Sunday, 11 October 2015

THE LAND OF CANAAN - SOME GLORY, MUCH SHAME

   Some  32,000 years ago, small Neanderthal families were enjoying life here when uppity Cro-Magnons moved in and, with sex playing a role, made the Neanderthals extinct.  Both had female gods.
    Jumping to 10,300 years ago, a group of mesolithic Caucasians came to settle, cultivate Emer wheat near Jericho, make beer, and multiply.  They prospered until, around 3000 BC,  Egyptians filtered in.  By 1850 BC Sesostris III could argue the land should be Egyptian so moved in his army to make it so.  Few human arrangement are permanent.  1750 BC saw a horde of Asiatic Hyksos  sweep  in.  Then came the Caucasian Hurrians.  By 1500 BC the Egyptians were back, bumping into the Hittites, fleeing from Asia Minor.
So the Canaanites, still with female gods, suffered more see-saw battles on their soil for generations with no one learning that population increases lead to wars which lead to more wars and misery ad infinitum.
About 1,500BC Abraham and his Luddites arrived, bringing the male god of vengeance, Yahweh, to the local goddess societies. Slowly they were to become the ruling class among the Hapiru, the original Hebrews who, some 250 years later, were led out of Egyptian captivity by Moses who died en route in Jordan.  The later Israelis are one branch of this Hebrew group.  The Hebrew invaders were opposed by the Canaanites, including Moabites, Midianites, and Ammonites.  The Yahweh priesthood told the Jews this was their promised land but only if they first cleansed every living thing from it which they did and continue this approach today.
The original cleansing was not easy.  “Sea People”, fleeing Mediterranean climate change, came to form 5 city states.  These Philistines clashed with the Jews who considered them inferior as they were not circumcised.  David and Goliath were participants of this clash.  The Philistines had the closely-guarded secret of smelting iron.  The Jews did not, but used their wiles to steal the knowledge, forcing many of the Philistines (Phoenicians) to flee and set up colonies from Cyprus to Carthage to Spain. Many stayed, giving their name (Palestine) to the area. Then the oppressed-by-all Assyrians arose to conquer and become new oppressors in 722 BC, followed by the Babylonians in 586 BC. The Jews integrated and prospered in 50 years of Babylonian captivity, altering many stories, like the Flood, as their own.  Persians took over in 536, and Alexander the Great in 331 BC.  In 167 BC, the Jews  drove out the Seleucids (Alexander’s heirs), forming  a kingdom with Jerusalem as capital.  Rome protected this Maccabean kingdom until 61 BC when, to support King Herod, it sacked Jerusalem.  After 2 Jewish revolts, the Romans evicted all those they could catch in 135 AD.
Jews dispersed to all corners of the known world.  Some were welcomed, some tolerated, some persecuted.  Then, in 632, the new religion of Islam prompted new aggression and Palestinians suffered more bloody battles until all were conquered and persuaded to convert to Islam by 720.  In 1100, Crusaders restored Christianity until ousted in 1187.  Frederick II restored Christianity in 1229 but, in 1244, Seljuk Turks, driven out of Asia by Genghis Khan and his Mongol horsemen, swept in to take Jerusalem and restore Islam.  In the 14th and 15th centuries, Palestinian suffering continued including the Black Death.  In 1516, Selim I began 400 years of Ottoman Turkish rule which fluctuated from good to bad and all points in between.  The Palestinian capital alternated among Damascus, Sidon, and Acre.  In 1831, the Egyptian, Mohammed Ali, an Ottoman provincial ruler, occupied Palestine.  He opened the area to  Western influences.
In Europe, Jews lived a mixed bag.  Disraeli got to the top of the greasy pole becoming the UK prime minister.  Christendom outlawed usury, leaving it to the Jews who then made fortunes in the banking business, so much so that they could finance the British 1815 victory over Napoleon.  This made Baron Edmond de Rothschild very rich, so he financed the return of Jews to Palestine. He bought  housing complexes, evicted the Palestine tenants, and brought in Jews.  By 1917 the Palestine population consisted of 8,500 Jews and 1 million “Arabs”.  These Jews, along with much larger contingents of Palestinians, helped the British and Australians free Palestine from Turkish Ottoman rule.   In short-sighted gratitude, the British promised both an independent homeland in tiny Palestine.  The Jews had a big advantage, many coming from Europe and North America with financial backing and with experience in democratic governing.  The Palestinians, under Turkish rule for 400 years, had none of this.  To mounting Palestine fears, Jews continued to arrive.  By 1930 the British declared there was no more land left but, with the rise of Hitler, 133,000 more Jews came, causing the 1937 Arab revolt that resulted in 5,000 Arab, 1,200 Jewish, and 500 British casualties.  When WWII erupted in 1939, Jews were 30% of the population and frictions were increasing.  While 1,200 Arabs enlisted in British forces, 27,000 Jews did and they were allowed to build a munitions industry to aid the British who by 1942 uncovered a vast Jewish network stealing British arms.  Meanwhile, in 21 extermination camps, the Nazis murdered 14 million people, 6 million of them Jews.  Surviving Jews flocked to Palestine, swelling their population to 600,000 among 1.5 million Palestines.  In 1948 the UK gave its responsibilities to the UN which was manipulated by Harry Truman to impose a Jewish state on Palestine with no similar Palestine state.  The US now had two footholds in the Middle East.     But the Israelis went on a rampage killing and forcing Palestines into exile to take control of 77% rather than the 44% that was UN approved.  So they were attacked by Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.  Innocent Jews were also attacked in various Arab countries.  All sides lacked unity, but the Israelis emerged victorious, gaining much land.  In 1956 a UK-US-Israel force seized the Suez Canal after Egypt nationalized it.  World pressure, with the Commonwealth leading, caused a withdrawal.  In 1967 sabre rattling increased.  Israel, knowing it could not maintain mobilization, launched pre-emptive strikes, during which  Israeli aircraft and  torpedo boats attacked the USS Liberty which was monitoring broadcasts.  Out of a US crew of 275, 34 were killed and 75 wounded.
Again the Israelis won and this time occupied Gaza, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, Northern Palestine, and the Sinai.  They annexed 2/3 of Gaza, Northern Palestine and about half the West Bank.  They moved 400,000 settlers into the remaining Palestinian West Bank and 8,000 into the smaller Gaza, forming over 100 settlements on Palestinian land, effectively denying them the wherewithal to form a state. 
In 1979 Israel, for peace with Egypt, returned the Sinai desert. Palestinian activists fled first to Jordan, their numbers causing Jordanian expulsion to Lebanon.  Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 to destroy them, but suffered its first defeat, withdrawing in 1985 except for a buffer zone which it held until 2000.  In 2006 they evacuated all settlements in small Gaza that had been left to Palestine. but retained control of its borders and trade   They also evacuated 4 isolated West Bank settlements.
  Palestine are a mix of Canaanite, Philistine, Hebrew, Egyptian, Hyksos, Hittite, Persian, Greek, British, Australian, French, German, Turkish, and other genes.  To call them “Arabs” is  a misnomer. The Jews are also a very complex and quarrelsome genetic mix.  Differences are cultural with Judaism taking the longevity crown.  As Israel has taken most of the land, the Palestinians have been left stateless, disorganized, over-crowded, mostly homeless, and poor (44% earn under $2.30 per day) in a land only 17% arable - the best of recipes for resentment and violence.  The Arab world has left them festering in refugee camps in order to pressure the West to reduce the extent and power of Israel.  With Western criticism, but no action, the Israelis continue to treat the Palestinians as we did the native Americans from Ellesmere Island to Terra del Fuego. 
The Israelis deserve credit for surviving, and building a viable and thriving state but have enjoyed considerable Western help and armaments, including German reparations.  Obsessed with survival in a hostile environment, they  accept billions of dollars in annual US aid, but decline US advice.  They ignore scores of UN resolutions.  They react to Palestinian insurrections with excessive force causing from three to a thousand times the Palestinian casualties as Israeli.  Hamas was formed in 1987 in reaction to a corrupt and ineffective PLO that was unable to halt the increase in Jewish settlements.  Palestinians, by destroying international aircraft on the ground, murdering Israeli athletes, and using suicide bombers, have not exactly endeared us to their cause, so we forget how desperate their plight is.  They have a tiny degree of freedom, but Israel continues to control their travel, exports, imports, and even jails.  Israel used tanks to break into a Jericho jail in 2006 to seize 6 Palestinians accused of doing to an Israeli leader what the Israelis had done to 7 Hamas leaders.  This was extreme humiliation to Palestinian moderates.  This, of course, does not excuse Hamas from using its hard line for other than a starting bargaining position, but it appears they have no one to bargain with, even though the Israelis make the same claim to excuse their actions and delays. 
Yet sane and moderate heads are numerous, and while thousands of Israelis and Palestinians have worked together as equals, there remain far too many real terrorists everywhere, clinging to religion, ignorance,  prejudices, hate, and greed.  They hinder progress in human rights.  Several US presidents , like Eisenhower, Carter, and Obama, sailed out to create a more peaceful world only to have their sails removed by special interests especially those who benefit from conflict and who manipulate news items to imply it is not they but the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah who are the terrorists.  Money does work as an invisibility cloak to the eyes of too many voters.
We are all one species.  What we do to others we do to ourselves, and our progeny suffer.

georgesweanor@comcast.net                   www.yeoldescribe.com

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