* Published on the Internet, August, 2011. This article, which is presented solely for non-commercial educational/research purposes, was written by Dr. Moosa in 1969. It has remained unpublished until now.
The present conflict between the Arabs and Israelis is neither religious, historical, nor racial. Both Arabs and Jews are "Semitic" peoples, and they share several cultural traits. Furthermore, the Jews in medieval times enjoyed the protection of the Arabs and Muslims, and many of them shared in the intellectual life of the Arab world then. When Christian Spain expelled the Jews in the 16th century, they found refuge in North Africa and in the rest of the Arab countries. And when Jews were forced to leave Russia because of pogroms in the 1880's, Muslim Turkey gave them asylum and protected them. The Arab-Israeli conflict is therefore not religious, historical, or racial; it is, as the facts indicate, political, or to be more precise, nationalistic.
Those Jews, Zionists, and gentile supporters of Zionism, particularly some American evangelists, who seek to legitimatize the establishment of the present state of Israel on purely religious grounds, such as the fulfillment of ancient prophecies or the spiritual continuity between the old Israel and the modern state had better find a more tenable justification. It is a Biblical imperative that the coming of the Messiah and the restoration of God's own people to the promised land should be accomplished through the providence of God and  not secular diplomacy, political intrigues or military might. The hope of the Jews for the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel by the Messiah was made manifest even in Jesus' time when His disciples asked Him, "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the Kingdom to Israel?" (1) It is true that the Jews looked upon the Messiah probably as an earthly king who would drive the Romans out of their country and restore the Kingdom once more to Israel. But this hope was predicated on the spiritual power of the Messiah as Lord who through divine power could alone save Israel from Roman yoke.
Another Biblical imperative is that the restoration of the Hebrews to the Holy Land depended on their full commitment and obedience to God and His righteousness (2). The pages of the Old Testament are filled with the warning of the Prophets for the children of Israel that if they disobeyed God and violated His laws He would inflict on them terrible punishment including exile from their land (3). And many times God delivered them to their oppressors because of their disobedience (4). However, God promised to restore the Hebrews to the land if they mended their ways, worshipped Him in spirit and truth and led a righteous life. The Hebrews had no choice but to correct their ways or subjugate themselves to God's punishment. It is evident that Israel's rejection of God and His righteousness was so serious that He in turn rejected them and committed them to eternal wandering among nations. Thus, cries out the Prophet Hosea, "My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto him: and they shall be wanderers among the nations" (5). They have lost their earthly home forever. In brief, God's promises through the Prophets for the restoration of Israel necessitated drastic and complete changes in their life and behavior; they should  become righteous and holy as He is in order to merit the privilege of becoming truly His people. No one would disagree that this state of perfection and righteousness cannot be applied to the present state of Israel or to the great majority of its people. Israel is a secular state and was established not through God's Providence but through the power and intrigues of Western diplomacy, especially British diplomacy. It should also be remembered that from the Christian point of view Israel is not the old Hebrew community but the new community of Christians, or the "Israel of God" as St. Paul related in his letter to the Galatians (6). In other words, Israel is the Christian church which is the body of Christ the Messiah, foretold by the Prophets of old. Furthermore, the Temple, the center of Jewish worship, was levelled in 70 A.D. and in the opinion of the chief rabbi of England, quoted in a secret document by Edwin Montagu, a Jewish statesman and member of the British Cabinet during World War I:
Ever since the conquest of Palestine by the Romans, we [Jews] have ceased to be a body politic; we are citizens of the country in which we dwell. We are simply Englishmen, or Frenchmen, or Germans, as the case may be, certainly holding particular theological tenets and practicing special religious ordinances; but we stand in the same relation to our countrymen as any other religious sect, having the same stake in the national welfare and the same claim on the privileges and duties of citizens. To Mr. Goldwin Smith's question, "What is the political bearing of Judaism?" I would reply that Judaism has no political bearing (7).And when Christianity triumphed, Palestine became part of the Christian world in the East, as well as part of the Byzantine Empire. There were very few Jews living in Palestine after 70 A.D., and the country—particularly the city of Jerusalem—assumed  a Christian outlook and Christian characteristics. And when the Muslim Arabs conquered Palestine in the summer of 634 and entered Jerusalem, they found not a Jewish but a Christian population. It was the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Sophronius, not a Jewish rabbi, who handed the keys of the holy city to Umar, the second Caliph of Islam. It was Sophronius, while showing the Caliph around the holy places, who exclaimed prophetically, "Truly this is the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the Prophet standing in the holy place" (8). After 634 A.D., Palestine became part of the Arab-Islamic world, and its people adopted the Arabic tongue and acquired Arab manners. The Arab Muslims, except for the mad Fatimid Caliph of Egypt, al-Hakim bi Amr Allah, who in 1009 A.D. destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and other Christian shrines, respected and protected the holy shrines there. For over 1300 years, until the state of Israel was established in 1948, Palestine was unquestionably an Arab country. Yet all did not go well with the Jews and Christians under Muslim rule. These two peoples were regarded as "the people of the Book," who might enjoy the protection of the Muslim state, but only by paying a heavy tax which was beyond the means of most. To avoid this tax, a great many of them embraced Islam. Those who chose to remain faithful to their religious convictions were in some cases—under al-Hakim, and earlier under the Abbasid Caliph al-Mutawakkil (d. 861)—subjected to all sorts of abuses and forced to wear certain types of clothing or carry heavy wooden crosses or logs around their necks (9). This treatment, of course, was exceptional  and does not mean that the Christians and Jews were always badly treated. Indeed, under the Ottoman millet system, the different religious denominations, including the Jews, had autonomy in their religious and educational affairs, maintaining their own churches and synagogues and their own schools.
Although Jewish life was disrupted and the Jews ceased to be a political body, many Jews still yearned for Palestine and Jerusalem. But their yearning arose from a purely religious attachment to the Holy Land. We may mention among such men Judah Halevi (d. 1145) of Toledo, Spain, and in the nineteenth century Sir Moses Haim Montefiore (d. 1885). These and other men looked to Palestine as a spiritual abode, not a state, and many like them went to settle and die in the Holy Land. By 1845, the number of these Jews who were in Palestine for religious reasons was about 12,000, and they maintained friendly relations with the Arab population. It is interesting to note, incidentally, that the British government in the 1830's thought of placing the Jews in Palestine under its protection. Realizing that France had claimed protection of the Catholic Uniates in the Ottoman Empire, and that Russia claimed protection over the Christian Orthodox and Armenian subjects of the Sultan, Britain, which had no group or denomination to protect, fixed its eyes on the Jews. Thus, in 1839, William Young was appointed as British vice-consul in Jerusalem. He was directed by Lord Palmerston to afford protection to the Jews and to report on the condition of the Jewish population of Palestine. Not long afterwards, the British sought to consolidate their ties with the Jews of  Palestine by establishing an Anglican Archbishopric of Jerusalem in 1841, and consecrating for this position Michael Alexander Solomon a young convert from Judaism whose chief task was to bring the fallen children of Israel back to the faith (10). Ultimately the plan failed because the Jews did not want to change their religion, and because the newly appointed bishop succeeded in arousing the opposition not only of the heads of other Christian churches in Palestine, but also of the British consul James Finn himself (11).
The pogroms of 1882 in Eastern Europe, particularly in Russia, forced many Jews to migrate to Western Europe and to America. Very few went to Palestine, and again those who did so went there for religious reasons. Haim Montefiore, followed by Baron Edmond de Rothschild, established Jewish colonies in Palestine and gave financial assistance to those persecuted Jews who desired to settle there. The motives of these two philanthropists were purely religious, and the small Jewish colonies operated without interference from the Arabs. The number of Jewish settlers fluctuated for several decades, and by 1918 the number of Jews in Palestine was estimated to be 56,000, about eight percent of the total population.
The "Love of Zion" movement cherished by Montefiore and others who conceived of the Holy Land as their spiritual objective and nothing more was, however, turned into a Jewish nationalistic movement by Jews living in Germany and Russia. Moses Hess (1812-75) may be regarded as the father of Jewish political nationalism. An admirer of Spinoza and Hegel, and  sometimes associated with Karl Marx, Hess became an anarchist, participated in the German revolution of 1848, and, when this revolution failed, fled to France. Hess could never forget the discrimination and prejudice against the Jews in.the country of Hegel. In his book Rome and Jerusalem (1862), he asserted that Jews will ever be strangers among nations ... that each Jew, whether he likes it or not, is bound in solidarity with his entire nation. He called for the rebirth of ancient Israel and argued that if emancipation of the Jews in exile was incompatible with Jewish nationality, then it was the duty of the Jews to sacrifice the former for the sake of the latter (12). But the extreme idea of establishing a state for the Jews came from the ghetto Jews of Eastern Europe—Russia, Poland, Rumania and Hungary—where, in the words of Moshe Menuhin, a contemporary Jewish writer, "oppression and discrimination produced a pathological ghetto mentality, a hopeless feeling of frustration" (13). These Jews, who adhered tenaciously to their "Jewishness," would not or could not assimilate themselves into the culture of the countries in which they lived. Therefore, they were regarded as aliens by the governments of those countries and were treated accordingly. Living in ghettoes, they formed a sort of state within a state, with no concern for the gentile communities around them. Nothing can better explain the conditions of their life and their relations with the gentile world than these words of the Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann:
When I was a child, I lived in the separateness of the Jewish life of our townlet.... Non-Jews were to me something peripheral.... The Gentile world was  poisonous.... I knew little of Gentiles, but they became to me, from very early on, the symbols of the menacing force against which I should have to butt with all my young strength in order to make my way in life. The environment I was born into and grew up in as a child, the upbringing which I received made Jewishness, the Jewish nation, nationalism as others term it—an organic part of my being. I was never anything but Jewish. I could not conceive that a Jew could be anything else (14).It was in this climate, says Moshe Menuhin, that Jewish political nationalism—neurotic, paranoid nationalism—was conceived by some of the spiritually maimed ghetto intelligentsia as the desperate solution to the "Jewish problem" and as the salvation of Jews all over the world (15). It was the East European Jewish intelligentsia, living under abnormal circumstances, who recognized that there was a "Jewish problem" and that it could not be solved except by Jewish nationalism. Foremost among these men was Peretz Smolenskin (1842-85), who claimed that the "salvation of the Jews lies in their distinctiveness, and renationalization will prove the only solution of the Jewish problem." He went on to say that Jews are disliked not because of their religion or their reputed wealth, but because they are weak and defenseless. What they need is strength and courage, which they will never regain except in a land of their own (16). Another zealous exponent of Jewish nationalism, Dr. Leo Pinsker, who had previously advocated assimilation, published a book titled Auto-Emancipation after the pogroms in 1882. Pinsker recognized that the Gentiles hatred of the Jews was "'Platonic hatred,' a mental disease which is incurable." He maintained that since the Jewish problem was international,  it could be resolved only by means of nationalism. Pinsker did not care whether the Jews had their national home in Palestine or elsewhere (17), but the majority of his supporters preferred Palestine. In 1883, thirteen years before Theodor Herzl called the first Zionist meeting at Basle, Switzerland, an international assembly was held at Katowitz, Germany, not far from the Russian border. Those who attended this meeting decided to settle Palestine with colonies of Jewish farmers. Those who preferred Palestine formed societies called the "Lovers of Zion," under the leadership of a rabbi named Kalischer. They sought the financial assistance of men like Baron de Rothschild, who was already sustaining settlements in Palestine. Yet, as we can see, the concern of these men was not to establish a state, but to settle poor, helpless Jewish farmers in Palestine and thus relieve their suffering under the Russian regime.
Although the idea of solving the "Jewish problem" by the establishment of a Jewish state had developed before Theodor Herzl's time, it remained for Herzl to put this idea into practice. Born in Budapest and educated at the University of Vienna, young Herzl acted and thought like any other Austrian student, caring little or nothing for being a Jew (18). Indeed, he was so indifferent to Jewish life and so engaged in secular matters that he seemed to have forgotten his Jewish identity (19). He was as strange to his people as they were to him. But when he went to Paris to cover the notorious trial of Captain Dreyfus, he discovered that there was persecution of the Jews, that there was a "Jewish problem" stemming from the fact that  his people had no home of their own. The ultimate solution to this problem, Herzl wrote in a pamphlet entitled Der Judenstaat was the establishment of a Jewish state. His first act was to call a congress in 1897 at Basle, where Zionism as a Jewish political nationalistic movement was officially started. The first Zionist Congress was originally to meet in Munich, but the Jewish leaders there were fearful of the consequences such a meeting might have for the Jewish community in the city (20). The ultimate objective of the members of the first Zionist Congress was irrevocably political, not religious—to establish for the Jewish people a publicly and legally assured national home in Palestine. Herzl and his colleagues were not even concerned about Judaism and the spiritual welfare of the Jews. According to the former Columbia scholar, Professor Richard Gottheil, "Many leaders of the new Zionism were indifferent to religious sentiment and dissociated from Jewish practices. Herzl belonged to this category, as did also some of his principal helpers" (21). Thus, as can be seen, a purely political movement calling itself Zionist was trying to solve the problem of the European persecution of the Jews by acquiring Palestine as a national home for them. It was a political movement organized in Europe in reaction to the Christians' persecution of the Jews, two thousand miles from the borders of Palestine, for which the innocent Arabs of Palestine would pay dearly in years to come.
Of course, not all Jews were sympathetic to Herzl's Judenstaat. Many of them, particularly the Lovers of Zion, members of the Alliance Society in Paris, and other  philanthropists, refused to attend the Zionist Congress. They maintained that according to the Torah, the Messianic hope of the coming of the redeemer and the restoration of the Jews to the "Promised Land" was to be accomplished by divine scheme, not political nationalism or secular power. The most vehement attack came from the Reformed Jews, who emphasized the dissociation of Judaism from nationality and insisted upon the universality of Judaism and the coming of the Messiah. To this group, Jewish nationality had no meaning, and Jews were expected to live by the Talmudic teaching that "The laws of the land in which the Jews live are the laws that must be obeyed" (22). Nevertheless, the Zionists continued to speak in the name of the majority of European Jews—in Gottheil's words, "arrogating to themselves an office they did not possess" (23). What is even more disturbing is that Palestine, which should have been central to the Zionist scheme, was for Herzl just one of the different possible sites for Jewish settlement. It certainly did not represent in his view a Messianic hope or a fulfillment of prophecies, for he was not concerned with hopes and prophecies. Palestine was his first choice, to be sure, but if this land could not be obtained, the Zionists should accept another location for their national home. Among the possibilities were Canada, Argentina, Al-Arish in Egypt, Cyprus, and even East Africa. Indeed, when the Ottoman Sultan Abd al-Hamid II refused Herzl's plan to settle European Jews in Palestine, David Trietsch attempted in 1899 to colonize Cyprus. In 1902, Herzl considered Al-Arish as a place for Jewish settlement, and the British government apparently  approved (24). But when Joseph Chamberlain, the most powerful member of the British Cabinet, visited East Africa after the Boer War, he felt the East African Protectorate, stretching from Mombasa to Lake Tanganyika, was better suited for Jewish settlement. Herzl was prepared to accept such an offer; he knew East Africa was not Zion, but getting something was better than getting nothing (25). The majority of the Zionists, however, would settle for nothing but Palestine. Herzl's main concern was to obtain international recognition for his movement and a charter from influential powers approving the settlement of Jews in Palestine. He sought aid from the Ottoman Sultan, the German Kaiser, the King of Italy, and even the Pope, but failed. His plan to solve the "Jewish problem" by eliciting the assistance of the Pope is interesting. While he was in Paris in 1895, he wrote in his diary:
About two years ago I wanted to solve the Jewish Question, at least in Austria, with the help of the Catholic Church. I wished to gain access to the Pope and say to him: Help us against the anti-Semites and I will start a great movement for the free and honorable conversion of the Jews to Christianity...The conversion was to take place in broad daylight, Sundays at noon, in St. Stephen's Cathedral, with festive procession and amidst the pealing of bells. Not in shame, as individuals have converted up to now, but with proud gestures (26).But why Palestine? In the words of the Jewish Rabbi Phillip Sigal:
Naturally, to secure support and stir Jews into emotional excitement for nationhood, the founders and expositors of the cause had to make Palestine the object of their longing. They humanized and secularized the ancient hope for a restoration of the Holy Land, and in this way Messianism was transmuted into Zionism by a process of political and ideological metamorphosis (27). It is interesting to note that the Zionists' aspirations and their vigorous efforts to settle Jews in Palestine did not pass unnoticed by the Arabs and Turks. In Der Judenstaat, Herzl wrote that the Zionists were prepared to "regulate all the finances of Turkey" if the Sultan agreed to give them Palestine (28). When he was approached by Herzl, however, the Sultan refused, offering this reason: "Palestine, being a part of the Turkish Empire, belongs to the Turkish people, not to me. I cannot give away part of it. Let the Jews save their billions. When my empire is partitioned, they may get Palestine for nothing. But only our corpse will be divided. I will not agree to vivisection" (29). After the political ambition of Zionism became publicly known in 1897, many Arabs saw in it a potential danger to part of their land (30). Alarmed at the avowed ambition of Zionism to capture Palestine, a prominent Palestinian Arab, Yusuf Zayn al-Khalidi, wrote to the chief rabbi of France and predicted a popular Arab revolt against the Jews, unless "geographical Zionism" was abandoned, and irrespective of what the Ottoman officials could do to forestall such an eventuality (31). A pioneer Arab nationalist and official of the Ottoman government, Najib Azoury, was able to note at the end of the 19th century the presence of two forces—Jewish, and Arab nationalism—which were destined to fight each other over Palestine until one achieved victory (32).
Theodor Herzl died prematurely in 1904, but the Zionist movement continued. When the First World War broke out, the Zionists, whose operations centered in Germany, attempted to  obtain from Turkey a kind of "Balfour Declaration" assuring them of a national home. But when the events of the war foretold the Germans' defeat, the Zionists, predominantly Russian Jews, lost no time moving their center of operations to England, which was not so anti-Jewish as Eastern Europe, and which was on its way to winning the war. Furthermore, many British statesmen like Chamberlain, Lloyd George, Lord Cromer, Viscount Milner, Wickham Steed, and others who played an important role in the issuance of the Balfour Declaration were fully aware of the Zionists' desires and indeed had themselves "learned Zionism in Herzl's school" (33). The head of the Zionist movement in Britain was Dr. Chaim Weizmann, professor of chemistry at Manchester University. He lost no time in marshalling the sympathy and support of influential British Cabinet members, statesmen, and others to obtain from the government a charter permitting the Zionists to colonize Palestine. The notion that the Balfour Declaration was given to the Zionists in return for Weizmann's having developed explosives badly needed by the British government is but a myth, which Weizmann himself refuted in his book Trial and Error. Yet some textbooks taught in the high schools of this country perpetuate this myth even today. The reasons which motivated the British government to grant the Balfour Declaration to the Zionists are discernible. George Antonius has correctly noted that Britain was moved by two considerations. The first was political: to win over the powerful Zionist elements in Germany and Austria, who at the start of the war had been negotiating with the Central Powers for the issuance  of a Turkish "Balfour Declaration," and thus to give them a personal interest in an Allied victory. The second consideration was imperialistic, first envisioned by Lord Kitchener: by securing part or all of Palestine, to fortify the British position in Egypt and the Suez Canal, the lifeline of communications with India. If the Zionists were granted Palestine, they would become staunch defenders of this bulwark, since they would be bound to Britain by perpetual gratitude. Furthermore, Britain, recognizing the French designs on Syria, did not want Palestine, which at the time was part of Syria, to fall into the hands of the French and thus endanger the British position in the Middle East (34). This has been clearly explained by the British Prime Minister, Mr. Asquith, in an entry dated March 13, 1915:
I have referred to Herbert Samuel's dithyrambic memorandum, urging that in the carving up of the Turks' Asiatic domain we should take Palestine, into which the scattered Jews would in time swarm back from all quarters of the globe, and in due course obtain Home Rule. Curiously enough, the only, other partisan of this proposal is Lloyd George, who, I need not say, does not care a damn for the Jews or their past or their future, but thinks it will be an outrage to let the holy places pass into the possession or under the protection of "agnostic, atheistic France" (35).Whatever the motives may have been behind British policy during World War I, the fate of Palestine was sealed by Britain without due consideration for the destiny of the Arab inhabitants of that land. The available historical evidence is sufficient to demonstrate beyond the slightest doubt that the British, by following a more honorable policy in the Middle East, could have prevented the present problem of Palestine. They did not, and their pledges and counterpledges, both open and secret, not only encouraged but aggravated the development of that problem.