Sunday, 27 July 2014 18:10

Who really owns Palestine, Jews or Arabs?

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For as long as I have been alive, Jews and Arabs are at each other’s throats. Arabs, apparently, believe that they own the land on which Jews currently live and see Jews as imposters and want to drive them away.  Arabs want to chase Jews out of the Middle East for they seem to believe that Jews do not belong there.  On the other hand, Jews believe that they belong there. Since the two have contradictory beliefs they fight each other. Obviously, until the question, who owns Palestine is settled there will be no peace in the land. So, who really owns Palestine, Jew or Arab?  In this essay I will try to answer that question.

In trying to answer the question in an objective manner I read books on the origin of these two Semitic peoples, Jews and Arabs. Honestly, the books did not help me much but here is what I gleaned.

We do not know much about the origin of Jews and Arabs beyond what their religious mythologies tell us about them.

In the Old Testament part of the Christian Bible we are given what seems a fairy tale view on the origin of Jews. In Genesis we are told that a certain chap called Abraham was born in a town called Ur in ancient Suma, Mesopotamia and present Iraq.  Okay. But where did Abraham, a Jew come from?

I ask that question because actual history, not fairy tale told us that ancient Sumerians were not Semitic but in fact were Africans, folks who looked like present Ethiopians (the word Ethiopian is Greek for black folks).

It is reported that at some point Semitic tribes began infiltrating into Suma and settling among the Africans living there. The Semitic tribes supposedly came from somewhere in today’s Russia (the Urals). While the Semites were settling in Suma, Aryans were also doing the same, especially settling in Persia, today’s Iran, and from there to India where they conquered the Africans, Dravidians already living there.

Apparently, one of these Semitic foreigners in Mesopotamia took off and decided to settle elsewhere.  A mythical fellow called Abraham left his village, Ur, near today’s Bagdad and journeyed northwest and settled in what he called Canaan, the land of milk and honey. Apparently, his first settlement is in todays’ Jerusalem. This was about four thousand years ago.

Books on Arab history are generally fuzzy on the origin of Arabs. All that I gathered from reading these books is that Arabs entered history pretty much as Jews did. We do not know where they came from but unlike Jews there is no mythology saying that they were in the Middle East four thousand years ago. Actual reference to Arabs in the area is less than two thousand years ago!  It was in fact during the first two centuries of our common era that verifiable mention of a group called Arabs entered world history.

What is now called the home of Arabs was probably inhabited by Africans. If you find it difficult to believe that black people lived in Arabia before the Arabs came there please note that in India before the so-called Aryans conquered them were and still are black people called Dravidians. The Dravidians are jet black; in fact, they do not look differently from Somalians.

We can rationally infer that black folks lived from East Africa to India (some of them later migrated to Australia). It is conceivable, given what we know about their tendency to kill the natives and take their land, as they are currently doing in Sudan, that murderous Arabs killed off the blacks they met in what is now called the Arab homeland.

And before we forget it, Arabs enslaved Africans for the longest time, from Mohammad’s time to the twentieth century. I would not be surprised if the self-proclaimed seal of the prophets had African slaves! These people are not nice persons at all and Africans ought to be very careful in supporting them in anything.

In so far that there is what we might call real history of Arabs it was written post Mohammad. That is correct, books on Arabs invariably begin by elaborating the Arab dawn after Mohammad but tell us little about them before Mohammad and his Islam came to the scene.

Let us, therefore, focus a bit on Mohammad and his Islam. Islamic lore said that in 570 AD a man, later to be called Mohammad, was born in Mecca, in today’s Saudi Arabia. We are told that he was an illiterate and worked for a rich widow called Khadija. Later, the fifty-four years old widow married him. Now rich Mohammad had loads of time in his hands and started going into the hills to meditate.

At age forty (610 AD) Mohammad claimed that he heard the voice of the angel Gabriel talking to him. The voice (hallucination?), he said, told him to start a new religion called Islam (total surrender of one’s self to Allah, God and to his prophet, Mohammad). He began preaching what his voices were telling him to tell the people (those were latter collated into a book, Koran, by his good friend, Abu-Bakr).

Some of the people listened to his preachment and others disagreed with him. Apparently, to avoid severe opposition to his self-serving religion (folks were required to listen to him and accept him as their leader) he fled to Medina (this flight is called Hajira).

While there he and his followers gathered a militia and began using the sword to convert folks to Islam. Thus, Mohammad initiated the first Jihad, using military weapons to convert folks to Islam. I say this for today we are told that Islam is a religion of peace when, in fact, it began in violence and expanded through violence.

In time Mohammad and his militia used the sword to conquer and convert the various peoples around them. Ultimately, they conquered Mecca and used the sword to convert the people to Islam and killed those who did not convert to Islam (many of the people in Mecca were already Christians and some were heathens who worshipped a stone in the center of the city, a stone now called the Kaaba and Muslims are required to walk around it during their haj, pilgrimage to the land of the birth of their founder).

In 632 Mohammad died.  The question was who is to replace him and become the leader of his religious sect? Some of the faithful wanted his lieutenant, Abu baker to lead them and others wanted one of his young sons to do so (Mohammad had married an old woman who could not bear children for him and later married other wives to be able to have children; one of his wives was a ten year old girl called Aisha...was that pedophilia or not, you decide).

As these things always happen, there was war and the two opposing parties separated from each other; those in support of Abu baker became Sunni Muslims and those in support of the prophet’s son became Shia.  In the ensuing conflict, apparently, the Shiites escaped to what is today called Iran and Iraq (then called Persia).

Sunnis took over the mantle of leading Islam.  A few years after Mohammad’s death his followers, following his example, used the sword to convert the entire region to Islam.  They conquered all of what we now call Saudi Arabia, Syria and Palestine.

In 643 AD Arab Muslims swept into North Africa and conquered Egypt (the original Egyptians were Christian Africans, not Arabs).

The Arab Muslims were on a roll and took over what we now call Libya, Tunisia (where Barbers lived...the Tuaregs of the Sahara desert, who are black are barbers thus telling  us that the people of North Africa were black folks).  The Muslim engine rolled into what we now call Algeria and Morocco (the Maghreb).

In 711 AD the Muslim hordes rolled into the Iberian Peninsula.  They not only took over Spain and Portugal but rolled into France.

At that time Germans (Franks) were also on the move. Franks (Arabs till today still call Germans Franks) under their king, Charles Martel, the hammer of God fought with the advancing Arabs and in 733 AD, in the middle of France, Poitier was able to defeat the Arab hordes and began the process of chasing them out of France.

Arabs were entirely chased out of Spain as late as 1492, the year that Christopher Columbus came to America.

In the meantime, some Arab Muslims struck south and reached as far south as the Sahel region of West Africa.

Arabs struck west and conquered Persia, India and parts of China and Indonesia (all the people on their path were converted to Islam, by force, of course).

These conquests were done by Muslim Caliphs (kings) and their empire was called Caliphate. There were several such caliphates; we shall not here concern ourselves with these caliphates and their caliphs (as we talk, some jihadists in Syria and Iraq have proclaimed an Islamic Caliphate in the areas they control; the goal of Muslims is to convert the entire world to an Islamic Caliphate ruled from Mecca).

Arabs swept into what we now call Israel around 640 AD.  Arabs were not originally from Palestine but swept into it pretty much as they swept into North Africa and Southern Europe.

To make it seem that they belonged where Jews had claimed that their mythical founder, Abraham lived, Jerusalem Arab lore began teaching that Arabs were the children of Ishmael, the son of the rejected wife of Abraham.

The bible tells us that Abraham had a wife, Sarah and that she could not bear him a child.  Apparently, Abraham had sex with one of his servant girls and she bore him a son. Sarah was not particularly pleased by this turn of events and the servant girl and her son, Ishmael was chased out.

Arabs claim that they originated from Ismael; that is to say that they originated from Abraham, pretty much as Jews claim to have originated from Abraham. Sarah, we are told, in her old age had a son, Isaac.

The Arab dawn traversed areas that we now call Turkestan, from Pakistan to Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and so on. These Turkish peoples converted to Islam and later became the leaders of Islam.

In time, Turks conquered what we now call Turkey, hitherto called Asia Minor, an area that after the fall of the Western half of the Roman Empire was called Byzantine with its capital at Constantinople.

Turks took Constantinople in 1453 and renamed it Istanbul.  The Muslim Turks swept into Eastern European and conquered Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Romania, Hungary and parts of Austria, before they were stopped otherwise Europe today would be Muslim... Islam has a mission of converting Europe and the entire world to Islam; this is a point that sentimental folks tend to ignore when they talk about how peaceful Islam is.

(Islam is so peaceful that even in the backwater called Nigeria some Islamic sect called Boko Haram, a bunch of illiterates believe that they have a mission to convert all Nigerians to their Arab religion; Islam is a political ideology with which Arabs want to conquer and rule the world; notice that they insist that all Muslims read the Koran in the Arabic language and while praying face Mecca, that is, they want folks to allow Arabs to rule them.)

The bible tells us that a people called Canaanites lived in the area when Abraham came to it. The bible also tells us how the Jews killed off the Canaanites in their various wars.

The bible similarly told us about the various wars that Jews had with their neighbors, including the Philistines (remember them, their leader, Goliath was slayed by David), the Amorites and so on.  Both Philistines and Amorites are traced to Asia Minor (in today’s Turkey).

The Bible told us about how the children of Israel in trying to escape from famine went to Egypt and thereafter living as slaves and how they escaped and warred with those living in Canaan and killed all of them and took over the land.

Later, we were told that the King of Babylon (not an Arab, mind you) warred with Israel and defeated it and took Israelites into captivity in Babylon (todays Iraq).  In other parts of the bible we are told how Persians enslaved Jews.

Somehow Jews were always chased out of Israel and always return from their diaspora.

Alexander the great of Macedonia (Greece) swept through Palestine on his way to India.  Thus, from about 300 BC Palestine was ruled by Greeks. Educated Jews spoke Greek language until the era of Jesus Christ.

After the Greeks the Romans came calling. The Roman war machine swept through North Africa, Palestine, Syria and warred with Persia for domination of the region.

Romans also swept into Europe; they conquered Gaul (todays France), Spain, Britannia (Brittan) and Germania etc.  The Romans took the ancient world, which included Egypt, Palestine, and Asia Minor.

Whereas much of Jewish history is mythology there is actual historical record of Roman rule of Palestine and Syria. We can actually verify that the Romans swept through the area from about 27 BC and were there until the fall of the Roman Empire around 450 AD; we also can verify that with the fall of the western Roman empire the Eastern Roman empire continued to rule the middle east until Muslim Arabs came along in the mid- 600s.

The bible tells us quaint stories about how a Jewish chap called Jesus was crucified by Romans under a Roman ruler called Pontus Pilate.  We cannot verify this killing of Jesus as a historical fact (Josephus, a Jewish historian, many years later, referred to the Romans killing a Jew who led an insurrection against them).

What can be verified is that Romans ruled Palestine and that Jews were making trouble for them. Jews at different times led by their various groups, such as Essenes, Zealots, Sadducees, Pharisees etc. had several insurrections against their Roman overloads.  We know as a matter of historical record that Romans tried to quell the various Jewish insurrections and in frustration destroyed the Jewish temple in 70 AD. The Jews continued their rebellion and were a pain in the ass of Romans.  At some point the Romans decided on total war with the rebels and we are told how they destroyed various Jewish sects and their hide outs.

Apparently, at some point many Jews were taken as prisoners and marched to the various parts of the Roman Empire.  Nevertheless, Jews remained in Palestine. There was never a time from the period of the Romans that there were no Jews in Palestine.

As noted, the Roman Empire, due to attacks by the various Germanic tribes, fell. That meant that the Roman province of Palestine was now up for grabs.

Arab Muslim hordes finally chased the Byzantine Greeks out of Palestine and Egypt and converted whoever still lived there to Islam, by the sword, of course.  Arabs moved into Palestine, as they moved into Egypt and all of North Africa. Arabs also took over Syria, Iraq, places that originally were not composed of Arabs. The Arab dawn converted a large swathe of land to Arab rule and forced the people to speak Arabic and practice Islam or they were killed.

History tells us that in the tenth century, Pope Urban called on Christians to go reconquer the Holy land from Muslims. We know about the various crusades made by European knights in a futile effort to defeat the Mahomet’s and take back Christian lands, especially Jerusalem. These wars lasted about three centuries before Europeans gave up (Arabs scored magnificent victories, including Saladin’s).

Turks, who had converted to Islam, inherited the Arab dawn and ruled the Middle East, Israel included until the end of the First World War. The Ottoman Empire was defeated by Europeans and its Middle Eastern territories were shared among the victors. Britain and France shared the area; Britain ruled Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Arabia, Yemen, Iraq etc.; France ruled Lebanon, Syria, and Algeria and so on.

As the power of Britain and France declined their Arab lands gained Independence in the 1940s and 1950s.

Before we focus on modern Israel let us backtrack a bit. As noted, Jews were all over the Roman Empire and that included all of North Africa, Asia Minor and much of Western Europe. Jews were in Egypt, Syria, Arabia, Rome, Spain and elsewhere.   When the Roman Empire fell Jews continued living in the various parts of Europe that succeeded the Roman Empire.

In Europe Jews were often the literate class and the trading class. Thus, it came to pass that they tended to live in cities and had money. As we all know, if you are educated and have a little money your neighbors tend to envy you. Thus, all over Western Europe the natives had a love- hate relationship with the Jews. They liked to borrow money from rich Jews but hated them for having such money.

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Ozodi Osuji Ph.D

Ozodi Thomas Osuji is from Imo State, Nigeria. He obtained his PhD from UCLA. He taught at a couple of Universities and decided to go back to school and study psychology. Thereafter, he worked in the mental health field and was the Executive Director of two mental health agencies. He subsequently left the mental health environment with the goal of being less influenced by others perspectives, so as to be able to think for himself and synthesize Western, Asian and African perspectives on phenomena. Dr Osuji’s goal is to provide us with a unique perspective, one that is not strictly Western or African but a synthesis of both. Dr Osuji teaches, writes and consults on leadership, management, politics, psychology and religions. Dr Osuji is married and has three children; he lives at Anchorage, Alaska, USA.

He can be reached at: (907) 310-8176