O Palestine, Palestine, Wherefore Art Thou Palestine?
This post certainly isn’t Shakespeare. However, it is about a tragedy, a modern-day version. That is, politics rarely results in anything productive. Today, with all the backroom deals and secret handshakes, the world is upside down. As Shakespeare put it, there’s something rotten in the state of Denmark. That said, a little background is probably in order.
After World War I, the Ottoman Empire was carved up by the victors (the Western Powers). They took a magic marker to the map of the Middle East and completely redrew all the boundaries. As a result, countries like Syria and Iraq were created out of thin air.
Further, the British were given a mandate by the League of Nations to administer certain occupied territories in the Middle East which would be used, for among other things, to create a Jewish homeland. That mandate is referred to as the Palestine Mandate, with Palestine referring to what is now the combined areas of Israel, Jordan and the West Bank. The original term of Palestinian referred to anyone then living within the boundaries of this new territory of Palestine, including Christians and Jews.
Fast forward to 1967, at which time various Arab countries attacked Israel in what would become known as the Six-Day War. Those Arab countries, which included Jordan, were on the losing side of that war and as a result Jordan ceded to Israel those lands west of the Jordan River (the West Bank). To the victors go the spoils, or so they say. Ever since, there has been an international dialogue to have Israel give the West Bank to the Palestinians to create a new and separate Arab state.
Making a bad situation worse
Today, the world is stuck with the political deals that the Western Powers made with each other at the end of World War I. Unfortunately, there is no way to unwind what has already been done and moving forward with a reasonable solution has proved to be elusive. So, as world leaders answer the clarion call, it would be good to remember a few salient points:
- There has been a lot of discussion of returning the West Bank to the Palestinians, as if there ever was such a country. However, there has never been a country of Palestine – not in modern times and not even in ancient times. So, creating an Arab state for the Palestinians would not be a case of returning the West Bank to them, but rather it would be creating a Palestinian state for the very first time in history.
- The Palestinians are not the only group in the world without a homeland. There are significant minority populations in any number of countries who have never had their own homeland. For example, the largest minority population in the world is actually the Kurds (who also live in the Middle East). However, there has never been any talk of giving them a homeland.
- If Israel is forced to give up the West Bank, it could set a dangerous precedent. If that were to happen, who might be next? Is it possible that America might be asked to return the Southwestern United States (stretching all the way from California to Texas) back to Mexico, since it was acquired as a result of the U.S./Mexican War.
Unfortunately, a precedent such as this would likely have an unexpected ripple effect. So, is there a reason why the world is hell-bent to make a bad situation worse?
The run-up to WWWIII
Although the status quo is far more palatable to me than the solutions offered up so far, I do have a proposal that might end the stalemate. Actually, it wasn’t very difficult to come up with it either. That is, simply have Israel give the West Bank back to Jordan. Yes, the very same Jordan that the West Bank used to be a part of. Jordan is a pretty stable government and they can probably be counted on to keep the peace. Besides, a majority of the people currently residing in Jordan are actually Palestinians!
Despite its appeal, this proposal will no doubt fall on deaf ears. That’s because there is more money to be made from war than from peace. World War III anyone?
While we’re at it, let’s return North America (Canada and America) back to the Native Americans, have China return Tibet to the Tibetans and give North Korea back to South Korea. Who would like the task of breaking the news to Kim Jong-un?
“The truth is that Jordan is Palestine and Palestine is Jordan.”
– King Hussein of Jordan