The majority of wars are conflicts over territory. This brings up the question of who the territory rightfully belongs to. Does it belong to the nationality that was there first? Does it belong to the nationality that is the majority? If one nationality is persecuting the other does the persecuted nationality have a right to the territory for defensive purposes? Wouldn't it be better if all territory was shared by everyone?
Territory is important because in addition to giving people space to live, and space to earn a living, it gives them the space they need to defend themselves. The Jews were unable to effectively defend themselves when they were scattered through Europe during World War II. They have been able to defend themselves against the onslaughts of multiple Arab Armies when they possessed the land of Israel. Territory can also be used as a base from which to attack others. Do the people who use territory in this way forfeit the right to that territory? I believe that according to international law the answer is yes since a country can legally seize territory from an aggressor in a war of self defense.
The Muslims destroyed many of the trees before the modern state of Israel. The Jews planted entire forests. The Arabs then destroyed what they could of those. What does this say about the Arab right to the land?
Ladislas Farago, in his book Palestine at the Crossroads wrote about one such incident in which the High Commissioner of Palestine came to survey the wreckage:
For the High Commissioner the sight was tragic not only as a politician but also as a man. He is an enthusaistic gardener who loves plants and flowers above everything, and who follows the afforestation of Palestine with special interest. This was not his first visit to Mishmar, he had also come there in time of peace and ahd liked ot while away a little time amongst the cypresses here on the hill. "I believe," he used to say, "that the cypress forest is the most beautiful spot in Palestine."
And now this beautiful spot, his favourite resort, the work of many, many years, had been destroyed overnight, and there was nothing left for the Jews to do but bitterly bemoan the destruction of their labour.
Ladislas Farago wrote about another region of Israel, known as the Emek (the valley):
travellers who passed through the Emek only fifteen years ago found neglected fields and the poorest Arab villages of the whole of Palestine. Then, in 1921, the Jewish National Fund purchased from the Syrian Arab family of Sursuk its first territories in this region and the first Jewish colonies gradually arose. Teh task fo the colonists was to make the swampy land again fertile. It was inhabited by a few hundred fellahin, a few thousand Bedouin and millions of mosquitoes. The mosquitoes have disappeared, to be replaced by some 5000 Jews who now live alongside wandering Bedouin and the fellahs in a countryside that is luxuriant, healthy and rich.
The population of the Arabs in Israel is growing much faster than that of the Jews. If the Arabs become the majority does that give them the right to the land of Israel? If the Arabs controlled Israel the Jews would again be a people without a nation and unable to defend themselves. I think the right of self defense of the Jews would supersede the right of the Arabs to take over Israel. What about the right of the Arabs to a Palestinian state. Don't they have the right to defend themselves? The Arabs lost Judea and Samaria to Israel when they attempted to destroy Israel. According to international law then, Judea and Samaria is now the rightful property of Israel. In addition the Arabs have said they would use the West Bank as a base against Israel. That is another reason they forfeit their right to a state in that land.
One argument the Jews have for ownership of Israel is that they were there before the Arabs. The American Indians have the same argument for ownership of America. Would it be right then for the American Indians to kill whites and chase them out of America? Being a white American I don't think so. My right to life supersedes their right to the land I occupy I believe. On the other hand the American Indians have the right to compensation for what was taken away from them and they have a right to land in America.
In Kosovo the Serbs are evicting the ethnic Albanians (I write this on April 30, 1999). The ethnic Albanian population grew in Serbia to the point where they dwarfed the Serb population 9 to 1. In addition to rapid population growth and emigration from Albania, the ratio grew large because the Albanians drove out Serbs. Does that justify the actions of Milosovec and the Serbs? Did the Albanians forfeit their right to live in Kosovo when they used it as a base to drive out the Serbs? Did Milosovec and the Serbs forfeit their right to Kosovo by driving out th ethnic Albanians.
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