1400 OMG

E2: Who was Emir AbdelKader, the hero of humanity?

Over three hundred years ago, a poorly-armed Algerian Muslim leader battled one of the best-equipped armies in the world – and against all odds, held his ground.

For a while.  The story of that struggle, and the legacy of that warrior, is one of the greatest stories in Islamic history.

That warrior was of course Abdel-Kader, an Algerian Sufi.

He was more than just a warrior; Abdel-Kader was also a statesman, a diplomat, a Muslim scholar, a strategist and tactician, and a humanitarian.

He’s one of the most interesting personalities of the 19th century, but more than that, he matters a lot to the 21st century.

And to me…

Listen online at the bottom of this page, or wherever you get your podcasts:
Download now on Apple Podcasts.
Stream for free on Spotify.

Transcript

Over three hundred years ago, a poorly-armed Algerian Muslim leader battled one of the best-equipped armies in the world – and against all odds, held his ground.

For a while.  

The story of that struggle, and the legacy of that warrior, is one of the greatest stories in Islamic history.

That warrior was of course Abdel-Kader, an Algerian Sufi.

He was more than just a warrior; Abdel-Kader was also a statesman, a diplomat, a Muslim scholar, a strategist and tactician, and a humanitarian.

He’s one of the most interesting personalities of the 19th century, but more than that, he matters a lot to the 21st century.

And to me.

Sting

I’m Muddassar Ahmed from Toledo Society, and I’m excited to welcome you to the second episode of a 3-part series, ‘Who Was Emir Abdel-Kader, the Hero of Humanity?’

Intro

During the time of King Charles X, the imperial French army defeated the Ottomans in Algeria, and occupied the country. While the French consolidated their control over his homeland, a young Abdel-Kader was traveling to Alexandria, Egypt, and Damascus, Syria, to study with great religious scholars.

Abdel-Kader returned, energized by his learning, and eager to oust the French from his homeland. An opportunity presented itself when Abdel-Kader’s father was asked to lead a campaign against the French, but he refused and abdicated. That responsibility fell to the young Abdel-Kader instead.

In the fall of 1832, this 24 year-old young man found himself unexpectedly elected Emir, or Commander of the Faithful, of all Muslims of Algeria.

Sting

Abdel-Kader quickly established himself in western Algeria, and used his formidable skill in diplomacy and religion to get the major tribes of his region to unite behind him. The French Commander-in-Chief, General Desmichels, quickly came to understand that Abdel-Kader was fast becoming a formidable enemy.

Though he had limited technology and weaponry, Abdel-Kader’s tactical brilliance in battle pressured the French to give over an entire province to his control. They figured this would limit Abdel-Kader’s influence, but instead this raised his profile, and rallied more Algerians to his cause.

Very soon, Abdel-Kader was winning the battle for hearts and minds, and building a modern society, attracting multiethnic and multireligious talent to his cause. Frustrated by his growing influence, the French appointed a new Commander-in-Chief, and resumed hostilities. Abdel-Kader had no choice but to go to war again.

And that’s something important to understand.

Unlike the world we live in today, back in the 19th century, nations didn’t really have fixed boundaries. They were either expanding or contracting. More powerful nations swallowed up weaker nations. There was no United Nations to appeal to, no concept of international law or universal human rights.

Which makes Abdel-Kader’s career all the more astonishing. 

StingIn 1834, in the scorching heat of summer, French and Algerian forces clashed at the Battle of Macta, which was a resounding victory for Emir Abdel-Kader. Hostilities continued, but to the disadvantage of the French. At the Treaty of Tafna, the French surrendered even more control to Abdel-Kader, with one caveat.

He would have to recognize French imperial authority.

That only made him seem more powerful: Now he was negotiating with Paris itself.

After this great victory, some of the Emir’s followers called on Abdel-Kader to declare himself ‘Sultan,’ but Abdel-Kader declined the title—he was content in his authority as a spiritual leader, and as a leader of the resistance. His job was to understand what God wanted of him, and to bring it about in the world.

Some religious people are narrow-minded and provincial. The more they believe, the less room they have for people different from themselves. But there is another kind of religious person, the kind of person who starts to think universally, and begins to believe all people deserve the same rights.

Sting

Over the following years, Abdel-Kader’s territory expanded across Algeria, and in this land he built a remarkable state. He convinced Jews and Christians to join him in building his country and running his government.

He lived frugally and encouraged others to live within their means. Abdel-Kader shunned accolades for himself, but cultivated scholarship, celebrated poetry, and urged his people to invest in modern education.

His new nation of Algeria had much promise, but also had a problem.

In 1839, the treacherous French not only violated the Treaty of Tafna, but launched a scorched-earth campaign, brutalizing the Algerian people.  

Though Abdel-Kader would fight to defend his country and his people, he was unable to effectively counter French aggression.

Sting

But even when severely weakened, Abdel-Kader upheld morality, decency, and compassion. When he lacked sufficient resources to feed his French prisoners-of-war, much to their surprise, he released them.

He went out of his way to protect houses of worship, as well as priests and nuns.

In the end, though, the French were just too powerful. No matter how remarkable his victories, Abdel-Kader couldn’t sustain a conflict against an industrial war machine.

By 1842, Abdel-Kader had lost almost all his territory.

In 1847, Abdel-Kader was forced to surrender to the French. Just a few days before Christmas, he agreed to live the rest of his life in exile in the Alexandria that enchanted him when he was a young man. To prove his goodwill, Abdel-Kader even handed over his beloved war horse to the French governor.

At his surrender, a sisterhood of nuns joined him—they had been moved by his decency, and keen to ensure he was not mistreated. Maybe they had a hunch, a feeling that the French would betray him. And as it happens, they did.

The French went back on their word, though Abdel-Kader had been nothing but faithful to the terms of his surrender. The French captured Abdel-Kader and instead of taking him to a peaceful exile in Egypt, sent him to France, with his family and followers, where they were cruelly imprisoned.

Sting

But as news of Abdel-Kader’s fate and condition spread across France, public agitation grew. The Emir was highly regarded by the French elite, and famous among the French public. He was recognized as a noble leader who had the respect of his countrymen, a man who fought heroically, and treated his enemies with compassion and decency.

Here was a man who put others before himself. His homeland before pride. His faith in God before his own glory. Domestic and international pressure escalated; even the British government was involved in making the case for the Emir’s freedom.

In 1852, after almost five years of captivity, then French President Louis Napoleon Bonaparte released the Emir and his entourage.

President Bonaparte agreed to a 100,000-franc annual pension, on the condition that  Abdel-Kader never again return to or interfere in the affairs of his beloved Algeria.

It was a bittersweet victory, but the Emir upheld the terms of his release to the end of his life.

Sting music

By 1855, the Emir had settled in Ottoman Damascus. Shortly afterwards, a conflict erupted, between members of two religious communities, the Druze and Maronite Christians, living in the city.

The Emir intervened and played the part of peacemaker. Abdel-Kader not only protected Christians with his tongue, but with his body, and at the risk of his life.

Many in France were stunned, and deeply moved.

Here was a man whose homeland they had invaded, who they had imprisoned, but who then stood up for their co-religionists in a bloody conflict. Abdel-Kader was elderly, and exhausted from years of war and imprisonment, but boldly rushed forward to protect the vulnerable Christians in a moment of heated sectarian tension.

And all of this, at a great risk to himself.

What was to say Abdel-Kader would not be killed for defending them?

What sort of person makes that kind of sacrifice?

This was an age when Islamophobia ran rampant throughout Europe. The popular opinion of Muslims was not very good, and frequently hostile. Muslim-majority countries were seen as fair game in competitions for conquest and control, and many European intellectuals assumed Islam was inherently backwards, ignorant, and regressive.

In that kind of world, the legacy of Emir Abdel-Kader seems all the more remarkable.

When the French proposed the Suez Canal, Abdel-Kader played a critical role in drumming up Arab support for the massive project. He was present at the opening, too: This is a reminder not just of his desire to be a bridge between worlds, but of his ability to think strategically, beyond the immediate and into the future.

He understood the importance of this project to the Muslim world, and threw his weight behind it.  

It may seem to us that the worlds of the West and of Islam are doomed to misunderstanding, tension, or even outright conflict, but in the Emir Abdel-Kader we find an alternative vision. Rather than encourage tension between Christians and Muslims, he encouraged the Islamic mission of understanding and compassion.

And this melted the hearts of the French public, and European society, humanizing Muslims. So much so that, during his captivity, the citizens of Bordeaux, France, mobilized to have his name placed on the French Presidential ballot! They preferred a Muslim Abdel-Kader ruling France in place of its current government.

STING:

From Toledo Society, I am Muddassar Ahmed, and you have been listening to episode two in a three-part series: “Who Was Emir Abdel-Kader, the Hero of Humanity?”

Coming up in our next and final installment, we’ll explore how Abdel-Kader became the kind of man he was, and how those lessons still speak to us, one hundred and fifty years after his death.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode and season and don’t forget to let us know your thoughts, rate us and please donate as well! 

E1: Who was Emir AbdelKader, the hero of humanity?

In the heart of Middle America, in the northeast corner of the State of Iowa, there’s a small town, a town so tiny it doesn’t even have a traffic light.

In 1846, Timothy Davis founded that settlement, and named it Elkader, after an Algerian Sufi whose exploits had taken the Western world by storm.

What might possess a midwestern American of the 19th century to name his town after a North African Muslim sheikh?

Listen online at the bottom of this page, or wherever you get your podcasts:
Download now on Apple Podcasts.
Stream for free on Spotify.

Transcript

In the heart of Middle America, in the northeast corner of the State of Iowa, there’s a small town, a town so tiny it doesn’t even have a traffic light.

In 1846, Timothy Davis founded that settlement, and named it Elkader, after an Algerian Sufi whose exploits had taken the Western world by storm.

What might possess a midwestern American of the 19th century to name his town after a North African Muslim sheikh?

I’m Muddassar Ahmed from Toledo Society, and I’m excited to welcome you to the first episode of a 3-part series, ‘Who Was Emir Abdel-Kader, the Hero of Humanity?’

Intro:

People might have asked you: ‘If you could meet anyone from history, who would it be?’ Well, I know my answer. It’s The Emir, Abdel-Kader. Emir means ‘Commander of the Faithful.’ It’s a title Abdel-Kader certainly earned.

Because that’s what he was. A Commander. But not just that.

Emir Abdel-Kader was an extraordinary human being who led a phenomenal life, who grew from being an ordinary Algerian Sufi to a world-historical figure with a legacy that stretches across four continents.

I first stumbled upon Abdel-Kader’s legend by listening to a popular song, fittingly enough called ‘Abdel Kader,’ by the famous Algerian Rai singer Cheb Khaled, who also sang the very well-known song ‘Aisha’.

I started out curious, just wondering who the lyrics celebrated, and quickly became fascinated.

Indeed, when Abdel-Kader died, in 1883, the New York Times surveyed the remarkable achievements of his life and wrote that he should be counted one of the few great men of that century.

Abdel-Kader’s one of the most interesting people in history, and yet so few people know about him. How did Abdel-Kader become who he was? Why did Abdel-Kader become who he was?

And how did he end up with a town named after him in Iowa?

Here’s what I learned.

At a time of rampant Islamophobic colonialism, Abdel-Kader profoundly changed how much of the Western world, and many Western leaders, thought about Muslims.

He was an interfaith leader when the world was being divided by wars of religion.

Through his laws of war, he helped inspire the Geneva Convention. In fact, his statue is one of two at the headquarters of the International Red Cross in Geneva.

His life was marked by adventure, courage, resilience, compassion—and, above all else, faith in God and dedication to humanity.

Abdel-Kader was born in 1808, in the town of Mascara, in what is today Algeria and what was then the westernmost frontier of the declining Ottoman Empire.

He came of age in his father’s zawiya, which is kind of like a Sufi lodge.

Like other students in the lodge, he was educated traditionally. Theology, Shariah, Arabic language, and grammar.

By the age of 5, Abdel-Kader could read and write. By the age of 14, he had memorized the Qur’an, earning the title of ‘Hafiz,’ or Protector of Scripture.

A year later, Abdel-Kader went on to advanced study, and was praised for his excellent oratory, his way with poetry, his skill in debating.

So he was, by the standards of then and now, a pretty smart guy. But maybe not so different from other smart guys of his time. But he was destined for greater things, because, in the distance, a storm was brewing.

Europe was rising, and the colonial project was scrambling to plunder Africa. The French looked south across the Mediterranean, and saw a valuable prize in Algeria.

In 1830, the French invaded.

Despite valiant resistance under Hussein Dey, the Ottomans faltered, and Algeria was conquered. Desperately, the local population searched for a champion to expel the invaders.

Abdel Kader would be that hero.

Just two years later, his people elected him Emir, or Commander of the Faithful, and only a year after that, Abdel-Kader had succeeded in uniting the warring tribes of the region, bringing solidarity in a land that had been insecure and unstable.

In 1834, Abdel-Kader’s forces and the French signed the Treaty of Desmichels, which further cemented his reputation as a leader of his people.

Not only was Abdel-Kader a military Commander, though, he’s actually a thoroughly decent man.

His impeccable character meant even his enemies spoke highly of him. It was said that “the generous concern, the tender sympathy” he showed his prisoners was “almost without parallel in the history of war.”

He even showed great respect for the religion of any captives, which as you know, something even modern-day leaders have a really hard time with.

But despite his brilliance as a leader, his personal character, and his skills as a tactician, he was unable to militarily defeat the French.

Indeed, within two decades of the colonial invasion, Abdel-Kader would be a captive of France. A lesser person would have given in to his circumstance, turned to random violence, or to depression.

But Abdel-Kader did not, not just because of his upstanding character, but because he had a greater plan, too.

Abdel-Kader understood that the time for military conflict had passed, and the task of the time was to convince the colonial power of the humanity of its subjects. 

He did so, and became, in captivity, a still greater hero, a living legend on the world stage. A Muslim celebrity—in xenophobic Christian Europe.

Sting music

It so happens that the way Abdel-Kader lived his life in captivity so moved his jailers that it led to his release.

Forbidden from returning to his native Algeria, he traveled instead to Bursa, in today’s Turkey, and then, in 1855, he journeyed to Damascus in what was then also a part of the Ottoman Empire.

Settled in Damascus, he turned his energies to his passion for theology and philosophy.

It was during this time he wrote one of his most famous works, The Arabian Horse. As it happens, a horse named Abdel-Kader, called ‘Little Ab’ by the racing public, was twice winner of the British Grand National Steeple Chase, in 1850 and 1851.

In fact, Little Ab was the first repeat winner of the Steeple Chase.

But back to Abdel-Kader.

While he might have thought he was going to live a low-key scholarly life with his family, his exile in Damascus was interrupted, again, by conflict.

While Abdel-Kader had warned the French consul and Damascus officials of the growing potential for violence, his pleas had fallen on deaf ears.

In 1860, a conflict between the Druze and Maronite Christians of Mount Lebanon reached Damascus. Over 3,000 Christians were killed in a brutal massacre, which local authorities were unable, or perhaps unwilling, to stop.

In the midst of this chaos, Abdel-Kader sent his eldest sons out into the streets to offer Christians shelter in his very own home, despite considerable risk to himself and to his family. A French newspaper reported eyewitness Christian accounts of Abdel-Kader’s intervention:

“We were in consternation, all of us quite convinced that our last hour had arrived. In that expectation of death, in those indescribable moments of anguish, heaven, however, sent us a savior! Abdel-Kader appeared, surrounded by his Algerians, around forty of them. He was on horseback and without arms: his handsome figure, calm and imposing, made a strange contrast with the noise and disorder that reigned everywhere.”

When rampaging crowds armed with swords and blades arrived at his door, Abdel-Kader greeted them with a speech which is still recited in the Middle East.

“You pitiful creatures!” Abdel-Kader shouted. “Is this the way you honour the Prophet Muhammad? God punish you! Shame on you, shame! The day will come when you will pay for this … I will not hand over a single Christian. They are my brothers.”

Sting – music

When the rioting in Damascus abated, Abdel-Kader led humanitarian efforts to assist the beleaguered Christians of the region; the French were so moved that he was awarded the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour.

This was not his only recognition.

The Emir Abdel-Kader also received the Grand Cross of the Redeemer from Greece; the Order of the Mejidiyye, First Class, from the Ottomans; and the Order of Pius IX from the Vatican.

Even United States President Abraham Lincoln thought fit to honour him with a gift as well. Basically, everyone knew about Abdel Kader and the way he had saved the lives of people unlike himself.

STING – music

When Timothy Davis, John Thompson and Chester Sage were founding a town in north-eastern Iowa in the 1840’s, they called it ‘Elkader’—impressed by Abdel-Kader’s resistance to foreign rule and noble character, which, they felt, resonated with American values.

Why all this attention, then and now?

Abdel-Kader was a special person. He was the same in victory as he was in defeat. He acted in private the way he did in public. He fought the good fight but he was wise enough to recognize when the battle was up.

But, in defeat, he didn’t turn to extremism or lash out at the world. He rededicated himself to peace, to finding new ways of bringing people together. In exile, he studied, he taught—and he saved lives.

The lives of people very different than himself.

Abdel-Kader’s ability to combine religious and political authority has led to his being acclaimed as “Saint among the Princes, the Prince among the Saints.”

At the same time, he’s not an uncomplicated guy.

Abdel-Kader was not a so-called “moderate,” because he fought back against the French occupation of his homeland.

At the same time, he was not an extremist, because throughout his life, on the battlefield and off, he spoke of Christians and Muslims as brothers in humanity.

Abdel-Kader, it must be remembered, set up his own state in western Algeria. He employed Christian and Jewish advisors, not in spite of his Muslim faith, but because of it.

His main grievance was with foreign occupation, not the French culture or Christian religion.

Indeed, he made peace with the French, though the French later violated that truce by invading his lands yet again. Even given such treachery, Abdel-Kader sought out a priest to minister to his Christian prisoners.

He even gave them back their freedom when he could no longer feed them.

Like Saladin, he was glorified by his allies, and celebrated by his enemies.

Basically, Abdel-Kader was a man who lived on his own terms, committed to the values he believed in. And that mattered to me, you see, because I grew up a Muslim and a Westerner, at a time when many people believed these things were incompatible.

For a long time, I looked for someone who might help me navigate the confusion of modern life, someone who stood up for values I could believe in, who held true to himself, and dedicated himself to breaking boundaries.

In Abdel-Kader, I found more than I bargained for.

CHEB KHALID SONG

From Toledo Society, I am Muddassar Ahmed, and you’ve been listening to episode one in a three-part series: “Who Was Emir Abdel-Kader, the Hero of Humanity?”

In the next episode, we’ll look at the phenomenal legacy of Abdel-Kader, the transformative way in which he made his mark on four continents.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode and season and don’t forget to let us know your thoughts, rate us and please donate as well! 

S2E8: Palestine Pt 8 – 1400 OMG

The Madrid Talks was the first major attempt at discussion between Israel and the Arab Nations. It was headed by President George H.W. Bush and Secretary of State James Baker III. A Palestinian-Jordanian Delegation joined the talks. The importance of this event is that it was the first major event where the Palestinian question was addressed directly, and the first time the “land for peace’ solution was proposed.

This event opened the doors to further peace talks and negotiations.

Listen online at the bottom of this page, or wherever you get your podcasts:
Download now on Apple Podcasts.
Stream for free on Spotify.

Transcript

The Madrid Talks was the first major attempt at discussion between Israel and the Arab Nations. It was headed by President George H.W. Bush and Secretary of State James Baker III. A Palestinian-Jordanian Delegation joined the talks. The importance of this event is that it was the first major event where the Palestinian question was addressed directly, and the first time the “land for peace’ solution was proposed. This event opened the doors to further peace talks and negotiations.

In 1993, the Oslo Accords were signed. The Oslo Accords are a set of agreements between Israel and the PLO. The accords were signed between PLO leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, in Washington DC. Based on the accords, the PLO had to recognize Israel as a State. In Return, Palestine was granted a limited self-government parts of Gaza and the West Bank. Israel also agreed to withdraw partially from Gaza and Jericho. Palestine agreed to call an election for a Palestinian Authority to succeed the PLO. And Israel would withdraw from Civil Administration of the West Bank.

But the agreement failed. Due to violence from both sides, including a massacre by Israelis and suicide bombings by Palestinians, neither side agreed to peace, and the accords did not result in a Palestinian State. Israel continued to expand, taking over various Palestinian territories and building settlements in these lands. In 1995, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by Yigal Amir.

A stalemate continued between the two nations. Another negotiation was attempted in 1998, known as the Wye River Memorandum. It was chaired by Yassir Arafat, King Hussain of Jordan, President Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But it did not result in any positive change. The two sides remained hostile to each other, and there seemed to be no hope for peace.

Camp David II and more peace talks

In 2000, peace talks were held at Camp David for the second time. This time between PLO leader Yasser Arafat, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and US President Bill Clinton. The negotiations took on an all-or-nothing approach and were not successful. They discussed division of territory, especially Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, the case of the refugees, the settlements and security issues. But they were unable to reach an agreement. The talks continued in 2001, at the Taba Summit. Around this time, a second Intifada occurred in Palestine after violence broke out on both sides. The Taba Summit failed, and the situation remained the same.

In 2002, the Quartet on the Middle East proposed a road map for peace. It was first outlined by President George W. Bush. The Quartet on the Middle East is made up of the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia. They drafted a plan for an independent Palestine to exist side by side with Israel in peace.

The plan was made up for three Phases. Phase I included Palestine and Israel mutual recognizing each other, an end to Palestinian violence, and that the Palestinian government reforms Israeli withdrawal to 2000 lines. Phase II, which was supposed to occur between Jun and December 2003, included an International conference for Palestinian economic relief; a process towards an independent Palestinian state with provisional borders; as well as discussion on solving the problems of refugees, arms control, and water issues. Phase II, which was supposed to happen in 2004 and 2005, would include an International Conference for final status issues: these included permanent borders, Jerusalem, refugees, and settlements. However, the process reached a deadlock in phase I and was never finalized.

Recent Events

The Israel-Palestine conflict is ongoing. Over the past decade various events occurred that keep the hatred between the two countries brewing. Some of the highlights from the past twenty years of Palestinian history are as follows:

In November 2004, Yasser Arafat died, and Mahmoud Abbas took over. In August 2002, Prime Minister Sharon ordered a unilateral withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.

In January 2006, HAMAS won the elections in Gaza. Israel and the US sought to isolate and punish Gaza for electing Hamas. So, the territory became subject to sealing of borders, severe restriction of movement and goods entering the area. An embargo was placed on Gaza that remains in place until today.

In April 2006, Sharon was incapacitated by a stroke, he died in 2013. 2006 was also the year in which the Lebanon War took place. Between December 2008 and January 2009, operational Cast Lead took place in which 1400 Palestinians were kills, along with 12 Israelis. In May 2010, a fleet of Turkish ships bringing humanitarian relief to Gaza was stormed by Israeli naval forces; 9 activists were killed by IDF forces.

In November 2012, Operation Pillar of Defense took place, in which Israel attacked Palestine after 2 IDF soldiers were kills. 120 Palestinians were killed in one week.

In summer 2014, Operation Protective Edge occurred, Israeli attacked after Hamas kidnapped 3 young Israelis. As a result, 2300 Palestinians were killed, along with 67 Israeli soldiers.

A common theme in all these attacks is that each incursion into Gaza was claimed to be a reaction and response to Hamas launching rockets into southern Israel. Hamas, on the other hand, claimed that it was reacting and responding to both the humanitarian crisis caused by the Gaza lockdown as well as by provocative military action by Israeli forces.

Today, the war between Israel and Palestine seems to have no end, as this crisis continues to drag on with each passing year.

The Future

So, where does this leave us? Palestine and Israel continue to fight over this land, each side supported by various nations and communities, but there seems to be no end in sight for this conflict. Nations have been unable to even agree upon a solution. Should there be a one State or Two State solution? Should Palestine and Israel become one country, or two separate countries?

The Palestinians have grown pessimistic over time about gaining their own independent state. Meanwhile, settlements continue to expand in the West Back as well as around and within East Jerusalem, making it possible by Israel to claim those areas. Over time, Israeli politics have become further to the right, with ultra-Orthodox settlers refusing to consider any negotiation with Palestinians that would involve giving up any land. The Israeli government to a vote from the settlers and gave mixed signals regarding a two-state solution.

In retaliation to Israel’s oppression, Palestinians have established the BDS movement, Boycott, Divestment and Sanction. This is a non-violent movement by Palestinians calling for an international boycott of Israeli products as well as cultural and academic boycott as a way of isolating Israel in the global community, and a way to pressurize Israel into negotiations. IN response, various efforts have tried to discredit and even criminalize BDS, which have proven to be moderately effective.

Palestine faces another new challenge today. US has always been an ally of Israel, but now that alliance may be stronger than ever. In 2016, Donald Trump was elected President of the USA. On December 6th, 2017, President Trump recognized Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and announced the relocation of the US Embassy to West Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, breaking a decades long US policy. Other countries have been reluctant to move their embassies to Jerusalem, as it is still recognized under international law and UN resolutions as occupied territory.

Palestinians and their allies protested Trump’s decision and used the incident to affirm their long-held view that the US is not impartial in the peace process and is biased towards Israel.

Recently, President Trump has recognized Israel’s claim over the Golan Heights, an area it has held since the 1967 Six Day War and in violation of international law.

Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has been appointed by President Trump to develop and offer the so-called deal of the century regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While details remain undisclosed, sources familiar with the proposal have commented that any current deal is focused on providing economic assistance to the Palestinians, but no sovereignty or independent state of any kind. Kushner has recently made public comments questioning whether the Palestinians are in fact capable of self-governance, a sentiment held by the British during World War I in their quest for regional dominance and establishment of the British Mandate.

The prospects for either a one or two state solution for the Palestinians remains elusive and there is no indication that the status quo will change any time soon.

Conclusion:

There seems to be no end in sight for the problems facing the Palestinian community. Israel continues to grow in strength, supported by the United States of America. Under Donald Trump’s administration, there is a lot of fear that things could get even worse for the citizens of occupied Palestine.

We have reached the end of this series discussing the history of Palestine, a history that is still unfolding in our lifetime. I hope you have found these episodes beneficial and enlightening. Join us next season for even more discussions on recent history on 1400 OMG.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode and season and don’t forget to let us know your thoughts, rate us and please donate as well! 

S2E7: Palestine Pt 7 – 1400 OMG

Where is this conflict heading? Is there a plan, a happy end, reconciliation? What does the future hold for the people in these lands?

These are the questions going through the minds of millions of people around the world regarding the Palestine/Israel saga. Over the past three episodes, we dove into the history of Palestine from the first Jewish immigrant over a hundred years ago, to the formation of Israel and its rise to power.

I wish I could tell you this story has a happy ending. In fact, I wish I could tell you how it ends, but I can’t. Because this story isn’t over yet. This is not just history. It is an ongoing crisis in the world today.

Listen online at the bottom of this page, or wherever you get your podcasts:
Download now on Apple Podcasts.
Stream for free on Spotify.

Transcript

Where is this conflict heading? Is there a plan, a happy end, reconciliation? What does the future hold for the people in these lands?

These are the questions going through the minds of millions of people around the world regarding the Palestine/Israel saga. Over the past three episodes, we dove into the history of Palestine from the first Jewish immigrant over a hundred years ago, to the formation of Israel and its rise to power.

I wish I could tell you this story has a happy ending. In fact, I wish I could tell you how it ends, but I can’t. Because this story isn’t over yet. This is not just history. It is an ongoing crisis in the world today.

The Palestine/Israel conflict continues today with no end in sight. In today’s episode, we will look at recent events in this conflict and take a peek at what the future might hold.

Hold on to your hats, because we are about to dive deeper into the history of Palestine.

From Toledo Society, I am Professor Saeed Khan, and this is…. OMG 1400… your guide to what the hell happened in modern Muslim history.

Intro

In this series, we investigate the key events in the Muslim world over the last two centuries and dig deep into some of the root causes of the situation many find themselves in today.

Over the past few episodes, we discussed the events that led to the formation of the State of Israel and the Palestine Crisis. Today, we will conclude the history of Palestine by looking at events in recent history.

Segment 1: Camp David

When we last left Palestine, there were ongoing hostilities between Israel and Egypt. Israel had forcibly seized many lands, including lands that previously belonged to Egypt. To settle the problems between the two countries, the President of the United Stated called a secret meeting in Camp David.

Camp David is the country retreat for the president of the United States. It is in the wooded hills of Catoctin Mountain Park near Thurmont, Maryland. In 1977, it was the location of a secret meeting between the presidents of Egypt, Israel and USA.

Anwar al Sadat, the president of Egypt, was focused on restoring diplomatic ties with Israel for the sake of the Egyptian economy. To do this, he went to Jerusalem to meet the Prime Minister of Israel, Menachem Begin, to discuss their differences. Sadat wanted to improve relationships with Israel while also solving the Palestinian issue. Begin was open to discussions of peace with Egypt but had no intention of relinquishing Israel’s hold on West Bank and Gaza. Unable to come to terms, they turned to the USA for help.

To facilitate the discussions, President Jimmy Carter organized a secret meeting between the three leaders (himself, Sadat and Begin) in Camp David. The results, the Camp David Accords, signed on September 17th, 1978.

The Accords produced two important documents. The first was a framework for peace in the Middle East. The document endorsed the UN Resolution 242 as the basis for settlement for the Middle East conflict. It also proposed a staged plan for achievement of Palestinian autonomy in 5 years, but this proposal was vague and open-ended, so it didn’t really mean anything. This document was considered a victory for Israel and a defeat for the idea of a Palestinian State. At Camp David, Israel won right to deal with Occupied Territories as it saw fit, even though this was not immediately apparent to Sadat and Carter.

The second document included the conditions for an Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty. The formal peace treaty was signed in March 1979. The two countries exchanged ambassadors, and in 1982, Israel withdrew its forces from Sinai, and the USA provided $3 Billion in aid to assist with restoration of the area. But the framework for peace with Palestine was never implemented. Israel exchanged Sinai for the West Bank and Gaza, and by making peace with Egypt, it had neutralized the powerful Arab army in the region. Israel had won.

That year, both Sadat and Begin were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. But there were serious consequences for this treaty. The Arab world was shocked by Egypt’s actions and as a result, Egypt was expelled from the Arab League. Most Arab Nations, excluding Oman and Sudan, broke diplomatic ties with Egypt, and the oil producing countries cancelled their subsidiaries. Isolated from the rest of the Arab world, Egypt became dependent on the US for economic support.

On October 6th, 1981, on anniversary of Egypt’s successful military campaign against Israel in the Sinai, Sadat was assassinated by extremists, in part for his perceived betrayal in making peace with Israel. He was succeeded by Hosni Mubarak.

The Camp David Accords, in the end, harmed both Egypt and Palestine. It was a huge win for Israel, but it still wasn’t enough.

Segment 2: The Refugee Massacre

The PLO had been operating in exile in Jordan and Lebanon. It was designated a terrorist organization by the US, Israel and several other western countries based on it taking responsibility for a host of actions against military and civilian targets, including hijackings of commercial airliners, cruise ships and other bombings.

In 1982, during the Lebanese Civil War, which began in 1975, the Israeli Defense Forces ordered their Lebanese allies, the Christian Phalange, to expel PLO fighters from the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps that housed thousands of Palestinians. Phalange forces, aided by Israeli military, engaged in a massacre, with estimated ranging between 450 to 3500 Palestinian men, women and children being killed.

The act received condemnation from the UN and several governments. An Israeli commission held Defense Minister and future PM Ariel Sharon responsible for the massacre for not taking action to prevent it.

Segment 3: The First Intifada

In December 1987, the first Intifada occurred. Intifada means resistance, and is the name given to the first time that Palestinian civilizations resisted Israeli aggression and fought back. It caught the PLO by surprise as it was a movement that began and was organized by Palestinian society itself. It involved acts of civil disobedience and boycotts, but also included protests and demonstrations that in some cases turned violent against Israeli security authorities.

The Intifada was caused by two decades of life under Israeli occupation. The Palestinians had grown frustrated at the oppression at the hands of the Israeli regime. During these two decades, many of their homes had been demolished, many of their farmlands were destroyed, and many of them were detained without charge, and even tortured. There were also a lot of restrictions on travel and employment. All these factors caused frustration for the Palestinians who decided to fight back and express their anger through the Intifada.

In retaliation, Israel deployed eighty thousand soldiers to quell the unrest. In the aftermath, over two thousand Palestinians were killed, along with 277 Israelis. The intifada led to the Madrid Conference of 1991. In this conference, the US and Russia convened an international summit for peace talks between the PLO and Israel.

Segment 4: Attempts at reconciliation

The Madrid Talks was the first major attempt at discussion between Israel and the Arab Nations. It was headed by President George H.W. Bush and Secretary of State James Baker III. A Palestinian-Jordanian Delegation joined the talks. The importance of this event is that it was the first major event where the Palestinian question was addressed directly, and the first time the “land for peace’ solution was proposed. This event opened the doors to further peace talks and negotiations.

In 1993, the Oslo Accords were signed. The Oslo Accords are a set of agreements between Israel and the PLO. The accords were signed between PLO leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, in Washington DC. Based on the accords, the PLO had to recognize Israel as a State. In Return, Palestine was granted a limited self-government parts of Gaza and the West Bank. Israel also agreed to withdraw partially from Gaza and Jericho. Palestine agreed to call an election for a Palestinian Authority to succeed the PLO. And Israel would withdraw from Civil Administration of the West Bank.

But the agreement failed. Due to violence from both sides, including a massacre by Israelis and suicide bombings by Palestinians, neither side agreed to peace, and the accords did not result in a Palestinian State. Israel continued to expand, taking over various Palestinian territories and building settlements in these lands. In 1995, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by Yigal Amir.

A stalemate continued between the two nations. Another negotiation was attempted in 1998, known as the Wye River Memorandum. It was chaired by Yassir Arafat, King Hussain of Jordan, President Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But it did not result in any positive change. The two sides remained hostile to each other, and there seemed to be no hope for peace.

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S2E6: Palestine Pt 6 – 1400 OMG

Another ten years passed of relative peace, yet tension, in region. Then, in 1967, the famous Six Day War occurred. It began in May 1967, Nasser orders naval blockade of the Gulf of Tiran to protest the Israeli diversion of the Jordan River. Out of fear of an Arab attack as revenge for 1948, Israel launched a pre-emptive strike on Egypt, Jordan and Syria. On June 5th, 1967, Israeli troops crossed over and occupied the Sinai Peninsula. They also invaded and occupied Gaza, the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem. 

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Transcript

The Six Day War

Another ten years passed of relative peace, yet tension, in region. Then, in 1967, the famous Six Day War occurred. It began in May 1967, Nasser orders naval blockade of the Gulf of Tiran to protest the Israeli diversion of the Jordan River. Out of fear of an Arab attack as revenge for 1948, Israel launched a pre-emptive strike on Egypt, Jordan and Syria. On June 5th, 1967, Israeli troops crossed over and occupied the Sinai Peninsula. They also invaded and occupied Gaza, the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem. Israel continued its aggression and even captured the Golen Heights in Syria.

The UN managed to negotiate a ceasefire, but Israel refused to withdraw its troops from the captured territories. To deal with this, the UN unanimously passed Resolution 242 calling for Israel to withdraw from territories captured during the Six Day War. In return, the Arab countries must recognize Israel’s right to live peacefully within its borders. The UN also addressed the need to settle the Palestinian refugees who were uprooted during the Six Day War.

The resolution was rejected by the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Yasser Arafat. The losses incurred during the Six Day War were devastating to the Arabs, and became known as the Naksa (setback). After the Six Day War, Egypt and Israel remained locked in a war of attrition that lasted 3 years (from 1967 until 1970). This war resulted in the death of thousands on both sides. Nasser, unable to handle the loss of these events, offered to resign as President of Egypt. However, he received overwhelming support from his people and remained in power until he died of a heart attack in 1970. He was succeeded by Anwar Sadat.

This situation caused a lot of economic problems for Egypt, but Israel remained an obstacle. Sadat tried to realign Egypt with USA during the cold war. To accomplish this, he expelled almost twenty thousand Soviet military forces from Egypt. But this move was poorly timed. A few weeks later, the Munich Olympics Massacre occurred, and the US lost any sympathy may have still had for the Arab cause. At the Munich Olympics, a team of Palestinian militants captured Israeli participants and murdered them. This did not help the Palestinian cause and created further hostility in the region.

The 1973 War

In 1973, the Arabs were frustrated due to economic stagnation and the lack of progress in solving the problem of Israel. Anwar Sadat decided to use war to turn the tide in his favor. To do this, he allied with Syria and on October 6th, 1973, Egypt launched an attack across the Suez Canal, while Syria attacked the Golan Heights. Egypt were successful and crossed the Bar Lev line on the Israeli side of the Canal. They overwhelmed Israel and took control of the region. This event became known as the Crossing.

After the crossing, Egypt ceased their offence. Sadat had achieved his objectives. He has restored the military credibility of Egypt, taken some of the Israeli territory, and showed the superpowers that Israel was not so tough. Sadat waited for other countries to intervene and call for a ceasefire, but it never happened. In the meanwhile, Israel managed to overcome the Syrian assault and launched a counterstrike against Egypt.

On October 16th, 1973, General Ariel Sharon led an Israeli army across the Suez Canal, and came within striking distance of Cairo. The US and USSR called for a ceasefire, and all three countries agreed. The war was really just a proxy war for the US and USSR. The US had supplied weapons to Israel, while the USSR had done the same for Egypt and Syria.

The consequences of this war were not in favor of the Arabs. It served as a reminder of the potential for a direct superpower to intervene. In fact, the US played a bigger role in the region after this war. The second consequence was its impact on the oil industry. This war provided oil-producing nations with a level of power previously thought impossible to achieve.

OPEC had announced a 5% monthly reduction in oil production until Israel withdrew from occupied Arab territories, while Saudi Arabia suspended (indefinitely) all oil shipments to US. Oil prices soared, causing global concerns and worries. Europe and Japan decided to show more empathy for the Arabs due to their need for oil from them, while the US decided it needed to start depending less on the Arabs, and start producing more oil themselves. The importance of oil caused the US to play a more direct role in the Israel-Arab conflict.

After the war

As part of the fallout from the war, the US started playing a bigger role in Middle Eastern politics. In January 1974, Henry Kissinger, the US Secretary of State, negotiated for peace between Egypt and Israel. In September, he persuaded the two countries to sign an agreement that forced Israel to withdraw from Western Sinai. The US assisted both countries in recovering from the war. This event provided reconfirmation of special relationship between US and Israel, as seen during negotiations as well as through a 4-fold increase in military aid. But the US also provided Egypt with much needed financial aid, including money to rebuild Suez Canal, which reopened in 1975

The 1973 War was seen as a victory for Egypt. Anwar Sadat became known as the ‘Hero of the Crossing’. But now Egypt had to deal with its own economic problems. To do so, it needed to make peace with Israel, what happened next would shake the Arab world, leaving lasting consequences on the region.Conclusion:

Next time, we will discuss how Egypt and Israel came to terms, and the effects of their peace deal.

The creation of the State of Israel had caused political unrest and problems, both in the Middle East and across the globe. The alliance between Israel and USA would only further embolden Israeli aggression. In our next episode, we will conclude our history of Palestine by looking at events from the past 40 years of Palestinian history.

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S2E5: Palestine Pt 5 – 1400 OMG

1948…the year Israel was established.

Imagine being a Palestinian that year. The British have given the majority of your land to a minority of foreign immigrants. Your greatest fear has come through, the Zionists now rule the majority of the Palestinian lands.

With the support of the USA and the UN, Israel’s rise to power was just beginning.

Frustration grew in the minds of the Palestinians…you can easily imagined what happened next.

Over the next few episodes, in Season 2, we will dive deep into the events that led to the formation of the State of Israel. Together, we will understand the roots of the Palestine-Israel Conflict, and understand the history of this important region of the Muslim world.

Listen online at the bottom of this page, or wherever you get your podcasts:
Download now on Apple Podcasts.
Stream for free on Spotify.

Transcript

The End of the British Mandate

When we last left Palestine, the British had decided to end their Mandate in Palestine. The UN had issued a resolution to partition Palestine, handing over the majority of the lands to the Jewish immigrants, even though they were the minority. This did not sit well with the Palestinians.

In May 1948, the British ended their Mandate and Ben Gurion declared Israel an independent nation. The Zionist mission to create a Jewish homeland in Palestine was complete, but they were not satisfied. There was still work to do to assert the power and authority in the region. The Zionists turned to terrorism to establish their power.

The Israelis began to acquire arms, and build their forces. They attacked various targets around their lands to assert their authority. In 1948, The UN Mediator Folke Bernadotte  was assassinated in Jerusalem by Lehi terrorists.

The Israeli terrorists targeted civilians, and in April 1948, the Deir Yassin Massacre occurred. 120 Irgun and Lehi terrorists stormed a village of 600 Palestinians and slaughtered approximately 110 villagers, including women and children. The leader of the Irgun at the time, though not at the raid, was future Israel PM Menachem Begin. The massacre was condemned by another Israeli terrorist group, the Haganah, and by the two chief rabbis of the Mandate, who delivered an apology to King Abdullah of Jordan, which was rebuffed by the monarch. This stands as an example of brutal ethnic cleansing and deliberate targeting of civilians, it was sign of things to come as Israel grew more powerful.

Recognition of the State of Israel

It was around this point in time that the US stepped in and began to play an important role in the rise of Israel. President Harry S. Truman was in a very tight reelection campaign in 1948 against a popular opponent, the governor of New York, Thomas E. Dewey. New York was the largest state by population (thus, most electoral votes), and was home to the strongest pro-Israel population.

Clark Clifford, Truman’s White House Counsel was so concerned about Truman’s election prospects that he threatened to resign if Truman did not come out strongly in favor of recognizing the State of Israel, for fear Truman could lose New York in the November elections. Truman was getting advice from the State Department that recognition of Israel would be unproductive for US policy interests in the region, especially when it came to Saudi Arabia and oil sales. Ultimately, Truman beat Dewey, but in an extremely close race.

Israel declared their independence on May 14th, 1948. On May 15th, they applied to the United Nation for recognition. The US gave them de facto recognition immediately, as did Iran, Guatemala, Iceland, Nicaragua, Romania, and Uruguay. On Ma y 17th, the Soviet Union gave them de jure recognition along with Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Ireland, and South Africa. On January 31, 1949, after the first Israeli election the US gave it de jure recognition. In March that year, the UN Security Council held a vote with the majority voting in favor of Israel. In May, the UN General Assembly held another vote, again the majority voted in favor of Israel. The Arab countries in the region were unanimous in their rejection of Israel and the grounds under which it gained independence. Not a single Arab country recognized it diplomatically. As a result, Israel was isolated in the region.

The Arabs strike back

On September 18, 1948, Egypt occupied Gaza. The Arab League proclaimed an All-Palestine Government for the area. It was recognized by Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, but not Jordan. No country outside the Arab League recognized it. They had their own passports, but no Egyptian citizenship.

Jordan annexed the area west of the Jordan River as the West Bank, and declared it Cis-Jordan, while the area to the east of the river as TransJordan; they received Jordanian citizenship.

Despite Arab administration now governing Gaza and the West Bank, the weakness of the Arabs and lack of strategy led to a stalemate. The stalemate lasted until 1956.

In 1955, the President of Egypt, Gamal Abdul Nasser announced an arms deal with Czechoslovakia. This raised concerns with the USA. In May 1956, Egypt recognized the communist regime ruling China, and were offered financial aid from the Soviet Union in exchange for the Aswan High Dam. At the same time, the US had denied aid to Egypt, and convinced the World Bank to do the same. In retaliation, Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal.

In October 1956, Britain, France and Israel coordinated an attack to seize the Suez Canal from Egypt. Israel invaded the Sinai Peninsula, and before things could escalate, President Eisenhower intervened and forced a ceasefire, due to the Soviet Union threatening to enter the conflict.

Various external conflicts affected the situation, and finally in 1957, all countries withdrew their armies from the region. As a result of losing the Suez Canal to Egypt, Great Britain’s empire came to an end. Nasser, on the other hand, was now the leader of the Arab world, but even he was unable to change the situation for the Palestinians.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode and don’t forget to let us know your thoughts.

If you’d like to reach out to us, visit ToledoSociety.com

S2E4: Palestine Pt 4 – 1400 OMG

The Palestinians had had enough. The year was 1936, and the Palestinians could no longer handle to frustrating realities of the Jewish immigration and the British rule. Determined to take back their land, they started a war against the British that lasted for three years. This war became known as the Great Arab Revolt. For three years, the Arabs fought against the combined forces of the British troops and the Jewish immigrants. In total, 5000 Palestinians lost their lives during this war, while only 100 Jews lost there. 

Over the next few episodes, in Season 2, we will dive deep into the events that led to the formation of the State of Israel. Together, we will understand the roots of the Palestine-Israel Conflict, and understand the history of this important region of the Muslim world.

Listen online at the bottom of this page, or wherever you get your podcasts:
Download now on Apple Podcasts.
Stream for free on Spotify.

Transcript

The Palestinians had had enough. The year was 1936, and the Palestinians could no longer handle to frustrating realities of the Jewish immigration and the British rule. Determined to take back their land, they started a war against the British that lasted for three years. This war became known as the Great Arab Revolt. For three years, the Arabs fought against the combined forces of the British troops and the Jewish immigrants. In total, 5000 Palestinians lost their lives during this war, while only 100 Jews lost there.

It became clear at this point that the British were unable to maintain order, peace and justice in the region. In 1936, the Peel commission put together a report on the causes of unrest in the region. Their conclusion was to partition the land and divide it between the Arabs and Jews. The Jewish State would be from Mount Carmel to Be’er Tuvia, plus Jezreel and Galilee. The Arab state in southern and eastern area, with “west bank of Jordan River, and Negev Desert. The Jews had mixed reactions to this idea, but the Arabs hated it and rejected it completely.

In 1939, the call for partition was replaced with the idea of an independent Palestine, jointly governed by the Arabs and Jews that would materialize within 10 years. This, however, never came to pass.

End of British Mandate in Palestine

This British found it harder to control the Jewish immigration post-World War II. The oppression and massacre of Jewish population throughout Europe during this period sparked panic. The Jews became determined to have their own homeland far away from European rulers. As a result, tens of thousands of Jews migrated to Palestine. Between 1940 and 1944 alone, over 75000 Jews migrated to Palestine.

As more Jews migrated, the demographics in Palestine began to shift. In 1922, only 11% of Palestine’s 752000 citizens was Jewish, but by 1948, 32% of the now 1.9 million population were Jewish, and they were determined to have their own land in the region.

The British, realizing that they had no control over the situation, were exploring a way to vacate the region while saving face and maintaining its most vital strategic interests in the Suez Canal and Gulf oil. By 1947, the British were seeking a way out of the British Mandate. It was far too costly to maintain and Britain was suffering immense economic hardship post- World War II, causing it to begin decolonization in much of its empire, including the Indian subcontinent.

The Jews, now determined to have their own homeland, started a violent campaign against the British. Between 1940 and 1948, Jewish resistance movements carried out various terrorist attacks against British targets. These included an assassination, various kidnappings and the bombing of the King David Hotel in 1946.

In 1948, the British wanted to end the mandate. Working with the Americans, they forms the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry which made ten recommendations for the region:

1)  Call for immediate effect is given to the provision of the United Nations Charter calling for “universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion“- intended to gain support from foreign countries to accept Jewish immigrants

2) 100,000 certificates of immigration to Palestine for Jewish of Nazi & Fascist regimes

3) a)That Jew shall not dominate Arab and Arab shall not dominate Jew in Palestine.

b)That Palestine shall be neither a Jewish state nor an Arab state.

c)That the form of government ultimately to be established, shall, under international guarantees, fully protect and preserve the interests in the Holy Land of Christendom and of the Moslem and Jewish faiths.

4) Continuation of Mandate due to violence and instability

5) Arab economic, educational and political development should be equal to that of the Jewish population

6) Administration of Mandate with objectives to not prejudice local populations and to facilitate Jewish migration if suitable conditions exist

7) Rescind Land Regulations of 1940 & allow freedom of non-discriminatory land transfer; and government supervision of holy sites

8) Gain consultation and cooperation from Jewish Agency and neighboring Arab states

9) Education reform for both Arab and Jewish populations, including compulsory education

10) Warning that violence by either side will be suppressed summarily

The UN Partition Plan

With the British determined to leave the region, the Jews determined to form their own state, and the Arabs determined to regain authority in their region, the UN came up with a solution. In 1947, UB Resolution 181 was passed, also known as the UN Partition Plan. Palestine was to be divided into three parts.

The area around Jerusalem with become an International Zone, own by neither the Jews of Palestinians. 43% of Palestine with be given to the Arabs, this included all of the highlands, except Jerusalem, and one third of the coast-line. 56% of the land was to be given to the Jews, these included most of fertile lowlands, the Negev Desert and sole access to the Red Sea. After this division, the Arab state would be 99% Arab, and 1% Jewish, while the Jewish State would be 45% Arab and 55% Jewish, and the International Zone would be 51% Arab, and 49% Jewish.

The Jewish Agency accepted this proposal, but it was rejected by both the Revisionist Zionists and the Arabs. The Zionists claimed that the entire ancestral land be given to them, while the Arabs claimed that the entire region was initially theirs, and they were the majority.

The UN put the matter to a vote. The fate of Palestine now lay in the hands of the UN voters. The results came in. 33 for, 13 against, 10 abstained. With the resolution passed, it was now time to implement the plan, but it never fully materialized. Both the Arabs and Jews were not happy with the results. As a result, a civil war began on November 30th, 1947.

Conclusion:

As we leave the Palestinian crisis, we see that the British Mandate did not work out. The Palestinians rightfully wanted full control of their lands. The Jews too were determined to gain control of their ancestral land. In the next episode, we will discuss the civil wars that led to the shaping of modern-day Palestine and Israel.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode and don’t forget to let us know your thoughts.
 
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S2E3: Palestine Pt 3 – 1400 OMG

When we last visited Palestine, the British had drafted the Balfour Declaration, creating new problems in the region. The British has promised the land of Palestine to various parties. Unsure of how to move forward, the British created the Mandate of Palestine placing it under their own authority. Herbet Samuel was appointed British High Commissioner for Palestine in 1925 and remained in that position for five years. Through the mandate, the British controlled Palestine for almost three decades. During this period, they faced multiple protests, riots and revolts from both the Jewish and Palestinian Arab communities. Let’s take a look at some of the events that occurred during this era…

Over the next few episodes, in Season 2, we will dive deep into the events that led to the formation of the State of Israel. Together, we will understand the roots of the Palestine-Israel Conflict, and understand the history of this important region of the Muslim world.

Listen online at the bottom of this page, or wherever you get your podcasts:
Download now on Apple Podcasts.
Stream for free on Spotify.

Transcript

The British Mandate

When we last visited Palestine, the British had drafted the Balfour Declaration, creating new problems in the region. The British has promised the land of Palestine to various parties. Unsure of how to move forward, the British created the Mandate of Palestine placing it under their own authority. Herbet Samuel was appointed British High Commissioner for Palestine in 1925 and remained in that position for five years. Through the mandate, the British controlled Palestine for almost three decades. During this period, they faced multiple protests, riots and revolts from both the Jewish and Palestinian Arab communities. Let’s take a look at some of the events that occurred during this era.

Because the British had promised a home for Jews in Palestine, they allowed immigration and Palestinian citizenship for Jews from around the world. The rising oppression of Jews across Europe caused a large number of Jews to migrate to Palestine.

Previously, we looked at the initial migration of Jews to Palestine before World War I. By 1920, there were now over ninety thousand Jews living in Palestine. The Jewish community has established its own defensive, administrative and agricultural sectors. They were determined to establish their homeland in Palestine. This caused a lot of tension with the local Arabs, building up to a riot.

In 1920, Arab leaders across Palestine were warning their followers against the Jewish immigrants. This sparked a riot around the time of the Jewish festivity known as Nabi Musa.  Between the fourth and the seventh of April 1920, a riot broke out in the old City of Jerusalem. Five Jews and four Arabs were killed, and several hundred were injured. This would be the first of multiple clashes between Arabs and Jews in Palestine.

The riot caused the British government to take notice. They realized that the Arabs were frustrated because of the Belfour declarations, and British not fulfilling their promises to them. They saw the Jews as a threat and feared that the British may hand over Palestine to them. In 1922, the British clarified their position, claiming that they supported the existence of the Jewish community in Palestine, but considered them Palestinian. They did not support the creation of a new state as a Jewish national home. They used this opportunity to divide the Mandate of Palestine into two countries; everything west of the Jordan River remained Palestine. Everything east of the Jordan River became a new country, Transjordan.

The Creation of Transjordan

In order to please Prince Abdullah and fulfill their promise to him, the British divided Palestine into two countries. The Eastern half became Transjordan and was handed over to Abdullah, who declared himself King Abdullah. The creation of Trasjordan solved two problems. It gave Abdullah a place to rule over, while preserving British interests in the region. The British continued to rule Transjordan indirectly through the King, protecting their interests in the process. The British representative had the final word regarding foreign relations matters, armed forces, budget and all other essential government activities

Heading back over the River Jordan, in the now smaller Palestine, the Jewish immigration continued. Between 1924 and 1929, a fourth Aliyah (Jewish Migration occurred). This time, over 82,000 immigrants moved to Palestine, mostly from Poland & Hungary. The Jewish settlers were mostly middle class business people. Settling in Palestine, they established the economic sector of the Jewish community there.

Imagine being a Palestinian during this period. First the Ottoman Empire collapses. Then the British divide your country into Palestine and Transjordan. Then there is a mass immigration of Jewish settlers who intend to make your country their new homeland. The stress and pressure from all of these events affected the Palestinian people, and led to a series of riots and massacres.

The Riots

The tension caused by the changes in the region caused a series of riots, massacres and rebellions throughout the 1929. In August alone, there were riots in Jerusalem, a massacre in Hebron, the destruction of a Mosque in Nabi Akasha, and a massacre in Safed.

The cause of all this?

The primary cause of tension was tension between the Arabs and Jews over access to holy Sites, particularly the Western Wall. The tension was intensified by provocative reportage in Arab and Jewish newspapers. Newspapers from both communities demonized the other, spreading conspiracies and fear. The Arab population, already disturbed by the events occurring around them, grew worried about a Jewish takeover. Due to limited security and police presence in the area, it became easy to get away with violence. Provoked by their fears and the media, the Arabs reacted by attacking the Jewish settlers, leading to riots, destruction and even massacres. In Hebron alone, 67 Jewish settlers were massacred by Arabs due to a rumor that the Jews planned to seize control of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

These riots forced the British government to take action, and find a solution to the tension building between the Arab and Jewish citizens of Palestine.

The Hope-Simpson Commission & Passfield White Paper

In response to the riots, the Hope-Simpson Commission was established to investigate the cause of the riots. The commission reported five key points regarding the riot:

  1. “They [Jews] paid high prices for the land, and in addition they paid to certain of the occupants of those lands a considerable amount of money which they were not legally bound to pay.”
  2. Arab fears of the destructive impact of Zionist colonization were well-founded, and thus called for controls.
  3. Zionist labor policy extending to all Jewish enterprises, the displaced Arab farmer could not find non-agricultural employment, making the problem of unemployment among the Arabs “serious and widespread”.
  4. The Zionist contention that the Arab worker benefited from Jewish immigration was therefore refuted by the report.
  5. Acknowledgement of illegal immigration by both Arabs and of Jews across Mandate borders and need to discourage such incursions.

This led to the passing of the Passfield White Paper. The paper stated that the development of a Jewish National Home in Palestine is a consideration, which would enjoy continued support, but it was not central to mandate governance. The paper stated that the British intended to fulfill mandate obligations to both Arabs and Jews, and were committed to resolve any conflicts that might surface as a result of respective needs of both Arabs and Jews.

This did not stop Jewish immigration, at all. Between 1929 and 1939, over 250’000 Jews immigrated to Palestine. This became known as the Fifth Aliyah. Most of these Jews were from Eastern Europe, and were professionals. They included doctors, lawyers, and academics. Due to the increased anti-Semitism in Europe, more Jews fled to Palestine every year. This led to rising tension between the Arabs and Jews. To counter this, the British reacted by restricting immigration.

The result was a mass illegal immigration between 1933 and 1948. Over 110,000 immigrants illegally settled in Palestine, increasing the Jewish population to almost half a million. As the treatment of Jews in Europe got worse during World War II, more and more Jews fled to Palestine seeking safety and protection. Out of desperation, many migrated illegally.

The British were unable to control the immigration, or stop it at all. The Arabs grew more worried as the local Jewish community increased in number. Fearing a Jewish takeover, a mass Arab revolt took place in 1936.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode and don’t forget to let us know your thoughts.

S2E2: Palestine Pt 2 – 1400 OMG

The British needed allies in the Ottoman Empire to divide/fracture it. They found their ally in Sharif Husayn. Sharif Husayn is the appointed custodian of Mecca/Medina, or governor of Hijaz.

Despite being appointed by the Ottoman Empire, Husayn does not see eye to eye with them. Husayn, along with Faisal of Iraq, is convinced of the importance of unity among Arab speaking regions of the Ottoman Empire.

This nationalist sentiment is augmented by anti-Turkic movements in Arab provinces, aided by the public reaction to Jamal Pasha’s hanging of 15 intellectuals and poets in Damascus, and another 21 in Beirut. Husayn has support in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and among nationalists in Egypt….

Over the next few episodes, in Season 2, we will dive deep into the events that led to the formation of the State of Israel. Together, we will understand the roots of the Palestine-Israel Conflict, and understand the history of this important region of the Muslim world.

Listen online at the bottom of this page, or wherever you get your podcasts:
Download now on Apple Podcasts.
Stream for free on Spotify.

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The British needed allies in the Ottoman Empire to divide/fracture it. They found their ally in Sharif Husayn. Sharif Husayn is the appointed custodian of Mecca/Medina, or governor of Hijaz.

Despite being appointed by the Ottoman Empire, Husayn does not see eye to eye with them. Husayn, along with Faisal of Iraq, is convinced of the importance of unity among Arab speaking regions of the Ottoman Empire.

This nationalist sentiment is augmented by anti-Turkic movements in Arab provinces, aided by the public reaction to Jamal Pasha’s hanging of 15 intellectuals and poets in Damascus, and another 21 in Beirut. Husayn has support in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and among nationalists in Egypt.

Britain was very interested in compensating French in the region, given the high national and financial costs France incurred in Europe during WWI– and thus make arrangements with France. These arrangements are also intended to avoid French expansion in the region.

In a series of 10 letters to Sharif Husayn between 1915 and 1916, Arthur Henry McMahon–British High Commissioner to Egypt–proposes independence for Arab provinces subject to certain conditions.

Despite disagreements over Palestine, McMahon agrees to territorial demands made by Husayn–subject to further negotiations– and Husayn agrees to initiate an Arab Revolt against Ottomans

Another part of the agreement is that Husayn’s sons will become kings–Faisal becomes king of Iraq, and Abdallah becomes king of Jordan.

Just like the story we heard earlier in Medina, the Arabs, accompanied by T.E. Lawrence, conquer Damascus and create an Arab kingdom. This kingdom is led by Faysal until the French conquered Damascus–he reigns for 2 months. The short-lived Arab kingdom was thought to be a revival of Umayyad Dynasty.

In 1915 and 16 the Arabs hold off the Ottomans when they try to push towards the Suez Canal under the leadership of Jamal Pasha. In 1917, Baghdad revolts and is captured. Later that same year, Gaza is captured–though, Allenby of Britain takes over. In 1918, the Arab Revolt forces capture Damascus, and the French fleet takes Beirut. The Ottoman armies retreat to Anatolia, and the British Army occupies Istanbul and most of the Arab speaking provinces, which ends the war in the Middle East and the Ottoman Empire.

Sykes – Picot

Now, let’s talk about some of the treaties which were a result of this conflict.

First, Sykes–Picot of 1916.Sykes–Picot is a secret Treaty between Britain, France and Russia. It is an arrangement intended cut up the Ottoman Empire among the three countries, and alleviate tensions between Britain and France.

The terms of the treaty recognizes France’s territorial claims to Syria, and divides up the Middle East in the following ways:

  • France gets Lebanon, Syria and the coastal region.
  • Britain gets Iraq–especially southern Iraq from Baghdad
    to the Gulf–and indirect influence from Gaza to Kirkuk.

The agreement is in direct contradiction to overtures made in the Husayn-McMahon letters. As a result, Faysal goes to Kitchener, who denies the existence of the Sykes-Picot Agreement.

Balfour Declaration

Next is the Balfour Declaration of 1917. The Balfour Declaration promises to help set up/support a Jewish community in Palestine. Arthur Balfour–the British foreign minister– promised, in a letter to Baron L. Walter Rothschild not to undermine Jewish rights in other countries, and not to disrupt existing non-Jewish religious communities in the region.


The Balfour Declaration is the culmination of Zionist-nationalist activities in Europe in
response to the “Jewish Problem.”

Faisal–Weizmann Agreement

The Faisal–Weizmann Agreement is also signed in 1917. Faisal being Sherif Husain’s son and Weizmann being the Zionist leader who negotiated the Balfour agreement. Both parties are committed to the most cordial goodwill and understanding–to encourage immigration of Jews into Palestine on a large scale while also protecting the rights of the Arab peasants and tenant farmers, and to safeguard the free practice of religious observances. The Muslim Holy Places are to remain under Muslim control.

The Zionist movement must also undertake efforts to assist the Arab residents of Palestine, and the future Arab state to develop their natural resources and establish a growing economy.

The agreement creates a commission after the Paris Peace Conference to agree upon a border between an Arab state and Palestine. Both Parties are to uphold the Balfour Declaration of 1917, with Great Britain handling any disputes.

Conclusion:

The stage is now set for a clash for the land of Palestine. With Britain promising these lands to multiple parties through various treaties, they would now have to have a diplomatic solution to the problem they created.

Join us next time as we dive deeper into the events leading to the formation of Israel during the aftermath of World War I.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode and don’t forget to let us know your thoughts.

S2E1: Palestine Pt 1 – 1400 OMG

Our story begins in Europe in the 18th century. At that time, Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire. More specifically, it was generally considered part of the Greater Syrian Province, an area that includes modern day Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq west of the Euphrates. At that time, Ottoman Law protected the rights of all Jews and Christians living within their borders…

Over the next few episodes, in Season 2, we will dive deep into the events that led to the formation of the State of Israel. Together, we will understand the roots of the Palestine-Israel Conflict, and understand the history of this important region of the Muslim world.

Listen online at the bottom of this page, or wherever you get your podcasts:
Download now on Apple Podcasts.
Stream for free on Spotify.

Transcript

Anti-Semitism in Europe

Our story begins in Europe in the 18th century. At that time, Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire. More specifically, it was generally considered part of the Greater Syrian Province, an area that includes modern day Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq west of the Euphrates. At that time, Ottoman Law protected the rights of all Jews and Christians living within their borders.

The situation in Europe, however, was a different story. In Eastern Europe, Russia and Ukraine, many Jews lived in rural, agricultural communities called shtetl. The locals made Jews their scapegoats for any political and economic turmoil. This led to a concept called Pogroms i.e. organized campaigns of violence and discrimination against the Jewish community. A good example of this is what occurred in 1882. A major pogrom was ordered by Tsar Alexander III which included many laws that limited where Jews could live and which occupations they could hold. These Pogroms served as a distraction for the community from the growing public frustration with poor conditions in Russia.

In Western Europe, the situation wasn’t much better. Most Jews lived in urban centers. In order to be accepted in society and to escape explicit anti-Semitism, many chose to secularize. The only alternative was retaining a visible Jewish expression, but this often meant living in ghettos, a segregated community that did not mix with broader society.

Secularized Jews felt that by becoming secular and/or converting to Christianity, they would be seen as assimilated and accepted in western countries like Germany, Austria, Great Britain and France, though anti-Semitism was still present, lurking under the surface.

But one event in 1894 changed everything and shook the Jewish community of Europe. This is known as the Dreyfus Affair.

The Dreyfus Affair and the Birth of Zionism

Captain Alfred Dreyfus was an officer in the French Legion. When military secrets were leaked, the commander needed a scapegoat. So Dreyfus was wrongly accused of reason for supposedly communicating French military secrets to German embassy officials in Paris.

Dreyfus was not given a fair trial and was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, even after the actual culprit was discovered (and acquitted). This exposed the deep anti-Semitism of the French, as they were satisfied with the outcome, and ignored the injustice that they had done. It showed that even the most liberal and enlightened French people at that time had a deep dislike for the Jews.

This incident caused a media frenzy. Many journalists began to write about the topic, exposing the hypocrisy of the French government. The most important of these writers was Emile Zola. This caused a political crisis and eventually led to a retrial of Dreyfus. However, despite the clear proofs of his innocence, he was still given a 10 year sentence. Eventually, he was pardoned, but it was only in 1906 that he was fully exonerated from these crimes.

The entire incident shook the Jewish community to its core, both in France and elsewhere. They now felt that no level of assimilation or stature would immunize them from anti-Semitism. They needed a solution. Some of their thinkers arrived at an idea to protect them from Anti-Semitism: Zionism.

Zionism is the idea of establishing a Jewish State in the original land of Israel, which at that point in time was Palestine, a province of the Ottoman Empire. Many Jews became convinced that they needed to migrate to Palestine and established their own land where they could be safe from Anti-Semitism. So began a mass migration of Jews to Palestine.

The Aliyahs

The mass migration of the Jews to Palestine is known in Hebrew as the Aliyahs. There were three major Aliyahs before the establishment of Israel. The first Aliyah took place between 1882 and 1903. During this time, thirty-five thousand Jews migrated from Russia and Yemen to Palestine. They established their own agricultural communities to support themselves there.

The second Aliyah took place between 1904 and 1914. During this period, over forty thousand Jews migrated, mainly from Russia, to Palestine. During this period, they revived the Hebrew language and established the Kibbutzim system. The Kibbutzim system refers to the sharing of communal wealth between the immigrants. This eased the path of immigration for many poorer Jews.

Finally, from 1919 until 1923, another forty thousand Jews migrated to Palestine. This time they came from various countries, including the Soviet Union, Poland and Romania. They further developed the agricultural sector the new Jewish community and established a National Council and various other administrative systems. Now there were more than one hundred thousand Jews settled in Palestine, they began to mobilize to formulate their own state.

World War I
 
World War I was an event that forever changed the Muslim world. We discussed the effects of this war in details in episodes one and two of season 1. You can listen to those episodes for more details, but for now we will react the events that directly relate to the formation of Israel. Several events during World War I led to the formation of Israel. These include the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the British making multiple contradictory promises to various parties including the Arabs and Jews, and the division of the conquered Arab lands among Britain, France, and their allies. Let’s begin by recapping the British alliance with the Arabs, and the results of that.

The British needed allies in the Ottoman Empire to divide/fracture it. They found their ally in Sharif Husayn. Sharif Husayn is the appointed custodian of Mecca/Medina, or governor of Hijaz.

Despite being appointed by the Ottoman Empire, Husayn does not see eye to eye with them. Husayn, along with Faisal of Iraq, is convinced of the importance of unity among Arab speaking regions of the Ottoman Empire.

Join us next time as we dive deeper into the events leading to the formation of Israel during the aftermath of World War I.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode and don’t forget to let us know your thoughts.