IT IS quite unfortunate that religion has taken most people’s conscience. It closes people’s sense of rational reasoning. Religious people don’t even believe that humanity is greater than religion.
If we really look back to history and be rational in our judgement, we’ll understand the real causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and stop taking sides.
There are three factors that engender this unending Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If the people in region and their supporters can properly reason around them, there will be peace in the region. For about 3,500 years now that this conflict started, it has always been engendered by ambitious people.
The first was Abraham. This evil land-grabbing mentality promoting this hate destroying the Arab world today was brought by Abraham who ambitiously left his own land and claimed that God had given him this land that already belonged to a people. The land had its own natives before Abraham and his descendants began claiming it in the name of “God”.
To compound the problem, Abraham promoted discriminations even among his own descendants who formed parts of the Arab world. This was the beginning of this hate and fight over this particular land. Abrahamic ideology brought this problem upon these people. And that is why most of the people taking sides are Abraham’s followers.
This conflict began around 1500 BCE and continued for nearly one thousand years until Nebuchadnezzar destroyed most of the kingdoms in this area and subjugated them. The subjugation of the people in this region by the Babylonians and later by Persian empires continued until the Roman Empire took over the region.
In AD 70, Roman authorities crushed a Jewish revolt, sacked Jerusalem and destroyed its sacred temple – the focal point of Jewish life. Jews were slaughtered, enslaved, or driven away. By 135 BCE when another rebellion met with the same fate, no Jew could set foot in Jerusalem. From the Nebuchadnezzar time to the Roman reigns, the communal fight over land in the region subsided, because there were hardly any autonomous authorities in the region.
The second factor that cemented the hate, this time all Arabs against Israel, was the rise of Islam in 7th century CE, once again, following Abrahamic claims but in opposition to Judaism or some of the Jewish claims. Prophet Mohamed in Surah 5:51 told his followers not to make friends with Jews and Christians. Islam relatively put a sharp sword between the Jews and Muslims, and any of them that grab the sword first always use it against the other.
However, this ancient land-grabbing culture – an age-long conflict promoter – brought by Abraham to the region was rekindled in recent times by Europe after the Nazis’ Holocaust where over six million Jews were killed. This is the third factor engendered by the then ambitious Great Britain. The European leadership, either because it wanted to pacify the Jews for the horrible massacre of their people, or wanted to get rid of them from Europe, began to encourage and support them to return to their land (Israel) – a land, like the time of Abraham, that at the time had its own natives and government.
Hence, in 1917 Britain’s foreign minister, Arthur Balfour, says that the British “view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object.” Zionists hailed the declaration, but the Arabs fumed gravelly about it and began to strategize against the idea.
This return of the Jews, facilitated by the British government, once again returned the ancient conflict started by Abraham. But, unlike in the early times when it was Israel vs its neighbours, this time all Arabs turned against Israel, because the Arabs were already united by the Ottoman Islamic rule. Egypt masterminded the first phase of the war against Israel immediately after their return.
In all, therefore, if this war must end, the parties must remove these Abrahamic and religious claims from their heads, and embrace one another. They should see themselves as equal human beings that existed before and above all these dogmatic beliefs in the name of religion. This was what the Egyptian president, Anwar Sadat, wanted to promote in the region that made radical Islamists to assassinate him for concluding the Egyptian-Israeli peace in 1981. The United States with its led United Nations also have been working hard for them to embrace two-states solution to live in peace, but other Arab countries are pushing Palestinians against peace.
Religion has done more harm than good to this region and, in fact, to the whole world. Until the Arabs step down their religious mentality not to embrace Israel, and Israel accepts them as brothers in the region, there will be no peace in the region. The state of Israel has come to stay, and Palestinians can never be annihilated from the land, therefore they have to accept one another or continue to fight forever.
Hamas cannot end Israel and, the destruction of Hamas cannot end the hate and conflict in the land until humanity reigns in the region over religious dogmas. It’s time Israelis, Palestinians and everyone in the world began to question the veracity and the acerbity of some religious ideologies, because they are detrimental to human coexistence.
Olohy, a social critic, writes from Keffi, Nasarawa State.