Saturday, 29 September 2012

Israel versus Palestine

Recently there has been a bit of a storm over a CofE 'Evangelical' vicar who posted a link to a blatantly anti-semitic website on his blog. Taken with the General Synods disgraceful decision to endorse a campaign to boycott Israel and 'force the Jewish State to abandon its oppression of the "Palestinians,"' I think the incoming Arcbishop of Canterbury is going to need to be prepared to deal with a rising tide of politcal activism against Israel.

What strikes me most forceably in these discussions is the constantly repeated "Israel has no historic right of existence" and it is usually backed by the further statement that "there were no Jews in Israel before the early 20th Century." Both are patently false, though we have to admit that the Maccabean Kingdom was destroyed by the Romans in 77 AD and it noble families enslaved, exiled or deported. As with the Babylonian exile, however, the peasantry remained in situ and formed the kernal of the revival when once the Ottoman Turkish government was ousted by the British in 1916-17. To simply assume that there was no "jewish presence" at all in the intervening years is patently false. We also misapply the Roman title of "Palestine" to Israel or any parts of it. The Roman "Province" of Palestine included Lebanon, a large chunk of Syria and all of Jordan and part of the Sinai. The modern boundaries are the result of European "Power Politics" at the end of WW1 and do not reflect history either.

For one thing there are Christian records from Byzantium which record efforts to suppress or convert the Jews. They failed. So did the Islamic attempts - and for all the modern propaganda that Islam "tolerated" the presence of Jews and Christians, they were not above enforced conversion and blatant coercion. Non-muslims could practice their faith privately, but could not discuss it publicly and they paid a punitive "tax" for the privilege. The tax was - and still is in many Muslim countries - distributed to mosques. Further restrictions included laws which forbid the holding of any office which places a "k'fir" over a Muslim. This is not the case in Israel, the only state in the Middle East which has Christians, Muslims and Jews sitting in its Parliament. Yes, the Christians and Muslims are minorities, but they are there. I know of no other state in that region where a Christian or a Jew would be allowed to stand for election, much less allowed to take his seat if elected.

Balfour proposed a "Two State" solution for the Jewish question and British ambivalence and "deals" made with various religious and political leaders among the Arab peoples bedevilled its practical application. At various times the Mufti of Istanbul (incidently an ardent Nazi who worked tirelessly to raise an SS Division for Hitler) and the equally rabidly anti-Jewish Mufti of Mecca were promised that "Jerusalem would remain Muslim" - a promise made in direct contradiction of promises made to the Jewish people. We should not be surprised then, that some factions among the Jews in Palestine began to smell a sell out and took action to force a solution. They merely anticipated Nelson Mandela, Jomo Kenyatta, Robert Mugabe and others to secure their own independence and the security of a country for their people. I find it ironic that the British now lionise Mandela, Mugabe (or they did initially) and Kenyatta among others - but the Jewish leaders remain "terrorists" and "criminals" to be ousted and overthrown. One could be excused for thinking there is (a) a racial or religious bias here, or (b) that the politics of "big oil" override all considerations of history or truth.

Yes, the modern state of Israel is taking draconian action to protect its borders, but they have ample evidence to support the belief that none of their neighbours can be trusted to restrain the daily attacks on its citizens. History supports them on this - we are fed a daily diet of reports on Israeli "attrocities" against "Palestinians" but there is seldom any mention of the daily rocket and missile attacks on Israeli civilians from Gaza and Southern Lebanon. Nor do we hear the oft declared article of faith among the "Palestinians" that their intent is control of a single state - all of Israel. There is much talk now of the "two state" solution, but what those now talking about it overlook is that there are already two states occupying the territory Balfour originally wrote his proposals for. The Kingdom of Jordan and Israel. There is a "Palestinian" nation, it's called Jordan.

The Jews, in my view rightly, smelled a large rat in 1945 - 47 when the British began their planned withdrawal from Israel. First they handed control of all the local government functions, armouries, police and military to the Hashemite King of Jordan (created 'king' by the British in 1919) and even put senior British military personell under his command. The desperate refugees from the Concentration Camps were rounded up, intercepted and shipped back to Germany (even the military in charge of this pointed out to Attlee that putting the refugees back into "internment camps" that had only a short while before been Death Camps for the final solution was stupid. He ignored them) or to Cyprus and vowed they would not be allowed to settle in "Palestine." Once again, the British had traded the interests of a desperate and homeless people for their own (one or two of my relatives were involved in some of this and resigned in disgust as soon as they were free to do so. One was extremely vociferous about it until his death). Britain's 'solution' was to create a single state in the hope that the Jordanians would honour the "protected status" of the Jewish people of Palestine.

Yeah, history shows just how long that would have lasted. In fact, before the British had even begun to withdraw, the mullahs. Muftis and Arab nationalists were declaring the intention to "drive the Jews into the sea." One statement included the declaration that the land would be "refreshed by the blood of the Jew spilled in righteous cleansing." Funny that all of this is ignored by those who witter on about how the Jews "seized" the property of "Palestinians" who "fled for their lives" from the "Jewish onslaught." Again, the truth gets a bit lost here. The Jordanian Army ordered the withdrawal stating that anyone who remained would be "treated as an enemy and shot." The Jews took the view that if you weren't prepared to stand with them, you weren't to be trusted.

Modern accounts make it sound as if the Jews were supported by a huge army, were well supplied, equipped and organised. In fact they were all volunteers, poorly equipped and armed and had to rely on what they could capture for food, equipment and ammunition. The difference between them and the Arab Armies they faced, was that they were fighting for their lives and the lives of their families. I can think of no other similar situation in which "guerilla" troops have had such an incentive. They drove their enemies out of the whole state of Israel west of the Jordan River and the present situation with the enclave of Gaza and the so-called "West Bank" are the result of a sneak attack by Jordan and Egypt in 1948 - after the UN had recognised these areas as being a part of "Israel."

I'm afraid my sympathies lie firmly with Israel and the Jewish people. This is their ancient homeland and, like it or not, they have as much right to a homeland as anyone else. I deplore the Church of England's vacillation and its support of anti-Israel causes and organisations and I hope the new Archbishop will have the courage to acknowledge the fallacy of many who preach otherwise.

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