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  Letters to the Editor
"Occupied Territories"
Special Contribution
By Zvi November

Whenever you see and hear reports about the Arab-Israeli conflict, the terms "occupied territories" or "occupied Palestinian territories" are used as if they are accurate and factually describe the current status quo. Actually, Israel only occupies land to which it is legally and historically entitled. It does not occupy anyone else's land.

Putting occupation into its proper perspective, one should note that practically the entire world is occupied territory. Britain (a word based on Roman terminology), for example, was occupied by waves of migrating tribes from Germany. All of North and South America and Australia were colonized and occupied by Europeans.

A thousand years ago the Magyars from Asia invaded and occupied Hungary. Hawaii has been occupied by the US for well over a hundred years. (Even President Bill Clinton acknowledged this in a belated apology). The British completely annihilated every single Tasmanian aborigine (using cheap alcohol) and the occupation of this large Island continues as there are no natives to contest it.

In the 7th century, the Arabs burst out of Arabia to conquer and occupy most of Christian Byzantium. Today's Iraq, Syria, Egypt and North Africa are in effect occupied lands in which the natives were, for the most part, forcibly Arabized and Islamized. For a few hundred years Arabs also occupied Spain, Sicily and Malta.

World history is really a history of occupation whereby the original natives were physically destroyed or marginalized or forced to assimilate to their new overlords' regimes.

Ironically, Zionism, the national movement of the Jewish people is just about the only nationalist movement NOT based on conquest. Starting in the second half of the 19th century Jewish settlements in Eretz Yisrael (Palestine) were built on lands legally purchased from their owners. In June 1967, the Six Day War ended the illegal Jordanian conquest (1948) and occupation of Judea and Samaria.

Last year the Edmund Levy study clearly substantiated the legal and historic basis upon which Jews have every right to live and work in Judea and Samaria (popularly referred to by the outdated Jordanian term "West Bank") so long as they do not infringe on the rights of non-Jews residing in this area.

The term "occupied territories", therefore, does not apply to Israel because we are not occupying anybody's territory except our own.



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Zvi November, who grew up in New York, served as a Peace Corps' teacher in rural Philippines. He also taught at Hong Kong Int'l School. He earned his diploma from Univ. of Edinburgh, his MA from Syracuse Univ, both in anthropology. Now he is an activist in Israel's Media Watch and other civic bodies.

 

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