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  Is Israel An Accident of History?

Is Israel An Accident Of History?
Article contributed on May 29, 2008                 
 By Tunji Ajibade

The state of Israel clocked 60 years this month. Congratulations is the socially-correct thing to say except that the Jewish nation has more problems and less time to receive congratulatory messages. Conditions in the Middle East give no room for merrymaking. Israel is at war. It has always been at war. In a nation where it is a national duty for every adult to serve in the army at one point or the order, the issue of security is an everyday headache. Security of life and property is what it fights to achieve every second. For the past 60 years this nation never for once had occasion to disarm or lie at rest. And against whom does Israel have to be up in arms? The same people it should live in peace with in the first place: Arabs and Palestinians Arabs.

That Israel disturbed a beehive was clear right from the time it was created in 1948. Majority of Jewish people had been dispersed from Palestine for over 1,900 years. Descendants of Arabs that settled in are the present-day Palestinians. In the course of the centuries, Jews, wherever they were, nursed the desire of returning to Palestine, their once-upon-a-time homeland. Efforts made along this line became more intense in the 19th century. Two rabbis or teachers came visiting Palestine at that time. Their intention was to see the possibility of creating a homeland for Jews that were still in Diaspora. "The bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man," the rabbis had reported after they returned from Palestine. They were talking about the land that was already occupied by Palestinians, of course. That didn't stop Jews from around the world trooping into Palestine however. Their sufferings in the hands of Germany's Adolf Hitler and in every corner of the globe during the 2nd World War gave steam to the migration. "We can live together and bring prosperity to all," was the broad promise made to Palestinians when Jews arrived.

Now that's no longer the case. The reality of Jews and Palestinians living in the same area has since become a case of mixing petrol with water.

As Israel celebrates the anniversary of its creation, the situation between it and the Palestinians has become more complex. Two governments lay claims to two different parts of Palestine. Israel supports one and disdains the other. America too does. And so do many EU countries. The polarization that exists on the matter is such that it will take years to sort out a peace process that has gone wrong side up, right side down. Even at that, the major powers that should be in the saddle to put pressure on either of the two parties involved are regularly accused of bias. In the event, a credible umpire is pointedly lacking. As a matter of fact, the same powers have been blamed for making the state of Israel happen in the first place. Of course, British colonial power was in control of Palestine when Jews began to lay the foundations that led to the birth of Israel. When the British withdrew, David Ben Gurion, the first Israeli leader, and his group of militant enthusiasts took over and declared their statehood. The view constantly stated that Israel ought not to have been in that part of the world implies that Israel is an accident of history. But then history is full of accidents. The pattern of state creation by colonial powers in the Middle East especially is a product of considerations that were essentially external to the needs of the people of the area. History of the creation of states such as Jordan and many of the smaller states like Kuwait attests to this. In Nigeria, a late but notable leader in the First Republic once made comments about the mistake of 1914. He meant that the formation of Nigeria consisting of Hausa, Yoruba and Ibo is an accident that should not have happened. Today, however, not many of those who had shouted araba (divide)in the 1960s would want Nigeria to be undone. A survey conducted not too long ago showed this clearly. In order words, when a mistake is made, correcting what can be corrected and forging ahead is the wise and realistic thing to do. The reality of 'One Nigeria' is something many have come to terms with.

Unfortunately however, many commentators on the Middle East as well as some Palestinians boldly state that Israel should be wiped out of the face of the earth. They refuse to come to terms with the reality of the existence of the Jewish state. Yet, in an interview recently, many Israelis did admit that their government gives their Palestinian neighbours less than the human treatment they would have wished. But they quickly pointed out also that in a situation in which some people want Israel to go out of existence, Jews need every protection their government could offer them. Now, that's a state that has a mentality of being constantly under siege. And Israel is truly under siege. Regular rainfall of home-made missiles and rocket-propelled grenades from Hamas-controlled part of Palestine says much. Israel claims its responses are meant to get the attackers to stop. Commentators and Palestinians say the attacks are as a result of the treatment Israel metes out to Palestinians. And so the circle continues. Essentially, the problem remains the difference between a "live and let live" solution and a "wipe them out that we may live "disposition. All support and encouragement should be given to representatives of the Palestinian people who talk peace and settlement with Israel rather than war that leads to more suffering for the underdogs in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Israelis too must learn to be more accommodating given their own past persecution.

And that leads back to the core of the matter. History is replete with political events that amount to injustice. Many are the accidents that had happened. But should anyone insist that a whole race be wiped out as a result? If Israel is an accident of history, many nations too are. But they remain on the map, not wiped out. By the way, rescue efforts follow an accident. This is why the negotiations and the peace process in the Middle East should be resuscitated. All support and encouragement should be given to representatives of the Palestinian people who talk peace and settlement with Israel rather than war that leads to more suffering for the underdogs in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

This is a contribution to this site from Tunji Ajibade, an author  who wrote in from Abuja, with supporting  picture provided by the Webmaster.

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