*Editor’s Note: This is the fourth installment in the most recent series of articles from Jewish Press Online contributor, Alex Grobman, PhD
The rabbis were so concerned about the national welfare and the continuation of Jewish rule of the land, they refused to accept any foreign occupation as valid. Although they had to acquiesce to their rule, they viewed the Romans, for example, as intruders and their representatives as robbers. G-d had promised the Land to Abraham and his descendants, and no one could change this right. The Jews did not accept their authority reflecting the humiliations and degradation they faced at the hands of these oppressors. 
When the Roman Army destroyed the Temple in 70 C.E., the rabbis decided to establish ceremonies to commemorate the destruction, and maintain the belief that the Temple will be rebuilt “speedily in our days.” The success of these ceremonies, known as Zekher le-Hurban (Remembrance of the destruction), are practiced to this day by observant Jews. The period of mourning commemorating the destruction of the first and second Temples begins on the 17th day of the Jewish month of Tammuz and ends on the ninth day of the Jewish month of Av, the day of the destruction, called the fast of Tisha B’Av. On this day Jews sit on the floor lamenting their past and entreat G-d to fulfill the messianic promise of return to their land to rebuild the Temple.
In anticipation of the return, the rabbis in the second century codified the areas of Jewish law that in time would become invaluable with the restoration of the Temple including: the intricacies of Temple worship and architecture, responsibilities of the high priest, the king and the Sanhedrin (highest judicial and ecclesiastical council). From this ardent religious link to the Temple, over centuries an individualized form of prayer developed, which became formalized with a fixed order. The liturgy is replete with prayers entreating a swift return to Zion and the restoration of the Temple service. 
Three times a day Jews are required to pray wherever they might be in the world, but they must face the East, the direction of the Temple: “Sound the great shofar for our freedom; raise the standard to gather our exiles, and assemble us from the four corners of the earth…. Restore our judges as of old… And to Jerusalem your city return in mercy and dwell therein as you have said; and speedily establish therein the throne of David.” 
Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion observed that more than 3,000 years before the Mayflower left England for the New World, Jews fled from Egypt. Jews who are even slightly aware of their Jewish heritage know that every spring Jews commemorate and remember the liberation from slavery and the Exodus from Egypt to the Land of Israel at their Seder.  The Seder concludes with the words, “L’shana haba’ah b’Yerushalayim ha’binuya”—Next Year in Rebuilt Jerusalem. The holiday has become the symbol of their hope for the future. They ask G-d to bring them to “other festivals and holy days that come to us, in peace, happy in the building of your city, and joyous in your (Temple) service.” 
When the Muslims invaded Palestine in 634, ending four centuries of conflict between Persia and Rome, they found direct descendants of Jews who had lived in the country since the time of Joshua bin Nun, the man who led the Israelites into the Land of Canaan. This means that for 2,000 years Jews and Christians constituted the majority of the indigenous population of Palestine, while the Bedouin’s were the ruling class under the Damascene caliphate. As far back as the Byzantine Empire, (313 to 636), rabbinical leaders in Palestine argued about “whether most of Palestine is in the hands of the gentiles,” or “whether the greater part of Palestine is in the hands of Israel.” This was essential to determine, since according to halacha (Jewish law), if the Jews ruled the country, they were obligated to observe religious agricultural practices in one way, and another if they were not in control.  While Jewish settlement in recent times began in 1881, in the third and fourth centuries Palestine was probably the largest and most significant Jewish community in the world. Jewish towns and settlements in Palestine from the tenth century. Benjamin of Tudela, Saadia Gaon, Maimonides and Judah Halevi were there from the twelfth century and Nachmanides from the early thirteenth century. Rabbi Estori Ha-Parhi, author of Kaftor va-Ferah, demonstrates how since Biblical times, Jews have lived on the land continuously. 
Major Arab contributions to history originated in Damascus, Mecca, Cairo and Baghdad, but not from Jerusalem. The Land of Israel is two percent of the Arab-controlled landmass; to the Jewish people it is their home.  If Palestine was their ancient homeland, what did the Palestinian Arabs produce throughout the period? Who was the most eminent of all their kings, prime ministers or other prominent leaders? Which Palestinian Arab poet, author or intellectual affected humanity with their moving words and stimulating philosophies? Which eminent Palestinian Arab scientist, inventor, musician, physician or artist achieved worldwide or even regional prominence? There were none, because as has been noted, there never existed an Arab or Palestinian state in this region. 
Notwithstanding Arab claims, Palestine was never a separate country as Bernard Lewis has explained: “From the end of the Jewish state in antiquity to the beginning of British rule, the area now designated by the name Palestine was not a country and had no frontiers, only administrative boundaries; it was a group of provincial subdivisions, by no means always the same, within a larger entity.” 
With regard to the Palestinian Arab population, a study of Jewish, Arab and British policies conducted by the Esco Foundation for Palestine published in 1947 concluded: “It is highly improbable that any but a small part of the present Arab population of Palestine is descended from the ancient inhabitants of the land.” Aside from those brought to Palestine through conquest, “Palestine, like Syria, has been from time immemorial been peopled by the drifting populations of Arabia, and to some extent by the backwash of its harbors.” 
Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion observed that more than 3,000 years before the Mayflower left England for the New World, Jews fled from Egypt. Jews who are even slightly aware of their Jewish heritage know that every spring Jews commemorate and remember the liberation from slavery and the Exodus from Egypt to the Land of Israel at their Seder.  The Seder concludes with the words, “L’shana haba’ah b’Yerushalayim ha’binuya”—Next Year in Rebuilt Jerusalem.
 Abraham S. Halkin, Ed., Zion in Jewish Literature (New York: Herzl Press, 1961), 48.
 Ibid. 54.
 Ibid. 55.
 Ibid. 55-56.
 The Jewish Case Before The Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine (Jerusalem: The Jewish Agency For Palestine, 1947), 63, 65.
 Halkin, Ed., op. cit. 58.
 Yaacov Herzog, A People That Dwells Alone (New York: Sanhedrin Press, 1975), 33.
 Ibid. 57.
 Abraham Joshua Heschel, Israel: An Echo of Eternity (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1969), 59.
 Michael Medved, “An Open Letter on Middle East Confusion,” Town Hall.com (June 20, 2013).
 Bernard Lewis, “The Palestinians and the PLO, A Historical Approach,” Commentary (January 1975): 32; Bernard Lewis, Semites and Anti-Semites: An Inquiry into Conflict and Prejudice (New York: Norton, 1999), 164.
 Palestine, A Study of Jewish, Arab, and British Policies, Volume I (New Haven Connecticut :Yale University Press, 1947), 462-463.
 The Jewish Case Before The Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine, op.cit.63, 65.