Do you know? Have you stopped to think? When did this area start being called “the West Bank” and by whom?
The term “West Bank” is used so widely that one might get the impression that it has some real historical significance. Those who rally together, calling for Israel to pull out of this area and allow the establishment of a Palestinian State here, would like you to believe that one previously existed and that Israel took it over and closed it down. The narrative presumes that people will believe it without question and will not ask for any proof. Amazingly, that strategy has worked pretty well so far.
Many people do not expect to be lied to by TV announcers and academics, and so they just take the narrative at face value. Even people who support Israel often do not realize how un-related to fact many of these claims against Israel are. So Israel’s supporters are more often put on the defensive, trying to point out the good deeds that Israel is doing in the world as a way to cover up for actions that they do not know how to explain.
But, in fact, the West Bank narrative really has little foundation. It only appeared on the stage of history in 1948, when the Hashemite army of Trans-Jordan crossed over its own western border, the Jordan River, which it is named for. The army of Trans-Jordan did so as part of the joint Arab effort to destroy the newly founded Jewish State and push the Jews into the sea.
The line of defense that the Jewish army succeeded in holding as they defended Tel Aviv from invasion was later dubbed “The Green Line” because it was marked with green colored crayon on the map that was used at the signing of the Armistice Agreement between Israel and its neighbors in 1949 on the Greek island of Rhodes. In that agreement, the Arab side refused to define the green line as a recognized border, but only as an agreed ceasefire line - nothing more.
The Hashemite Kingdom of Trans-Jordan tried to annex their newfound land west of the Jordan River by imposing their laws and naturalizing the Arab residents of the area. They went so far as to change the name of the country to Jordan, removing the prefix "Trans" as a way to hide the fact that they belong on east side of the river, but not on both.
Jordan's occupation and annexation of “their” West Bank was not recognized by the international community, or even sanctioned by the Arab League. Only Great Britain and Pakistan backed the move. During the 19 years of Jordanian occupation of the West Bank, not one move was made to establish a Palestinian State there. On the contrary, the PLO was founded during that period, with the stated goal of ridding the rest of the land of Israel (pre-1967) of the Jewish State.
So actually, we see that the term “West Bank,” which only came about as result of Jordan's imperialist effort to expand its borders at the cost of the Jewish State, is only as old as the State of Israel. Before the Jordanian invasion, this region was always called Judea and Samaria. That can clearly be seen on maps published throughout history.
Next time you hear people talking about the “West Bank,” ask them if they have any idea when and why this term was coined. Point out that Judea and Samaria are Israel's heartland, and inform them that most of the main events of the Bible occurred here.
Some 10% of Israel's population has made their homes, built schools, businesses and communities in this area that is 30% of the State of Israel’s size. Just glance at a topographical map to realize the strategic importance of this mountain ridge to the very narrow State of Israel. With only 70 kilometers from the Jordan River to the sea in Tel Aviv, and Samaria taking up 55 of those kilometers, understand that all of Israel would be only 15 kilometers wide without it. This is entirely too close for comfort and security.
When you hear talk of the West Bank, remember: This is Israel's heartland - Judea and Samaria.