Israel...The Palestinians...Is Reason and Dialog Possible?

I do not have a large following of readers, but those I have are thoughtful and reasonable people. It is with you and any others who wish to dialog in an open and respectful manner about an issue that is very dear to my heart. If you have "perused" (quotes are for one special reader and you know who you are) my blog, you know this to be true, as I have devoted a great deal of this blog to the subject of Israel, via pictures and journaling from a recent visit

I must start by saying that mine is not an unbiased viewpoint. For full disclosure, I am not only Jewish, but my husband is from Israel (born in Morocco). I went to Israel, as I have written before on this blog, for the first time at the very impressionable age of 16 for six weeks and since then I have been back innumerable times. I lived and worked there for almost two years in the 70's. I have spent time working on a kibbutz, I have studied in an ulpan for six months and worked in my field as a Speech Pathologist at Asaf HaRofe Hospital in Tzrifin for about six months. At that time I fulfilled a dream of mine by actually living in Jerusalem. I have traveled the country extensively, including parts of the Sinai in Egypt that were for a short period of time part of Israel ( Nuweiba, Dahab, Sharm el Sheikh, the ancient monastery of St. Katherine and- the climb of Mount Moses, also called Mt Horeb or Mt Sinai. I have crossed over to Jordan to visit the ancient city of Petra. Within Israel proper I have visited Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Beersheva, Eilat, Haifa, Sefat, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Petach Tikvah, the Golan Heights (mostly in Givat. Yoav.), Nazareth, Bethlehem, Jericho, Hertzileah, Netanya and many other cities, towns, and villages in-between. So, I am no stranger to Israel.

And yet, I am not closed minded. I know there are at least two sides to every story and many viewpoints on every conflict. It is not always easy to maintain an open mind, but I pride myself in general on trying to keep one. Of course pro-Palestinian viewpoints are not new to me, but usually what I read and hear in the media and what I hear among many fellow Jews, is one sided, be it the Pro-Israel or Pro-Palestinian side. What I want to hear is how people can imagine peace being Pro-Both Sides. As far as I am concerned there has to be Peace some day. How that Peace will look, I do not know and am even a bit afraid to consider, but I know for certain that the only way for the bloodshed to end and for the Palestinians to live fruitful lives on their own land is that there must be Peace.

So, I ask you to answer these questions. Please consider them thoughtfully.

1. In your opinion, is Peace possible between Israel and the Palestinians?

2. What do you think Israel must relinquish in order to achieve Peace?

3. Knowing that historically all of the Arab nations and the Palestinian people have not wanted
the presence of a Jewish state in their midst, how can security for Israel be assured?
4. What do you think should happen with Jerusalem?

Map of Modern Day Israel


Outside the Box said...

1. In your opinion, is Peace possible between Israel and the Palestinians?

Must it be my opinion? Alright, if you say so. I do my best to keep my mouth shut if I'm not educated enough on a subject. My guess, however, would be NO WAY.

2. What do you think Israel must relinquish in order to achieve Peace?

From the little I've read about this there doesn't seem to be much room for compromise. I guess the obvious answer is, "Everything the Palestinians want."

3. Knowing that historically all of the Arab nations and the Palestinian people have not wanted
the presence of a Jewish state in their midst, how can security for Israel be assured?

I'd really like to read an educated answer to this question, because the only answer I have is, "Move them to Alaska."

4. What do you think should happen with Jerusalem?

I'm sorry. I wish I had (much) more to offer. I have no idea what should happen to them.

I will take the risk of sharing with you that the few thoughts I've had about this situation have not been favorable towards the state of Israel. Pretty much like my thoughts about the U.S. I'm not happy with our government at all, but that doesn't necessarily reflect how I feel about the country itself or its people.

I've only known a handful of Jewish people in my life (Not a handful of chocolate M&Ms though, that's too many. More like a handful of peanuts in their shells. That's about right.) and they've almost all been wonderful to know. Thoughtful and highly intelligent. The state of Israel on the other hand seems to me to be quite the contrary, but I could certainly be wrong about that.

mark said...

Sherril I dont know much about this situation. But from what I understand, the land that the Iraelis live on now was owned by the Palestinians 150 years ago. I think whoever is responsible for initially giving the land to the Iraelis, is going to have to pay massive amounts of reparations to the Palestines. As I dont think thier was any legitimate justification for taking land from Arabs and giving it to the Jewish. But to be honest Sherril I dont know much about this subject. If you would give me your viewpoint on how the land switched hands in the first place, and was it on the up and up. This is something that has not been dealth with in an honest way by the international community. mark

Dave said...

Manic hatred of Jews by Arabs and Islamics has gone on for so many centuries, even milennia, that no one can pinpoint the origin, but it gets passed on from generation to generation. People who believe any such thinking has changed in the past 30 or so years, since Leon Uris wrote "Exodus" in the late 1950s or the movie "Raid on Entebbe" came out in the late '70s are deluding themselves. Islamic nutcases will even kill any of their own who recognize the right of Israel to exist, as witness the assassination of Anwar Sadat.

The only way to assure security for Israel is for Israel to continue to have the most awesome military force in the Middle East, and to have authority over every square inch within its original borders, including Jerusalem.

Naive Americans have been so surprised, since 9/11/01, that some people want to kill us simply because of who we are. As a Gentile, I say welcome to the world of the Jews, who have been such targets for thousands of years.

I know this will annoy you, Sherril, but I also have to say that I long for the day when a majority of American Jews, a nearly monolithic Democratic Party voting bloc, will recognize that most of Israel's best American supporters are in the Republican Party.

Jack's Shack said...

Peace is possible, but I am not sure when we will see it.

There is a conflict of values here that are really making a mess of things. As long as one side believes that murder serves as a ticket to salvation there will be a cycle of violence.

Diane S. said...

My answers are admittedly biased.

I do not believe peace between Israel and Palestine is possible right now? Why? The Parlestinians do not want peace, or rather there are enough militant Palestinians to highjack any peace efforts.

I think Israel may have to relinquish the gaza strip. I'm not sure if I think that's the right thing to do. But it may be necessary for peace.

The only way for peace to be assured for Israel is for a strong national defense, a strong alliance with the U.S. (an alliance which is becoming increasingly less effective as a defense measure for Israel as the U.S. is throwing away her national standing with both hands.) And a strong reliance on God.

I think Jerusalem should be an Irsaeli city, a Jewish city. Yes, I know there are Muslim holy sites there. So shoot me. I don't care. I've tried to care. I've watched Islamofascist shoot women who've been raped or accused of adultery, force women to hide behind a veil from head to toe, beat women on the streets, refuse to educate their female children, and generally treat women worse than dogs, and I quit caring.

I'm sorry.

I just did.

And I'm a Democrat.

Ricardo said...

Regarding Dave's point, yes there is strong Israeli support in the GOP but it's from the likes of Pat Robertson (people who want to go to Israel for a costume party and reenact Revelations) and such. Sorry to be crass, I just have a suspicion that they're hidden motives in the GOP support. Until they shake off the base of the far religious right, I want no part of them, they can keep their support to themselves.

Question 1: Yes! there can be peace between the 2 but it is in a 2 state solution. Yes Hamas won but I hear that it was more on technicalities than true public support. There are instances that I've read that Jews and Palestinians exist peaceful in several communities throughout that area. Hamas has nothing, they will never have anything and they know it. They need Israel as much as they'd hate to admit it. It gives them jobs. Ask, what would they do WITHOUT Israel? My guess, they'd be killing each other. Destruction is all they know how to do.

Question 2: The Gaza Strip has to go I think. There also must be a change in policy so that Israel is pulled into looking like they are a imperialistic threat to the Palestinians. How many times have we heard the argument that Israeli retaliation is tantamount to terrorism? There have been some very bone headed moves done by the IDF to lend credence to that. In this very complicated issue, this problem is actually solved by using common sense instead of impulse of anger.

Question 3: They have NOTHING! They know the consequence of full war with Israel. they know that defeat will be swift and embarrassing. they would rather speak ill of Israel to garner public support and take a cheap shot here and there. they'll never in their right mind wage an actual "conventional" war. Aside from that, peel back the rhetoric and you'll see that many of these nations have entered into business partnerships and trade with israel. They'll take the money before war.

Question 4: If the nations are serious about peach the city could be a model of Arab/Jewish solidarity. Allow them to have a stake in it's well being and perhaps some will realize that fighting will only destroy the things that they really want. not get them back.

mark said...

Was land unfairly taken away from the palestanian people. I am not exusing sucide bombing or any other types of regressive behavior. Mark

Sherril said...

Robert, Mark, Dave, Diane, Ricardo and Jack,

Thank you for your responses and questions. I have a lot to say in response to all of your comments, but I have been so busy with the preparation for our July 4th BBQ, that I have not had the time to sit here and type. I have, however done some research and am continuing to do more. I know a lot about the history of the region , but I want to be as un-biased as I can be. So, please be patient and I will get back to some specific comments, as well as continuing to blog on the subject.

Jack, welcome and thanks for your comment. I visited your blog but there were so many to choose from, I didn't know where to start.

Joe Vogel said...

Like many of the other commenters, I'm not sure that I'm informed enough on this subject to say definitively what should happen in the region.

I've read several essays and articles that have revealed the complexity of the situation---it's obviously less black and white than the good guys versus the bad guys.

Do I think there can be peace? Yes. I have to. Though I don't think that change can take place through mere policy. Minds have to change.

I should also acknowledge that one of my favorite authors is Chaim Potok (author of The Chosen, My Name is Asher Lev, Book of Lights, etc.). From his novels and brilliant essays, I've really developed a deep sympathy for the Jews and their need for a place to call home. To my knowledge there is not a more consistently persecuted group in the history of humanity.

So ideally, I would say Jerusalem should be theirs, but remain open like other stable countries to other religions, races, etc.

James Manning said...

I wish I had a better understanding of what is going on over there. From what I gather from news reports and the news, I just can't see how there can be peace.
My email address is jamesmanning1969@yahoo.com I'm not sure if this is the post that you wanted me to comment on.

Brandon Bales said...

Looks like there are some pretty good Ideas out there. I'm intrested Sherril in your religious vies of the matter. These are all children of Issac and Rebekah right? So this land is covenanted from God to Abraham to Issac to Jacob, so the land belongs to the 12 tribes of Isreal/Jacob, he having recieved the covenant from the blessing of his father. But Children of Esau claim that the covenant wasn't able to be given away to Jacob,because Esau was the oldest and rightful heir of the covenant, therefore Esau has the legitimate covenant and Jacob didn't recieve the legitimate covenant. I know this has no real bearing on the political issues at hand, but it may have some relivance to discuss the religious/cultural underpinnings of these issues, if not just for the sake of personal interest. What is your tak on the religious component of this issue? In case your curious, mormons would say that Jacob rightfully recieved the ordinace of the laying on of hands because of his worthiness which always trumps birthorder.

Brandon Bales said...

p.s. sorry i'm such an inattentive speller. Love the pictures. My wife ived in Jerusalem for a time. She has so many awesome things to tell when she's remembers her time there. I'm just waiting for her to take me back there someday

Diane S. said...


Looks like you have more readers than you think!

@ James & Robert, always a pleasure to run into either or both of you on another blog.

@ Mark, was land the land upon which the nation of Israel sits unfairly taken? Which time? When the Israelites were coming into the land from Egypt? After the land was stolen from them by Rome, and the Israelites were dispersed across Europe finding refuge when they could? By the people who replaced the Romans? Or when the nation of Israel was founded in the 1940's?

If it's the latter, the land was paid for, and the largely uninhabited. Those that did chose to move away were dispersed throughout the rest of the Middle East. It wasn't until the other middle eastern countries started kicking the refugees out that you had “The Palestinian Homeland Crisis.” .

Basically, all land is stolen land. Someone lived there. Another group moved in. It's true of America. It's true of the British Isles. It's true of Europe (remember those Visigoths?). Land changes hands. It is the way of history. Usually it’s done despicably. It seems to me in the 1940’s it was done rather civilly.

I am perhaps more forgiving of this land transaction because I believe that God gave that land to the Israelites as a heritage. That belief is deeply etched into me. It is not a belief subject to reason (the problem with religion), but I believe God meant what he said when he said this will be an inheritance unto all your generations.

It's seems to me the real problem is the radical and unreasonable hatred of Israel by their Muslim neighbors. It is sheer hate. A hate for which the flames are fanned constantly, and the citizenry incited by the radical Islamic leadership. It is, in short, no accident. It is policy.

How do you stop hate? If I knew the answer to that, I'd have a Nobel Prize, but I think Dr. King had some good answers, the most memorable of which is that the problem with violence is that it is a never ending spiral, further darkening a night already devoid of stars.

mark said...

By the people who replaced the Romans? Or when the nation of Israel was founded in the 1940's?

Obviously Im not talking about the people who replaced romans. Some of the land you say was paid for, was land some of the refugees had been forced away by the british, from my understanding the Brittish sold deeds to lands they did not properly own. Lets be honest how can the brittish sell land not in Brittain. Could you imagine if from 1885-1945 the Brittish had sold a piece of land the size of Israel to Jewish people or any other race a portion of Miss, after forcing the residents on that land to flee. I can assure you Diane those folks from missippii would still be fighting. Also I can assure you of this those folks in miss, would have also used terrorrist tactict. Maybe not suicide bombs, but they deffinately would have killed women and children if thats what it would have taken to get thier land back. In fact they have a history of terrorist behavior and committing of attrocities of the most degenerate kind. It is not my intention to compare tragedies, but thier is another side to this question, the is the question of land dispute, I thinking reperations will have to be paid to the palestinians by Brittish and most likely Irael.

I am perhaps more forgiving of this land transaction because I believe that God gave that land to the Israelites as a heritage

This statement right here is the very reason why I stay as far away from religion as possible. Seems to me the Palestinians believe the same thing, Isnt Jeruslem a holy city to muslims, christians and Jews? According to your logic the Native americans could say they have a birthright to all of the americas. Somehow I dont think theyll get thier land back. Although I will say this blowing up innocent civilians, especially women and children is absolutely 100% indefensable. And the muslims who are serious about peace should stand united in denouncing terrorist act. The only peace I can see is if reperations are paid, a palestinian homeland is formed, and all extra-legal behavior must stop. But one more time I think the land question has to be debated honestly , because the palestinians are fighting and dying for what they believe is stolen land. Mark

Sherril said...

Again, I can not respond to each comment here because of time conflicts. However, I will try to respond to some. Many people have said that they are not that well aware of the situation in Israel and I hope that I can educate you somewhat on it. I know full well that there is more than one side to a story. I will give you the side that I know.

James...yes, this is the post I wanted you to read and respond to. I intend to write another post with some history leading up the currnet situation and I hope you will return to read it as well.

Joe...Yes, minds have to change. Policy alone can not change the situation. When the laws were changed in this country to give Blacks their civil rights, the right to vote, to live wherever they want to, to live without fear of persecution, it took many years before the laws became the reality for many. Even today, discrimination still exists. The hope is that minds will continually open and what was once considered impossible by many becomes the norm.
I love Chaim Potok, especially My Name is Asher Lev.


Sherril said...

I hope you get a chance to read my latest post on this blog. You asked, Was land unfairly taken away from these people (Palestinians)? The answer to that is both yes and no. As I have explained in the blog, both peoples, the Jews and Arabs go back to time immemorial in the land of Israel. You don't have to be religious to acknowledge that Israel is where the Jewish religion was born with Abraham. The Muslims also share Abraham as a founding father. The interesting and frustrating truth is that there is much history, customs and even language that the Jews and Muslims in this part of the world share. Truth be told, there are Muslims and Jews who can and have sat together and discussed these similarities and differences. I am one of them. I have participated in a women's group consisting of Jews, Muslims and Christains that meet on a regular basis, in churches, synagogues and mosques here in NJ. There are even such groups in Israel that do this. For some reason it tends to be Women's Groups. Frankly, it is my belief that if women had more power and were running things, we wouldn't be in the mess we are in (not just in the middle east, but the entire world, but that's for another blog, I suppose.)
Anyway, the land wasn't "taken away" because there were many Arabs who remained in 1948. They are today Israeli Arabs. They hold positions in the Israeli Parliament. Like in all countries with majoriites and minorities, they are not accepted like the Jewish Israelies. But, you know what, this is not an Israeli issue. It's a human issue. Prejudice and bigotry exist in every inch of this world. IN fact, it is not nearly as bad in Israel as in most other countries. It is just judged much more harshly. That is a reality that the Israelies have to live with. Those Arabs that fled from their homes, did not get them back. They were told by their leaders that the situation with the Jews would be temporary, that they, the Arabs would fight them and destroy them. But the Arabs started the war of Independence. They started the Six Day War. They started the Yom Kippur War. And they lost each one of them. So, the Israelies won. When France won a war, it got the land. When England won a war, it got the land. When the United States won a war, it got the land. But when Israel won every war that was started by the other side and consequently gets the land, they are expected to give it back. The land that the Religious will claim was theirs to begin with. I am not making that argument. But I am saying that the world judges Israel in a way that no other country in the world is judged. So, the answer to your question is not a simple one. I only wish that the Native Americans were strong enough to reclaim their land. Land that was not only rightfully theirs, but they were promised time and again by the American government that they would receive some of their land. But all they ever got...and this took a long time coming...were the lovely reservations that they have today. Native Americans are oppressed people (notwithstanding thier hold on the Casinos today), but I don't see the outcry for them. Why? I believe one of the answers has to be that White and Black and Asian and Latino and any other land owning American would not be so forthright in giving up thier homes in order to rightfully return it to the original owners. Again, I am not suggesting that the Arabs should not get any land to call their own. I believe they should. They should as long as Israelies are assured security and up to this point, the PLO and now Hamas has demonstrated that that is not going to happen.


Sherril said...

I'm on a roll here, so I'll try to respond also to your second comment.

You said.....:
Lets be honest how can the British sell land not in Britain. Could you imagine if from 1885-1945 the British had sold a piece of land the size of Israel to Jewish people or any other race a portion of Miss, after forcing the residents on that land to flee. I can assure you Diane those folks from missippii would still be fighting. Also I can assure you of this those folks in miss, would have also used terrorist tactict. Maybe not suicide bombs, but they deffinately would have killed women and children if thats what it would have taken to get thier land back

Again, if you would read my post it will give you the history of this small piece of land that has drawn so much attention and war and ownership over the millennia. Nobody bought land and sold it to the Jews and threw the owners off. That's just not the way it happened.. Israel belonged to the Ottoman Empire (the Turks) for 400 years before World War I. Then when they were on the losing side of that war, many of the European nations took over all different parts of the Mid-east. Britain got "Palestine". Like in present day Russian and Eastern Europe, the Mid-East map has changed consistently throughout history. But, in all this time, there was not a land called Palestine (well, not exactly. anyway, read the blog for that info). Yes, Arabs lived on this land and in fact there were many more Arabs than Jews, though there has been a Jewish presence consistently for over 3,000 years. It is true the Arabs who lived there had farms and land and homes, some of whom still do, those that did not flee during the 1948 War of Independence. The Israelis will tell you that the majority of Arabs that fled were told to flee and they were assured by their leaders that after the Jews were pushed out to the sea, they could come back. The Arabs will tell you that the Jews pushed them out and made them into refugees. They will describe atrocities. There were plenty of atrocities in the war and at least half of them were committed by Arabs. No one in a war is a Saint, as we can clearly see by today's news about the girls or young women raped and murdered by American GI's in Iraq. War brings out the worst in humankind, often the most beastly and onone is immune. Having said that, I will repeat what I said in my last comment, which is the Israelis are no worse and often better than soldiers and governments in the rest of the world, but they are held to a different standard.

The thing is that, unlike what you were suggesting by your comments, the issues were and are well beyond reparation of land. Believe me, if that were the main problem, it would have been solved decades ago. I think it is true that the Israelis, if they had their druthers, would rather that the Arabs were not there, but they know that they are and that they must deal with them. In 1948, when the UN made up a partition for the land, Israel accepted it. The border would have pretty much divided this very small land into two, The Arabs summarily dismissed it out of hand. They wanted the whole thing and they declared war and they fought and they lost. Thus the refugees. Another thing to consider. Jordan, which is just to the east of Israel, it's population was largely Palestinian. I don't know the story that well, but what I understand is that the Palestinians in Jordan got too powerful and the Jordanese Princedom, or whatever the government was then, threw out the Palestinians and were ruthless to them. The other countries like Syria and Egypt and I assume even our good Friend, Saudi Arabia, could have taken in their fellow Arab brothers and sisters, or at the least, poured money into the refugee camps to make them livable and to give the children better education and to raise the lifestyles of the people living there. You have to ask yourself why didn't they? They didn't for a few reasons. One is that the Palestinians are not very popular among the Arab nations. Another is that had they helped the refugees, it would have taken some of the pressure out of the pressure cooker, and fewer of the men living there would want to become terrorists. So, the other Arab nations have just left bad enough alone. You may also notice that when the Muslims in Indonesia and India and Pakistan and all the other places that have suffered the horrendous natural disasters of the last several years, the money from these oil rich Arab nations did not flow excessively to aid their Muslim brothers and sisters. You may also have noticed if you looked that the Israelis were of the first to send medical relief and any other that they could or that the Muslims would allow (apparently not all help is equal).

So, as you can see, Mark, it is a very different situation than the one you were comparing to Mississippi. Not to get off on a tangent. But my daughter, as I type, is in New Orleans, doing her small bit to help the people there who are still suffering so much as a result of Katrina. One thing that is pretty well known about Jewish people, and this goes for those in Israel as well as in the United States, is that they are a generous people when it comes to helping others. They are often in the forefront of groups that oppose intolerance and bigotry. They put both their money and their physical efforts into working for the betterment of humankind. Of course there are arguments to be made about the efforts of White Liberals and I'm sure some of them are true, but it does not negate the fact that many Jewish people care about the improvement of humanity. So, when I see Israel being so maligned and diminished and made to look like the bully, it disturbs me..

I have probably not responded to every point you made or to all the points made by others. I have tried to express myself as truthfully as I know how. I hope the discussion can go on.


mark said...

Good Morning Sherill. First of all thank you for responding to my comment. I have absolutely nothing against Jews to be honest I dont know very many, but I am well aware that Jewish people are known for thier ability to get along with people and for thier charitable work.I think the majority of the problem,is religion this is why I am thoroughly enchanted with religion. I have also noticed that muslims goverment, clerics,ect seem extremely quick to criticize non-muslims for attrocities committed during war, but for instance when Sadam invaded Kuwait and the Iraqi soldiers were rapping Kuwaiti women where were the Jihadist protecting muslim women against the ravages of muslim men. Ill be honest thier are some extremely backwards elements of Islamic culture,the way some sects treat thier women is diplorable also their are places where the whole population in a given country is held captive by threats of bombing, kidnap and and torture by theocracries or small well armed sects. In palistine groups like Hamas claim that the Jews stole thier land and thier are willing to blow themselves and civilians up to get thier land back. When you have to opposing philosophies claiming moral authority or ownership of something this is a serious problem. Until the Palistinian population denounces terror and tells whoever is thier goverment representatives to negotiate with Irael aggressively and earnestly thier will be no peace. The Palestinian people will have to bring thier leader under moderation and totally condenm terror.Mark Bey
P.S Why dont other muslims in the middle east like palestinians?

Sherril said...

I appreciate your remarks. I will try to answer your last question. This article gives you some background. http://www.arts.mcgill.ca/MEPP/PRRN/papers/haddad.html

When the Palestinians fled Israel they went to many of the surroundiing Arab States. Many went to Lebanon and were never received there well. September 1970 is known as the Black September in Arab history. It was a month when Hashemite King Hussein of Jordan moved to squash an attempt by Palestinian organizations to overthrow his monarchy. The violence resulted in heavy civilian Palestinian casualties and finally in July, 1971 Hussein expelled the PLO and thousands of Palestinians to Lebanon. I don't know a lot more than that, but what I do know is that much of the Arab world is rich in oil profits and very little has been done by way of making the lives of the refugees better. For all their hatred of Israel and the Jews, the Arab nations are not united among themselves. Also, there in no other nation in the Middle East that has a democracy and a people who live in freedom like we do here in the USA, except for Israel. I hope that helps to answer your question.


Sherril said...

I am so sorry I was unable to keep up with this string of comments at the time they were written. Anyway, brandon wrote:

I'm interested Sherril in your religious vies of the matter. These are all children of Isaac and Rebecca right? So this land is covenanted from God to Abraham to Isaac to Jacob, so the land belongs to the 12 tribes of Israel/Jacob, he having received the covenant from the blessing of his father. But Children of Esau claim that the covenant wasn't able to be given away to Jacob,because Esau was the oldest and rightful heir of the covenant, therefore Esau has the legitimate covenant and Jacob didn't receive the legitimate covenant. What is your take on the religious component of this issue?


This is exactly the point I've been trying to make. Of course, in my Hebrew School education and in attending Shabbat services, which weekly have the Torah (First Five Books of Moses) reading, I learned the stories and found them interesting, mainly for the lessons they might teach, as well as for historical interest. Orthodox Jews would say, yes, exactly, the land of Israel was given from god to his chosen people, the Israelites and that is that. But, clearly that is not that. Not only do other people, like the Muslims have their own bent on these stories, but in the end, what does it matter? If there were no disputes over this land, then the biblical story would be a great one to use for how the Jewish people came to see Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) as their homeland. But there are disputes, so the religious argument, though interesting, will not prove useful in solving the dispute. If you see a way that it might, please enlighten me.