This Land is Mine

Navigating the Complexities of Land Ownership and Historical Claims
Child With Flag Of Israel

In 1864 James Irvine purchased land from Mexican and Spanish land grants. He and his partners bought 120,000 acres in total. The Irvine Company donated over 300 acres to create the Irvine Regional Park in 1897. In 1918 the Coast highway gave access to communities and beaches. Once the highway was opened the Irvine Company began to build communities along the shores. In 1953 50,000 Boy Scouts from all over the world gathered for the Jamboree which named a now well-known street. The Irvine Company decided to set aside over 10% of their original acreage for parks and open space. Also in 1960 the Company made it possible for 1000 acres to build the UCI site. Over the next decades more communities and shopping malls are built. By 2006, 40,000 protected acres of the Irvine Ranch are designated National Natural Landmarks. By 2014 the Irvine Company has gifted nearly 55,000 acres of the original ranch.

Imagine if in 2018 Mexico decides it wants its land back? Someone comes forward claiming that it was the property of their family hundreds of years before and the Mexican government had no right to sell it off. What would the Irvine family descendants do? Would every citizen have to give up their homes and move elsewhere? Would the Mexicans come across our borders shooting at us, kidnapping our children, blowing up our buses? Would people rush into the University that educates women and people of every race and religions, throwing Molotov cocktails? Would our police allow this happen? Would it be okay for them to even shoot at our attackers? In fact what would happen to the State of California if Mexico nullified treaties and promises?

In 1959 Hawaii became the 50th US State. The islands that comprise the state are in the Pacific Ocean in Polynesia. Hawai-i continues to be an official language of the State. The Hawaii Admissions Act granted this land made of volcanoes its statehood. From 1810 until 1893 this Kingdom had a monarchy. In 1893 however the Monarch was overthrown by some American and European businessmen. From 1894 to 1898 it was an independent republic until becoming an official US territory and then state.

Hawaii did not just erupt into reality in the 1800’s. In fact Polynesian settlers may have arrived as early as 300 CE. Tahitians also lay early claims. Spanish explorers, British Captain James Cook and other explorers have recorded their visits as well. Native chiefs often fought for power. King Kamehameha, King Kalakaua, Queen Liliuokalani succeeded as monarchs for a time. Native families have resided there for generations upon generations. Imagine if they now came forward to take back their historical home? Lands legally signed by President Eisenhower with over nearly 95% of the Hawaiian people wanting Statehood. What if that small percentage of individuals were led to believe that it was their land and they had to take it whatever the means? Would the US allow these radicals to win?

Alaska, “the last frontier” was acquired from Russia in 1867. This US State actually borders the Canadian Yukon Territory and province of British Columbia. Alaska also borders the Pacific and Arctic Oceans and Bering Strait. Alaska is made up of several regions including areas of the Alaska Range, Tongass National Forest, Denali National Park, Mount McKinley, Kodiak and Aleutian Islands. The US Federal Government owns about 65% of the land with additional acres subdivided for boroughs, and even the University of Alaska. Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act controls vast interests as well. Indigenous peoples arrived thousands of years before Europeans. Russians settled the Aleutians long before the US came into the picture. Imagine if Putin decided he wanted territory in order to invade the US easier? As more and more of the population are intermarrying maybe they are learning how the indigenous peoples have been unfairly treated and start demanding land right? Will the US allow them to revolt? Will the US just rip up its land treaty, give up oil rights and move on? In fact what about the rights of Native Americans all over the US. Their land was taken. They were put in Reservations. Is the US going to give them back what they had less than 200 years ago? There are some peoples that have lived in their native lands for thousands of years more.

In 515 BCE the First Temple is dedicated in Jerusalem at a time when Jewish judges and Rabbis ruled the land. Yes, The Romans and others had their moments of rule but Jews inhabited the lands through every rule. Long before Jesus of Nazareth or Muhammed were born Jews lived in Arabia, Europe and Palestine. When Jews were expelled from other lands leaving their homes and worldly possessions they dreamt of Jerusalem, prayed towards the Holy City. When Columbus sailed off he carried several prominent Jews on boards who would be saved from the fires of the auto-de-fe. During this time the population of Palestine grew with the likes of the prominent Rabbis Joseph Karo, Isaac Luria. In the Americas Jews became more educated and respected.

In 1895 Theodor Herzl wrote the “Jews State” while the weight of the Dreyfus affair was at its peak. Herzl, although not religious, believed that the only way for Jews to live without blatant discrimination is if given a land of their own. Over the next few years he met with Jews and world leaders trying to gain support. By the time of the 6th Zionist Congress in August 1903, Herzl announced that the British offered a stretch of land in Uganda. The delegates did not want Uganda they wanted the land promised by G-d thousands of years before. The stress on Herzl took its toll and in 1904 he passed away. Thankfully he had gathered many supporters who continued the Palestinian Zionist Activity including Baron Edmond de Rothschild who continued to buy land.

During WWI Jews fought with bravery and distinction throughout Europe. They fought alongside men who hated them for no other reason than their birthright. Jews who had fled one country often signed up to fight for another if able. Six hundred (Jewish) Palestinian refugees formed the “Zion Mule Corps” in Egypt. Many would later form the Jewish Legion fighting for a Zionist State. On November 1, 1917 Arthur James Balfour, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs allowed Lord Rothschild to read the following declaration to Jewish Zionists:
“His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in other countries.”

The British troops had captured Beersheva and Gaza. General Allenby entered Jerusalem and soon after the Turks left the city. In June 1922 the British “White Paper” reaffirmed the British government’s policy of a Jewish national home in Palestine. More and more Jews were allowed entry. English, French, Russian, Yiddish, Hebrew and Arabic were heard everywhere. On April 1, 1925 the Hebrew University of Jerusalem was consecrated. A modern day temple for learning amongst the many Yeshivot and ruins of the Holy Temple in a Jewish city once again. Needless to say the Arab population was not pleased.

Jews seem to have suffered throughout history in every land. Jesus, who lived and died a Jew, did not create Christianity his disciples did. Muhammed, the illiterate preacher, who first tolerated the other monotheistic religion of the Jews also became less tolerant. Jews were often learned and served as advisors but somehow our accomplishments made others less complacent. Forced conversions, children kidnapped, women raped and beaten and sadly these horrific unjust acts continue to this day. No matter how much factual history we have for making Israel our homeland others do not want this to happen. Other countries go to war and whatever lands they acquire are added to their borders. Every land except Israel that is.

The Canaanites of the Bible seem to have disappeared very likely into Philistine, Phoenicians and Israelite cultures. Seeing that the ancient lands were also broken up into the tribes of ancient Hebrew brothers plus areas ruled by other peoples ruling parties changed often. The Kingdoms of Israel and Judah existed in the ancient Levant. Before falling to the Assyrians in 722 BCE the kingdom of Israel was an important local power. It included Jericho, Jaffa, Samaria and Bet-El. Judah, which included Beersheva, Hevron as well as Jerusalem was prosperous until falling to the Babylonians in 586 BCE.

When Babylon fell to Persian king Cyrus in 539 Judean exiles were able to return. Hellenistic rule followed but the Jews revolted and the Hasmonean rule resulted with control of Judea, Samaria, Idumea, Iturea, the Galilee and even Perea. Unfortunately this rule too ended but throughout all these periods there were Jews who remained in these lands. After the revolt of Simon bar Kochba in 135 CE the land once known as Judea became Syria Palaestinia. The Kingdom of Samaria included the 10 tribes of Israel which following the conquest by Assyria were dispersed. The land of Palestine was populated by Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, Bedouins with everyone having the same citizenship. In fact until 1948 when the State of Israel was born every citizen no matter their religion was a Palestinian.

In 1948 the UN Resolution to partition the land into Arab and Jewish states was passed. Just as the Arab League voted against the approval for a State of Israel they did not accept the partition plan either. In fact they have never accepted a partition plan because the fact is they want the land from sea to sea. Land that is not theirs. Land that the Jewish National Fund legally purchased from landowners.

In 1997 an article published by an Arab-Israeli mentioned how many people sold off their land. Included in the list is a relative of Yasir Arafat who also happened to be the father of al-Hajj Amin al Husseini the former extremely anti-Jewish mufti of Jerusalem. Kazem al-Husseini the grandfather of another top PLO official Faisal Husseini also sold off land in Jerusalem. Yaakub al-Ghussein, who created the Arab Fund to support Palestinian causes, sold Jews land in Jaffa and the area now in the Gaza Strip. Plus the Sursock, al-Salem, al-Tiyun, al-Qabbani, al-Yousef and other families in Syria and Lebanon who sold off their acres. Land that they had Arabs work for them in exchange for a small section of land and home for their growing families. So what gives their relatives the right to demand it back now?

Unfortunately the UN and many nations and people continue to listen to the cries of refugees. What refugee can freely cross neighbouring borders? Ask those in lands like the Sudan where Muslim fundamentalists enslave their brethren? Ask the young girls taken by Boko Harem in Nigeria what it means to be brutalized. What about the persecuted Christians in Lebanon or Kurds in Syria? Israel supplies Gaza with water as well as gas and electric. Ask survivors of the Holocaust if Nazi death camps were so endearing. Yet all too many listen to Palestinian Arab cries.

If Palestinian Arabs had accepted the partition plan in 1948 they would have land of their own to govern as they wish. Land in Transjordan. Not sure that the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan would be happy to give up their reign now but maybe that is what should happen. According to the UN Resolutions that is the territory the Palestinian Arabs had a right to. Yes, Arabs had lived in the land for centuries but they had not ruled it as Arabs in Syria or Iraq could claim. As for their religious claims to Jerusalem since Muhammad was never there and since Mecca and Medina are their favoured pilgrimage sites why the interest? Anything to upset the balance in the Jewish State of Israel!

The lands the JNF purchased from Arab landowners should remain in Israeli hands. The Israeli Arabs can remain if they are willing to live by the rules. That means no kidnapping and stone throwing. If they don’t attack the Israeli police, which includes Israeli Christians, Druze and Arabs as well as Jews, won’t have to use deadly force. If Israel could secure their borders so that terrorists can’t enter then there could be peace in this land once again. Now even though the Arab League attacks Israel from every side Israel triumphs. Yet Israel gains territory which they are expected to return. Israel should not have to return to pre-’67 borders either. When the US returns the lands to Native Americans, Mexicans and Russians then they will have the right to comment on what Israel should do!

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