By Ugonna Emechebe
I had thought that this was going to be the last installment, but what I spent the whole time writing last night has exceeded what I can offer in one serving so I will have to post what I hope would be the concluding installment later.
Although as they presently exist, they are constructs developed after the World War as modern nation-states countries like Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and most other Arab countries today are historical peoples, albeit (at least for the last two mentioned peoples) not with those names.
These countries are inhabited by people groups and ethnicities who have existed for centuries as ethnic nationalities on their own land.
Just like it is in the construct called Nigeria, the Kanuris have always been in Bornu and the old Bornu Empire, the Igbos have always inhabited the portions now known as South-East Nigeria, as well as some portions of the South-South. The Yorubas have always lived as a monolithic entity in the South-West of Nigeria and even went beyond that into Benin Republic.
Now, the amalgamation of Nigeria and the assemblage of disparate people groups into one modern construct called Nigeria does not detract from the fact they existed many centuries ago as primitive nationalities and occupied their own ancestral lands.
This is not how it is with the Palestinian case.
My issue with the Palestinian factor is that what we refer to as Palestinians is a melting pot and mishmash of several disparate Arab groups that are for the most part incongruent in the sense that they are an arbitrary geographical assemblage done solely for political reasons.
Let me explain.
Many different Arabs from different countries came as migrant workers who even worked to help Jews who had started building Kibbutzim (settlements) on that land as far back as the early 1800s. Jews, Arabs, and other nationalities which include Kurds and Persians have lived on that same land side by side in different settlements for centuries, even under the Ottomans (even though the Jewish population was not too significant). They lived there and there was neither a State of Israel, a Palestinian State nor was there need for them at the time.
But the need for an Israeli State eventually came to the fore.
Let me explain further.
The first officially recognized Aliyah (mass immigration of Jews to the homeland) was in 1882 under the Ottoman Empire and there were about 35,000 Jews who made that journey. But even before then there had been many relocations of the Jews.
After then there have been at least 5 other Aliyahs with the last one called Aliyah Bet (illegal mass immigration) because the British who had the Mandate over that land after the Ottomans were vanquished in 1914 set a quota system that limited the amount of Jews entering into the land.
These Jews were running away from Nazi persecution around Europe, but the British placed a quota and when it was exceeded deported the people by sending their trains back to where they came from.
David Ben Gurion and his Haganah militia group fought against the British to stop this policy because most of those Jews that were deported ended up in Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps. This was the backdrop of the Aliyah Bet which has become the most prominent of all the other mass immigrations of Jews to the holy land.
But revisionists make it look as though the Jews only forcefully returned there to displace the Arab population in 1948. I can assure you that if there was no declaration of a Jewish State in 1948 there would neither be a Palestinian cause nor the clamor for a Palestinian State.
The State of Israel sprang up on the back of the Balfour Declaration primarily because of the need for survival. The Jews are a homogenous unit who have been killed and persecuted, so statehood for them was an issue of survival; pray tell what is the issue of the Palestinian clamor for statehood?
I will tell you what I think it is: it is not as much as getting a State for themselves as it is preventing Israel from getting theirs.
After the pogroms of the 2nd World War and the pressure of the Zionist Movement the British offered the Jews a part of Uganda for their ancestral homeland. Mark my words: if the Jews had accepted that idea there would still be no Palestinian State today as the best case scenario would have been the Arab nations of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan would have balkanised the whole land and even Iran would have taken a piece of the pie.
That is the BEST CASE SCENARIO.
Let me tell you the worst case.
That whole place would be up in flames now with inter-tribal conflicts. The Arabs are to some extent immiscible but most people don’t know that. The common denominator that defines “solidarity” for them is a hatred of Israel. Beyond that there is no meaningful commonality.
In Israel, the Palestinian question is viewed in two distinct ways and by two broad groups: those that want a two-state solution and those that want a one-state solution. These two groups cut across both liberals and conservatives.
It is imperative to note that most Israeli liberals tilt to a 2 State solution while most Israeli conservatives want a single Jewish State, but there are these marginal figures in both camps that are inclined towards the second route. Be that as it may the conservatives have one desire- a Jewish State. Whether that is achieved through a one-state or two-state is open to conjecture as you will find them in both options.
The liberals too follow the two options for different reasons to the conservatives – EGALITARIANISM. They want equal rights for everyone, both Jewish and Arab, and whether that happens in a single state where there is harmonious coexistence or that happens when 2 sovereign states are born is neither here nor there.
We must be clear about this if we will understand this.
As there is obviously not much more time to cover this we will continue the last part in the next series.
Keep a date.