older than your state?



Modern nation states as we know them today date largely back to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with the dissolution of various European empires, during which people with a shared national identity started to vie for their own sovereignty. In this context, a “nation” refers not necessarily to a modern nation state, but rather, a group of people with shared histories, language, culture, ethnicity, and/or territory, and who see themselves as having a common political future.

Modern statehood was largely influenced by the French and American Revolutions.

In the Middle East, in particular, modern nationalist movements emerged with the weakening and eventual fall of the Ottoman Empire. After the Ottomans’ defeat in World War I, different national groups in the Middle East, including Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians, and yes, Jews, lobbied the European powers for statehood. In many cases, the Europeans made contradicting promises (e.g. the Balfour Declaration contradicted a promise for an Arab “Greater Syria” made just a year prior).

As far as Middle East statehood goes, the European powers largely favored the Arabs, at the expense of other groups, such as Assyrians and Kurds, neither of which have a state to this day, despite still hoping for one to this day.

Just about every country in the Middle East (and Africa and the Americas) was carved out by the European powers. In the Middle East, for example, the British quite literally made up Iraq and Jordan, handing those territories over to an Arab royal family, the Hashemites. 



There have only ever been four fully independent sovereign states in the land that today corresponds to Israel and the Palestinian Territories: (1) the United Monarchy of the Kingdom of Israel, from 1047-930 BCE, (2) the Kingdom of Israel, from 930-722 BCE, (3) the Kingdom of Judah, from 930-587 BCE, and (4) the State of Israel, from 1948 to the present.

At all other times, the land was under the thumb of a foreign empire. The State of Israel’s establishment marks the re-establishment of sovereignty for the Jewish people, the direct genetic, cultural, spiritual, and historical descendants of the ancient Israelites who lived in the ancient Israelite kingdoms. The State of Israel today roughly corresponds with much of the territory of the ancient Israelite kingdoms, just as the modern Republic of Armenia roughly corresponds with parts of the territories of the ancient Armenian kingdoms. 

There has never in history been a sovereign Palestine. The concept of a sovereign Palestinian state did not arise until 1920, when the father of Palestinian nationalism, Haj Amin al-Husseini, abandoned his objective for Palestine to become a part of Greater Syria. Just a year prior, at the 1919 Palestine Arab Congress, two of the resolutions quite literally read, “(1) We consider Palestine nothing but part of Arab Syria and it has never been separated from it at any stage. We are tied to it by national, religious, linguistic, moral, economic, and geographic bounds…(3) Our district Southern Syria or Palestine should be not separated from the Independent Arab Syrian Government and be free from all foreign influence and protection.”

In other words, the concept of a sovereign Israel dates back to 1047 BCE. The idea for a sovereign Palestine dates back to 1920. 



Many Indigenous nations, to this day, are fighting for sovereignty. If they were to establish sovereignty, their states would be…well, new. Delegitimizing the State of Israel based on its year of independence is delegitimizing the fight for independence for nations across the globe, some of whom have achieved it recently, and some who have yet to achieve it. 

Delegitimizing Israel based on its year of independence is delegitimizing 2000 years of Indigenous resistance to win sovereignty back from colonizers. Some examples of this continued Jewish fight for independence include the Maccabean Revolt (167-141 BCE), the Great Jewish Revolt (66-74), the Bar Kokhba Revolt (132-135), the Revolt Against Gallus (351-352), the Samaritan Revolts (484-573), the Revolt Against Heraclius (614-617), and more. 

In the Middle East and North Africa alone, groups such as Kabyles, Kurds, and Assyrians are still fighting, to various degrees, for a sovereign nation of their own. When you delegitimize Israel for its relatively recent independence, you are by extension delegitimizing any newly independent nation…even those with thousands of years of history. 

(Because, yes, like it or not, Israel has thousands of years of history).  



Yes, the State of Israel only became a sovereign, independent, modern nation state in 1948, but Israelite civilization dates back 3000 years. 

The State if Israel today uses the exact same national symbols, such as the menorah, that were used in the Kingdom of Israel some 3000 years ago. Israelis speak Hebrew, the language that was used in the Israelite kingdoms, a language which only Jews and Samaritans, the Israelites’ descendants, have spoken continuously for 3000 years. The Israeli national currency, the New Israeli Shekel, is named after the shekels used in the Kingdom of Israel several thousand years ago. We have the same capital, Jerusalem, and many of the ancient kingdoms’ most important cities still remain cities to this day. 

For reference, think, once again, of Ancient Greece. As mentioned, Greece did not declare its independence until 1821. But Greek civilization dates back thousands upon thousands of years.

While the term “Israel” came into official disuse after the northern Kingdom of Israel was conquered by the Assyrian Empire in 722 BCE, Jews have continued referring to the land as “Israel,” continuously, for the past 3000 years. Following the successful Maccabean Revolt in the second century BCE, the new ruling Jewish dynasty, the Hasmoneans, referred to the Hasmonean Kingdom as “Judea” and “Israel” interchangeably. Similarly, during the early successful years of the Bar Kokhba Revolt, Simon Bar Kokhba ruled as prince of an entity that he dubbed “Israel.”

Jews never, ever stopped referring to the land as “Eretz Israel,” or the Land of Israel. 

For a full bibliography of my sources, please head over to my Instagram and Patreon.

Back to blog