18 Karat Reggae does not necessarily agree with nor endorse the following, however, it is important to understand both sides on the issue. The following is in response to our post about Ziggy Marley being a disgrace to Rasta for supporting apartheid Israel.
By: Yarden Hakun
Israel didn’t steal land. Palestine was an area that was controlled by Britain (it’s full name was the British Mandate for Palestine). This was a League of Nations (precursor to the United Nations but very short-lived due to the US not joining) mandate. The reason for this control was because prior to the end of World War I, the land was part of the Ottoman Empire which collapsed. That means the land was controlled by the Turks (and under their control it was called Nablus, Acre, Vilayet, etc). This was not uncommon for the time period as the vast Ottoman Empire was partitioned into a number of smaller states: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, etc.
The vast majority of the area was given to TransJordan which became Jordan, while the area east was to be given to a national home for the Jewish people (re: Balfour Declaration). You see, Jews had lived in the Middle East pretty much non-stop. There were a lot of them. It was their land as well. It wasn’t land they magically stole.
The United Nations then decided to (even after giving a vast majority of the Ottoman Empire to Arab controlling governments) divide the remaining area from the British Mandate for Palestine into Palestine and Israel. Now let’s be clear about this: We can hedge back and forth over names here, Palestinian being a reference long ago, and Israel being a name from even further back, but there was never a state named Palestine. This divide would’ve provided that, creating a land just for Palestinians. Instead, the Israelis declared their independence once the British Mandate for Palestine expired, and the surrounding Arab countries invaded and attempted to destroy the Jews. The resulting war in 1948 was won by the Israelis, yes, but also lost by the Palestinians. Jordanians moved into what is now known as the West Bank and included it as part of TransJordan (which soon became Jordan). Egypt controlled what is now Gaza. There was no Palestinian state. And yet no one complained then.
The reason for that goes back to the original point – the lines for these states were arbitrary. As many of the founders of the PLO/A stated, there is no difference between a Jordanian, a Syrian, and a Palestinian. These are the same peoples, divided across fictional boundaries created by arbitrary decisions to fill a gap with the fall of the Ottomans. So you can imagine the horror at most of the refugees who fled from combat in Israel/Palestine (either to avoid potential suffering, or because they were told they could come in after the Jews were annihilated – both of which occurred) and were stranded in these new countries as refugees, not citizens.
Millions to this day are in refugee camps in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan, and they lack basic citizenship rights. Not because of Israel, but because of the other countries. These refugees gave them a reason to claim how terrible Israel was. Instead of adopting them into their land, they used them as a symbol of why the Jews needed to be exterminated. As an aside, I specifically reference refugees here. When Jordan annexed the West Bank, the Arabs there were given citizenship. In Egypt this was not the case. Likewise concerning refugees, following Israeli independence, the Jews were forced (or willingly left) from other Middle Eastern countries. Estimated property and wealth losses from these have been as low as $6 billion and as high as $300 billion.
Following the Six-Day War in 1967, the West Bank was captured by Israel from Jordan, but Jordan did not relinquish its claim to the area until 1988 (when those West Bank Arabs lost their Jordanian citizenship). Similarly the Gaza Strip was captured from Egypt. Previously there had been a temporary “Palestinian” government in Gaza but it was under Egyptian control still and even after dissolution in 1959 by President Nasser, it remained occupied by Egypt until 1967.
In 1994 transfer of power to the PLO began in both locations. Israel constructed numerous barriers to prevent citizens in either region from entering Israel unobstructed. You can’t have it both ways friends, you can’t be under another governmental authority and expected unfettered access to a foreign country. Likewise Egypt also constructed a barrier and has been blockading the Gaza Strip. In 2005 Israel disengaged unilaterally from the Gaza Strip (after 2 intifadas where rocket attacks and suicide bombings claimed so many lives there is now a section at the Israeli military cemetery on Mt Herzl dedicated to the victims of terrorism). Soon after, Hamas was elected, and has since viciously repressed any potential opposition.
So hopefully I’ve helped educate you a bit on the history of the area. Good luck.