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Lessons from the Past

Jews, Muslims and Christians Once Lived Harmoniously in Palestine

by RUEL F. PEPA

Western media renewed its campaign of demonization in summer 2014 against Hamas, the Sunni Islamic organization that leads the Palestinian government in Gaza. This was presumably because Hamas was behind the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers who were later discovered to have been murdered. Later, more substantial information came out to prove that the accusation was wrong, and the ISIS-linked Dawlat al-Islam Sunni militant organization claimed responsibility for the murders.

In a situation of belligerence by a superior force such as Israel, what should a people do whose backs have already been pushed against a wall? In the case of the Palestinians in Gaza, Hamas provides the resistance muscle to repulse the Israeli onslaught, which can qualify as having a genocidal agenda. A more engaging way to look at the issue is to think of an economically disadvantaged and militarily weak hypothetical country in the same situation. What could its people do if the mighty army of a powerful nation should spearhead an attack of similar magnitude against them? To demonize Hamas while it tries to repel the more superior military forces of Israel is to say that Palestinians have no right to defend themselves while they are being slaughtered.

The Zionist movement’s claim that Palestine was originally Israel is a distortion of history. On the basis of Biblical records, Israel, meaning “he who struggles with God,” became Jacob’s name after he struggled with God in a place that Jacob later called “Peniel” or “Penuel.” Israel started out as a family, then became a clan and tribe, and later a nation composed of 12 tribes, but the tribe of Levi was dispersed in all of the tribes with the responsibility of priesthood. Moses belonged to the tribe of Levi, which was not one of the 12 tribes. After Israel conquered Canaan, where it later grew to become a kingdom, the first king was Saul; he was succeeded by David and then by Solomon.

Towards the end of the “glorious Solomonic era,” the united kingdom of Israel crumbled and became divided into two: the northern kingdom became known as Israel, and the southern kingdom as Judah. The northern kingdom was soon overrun by Assyria and dissolved. The southern kingdom was conquered by Babylonia (current-day Iraq) and fell into ruins. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia took the Jews, i.e. the people of Judah, into captivity. Later, the Persians (current-day Iran) liberated the Jews from Babylonia and allowed them to return to Judah. By then, Judah was no longer called Israel. The Persians were defeated by the Greeks, and the Greeks by the Romans. Under the Roman Empire, part of the area that is presently called Israel became known as Judea, which was a province of the larger Roman region of Syro-Palestina.

It is reasonable to view Hamas’ violent actions as a necessary defensive reaction to the violence that has been perpetrated by Israel against Palestine since 1948. The seeds for this violence were planted three decades earlier by the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917: a deal made between pro-Zionist Jewish banker Walter Rothschild and the United Kingdom, which then controlled Palestine. According to this deal with the UK, which was on the brink of bankruptcy from World War I, instead of collecting the debt, Baron Rothschild obtained a guarantee of the UK’s support in creating a Jewish State in Palestine, to be called Israel. This became possible in 1948 partly because of the overall sense of guilt worldwide that succeeded the Jewish holocaust of World War II.

The bitter politics of the Palestine-Israel conflict did not start in an instant. There was a long build-up. People in the so-called Christian western world have ignored (and generally tend to ignore) the past and ongoing oppression of the Palestinians because westerners are beholden to a badly interpreted theological formulation, on top of a confused view, that entangles the Jewish religion with Zionism. Zionism is a non-inclusive and dehumanizing fascist movement that hides behind the cloak of the Jewish religion.

Nobody aims to destroy Judaism. No honest-to-goodness Palestinian would want to destroy equally honest-to-goodness Jews. If the Palestinians, or any nation for that matter, would aim to destroy Judaism, I would be on the side of Judaism’s defense. I have nothing against the Jewish people, to whom I am related through my own wife, who is Jewish. Nevertheless, I am absolutely against Zionism. Palestinians have every reason in the world to counter a movement that has tried to rob them, not only of their geographical location but also of their future and the very essence of their dignity as human beings.

Before the creation of a Jewish State in Palestine, it was a progressive country where Palestinian Muslims, Palestinian Jews and Palestinian Christians had largely lived in peace, harmony and cooperation for many centuries. The Palestinian Liberation Organization’s historical leader Yasser Arafat, a Muslim, was married to a Palestinian Christian. If there was a geographical area in the world where Muslims, Jews and Christians lived harmoniously together, it was in Palestine. The actions that were instigated by the Zionist movement in Europe, sponsored largely by individuals such as the Rothschilds, encouraged and financed a massive migration of Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe and the United States to colonize Palestine and settle more and more territories in a continuous effort to deny Palestinian Muslims their legitimate right to their native lands.

People of Ashkenazi descent constitute around 50 percent of Israeli Jews, even though the native Jewish population in Palestine was almost entirely Sephardic before 1948. Eastern European and American Jews (also mainly Ashkenazi) newcomers to Palestine quickly played a dominant role in politics, the economy and the media. For about two decades after the creation of Israel, a strong cultural conflict took place between its Sephardic and Ashkenazi communities. Palestine has been a “Holy Land” for 2,000 years for Jews, Christians and Muslims. Holy lands should be sanctuaries where peace, tolerance and respect for others are absolute requirements. The exclusion implied by the notions of “promise land” and “chosen people” have interrupted the peace. These were never meant to be understood literally. Jerusalem should be true to its name, as “the city of peace.”

Ruel F. Pepa writes for News Junkie Post.