According to the Bible, the Hebrews wandered the Fertile Crescent, escaping oppression in Egypt and conquering Canaan only to be forced from the Holy Land by the Babylonians and Romans. After centuries of diaspora, Jews returned under the banner of Zionism to establish the modern, democratic, Jewish (and embattled) state of Israel.
Now, big chunks of this story seem to be false. Outside of the Bible, there's very little evidence that anything like the Exodus ever took place. Rather than being outsiders who conquered Canaan, the Hebrew people appear to have been Canaanites all along. Early biblical history is an epic that just isn't borne out by archaeological evidence.
And maybe that's a good thing, because the early history of the Israelites is filled with atrocity: after Joshua captured Jericho, all the inhabitants - men, women, newborns, the elderly, even livestock - were killed. It's nothing short of ethnic cleansing, if not genocide.
It's not a great real estate claim, either: "Thousands of years ago, our ancestors massacred the people living here - don't worry, God said it was OK - and that gives us a right to this land today." After all, many Muslims claim that God gave them the right to take the very same area over by force. And that's what's led to the bloody, theological Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a conflict which - just like the Sunni-Shiite split - could go on forever.
Never mind that Israel is the most democratic defender of human rights in the region, or that they have shown immense restraint against Gaza and the West Bank (which they could easily carpet-bomb with far greater effect than any barrage of Hamas rockets). They will always be seen as outsiders by the people whose ancestors have also lived in the area for centuries.
Israel took over the West Bank and Gaza Strip in legitimate self-defense after the Six-Day War in 1967, yet they keep holding the millions of people living in those territories at arm's length.
Maybe it's time to try something else.
Keep in mind, in Israel today, there are 1.5 million Arab Israeli citizens, most of whom are Palestinians, and they are not an army of Hamas militants lurking behind enemy lines, digging tunnels, kidnapping IDF soldiers and conducting suicide bombings.
Why not? Because they value what the state of Israel offers. Even though they (rightly) feel treated as second-class citizens, they see that second-class in Israel is far better than what most of the rest of the Middle East has to offer. (Note that Jordan and Egypt - which previously held the West Bank and Gaza, respectively - don't want them back.)
And then there are the thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank who cross over into Israel for work and then take their pay back into Palestine to feed their families. These are the people Israel should be working with and rewarding, not cordoning off.
Israel should go ahead and annex the territories and make the Palestinians naturalized citizens.
I know, it's impossible. But is it really any less practical than what's going on now?
Why not gradually incorporate the West Bank into Israel, so that the Palestinians there join the Palestinians who are already citizens of Israel (with Gaza to follow, when ready)? Yes, there will be militants who use this as an opportunity for bloodshed, and the IDF should eliminate them. But they shouldn't be used as an excuse to quarantine millions of non-militants.
And, yes, the one-state solution would mean Israel would no longer be a Jewish state. But there shouldn't be any religious states, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist or otherwise. Government's job is to protect freedom of worship for all religions, not to preserve one religion in particular. That never goes well.
Besides, being a Jewish state brands Israelis as outsiders, blinding people to its vastly superior record on justice and human rights compared to its neighbors. Notice that Muslims express more outrage at the 1,800 or so Palestinians killed in the 2014 Gaza War than at the Syrian Civil War, which has killed roughly 100 times as many Arab Muslims. As usual, being killed by your own kind is somehow less offensive than when an "outsider" does the same thing.
The point is, Israel already has an enormous Arab population that is not only pacified, but outright productive and participating in democracy. So why not extend this working strategy to other Palestinians, too?
Instead of the Occupation, why not try the Naturalization?
It sure beats sticking with what Israel has been doing for the past 50 years, with no end in sight.
Israel is better off without the Bible.
Alasdair Denvil graduated Virginia Commonwealth University with a B.A. in Philosophy, and attended NYU's graduate program. He has written for Facts on File and PolicyMic. Follow him on Twitter at @AlasdairDenvil.