does show that the historical ‘evidence’ that Israel and their supporters claim, is only half the story. But this is also why a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict cannot be made by looking at history alone.