According to the Israeli historian Benny Morris, in ancient times, “The core of the Jewish state was the hill country of Judea, Samaria, and Galilee.” Areas in mainland Israel such as Caesarea, Jaffa, and Ashkelon were centers of paganism in the Hellenistic and Roman periods and did not make up the heart of biblical Israel. Yet despite these historical facts, too many people support relinquishing Israeli control over Judea & Samaria, even though the area is richer in Jewish history than Arab history.

Yoram Ettinger, a consultant at the Ariel Center for Policy Research, asserted, “Many world-renowned travelers, historians and archeologists of earlier centuries refer to “Judea and Samaria,” while the term “West Bank” was coined only 60 years ago. Jordan gave the region this name when it occupied it after Israel’s War of Independence. No nation on earth other than Britain and Pakistan recognized Jordan’s claim to Judea and Samaria. […] Even the Encyclopedia Britannica, as well as official British and Ottoman records until 1950, used the term Judea and Samaria, and not the West Bank.”

Ettinger claims that most Palestinian Arabs only came to live in the land of Israel within the last 150 years. He asserted, “Most Palestinian Arabs are descendants of the Muslim migrants who came to the area between 1845 to 1947. Arab migrant workers were imported by the Ottoman Empire and by the British Mandate (which defeated the Ottomans in 1917) for infrastructure projects. […] Illegal Arab laborers were also attracted by the relative economic boom in British Mandate Palestine, stimulated by Jewish immigration.” In addition, Egyptians came to the Holy Land following Muhammed Ali’s invasion of Israel between 1831 and 1840; and Algerians also arrived in Israel in order to escape the French conquest of their homeland in 1830.

To the contrary, Jews have a history in Judea & Samaria dating back from time immemorial. For instance, Shechem, otherwise known as Nablus, has Jewish history dating back to Abraham. Shechem was the first place that Abraham set foot in when he arrived in Israel. Shechem is also the city where Jacob and his family settled after returning from Paddam Aram. Some historians such as Robert Wolfe and Paul Johnson, after studying archeological evidence coming out of Egypt, believe that there was a Jewish kingdom based in the area of Shechem while most Jews were slaves in Egypt. Regardless whether one believes them or not, Shechem is the resting place of Joseph, King David wrote about Shechem in the Book of Psalms, and King Rehoboam, who ruled the ten northern tribes of Israel following King Solomon’s death, initially made Shechem his capital city.

Bethlehem is the city where the Jewish matriarch Rachel is buried, where the famous convert to Judaism Ruth married Boaz, and was the birthplace of King David. It is mentioned 44 times in the Tanakh. Hebron, which until the 1929 massacre briefly interrupted the Jewish presence in the city, had an ancient Jewish community. It is one of the four holiest cities in the Jewish religion. It is the place where the Cave of the Patriarchs is located, which contain the remains of Sarah, Abraham, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, and Leah. Jews also believe that Adam and Eve are buried there. Hebron is also the city where King David was anointed king and ruled for seven years prior to the conquest of Jerusalem.

These are but a few of the many examples of Jewish history in Judea & Samaria. Furthermore, almost all of the Arab localities in Judea & Samaria have retained biblical Jewish names, thus betraying the true Jewish roots in the area. Given all of these facts, to deny the Jewish connection to Judea & Samaria is to deny the historic reality.

By Rachel Avraham