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Myth

The Jews have no claim to the land they call Israel.

Fact

A common misperception is that all the Jews were forced into the Diaspora by the Romans after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in the year 70 C.E. Then, 1,800 years later, the Jews suddenly returned to Palestine demanding their country back. In reality, the Jewish people have maintained ties to their historic homeland for more than 3,700 years. The Jewish people base their claim to the Land of Israel on at least four premises: 1) the Jewish people settled and developed the land, 2) the international community granted political sovereignty in Palestine to the Jewish people, 3) the territory was captured in defensive wars, and 4) God promised the land to the patriarch Abraham. Even after the Second Temple’s destruction and the exile’s beginning, Jewish life in the Land of Israel continued and often flourished. Large communities were reestablished in Jerusalem and Tiberias by the 9th century. In the 11th century, Jewish communities grew in Rafah, Gaza, Ashkelon, Jaffa, and Caesarea. The Crusaders massacred many Jews during the 12th century, but the community rebounded in the next two centuries as many rabbis and Jewish pilgrims immigrated to Jerusalem and the Galilee. Prominent rabbis established communities in Safed, Jerusalem, and elsewhere during the following 300 years. By the early 19th century—years before the birth of the modern Zionist movement—more than 10,000 Jews lived throughout what is today Israel. 1 The 78 years of nation-building, beginning in 1870, culminated in the reestablishment of the Jewish State. Israel’s international “birth certificate” was validated by the promise of the Bible; uninterrupted Jewish settlement from the time of Joshua onward; the Balfour Declaration of 1917; the League of Nations Mandate, which incorporated the Balfour Declaration; the United Nations partition resolution of 1947; Israel’s admission to the U.N. in 1949; the recognition of Israel by most other states; and—most of all—the society created by Israel’s people in decades of thriving, dynamic national existence.

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