Sunday, June 12, 2011

Israel - Birth of a Nation

James Stuart came to my attention as a result of reading a post on another forum. What follows are, apparently, his words. I can find no fault with them. That being said, we can never have enough evidence in an historical debate and no interpretation is set in concrete.

Millions of people in the ME can be broadly described, in ethnic terms, as Semitic. This includes most Egyptians and many people with ancient roots in the former Roman Province of Palestine, irrespective of religion.

Prior to the establishment of the Hebrew Kingdom in what is now, roughly speaking, Israel and the Palestinian territories, the peoples of the region were disunited and pagan. Judaism is the world's first, and oldest, monotheistic religion. The Jewish tradition also encompasses the world's oldest, continuous written history, written in a language which is still used today.

Judaism is a religion and there is no such thing as a Jewish race. Today Jews of European, or Caucasian, ancestry outnumber Jews of Middle Eastern origin, in Israel and elsewhere in the world. There are also African Jews and Indian Jews.

The Hebrew Kingdom was the first nation state in the area which became known as Palestine. Over time it attracted a large Greek population since the Ancient Greeks were the world's first great colonizers and had colonies stretching from Cadiz all along the Mediterranean and into the Black Sea where to this day Georgians claim to be of Greek descent. When Greece fell to the Romans, the region became a Roman province and it was the Romans who named it Palestine.

The people of Palestine were predominantly Jewish, with a large contingent of Greek and Roman polytheists. In the time of Our Lord, significant numbers of Greeks, Romans and Jews became Christians although, at that time, Christianity was seen as a Jewish cult, of which there were several, and Jesus as a particularly gifted Rabbi and community leader. The Romans did away with him because they saw him as a revolutionary engaged in a struggle for independence.

Modern Christianity owes a great deal to the Ancient Greeks and the Romans who adapted it to suit their own purposes. Jesus remained a Jew until the day he died and is best remembered as such. Paul (Saul) played a similar role in the evolution of Christianity to that played by Mahomet in the evolution of Islam. Both men modified the Jewish tradition to suit their own political ambitions.

Palestine eventually became part of the Eastern Roman Empire. At that time the inhabitants were mostly Christian or Jew. During the 7th Century the region fell into the hands of the Seljuk Turks who were Islamists. Palestine became a Turkish province, with a mainly Jewish and partly Christian population, and remained so until 1917. During the period of Turkish rule some Arabs from other parts of the Turkish Empire settled in Palestine and some Jews and Christians converted to Islam so that they could join the army and/or the civil service.

Palestine was never, strictly speaking, an Arab territory. During the First World War the British whipped up Arab nationalism, persuading hitherto disunited, feuding tribes to revolt against their Turkish overlords. Among the carrots offered to the Arab nationalists was Palestine, a territory to which they had no legitimate claim although there was an Islamic, largely non-Arab, population.

The British also promised to restore the Jewish nation state in Palestine. For the British it was a cynical attempt to enlist all possible sources of aid and support in the struggle against the Germans and their Turkish allies. The League of Nations in 1919 rewarded the British for their ham-handedness by making them responsible for the mandated territory of Palestine, just as Australia inherited New Guinea from the Germans and the Union of South Africa what is now Namibia.

During the later part of the 19th Century many European Jews returned to Palestine to escape persecution in Eastern and Central Europe. They were welcomed by the Turks who were tolerant, if somewhat idle, rulers. Palestine at that time was the most backward province of the Turkish empire, a region of arid drylands, and malarial coastal marshes. What enterprise there was was mainly down to the Jewish citizens, soon to be joined by Jews from around the world.

The movement to return to Israel accelerated through the last decades of the 19th Century and attracted the interest of American Jews who invested capital and provided know-how gleaned from states like Arizona regarding the profitable development of arid lands. This movement continued into the 20th Century and accelerated with the revival of anti-semitism in Europe during the 1930s. At that time Western leaders began to give serious consideration to the idea of an alternative home for European Jews.

There are few who are not familiar with the events in Germany after 1933, the Second World War and the Holocaust which went on for the worst part of a decade from 1936 to 1945. During this time people of the Jewish faith in all parts of the world, in concert with the Allied governments, recognised the necessity for a Jewish homeland or sanctuary. This was never about race, or nationality, but simply about human rights and religious freedom. Historically, and in every other way, Palestine was the logical choice.

During the 20th Century, however, the so-called 'great powers' had become increasingly dependent on Middle Eastern oil. Palestine (Israel) has no resources to speak of. Its one of the world's great 'knowledge economies', like Switzerland. The problem was the Arab nationalists, who saw themselves as the rightful heirs of the Turks, not that they had done anything to deserve the fruits of Turkish civilization, and the desire of the British and the French to avoid antagonising the Arabs, thereby compromising their oil interests. Typically, as they did years later in the case of Rhodesia, the British dilly dallied and shilly shallied until the people of Palestine, mainly Jewish, took matters into their own hands.

The British faced a considerable challenge at the hands of the Jewish liberation movement in Palestine, some of whom resorted to terrorism. In the end they surrendered their mandate - it was all too hard for a nation all but bankrupt after its magnificent stand against the Nazis - to the newly constituted United Nations.

The United Nations, in its wisdom partitioned Palestine in 1948 on religious lines, between Jew and non-Jew (Christians and Islamists). All would have been well had the Arab nations, who had no rightful claim to any part of Palestine, accepted the decision of the UN. Israel was invaded by a coalition of Iraqi, Syrian, Egyptian and Jordanian troops, most of them trained and equipped by the British. The very recently formed Israeli Defence Force had almost nothing in the way of arms and equipment. At the last minute they were able to source captured German equipment, including aircraft, from Czechoslovakia. The Russians, for reasons of their own, were complicit in this and provided tacit support to the Israelis, as did Jews around the world.

The rest is history. Suffice it to say that the Arab nations, and nations like Iraq (Formerly Persia) which are not Arab, and have no connection with the area later than the empire of Alexander the Great, have sworn to obliterate Israel. This is Islamic fanaticism at its worst, and the only 'rational' objective is surely the Islamification of the planet from Pakistan to Morocco. The only Islamic nation to have any historical claim over Palestine is Turkey, a nation which has long since joined the 'civilized' world and is in line to become a member of the EU. The Turks, needless to say, have more in common with Southern Europeans than the people of the Middle East whom they ruled for the best part of 1200-years.

The present population of Israel have as much right, historically, to be there as any other people in any other part of the world. No country is without a history of migration, settlement and conquest. Most parts of the world have undergone so many changes that so-called racial distinctions are all but meaningless. There are, broadly speaking, certain ethnic types but we all have something of each other in us.

The difficulty faced by the non-Jewish Palestinians, currently struggling for independence, is that their territories are not economically viable. Their future lies in an economic union with Israel. At the moment they are mere pawns in a a game played by fanatics seeking the total obliteration of Israel. That is not going to happen.

Love all, trust a few. Do wrong to none.
- William Shakespeare

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