Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Israel and Palestine Issue – What Indians Should Know

First things first:

I am not a historian. I am not a politician. I am not a peace activist or a war monger. And most importantly, I am not belonging to any of the three religions that have fought over Jerusalem over millenia – namely Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Frankly, I am indifferent to who has Jerusalem at the end, as it is NOT a holy place for me.

That makes it a lot easier and a lot less emotional. Right? Yes, I am a Hindu, a proud and practicing Hindu who is taking a look at Israel and Palestine issue from an Indian view. Don't bracket me into anything beyond this. I respect the rights of Jews to live in Israel. I respect the rights of Muslims to live in Palestine. And in real life, I have worked for long number of years with both Jews and Arab Muslims, so I kind of know the tremendous sensitivity of this topic. If the writeup does not suit your thought or understanding of the problem, then educate me, rather than bracketing me or ridiculing me. Thank you in advance!

Now that there is a lengthy preamble, let's get started. I am presenting here a series of images, taken from some well researched videos and blogs. The references to them provided at the bottom. All credits to the original researchers and documentary makers.

Where did the Israeli Jews come from?

Jews were all around the Mediterranean sea 2000 years ago, when Islam was not born. As with 20th century, they were persecuted during the first century CE too. Romans ruthlessly massacred Jews in large numbers, and if the percentage of population is computed, it may be comparable with Hitler's Nazi genocide. Jews were in today's Israel 1000s of years back. To cut the long story short, during the 20th century when Israel was created, Jews came from Germany, Poland, Russia, Africa and many other parts to their "promised homeland".

Where did the Palestinian Muslims come from?

Contrary to what many people tell us, Palestinian Muslims also came mostly from outside.

The Ottoman Turks brought many from Algeria and Circassia (former USSR) regions, as a part of their Muslim colonization agenda.
Let's cover the Palestinian (Arab) migration later when we see what Jews actually did to a desert land.

In 1875 CE for instance, there was hardly any considerable population living in the entire region of today's Israel. Only 3 lakh people lived, which was a mix of Jews, Muslims and Others.
In fact the British Consulate report from 1859 tell that Muslims did not exceed 25% of total population of Jerusalem. That clearly shows that today's Israel, including the Gaza and West Bank, were hardly Muslim populated as many propaganda tell us today.

Are Jewish feelings for Jerusalem comparable to Hindu feelings for Ayodhya?

There is similarity. For Hindus Ayodhya is a very sacred place, as the birth place of Lord Rama. But for Muslims it is just another city. Nothing is ever mentioned in any of their holy books about Ayodhya. But a conflict does go on.

The same way, for Jews, Jerusalem is a very sacred place. For Jews, it is a the place of King David and the star of David in Israel's flag is derived from him. Jerusalem is mentioned 667 times in the Bible which both Jews and Christians revere. For Muslims too it is a holy place linked to Prophet Mohammed's life history. But compared to Jews, it may not be at the same level looking at the practical aspects. For instance, Quran does not seem to have any mention of Jerusalem (al quds). Corrections welcome if this is not a fact. But the big conflict goes on.

Secondly, Jerusalem has seen its central part demolished and rebuilt many times. The most prominent one being this. 

Here is the supposed before and after scenario of Jerusalem. The temple mount that existed during the time of Jesus is gone. It is now replaced by a Dome of the rock and Al Aqsa mosque. And Jews have a painful history of this place being destroyed not just by Muslims, but Christians and others too during the past 2500 years. For Hindus such destruction of their holy temples, and mosques built over them is all too painfully evident from their long history of seeing Muslim invasions. So you can understand what a Jew must be feeling about this site.
The current situation is that Jews can't pray inside the area. They are restricted to the outer wall. The laws have kept changing, so you can research the legal sites for the latest information. In fact, this is enforced by Israeli government (yes Jews) by giving the area to Muslim Wakf board. Only Muslims have the right to prayer inside. Not even Christians are allowed prayer inside. Just like in Ayodhya (Kashi, Mathura etc. etc.), the common factor is the destruction of an existing holiest of the holy temples of a different religion, and an Islamic structure built over it or nearby. So Hindus truly understand the pain of Jews when it comes to Jerusalem. Muslims want rights on Jerusalem and Ayodhya holy spots, but won't even let non Muslims inside their holy cities like Makkah. And we hear "Israel commits apartheid" for letting Islamic Wakf board manage the holiest of the religious sites of Jews!

But experts spot that in spite of all the noise, just observing the faith of devotees, one can make out who consider it more sacred.

Jews praying:

Muslims praying:

Not only that, Muslims even end up playing football and eat picnic food at this "very sacred" place.
Have you seen Muslims playing football at Makkah or Madina holy sites? For Jews, even walking over the place is painful as they consider this their holiest of the holy sites. And seeing picnic and football must be really painful.
So the documentary maker clearly sums up: 

If Jerusalem's Jewish links are so obvious, why don't Arabs accept it? 

Same reason as Indian Muslims in general don't want to give possession of Ayodhya's Ram Janmabhumi area to Hindus even after courts clearly showing that there was an ancient temple below the mosque.

And those who brave in the Arab world to tell the truth, are often hounded.
Here is an example. In this book, an essay was written by a prominent academician Sari Nusseibeh from Palestine.
All he said was that there Temple Mount is a Jewish holy site.

Within no time, he got threats. He had to go underground. So you can imagine why Arabs don't come out to speak the facts, even if they know it is truth.

What's common between India and Israel?

Israel was not exactly the case of India, as Hindus never left India ever involuntarily for most part. But Jews left Israel, went all around the world, and then came back in the 20th century.

But the common factor in the past 7 decades is losing land.. Losing lots of land proportional to their country's size. And losing land to Muslims, who don't want to live with the majority (2 nation theory)!

Was Hitler the first one to indulge in Jewish genocide?

No. Jews were systematically persecuted and murdered throughout their 1000s of years of history. Romans conquered Jerusalem and the areas around it and called it Judea, the Homeland of Jews.
Later, they renamed it Syria Palestina, with Jerusalem being renamed and rebuilt as Aelia Capitolina. The word Palestina (Greek originally, later Roman) may be a Biblical word, but was a sign of oppression telling Jews that they can't enter the place without facing death. Essentially Romans were the early form of Nazis for Jews. Much more ruthless in their long list of atrocities against Jews, precisely because they feared that Moses' teachings might result in rebellion by poor.

But unlike most people think today, Palestine or Filistine was never an Arab word. It was nothing to do with Islam.

Was there a Palestine “Arab” nation 100 years ago?

Historians disagree. For instance, Arab Historian Philip Hitti says, there is NO such thing as Palestine in history!
The Philistines people that Greek and Romans talked about, were NOT Arabs. They were not Muslims. Also, they lived in a very small portion of today's Israel, around Gaza. And no one knows where they disappeared during the course of history, long long before modern Israel was formed.
It all started with Ottoman Turks' Muslim colonization plan. As expert Arnold Blumberg says, Arab immigration happened during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Arnold's theory clearly is proved by the fact that there were not many people in the 19th century there. The famous Mark Twain noted in 1800s that it was a barren vast desert land, with hardly anyone living.

So how did the ancestors of today's Palestinians come to current day Israel region?

It all started in late 19th century. With persecuted Jews returning to their ancient home land in small numbers. They were very hard working and they had faced extreme oppression in European nations. So just a chance to live was great for them. They started transforming an almost vacant barren desert land into a fruitful, livable place. Look at Negev desert and other regions when they arrived to Israel.

Certainly the land does not look like a "prosperous Arab" land that they stole, as propaganda tells us today.

As Jews started working hard to turn a barren Israel into a livable and grow-able land, news quickly started spreading.

Arab Muslims started coming from all corners. It was a boom in economy and Jews needed labour help predictably. So the first part of 20th century was mostly a Jew - Muslim joint effort to rebuilt a desert region into livable country.

As you can see in Israel today, they turned a desert into relatively lush green country, with developed country standard cities! And now everyone wants that place, by "driving out Jews to the sea"!
In fact, United Nations declared that those who stayed in the Israel/Palestine area for two years before the formation of the new states, were eligible to be claimed as Palestinians! Can you believe? TWO years residency is enough. It obviously tells that there was never a centuries or millenia of residency proof from the Palestinian side, or else such a relaxed rule would never be applied.
It is very important to note again. There was hardly 3,00,000 total population in the entire country of Israel 140 years ago. The region of Israel (Gaza and West Bank included) that we know today has well over a Crore people (Israel 80 lakh, Palestine 40 lakh). This was almost all migration of people, both Jewish and Arab. Comparatively the next door Jordan, in spite of being 4 times bigger in land size than Israel + Palestine, is only 60 lakhs or so. That shows how a desert was reclaimed by hard working people in the past 100 years in Israel. And you will be astonished to learn more on how Jews from India, particularly Maharashtra and Kerala, went to Israel and transformed the country side with revolutionary new farming methods.
Do Muslims recognize the right to exist for Israel?

You might have heard “From the river to the sea... Palestine will be free”. This is Hamas' favourite line being repeated from "liberal" American college campuses to Indian street protests. Indian "seculars"and communists love singing this as you can see off late. It's called Palestinian solidarity movement. But in reality it is a soft call for genocide of Jewish people of Israel. The river here is Jordan river which separates Israel from Jordan. The sea is Mediterranean.
The song essentially means, push all Jews to the sea (drive them out) and "liberate" Palestine. And gullible Hindus in India suck up to this propaganda after seeing bloody and gory images of civilian deaths. But they rarely understand the history behind this, as well as what would happen to them, if the "freedom" happens in West Asia. Radical Islamists are 100% clear in their mind. Today they are talking of Israel. Tomorrow, they would talk of all "Muslim land", which for them does not matter if it was Hindu or Buddhist or Jain or Sikh lands for centuries. Pakistan happened the same way. Bangladesh happened. Jammu and Kashmir Hindu ethnic cleansing happened. It's just spreading. It's very dangerous to support such "solidarity" calls without understanding what the hard core Muslims actually think of Israel's right to exist. Here is a glimpse of "tolerance" towards Jews shown by radical Muslims.

Hamas - Government in Palestine today. As a coincidence, his name as "Zahar" in it!
"driving Jews into sea" is not some dream of "Zionist" propaganda. It's been repeated umpteen times by the very top decision makers for Palestinian people.
And their big financial and military supporters in Iran.
And the TV sermons Palestinians are dished out day in and day out about USA, the closest friend of Israel.
Statement of Muslim Brotherhood from Egypt, which helped shape opinion of today's Palestinian leaders.

The list is very long. From North Africa to Arabian peninsula to central Asia to South Asia to South East Asia, the list of those who just don't want Jews in Israel is endless. And the same guys scream "apartheid", "intolerance", "genocide" etc. at the drop of every topi. See the hypocrisy?

Do Jews recognize the right to exist for Palestine and Arab nations?

Yes. It's the exact opposite of how Muslims behave. Israel has 21% Muslims, mostly Arabs.

For instance, Seif el-Din el-Zubi was the Arab member of Israel's very first Knesset (parliament). 
Arabs live throughout Israel. In some places, constituting over 50%. Just like in India (where 15% Muslim population), Muslims enjoy citizenship rights in Israel (some don't opt for it, but just take passport), representation in democracy, representation in parliament and all kinds of rights. Note again, this is not about Gaza or West Bank (grey in the image below). This is about Israel!
And most importantly, No Jewish leader gives parliament speeches to drive Arabs into sea in Saudi Arabia or Egypt or Jordan. They have problems with terrorism and that's the right of every nation to address when your own survival is questioned. Jews have put restrictions on Arabs as you can expect from any majority whose existence itself is questioned in violent means. But they do not say no right for Jordan or Syria or Egypt to exist.

This is a very big difference. Israel wants to live with Arabs as neighbours. Israel wants to live with Arabs as citizen! But Arabs don't even let Jews live in their countries. Arabs want to push Jews into sea and clear the "occupation", forgetting that Arabs in Palestine are also mostly migrants from other countries!

Did PLO claim Gaza and West Bank in 1964 as a part of “liberation” goal?

PLO, the Palestine Liberation Organization, was in forefront for decades to liberate Palestine from Jewish control. Very interestingly, when PLO formed its charter in 1964 (Article 24), before the 6 day war of Israel with Egypt and other Arab nations, there was NO mention of Judea and Samaria (today's West Bank), and Gaza to be "liberated"! Guess why? Because the Gaza was under Egyptian control and the West Bank was under Jordanian control. So the whole "liberation" of Palestinians from foreign control was not the priority as long as the occupier is a Muslim :)
There's a lot more in this Francisco Gil-White's book, based on which the quoted documentaries here were made.

Has anyone fought for Palestinian rights in Jordan?
(80% area of 1922 Palestine Mandate)

Absolutely not. For Indians, particularly Hindus and Sikhs, this will remind their plight in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, and later in the Kashmir valley within Indian part of Jammu and Kashmir.The claims, the terrorism, the systematic ethnic cleansing of Hindus and Sikhs. It's all too familiar.

And whenever you hear "Azaadi" or freedom in Kashmir, it's usually the small portion of Jammu Kashmir state in Indian control. No one ever talks of the more than 50% of original Jammu and Kashmir that is under Pakistan and China's occupation!

Here is a starting point. This is the map heavily circulated by anti  Israel groups across the world, showing how Israeli Jews have "oppressed" Palestinian Muslims by pushing them to a smaller region. Green in here is supposed to be Palestinian Arab areas.
But the reality is that the 1946 map to start with is completely inaccurate. It's plain propaganda without any factual basis. There was never a state of Palestine in 1946, even remotely looking like what the anti Jew gangs show.

This was the Ottoman Turk empire prior to World war 1. This collapsed after the World War 1. As you can see they had huge tracks of land, including the Muslim holy cities of Makkah and Madina. Yes, Turks controlled the Islamic holy cities, and not Arabs till about 100 years ago. There was a huge battle of Makkah in 1916 when the local Hashemite Sharif of Makkah, rebelled against the Ottoman Turk Muslims, for which he took help from European Christians like British. It was the beginning of the end of the Ottoman Empire and it was the beginning of a Hashemite kingdom whose capital was Makkah. Gradually it expanded northward. This battle left deep scars on the Middle East. Arab states came under strong European influence. Many people in India still don't know that this was a war between Arabs and Turks, both being Muslims, in which the Arabs took help from Christians of Europe.
Today's Israel is just about 20% of the Palestine Mandate of 1922, that the winners of World War 1 formulated (legal document) to be under League of Nation (UN then) control till the countries are stable enough to rule themselves. Even within that 20% marked as Palestine, nearly 20% of the overall land belongs to Muslims today. So Jews are in just around 15% of the 1922 map of greater Palestine or Palestine Mandate! But they are the only "occupiers" per all propaganda, which never talks of Hashemite Jordanian rule on the rest.
Look closely again. This is from a different source. Along with Israel becoming a new nation, Jordan became an independent sovereign state officially known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan. The key here is to note Hashemite. They are a very tiny minority Arab tribe, from Prophet Mohammed's great grand father's lineage, ruling majority Palestinians in Jordan. By any conservative estimate, more than half of Jordan is Palestinian. But rulers are not Palestinians!
No Muslim is questioning loudly.. "Is Jordan the Hashemite-occupied Palestine?". It's worth reminding again that Jordan is 80% of the Palestine Mandate from 1922, but it does not have any great population at all. It's population is just 35% more than the densely packed West Bank plus Gaza population. If the United Nations gave 80% land of Palestinians (going by Arab argument) to Jordan, why is not letting Palestinians in Gaza and West Bank live in the larger country of Jordan?

Also, why is there no movement to "liberate" Palestine under Hashemite control, which is 4 times the area of Israel? Tough to answer. Right? Now you know why this can be compared with the sparely populated Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, which no one tries to "liberate" from the predominantly Punjabi Muslim rule?

Did Arabs sell land to Jews in 1920-40 period?

This is one other aspect that no one talks about. Jews when they came to Israel from all around the world, they were allowed inside the territory, but did not have much land. They bought land from many locals living there, whoever they might be. And in fact, Arabs sold lot of land at exorbitant prices to Jews then. In the 1937 Peel Commission setup by Britain to probe into the land deals in today's Israel, Haj Amin al-Husseini, one of the founding fathers of Palestinian Arab nationalistic movement, told Laurie Hammond that large amount of land were sold, willingly, by Arabs for money to the Jews. In fact, historians say that his own family collected large amounts of land from smaller owners at throw away price, and sold them to Jews at very high prices. Familiar Land Mafia anyone?
So all those who scream "occupation" by Jews, forget the simple fact that a lot of land owned by Jews today were legally bought by them by paying exorbitant prices. As we have seen earlier they were barren desert land in most cases, so Arab land owners (and others) made lot of profit. Now that the lands have been transformed into fantastic livable pieces, their descendants scream "occupation".

And soon, the same Arabs went to war with Jews. Hypocrisy anyone? First sell the land and the "liberate" the same!

Even some Arabs know that the whole Palestinian identity is a political and tactical weapon against Zionism, and not truly for any "freedom" of Palestinian Arabs. There are so many Arab nations and they hold on to 100s of times the Gaza land if they really want to settle this matter.
As Nathan Weinstock says, the hyper nationalist propaganda of Palestinians now is more of a racket.

What was India's contribution towards liberating Israel from Ottoman Turks?

We should know this really well. Haifa in Israel was liberated from Turks by Indians. Communists who formulated school books totally eliminated India's contribution in World war 1 and 2.

The bravery of soldiers from Karnataka, Telangana and Rajasthan helped liberate Haifa, the port city of Israel from Ottoman Turks' occupation of 400 years. Israel remembers this great help from India in 1918. Indian army celebrates Haifa day.
Teen Murti Bhavan in New Delhi is precisely for one soldier each from Mysore, Hyderabad and Jodhpur.

But we are not taught about this bravery in schools. In fact, this was the LAST time a horse mounted lancer brigade won against machine guns and tanks!

What to do next for Indians, particularly Hindus? 

In summary, India helped create Israel. Indian soldiers (Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims - yes Muslims also) have given up their lives right from Haifa port capture in 1918. India and Israel both are democracies surrounded by hostile neighbours. India and Israel both have the same Islamic radicals as common enemy. The common enemy (in the form of ISIS, Hamas, Hizbollah, Lashkar e Taiba, Indian Mujahideen, Taliban, Al Qaeda et al) is always dreaming to destroy these nations for its well stated goal of occupying their lands. India gains nothing by supporting the radical Islam of Hamas which openly uses terrorism for its survival. Unlike India, Israel crushes terrorism via violent backlash. This is an area tough for many Indians to accept as they are used to sending dossiers to enemies who indulge in terrorism on Indians. India gains everything from technology to business to cultural survival in the long run, by partnering with Israel. Yes, the Israel where mostly Jews live and Palestine where (only) Muslims live. The borders are already drawn. The countries are in place. India must certainly work towards the welfare of Palestinian Muslim civilians who are caught now between the cross fire of Israeli army and Hamas rockets. But do not forget the long history and the RIGHT of existence of Jews in their holy land.

There is a way out of this conflict. But the way out is not by "pushing the Jews to the sea" as Hamas radicals and their sympathisers preach. Hope this long essay has given enough pointers to understand where we have come from, and how Indians should start working towards the Israel Palestine conflict resolution.

Share your thoughts please.


What is Palestine? Who are the Palestinians?

Is Jerusalem a holier place for Jews or Muslims?

The Palestinian Wall of Lies - False Palestinian propaganda exposed

India's role in liberating Israel from Ottoman Turks: