It’s been nearly 70 years since the State of Israel was founded, an ethno supremacist state established by European colonisers. This year marked 100 years since the Balfour declaration, which paved the way for the creation of Israel, it’s also 100 years since Allenby took Jerusalem from the Ottomans, and so too was it by no coincidence that the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump would declare America’s recognition of Jerusalem as being the capital of Israel, paving the way for Israel to completely annex the multi-faith holy city. It was an announcement that would spread much uproar & protest around the world, from mass protests on the ground to various world leaders decrying the move as dangerous.
However my point of interest in this brief article is discussing the framework of which the issue is forged around by Muslims. Some of what I discuss or say here may trigger some reactions, but my only aim here is to provoke thinking & discussion on an issue that has for too long been framed around a self-defeating secular world view.
The ‘holy land’, Jerusalem, is a big treasure, it has been a hotly contested place for nearly a millennia, it is a holy place for all three Abrahamic faiths; Islam, Judaism & Christianity. It was a city that Muslims & Christians fought for illustratively in the middle ages, and a city that Jews believe is promised to them. It is a land that doesn’t offer much materially, but its value transcends all that is material.
Much of the discourse & activism around ‘Free Palestine’ has for a long time been spoken in the realms of secular ideologies & by extension the nation state structure, such is the order of today’s world, this is unsurprising. In more recent decades it has been somewhat expropriated by Leftist activists who have managed to use it as a vehicle to impregnate much of their secular ideals into the cause, and as a result influence the thinking of a lot of Muslims.
Reality on the ground
An honest look at the situation of Palestine is needed, so if we are to honestly analyse the reality on the ground, it is that Israel exists as a state, Palestine is only a state in name, an unfulfilled ‘dream’, consequently East Jerusalem is not its capital. When Israel fully annexes Jerusalem, they will make it their actual capital by having full control and authority over it, regardless if its legitimate or not. Fact of the matter is that Palestine does not exist as an actual independent functioning state of its own. It’s essentially two bits of scattered land functioning as large open prisons, the entity & the population controlled in various ways at the behest of Israel.
Palestinians live under a brutal occupation, subjugated to daily oppressive measures that make basic life difficult. The restrictions that the Palestinian authorities are put under make basic governance a difficult task, with no opportunity or mechanism of developing strong state infrastructures and improving the lives of its inhabitants. Not forgetting too how Israel loves to demonstrate its military might by pulverising Gaza into a big rubble or rampaging through refugee camps. The huge amount of death and destruction it brings is unimaginable, as is the suffering it inflicts on the people.
The people are in need of some immediate solutions that will help alleviate their daily suffering, call this a short term solution, but for them to be emancipated prosper & live in safety a long term solution is needed to bring about enduring justice, peace & order.
Resolutions and Solutions
The most talked about solution to the issue is the two state solution. Accepting the occupying, usurping state of Israel and establishing a nation state on the scraps of lands Israel is ‘happy’ to concede. If Palestine was to ever become a state vis a vis the two state solution, (which is the only ‘solution’ that world leaders will ever entertain by lip service, on their terms, and one that will going by history will never materialise), what would be the outcome of it? It would first of all have to make vast concessions so that Israel allows it to materialise as a state. Secondly it would be at the behest of Israel at every turn, who would seek to control & strangle the Palestinian state to its interests. Such a state will never prosper or ever be allowed to. In truth being officially recognised as a state will not change much from what it is now.
For arguments sake lets say Palestine was given some semblance of being an independent state, what would that entail? Will it become like pretty much all the other nations states in the region?
Corrupt, poorly governed secular states with a bit of appeasing Islam thrown around here & there, run by a despotic dictator? The corruption within PA is quite well known, and going by the last election which Hamas won, they started fighting each other and have only recently made some reconciliation after a decade of being at each others wits. Sounds very much like most other nation states in the region, an artificial order the Colonial powers of old created for their own interests. This order is one of the root issues of a destabilised Middle East, that allows Western and other foreign powers to manipulate the region for their own interests, and seeking emancipation through this order is a fools game as one just sings to the tune of the powers that be.
Some may argue that Palestinians can liberate themselves. Quite frankly they are never going to be able to liberate themselves from within, they simply are too weak and do not have the means to, any liberation would require an outside force to help them, which in the current state of the world is never going to happen.
Which brings us to that very thought. What about outside forces i.e. surrounding Arab states, launching a campaign to liberate the Palestinians? Arabs states have in the past attempted to do so and faced off against the heavily militarised state of Israel, all initiatives failed. With the current state of the surrounding nations, all of which are run by corrupt despots, this won’t be happening any time soon again, in fact some of these Arab states are normalising relations with Israel, Egypt of course did this a long time ago already. It’s also worth noting they all fought for and under secular & nationalist banners, a small but crucial point to bear in mind.
Last and most certainly the least, how about accepting Israel as the all encompassing single state and washing away with the idea of Palestine? Such a notion would be both controversial and also suicidal. It would ensure the destruction of the Palestinians in every facet, represent a total retreat against an occupying oppressive force and .It is quite simply an idea that should and will never be entertained.
In the next part of this article, we will take a look at why the discourse needs to shift towards Islamic virtues, where the real solutions lies, and how knowing and understanding the past will give Muslims a vision going forwards.
Image Credit: Mark Millan