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Unmasking the biblical history of Palestine and Israel conflict

Kenyan Muslims in a peaceful demonstration along Moi Avenue in Mombasa. They protest against the killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces. October 21, 2023. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

The pain the Christian West inflicted on the Jews for centuries developed into a source of sense of guilt in the 20th century.

It then transferred its sense of guilt to the Arabs in Palestine.

The world's attention is focused on geographical Palestine where Israelis and Palestinians kill each other over land they claim belonged to Abraham, their spiritual and probable biological patriot.

Their killings are based on narratives of identity as to who, among those who came from mithirimo, the ‘shins’, of Abraham with his three wives, has a bigger claim to the land than the other. That narrative stresses the descendants of Sarah through Isaac and Hagar through Ismael.

In the process, except for the occasional mention of the Midian, Ketura’s eight sons get forgotten in the narrative. Also forgotten in the narrative are those that Abraham displaced as he moved from Ur (Baghdad). His descendants kill each other over his occupying legacy.

The success of the narrative is in the influence it has on the rest of humanity in which almost five billion people claim religious affiliation to Abraham mainly through two of his supposed descendants. These were Jesus, later known as the ‘Christ’, and Mohammed bin Abdullah, also known as ‘The Last Prophet’. The followers of Jesus, called Christians and whose religion is Christianity, are roughly 2.6 billion people. Those of Mohammed, the Muslims have Islam as a religion, number over 2.3 billion followers. Lost in between are the roughly seven million followers of Judaism, the religion that Moses founded roughly 1200 BCE. Moses gave the Hebrews ‘laws’ that became the basis of a new exclusivist faith. He started the process of giving decrees, in the name of God, as an administrative and governance strategy.  

For roughly 3,200 years, the Judaic claim that God gave Palestine to the Hebrews alone became a constant source of conflict with other claimants. The Romans scattered the Jews even as one of their religious offshoots, Christianity, spread and entrenched itself in the Roman system. In the process, Christianity was culturally Romanised and then Europeanised so much that it lost its original purpose and identity and became worldly. In contrast, the followers of the Prophet Arabised, Islamised, and dominated Palestine. There then arose Christian and Islamic wars, called crusades and jihads, in which the Jews were practically absent. Jews were dispersed across Christian Europe, unwanted and discriminated against.

The pain the Christian West inflicted on the Jews for centuries developed into a source of sense of guilt in the 20th century. It then transferred its sense of guilt to the Arabs in Palestine; they were not European, Christian, or Jewish. The process of guilt transfer started in France with the Dreyfus Affair in which French authorities accused young Captain Alfred Dreyfus of spying for Germany because he was Jewish. This false accusation gave birth to the World Zionist Organisation whose objective was to send Jews to Zion/Palestine as the ultimate place of refuge.

Palestine was within the decaying Ottoman Empire, labelled the ‘Sick Man of Europe’, and its occupants were largely Arabs. The outbreak of the Great War in 1914 enabled Britain and France to share the Ottoman Empire with Britain taking Palestine, Jordan, and Iraq while France grabbed Syria and Lebanon. Britain promised a home for Zionists in Palestine, the Balfour Declaration, and set the stage for the presumed descendants of Abraham’s children, Ishmael and Isaac, to clash. In World War II, Adolf Hitler’s atrocities accelerated the purported Jewish ‘return’ to Zion and the inevitable fratricidal collision. In 1947, after the United Nations split Palestine into two parts, one for Jews and the other for Arabs, the Zionists proclaimed the State of Israel in 1948 and expelled the Arabs from Palestine; the expelled Arabs became Palestinian refugees. One small part on the Mediterranean Sea, Gaza, remained under Egyptian control until Israel took it, along with the West Bank from Jordan, in the 1967 Six-Day War.  

The pressure on Israel to relinquish control of Gaza and West Bank was partially successful in that Israel appeared to concede to the principle of a two-state settlement without actually letting go. Developing an effective intelligence network, the MOSAD, it had Western support to keep a tight leash on Palestinians who, despite occasionally flaring up into intifada, remained in two large geopolitical prisons. In turn, the tight control bred such tough anti-Israeli movements as Hamas and Hezbollah who repeatedly exchanged deadly missiles with Israel. How they get the missiles is a different matter. As of 2014, the frequency of missile exchanges increased so much that in October 2023 it diverted global attention from other volatile places.

The October 2023 Hamas-Israeli fighting is puzzling and exposes unpleasant realities. Since Israel and its MOSSAD have tight control of, and know virtually everything that goes on, how come they were supposedly caught flat-footed? Or were they?

The war seemingly created an opportunity for the Conceptual West to extricate itself from the economically debilitating embarrassment in Ukraine. With US President Joe Biden facing Congressional rebellion over Ukraine, emotional diversions seemed to be needed. For a while, it seemed that Haiti would do the trick by appealing to African sentimentality and ‘nyapara’ proclivities but that approach made little headway. There then came the emotional Gaza fighting which seemingly diverted attention from resource and emotion draining Ukraine. Gaza is thus an acceptable face-saving diversion, despite the human cost.

The fighting also provides an excuse for Israel to annex Gaza and the West Bank and help Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to divert attention from his domestic legal and socio-political challenges.

The Gaza fighting had three unintended outcomes. First, it reinforces the original purpose of the UN Security Council, protecting the interests of big powers from the ravages of global democracy. The US used that protective principle to veto the ceasefire proposal interfering with the Israeli desire to ‘punish’ Hamas. Second, it exposes the uselessness of such institutions as the International Criminal Court, which would not investigate or indict any Israeli official. Third, it shows that countries can choose to display maturity. With the US flexing naval muscles in the Mediterranean to ‘defend’ Israel, supporters of Hamas, particularly Iran, restrained themselves to avoid possible encounters with eager US and Israel military. In avoiding the geopolitical bait dangled through fighting in Gaza, they play smart.

The Hamas-Israeli fighting is, therefore, complex, involves those claiming Abraham as an ancestor, and entails deep geopolitical mischief.