Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Land of Canaan . . . (Before the Jewish Invasion):

Palestine (Below)

You may be surprised to learn that for the most part ancient history is not relevant to the modern-day conflict over the “Holy Land”.   However there is a common misperception that the Israeli – Arab conflict has gone on ‘for centuries’ or even millennia and that Israel stands alone in her struggle to survive.  

So, a little historical background is probably a good idea.

The people of Israel (also called the “Jewish People”) trace their origin to Abraham, who according to Biblical history established the belief that there is only one God; who is the creator of the universe.   Abraham, his son Yitshak (Isaac), and his grandson Jacob (Israel), are denoted as being the patriarchs of the Israeli people.  For this reason most of us often perceive folks that call themselves “Jewish” (especially those in Palestine) to have deep religious bonds.

Before the Hebrews / Jews first migrated to Canaan sometime after 1800 BC (you’ll likely recall this celebrated event as is depicted in the 1956 motion picture, The Ten Commandments, based upon the exploits described in the Book of Exodus of The Holly Bible), the land of Canaan or modern day Palestine was occupied by Canaanites.   In the early days (3000BC – 1100BC) the Canaanite civilization covered the territory that is modern day Israel, the West Bank, Lebanon, and a large part of both Syria and Jordan. 

According to the Book of Exodus, after 40 years of wandering around in the Sinai Desert, Moses led the Hebrews / Jews to the Land which would become Israel; yep, wouldn’t you know it, the very same land promised by God himself to the descendants of the Jewish patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (See: Genesis 17:8).

By 1300BC the children of Abraham had created a nation, destined to be conquered by Rome in 63BC. You could say the original Jewish state didn’t come to an end until 70AD though, when the Romans begin to actively drive many of the Jews from the homes they had lived in for several hundred years.

Some time latter, Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylonian (modern day Iraq) deported the Judean’s (the southernmost of the three traditional divisions of ancient Palestine; the other two were Galilee in the north and Samaria in the center) in 597BC and 586BC, but he did allow them to remain in a unified community, in Babylon. Another group of Judean’s fled to Egypt, where they settled in the Nile delta. From 597BC onwards, there were three distinct groups of Hebrews: a group in Babylon and other parts of the Middle East, a small group in Judaea, and a third group in Egypt.  For this reason, 597BC, is considered the beginning date of the “Jewish Displacement”.

Bet you non-Muslims didnt know that the religion of Islam has been present since the time of the prophet Adam.   Muslims (those of the Islamic faith) also believe that the ancient Jews: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, among others, were all Islamic prophets, and they have equal footing in the Qur’an; that makes Muhammad the last Muslim prophet but he’s special because he is credited with unifying Arabia into a single religious community under Islam.  By the way, the term “Muslim” is an Arabic word meaning “one who submits to God”, which suggests strong religious ties. So two (2) religious groups in the same area is bound to lead to little or no good.

It may come as a small surprise to learn that it wasn’t until 638AD that the the Arab Islamic Empire gained control of the Palestine region and according to one estimate, the Jews still numbered somewhere between 300,000 and 400,000 living, breathing souls in the Palestine region.   

Regardless, after the Arab conquest, the majority of the population (including many Jews) became “Arabized” in both culture and language; many also adopted the new faith of Islam, perhaps in large part due to the practice the Muslims adopted of banning the construction of new Jewish synagogues and the establishment of the general understanding that “the only good Jew was a dead Jew”. In any event, various Muslim dynasties maintained “law & order” in Palestine until the first of the seven Christian Religious Crusades took control in 1099.   

Palestine was absorbed into the Ottoman Empire in 1517 and remained under the rule of the Turks until after World War I.  Towards the end of WWI, the Turks were defeated by the British forces.  In the peace talks that followed, parts of the Ottoman Empire were handed over to the French to control and other parts were handed over to the British – which included Palestine.  

Britain governed this area under a League of Nations mandate from 1920 to 1948. 

To the Arab population who lived there, it was their homeland; it had been promised to them by the Allies for help in defeating the Turks during WWI; surprise, surprise, the British claimed the agreement gave no such promise.

To make matters worse, the same area of land had also been promised to the Jews (at least as they had interpreted it) in the Balfour Declaration of 1917 which led the Jewish community in Britain and America into believing that Great Britain would surely support the creation of a Jewish state in the Middle East; so after 1920, many Jews migrated to the Palestine area and lived among the far more numerous Arabs. During this time, the area was ruled by the British and both Arabs and Jews appeared to live together in some form of harmony, but only in the sense that both tolerated the existence of the other. There were problems in 1921 but between that year and 1928, the situation appeared to have stabilized.

You could say that the dilemma or problems arising after the war for the Palestine region was “perceived beliefs”.   You see, since the Arabs had joined the Allies to fight the Turks during WWI so they convinced themselves that they were due to be given what the Arabs believed was to be their home-land after the war was over.

On the other hand, and clashing with this perception, was the belief among all Jews that the Balfour Declaration of 1917 assured them the same piece of territory. And then too, God himself had promised the land to them in years past.

In August 1929, relations between the Jews and Arabs in Palestine broke down, spawning real violence. The focal point of this discontent was the city of Jerusalem, which naturally has strong religious ties to each group, but the primary cause of trouble was the increased influx of Jews who had immigrated to Palestine. You see, the number of Jews in the region had doubled in ten years and yes, to make matters worse, the city of Jerusalem had major religious (see previous Post) significance for both Arabs and Jews.

The violence that occurred in August of 1929 did not deter Jews from going to Palestine as you might think. Fact is, records show for example that in 1931 alone 4,075 Jews immigrated to the region. In 1935, the influx was an additional 61,854. Arab leaders figured that by the 1940’s there would be more Jews in Palestine than Arabs and that their power in the region would be squelched on a simple numerical basis.

In May of 1936, more violence occurred and the British “restored” law and order by using military force, but not without thirty-four of their soldiers being killed in the process along with an untold number of Arabs and Jews.  It came as little surprise when the violence did not stop; in fact, it only got worse.

For the Arabs there were two enemies – the Jews and the British authorities based in Palestine. And for the Jews there were also two enemies – the Arabs and the British.

Ultimately, the British were pushed into the middle of a conflict they clearly had little control over perhaps because the two other sides involved were so driven by their own beliefs or perceptions.   In an attempt to end the violence, the British put a quota on the number of Jews who could enter Palestine in any given year. They hoped to appease the Arabs with this action but from the Arab’s point of view they were siding with the Jews by recognizing that Jews could enter Palestine in the first place. To add insult to injury, the Jews were angry with the British because they were restricting immigration.

So the British found themselves under attack by both the Jews and the Arabs. The Arabs attacked because they believed that the British had failed to keep their word for the “promised homeland” after WWI; plus they believed that the British were not keeping the Jewish quotas in place as they did little to stop illegal landings into Palestine made by the Jews.

Then too, the Jews attacked the British authorities in Palestine because of the immigration quota which they believed was grossly unfair along with the fact that the British had also imposed restrictions on the amount of land Jews could buy in Palestine.

An uneasy truce occurred during WWII as hostilities seemed to cease. This truce, however, was only temporary.  As fate would have it, many Jews had fought for the Allies during the Second World War and had developed expert military talents. So guess what?   Shortly after the war ended in 1945, these same skills were used in; you guessed it, acts of terrorism!

Completely unable to influence ongoing events in Palestine, the British you could say were looking for a way out. So in 1947, when the newly formed United Nations accepted the idea to partition [Resolution 181(II)] Palestine into three sections: An Arab state, a Jewish state and the City of Jerusalem.  Yep, you guessed right, with this United Nations proposal on the table, the British withdrew from the region on May 14th 1948; probably before the ink dried on the Partition Plan.

Almost immediately, Israel was attacked by surrounding Arab nations (Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen) in a war that lasted from May 1948 to January 1949. The result of the war was not particularly favorable to the Arab Palestinians: Around 750,000 Palestinian Arabs had fled or were expelled from their homes, out of approximately 1,200,000 Arabs who had been living in Palestine.

Today, many Palestinian Arabs continue to refuse to recognize Israel and it has become the turn of the Israeli government itself to suffer from terrorist attacks when fanatics from the Palestinian Arabs community attacked Israel almost routinely.

The bottom line: To the Palestinian Arabs, the area the Jews call Israel, will always be Palestine. To the Jews it is Israel. There have been very few years of peace in the region since May of 1948.

That’s a very brief account of the events that have led to the deadly quagmire we currently see in the Middle East, particularly in the regions of Gaza, The West Bank, and all of Israel. Perhaps the only “saving grace” issue in the ongoing conflict is simply that the typical Arab Palestinian does not necessarily believe the region is some sacred gift from Allah.   

Although the recent Arab terror tactics of offering up innocent men, women, and children as “sacrificial lambs” in an obvious effort to taint the “defensive” / “offensive” (depending on if you are Jewish or Arabic) efforts of the Israelis, leaves most of the civilized world community in disgust; most Americans would probably be very surprised and seriously disenchanted if they knew that:

Ø Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. To date, the United States has provided Israel $121 billion (current, or non-inflation-adjusted, dollars) in bilateral assistance.
Ø Almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance, although in the past Israel also received significant economic assistance.
Ø Strong congressional support for Israel has resulted in Israel receiving benefits not available to any other countries; for example, Israel can use some U.S. military assistance both for research and development in the United States and for military purchases from Israeli manufacturers as well.
Ø U.S. assistance earmarked for Israel is generally delivered in the first 30 days of the fiscal year, while most other recipients normally receive aid in installments, and Israel (as is also the case with Egypt) is permitted to use cash flow financing for its U.S. arms purchases.
Ø Receiving U.S. State Department-administered foreign assistance, Israel also receives funds from annual defense appropriations bills for rocket and missile defense programs.
Ø Israel pursues some of those programs jointly with the United States.
Ø In 2007, the Bush Administration and the Israeli government agreed to a 10-year, $30 billion military aid package for the period from 2009 to 2018.    During his March 2013 visit to Israel, President Obama pledged that the United States would continue to provide Israel with multi-year commitments of military aid subject to the approval of Congress.
Ø The 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 113-76) provides the President’s full $3.1 billion request for Israel.   In addition, it provides another $504 million in funding for research, development, and production of Israel’s Iron Dome anti-rocket system ($235 million) and of the joint U.S.-Israel missile defense systems David’s Sling ($149.7 million), the Arrow improvement program (or Arrow II, $44.3 million), and Arrow III ($74.7 million).
Ø For 2015, the Administration is requesting $3.1 billion in military funding to Israel and $10 million in Migration and Refugee Assistance. The Missile Defense Agency’s 2015 request for joint U.S. - Israeli programs is $96.8 million. The Obama Administration also is requesting $175.9 million for Iron Dome.
Ø Finally and in summation: The U.S. provides Israel $8.5 million in military aid each day!

You can’t put it much better than this:

Since the October War in 1973, Washington has provided Israel with a level of support dwarfing the amounts provided to any other state. It has been the largest annual recipient of direct U.S. economic and military assistance since 1976 and the largest total recipient since World War ll. Total direct U.S. aid to Israel amounts to well over $140 billion in 2003 dollars. Israel receives about $3 billion in direct foreign assistance each year, which is roughly one-fifth of America’s entire foreign aid budget. In per capita terms, the United States gives each Israeli citizen a direct subsidy worth about $500 per year. This largesse is especially striking when one realizes that Israel is now a wealthy industrial state with a per capita income roughly equal to South Korea or Spain.
- John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt

When taking into account the state of the US economy, one should perhaps wonder how much longer the Israeli Lobby can managed to keep the Washington “money spout” open so completely. Or in the alternative, what will happen in Palestine when America’s “money well” goes dry.  Since Israel now ranks 50th  in economic power, among the 196 nations of the world, probably nothing new.