As the Syrian Arab Army moves closer to the “Israeli” occupied Golan Heights, it has been reported that refugees from inside Syria have looked to Tel Aviv seeking refuge on the “Israeli” side of the border. While Tel Aviv claims it will assist refugees, officials up to and including Benjamin Netanyahu have made it clear that no Syrian refugees will be allowed into “Israeli territory”.
Tel Aviv is actually well placed to make this statement as objectively, the conquest of Palestine and the establishment of “Israel” was conducted primarily by refugees fleeing foreign conflict. Throughout history, European Jews who have faced persecution at the hands of a multitude of European regimes have sought shelter in the Middle East under both Arab governments and the Ottoman Empire. Unlike in Europe, the Arab Caliphates and Ottoman Turks did not engage in systematic discrimination and violence against Jews, thus making such areas attractive to Jews fleeing violence in Europe.
However, Ottoman leaders while always being generous in their aid of European Jewish refugees, nevertheless refused to allow any migrant group to threaten the political unity and territorial integrity of the Ottoman Empire. Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamid II was once made a generous offer from European Zionist Jews wherein European Jews who played a prominent role in the European banking industry would forgive the growing debts of the Ottoman Empire in exchange for the Sultan giving the Ottoman territory of Palestine to Zionist leaders to set up their own state. Sultan Abdülhamid refused, stating,
“I won’t sell anything, not even an inch of this territory because this country does not belong to me but to all Ottomans. My people won these lands with their blood. We give what we have the way we got it in the first place”.
Ultimately, Palestine was stolen from the Ottomans in a secret Anglo-French deal known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916. The agreement which was only revealed by the early Bolshevik Press in Russia the following year transferred Palestine from Turkey to Britain in the midst of the First World War. It was also in 1917 that the British Foreign Secretary Arthur Lord Balfour authored the Balfour Declaration which promised Zionist leaders the land of Palestine that Britain had moved to seize from Turkey in accordance with the Sykes-Picot agreement.
The Holocaust of European Jews conducted by the fascist German regime of the 1930s and 1940s made many non-Zionist Jews change their minds about the viability of life in Europe. As a result, migration to Palestine became ever more attractive. Had it not been for Britain’s meddlesome Balfour Declaration, it may have been that either Arab or Turkish leaders in Palestine would have welcomed European Jewish refugees as they had for many centuries before. However, the precedent outlined in the Balfour Declaration of 1917 made it clear that Zionist leaders were not migrating to Palestine to live under the lawful requirements of Palestinian rulers or their historic Turkish rulers, but instead, the Zionists came to form their own state on someone else’s land.
This is the crux of today’s conflict in the region. The religious conflicts which led to the migration of European Jews to Palestine were not those caused by Arabs or Turks but those caused by Europeans. This was the reality of the 20th century – just as it was the reality of centuries prior. And yet it was Ottoman Turkey that was initially stripped of its Palestinian territory by the British and French while likewise, the British Empire helped set the stage for Palestinian’s to be stripped of their right to self-determination. Thus, innocent people and an innocent government were penultimate punished for the crimes of those far away.
Today, while the Palestine conflict continues, “Israeli” leaders now find themselves defending the Palestinian land they claim as their own against those from outside of its borders. The irony that this is what Palestinians have tried to do for decades against European outsiders, seems to be totally lost on the current crop of politicians in Tel Aviv.
Making matters even more surreal, while the artificial border between Palestine and Syria which divided the once united Arab world was created by Europeans, now one sees that an “Israel” regime which itself was created by Europeans, that is defending these artificial borders in the Arab world so that refugees from outside of Palestine’s borders do not molest the territorial unity of Palestine or as the Tel Aviv regime calls it “Israel”.
But the surrealism of this new reality gets even more magnificent in its grandiosity when one realises that some of the European leaders most opposed to migrants (sometimes called refugees) from outside of the EU are actually close friends with the leadership in Tel Aviv. Hungary’s Viktor Orban who remains one of Europe’s fiercest critics of Angela Merkel’s open door policy is also one of “Israel’s” closest friends in Europe, in spite of the fact that “Israel” was created under similar circumstances to that which looks to change the cultural characteristics of many European regions based on a uncontrolled inflow of non-European migrants that is largely resented by the indigenous population.
While the Palestinians still protest for their right of return to their land, it is now “Israelis” who in spite of themselves having migrant origins, are the ones “protecting” Palestine from an influx of foreigners, even though unlike the foreigners migrating to Europe, Syrian Arabs once lived in a united political unit with Palestinians of all faiths as recently as the early 20th century.
Beyond the almost storybook like qualities of this new reality, it seems that “Israelis” are now able to defend the land they stole from Palestine more readily and more ably than the Palestinians were able to defend their land against the influx of Zionist settlers in the 20th century.
When it comes to being a true Palestinian and securing one’s land, the importers are actually doing a much better job than the real ones have yet been able to do.