About 8:45 AM, Enrique’s I like how it feels on Virgin Radio Dubai (man I love this number), and I am reading about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the internet. For some it may seem boring, like those geeky gujju medium kids at college who have no interest in world politics, (well, forget world, they didn’t even gave a damn about the Anna Hazare movement which shook the entire nation, also they pronounce Israel as Is-raa-eel! If only I had time to join AIESEC…) but for me, anything pertaining to the Middle East is pretty interesting. So, coming to the point…
Holy Land, as the world calls it, this part of the planet never ceases to amaze me! Be it the changes it has seen from even before the birth of Christianity or the ethnic, racial and cultural changes that have swiped the land, undoubtedly this little piece of earth has the most interesting history on the entire planet. It has been invaded by virtually every empire worth its salt including the Persians, Romans, Ottomans and British. It is also the birthplace of both Judaism and Christianity. Jerusalem is also a sacred city for Muslims. And in the modern world, i.e. since the late 19th century the turmoil this region has seen politically, it draws me to know more about it. In 2006, I used to listen on medium wave radio about the on-going war between Israel and Lebanon and back then I used to ignore that news by thinking that those were just a bunch of fools fighting over a piece of land but at that time I didn’t know the grave history behind the turmoil in that region. My interest in this little piece of earth adjoining the Mediterranean Sea arose when I saw the flick Munich this summer; and then there was no stopping, then I read the book ‘O Jerusalem!’ by Dominique Lappiere and Larry Collins in order to know more about the history of the Jew-Arab war and tried to understand that why the conflict between them would never end. Also I keep my eyes open to grab any little information I may get about this region.
After Hitler’s infamous holocaust where thousands of Jews were suffocated in gas chambers, the Jews from around the world began to gather around this region which was formerly a part of Palestine. Then it is beautifully explained in the book ‘O Jerusalem’ how in 1948, after lot of struggles and hardships, with the help of the British government and United nations, the Jews marked a separate territory for themselves and named it Israel right in the heart of the Arab world in the land which was claimed by Palestinian Arabs since past 7 centuries. Now certainly this fumed the Arabs on the injustice done towards them. But still I hesitate to call this as ‘injustice’ leading to the grave history of the Jews. The world wasn’t kind to them before and now after much struggle and armed conflicts they finally ‘earned’ a place which they could call home. And then the Jews from all over the world were invited to be a part of the only Jewish state in the world and help in its progress. As time progressed, Israel spread geographically and the land under Palestine gradually shrank; resulting in what we know today as the ‘Occupied Palestinian Territories’ the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
And the violence in Gaza strip still continues. In fact most Western governments have issued a severe and strict travel warning against entering the Gaza strip to its people. While seeming internally stable, most consider it effectively a war zone. The Palestinian factions and the Israeli military are well armed and quite willing to shoot when they think it necessary. Anyone who carries anything identifying them as Jewish, such as a Star of David necklace, is very much at risk. Also in Diego Bunuel’s show it was shown how dangerous this part is, both on the Israeli colonies neighbouring the strip and the inside of the Gaza strip (of course). There are many rocket and hand grenade attacks from the Hamas controlled Gaza towards the Israeli colonies, and hence the real estate in that part is in crumbles. Diego also showed how the locals try to protect themselves from their own supplied weapons, Yes, Israel supplies the weapons to Gaza (as part of economic support which it has to provide to Gaza based on UN guidelines) which Hamas uses back on Israel. Don’t be startled, they are not real weapons but mostly metal pipes, Hamas generally use them in rocket launchers to strike back on Israel.
Gaza strip is a majorly Hamas controlled, 40X6 km stretch on the coast of Mediterranean sea and one of the world’s most populous regions with population exceeding 1.2 Million. The people of Gaza have no where to go as Israel controls Gaza’s air space, coast, food supplies and virtually everything. The people of Gaza can not move out of the strip and spend their entire lives in that region. Fatah is present in Gaza but it holds its majority in West Bank, but still there are conflicts between Fatah and Hamas authorities. Hence turning Gaza in a very dangerous place to be in. It was shown in Diego’s show that how Israel provides all the economic support to Gaza and how the Gaza people queue up in trucks every morning on the Israeli border to collect the food that feeds Gaza and Israeli soldiers randomly fire in their direction so that there is no chaos on the Gaza side.
Israel is a brave nation, the Jews earned their freedom after much struggle and facing a lot of hardships from the hostile Arabs. The 1948 war was one with Jews on one side and the Arabs from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Iran and Syria on the other, and even today because of Israel’s ‘control’ over Palestinian territories, it is in very bad terms with the Arab nations in the middle east. This can be seen from the Munich massacre in the 1972 Olympics where Arabs mercilessly killed around 14 Israeli players. Israel did strike back which is explained in the book ‘Vengeance’ by George Jonas.
In fact Afghanistan, Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and even the moderate UAE block passports containing stamps or visas from Israel; i.e. anyone, even a non Jew who has travelled Israel and wishes to enter the above mentioned nations is barred.
And it’s not just the Arab nations, but also the Muslims from non Arab nations are hostile towards Israel and Jews, the proof of it can be seen in the 26/11 Bombay attacks where even Pakistan’s Islamic extremist organizations targeted Nariman house, a Jewish recreation centre in downtown Bombay. Six Israelis were killed in that inhuman act and it was even said in the news that the terrorists were told by their handlers in Pakistan that the lives of Jews were worth 50 times those of non-Jews and hence they were tortured very badly. The hatred of Jews and the state of is a factor that spurs and encourages such murderous acts from extremist Islamic organizations. There were reactions and condolences from even Australia, Canada and US apart from Israel of course but no official reaction from India was made on this act. Also the story behind it was not covered by the Indian media, it was CNN that told me the story of the Jew founders which I will talk about some other time.
The patriotism of the Israelis to their land can be seen from the recent incident where Israel freed 1027 captured Palestinian prisoners for the exchange of one Israeli soldier, just about a month back. And few days back I read in the print that Saudi Arabia will give $1m to anyone who captures an Israeli so that it can exchange it for the Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli jails.
The conflict between the Jews and Arabs will never end, indeed they have such a grave history and if Israel turns even a little moderate in its policies to deal with Palestine, or gives a relaxation in its one year mandatory conscription for the civilians, the Arabs would not let that nation survive. Israel, O brave thee, I bow down to you…
And yes, this doesn’t mean I am against Arabs, in fact those who know me closely enough know how much respect and admire the Arab culture and well, their music too.
PS-If you’ve been wondering what Diego’s show I am talking about, then stop watching MTV and put on something sensible like National Geographic Channel on your TV!