When it comes to what will happen in Gaza once the expected IDF offensive begins, the only thing we know is what we don’t know, which is just about everything.
I love how we are getting reports that Israel has told the residents of Gaza City to ‘evacuate’ their residences before the expected HAMAS-cleansing operation begins. Which would be all fine and well if the military invasion and occupation of Gaza were going to be over and done with in a couple of days.
I mean, if someone told me that I had to sleep out of doors or maybe in my car from today through Wednesday, it would be a pain in the ass, but I’d get it done. But what if I had to live that way for six months? Or maybe for a year?
After all, the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Herzog, went on CNN yesterday and said the military operation in Gaza might take months, or even longer. And the head of the Palestinian Authority posts a statement on their website which said that HAMAS doesn’t speak for the ‘Palestinian people,’ even though HAMAS won a 2007 election in Gaza to do exactly that.
But let’s not dwell on a few minor verbal comments here and there. After all, the United States has been actively engaged in Near East peace efforts for only some fifty-plus years, so what’s the big deal if the conflict drags on for a few more years, right?
Let’s go back a little further in time, say, to 1948. Or better yet, back to 1917 when the British government issued a statement declaring support for a ‘Jewish homeland’ in Palestine, as the whole area was then known.
By that time, Jews had already started building communities in the region above the Galilee in the North, as well as in the Negev region in the South. The entire biblical zone was part of the Ottoman Empire, a political conglomeration known as the ‘sick man of Europe’ which would collapse and disappear after World War I.
The only problem was that the Jews didn’t own the property they took over to create the ‘Jewish state.’ For that matter, the Brits didn’t own Palestine when they ‘gave’ it to the Jews. I find it very interesting that the country which developed the modern definition of ‘private property’ with a series of laws which appeared after the Normans replaced the Saxons in 1066 could be so cavalier about ownership ‘rights’ when it came to the Near East or, for that matter, all the other swatches of land which became the colonial system on which ‘the sun never sets.’
When former British citizens who founded the United States started going over the Allegheny Mountains to settle what later became all the Midwestern and Western states, do you think they spent one second worrying about whether the ‘indigenous peoples’ (I love that phrase) who were already living there actually owned the land?
The Brits gave about as much thought to that issue as they gave to trying to figure out who owned the land in what was originally referred to as Palaistiné by the Greek historian Herodotus in the Fifth Century B.C?
So now, we have what Grandpa would call that ‘momser’ (read: bastard or son-of-a-bitch, take your pick) Mahmoud Abbas deciding one day that he’ll decide who and what HAMAS represents and the next day decides that he won’t.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ll repeat what I said yesterday, which is that I’m no self-hating Jew who wants to see all the Jewish residents of Israel load themselves on a bunch of Carnival Cruise Line boats (originally owned by a guy, Ted Arison) who was born in Tel Aviv) and re-settle in Miami Beach.
But what I didn’t say yesterday, which is a quote from Felix Frankfurter, is that “history also has its claims.” And until and unless we acknowledge the fact that white Europeans gobbled up land all over the world and didn’t bother to pay for any of those acres at all, we will no doubt continue to find ourselves in conflicts over land which never seem to end.
Of course, it’s only fair to remember that the five countries which cover the 2,000 miles between Suez and the Caves of Hercules are Muslim countries because the followers of Mohammed swept across North Africa during the 7th Century and never bothered to compensate anyone they net along the way.