Jews in the Land
The Jewish people base their claim to the land of Israel on at least four premises:
1) God promised the land to the patriarch Abraham;
2) the Jewish people settled and developed the land;
3) the international community granted political sovereignty in Palestine to the Jewish people;
4) the territory was captured in defensive wars.
The Twelve Tribes of Israel formed the first constitutional monarchy in Palestine about 1000 B.C.
The second king, David, first made Jerusalem the nation's capital. Although eventually Palestine was split into two separate kingdoms, Jewish independence there lasted for 212 years. This is almost as long as Americans have enjoyed independence in what has become known as the United States.
Even after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem and the beginning of the exile, Jewish life in Palestine continued and often flourished. Large communities were reestablished in Jerusalem and Tiberias by the ninth century. In the 11th century, Jewish communities grew in Rafah, Gaza, Ashkelon, Jaffa and Caesarea.
Many Jews were massacred by the Crusaders during the 12th century, but the community rebounded in the next two centuries as large numbers of rabbis and Jewish pilgrims immigrated to Jerusalem and the Galilee. Prominent rabbis established communities in Safed, Jerusalem and elsewhere during the next 300 years.
By the early 19th century-years before the birth of the modern Zionist movement-more than 10,000 Jews lived throughout what is today Israel.
When Jews began to immigrate to Palestine in large numbers in 1882, fewer than 250,000 Arabs lived there, and the majority of them had arrived in recent decades. Palestine was never an exclusively Arab country, although Arabic gradually became the language of most the population after the Muslim invasions of the seventh century.
No independent Arab or Palestinian state ever existed in Palestine. When the distinguished Arab-American historian, Princeton University Prof. Philip Hitti, testified against partition of Palestine before the Anglo-American Committee in 1946, he said: “There is no such thing as 'Palestine' in history, absolutely not.” In fact, Palestine is never explicitly mentioned in the Koran, rather it is called “the holy land” (al-Arad al-Muqaddash).
Prior to the partition plan, Palestinian Arabs did not view themselves as having a separate identity.