Will Israelis call West Bank ‘home’ someday?

Posted: December 16, 2010 in Opinion
Tags: , , , ,

I was sitting in the botanical gardens in Christchurch enjoying a great day in the sun, far away from the guns and the dead of Karachi. I was reading an article by Robert Fisk on my laptop about his memories in Lebanon triggered by Max Milligan’s new book at the Independent’s website. I finished the article and moved on to the Middle East page to read other news about Iranian president’s sudden eureka moment about a girl’s ideal marrying age to be between 16 and 18, and Pakistan denying permission to the US about expanding the drone target area (which I am sure the US will pay no heed to). While I am rolling a cigarette for myself, a Maori (New Zealand native) kid of about 12 years of age asks me for a cigarette. I tell him to bugger off, and he skates away angrily mumbling racial slurs.

This meaningless event suddenly makes my heart sink like I have just heard some very bad news, but it is not because of the racial nature of the event or the bad condition of the Maori kid. This event makes me remember something I just read in Fisk’s article and I quickly go back to it and read the following again:

One day – speak it not in Lebanon, of course – these Palestinians or their children may also become Lebanese. That, of course, will be the day that the Americans and Israelis finally obliterate the Palestinians’ UN-mandated “right of return”, when Lebanon will have to be paid billions to give them passports – the Lebanese, I fear, might accept – and when Lebanon will become (because the Palestinians are mostly Sunnis, with only a sprinkling of Christians who have their own camp in east Beirut) an undeniably Muslim country.

I understand that he is trying to make a different point there but the Maori kid and the above lines trigger a peculiar line of thought in my head. Let me try to put this thought in a logical manner. You must know that the Maori were here in New Zealand a long time before the European settlers came. These settlers started to colonize the land, which was not acceptable to the native Maoris. Time passed and (I would not dwell upon what happened in the middle) now one can see that these native people are a small part of the population. This land has become a home of the settlers after so many years. Generations of settlers have grown old and died here so now it’s the settler’s, (Pakeha) country. At this stage to tell a settler Kiwi to move from a house claiming it to be Maori land 300-400 years back would be barbaric and cruel because the settler has lived there for hundreds of years. His father, grandfather, great grandfather all owned the same place. The settler has now become a native and the world recognizes it.
Similarly in Australia the natives are the aborigines, the indigenous people of Australia. The settler has become a native and the world recognizes it. Same is case in North America. The real American is called the Native American and the settler is the real American now. In all three cases, the Maori accepts it, the aborigine accepts it, and the Native American accepts it. Time has made a foreign land become home to a settler. For instance, a UN Resolution asking Australian Settlers to leave the continent because it was colonized and taken from the native people will be thrown in the bin.
Now I will come to the point. The Israeli settlements in West Bank are increasing by the day. The world recognizes it as illegal but cannot do anything about it. So they continue to increase. Let’s say 300 years pass by. The settlements have doubled or tripled as compared to the present and the owner of a settlement house is third or fourth generation settler. He can now say that we have lived here for hundreds of years. This is my grandfather’s house. It would cruel to kick him out. It would be madness to ask someone to leave his grandfather’s house at that particular time in the future. My questions are:

Will time make a settler in an occupied land a native in the case of West Bank also?

Will the refugees in Lebanon and Jordan become Lebanese and Jordanian and there would be not be anyone to come back?

In 300 year will the occupied people of become the “Maori” or the Aborigine of Israel?

Will the world recognize a settler to be a native again?

I don’t think it is a question of Jews, Christian, or Muslims. It’s a human thing. Looking at the Jewish suffering for so many years, it is understandable that they would grab so tightly to the land that they own plus the land they have acquired by occupation. If it were Muslims, they would do the same thing, if it were Christians or anyone, they would do the same. It’s a human thing. Furthermore, greed, power, ego, honor, and jealousy are also “human things”. We are all infected by these, specially the Muslim world. I think we will resort to violence against each other, we will keep pulling each other’s legs, and we will keep drowning in the sectarian divisions we create. Sunni will hate Shia, Shia will hate Sunni, The Arab will hate the Persian and so on and so forth. Our pious leaders will keep sitting on their thrones; the poor will get poorer and dehumanized. And suddenly we will wake up one morning, and 300 years would have passed. The settler will become a native in West Bank and Gaza. Our own darkness of forgetting our humanity will be the cause of it. The settler will become a native again, world will recognize it and we will all be poking fingers in each other’s eyes, blaming everyone but our own selves.

*edited version published at Express Tribune Pakistan website @ http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/3548/will-israelis-call-west-bank-home-someday/ *


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