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May 2nd , 2024                Len’s Letter #70  A very brief history of the land of Israel

Benny Ganz – Israeli in the war cabinet, Marwan Barghouti – Palestinian in an Israeli jail.

Leaders many in the western world would prefer to see in charge.

 A Very Brief and Simplified History

Just short of 2,000 years ago, the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, killed what may have been more than one million Jews, and sent the thousands who escaped the killing to to live anywhere they could, just not in Jerusalem.  There were enough Jews in the region so that sixty years later there was another revolt.  That was put down, as well.  More Jews were killed. More Jews were expelled from the region beyond Jerusalem.  The Romans changed the name of the area from Judea to Palestine.

Jews remained in and around Jerusalem for centuries. No ethnic cleansing is ever complete.  Jewish return to Jerusalem and environs increased in the 19th century, more in the 20th century, and continues into the 21stcentury.  The region around Jerusalem became a Jewish nation.  Through legal purchases, through the consequences of war, and through intimidation much of the land of the region became owned by Jews.

From one perspective, Jews had returned to the land to which they were indigenous.

Those in Jerusalem and in the region surrounding that city who were displaced in the last 200 years or so saw themselves as being displaced by strangers. Jerusalem and the land around it was theirs.  They were indigenous to the area. These people had not been a nation, but were part of the larger Arab people.  The Arabs of Palestine, affected by the creation of Israel as a Jewish nation, developed their own sense of nationhood.

No resolution of the disputes between people now living in and around Jerusalem and those who intend to live in that area can be resolved without mutual recognition of the legitimacy of both Jews and Palestinians as indigenous to that area.

A Brief Imaginary History

I imagined another forced displacement – just short of 200 years ago.  In the 1830s the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Cherokee tribes were driven out of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky.  The most vividly known is the Cherokee being driven west in 1838 – forced to Oklahoma along what they called the Trail of Tears.

Imagine them prospering.  Imagine the Cherokee, rather than the Osage, gaining oil rights.  And somehow resisting attacks on those rights and growing wealthy through oil.  With wealth, imagine them growing even more wealthy by gaining control of a substantial portion of the legal gambling in the United States.

Having told and retold the story of the Trail of Tears, having promised themselves they would return home, having become wealthy, they began to do just that.  They bought up crucial real estate in Chattanooga.  They pressured the South Carolina legislature into making Clemson a Native American university with the Cherokee in charge.  They populated some of their old tribal areas – purchasing land and homes, intimidating some of those who were reluctant to sell.  They proposed the creation of a new state that included Chattanooga, Clemson, portions of Alabama east of Huntsville, and portions of Georgia north of Athens and Marietta.  And imagine them as having sufficient resources and influence so that they had a chance to succeed.

A 200 year absence is much less time than a 2000 year absence.  It is clear who the indigenous are.  The locals of northern Alabama, northern Georgia and northwestern South Carolina, eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina would see themselves as the locals.

Below is one picture of Cherokee land – about double what I have imagined.  Consider how non-Native Americans would react to wealthy indigenous returning home.  And consider the extent to which the Cherokee could believe they have a right to return home.


 Remember, we have a presidential race to win

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As we look toward November, 2024, Help sustain the Joe Biden and Kamala Harris campaign.  National polls in April found Biden and Trump roughly even, though Biden gains later in the month.  Every donation, large or small, makes a difference.  Larger donations mean more money for the campaign.  But large numbers of small donations are a measure of enthusiasm for the candidate.  Make a small donation if you cannot afford a large one.   DONATE TO JOE BIDEN AND KAMALA HARRIS.  See Len’s Political Note #605

Many are critical of Joe Biden’s handling of Israel’s approach to Gaza.  Not me.  ‘

Joe Biden’s first principal in dealing with the issue has been to be clear:  Israel has the right to defend itself – against what was a particularly vicious attack.  Israel has American support. Israel has the right to exist.  Nevertheless, he has been critical of how Israel has exercised its right to defense.

Some argue Joe Biden has been too timid, unwilling to punish Israel for its behavior and for the number of Palestinians killed as Israel attempts to oust Hamas.  Not me.

If Israel were not confident of American support for its existence, it would have been more draconian, more callous about Palestinian lives, more desperate in its fight to rid Gaza of Hamas. Joe Biden’s patience may pay off.  Israel has been cautious about attacking Raffa. Israel and Hamas are negotiating.  There is no resolution yet.  The recent surfacing of videos of hostages is probably an effect of that negotiations.

Joe Biden is working toward ends we would like to see – Israeli acceptance of Palestinians and some of their goals; Palestinian acceptance of the existence of Israel.  He is working cautiously, meticulously, minimizing danger, increasing the likelihood of success.

Simple solutions rarely solve complex problems.