By Bolanle BOLAWOLE
firstname.lastname@example.org 0705 263 1058
As we were saying, Abram, father of the Jewish faith of Judaism, the Christian faith of Christianity and the Muslim faith of Islam, came from Ur in Mesopotamia in present-day Iraq. Christianity’s Old Testament bible and the Jewish Tanakh bible, which are significantly the same, has this to say in Genesis 12: 1 -6: “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee… So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken unto him… And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten to go to the land of Canaan, and into the land of Canaan they came”
From the going, it is clear that Abram’s “country” was Ur in Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq). Abram was an Iraqi; that being so, his descendants, Jewish and Palestinians, must also trace their roots to present-day Iraq. The Old Testament Bible (Genesis 11: 27 – 31) also records that Abram’s father, Terah, had two other sons, Nahor and Haran. Haran begat Lot but died before his father Terah. So, “Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came into Haran, and dwelt there” Note that Terah did not go with his other son, Nahor, who was Abram’s brother. So, Terah and Abram left their blood lines in Ur of the Chaldees (in Mesopotamia), which is today’s Iraq. They left “kindred” there to this day!
Abram and his descendants were not the autochthonous or original/indigenous inhabitants of present-day Palestine or the land of Israel. The Bible called it “the land of Canaan”. There were inhabitants there long before God told Abram to go there. The Old Testament Bible records the many battles and wars that Abram (later Abraham) and his descendants fought against Hittites, Canaanites, Jebusites, Philistines, etc. who were the original inhabitants of the land as we know it. These were uprooted, scattered, driven away or annihilated for their land to be possessed by others.
This is similar to how the Red Indians of America were exterminated by white colonialists from Europe and their land appropriated by those who today claim to be the “original’ owners of America. In the same fashion, the Aborigines were exterminated in Australia by excommunicated vandals and vagrants from Europe; just as the Maori, who were the first inhabitants of New Zealand. So, neither Palestinians nor Jews were the original owners of the land they have fought over. Theirs is, thus, the case of someone who chanced upon a precious item lost by someone else but who insists he would die rather than part with it. Remember Ebenezer Obey’s song: “Eni ri nkan he/To fe ku pelu e/Owo eni ti o ti sonu nko? Aiye l’a ba, aiye l’a o fi s’ile si” No one takes any land or property to the grave.
History records that the ownership of Palestine has changed hands many times over – and may still do if the Lord tarries! Many of those who appear as distinct peoples today, if you trace their roots, belonged to the same parentage. It has been said that the 10 lost tribes of Israel who were uprooted from Palestine were transported to today’s Afghanistan where they were converted to Islam and are, today, the ancestors of the Taliban, one of the most vicious Islamist groups anyone can think of. Old Testament Bible stories record so many of such uprooting of Israeli tribes to foreign lands by the Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians, among others.
History records that in 721 BC, Assyria swept out of the north, captured the northern kingdom of Israel and took the 10 tribes into captivity. From there, they reportedly got lost to history! Jerusalem, the so-called eternal and indivisible capital of the Jewish state of Israel, has been captured and recaptured at least 20 times and has been claimed by about as many countries and empires, including the world’s three major religions of Christianity, Islam and Judaism! In 1517, the Ottoman Empire conquered the region and ruled it until the British conquered it in 1917. The British ruled it under the British Mandate until 1948 when the Jewish State of Israel was proclaimed.
Truth be told, the land of Palestine, and the controversies surrounding it, is a jig-saw puzzle, a labyrinth that does not yield to easy resolutions. The Jewish theory of God, and the explanation of creation, appears to have travelled farther than other competing and contending ideologies; that is not to say, however, that every other person accepts as the gospel truth the Jewish history as recorded in the Old Testament bible or the Jewish Tanakh. The concept of God, and of creation, remains the most contentious issue of all times. Neither science, fiction nor religion has been able to conclusively and comprehensively explain it to the satisfaction of all. Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution also failed to carry everyone along with his “big bang” theory. The biblical theory of creating something out of nothing and by someone or something existing from no one knows when and where and standing nowhere and nothing and making use of nothing to bring everything out of nothing remains explainable and explicable only in the realms of religion or faith.
Therefore, every person has their own theory of creation as well as the concept of God/Supreme Being. In that there is no generally acceptable explanation of the “Uncaused Cause” that brought about creation, it is safe to let everyone cling to their own respective concept and narration and rest ourselves on the understanding that our knowledge, so far, is finite. Xenophanes, philosopher and theologian, posits that “If cows and horses had hands and could draw, cows would draw gods that look like cows and horses would draw gods that look like horses” Our advantage over those unfortunate creatures – for so it would seem – is what made us to posit that God created us in His own image! Again, said Xenophanes: “The Gods did not reveal, from the beginning, all things to us, but in the course of time through seeking we may learn and know things better. But as for certain truth no man knows it, nor shall he know it, neither of the Gods nor yet of all things that I speak. For even if by chance he were to utter The Final Truth, he would himself not know it: for all is but a woven web of guesses” Final Truth! Final Solution! We shall soon return to this!
Two events in modern history define Israel; the first is the Holocaust and the second is the creation of the modern state of Israel in 1948. When German leader, Adolf Hitler, leading the Axis Powers of Germany, Italy and Japan, started the 2nd World War (1939 – 1945) against the Allied Powers of France, Great Britain, the United States, the Soviet Union and, to a lesser extent, China, one of his goals was the extermination of the Jews in what he called the “final solution” to the Jewish Question. At the end of the horrendous implementation of Hitler’s “Endlosung” from 1941 to 1945, six million Jews had reportedly been systematically murdered in horrific circumstances across 21 countries.
The Allied Powers, who were victorious in that war and who became known as the Victorious Powers, created the United Nations Organization (UNO) on 24 October, 1945 as a successor to the League of Nations established at the end of the 1st World War (1914 – 1918) under the Treaty of Versailles ostensibly “to promote international cooperation and to achieve peace and security” The new UNO was based on the Atlantic Charter earlier envisioned, on 14 August, 1941, by the 32nd president of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
In 1947, the UK turned Palestine over to the UN. After looking at alternatives, the UN proposed the partitioning of the land into two independent States, one Palestinian Arab and the other Jewish, with Jerusalem internationalized. On November 29, 1947, the partition plan was passed by the UN General Assembly with 33 votes for, 13 against with 10 abstentions. At midnight on May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Provisional Government of Israel, proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel.
The first country to recognize the State of Israel on the same day it was created was the United States, by its 33rd president, Harry Truman. The Jews accepted the UN plan but the Arabs rejected it. The Jews, who constituted a third of the population and owned about seven percent of the land as at the time, was to receive 56 percent of the partitioned land. War then broke out between the Jews and Palestinians, in which five Arab countries – Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria – attacked Israel. But after the war, which Israel won, the Jewish state expanded its territory to 77 percent, including the larger part of Jerusalem. War after war ever since, Israel has gained territory while the Palestinians have lost territory. In the 1967 Six-Day war, Israel defeated three Arab armies – Egypt, Jordan and Syria – and gained territories four times its original size, capturing the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
Israel has seriously and perpetually encroached on the Palestinians own sections of the partitioned land since then, building Jewish settlements everywhere. Resolution after resolution by the UN condemning Israel and demanding that it return to its 1948 borders have been spurned by the Jewish State. Peace talks – if we may call them that! – sponsored principally by the US and other Western powers who are the chief backers of Israel, have failed to bring comprehensive peace to the region, although Camp David Accords (17 September, 1978) and Oslo Accords 1 and 11 (1993 and 1995 respectively) achieved minimal success.
Unable to militarily defeat Israel, touted as the world’s fourth military power, some of its adversaries have resigned to fate and signed peace accords with it, such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan and Egypt. These 13 countries, however, do not recognize Israel: Algeria, Bangladesh, Brunei, Iran, Iraq. Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen.
Militarily, Israel is vastly superior to its adversaries; it also has the support of the Western powers but will this continue in perpetuity? Empires, kingdoms and nations rise and fall. This is the lesson that history teaches. Our world has been in existence for how long, we do not know for sure. Some carbon dating say it has been in existence for millions of years. How many more millions of years we have to go, if the Lord tarries, we do not know. Nations and peoples have come and gone. Civilizations have disappeared. The superpower nations of yesterday are the minnows of today. Who knows what lies in stock for the superpower nations of today! Hence this saying by my people: “Igba o ki n lo bi orere/Aiye o ki n lo bi opa ibon/Bi oni ti ri, ola o ri be/L’o mu Babalawo d’Ifa ojoojumo” French philosopher, Jean Jacques Rousseau, interpretes it thus: “The strongest is never strong enough to be always the master unless he transforms strength into right and obedience into duty” A word for the wise!
Bolawole, former Editor of THE PUNCH newspapers, is also a public affairs analyst on radio and television.