I am not a historian. I am not a politician. I am not a peace activist or a war monger. And most importantly, I am not belonging to any of the three religions that have fought over Jerusalem over millenia – namely Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Frankly, I am indifferent to who has Jerusalem at the end, as it is NOT a holy place for me.
That makes it a lot easier and a lot less emotional. Right? Yes, I am a Hindu, a proud and practicing Hindu who is taking a look at Israel and Palestine issue from an Indian view. Don't bracket me into anything beyond this. I respect the rights of Jews to live in Israel. I respect the rights of Muslims to live in Palestine. And in real life, I have worked for long number of years with both Jews and Arab Muslims, so I kind of know the tremendous sensitivity of this topic. If the writeup does not suit your thought or understanding of the problem, then educate me, rather than bracketing me or ridiculing me. Thank you in advance!
Now that there is a lengthy preamble, let's get started. I am presenting here a series of images, taken from some well researched videos and blogs. The references to them provided at the bottom. All credits to the original researchers and documentary makers.
Where did the Israeli Jews come from?
Jews were all around the Mediterranean sea 2000 years ago, when Islam was not born. As with 20th century, they were persecuted during the first century CE too. Romans ruthlessly massacred Jews in large numbers, and if the percentage of population is computed, it may be comparable with Hitler's Nazi genocide. Jews were in today's Israel 1000s of years back. To cut the long story short, during the 20th century when Israel was created, Jews came from Germany, Poland, Russia, Africa and many other parts to their "promised homeland".
Where did the Palestinian Muslims come from?
Contrary to what many people tell us, Palestinian Muslims also came mostly from outside.
The Ottoman Turks brought many from Algeria and Circassia (former USSR) regions, as a part of their Muslim colonization agenda.
In 1875 CE for instance, there was hardly any considerable population living in the entire region of today's Israel. Only 3 lakh people lived, which was a mix of Jews, Muslims and Others.
Are Jewish feelings for Jerusalem comparable to Hindu feelings for Ayodhya?
There is similarity. For Hindus Ayodhya is a very sacred place, as the birth place of Lord Rama. But for Muslims it is just another city. Nothing is ever mentioned in any of their holy books about Ayodhya. But a conflict does go on.
The same way, for Jews, Jerusalem is a very sacred place. For Jews, it is a the place of King David and the star of David in Israel's flag is derived from him. Jerusalem is mentioned 667 times in the Bible which both Jews and Christians revere. For Muslims too it is a holy place linked to Prophet Mohammed's life history. But compared to Jews, it may not be at the same level looking at the practical aspects. For instance, Quran does not seem to have any mention of Jerusalem (al quds). Corrections welcome if this is not a fact. But the big conflict goes on.
Here is the supposed before and after scenario of Jerusalem. The temple mount that existed during the time of Jesus is gone. It is now replaced by a Dome of the rock and Al Aqsa mosque. And Jews have a painful history of this place being destroyed not just by Muslims, but Christians and others too during the past 2500 years. For Hindus such destruction of their holy temples, and mosques built over them is all too painfully evident from their long history of seeing Muslim invasions. So you can understand what a Jew must be feeling about this site.
But experts spot that in spite of all the noise, just observing the faith of devotees, one can make out who consider it more sacred.
Not only that, Muslims even end up playing football and eat picnic food at this "very sacred" place.
If Jerusalem's Jewish links are so obvious, why don't Arabs accept it?
Same reason as Indian Muslims in general don't want to give possession of Ayodhya's Ram Janmabhumi area to Hindus even after courts clearly showing that there was an ancient temple below the mosque.
And those who brave in the Arab world to tell the truth, are often hounded.
Here is an example. In this book, an essay was written by a prominent academician Sari Nusseibeh from Palestine.
Within no time, he got threats. He had to go underground. So you can imagine why Arabs don't come out to speak the facts, even if they know it is truth.
What's common between India and Israel?
Israel was not exactly the case of India, as Hindus never left India ever involuntarily for most part. But Jews left Israel, went all around the world, and then came back in the 20th century.
But the common factor in the past 7 decades is losing land.. Losing lots of land proportional to their country's size. And losing land to Muslims, who don't want to live with the majority (2 nation theory)!
Was Hitler the first one to indulge in Jewish genocide?
No. Jews were systematically persecuted and murdered throughout their 1000s of years of history. Romans conquered Jerusalem and the areas around it and called it Judea, the Homeland of Jews.
Later, they renamed it Syria Palestina, with Jerusalem being renamed and rebuilt as Aelia Capitolina. The word Palestina (Greek originally, later Roman) may be a Biblical word, but was a sign of oppression telling Jews that they can't enter the place without facing death. Essentially Romans were the early form of Nazis for Jews. Much more ruthless in their long list of atrocities against Jews, precisely because they feared that Moses' teachings might result in rebellion by poor.
But unlike most people think today, Palestine or Filistine was never an Arab word. It was nothing to do with Islam.
Was there a Palestine “Arab” nation 100 years ago?
Historians disagree. For instance, Arab Historian Philip Hitti says, there is NO such thing as Palestine in history!
So how did the ancestors of today's Palestinians come to current day Israel region?
It all started in late 19th century. With persecuted Jews returning to their ancient home land in small numbers. They were very hard working and they had faced extreme oppression in European nations. So just a chance to live was great for them. They started transforming an almost vacant barren desert land into a fruitful, livable place. Look at Negev desert and other regions when they arrived to Israel.
Certainly the land does not look like a "prosperous Arab" land that they stole, as propaganda tells us today.
Do Muslims recognize the right to exist for Israel?
You might have heard “From the river to the sea... Palestine will be free”. This is Hamas' favourite line being repeated from "liberal" American college campuses to Indian street protests. Indian "seculars"and communists love singing this as you can see off late. It's called Palestinian solidarity movement. But in reality it is a soft call for genocide of Jewish people of Israel. The river here is Jordan river which separates Israel from Jordan. The sea is Mediterranean.
Hamas - Government in Palestine today. As a coincidence, his name as "Zahar" in it!
The list is very long. From North Africa to Arabian peninsula to central Asia to South Asia to South East Asia, the list of those who just don't want Jews in Israel is endless. And the same guys scream "apartheid", "intolerance", "genocide" etc. at the drop of every topi. See the hypocrisy?
Do Jews recognize the right to exist for Palestine and Arab nations?
Yes. It's the exact opposite of how Muslims behave. Israel has 21% Muslims, mostly Arabs.
For instance, Seif el-Din el-Zubi was the Arab member of Israel's very first Knesset (parliament).
This is a very big difference. Israel wants to live with Arabs as neighbours. Israel wants to live with Arabs as citizen! But Arabs don't even let Jews live in their countries. Arabs want to push Jews into sea and clear the "occupation", forgetting that Arabs in Palestine are also mostly migrants from other countries!
Did PLO claim Gaza and West Bank in 1964 as a part of “liberation” goal?
PLO, the Palestine Liberation Organization, was in forefront for decades to liberate Palestine from Jewish control. Very interestingly, when PLO formed its charter in 1964 (Article 24), before the 6 day war of Israel with Egypt and other Arab nations, there was NO mention of Judea and Samaria (today's West Bank), and Gaza to be "liberated"! Guess why? Because the Gaza was under Egyptian control and the West Bank was under Jordanian control. So the whole "liberation" of Palestinians from foreign control was not the priority as long as the occupier is a Muslim :)
Has anyone fought for Palestinian rights in Jordan?
(80% area of 1922 Palestine Mandate)
Absolutely not. For Indians, particularly Hindus and Sikhs, this will remind their plight in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, and later in the Kashmir valley within Indian part of Jammu and Kashmir.The claims, the terrorism, the systematic ethnic cleansing of Hindus and Sikhs. It's all too familiar.
And whenever you hear "Azaadi" or freedom in Kashmir, it's usually the small portion of Jammu Kashmir state in Indian control. No one ever talks of the more than 50% of original Jammu and Kashmir that is under Pakistan and China's occupation!
Here is a starting point. This is the map heavily circulated by anti Israel groups across the world, showing how Israeli Jews have "oppressed" Palestinian Muslims by pushing them to a smaller region. Green in here is supposed to be Palestinian Arab areas.
This was the Ottoman Turk empire prior to World war 1. This collapsed after the World War 1. As you can see they had huge tracks of land, including the Muslim holy cities of Makkah and Madina. Yes, Turks controlled the Islamic holy cities, and not Arabs till about 100 years ago. There was a huge battle of Makkah in 1916 when the local Hashemite Sharif of Makkah, rebelled against the Ottoman Turk Muslims, for which he took help from European Christians like British. It was the beginning of the end of the Ottoman Empire and it was the beginning of a Hashemite kingdom whose capital was Makkah. Gradually it expanded northward. This battle left deep scars on the Middle East. Arab states came under strong European influence. Many people in India still don't know that this was a war between Arabs and Turks, both being Muslims, in which the Arabs took help from Christians of Europe.
Also, why is there no movement to "liberate" Palestine under Hashemite control, which is 4 times the area of Israel? Tough to answer. Right? Now you know why this can be compared with the sparely populated Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, which no one tries to "liberate" from the predominantly Punjabi Muslim rule?
Did Arabs sell land to Jews in 1920-40 period?
This is one other aspect that no one talks about. Jews when they came to Israel from all around the world, they were allowed inside the territory, but did not have much land. They bought land from many locals living there, whoever they might be. And in fact, Arabs sold lot of land at exorbitant prices to Jews then. In the 1937 Peel Commission setup by Britain to probe into the land deals in today's Israel, Haj Amin al-Husseini, one of the founding fathers of Palestinian Arab nationalistic movement, told Laurie Hammond that large amount of land were sold, willingly, by Arabs for money to the Jews. In fact, historians say that his own family collected large amounts of land from smaller owners at throw away price, and sold them to Jews at very high prices. Familiar Land Mafia anyone?
And soon, the same Arabs went to war with Jews. Hypocrisy anyone? First sell the land and the "liberate" the same!
What was India's contribution towards liberating Israel from Ottoman Turks?
We should know this really well. Haifa in Israel was liberated from Turks by Indians. Communists who formulated school books totally eliminated India's contribution in World war 1 and 2.
The bravery of soldiers from Karnataka, Telangana and Rajasthan helped liberate Haifa, the port city of Israel from Ottoman Turks' occupation of 400 years. Israel remembers this great help from India in 1918. Indian army celebrates Haifa day.
But we are not taught about this bravery in schools. In fact, this was the LAST time a horse mounted lancer brigade won against machine guns and tanks!
What to do next for Indians, particularly Hindus?
In summary, India helped create Israel. Indian soldiers (Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims - yes Muslims also) have given up their lives right from Haifa port capture in 1918. India and Israel both are democracies surrounded by hostile neighbours. India and Israel both have the same Islamic radicals as common enemy. The common enemy (in the form of ISIS, Hamas, Hizbollah, Lashkar e Taiba, Indian Mujahideen, Taliban, Al Qaeda et al) is always dreaming to destroy these nations for its well stated goal of occupying their lands. India gains nothing by supporting the radical Islam of Hamas which openly uses terrorism for its survival. Unlike India, Israel crushes terrorism via violent backlash. This is an area tough for many Indians to accept as they are used to sending dossiers to enemies who indulge in terrorism on Indians. India gains everything from technology to business to cultural survival in the long run, by partnering with Israel. Yes, the Israel where mostly Jews live and Palestine where (only) Muslims live. The borders are already drawn. The countries are in place. India must certainly work towards the welfare of Palestinian Muslim civilians who are caught now between the cross fire of Israeli army and Hamas rockets. But do not forget the long history and the RIGHT of existence of Jews in their holy land.
There is a way out of this conflict. But the way out is not by "pushing the Jews to the sea" as Hamas radicals and their sympathisers preach. Hope this long essay has given enough pointers to understand where we have come from, and how Indians should start working towards the Israel Palestine conflict resolution.
Share your thoughts please.
What is Palestine? Who are the Palestinians?
Is Jerusalem a holier place for Jews or Muslims?
The Palestinian Wall of Lies - False Palestinian propaganda exposed
India's role in liberating Israel from Ottoman Turks: