Monday, July 17, 2006

If I should die before I wake...

"No two historians ever agree on what happened, and the damn thing is they both think they're telling the truth."
- Harry S. Truman.

Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, believes this present engagement between Israelis, Palestinians and Hezbollah is the beginning of World War III. No doubt the events of recent days may give pause to consider this notion. There is much history in this region called the Middle East and it is rich in bloody conflicts, wars that are always the opponent's fault, no matter which side of the blown-up fence one straddles.

I tend to be the type of person people like to discuss current affairs with. They come from all directions, ultra-liberal, liberal, moderate, conservative and archconservative. Ironically, I also like to play the devil's advocate, to try to stimulate thought and lend credence to all sides of a political spectrum. In the case of this particular crisis of world proportions, it goes beyond political sides and tides. There is the underlying issue of religion and how religions have played such a crucial role in war, the killing of innocents and the destruction of nations throughout time and how quickly rewritten history blinds us to the true past.

Several people I know actually believe the Jews fired first. They believe that Israel never existed until 1948 when Britain and the United Nations ceded Palestine to them to create a new nation by that name. The Muslims were there first. I ask them, were you there thousands of years ago to bear witness to that first shot? If there never existed nations known as Israel or Judah (Judea), from which the term Jew derives, then how do you explain archeological digs in that region that prove the existence of kings David and Solomon from 3,000 years ago? Are you aware that the Islamic faith did not even exist before 600 A.D.?

Quoted from (quotes are in color)

The Jewish Kingdoms of Ancient Judah and Israel
The archeological record indicates that the Jewish people evolved out of native Cana'anite peoples and invading tribes. Some time between about 1800 and 1500 B.C., it is thought that a Semitic people called Hebrews (hapiru) left Mesopotamia and settled in Canaan. Canaan was settled by different tribes including Semitic peoples, Hittites, and later Philistines, peoples of the sea who are thought to have arrived from Mycenae, or to be part of the ancient Greek peoples that also settled Mycenae.

According to the Bible, Moses led the Israelites, or a portion of them, out of Egypt. Under Joshua, they conquered the tribes and city-states of Canaan. Based on biblical traditions, it is estimated that king David conquered Jerusalem about 1000 B.C. and established an Israelite kingdom over much of Canaan including parts of Transjordan. The kingdom was divided into Judea in the south and Israel in the north following the death of David's son, Solomon. Jerusalem remained the center of Jewish sovereignty and of Jewish worship whenever the Jews exercised sovereignty over the country in the subsequent period, up to the Jewish revolt in 133 AD.

About 61 B.C., Roman troops under Pompeii invaded Judea and sacked Jerusalem in support of King Herod. Judea had become a client state of Rome. Initially it was ruled by the client Herodian dynasty. The land was divided into districts of Judea, Galilee, Peraea and a small trans-Jordanian section, each of which eventually came under direct Roman control. The Romans called the large central area of the land, which included Jerusalem, Judea. Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem, Judea, in the early years of Roman rule. Roman rulers put down Jewish revolts in about A.D. 70 and A.D. 132. In A.D. 135, the Romans drove the Jews out of Jerusalem. The Romans named the area Palaestina, at about this time. The name Palaestina, which became Palestine in English, is derived from Herodotus, who used the term Palaistine Syria to refer to the entire southern part of Syria, meaning "Philistine Syria." Most of the Jews who continued to practice their religion fled or were forcibly exiled from Palestine, eventually forming a second Jewish Diaspora. However, Jewish communities continued to exist in Galilee, the northernmost part of Palestine. Palestine was governed by the Roman Empire until the fourth century A.D. (300's) and then by the Byzantine Empire. In time, Christianity spread to most of Palestine. The population consisted of Jewish converts to Christianity and paganism, peoples imported by the Romans, and others who had probably inhabited Palestine continuously.

During the seventh century (A.D. 600's), Muslim Arab armies moved north from Arabia to conquer most of the Middle East, including Palestine. Jerusalem was conquered about 638 by the Caliph Umar (Omar) who gave his protection to its inhabitants. Muslim powers controlled the region until the early 1900's. The rulers allowed Christians and Jews to keep their religions. However, most of the local population gradually accepted Islam and the Arab-Islamic culture of their rulers. Jerusalem became holy to Muslims as the site where, according to tradition, Muhammad ascended to heaven after a miraculous overnight ride on his horse Al-Buraq. The al-Aqsa mosque was built on the site generally regarded as the area of the Jewish temples.

Enough ancient history. There were plenty of battles for that region going on in between the times quoted above and what we are witnessing present day. Of a more recent time, and why there is confusion over whether Israel ever existed pre-1948, read on...

The United Nations Special Commission on Palestine (UNSCOP) recommended that Palestine be divided into an Arab state and a Jewish state. The commission called for Jerusalem to be put under international administration The UN General Assembly adopted this plan on Nov. 29, 1947 as UN Resolution (GA 181), owing to support of both the US and the Soviet Union, and in particular, the personal support of US President Harry S. Truman. Many factors contributed to Truman's decision to support partition, including domestic politics and intense Zionist lobbying, no doubt. Truman wrote in his diary, however, "I think the proper thing to do, and the thing I have been doing, is to do what I think is right and let them all go to hell."

The Jews accepted the UN decision, but the Arabs rejected it.

The War of Independence or 1948 War is divided into the pre-independence period, and the post-independence period. Clashes between Israeli underground groups and Arab irregulars began almost as soon as the UN passed the partition resolution.

As the British forces pulled out of Palestine and the mandate came to an end, the Executive Committee of the Jewish "Yishuv" (community) in Palestine met to decide whether or not to declare a state, as has been envisioned under UN Resolution 181. The Arab states had declared that if such a state was declared, they would invade it. Nonetheless, the committee decided to declare a state, armed with the promise of US President Harry S. Truman that he would recognize such a state if it was declared. The Israeli Declaration of Independence was read out on Friday, the 14th of May 1948 by David Ben Gurion, who then became the first Prime Minister of the new state. The State was quickly recognized by the United States and the USSR.

The Palestinians did not declare a state immediately, and though several attempts were made to do so, they were blocked by the Jordanians and then by the Egyptians. The Egyptians later allowed the declaration of such a state in Gaza in September 1948, but it was recognized by no-one and had no resources and no real existence. Arab states had no interest in the formation of a separate state in Palestine, both because each state had territorial ambitions in Palestine, and because they feared the radical influence of Palestinian leadership under Haj Amin El-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem.

The declaration stated that Israel "will uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens, without distinction of race, creed or sex; will guarantee full freedom of conscience, worship, education and culture; will safeguard the sanctity and inviolability of the shrines and Holy Places of all religions; and will dedicate itself to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations."

I abhor having to quote from other writings. I like to write my own articles, but I am not prolific in the history of the Middle East. My point in this post is to state that too many people have so many biased thoughts regarding the deeply rooted hostilities in this area and fail to do research into this very delicate issue before shooting missiles out of their mouths. Britain and the U.N. didn't cede Palestine to the Jews. Romans named that region Palestine, not Muslims, who came many, many years later. Sure tribes of that area have been fighting forever. Does anyone in their right mind think it will ever stop? EVER?

I am of the opinion that Iran, with Syria, is behind this. Don't misinterpret me here. How convenient to start this during the G8 Summit. Imagine if Iran tries to broker a cease-fire. Won't they come out smelling a little sweeter and gain much needed respect in the world as the power brokers here, lending them much needed credibility in a region fraught with deadly and fragile flare-ups? Besides, didn't it take a little heat off Iran's nuclear hanky panky and give the G8 leaders something else to discuss?

So there, but I'm a little bit more scared of that other nutcase, pei wei Kim Jong Il. Can he maintain his composure by remaining off the world stage for any length of time without doing something? After all, he's got a reputation to uphold as a premature missile shooter. Poor Seoul.


  1. It's all very scary, but I'm with you. I'm more scared of that nutty Korean guy.

  2. Thank you, Laurie. He is definitely a basket case. There's an old saying:

    Big man, big pr*ck, little man, all pr*ck.

  3. I agree with your thoughts 100% Dave. You have great insight. And being Jewish, it was a great refresher course on just how things started way back. I had forgotten more than I remembered...And that guy in Korea...ugh! Yes, him I'm scared of although my husband keeps telling me he doesn't have anything that can reach us way down here in best on a very good day, maybe something might reach California, if ever he can "get it right"...

  4. Miss Scarlett -

    Thank you for the comment and compliment.

    It's not how far he might be able to reach, it's merely the fact that he can reach at all. Having a loved one in Hawaii should hold some concern, since that is even closer to North Korea than California. And everyone has their good days.

    Remember, 5 years ago, Israel wasn't too concerned about Hezbollah missiles reaching deep into their homeland, either.

  5. Thank you for the well-organized essay! I have always found this topic so intimidating to try and sort out; almost like if I haven't learned all the ins and outs by now, I'm hopelessly behind. I enjoyed reading all this.

  6. Why, thank you very much, Supine. I guess it is a tough topic. You might find what Pia Savage, from Courting Destiny, had to say at my other blog rather interesting:

    I live in fear of both Iran and Korea. I have written about how the US failed Jews during the Holocaust to try to explain partially why the US must back Israel, but I’m too chicken to put anything like this on Courting–at this moment

    I fear that we are rapidly approaching World War Three—and guess who most Americans will see as the enemy? Jews, and that’s not paranoia but knowing blogging and bloggers well

    Though American Jews are not Israeli–saw a discussion yesterday basically grading Jews as to Semitic blood or not—on a very liberal blog—and I have never liked many of Israel’s policies I understand why it must exist. And sending Israeli’s to Boca isn’t a funny joke but an expression of anti-Semitism even if the commenter is Jewish

    The irony is that American Jews are probably the foremost backers of The First Amendment. Norman Lear’s People for the American Way is 26 years old. So as some of are fighting the radical right we are also being accused of being in bed with them

    No. They are sick and want Israel for their own gain–or our end. 2004 marked my family’s 100th anniversary in America, and I remember thinking “well we had a hundred great years. How many years of absolute freedom can a Jewish family expect?”

    Thank you Dave–and for the birthday wishes–don’t worry, I consider the entire summer to be one huge birthday party for me

    I wish I had the chutzpah to write something like this. I probably shouldn’t even be commenting

    But the American left refuses to look at the whole picture, and that makes me very sad