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Israel in Arab Palestine
|by K. Gajendra Singh|
At the end is a very well and passionately written powerful piece from Al Akhbar by Sharmine Narwani (published here with permission) on the state of Israel and injustices to the longsuffering people of Palestine, many expelled to neighboring Arab states in refugee camps, whose home land the ‘foreigner' has usurped.
Extracts from my “Treating the symptoms instead of the cause”
Roots and History of the Problem
The Israeli-Arab problem is as old as time, beginning from the days of the Trojan wars, the struggle between the West and the East. Or the expulsion* and dispersal of Jews from Palestine. Or from the differences between the Prophet Mohammed and the Jews in Medina after the Hijra. Or the Christian Crusades to recover the religious sites in the Holy Land, except that the Crusaders had treated Jews as brutally as the Muslims. Or even the Orthodox Christians at Constantinople. And now, in the blunt words of US Deputy Secretary of State Paul Wolfowitz, to control and exploit the petroleum reserves under Arab lands. ...
* But even historians in Israel have questioned the authenticity of the so called Jewish nation and their dispersal.
The Invention of the Jewish People
Sholome Sand, professor of history at Tel Aviv University in his book ‘The Invention of the Jewish People’, originally published in Hebrew in 2008 as Matai ve’eich humtsa ha‘am hayehudi? (When and How Was the Jewish People Invented?) based on historical and archeological research questions the myth about Jewish homeland and their dispersal .The book was very popular in Israel itself. It was translated into English the following year created a furor among Zionists. Reviewing it in ‘Haaretz’ Ofri Ilani said that the book attempts "to prove that the Jewish people never existed as a ‘nation-race’ with a common origin, but rather is a colorful mix of groups that at various stages in history adopted the Jewish religion. He argues that for a number of Zionist ideologues, the mythical perception of the Jews as an ancient people led to truly racist thinking.
Sand's argument is that the people who were the original Jews living in Israel, were not exiled following the Bar Kokhba revolt. He contends that much of the present day world Jewish population is individuals, and groups, who converted to Judaism at later periods. The story of the exile was a myth promoted by early Christians to recruit Jews to the new faith. Sand states that “Christians wanted later generations of Jews to believe that their ancestors had been exiled as a punishment from God." Sand argues that most of the Jews were not exiled by the Romans, and were permitted to remain in the country. He puts the number of those exiled at tens of thousands at most. He further argues that many of the Jews converted to Islam following the Arab conquest, and were assimilated among the conquerors. He concludes that the progenitors of the Palestinian Arabs were Jews.
About the creation of the myth of a Jewish people as a group with a common ethnic origin, Sand stated that "at a certain stage in the 19th century intellectuals of Jewish origin in Germany, influenced by the folk character of German nationalism, took upon themselves the task of inventing a people "retrospectively," out of a thirst to create a modern Jewish people. It is believed that the Jews who inhabited central Europe were actually Khazars, a Turkic people who inhabited north of Caspian Sea region and had converted to Judaism. It is these Jews who migrated to Europe and who now rule Israel. Incidentally in the republic of Turkey, the people of central Asian origin, mostly Turkmen tribes are no more than 15% and most of them are Alevis and maltreated from time to time. The myths about nations have been created by rulers to control and manage people.
The Victor’s Law
Unfortunately many people have always done so in history i.e. invent history. As for US policies with their belief in ‘manifest destiny’and ‘exceptionalism’, what would you expect from its elite after genocide of the Red Indians and subjugation of the Afro-Americans brought over as slaves from Africa. English are still in occupation of N Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Some months ago US sarkari ‘government’ historian Fareed Zakeria while talking to Neocon Paul Wolfowitz stated that after nearly two centuries of domination by the West, Arabs would be finally be free. No, they will end up under the Mullahs and Saudi finance, all controlled from Washington at least in the in short term.
But then look at it dispassionately. When would the poor Nubians, Tuaregs, Berbers, Kabilies and other native tribes of north Africa be free of the domination of Arab’s language, religion and culture. Persians have done the same in past and 50% Persians now control the whole country, which has Azeris, Arabs, Turkmens, Baluchis etc. with their own languages and cultures etc.
Appended below is an article by Sharmine Narwani from the Sandbox from English Al Akhbar. Published here with permission
Excuse Me, but Israel Has No Right to Exist
The phrase “right to exist” entered my consciousness in the 1990s just as the concept of the two-state solution became part of our collective lexicon. In any debate at university, when a Zionist was out of arguments, those three magic words were invoked to shut down the conversation with an outraged, “are you saying Israel doesn’t have the right to exist?”
Of course you couldn’t challenge Israel’s right to exist – that was like saying you were negating a fundamental Jewish right to have…rights, with all manner of Holocaust guilt thrown in for effect.
Except of course the Holocaust is not my fault – or that of Palestinians. The cold-blooded program of ethnically cleansing Europe of its Jewish population has been so callously and opportunistically utilized to justify the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian Arab nation that it leaves me utterly unmoved. I have even caught myself – shock - rolling my eyes when I hear Holocaust and Israel in the same sentence.
What moves me instead in this post-two-state era is the sheer audacity of Israel even existing.
What a fantastical idea, this notion that a bunch of rank outsiders from another continent could appropriate an existing, populated nation for themselves – and convince the “global community” that it was the moral thing to do. I’d laugh at the chutzpah if this wasn’t so serious.
Even more brazen is the mass ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian population by persecuted Jews, newly arrived from their own experience of being ethnically cleansed.
But what is truly frightening is the psychological manipulation of the masses into believing that Palestinians are somehow dangerous – “terrorists” intent on “driving Jews into the sea.” As someone who makes a living through words, I find the use of language in creating perceptions to be intriguing. This practice – often termed “public diplomacy” has become an essential tool in the world of geopolitics. Words, after all, are the building blocks of our psychology.
Take, for example, the way we have come to view the Palestinian-Israeli “dispute” and any resolution of this enduring conflict. And here I borrow liberally from a previous article of mine…
The United States and Israel have created the global discourse on this issue, setting stringent parameters that grow increasingly narrow regarding the content and direction of this debate. Anything discussed outside the set parameters has, until recently, widely been viewed as unrealistic, unproductive and even subversive.
Participation in the debate is limited only to those who prescribe to its main tenets: the acceptance of Israel, its regional hegemony and its qualitative military edge, acceptance of the shaky logic upon which the Jewish state's claim to Palestine is based, and acceptance of the inclusion and exclusion of certain regional parties, movements and governments in any solution to the conflict.
Words like dove, hawk, militant, extremist, moderates, terrorists, Islamo-fascists, rejectionists, existential threat, holocaust-denier, mad mullah determine the participation of solution partners - and are capable of instantly excluding others.
Then there is the language that preserves "Israel's Right to Exist" unquestioningly: anything that invokes the Holocaust, anti-Semitism and the myths about historic Jewish rights to the land bequeathed to them by the Almighty – as though God was in the real-estate business. This language seeks not only to ensure that a Jewish connection to Palestine remains unquestioned, but importantly, seeks to punish and marginalize those who tackle the legitimacy of this modern colonial-settler experiment.
But this group-think has led us nowhere. It has obfuscated, distracted, deflected, ducked, and diminished, and we are no closer to a satisfactory conclusion…because the premise is wrong.
There is no fixing this problem. This is the kind of crisis in which you cut your losses, realize the error of your ways and reverse course. Israel is the problem. It is the last modern-day colonial-settler experiment, conducted at a time when these projects were being unraveled globally.
Let me correct myself. Palestinians do hold one chip that Israel salivates over – the one big demand at the negotiating table that seems to hold up everything else. Israel craves recognition of its “right to exist.”
But you do exist - don’t you, Israel?
Israel fears “de-legitimization” more than anything else. Behind the velvet curtains lies a state built on myths and narratives, protected only by a military behemoth, billions of dollars in US assistance and a lone UN Security Council veto. Nothing else stands between the state and its dismantlement. Without these three things, Israelis would not live in an entity that has come to be known as the “least safe place for Jews in the world.”
Strip away the spin and the gloss, and you quickly realize that Israel doesn’t even have the basics of a normal state. After 64 years, it doesn’t have borders. After six decades, it has never been more isolated. Over half a century later, and it needs a gargantuan military just to stop Palestinians from walking home.
Israel is a failed experiment. It is on life-support – pull those three plugs and it is a cadaver, living only in the minds of some seriously deluded foreigners who thought they could pull off the heist of the century.
The most important thing we can do as we hover on the horizon of One State is to shed the old language rapidly. None of it was real anyway – it was just the parlance of that particular “game.” Grow a new vocabulary of possibilities – the new state will be the dawn of humanity’s great reconciliation. Muslims, Christians and Jews living together in Palestine as they once did.
Naysayers can take a hike. Our patience is wearing thinner than the walls of the hovels that Palestinian refugees have called “home” for three generations in their purgatory camps.
These universally exploited refugees are entitled to the nice apartments – the ones that have pools downstairs and a grove of palm trees outside the lobby. Because the kind of compensation owed for this failed western experiment will never be enough.
And no, nobody hates Jews. That is the fallback argument screeched in our ears – the one “firewall” remaining to protect this Israeli Frankenstein. I don’t even care enough to insert the caveats that are supposed to prove I don’t hate Jews. It is not a provable point, and frankly, it is a straw man of an argument. If Jews who didn’t live through the Holocaust still feel the pain of it, then take that up with the Germans. Demand a sizeable plot of land in Germany – and good luck to you.
For anti-Semites salivating over an article that slams Israel, ply your trade elsewhere – you are part of the reason this problem exists.
Israelis who don’t want to share Palestine as equal citizens with the indigenous Palestinian population – the ones who don’t want to relinquish that which they demanded Palestinians relinquish 64 years ago - they can take their second passports and go back home. Those remaining had better find a positive attitude –Palestinians have shown themselves to be a forgiving lot. The amount of carnage they have experienced at the hands of their oppressors – without proportional response – shows remarkable restraint and faith.
This is less the death of a Jewish state than it is the demise of the last remnants of modern-day colonialism. It is a rite of passage – we will get through it just fine. At this particular precipice in the 21st century, we are all, universally, Palestinian – undoing this wrong is a test of our collective humanity, and nobody has the right to sit this one out.
Israel has no right to exist. Break that mental barrier and just say it: “Israel has no right to exist.” Roll it around your tongue, tweet it, post it as your Face book status update – do it before you think twice. De-legitimization is here – have no fear. Palestine will be less painful than Israel ever was.
Sharmine Narwani is a commentary writer and political analyst covering the Middle East. She is Senior Associate at St. Antony's College, Oxford University and has a Master of International Affairs degree from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in both journalism and Mideast studies. You can follow Sharmine on twitter@snarwani.
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05/19/2012 01:37 AM