Saturday, 19 June 2010

OH, ISRAEL

OH, ISRAEL! It is sad that Israel, with so much to offer, is so paranoid about security that it is now considered a bully. But first a little, very sketchy history: Faith or fact? No historical account of Abraham exists other than what is found in scriptures that claim, about 1900 BC, Abraham, Sarah, family, and relatives left Ur, Iraq, for Canaan where they infiltrated and eventually controlled a nomadic group to be known as Hebrews, persuading them to renounce their female gods to embrace Yahweh. Abraham fathered children by 3 wives and died at age 175. Sarah gave birth to Isaac at age 90. Years passed and, during a famine, descendants of this group, following David’s lead, found refuge in Egypt where, over the next 645 years, they multiplied to the extent that a new pharaoh persecuted them leading to the exodus led by Moses. About 1250 they ended up back in Canaan where they smote the Philistines (Palestinians) to acquire the land promised them by Yahweh. Ownership was hotly contested by at least 11 distinct groups until Romans ousted most of the Jews in 135 AD. Significant return of Jews to Palestine began after 1831 when Mohammed Ali, an Ottoman provincial ruler, opened the area to the West and Edmond de Rothschild financed the move.

The current state of Israel was a dicey plan in the first place, as Winston Churchill warned in 1937. To create a new Jewish state, westernized, wealthy, and technologically-advanced in a small plot of land, much of it not arable, in an Arab and Muslim area that would necessitate the eviction (and killing) of thousands of Palestinians who were slowly emerging from 400 years of rural, seldom harsh, life as part of the Ottoman Empire, could lead to trouble requiring the best of minds and the best of behaviour to contain. At least the area was kept intact under Ottoman rule. Then came the vultures, many well-meaning, to share the spoils of their WWI victory. They divided the area into countries and gave League of Nation mandates to the UK and France to assist the emergence of a modern, Western-controlled, Middle East. The US refused an offered mandate but got involved economically. Russia, Italy, and Germany also developed interests. Immense sympathy for the Jews after the Holocaust led the WWII victors, hesitant to open their own borders to displaced survivors, to allow a Palestine homeland for them which, after all, was theirs historically, but this return of the Jews would be somewhat akin to us Caucasians reclaiming the Caucasus. Generations of Palestinians have now languished in refugee camps, helpless to resist but creating a simmering hatred of the occupiers. The newcomers, with considerable aid, especially from the USA and Germany, after defeating an attempt to oust them, did create a vibrant industrial nation that did benefit the world with contributions in science, medicine, literature, and so on. It also built up the area’s most powerful military. Growth required more land which led to large settlements throughout occupied Palestine so the locals, denied a military of their own, were pushed aside as were the locals in all countries of America not all that long ago. Worldwide support for Israel started to slip when Lebanon then Gaza acquired ineffective missiles that killed less than a dozen Israelis only to have the Israelis attack with massive force that killed thousands and destroyed infrastructure that remains rubble. This includes a 3-year blockade of Gaza after it voted in Hamas a new organization understandably hostile to Israel. This land, sea, and air blockade has created great poverty, precluding any progress. Lately, six Turkish and one Irish ships attempting to run the blockade and bring in humanitarian aid have been seized in international waters and towed to an Israeli port with 9 Turkish and no Israeli deaths. It is gratifying that much of the criticism of the Israeli siege mentality comes from many Israelis who argue that Israel is much more of a threat to Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah than they are to Israel. It will be hard and difficult but Israel must now return to its original borders and employ its expertise in creating a common market of Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Syria - 5 countries in an area barely big enough for one. To continue current Israeli policies will only lead to its demise which will benefit only new vultures.

If Catholics, worldwide, can be content with the Vatican, much tinier than Israel, as their headquarters, could we not persuade the Jews to accept the smaller, original, Israel as their HQ and continue to live in, and benefit, nations everywhere? Jerusalem, sacred to 3 religions, cannot be monopolized by one of them. Even Hamas should accept this solution.

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