February 19, 2011 at 1:46 pm 1 comment

A recipe for calamity

Excerpt from his book “How to avoid Armageddon”
Available through Amazon

There are many factors that cause conflict, such as disagreements over borders, territorial rights, economic interests, religious or ideological differences or megalomaniac nastiness. Within almost every society there are rifts and between many countries there are disagreements. There was a time when disagreements, no matter how petty, could easily lead to war. As communities grew and became societies, which developed into nations, and with the advent of machineguns, flying machines and bigger bombs that could cause the destruction of whole suburbs in a moment, warfare became a far less appealing proposition to decent-minded leaders and ordinary folk alike. Among a large part of humanity, nowadays, serious efforts are made to settle any misunderstandings and differences before resorting to war.
But there are always leaders who believe they can capitalize from armed conflict. And there are always people who know how to benefit by siding with such leaders, thus gaining personal influence and other perks. Such leaders and their followers invariably use propaganda to bolster their influence. They also use the element of fear to get their fellow citizens to fall in line with their wishes and ambitions. The combination of propaganda and fear is nearly always fostered by a third factor – falsehood. It’s an equation that always portends evil times.
Usually, not only the populations living under such regimes are affected, but neighboring countries as well. Most democracies that have the misfortune of having borders with countries or regions governed by assertive, totalitarian regimes, usually try to maintain a warily peaceful relationship. Unacceptable policies and demands by aggressive neighboring regimes is at first usually dealt with through correct diplomatic discourse and even compromise or accommodation. But at a certain point, if threats to territory, natural resources, blockades or even national independence, become too serious, or take the form of military attacks, leaders of peace-loving nations need to make painful decisions.
The Twentieth Century witnessed such situations on many occasions. Numerous warmongers in Europe, Africa, South East Asia and South and Central America stirred up tension among their own populations, as well as against neighboring countries, leading to turmoil and war. The most striking and devastating examples of aggressive designs on neighboring countries came in the form of Fascism, Nazism and Communism. The consequences of their credos shook the world and led to the destruction of entire countries and the deaths of millions of people.
And it was always falsehood that the leaders of the aggressor nations used to get their nefarious careers started. It was falsehood in every conceivable form that they and their lackeys employed to gain and consolidate power in their own countries. Subsequently, the deceit, half-truths, gross exaggerations, selective omissions and outright lies often became the prelude to invasion of neighboring countries.
Propaganda usually includes very disparaging personal remarks about adversaries – compatriot political rivals or critics, or people of other countries with which there is tension or warfare. Generalizations such as “cowardly,” “ruthless,” “barbaric,” “treacherous,” “evil” are among the epithets that are often used. Sometimes there is a grain of truth to the assertions, but a grain of truth, in the midst of a flood of gross exaggeration, misrepresentation and fabrications, still amounts to part of a big lie.
This brings us to the ongoing Arab-Israel conflict. Is it possible that it could have been avoided? Had truthfulness prevailed from the outset, could Arabs and Jews have found a way of settling their differences without resorting to warfare? Not necessarily. After all, why should the Arabs have agreed to the establishment of an independent non-Arab, non-Muslim entity in the midst of their region at a time when the Jews were still a small minority?
When the Arab-Israel conflict started to get under way in the beginning of the nineteen twenties, it was at a time when many nations were gaining their independence. Throughout the Middle East and North Africa new Arab states were emerging. In Palestine in that period, the Arabs outnumbered the Jews by over eight to one. However, Palestine, at the beginning of the British Mandate, was a fairly large country – about eight times larger than present-day Israel (not including the regions of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip conquered by Israel in 1967). Also, Palestine was largely an empty, desolate area, as had been widely attested by numerous nineteen and early twentieth century travelers and pilgrims, including Herman Melville and Mark Twain. The large influx of Jews that got under way at the beginning of the twentieth century created many changes in the landscape and the general economic situation. Malaria-infested swamp land was drained and transformed into highly arable farmland. Arid, rocky expanses were leveled and turned into productive communal villages and farms. Land owned by wealthy Arab landlords, often living in Lebanon, Syria or Egypt, on which collectively, thousands of Arab families subsisted as tenant farmers, was sold to Jewish land development organizations. The tenant farmers were also paid compensation by the purchasers. Small Jewish-owned factories and workshops sprung up in various parts of the country. New towns were created. All this sudden activity brought increased prosperity, which presented more job opportunities for local Arabs and also attracted Arabs from other lands. The presence of thousands of British soldiers and administrators in Palestine also had a significant bearing on the economic situation in this erstwhile Ottoman backwater.
But these facts did nothing to endear the Arabs to the idea of a Jewish state in their midst – even a tiny state on a fraction of Palestine. It was a potentially explosive situation. The Jews were desperate for a national homeland – a desperation made all the more urgent with the rise of Nazism, while the Arabs saw no reason to accommodate them in a region where they greatly outnumbered them.
Interestingly, in January 1919, the Emir Faisal, a major Arab leader and proponent for Arab nationalism, who subsequently became the King of Iraq, signed an agreement with Dr. Chaim Weizmann, the President of the World Zionist Organization. The Emir Faisal wrote: “We Arabs … look with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement … We will do our best, in so far as we are concerned, to help them through; we will wish the Jews a most hearty welcome home … I look forward, and my people with me look forward, to a future in which we will help you and you will help us, so that the countries in which we are mutually interested may once again take their places in the community of the civilized peoples of the world.”
The Emir was not alone among the Arabs in his welcoming attitude, which was later to sour as the general attitude towards Jewish settlement in Palestine changed. But initially, many local Arabs, intellectuals, businessmen and ordinary workers recognized the advantages connected with the growth of the Jewish population. The Jews, coming mainly from Europe at that time, brought modernization and spurred more work prospects for everyone. They also helped improve educational and health facilities throughout the country.
But other more dominant voices were heard among the Arab population in Palestine, expressing deep antagonism and total rejection. There was a three-cornered struggle between the Jews trying to resist Arab objections and their demand for full control of the country, and both facing the British administration that was ruling Palestine at that time, and who had their own regional interests and were also finding it impossible to please everyone.

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Entry filed under: dangeous lies and halftruths, Jewish survival, Solutions for Palestine. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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