The State of Israel: A Brief History of Jewish Roots in the Middle East and the Arab-Refugee Crisis

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the former president of Iran has claimed, “Israel has no roots there [Middle East] in history.” BBC News in their article, “Obstacles to Arab-Israeli peace: Palestinian refugees,” essentially casts blame on Israel for causing the Arab-refugee crisis. Gideon Levy, a columnist at Hareetz, in his article, “Ethnic Cleaning of Palestinians, Or, Democratic Israel at Work,” charges the State of Israel as being an ethnic cleanser because after her official establishment, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled from their homes and lands due to fear of the Israeli Defense Force and countless others were “expelled by force.”

Does the State of Israel have any historic roots in the Middle East? Did Israel cause the Arab-refugee crisis? Let’s briefly recount the history of Israel and see if these charges against Israel are warranted.

The late Barry Rubin, who served as director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, Israel wrote,

The existence of the modern state of Israel is the culmination of a long process going back almost 4,000 years to the formation of a distinct Jewish people. Jews established a kingdom east of the Mediterranean Sea about 3,000 years ago, regained independence after the Maccabean revolt against Greek-Syrian control 2,100 years ago, and survived the final destruction of ancient Israel’s autonomy by the Romans 1,900 years ago.

The State of Israel was established in May 14, 1948. This doesn’t mean that there were no Jews living in this land prior to her official establishment. Alan Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus at Harvard Law School writes, “There has always been a Jewish presence in Israel, particularly in the holy cities of Jerusalem, Hebron, and Safad.” After the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple in 70 C.E by the Romans, Jews were forced into exile, “hundreds of thousands perished,” and many others were sold into slavery. Nevertheless, Jewish presence continued and persisted after the Roman conquest, culminating in the production of the Mishnah and the Jewish Talmud. Rubin says, “As late as 1100 [C.E.], fifty Jewish communities could be found in the Land of Israel, with an especially large one in Jerusalem.”

In the fourteenth century Jews were blamed for the Black Death in Europe, and as a result thousands of Jews were “butchered and burnt.” Countless of other Jews were subsequently expelled from their homes. Under Alexander III, Emperor of Russia, who assumed his position in May 14, 1881, the living conditions for Jewish people were terrible. Many harsh laws were imposed unto the Jewish people and many had their homes destroyed. As a result of Alexander III’s restrictions and policies, Jews abandoned Russia and went to the United States and Palestine. After World War I, by October 1918, Britain began occupying Palestine. Judea, which is now a land that is part of the West Bank, was “renamed Palaestina (in the Latin) by the Romans” in order to de-Judaize it, says Benny Morris, professor of history in the Middle East Studies Department of Ben-Gurion University. Historian Shlomo Ben-Ami writes in his book, “Scars of War, Wounds of Peace: The Israeli-Arab Tragedy,”

A clearly defined national consciousness did not exist among the Palestinian Arabs at the time of the arrival of the first Zionist settlers in Palestine. The local Arab population had of course an urban component, but it mostly consisted of fellahin, peasants who toiled on the land of absentee landlords. Tribal and local loyalties more than a defined national identity with a clear notion of its territorial horizons characterised the Palestinian population that the first Zionist pioneers encountered. Palestine was not even considered a distinct province of the Ottoman Empire. It was part of the provinces of Syria; and indeed the Palestinians regarded themselves as part of Southern Syria.

According to Dershowitz, Palestine was no “political entity in any meaningful sense.” Palestine was divided into many districts called sanjaks, and these districts were part of vilayets, or administrative units. In the area that became Israel in 1948 there had never been a Palestinian state nor was there a Palestinian language, much the less a Palestinian-identity. When Israel became an official state it didn’t become so out of a preexisting Palestinian state. Dershowitz says, “It is thus unclear what it would mean to say that the Palestinians were the people who originally populated the ‘nation’ of Palestine.”

The First Aliyah, or the first initial immigration of European Jewish refugees to Palestine occurred in 1882. Ben-Ami writes, “…rather than thinking of ways to dispossess by force the local population and exploit the new lands, they [Jews] brought in their own capital in order to buy and settle the land.” Dershowitz also writes, “The Jews of the first Ayilah did not displace local residents by conquest or fear as the Americans and Australians did. They lawfully and openly bought land…from absentee landlords.” John Quigley, President’s Club Professor Emeritus of Law at Ohio State University in his book, “The Case for Palestine: An International Law Perspective,” doesn’t dispute this truth. Quigley writes, “…Zionist immigrants set up agricultural settlements on purchased lands.” Anyone who claims that Jews unlawfully and inhumanely displaced the Arabs living in what became the State of Israel is making an unwarranted claim.

It is true that after the official establishment of the State of Israel there resulted the first Arab refugee crisis, but this isn’t because Israel intended this to happen, as many critics of Israel make it seem. After Britain’s failed attempts of figuring out a plausible solution that would bring harmony between the Arab and Jewish communities in Palestine, they asked the “United Nation secretary-general to convene a special session of the General Assembly,” says Morris. This special assembly then became known as the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, whose purpose was to provide a solution to the Palestine problem. A few months later, after having spent time in Arab and Jewish villages, and schools, on November 29th, 1947 the United Nations passed a resolution, which proposed the partition of Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state. This plan was accepted by Jews but rejected by every Arab state including Palestinians. Dershowitz writes, “As soon as Israel declared its independence, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon attacked it, with help from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Libya.” Arab armies intentionally targeted civilians even after many had “surrendered.” As the Arab armies attacked Israel with the intention of complete extermination, Israel allowed “Arab civilians to flee to Arab-controlled areas,” while Arabs “proceeded to mow down” surrendered Jews. Because Israel did not intentionally target civilians, whereas the Arab armies did, the “Arab-refugee problem” arose.

The allegation that Israel has no roots in the Middle East is groundless because for three millennia plus, there has always been a Jewish presence in what is now the State of Israel.

The allegation that Israel is an ethnic cleanser because she is responsible for creating the Arab-refugee crisis is also unwarranted and not grounded in history – it is not grounded in reality but is instead a fabrication. Israel allowed Arab civilians to flee as Arab states moved in to attack Israel right after declaring independence. Arabs themselves created the Arab-refugee problem and aren’t willing to admit it. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is complex therefore I challenge the critics of Israel to actually invest some time exploring this issue by reading the best academic sources.



Planned Parenthood and the Sanctity of Life: How is Our Culture Responding?

The Center for Medical Progress (CMP), a “group of citizen journalists dedicated to monitoring and reporting on medical ethics and advances,” has recently released a series of videos exposing Planned Parenthood’s dirty little secret — by dirty, I mean depraved, inhumane, and immoral because they are literally “dismembering murdered children for profit” as an author from The Blaze put it.

Video #1 – Planned Parenthood Uses Partial-Birth Abortions to Sell Baby Parts

The first video released by the CMP is titled, “Planned Parenthood Uses Partial-Birth Abortions to Sell Baby Parts” In this first video, as The Federalist reports,

Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s senior director for medical services, is caught on video bragging about how she aborts babies in such a way that their body parts and organs can later be sold for profit.

“We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part,” Nucatola tells actors posing as organ traffickers. “I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”

Video #2 – Second Planned Parenthood Senior Executive Haggles Over Baby Parts Prices, Changes Abortion Methods

The second video released by the CMP is titled, “Second Planned Parenthood Senior Executive Haggles Over Baby Parts Prices, Changes Abortion Methods” In this second video, CMP says,

A second undercover video shows Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Medical Directors’ Council President, Dr. Mary Gatter, haggling over payments for intact fetal specimens and offering to use a “less crunchy technique” to get more intact body parts.

Video #3 – Human Capital – Episode 1: Planned Parenthood’s Black Market in Baby Parts

The third video released by CMP is titled, “Human Capital – Episode 1: Planned Parenthood’s Black Market in Baby Parts.” This third video as CMP writes,

Episode 1 also shows undercover video featuring the Vice President and Medical Director of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (PPRM) in Denver, CO, Dr. Savita Ginde. PPRM is one of the largest and wealthiest Planned Parenthood affiliates and operates clinics in Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Nevada. Standing in the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic pathology laboratory, where fetuses are brought after abortions, Ginde concludes that payment per organ removed from a fetus will be the most beneficial to Planned Parenthood: “I think a per-item thing works a little better, just because we can see how much we can get out of it.”

Video #4 – Planned Parenthood VP Says Fetuses May Come Out Intact, Agrees Payments Specific to the Specimen

The fourth video, which is CMP’s most recently released video is titled, “Planned Parenthood VP Says Fetuses May Come Out Intact, Agrees Payments Specific to the Specimen,” and as CMP writes,

In the video, actors posing as representatives from a human biologics company meet with Ginde at the abortion-clinic headquarters of PPRM in Denver to discuss a potential partnership to harvest fetal organs. When the actors request intact fetal specimens, Ginde reveals that in PPRM’s abortion practice, “Sometimes, if we get, if someone delivers before we get to see them for a procedure, then we are intact.

This last video is also, I think, the most graphic video because not only can you see an assistant crush an aborted baby’s skull, but you can also see the assistant go through the remaining body parts, such as legs, arms, brain, and eyes. Towards the end of the video, the assistant who is going through the aborted baby’s remains, exclaims, “Another boy!”

On Human Dignity

What has happened to our culture? Why are we becoming deaf to facts and choose to think with our feelings and emotions, rather than engage ideas and views with our minds? Why can’t we value human life in its earliest stages of development? What, indeed has happened to humanity? Human beings, at any developmental stage of life, possess intrinsic worth and value by virtue of who they are as human beings, dignity is not ascribed to humans based on any performative activity. Christopher Kaczor writes in his book, A Defense of Dignity: Creating Life, Destroying Life, and Protecting the Rights of Conscience, “Because all human beings are endowed with the same nature as members of the same kind–Homo Sapiens–they all share equally basic rights and dignity.”

The Psychology Behind Defending Planned Parenthood

A Planned Parenthood official has further added, “Anti-abortion extremists are willing to do anything to stop women from accessing the reproductive health care they are seeking.” The typical argument in defense of Planned Parenthood is thus, the supposed fact that they provide health care to women, especially those from low-income households, which explains why most Planned Parenthood clinics are in minority communities. I used to volunteer at a pregnancy clinic where women would receive free healthcare services. Moreover, presidential nominee, Dr. Ben Carson, responded to this argument too: “I thought that they were supposed to be able to get all those things [healthcare services] based on Obamacare. Why do we need Planned Parenthood?”

A YouTube video called, “Planned Parenthood is Not Selling Baby Parts, You F***** Idiots,” clearly ignores all the content in the videos that have been released by CMP. This video does not at all engage with anything that has been exposed by CMP. Moreover, this video seems to assume that women cannot get or receive free healthcare services anywhere else apart from Planned Parenthood clinics, which is obviously not true. How can someone claim that Planned Parenthood is not selling baby parts when the Vice President and Medical Director of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (PPRM) in Denver, CO, Dr. Savita Ginde, not only negotiates fetal parts, but also suggests ways to avoid prosecution? (See CMP’s fourth released video).

President Obama’s top healthcare official, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell defended federal funding for Planned Parenthood in light of the released videos by CMP.  Burwell argued,

What I think is important is that our HHS funding is focused on issues of preventative care for women, things like mammograms and cancer prevention screenings.

Also, the White House spokesman Josh Earnest called the videos released by CMP “fraudulent,” even though he has not watched the videos. The White House relies on the claim that the videos released by CMP are highly edited therefore fraudulent. However, CMP has indeed released the full versions of the videos.

How is it that some people can clearly see the evidence and still hold that Planned Parenthood is not selling baby parts? Cognitive dissonance.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines cognitive dissonance as:

An uncomfortable feeling that comes from believing or thinking two different things that cannot both be right. This feeling might be caused, for example, when someone wants to or has to do something that they believe to be wrong.

It seems that some die hard pro-choicers are in a state of conflict within themselves, so the easiest thing to do is ignore the evidence at hand. Defending a non-profit organization whose doctors and officials admit to be in the business of “dismembering murdered children for profit” is morally unjustifiable; it is barbaric; it is repugnant; it is pure savagery; it is evil.

Being Pro-Life

Being pro-life does not mean that we are “waging war” on women. It also does not mean that we want to deprive women of their rights. Being pro-life is about valuing and respecting life from the moment of conception and onward. Being pro-life means speaking up for those who can’t speak for themselves, yet. Being pro-life is recognizing that human life matters and our public policies should protect that truth.

The Power of Words: Why Lecrae’s Music Matters in Today’s Culture

Who is Lecrae? Lecrae is a Grammy-award winning rapper and a Christian, whose latest album, Anomaly, reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200, selling 88,000 copies its first week. Anomaly, which is Lecrae’s seventh studio album, was released through Reach Records, a music label that he co-founded.

Lecrae seeks to redefine mainstream popular culture through positive and responsible music. Lecrae doesn’t only talk about God, but “gives messages of hope and inspiration”. Lecrae raps about fatherlessness, incarceration, poverty, domestic violence, modern injustices, sex trafficking, the neglect of veterans in America, and the value of life, truth and marriage, amongst other issues that the music culture hardly ever addresses. The Rolling Stones says in their review of Anomaly, “He may not swear, but Anomaly is as hard-hitting as any rap record out right now.”

 The Harms of Politically Correctness

In his song Outsiders from Anomaly, Lecrae talks about being fearless and unashamed of living out what we are supposed to be, which is the life where we can speak about social issues, our beliefs, and values without having to sacrifice our conscience or keep quiet to please others or our culture. For Lecrae, it is better to be an outsider than to fit in a culture where you don’t have a voice of your own.

The politically correct view of society is one analogous to a puppet world – people do not have the freedom to be who they want to be, speak what they want to speak, and think how they want to think. As rational and moral human beings, we are naturally inclined to seek truth, but in a politically correct society, such a basic human good is taken hostage by a narrative that masquerades itself as “tolerance”. In reality, political correctness actually results in anti-intellectualism because not only does such a paradigm supply a warrant to target dissenting voices of accepted cultural issues, such as same-sex marriage, but also shuts down all sorts of diverse and critical ideas and views.

The Value of Positive and Responsible Music

Lecrae’s music matters because he brings a different framework to the rap and hip-hop culture. Life is not always full of color and happiness, contrary to what many contemporary artists rap about. A lot of contemporary rap/hip-hop music objectifies women, extols the use of drugs, and promotes a hedonistic lifestyle. A lot of young people need words of inspiration, motivation, grace, encouragement, and hope. How can a teenager be edified by listening to “Oh my God, oh my God If I die, I’m a legend, which is the hook of Drake’s first song, Legend, from his recent mixtape, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late who also took No. 1 on the Billboard 200 early this year?

Unlike his contemporaries, Lecrae’s music values women, extols the virtue of faithfulness, integrity, love, and patience, — this is all too evident in his song Special, a song that shares how marriage looks like. New H20 says, “Drake says he wants his girl to look 30 when she’s 81. Lecrae says he can’t wait to date his wife when she’s 60. See the difference there?”

Many young people grow up in single parent households. According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, “24 million children in America — one out of every three — live in biological father-absent homes.” What teenagers from fatherless homes need is music that will build and sharpen their character, thinking and lives, not junk, and unrealistic music that corrupts their character. There’s a lot of music that masquerades the existential struggles of humanity and paints a life that does not exist. We don’t need more of it, we need more music like Lecrae’s music — we need more positive and responsible music, after all, words have the power to make the fibers of humanity shake.

Thomas Jefferson and the Value of Religious Liberty: A Brief Look at American History


“Keep religion to yourself,” or “religion is a personal or private matter, not a public one,” argue some people — they however, are deeply misinformed or not informed at all about what religious liberty is and what it entails for all people, everywhere and anywhere. What is religious liberty? Why is religious liberty important and valuable? Does the separation between Church and State mean that people cannot share their religious beliefs in public?

Brief History of How Religious Liberty Arose in America

Jeremiah Moore, a Christian Baptist brought the Ten-Thousand Name petition on October 1776 to the Virginia Assembly, which demanded the right for Christian Baptists to freely worship without dreading persecution. Moore was a Christian minister and evangelist who was arrested and imprisoned, like many others, because he would go around Colonial Virginia preaching without a license. Janet Moore Lindman, Professor of History at Rowan University writes in her book Bodies of Belief: Baptist Community in Early America, “Persecution occurred because Baptists preached out-of-doors before the general public, which was a violation of civil and ecclesiastical law. Baptist ministers were required to apply to the General Court for a special license to preach.” In today’s world, if Baptist preachers wanted to go around evangelizing, they would of had been arrested and presumably fined for violating the established law, unless of course, they would of had obtained the proper permit to be able to do so.

The petition garnered ten thousand signatures (hence the name), representing the voices of Christians who wanted religious liberty and equality. The advocate that the Christian Baptists chose was Thomas Jefferson, then a member of the Virginia General Assembly. Jefferson met with the leaders of the Christian Baptists to hear their case and decided to defend their right—the right to freely worship as one chooses. Jefferson went on to draft what became the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, a bill that was adopted in 1786, with the help of James Madison, and “established the legal right to complete freedom of worship in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

The Value of Religious Liberty

Why is religious liberty valuable? Do we really need religious liberty in America or anywhere else in the world? Jefferson wanted to open up the platform for any religions and let these faiths compete in the marketplace of ideas. Surely, no idea or belief can compete against other ideas or beliefs if only certain ones have the liberty to surface while others are coerced into silence or privacy. In this case, the Church of England was the established church in Colonial Virginia and thus held a sort of superiority over other religions. Jefferson wrote:

… no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

Jefferson recognized the value of religious liberty and rightly so. Jennifer A. Marshall, the vice president of the Institute for Family, Community and Opportunity at The Heritage Foundation, says, “Religious faith is not merely a matter of ‘toleration’ but is understood to be the exercise of ‘inherent natural rights,’” which is why “religious liberty is a fundamental human right.” Religious liberty recognizes the right of people to perform the activities or pursue ends to which they are entitled by conscience; in this case, “religious freedom recognizes the right of people to pursue transcendent ends,” says Marshall. Also, this is not to say that there are no just limits on freedom of religion because there certainly are just limits.

Moreover, Robert Audi, the John A. O’Brien Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame writes in his book, Democratic Authority and the Separation of Church and State, “Without liberty, people cannot truly govern themselves, and they would likely be at best agents of others who control them.” Further, Audi adds, “Where there is liberty, there is room for pluralism.” Surely religious liberty is a precondition for a pluralistic democracy. Because we live in a pluralistic democracy, any religion, worldview, or belief should have the right to enter into the marketplace of ideas — this is what intellectual diversity is all about afterall.

What is the ‘Separation of Church and State’?

Do the words ‘Separation of Church and State’ actually mean that religious beliefs should be kept private or away from the public life? Jefferson penned the words “separation of Church and State.” When Jefferson had assumed presidency, he wrote a letter to Christian Baptists assuring them that the government was going to “’make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”

Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University says,

                 The words ‘separation of church and state’ are meant to capture the spirit of the idea that there will not be a national establishment of religion. In separating the institutions of church and institutions of state, there was never a thought, nor should we entertain the idea that there’s a separation between religion and public life or religion from politics.

Similarly, Stephen Prothero, Professor of Religion at Boston University has also said,

The metaphor (separation of Church and State) is so strong that people often think that the first amendment means that there should be a wall of separation between Church and State. And it doesn’t mean that at all. It says that we are not going to establish laws that favor one religion over another.

Although some might think that the words ‘Separation of Church and State’ means religious beliefs cannot cross into the public sphere, such thinking is clearly wrong, especially in light of their historical context and intended purpose — Christian Baptists were being persecuted and prosecuted due to their beliefs in Colonial Virginia, this had to be stopped. Indeed, what is the point of valuing ideas if we are coerced by the law to dispose of our beliefs about reality for the purpose of aligning our conscience with the reigning ideas of the time?

Last Remark

Religious liberty is valuable—Jefferson made this clear in 1779. His bill also served as the grounds for both, the Establishment and Free Exercise Clause in the First Amendment. Let’s not forget our history.

Hi there!

Pursuing the Good serves as a platform for the purpose of engaging all sorts of contemporary views, ideas and beliefs. We believe that human nature is a rational substance because we as human beings are capable of rational thought, inquiry, reflection, amongst many other things of course.

David S. Oderberg, a professor of philosophy at the University of Reading, says,

[M]an has an intellect unlike any other kind of creature on earth. He is capable of reasoning about how he should live his live. He spends much of his time ordering things so that he lives a certain kind of life. He reflects on how he wants to live and proposes certain things to himself as worthy or as not worthy.

Human beings, then, as well has having intellect, possess will: they are free to choose how to order their lives — not just what objectives to pursue, but how best to achieve them. In other words, we deliberate about ends and means, and try to do so in a rational way, in accordance with the deliverance of our intellect. [1]

Pursuing the Good also exists as a blog to share new or important thoughts or ideas about anything that might perhaps be worth discussing and/or debating.

[1] David S. Oderberg, Moral Theory: A Non-consequentialist Approach (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2000) 36-37.