Thursday, July 31, 2014

Gaza Genocide and the Israel-Palestinian Conflict: Why Is It Happening?

Once again, the world seems to be moving towards a situation of mutual annihilation adopted by groups of modern humans who have not yet attained the desired levels of humanist maturity.

The Hamas-Israel conflict has already caused thousands to lose their lives and it is escalating by the day. Elsewhere in Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, Nigeria groups of people keep taking arms against each other and fighting for causes that they think as right.

Israel (shown in yellow) and the Present Palestinian 
Autonomous Regions of Gaza, West Bank and Golan (in Green)

Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) had been the main centers of global terrorism and international diplomacy for many decades, ever since the tiny nation of Israel got carved out of the regions of the Palestinian peoples [Read the Wikipedia article on the History of Israel]

The Palestinian-Israel conflict has a history dating back to pre-historic times and we get an idea about it from the Old Testament Bible (the religious text of the Jews and the first part of the religious text of the Christians) 

A good part of the Biblical narrations are retold in a different manner in the Holy text of the Muslims, the Quran, which describe the Jews and the Christians as the people of the scriptures.

The conflict has its foundations on enmity on account of race, religion, economic and intellectual inequality and vengeance.

As the historic information is mostly incomplete and scholastic speculations, to have a better understanding of the reasons behind this conflict, it is essential to consider all aspects right from the pre-historic days.

It all starts some 4000 years ago, when an influential leader from one nomadic family moving around in the areas of the present day Israel-Palestine region got the concepts of God as preached by a glorified and saintly person in human form. The former is called Abraham and the latter is called Melchizedek in the Bible.

Though it is not explicitly written in the Bible, it could well be deduced that this Melchizedek was the spiritual guru of Abraham who initiated him to forgo the prevalent nomadic practices of idol worship and believe in the invisible Almighty God, who is to be revered as the Creator and Father in the Heavens. 

The Bible describes the manner in which descendants of Abraham parted ways in their culture and way of living. Abraham's elder son, born in a servant woman whom he adopted as wife because his wife was barren was Ismail. Ismail is believed to be the founder of the Arabic clans. Later Abraham had another son, Isaac, from his own wife who had twin sons, Esah and Jacob.

Jacob in his later years got the name Israel. He had twelve sons, from whom the twelve clans of of the Jewish people were formed.

Abraham, his cousins, his sons, grandsons and their families and dependents all lived in the region around the present day Israel. 

Sometime during the old age of Jacob (Israel), his elder sons sold off his eleventh son, Joseph (Yousef) to slave traders who in turn sold him to an Egyptian official who worked for the Egyptian king, Pharaoh. In later years, Joseph became the Prime Minister of Pharaoh.

During this time, due to severe famine in Palestine, the old patriarch Jacob and his sons and their families had to move to Egypt for survival. There, Joseph found them, forgave what his elder brothers did to him and helped them.

With the royal patronage, the Israeli clans flourished well in Egypt. Their numbers perhaps became thousands and they became a threat to the majority Egyptians in the next four centuries. That forced the latter day Pharaoh to declare the descendants of Israel as slaves and put them to hardships and forced labor. 

Then they got a leader who was capable enough to become a mighty opponent to the Pharaoh of that time. He was Moses. The Biblical narratives say the detailed story of how Moses became an adopted prince of the Pharaoh's palace and how he was initiated in to the task of taking the leadership of the Jewish slaves of Egypt.

Finally, Moses, with his divine guidance, helped the Jews to escape Egypt and move en mass to Palestine, the land of their forefathers. 

But by this time the Palestine region was full of the descendants of the cousins of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob intermixed with descendants of their ancestors. And many of these were physically much stronger than the descendants of Israel who just recently got freed from their centuries old slavery. 

The Jews, by their genetic characteristics as explained in the Bible, were physically weaker, but more intelligent and cleverer than their country cousins of Palestine.

That helped them to plan a strategic war under Joshua, their next leader after Moses, to be victorious over the people who inhabited the land their forefathers lived. Thus a minority warrior group of the forward moving Israelite people won over the majority residents of Palestine area and established their settlement in the lands they captured.

They Israeli warriors were forewarned about the dangers of leaving any of their opponents alive. They were instructed to destroy every one. But when their opponents got defeated, they were filled with mercy that they did not kill the children and the women of the defeated Palestinian tribal populace of that time. 

From that period on, the Jews and the rest of the people of the area including the Palestinians were living together in that area. However, for the Palestinian descendants, the Jews were outsiders who forcefully occupied their lands and hence were natural enemies.

The Jews later established their kingdoms and for the next hundreds of years there were times of peace as well as fighting between them and others. During this period, they were made slaves by the Iranians and others. They had a tumultuous history thereafter. 

They were a peculiar kind of minority in the eyes of the majority peoples around them. Their religious practices were different. They believed in one god and they had strict, written religious codes and customs different from all others whom they called by some word equivalent to the English word, gentile. By the end of the first century BC, the Jewish kingdom had become a subordinate dependent state of the Roman empire.  

Just like the Hindus of India, the Jews believed in the prophecies of their saints and prophets and believed in divine interventions at some stage that would help them to uplift their status. They believed in some divine incarnation or avatar.

It was during this time that Jesus Christ was born in a lower middle class Jewish family. Jesus Christ indeed was the savior that their prophets predicted, but the Jewish aristocracy and their religious leaders could not accept it at that time. That was because of the teachings of Jesus that the chaste Jews found as pure blasphemy. But it was not so for the poor folks of the region, whether they belonged to the Jews or the gentiles. 

Jesus gave a new law and a revolutionary interpretation of the old laws. He revealed God, his heavenly father as the God of mercy and love instead of the vengeful god of war and justice that the Jews had been taught earlier.

The Jewish leaders with the help of their political Roman masters killed Jesus on the cross for blasphemy. But Jesus indeed was a divine incarnation that he rose up from the dead and taught thousands of his followers with divine authority. All those, Jews and gentiles, who witnessed the resurrected Jesus became staunch disciples of Jesus and believers of the new teaching. 

In another few decades, as was predicted by some of their old prophets, the Jewish kingdom was totally invaded by external powers and the Jews once again became a landless people, disintegrating to many nations. 

In the later years, the followers of Jesus formed Christianity. The political authority began to fear the massive conversions of all peoples to the new religion. Massive persecution of Christians  by the Roman empire followed for the next few centuries till one latter day Roman emperor, Constantine the great, himself converted to Christianity and made Christianity as the official religion of the the new Roman empire. 

There was relative peace and tranquility during the initial centuries of the new Roman empire which later got separated as the western and the eastern. The eastern became the Byzantine empire

During the 7th century AD, the tribal descendants of Arabia got a new spiritual leader-Prophet Muhammad- who established the new religion, Islam which was a modernized form of the monotheistic (one-god) religions of the Jews and the Christians. In fact, the Christians and the Jews extended much help to Prophet Muhammad during his initial years of fight against the leaders of the Arabian clans.

The Holy Book of Quran originally written in Arabic language told more or less the same stories of the Bible, but giving a different line of approach, mostly in the form of a divine, authoritarian monologue.

While the Quran admitted the non-human and divine nature of Jesus (perhaps as a great prophet of angelic origin), it was wholly opposed to the son-of-god concept and the trinity concepts of the Christians. [An unbiased reader could realize this by reading the Quran. While this aspect is reflected throughout, I give a link to an English translation of Surah Maryam-the 19th Surah of Quran- for the readers here for their own reading and assessment]

Prophet Muhammad was both a spiritual and political leader of Arabia who later became the ruler of all Arabia by a series of war campaigns against his opponents. His successors established the powerful Muslim rule of the Caliphs with Baghdad of Iraq as the capital of the Muslim empire. 

However, Islam as a religion was not an undivided house. It got divided into two major mutually antagonistic groups called the Sunni Islam and the Shia Islam.

The Caliphs later adopted a policy that declared every one who was a true believer in Allah (the Arabic term for Almighty God originating from the Hebrew word Eloah) was a servant of God and thus a Muslim, irrespective of whether they were Jews, Christians or others. A true believer in God was therefore required to follow the tenets of the Quran and anyone who did not do that is a Kafir (unbeliever). This edict of the Caliphs caused the Christians and Jews of the Byzantine empire to either voluntarily or forcefully become converted to Islam. Those who did not, began to face the Muslim persecutions which caused the centuries long conflict between the Muslim empire of the Caliphs and the Roman empire of the Christians known in history as the crusades .

By the end of the crusades, Byzantine empire of the Christians fell to the Caliphs whereas the European Roman empire with its headquarters at Rome withstood the onslaught of Islam identified as the Holy Roman Empire that occupied the whole of Europe for almost thousand years from 962 AD-1806 AD. 

Common people of both the so-called holy empires of the Christians and the Muslims that engulfed both Europe and Asia suffered much during this time in the name of religion and race. The Jews became a widely scattered minority in all the regions. The progress of human civilization went back to the primitive times and the major part of the time period during this time came to be identified as the Dark Ages of human history. 

Religion became the powerful tool in the hands of the aristocrats and the clergy to control the people during this period. Religious texts became sacrosanct and the authority to understand and interpret them remained with the religious elitists. 

However, the renaissance and reformation movements that took place within Christianity slowly caused the common people of Europe to come out of the religious hegemony. However, such things of any significance did not happen in the Islamic world.

However, reformation added another division in the Christian world between the traditional catholic Christians and the breakaway groups of the protestants. The Holy Roman Empire finally disintegrated in to many nations with conflicts of their own.

New thoughts brought up free thinking and novel ideas with the advent of the Industrial Revolution of Europe. It led to explorations and discoveries of new lands like the Americas, Africa, south-east Asia and Australia. The Americas got colonized by the Europeans and the American nations emerged in the world scene. 

Exploitation of industrial workers paved the way for economic and social reformations such as Socialism and Communism

The scattered Jews under conditions of adversity got the opportunity to polish their inborn talents and cleverness. Many of them became wealthy and influential in their own countries of residence. In the regions around the present day Germany, the affluence of the Jews became an eye-sore for the less privileged Christian majority. 

And all these factors culminated in the modern conflicts of the 20th century that we now know as the World War-I and the World War-II.

Jews became the unfortunate victims of in the hands of an ambitious commoner becoming the most hated dictator, Hitler who captured power in Germany by democratic means initially. The result was the holocaust with over 6 million Jews getting brutally massacred in Europe.

But that resulted many Jews migrating to the Americas and a sympathy wave in favor of them growing. The fall of the Reich to the Allies of World War-II paved the way for the formation of the state of Israel once again in 1948.

This time too, the Palestinian inhabitants of the area had to make sacrifices to leave their homes and properties to accommodate the foreign Jews coming back to their land in large numbers from their centuries old exile in foreign lands. 

This revived the old enmity. As the Jews were helped by the so-called Christian majority nations under the leadership of UK and USA, Muslim world naturally became sympathetic to the Palestinians who are now predominantly Muslim. 

Israel with the active and passive support of USA and its supporting nations soon became a nation much advanced scientifically and technologically. And those who support them became known as the Zionists. These developments are all an outcome of both social, racial and religious feelings interwoven in a complex manner.

So they are fighting. Some for mere existence, while some for regaining their pride and also for revenge.

Would there be an end to this madness? Would these people learn to be humane? Would they be able to forget their wounds and work together for a common cause? 

Yes, they would. But not in the near future. 

Human beings keep enhancing their wisdom as the generations pass. And that wisdom would allow them to think differently. They would, in due course of time, learn the true meaning and benefits of what Jesus taught- love your enemies as you love yourself!

They would learn the fallacy of human pride and enmity. 

Till such times, they would keep suffering from their own erroneous deeds and thoughts!

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