130 Comments

Excellent dispassionate look at the claims and counter claims to the land. If we accept that Native Americans are the true owners of the USA because they got there first, then the same logic would reveal the Jews as the legitimate owners (the Native Palestinians) and the modern Palestinians as the colonisers. The genetic heritage of the Canannites muddies the waters a little but I would argue that the Jews were the first distinct group to establish an organised state (in the form of a kingdom) and therefore are the legitimate owners. What is clear though is that the world is not effing Braveheart with clearly defined oppressed and oppressors. It's complex shades of grey. Which means no one should be cheering the deaths of babies.

Expand full comment
author

IF WE ACCEPT

But who were the natives?

We’re they actually natives?

Or did they come from Asia 30k years ago?

Did they just arrive in an empty land?

Or were there other peoples that the last ones killed to replace them?

How many layers of Native American groups had there been by the time Europeans arrived?

When they arrived, didn’t they claim the land from local fauna? Didn’t they exterminate many megafauna? Shouldn’t we consider that the land belonged to them before they exterminated them?

We are assholes all the way down

https://unchartedterritories.tomaspueyo.com/p/assholes-all-the-way-down?r=36xnz&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web

Expand full comment

I only just noticed this post, but it's nice to see you raising awareness of one of the key concepts needed to understand the evolutionary origins of wealth (as opposed to the Creationist view)

Expand full comment
Comment removed
Expand full comment

This is full of logical fallacies, not backed by a single citation and appears on a page which also denies NASA landing on the moon and the Holocaust. Total garbage.

Expand full comment

but if the Canaán were indeed the ancestors of both jews and arabs then they're both the Native Palestinians and your explanation doesn't stand.

Expand full comment

Which is why I said we could base it on whoever established the first organised state. If both groups of people declare themselves independent of the other, then even if they share a genetic heritage, we should probably consider them as distinct groups.

Expand full comment
Oct 15, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Organised states are fairly new. Nation states rose after the treaty of Westphalia and before it empires existed. One could argue that all of the Europes belong to Italians as it was Romans who first created organised state in most of Europe and it would be thus "morally" justified for Italians to go to war with rest of Europe.

Expand full comment
author

Indeed

Expand full comment

I would disagree with this as I do not believe in nations. There should be only one nation, the nation of human beings, and only one religion, the religion of protecting our mother Earth, which we are all coming from and destroying these days. But these are personal views.

Expand full comment
author

Unfortunately, what we wish to be is not what is, so we can't use our wishes as the foundation of our decisions.

I've written a bit on the protection of the Earth. I'm actually very optimistic about it! Hopefully I will be able to get back to that soon.

Expand full comment

We can always pray :-) Nice to read you and thanks for a good write up.

Expand full comment

by the way, why did you start so late in human history? There has to be many more before 1000 BC too...

Expand full comment
author

Yeah, you can add layers. Go to the Natufians and stuff. But the Canaanites are the first ones in history. Everything before are in prehistory and it doesn’t change much the insights

Expand full comment

Yeah, and Aboriginies are the true owners of Australia, but non-Native Americans in the US won't willingly give up their land to Native Americans and move away and neither will non-Aborigine Australians. If, somehow, against the odds, Native Americans won a war to take over the US, most of the land of the US, and put the other colonizing Americans in reservations in the US, how happy would you be to live on a reservation? You're only willing to say that Native Americans are the true owners of the US because you know that there is no realistic way that a Native American military can force you away from your home and land, take it over and put you on a reservation, so that's a cheap statement. If, by saying Native Americans are the true owners of the US, you will give your home and land to Native Americans and move back to where your ancestors came from, then I take that back.

Expand full comment

I am not saying NM are the true owners. I said if we apply the same logic that some people on the left use in the case of NM then etc etc.

Expand full comment

Why are setting up a straw man, then? And if Jews are not the true owners, then Arab Palestinians have as much claim on Palestine as Jews.

Expand full comment
Oct 14, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Excellent article. Very difficult subject to tackle but it was written objectively.

Expand full comment
author

It's impossible to be fully objective, but I try as hard as I can!

Expand full comment
Oct 14, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

A very reasonable analysis. However in the final analysis, though your conclusion (both people deserve a state) should be reasonable there is a flaw in the execution. As has been said by prior Israeli leaders, the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Had the Arabs (and Palestinians) foregone the maximalist drive (to wipe Israel off the map, and drive the Jews into the sea -i.e. genocide of the inhabitants of Israel) there could have been a state decades ago. If you look at education of children by the PA and even in Gaza by Hamas, the Jews are evil and deserve to be removed by any means possible. Gaza had relatively open borders when Israel left, but when suicide bombers and rockets started coming over the border Israel and Egypt both closed the borders, and Israel eventually build an extensive fence/wall. Same for the West Bank- suicide bombers walking across the border and exploding themselves in buses, in cafes, pizza parlors, etc. resulting in the construction of a barrier wall. As it has been said, if the Arabs laid down their arms there would be peace, if the Israelis laid down their arms they would be massacred. This is not a minor distinction. Perhaps some day the Palestinians will realize that giving up the maximalist return will give them greater returns for them and their children, but until then Israel will need to defend itself from against what we have just seen- what Israel already knows, and what the world has just seen when the veil has been lifted.

Expand full comment
author

Although I agree with many of the things you say, your comment conveniently avoids touching on the subjects for which Israel has no justification.

Of course, these topics are the ones that Palestinians focus on, and avoid the ones you mention.

The result is no agreement.

Every appraisal of the situation must consider all aspects.

Expand full comment
Oct 14, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Great article, a much more helpful discussion than most of the sensationalist chaff in the news media!

A few thoughts.

1. "Who lived there first" is problematic. In the UK we would be returning most of England to the celts (welsh, cornish, maybe irish). Or to whoever preceded them. Neanderthals? It gets too remote.

2. Some of the behaviours in palestine are problematic. Zionist settlers carving out chunks of additional territory for the jewish community. Rocket attacks. Police brutality and racist discrmination. Should these be allowed to retian the gains that they accrue? If so... is this a good way to move forward in a disputed region?

3. It is clear to me that both the Jewish and Palestinian peoples have strong claims to live in the region and to have their own state. Relative to what preceded it, the current allocation of territory does seem generous the jewish community (and it worked great for the european countries that wanted to see their jewish populations exit) - the best land and the most land and the contiguous space. However, much of the gains have accrued as a result of conflicts started by neighbouring countries attacking Israel and israel fighting them off. Harder to argue that these should be returned.

4. As a result, my instincts are that a two state solution is the only sensible way forward, with effective international guarantees for israel's protection and survival (when non belligerent) and for the protection of the palestinians (when non belligerent). Maybe three states (gaza and west bank and israel) with the former under UN protection.

5. Is it fair to say that other arab /muslim countries are generally not sympathetic to palestinian people, not assimilating them as refugees etc? Compared with eg the massive syrian diaspora in Lebanon and elsewhere. Or indeed the accommodation of ukranian refugees in europe. True? If so then why? And what might change it?

Expand full comment
author

I agree with everything you say. And next article is on your last point precisely!

Expand full comment

Perhaps in your next article you could touch on culture as a factor in the problems of the region.

Expand full comment
author

Yeah I'm starting to touch on it

Expand full comment
Oct 16, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Hi Tomas, thank you for your fair and insightful contribution! I’m very much looking forward to the rest of the series and I have a question I hope you will consider: why does Israel-Palestine dominate public discourse all over the world? It’s a phenomenon. Israel is only a tiny nation, yet it generates disproportionate attention and an emotionally driven debate. Why are activists drawn to the Palestinian cause while mass scale atrocities in other parts of the world can barely sell newspapers? Myanmar, Ethiopia, Haiti, and Rwanda all come to mind. Does it have something to do with the Abrahamic religions? Does antisemitism play a role? Hoping this series provides some insight.

Expand full comment
author

It’s such a good question. I do want to tackle it!

Expand full comment

“Assholes all the way down.” Thanks for all the info and flashes of wit. I’ve long been baffled by the left’s contention that Jewish people are somehow less indigenous to the Middle East than Palestinians. You got white American college students sounding like the Pharaohs. I’m Native American, a Spokane Indian, but I often call us “Here-Firstians” rather than indigenous. And didn’t our earliest ancestors all originate in a relatively small part of what we now call Africa? So much of who we are is the result of people walking away from their homelands...

Expand full comment
author

This is probably the best way to look at it. We're all African hominids, and actually from not that far ago. Pharaohs were ruling Egypt 5k years ago. Homo Sapiens left Africa just 70k years ago...

Expand full comment
Oct 15, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Fine work, as always! - I disagree somewhat with the whole thing being a very open question. When WARS are fought, the borders are drawn by the winner. And if the other side is as unhappy to go to war over it again: "in the GoT you win or you die". See: Alsace–Lorraine - A "German" region, belonged to France since Louis XIV. In the war of 1869/70 Bismarck takes it "home" to Germany (against the will of the people there, but the German generals wanted it very much.) In 1918/19 Germany loses WWI and France gets it back. And when 1870-1918 there were "partisans" in Alsace fighting Germans: they could expect death or prison. And no one would wonder: "Maybe the Germans have no right to execute them?" (one side would have see them as "heroes" or "martyres", sure) - As before 1870 and after 1918 if some idiot in Alsace was to fight the French government. And if the French gov would have gone to organise marauding attacks on Germany - Hamas-style - the obvious result would have been a new war. With the potential loss of all France if lost. Of course. Because this is how borders were and are decided. Not by history-books or DNA-analysis. If 2 million Palestinians let Hamas rule them and lead them - again - into a hopeless war with Israel: Vae victis.

Expand full comment
author

Valid point.

But there is also self-determination. Virtually every case of decolonization was the creation of a new nation-state without war with the colonizing power

Expand full comment
Oct 15, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Depends much on the colonizing power. France was much more keen to keep Indochina (Vietnam+Laos+Cambodia) and Algeria - took 8 years of bloody war each time - than the UK was in Africa. Portugal's colonies: decade-long wars. Wikipedia's list if a loooong one: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_of_independence

Now, is Gaza a colony? Wasn't the plan of Israel: "let them sort it out"? Quote: "In the 1990s, as part of the Oslo Accords, the administration over most of the area was handed over to the Palestinian National Authority, ... Israeli settlements ... were evacuated in 2005. In 2006, Hamas won the last-held Palestinian legislative election, and started administering Gaza, and took full control the following year" wikipedia Morale: do not start wars you will lose - there are many options for Israel now I would call: "bloody", some "unwise". None I would call "unjust". As when my fellow "innocent" civilian Germans burnt in fire-storms in Hamburg and Dresden. Not unjust. Just: War.

Expand full comment
author

I agree. Especially with the fact that my use of “virtually” was a bit too optimistic

Expand full comment
Oct 14, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Great job Tomas! Very balanced and nuanced review of the historical background to this conflict. Both the Israeli and Palestinian people are entitled to a home whose borders are intentionally recognized, in which they can live peacefully and live their lives. As you show so clearly, I don't think history is a good basis on which to decide who "owns" territory since it depends on one's time frame and bias. Pragmatism is important: neither the Jewish nor Palestinian populations are going to leave, and suggesting otherwise as Hamas and Hezbollah do is foolish and destructive. I appreciated that you pointed out the roles that Egypt, Jordan, and Syria have played in placing Palestinians in their plight. This is too often ignored in debate. As for the desire of early Zionists to establish a state in Palestine, an important factor is the theme of exiled Jews longing for their homeland that it is so prevalent in the Old Testament. For us Jews, Israel was the obvious place to establish a state. A final observation is the attention that the claims for nationhood by Jews and Palestinians command, whereas claims by other stateless people like the Kurds and Uighurs receive much less attention. Why is that?

Expand full comment
author

Valuable thoughts thank you.

I will write about the neighboring countries next week!

And I’ll think more about the asymmetry of attention

Expand full comment
Oct 14, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Israeli historian Ilan Pappé writes in his book "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine":

> To bring their project to fruition, the Zionist thinkers claimed the biblical territory and recreated, indeed reinvented, it as the cradle of their new nationalist movement. As they saw it, Palestine was occupied by 'strangers' and had to be repossessed. 'Strangers' here meant everyone not Jewish who had been living in Palestine since the Roman period. In fact, for many Zionists Palestine was not even an 'occupied' land when they first arrived there in 1882, but rather an 'empty' one: the native Palestinians who lived there were largely invisible to them or, if not, were part of nature's hardship and as such were to be conquered and removed. Nothing, neither rocks nor Palestinians, was to stand in the way of the national 'redemption' of the land the Zionist movement coveted.

Expand full comment
author

I don’t know the story well, but it sounds reasonable that some zionists would say that. I don’t think it delegitimizes the project entirely though. As mentioned in the article, their claim is reasonable. If anything, the only thing they’ve done differently compared to all other settlers before is they joined by buying land and never attacking

Expand full comment

As Tomas stated, many of the first wave of Jews who moved to Palestine before WW I bought land. They didn't just occupy it and displace its residents. It was the British and then the UN who displaced Palestinians when they created Israel as a nation. Also, Hamas and Hezbollah would ethnically cleanse Israel by driving out all Jews, as explicitly stated in their founding mission declarations. There are no angels in this region (or elsewhere).

Expand full comment

The soft power of wealth is a lot gentler than hard power

Expand full comment
author

It is

Expand full comment

True. But those early settlers were not wealthy. This isn't like Hollywood and Wall Street tycoons buying estates in West Hampton. They were refugees with little money who surely paid the going rate for property and used the land as their Arabic neighbors did, for agriculture. There had always been some Jews living in this region and the new arrivals became part of the local communities.

Expand full comment

I have no doubt you are right that the early settlers were of modest wealth, most likely accumulated by hard work and saving. Those who sold the land to them did so freely and were at liberty to do as they wished with the proceeds. Personally, I would much rather see this kind of behaviour than violence , intimidation or corruption.

Expand full comment
Oct 14, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

This is by far seemingly the most collective and factual summary I have seen so far.

Say the Israel and Palestine solve this.. what about the balance of the levant territories? Lebanon and Syria have immense issues. Same for Iraq. What if we were to look at how say a “UAE” of the Levant could look like? ( United Territories of the Levant)

Kind of like a future project to build some aspiration and appease this pico-Sykes disaster; etc.

Expand full comment
author

There were some projects like that! I will cover them in my next article.

More importantly: a mega wave is coming that is about to completely change the Middle East, way faster than politics: oil.

Or more precisely, it’s drop in value.

Expand full comment
Oct 17, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

And I imagine that the coming displacement of oil with technology is one of the reasons the Saudis will be setting aside their age old differences with Jews in the region.

The market economy is a beautiful thing.

Expand full comment
author

One of the most exciting developments of our era

Expand full comment
Oct 15, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

We can already see effect of this. Saudis and UAE have embarked on ambitious project to industrialise and export beyond commodities. One could see the rapid change in Saudi society mainly women emancipation and increasing secularisation. Also $100 which they got for barrel of oil in say 2000s doesn't buy same amount of influence and things now.

Expand full comment
author

For sure

But there can only be so many Dubais, and for now what I’ve seen in Saudi Arabia is more desire than reality

Expand full comment

Yupp.. but I see many ambitious projects of Saudis in an effort to industrialise. They are opening new mines for sulphur, etc. IMEC corridor will also facilitate this process

Expand full comment
author

I really do hope they succeed. I don't want another failed state in Arabia

Expand full comment
author

Next article touches on this!

More importantly, another big wave is going to completely change the Middle East very soon: the drop in the value of oil

Expand full comment
Oct 14, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Looking forward to an exchange of ideas. It looks like a drop in necessity vs value. We will need O&G for the near future well into the next century. A nice KPI would be to monitor the daily B/D. Price needs to stay higher to enable the transition.

Expand full comment
Oct 17, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Great article.

As for the "how" this could happen, very interesting proposal from a Palestinian-Israeli think tank:

https://www.alandforall.org/english/

Expand full comment
author

Very interesting. Thanks Olivier!

This does look like progress compared to Oslo.

My main quibble is that I'm not sure this is acceptable for Israel from a security standpoint. Look at what happened with the work permits in Gaza.

Conversely, on both sides, a majority wants the entire land managed by their side.

But I like the pragmatic approach to many of these issues.

Expand full comment
Oct 21, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Wow, for ages I haven't heard anything like this, although I have always thought of something similar. I wish many people (and especially those in power) hear this and it come true!

Expand full comment
Oct 14, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Thank you so much! I will be sharing the article with anyone who wants it. One question left:. When Egypt and Transjordan 'took over' Gaza and the WBank, what happened? Did they move in, displace people, govern with new laws to their own benefit, pilfer resources? How did they surrender control?

Expand full comment
author

Next article is in this!

Expand full comment

This is an exceptionally detailed dissection of this topic.

Expand full comment
Oct 14, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Excellent article.

Expand full comment

Thanks for an interesting read. (I write about this topic a lot, but so few people understand any of the background, this will be a great resource.)

Expand full comment
Nov 19, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

I like the article. On the historical end it should be noted Israel was in its second existence as a nation when the Romans conquered. They regained their independence as a sovereign state from the Greeks in 167 BC as a result of the Maccabean Wars under the name of Judea.

Expand full comment
author

I didn't realize. Thanks!

Expand full comment