A recent documentary aired on Al Jazeera English network caught my attention. The program named, “The Promised Land” focused its attention on the Israel- Palestine conflict and it discussed the establishment of the Jewish sate and the reaction on the parties involved. Ironically the program was quite captivating and it discussed the pre world war elements and forces, which helped form the State of Israel.
We all know the harassments and cruel massacres that were carried out by the Nazi forces against the Jews in Europe, but that was not the sole reason but a major stimulus, which helped the formation of the State of Israel in 1948. The Zionist dream or the ideology to form a Jewish state in Palestine dates back years before the 2nd World War. Though an idea for the reestablishment of a Jewish state in Palestine had been there for centuries, it only became a major ideology and a movement in late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The Arab lands, which were under colonial rule, saw an influx of Jewish immigrants since the late 1880s and this continued and increased yearly. The British, then rulers of the Palestine and other Arab countries played along with different ball games offered by both the Arab and Jewish leaders in order to maintain their authority over the region. Even before the Jewish immigrants started to arrive, there was a minor population of Jews living in these Arab lands but it was around 7% of the total population. Also this Jewish population lived closely with their Arab counterparts and they did not even hold any Zionist dreams and in fact they were anti-Zionists.
However in late 1930s the Jewish immigrants in Palestine clearly outnumbered its Arab population. Of Palestinians point of view, the damage had been already been done, the harsh nomadic land witnessed the birth of modern Jewish settlements, stimulated much by the idea of Zionism. The Palestinians revolted but it was too late, the next years of the world history propelled the Zionist dream to new heights and by the end of the World War 2, amidst clear Arab opposition, the State of Israel was born. In the years to follow, Arabs waged war on Israel and by the time the wars had ended Israel had occupied more land and thousands of Palestinians were forced to flee and seek refuge.
Half a century down the line the tables have turned completely, and the Palestinians are now fighting for their land while the Israelis are trying to protect their country from militant Palestinians.
With its 60th anniversary of Statehood marked only a few weeks ago many Israelis celebrated their achievement and through out Arab lands it was a day of mourning called al-Nakba' - the catastrophe.
This was a mere synopsis of what happened and to draw conclusions it would require a more detailed analysis over the issue. And making judgments over who was right or wrong clearly not the motivation behind this post. But we can clearly break this incident down to two main factors; the ignorance of Arabs and the tactfulness of Jews. As history points out the Zionist dream was more of an ambition for Jews living in Europe and other Western countries than Jews living in Palestine and other Arab lands.
As a nation are there any lessons Sri Lanka can learn from this incident? Well, I think there are. Of course the comparisons may not be the same, but whom can we relate to…Arabs or Jews??