Hebrew, Arabic and English can be retained as official languages in Old Palestine, the territory that existed before 1948 with Jordan, and culture can be one or separate.
Commentary and Analysis . . . If there’s “method in madness” approach in the Biblical Holy Land for just, lasting and durable peace in Old Palestine, it may lie in the people recalling Judaism in history as the origin of Christianity and Islam and Jerusalem the source as the most holy city for all three faiths.
Jerusalem may be the way forward in Old Palestine for Islam. Hebrew, Arabic and English can be retained as official languages in Old Palestine, the territory that existed before 1948 with Jordan, and culture can be one or separate.
In Islam, Mecca and Medina are the 1st and 2nd holiest cities and Jerusalem the 3rd holiest city.
The remembering based on history calls for the return of Old Palestine, which included Jordan before it was separated by the British, for the way forward. Israel may just remain as state in Old Palestine, newly returned, and Jordan another state. Jordanian King Abdullah, if persuaded, can abdicate or be retained as head of state for Old Palestine.
Hebrew and Arabic speakers, before 1948 when the state of Israel and the rump state of Palestine were separated by the UN Security Council, were known as Palestinians, an administrative term codified by the Roman Empire from old Greek usage for people in the Biblical Holy Land.
History doesn’t record Arabic speakers in Palestine during the Roman days. The Arabic speakers may have abandoned their original language or dialect when the Quran came. They may also have come from outside with the Quran. Initially, according to sacred scripture which pre-dated Islam, the Quran was in Aramaic — the language of Syria — as Arabic had no written form. More on the “method in madness” approach later.
Israeli Twin Defeats
There’s serious talk among Indian military analysts in particular that Israel, in the wake of the Hamas attack on a music festival in the desert in southern Israel on Saturday 7 October 2023, faces the real prospects of twin defeats viz. political and military.
Borders, under international law, must be defensible. Otherwise, as shown in Ukraine, the international community would be helpless.
It pointless taking land which cannot be held, and futile having borders which go against geography and cannot be defended. Hamas may take land from Israel in the short run but may not hold it for long. In that case, taking land from the state of Israel — an institutionalised form of violence — would be exercise in form of insanity.
It’s unlikely that the Israeli government would allow non-Jew the prospects of having titled land.
Squatters can only approach the Supreme Court of Israel for protection against government seizure of land. Cultivators, based on court sanction, can keep land although the law sees them as squattors. The law worldwide allows government seizure of private land but only for public purposes.
Lessons from India, China
Ukraine aside, there are lessons here from the Indian subcontinent as well and China. If the nature of human relationships need regulating, it can be done by the rule of law, out of court settlement, permanent dialogue mechanism, or other approaches like war being the continuation of politics by other means.
In 1962, for example, 80K Chinese PLA (People’s Liberation Army) troops intruded into Arunachal Pradesh in northeast India. The troops withdrew when they couldn’t hold the territory. The generals in Beijing, claims an Indian general in a book on the 1962 war, were quaking in their boots.
Likewise, China has unilaterally tried demarcating Tibet’s undemarcated border with India. If the border could be demarcated, the British would have done it.
Instead, the British separated Tibet and many other territories from India. These include Afghanistan, Xinjiang, Yunnan (Little Tibet), Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Penang, Maldives, Seychelles, Mauritius, and Diego Garcia.
British India also excluded 500 Princely states, the largest being Kashmir and Kerala, which remained independent.
As in the Old Palestine, the British set up a permanent conflict situation in the Indian subcontinent. The British stole land from India in 1947 and created Pakistan which didn’t become Islamic state as envisaged but remained based on the rule of law. East Pakistan broke away in 1971 as Bangladesh and chose secularism.
Bangladesh was the work of rogue Major General J.F.R. Jacob, whose Jewish roots lie in Iraq. He had only 3K troops but forced the surrender of 90K Pakistani troops by threatening Pakistani General Niazi with 200K Bengali guerrilla fighters.
India wanted to court martial Major General (later Lieutenant General) Jacob for acting without orders.
The plan was dropped when the media hailed Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi as the Liberator of Bangladesh. Jacob later became Governor of Goa (1998 to 1999) and subsequently Punjab (1999 to 2003).
The Road Ahead
Ukraine and India tells us what lies ahead for the rump state of Palestine, if not Old Palestine.
The roots of the present conflict in the Biblical Holy Land lies in what happened before 1948, in the Ottoman and British Empires.
Both Empires disregarded land claims by non-Jew on the grounds that Islam came from outside.
Unlike countries like Malaysia which have Adat, customary practices which have force of law, the Biblical Holy Land probably has none. Adat, the 1st law in international law, recognises NCR (native customary rights) land, mostly untitled, handed down by heritage. The Palestinians after 1948 having no land titles as from before, and facing the risk of eviction, laid the seeds for the rise of Palestinian nationalism.
In adding insult after injury — read Ottoman and British — the Israeli government considers the West Bank, based on Biblical accounts, as disputed land. Biblical accounts, not being based on customary practices, have no force of law. The West Bank, Gaza Strip and some land that Israel took from the rump state of Palestine after 1948, are the basis for the two state solution.
No state isn’t any solution as the non-Jew would swamp the Jewish population in Israel unless one country has separate immigration systems as in Malaysia and China.
If the Jewish — i.e. religious — character of Israel was maintained, it’s the remaining parts that can be secular and colour-blind i.e. the rump state of Palestine created by the UN Security Council in 1948 can be merged with Jordan. It’s not known how Jordan can be described as 60 per cent Palestinian when they speak Arabic just like other Jordanians. There’s no Palestinian language.
The post 1948 ex-Palestinians in Israel, those who practice the Jewish faith or Judaism, speak Hebrew. Jew worldwide, in the diaspora, speak multiple languages although observing the same culture based on education, thrift, business, family and community above all. Jewish heritage comes from the maternal side. Non-Jew become Jewish by embracing Judaism, if not the culture as well. It’s culture that differentiate Jew from non-Jew and not Judaism per se.
For example, if all post-1948 Palestinian embrace Judaism — perish the thought — there would no longer be parties in dispute on issues in conflict like land titles. The new Jew would still speak Arabic but culture may remain separate. That defeats the purpose of becoming Jewish. Other Jew would speak Hebrew. The English language would be another official language.
Post-1948 Palestinian can also adopt the more competitive Jewish culture while remaining Christian and Muslim. — NMH
Longtime Borneo watcher Joe Fernandez has been writing for many years on both sides of the Southeast Asia Sea. He should not be mistaken for a namesake formerly with the Daily Express in Kota Kinabalu. JF keeps a Blog under FernzTheGreat on the nature of human relationships.