The History of the Middle East Conflict in 11 Minutes

Here’s yet another video I stumbled upon. How is it videos make complicated things look so easy sometimes?

– Migdalit


HAMAS – Hides Amongst Mosques and Schools

Dear Hamas, you have done it. You have driven me back to this blog. And you have done so by adding rage to my stomach until it felt like exploding.

What I will be telling you in this post can all be backed up by sources. Contrary to what some media keep claiming this is not a lie and it is not propaganda. Many of the facts have been written about in this blog during years past because little has changed. Only that this time Hamas have clearly crossed all the boundaries. Boundaries that, mind you, most countries in this world would have put a lot, lot closer to home. If you manage to enrage Israel into risking the life of its youth in a ground operation you have done a really awesome job. Because contrary to what some people seem to think Israel does value life. It values the life of its citizens, its soldiers and, yes, it values the life of its enemy. To Israel every single life is sacred.

What I cannot, even after seven years of going through the same discussions over and over, understand is this: How can a country, any country, be expected to passively accept its sovereign borders being violated by a continuous stream of rockets? How can the so called international community look the other way for years and years and then erupt in disbelief when said country is forced to take measures to stop it? I just don’t get it. Here in Australia everyone is up in tears about a Malaysian airliner that has, somehow, got caught up in the Ukrainian / Russian war and was shot down, probably in an tragic accident. Don’t get me wrong, those 20-something lost Australian lifes are a tragedy. But how can one and the same population think about reinstating the cold war over this and the same time condemn Israel for protecting its civilians from an not ending stream of rockets?

Yes, the number of casualties is disproportionate between Israel and Gaza. But there is a quite simple reason for this and it is not Israel’s brutality. Not by a far shot. Israel leaves no stone unturned to protect its citizens. People in Israel have bomb shelters or reinforced rooms in almost every single house. They are warned by an early detection system by every means possible in the modern world. And, of course, Israel has Iron Dome. Iron Dome is not a panacea but I don’t even dare to think what would happen to the places I spent some of my happiest hours at if it wasn’t for Iron Dome. It has come just in time. It is a life saver – literally.



Hamas on the other hand … well … Hamas hides amongst mosques and schools. Just the other day weapons were found in a United Nations school. You want to guess what the UN did with them? Did they sound all the alarms and accuse Hamas of war crimes as they should have? Hell no, they didn’t. Your friendly UN personnel handed the weapons straight back to their owners in Gaza. To Hamas. And no-one outside the usual suspects of pro-Israeli bloggers and journalists seems to raise as much as an eyebrow about it. They are all way too busy bashing Israel, it seems.

Israel meanwhile – remember, these are the guys that treasure life – do whatever they can to protect the civilian population. Both their own and that in Gaza. They are dropping leaflets – hell, they are making phone calls and sending text messages so people have a chance to get the hell out of their houses turned weapons storage facility. But they choose to stay and one can but wonder whether the countless stories of Hamas keeping civilians in buildings marked for bombings at gunpoint are true. It somehow fits their style, doesn’t it? Israel has opened their hospitals to casualties from Gaza – they have been taking in severely ill Gaza residents for years. And rather than using it for a couple of PR brownie points Israel has even recognized that nobody can know you have been treated in an Israeli hospital if you want to return to your life in Gaza. So they have protected their patients and kept a low profile about it.

Israel is doing a lot more than can be expected. They are certainly doing a lot, lot more than any other governments have in recent wars. Have you ever heard of any of the above when allied forces bombed Baghdad? I haven’t. I am tempted to think that with most other armies on this planet we would be looking at 3’000 rather than some 300 casualties by now. If any the IDF should be praised for their effort. They are doing an awesome job.

Don’t get me wrong, Israelis aren’t angels. I am sure there are some soldiers in the IDF that have gone mad with rage. Really, I can’t blame them. I get really mad at times and I am thousands of kilometers away and have, thank the gods, never lost anybody or seen anyone of my friends suffer because of war and terrorism. I mean, what is Israel expected to do? Are they expected to stay put and, like lambs bound for the slaughterhouse, just wait for Hamas and Hizbollah to tear the country apart? Are they really expected to trust empty promises from the international community when they have deserted them every single time Israel was in need for a friend? If the UN wants to bring peace to the Middle East it’s quite easy: Put your money were your mouth is! Send peace keeping troops to Gaza and make sure they don’t fire any more rockets. Lock away Hamas leaders as the terrorists and war criminals they are, maybe. Don’t expect Israel to agree to more unilateral ceasefires that still keep ending in the same thing: We cease: They fire. That is not a ceasefire.

I just wish next time a journalist sets out to ride the bashing Israel train they take a minute to sit down and consider the following: What would you do if one single rocket was fired, with purpose to kill as many civilians as possible, into your country’s territory? Would you expect your government and the international community at large to sit tight and wait for the next one or would you expect them to do what must be done to keep people safe? Now multiply your answer by 1’500.

What would you do if it was your country? It’s not that hard to understand, is it?

– Migdalit

Iran, Iran

Boker Tov,

when I went through my blog roll yesterday I noticed with delight that a lot of the old sites are still going strong. The other thing I noted, however, was how all of my former Iranian links have now gone private and password-protected (not that there were ever too many in the first place).

Frankly, it sent a little bit of a shiver down my spine and acted as a reminder, much as Yana did to the Pagan community in regards to Syria early last year, that nothing is well in Iran.
Last time I was in Israel was last May and I remember it being a particularly tense time in the ongoing conflict, really almost a cold war, with Iran. I was travelling north on my own this time and I remember vividly how vulnerable I felt. It is a completely different story whether you are surrounded by well-informed Israeli friends discussing the latest at the dinner table on a daily basis or whether you have just been out of touch with everyone and everything for years and are stuck in a bed-and-breakfast led by and filled with clueless tourists in a town you don’t know. You don’t know whether the helicopters patrolling the beach are just the normal drill or whether it’s a more short interval patrol. They say knowledge is power and last May that definitely prove to be quite true for me; without the knowledge that used to shield me when I was living in Israel full time I felt very vulnerable to the situation completely out of my control.

Anyway, Iran. It’s a country that has started to fascinate me increasingly over the years, so rich in culture and history yet with such a tragic past. It seems to be, in the end, one of a long succession of states driven into ongoing chaos by US “world supremacy” diplomacy of the 20th Century and is now in what seems to be a headlock of extremism. It’s so easy to see them just as “the enemy” willing to bomb the people and places you love with nukes just because … well, because they can, I guess. It’s easy to see Ahmadinejad (who was in charge back in my day when I was following Middle East politics more closely) as some kind of Persian Adolf Hitler too. The truth, however is never quite that easy or easy to grasp.

It was around the time of the Obama elections that I had a little conversation with one of the Tehran-based bloggers now gone private blog about Ahmadinejad and how people would possibly vote for him. She made a point of comparing his charisma to that of Obama, especially to a people desperate by years of sanctions, oppression and poverty. And in doing so she opened a tiny window for me into what people in Tehran are thinking and why they are acting the way the do. Unfortunately, as much as I enjoyed our conversations, some via our blogs and some via email, she never deviated from Ahmadinejad’s line when it came to the Evil Zionists of Israel. I never found out whether that was for fear or her truly buying into it.

So what about that new guy, Hassan Rohani, people that know I keep an eye on Middle East politics keep asking me. I know for most of the folks with a strong connection to Israel the question is easy to answer and most see Rohani as not much but a new face of the same old story, more fine-lined to confuse the West this time so they can eventually duck out of their sanctions. Me, I am not always certain about it. Maybe he is, I wouldn’t rule it out. But then I think if something is to be learnt from the now nearing-its-end presidency of Barak Obama (and here again I know people will disagree with me) it is how hard it is even for a man that entered presidency with the noblest of plans to achieve anything at all if he finds himself in a nation-sized political deadlock. I cannot help but think that if Rohani was who he claims to be and if the extremist-induced political deadlock is only half that of the United States of America the situation would probably be looking exactly like what we have been seeing since he took up presidency. So yes, I think there is a chance he may be sincere and there is a chance that things may go up stream for Iran and, eventually, the relationship to Israel.

On the other hand, though, this has not diminished that lingering fear in the back of my head that one day, without much of a warning, someone in Iran will push a button and the aftermath will see places and people I love reduced to ashes, a mushroom cloud for a monument. Not just because I am all but certain about the intentions of Hassan Rohani to create a more peaceful Iran but even more for knowing that even if he is sincere there is not much stopping the ultra-religious would-be martyrs that obviously cover high political functions with lots of power from taking over over at the blink of an eye.

It really is a mess of a situation to be in for all involved parties. Even if politics weren’t as corrupted as they are, even if I had any trust whatsoever left in the doings of the United Nations it would be. How do you offer a nation that may be willing to change a hand in peace when you have to be aware of the possibility that someone else is pushing the button just as you sit and negotiate? On the other hand if you do not reach out to them now that there is willingness to talk you will inadvertently give fuel to the ultra-extremists in confirming everything they have been preaching about the West for decades. It seems like either way you can only loose. And that is if we were living in a perfect world, which we are most definitely not. In the real world there is nobody sincerely interested in the fate of Iran or Israel or any other of the Middle Eastern countries at those negotiating tables; You are lucky if their interest is limited to polishing their respective country and party’s image as peace doves rather than more personal economic intentions.

If you ever try to understand what is happening in the Middle East imagine your own country’s political parties and how they would be inconsolable on whatever is a politically charged matter in your country at the moment. Now add the temperament and the high stakes of Middle Eastern politics to that. Voilá, there is your very own home-brewed Middle Eastern mess.

– Migdalit

“The Jewish History ended in 70 AD”

“The Jewish History ended with the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD, as it regards Palestine, since then, for 1940 years its heritage has been Christian-Muslim”

where would you think you’ll find this sentence, printed on one of a series of colorful posters advocating the declaration of the Al-Aqusa Mosque as World Heritage, by the way. Whatever you thought: think again. I just found it in one of United Nations Organisation Vienna HQ’s conference facilities.

Seriousely, if I wouldn’t quite know what to think about UNO already I’d be severely shocked. Luckily, though, I’ve already had enough of UN and it’s officials so it feels more like “and I had hoped so much there wouldn’t be any of it this time

Hope dies last.

Feeding Africa

Hello everybody,

just recently I’ve come about an article I wrote for a Switzerland e-zine in October 2008, when the World Economic Crisis, had just started. Actually I might translate it into English some time soon – if I find the time to do so for Swine Flu hasn’t yet locked me indoors. Back last October I declared the World Economic Crisis wouldn’t mean the end to the world as we know it. There wouldn’t be a World War III. Just none of all the horror parcel some people were expecting (and might still be).

One morning as I went through my usual news – Austrian news, as I’ve become lazy with international sources lately – I got reminded that for some it might indeed be the End of the World. The end of their world. Their life. Austrian public news network ORF reported how United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP) claimed due to the Crisis there would be too little money to feed the „poorest of the poor“. Only a budget of 2,62 Billion Euros had been granted to WFP – half of what would be needed to feed the top 1% of an estimated 1 Billion starving people worldwide. Aid had already been cut due to that, WFP claimed.

Of course I surfed WFP’s website for additional information: Migdalit’s journalism rule no.1: Get as close to the primary source as possible! And though the article was published by ORF on July 31st – is there a Pagan around who remembered to talk about food on Lughnasad? – I had to scroll down their press section pretty far to find a press release related to the article presented as hot news by ORF. It was issued on June 19th. Really, it’s moments like this, that really give you a clue how the media functions. I wonder how they do it: Do they just save potentially interesting press releases for later on when they might be needed for days without any „real“ news? Or do they keep some kind of a list of „usual suspects“ of agencies that would always have something to report on as „hot news“?

However, back to food and the food crisis. It really is a tough issue and, though I am not too much of a fan of any UN agencies anymore since I’ve had the joy of my own set of experiences with them, I admit that I wouldn’t want to be in any WFP official’s shoes.

I’ve been having some rather vivid arguments with my common-law husband (in Germany regularly referred to as „boyfriend or life partner or spouse or whatever that’s supposed to be“), who used to live in Africa, about Africans and whether Europeans really screwed them up to the point most believe them to. As a 1990ies’ child I sure came of age believing Europe had a historic responsibility to Africa because it was us who screwed them up during colonialism. Later on I realized that, for most African states, actual colonialism lasted hardly a lifetime. Indirect rule systems might have for a century or two, at most. Does it really take so little time to screw up an entire society to the point of it seemingly being unrecoverable wounded? History tells us that most of the time things are rapidly destroyed, in fact, are rather rapidly rebuilt too without devastating chaos following them keeping the place and society from recovery.

Perhaps in the end it’s mostly about the people affected that need to be kept sane and hopeful. As long as they are natural disasters and wars and alike might devastatingly wash over them, they might change lifes forever but in the end society – as a whole entity – will start recovery as soon as the major effect is over. Just take Croatia. Hardly more then ten years after a major civil war there are hardly any sights of it anymore. It’s astonishing how much capacity of healing human society has in the end. Even after two devastating wars in Europe she recovered. Society got over it. People concentrated on other issues then their wounds to tend for. Most major tragedies of history had a beginning and they had an end. But for some reason the tragedy of Africa doesn’t seem to have an ending. Does it have a beginning?

It’s understandable how people would just assume the obvious: Europeans went to Africa and screwed it up. They destroyed their societies, their agricultural systems, their hierarchy and when they were forced out of the continent again by the end of the 20th century they left her in chaos. But why didn’t Africans, other then other peoples, just restart where they ended before Europeans conquered them? Why did things get even worse when Europeans left? There’s quite a list of post-colonial nations all around the world that managed pretty fine (though most do have their issues). Why didn’t Africa do? It’s not like it was a continent naturally lacking resources of any kind. There is nothing Africa wouldn’t have. There’s that story, indeed, of how

God, when creating the world, went this place and that place, putting that little bit of resources everywhere. However when (s)he cam to Africa (s)he would just shake everything that was left her/his hands.

So this is where the argument starts – and you’re heavily encouraged to join in in your own blogs or simply adding your comments – as my partner has been raising the idea Africa might in fact already have been in chaos by the time Europeans arrived there. Which sure has a point given how Africans do have a history of slave trade pre European arrival, for instance. And assuming chaos wasn’t implemented on Africa by Europe it would be all too natural if she fell back into even more chaos after Europeans left. But if this was true, how could be possibly help? Keeping people dependent on food aid can hardly be the solution but, in my opinion, only adds to African governments keeping their attention on their own business instead of on their starving population. What is the appropriate response, the one that will help most on the long run? Interestingly enough it leads to the same two options I have often seen confronted with as regards the Middle East Region:

  1. Try to teach them, help them, set an example and push them into whatever direction some team of experts thinks will help by means of outside power or
  2. Have the guts to keep out. Debrief them of international attention, make sure nobody else interferes where „Western“ World backs out and have them sort it out on their own, even if it might have things escalating in the first, if escalation is part of a self-regulation process.

Nobody ever claimed making a difference would be easy …

Shalom and As’salama



Here’s the Thing about Democracy

Hello everybody,

One of modern history’s most famous enfant terribles, Winston Churchill is quoted:

“Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried.”

– Winston Churchill

Or is it? I, as most European kids my generation, was raised in blind belief in democracy. Really, in retrospect it was some kind of a religion. A religion where there was only one dogma, and who ever would question it would be an outcast. A individual considered utterly insentient a waste of time to discussed with. Questioning democracy was unquestionable. And so it was to me, in a way, loving democracy and blindly defending it whenever possible was kind bred into me.

“Democracy is itself, a religious faith. For some it comes close to being the only formal religion they have.”

– E. B. White

Of course for a pretty good reason given what had happened in my country a mere half century ago. Democracy, I was made to understand, is a beautiful gift one has to cherish and take care of, for loosing it was the worst that could possibly happen and, certainly, the end to all freedom. Well, actually, the end to all the life I was used to.

Then came 9/11 and afterwards came the Patriot Act and alike bills all over the world. With it came the end of many privileges of democratic societiesand a widespread questioning of the extend to which “democratic” nations could still be considered democratic. The US for instance, where apparently elections were stolen from the elected president in order to bring another man to power. Where people were denied basic civil rights because of a crime they were merely suspected of or, even worse, just because of their skin colour or an interest group they belonged to. It came a time where zillions of people all over the world rallied for peacehowever remained unheard by their elected democratic leaders. Unthinkable things have happened during those last years and they have happened in front of all of our eyes. However for one reason or another suddenly no knight in shiny armour could be found to stand up for our all-holied democracy.

Whilst everybody who knows a little about education of children, knows that being a good rule model is the most important thing to do. Every parent knows he cannot make his kid obey rules he is seen ignoring. However no democratic leader I have seen doing the “free elections”-rally to Backwardistan your random challenged country lately could be bothered to be a good example of living democracy in his own nation. Let’s face it: People in the western world just don’t give a shit about democracy any longer. They don’t attend elections. They don’t engage in democracy or government (either because they can’t be bothered to or because their “elected” leaders can’t be bothered to). Yet all of this doesn’t prevent any of us for a split second of going of to every given “non-democratic” nation and praising democracy as if it alone was the guarantee for any given utopia you could imagine.

Might it be that it is a little daring to claim so wholeheartedly democracy was the only acceptable form of governmentfor all of the world’s nations regardless their culture? I mean … if we really do belief in democracy, why can’t we vote against it? And why don’t we grant that very right to every other given people? The only thing the 20th century’s global raid for democracy has produced, is a number of pseudo-democracies, where there are elections held with a known outcome. Where the party of possible leaders is so limited due to socialisation, ethnic structures etc. that it just doesn’t make any differencewho’s elected in the end. Is this really better for people then living with the way of government they had beforeand had possibly had working for millenia?

“The spirit of democracy cannot be imposed from without. It has to come from within.”

– M.K. Ghandi

For quite a bunch of countries democracy really seems to work pretty well. Or let’s say it provides the people with exactly that government they deserve. But where different ethnic or religious groups with different objectives and philosophies can be found sharing one nation it gets difficult. Then democracy is turned into as abstruse sets of rules as for who has to be represented in parliament through whom as can be seen in Lebanon. Positive discrimination still is discrimination, guys.

A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.

– Th. Jefferson

Perhaps this is one of the biggest issues of modern democracy: It works well for majorities, but if you’re a minority you’re screwed. Whilst there’s all that talk about democracy guaranteeing everybody’s freedom I just don’t get it where freedom is when, as a member of a minority group, I have to step back from my rights, my way of living, because the majority group has another philosophy towards it. Just think about this: If the whole world was really democratic as a single meta-nation we would be governed by Chinesefor Chinese are the most numerous and could elect their government as world government. Is that really desirable? Do you want your country to end up like Tibet just because its smaller then China?

Even if people don’t like it: Tending for democracy, freedom, all of that parcel we call “western” means questioning it. Looking for points of friction, for issues we have to care for. In a way those challenging democracy most are, in the end, its most important supporters.



Does medinat ysrael belong to erez ysrael?

shalom everybody,

so this is the day: The comments of Poor Insane – which I appreciated a lot for he, finally, seems to be a person sincerely looking for a dialog where one listens to the other’s arguments – and a discussion I had with a dear friend, D., who is reading this blog though only commenting in private (why by the way?) pushed me into getting something written down I have pushed off for quite a while now. Nearly a year to be specific; as long as I have had this blog: Does Israel belong there?

First of all I feel I have to make you learn two pieces of vocabulary so we can tell things from each other in this posting: medinat ysrael, the State of Israel, referring to today’s political nation Israel and erez ysrael, referring to the historic-geographic land of Israel as it is described in the bible.

So far … any more to procrastinate the “hard issue”? I am afraid nothing that wouldn’t be all to obviousely distracting from it …

To put it in a nutshell: I don’t have an answer to that question. There’s just too much information amiss or information I’ve only gotten from untrustworthy (either pro-Zionist or pro-Palestinian) sources to come to a solution. I’ll include those questions I’d love to have answered and if somebody can provide sources to any of them he’s more then welcome!

Nevertheless, me not being able to answer that question doesn’t change anything about the right of existence of today’s medinat ysrael, State of Israel. As far as the situation goes today the world – and that does include the Arab and thereby also the Palestinian world – will have to accept Israel existing and Israeli and Palestinians will ultimately have to come to a solution that grants both populations a peaceful, free and sustainable way of living. Whether that will be a classical two-state-solution or one or another kind of a joined state or maybe a completely different approach is another topic and a question only to be answered by history in the years to come. Even if Israel was to be proven “guilty” as the trigger of the current conflict (though I suppose even in the worst case scenario plenty of other entities would have their part too) it cannot be suggested today’s Israeli population (neither the Jewish nor the Muslim or any other) is punished for what their parents might have done wrong. This is why untouched by the historic “truth” I will never accept any voices questioning today’s medinat ysrael‘s right of existence.

As far as history goes – and I hope Poor Insane and others are with me as far as that – there was some kind of political entity inhabited by Jews at some point in history at least to the Jewish rebellion against Rome and the destruction of the second temple by the Romans in 70 CE. And this is where my first questions to historians enter the stage: Who – ethnically – were the inhabitants of erez ysrael up to 70 CE? Was there already an Arab (Jordanian / Palestinian) population in erez ysrael? (remember there where no Muslims back then!) and about what percentage of the total population were they? What other minorities (?) used to live there in that time? (Today it’d be Druze and Beduin people and a number of other minorities).

Around 70 CE and the centuries following would also be the time when Rome did its best to get rid of the Jews of Israel. They did prohibit teaching of Judaism – Rabbis had to teach in hiding – and destroy everything and everybody Jewish they could get hold of. Also they “exported” plenty of Jews off to Europe as slaves (the last “Roman” diaspora). What I don’t know, though would love to find out is how many (what percentage of the total population) Jews remained in erez ysrael in about 700 CE? How and when did they disappear from the land that apparently at one point was inhabited mainly by them? When would be the first time there where more Arabs (Jordanians / Palestinians) then Israelis (Hebrews) in erez ysrael?

The 8th century CE brought about the rise of Islam and subsequently them taking over erez ysrael. But what happened to the Jews living there? My idea of it – though I might be mistaken so feel free to correct me – is that a number of them apparently converted to Islam and another group was killed (let’s avoid the g-word here). If this is correct it’d mean that ethnically today’s “Palestinian” population of erez ysrael was no more no less then Jews who converted to Islam at one point around the 8th century. Which is interesting if you consider that Judaism isn’t only about what religion one chooses but also about genetics – inherited belonging to the tribe of Israel.  ((I’ve suggested that to some rather zionist friends of mine once and they nearly freaked out *lol*. I wonder how pro-Palestinians ‘d react to that one?))

I know for sure though that there were some places in Israel that are known to have continuously and in direct line been inhabited by Jews all the time from the time of the second temple: Jerusalem, Hevron (well, no longer, apparently), Zfat and Pki’in.  So I dare to claim that there have, since the days of Moses, been Jews living in erez ysrael. It’s not like they completely disappeared at any given time … they just declined from a majority to a minority in the land that used to be their’s.

Anyway: After the Muslims came the Crusaders or better to say the split the country between the two of them for a while. There’s plenty of records of Jews living in erez ysrael during crusader time and the impression I got – though I am not a historian nor an expert of any kind – is that the population seems to have been rather mixed at that time with no population outnumbering the other all too much. In general Jews seemed to have had quite a lot of power and influence when it came to trade whilst political power, unless it was with the Christians, was more likely to be with Muslims. But again: That could be my fantasy going wild.

Later on, however, Muslims took back the land and held it basically until Ottomane times. By then Aliya Alef, the first wave of, mostly European, Jews migrating back to Israel would already have started. David Ben Gurion, for instance, legendary first Israeli Prime Minister, used to have a Turkish passport at some point. So now we are well into Zionism and Jews already moving back to Israel. A Israel that, by that time, hadn’t been existing anymore for about 1’800 years but then, though it was in contemporary literature referred to as “Palestine” talking about the geographic area wasn’t Palestine either but a part of the Ottomane empire until World War I in which it was taken over by Great Britain until medinat ysrael‘s Independence in 1948.  An Independence that, according to Israeli sources, wasn’t all to much Great Britain’s doing anyway for apparently (according to Israeli sources) Jewish underground organisations, such as the Ha-Ganah, had already fought a decent battle against Britain’s rule for some decades pushing her to the point of getting out of the region before they completely lost their face.

I’ve read in a book about Theodor Herzl’s life once that in the beginning of Zionism many weren’t all too concerned about where that Jewish State would be located. The most important point about it, at that point, was to have a state that was mainly Jewish in order to protect Jews from persecution. There were talks about giving the Jews some piece of land in today’s Uganda (Africa) but it never happened for one reason or the other. Only later on Zionists chose their old homeland, erez ysrael, as the target for Jewish migration in order to establish that Jewish State.

What I’d love to have are reliable sources about the percentages of ethnic groups in erez ysrael around 1800 and their development during the 19th century yet I haven’t found any reliable (paid neither by Jews, nor Ottomanes) sources about that one. So I can’t tell you anything about who “inhabited” erez ysrael when Aliya Alef started. I’d love to know. I’ve seen some charts but not only am I afraid their numbers mirror that of those who paid the author but also did it strike me that the numbers only consist of “Jews” and “Muslims” or similar but there’s no word about Christians, Beduins, Druze safe any other minority and no difference between a “Palestinian” Arab and a Turk which limits the reliability of the sources to nil in my opinion.

The time of the foundation of the State of Israel is known as the “nakba”, the catastrophe, in Palestinian and Arab history. For Jews of course it was exactly the opposite: They finally had a country of their own, a place where they could feel safe. Well, mostly. At least now their enemies came from outside and they knew who they were.

I know some survivors of the Shoah and I can clearly depict what a great feeling it must have been for them. One lovely elderly lady, an Auschwitz survivor, H., whom I love dearly and who – in her way and perhaps without knowing of it – taught me a couple of very important lessons about “life” and “fate”, told me the point where she had really been able to make her peace with her past was the day when her son, while at the army, visited Auschwitz with his unit; that regular Israeli soldiers could go and visit there was the greatest of all feelings to her. Anyway where I want this to lead to is the following: Of course Jews at that time had a lot of wounds to hatch – psychologically as well als physically – and a whole state to build up so yes, it is perfectly possible that they forgot about those who had to innocently suffer for their happyness. I am sure wrong has been done and people have come to harm without contributing to it.

As concerns the “nakba” there’s quite a lot of controversial information again that makes it hard for me to sort out who’s “right” and who not. Whilst Palestinian sources claim “Palestinians” had been displaced from their homes by Israelis or similar I’ve read and heard plenty of Israeli sources claiming the only people that called for Arabs to leave the newly founded medinat ysrael was Arabs. I couldn’t remember ever having heard of Israelis actually killing or driving Arab people out by force – though this, again, might be due to me lacking sources so feel free to supply any. Anyway apparently for one reason or another many Arabs didn’t feel welcome in a Jewish state so they left to neighbouring countries who in the subsequent decades gravely betrayed them by declining even second and third generation refugees citizenship, work permits and a live outside refugee camps. (Or am I mistaken concerning this? How do you think about this, Poor Insane? Why do they do that?)

Talking about medinat ysrael and its foundation: British Mandate Palestine consisted not of today’s medinat ysrael but rather of both today’s medinat ysrael plus today’s Jordan. So when UN allowed – more or less voluntarely – medinat ysreal to be founded it already split the land and gave the bigger part, Transjordan – today’s Jordan – to the Arab population. A part of land Israel wasn’t all too interested into anyway for first of all they just wanted some land where they could finally settle down in peace and second of all according to bible sources it didn’t belong to them or their ancestors anyway.

So I can kinda understand why many Israelis claim they have already given half of the land to the Arabs anyway and them feeling the Arabs are just taking more and more of the land until, if they keep giving the Arabs more land, there will be no land left for Israel in the end. From the Israeli perspective it looks like every time they give land to the Arabs they just want more which of course makes Israel reluctant to give them any.

Another word to the name “Palestine”: There is two possible roots for the name “Palestine”. One of them being the ancient people of the Philisters, a people of whom we hardly know a thing but that they settled down in today’s Gaza strip and were pretty misterioue tradesmen – there’s quite a lot of really cool archaeological stuff left over from the Philistines in Gaza. Some say they were responsible for a series of raids in all the Eastern Mediterranean in that time but there’s not sufficient proof to be sure yet. Anyway it seems that those Philistines were no Semitic people, neither Arab nor Hebrew, but indogermanic spoken so they didn’t “belong” to the area at all. So I suppose as “original Palestines” the Philistines can be ruled out (though I’d love to run some genetic testing on today’s Gaza population (the part of it that’s not refugees from somewhere else) to find out if they are the actual descendants of Philistines).

Possibility number two and what is broadly accepted as historic truth (again I am open for sources suggesting the opposite) is the Romans renamed what used to be Judea into Palestine in order to disconnect the Jews with Judea; as a punishment for the Jewish revolts so to say. So as far as I am concerned there has never been such a thing as a “tribe of Palestine” that today’s Palestinians could derive their name and identity from. So here – again – comes one question: When and why did Palestinians begin to call themselves “Palestinians”? And what did they call themselves before that? I’ve heard rumors though unfortunately nothing reliable (sources anybody?) that up to some point in the 1960ies the average Palestinian would identify himself as “Jordanian” and only as the Palestinian liberation movement gained momentum were they told to call themselves “Palestinians”. There is hearsay about some elderly Palestinian people telling they were born “Jordanian” until one day somebody dropped by telling them that now they were “Palestinian”. I’d love to know whether there’s truth in that for that really makes it sound as if there is a possibility that “Palestinians” and thereby “Palestine” is no more no less then an artificially constructed entity in order to be used for Arab foreign politics (while nobody cares what happens to those being called “Palestinians”). Which even in the worst case scenario of  medinat ysrael not “belonging” to erez ysrael wouldn’t make “Palestinians” any better then “Israeli”.

This is just a rather random serving of aspects being part of the big question. There’s plenty more where that comes from at nearly every blog concerned with the area and its politics and history.

So here comes the thing with the question asked above: Who is to judge which people “belongs” to erez ysrael? What conditions have to be met for a people to rightfully “own” the land they are living in and what conditions have to be met in order for a people to loose that right? Poor Insane is absolutely right that, if following the logic of the Jews belonging to Israel because they did live there at some point you had to displace half of mankind and draw a completely new map. Many Jews claim they are a special case because of being persecuted for so many millenia and that historically proven the only way to grant their savety is by giving them the possibility to stand up for themselves by giving them a state of their own – medinat ysrael. Is this valid? I don’t know but I think if we have a look into history we cannot completely dismiss the argument nor the one that whilst Arabs do have half a continent to run to Jews have nothing but that tiny place called “Israel”. But then of course I can perfectly understand every Palestinian asking what the heck this does have to do with him and why this means his grandmother had to (?) leave her home in order to go someplace else.

I don’t believe anyhow that further forced displacements (neither of Jews nor Muslims) can pose a solution to the conflict but rather does a solution have to be found with everybody staying in the place he is living in now (which of course leaves open the question of what to happen with millions of “Palestinian” second and third generation “refugees” that likely couldn’t be supported by the pure size and resources of erez ysrael whatsoever.)

That’d be my personal overview of the situation. I think it’s the longest posting I’ve written so far but still merely scratches the surface of the whole problem, anyway I hope I could give you an idea of how complicated and multi-layered it is. I am more then open to any questions and any further discussion and if you are interested in any particular aspect just tell me and I’ll see what information I can get.

looking forward to a great discussion