When the sun set on the British Empire, Palestine bordered the priceless Mediterranean Sea.
Shaking off the yoke of empire is always the dream of the colonized. The Arabic expression for shaking off a yoke is “انتفاضة intifada.” An obvious and overdue response to colonialism? Yes, of course, but, what if the land is stolen out from under you? As clever a crime as a Moriarty might craft:
Picture to yourself the pilot fish with the shark, the jackal with the lion—anything that is insignificant in companionship with what is formidable: not only formidable, Watson, but sinister—in the highest degree sinister. That is where he comes within my purview. ‘You have heard me speak of Professor Moriarty?’
‘The famous scientific criminal, as famous among crooks -‘
‘My blushes, Watson!’ Holmes murmured in a deprecating voice.
‘I was about to say, “as he is unknown to the public”.’
‘A touch! A distinct touch!’ cried Holmes. ‘You are developing a certain unexpected vein of pawky humour, Watson, against which I must learn to guard myself. But in calling Moriarty a criminal you are uttering libel in the eyes of the law…
— A. Conan Doyle, “The Valley of Fear.”
Speaking of uttering libel in the eyes of the law:
Palestine (Philistina, Filistina) was paradise:
The sun set on the Mediterranean Sea (literally the Sea at the Middle of the Earth) on the day of Nakba.
Many brought their house keys with them. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights assures the right of return. So it’s prudent to bring the house keys when driven from your home. Don’t forget the keys.
1948: 700,000 unarmed Philistines were forced out of their homes and out of their homeland by well armed militants. They brought only what they could carry.
What happens to a dream deferred?
A land for me but not for thee. In 1948 another tribe lived under the same Mandate for Palestine. Empire-speak: promise the same thing to the divided and conquered. Lord Balfour was a functionary of the conquerers write the history, but when they write about it, truth is strictly optional.
Arabic cities with long histories got a facelift by the new boss (same as the old boss). The cities were renamed in Hebrew.
What was destroyed? Palestinian culture, traditions, culture, family, livelihoods, fashions, ethnic recipes, hectic markets, crowded schools, incomparable coastlines. The Mediterranean Sea was at the middle of the known world conquered by earlier empires, but the Palestinians abide.
New keys on old doors for new “settlers.” Demolish some more, build some more, grow some more, have children, grandchildren. To the victor goes the spoils.
Pave Paradise, Occupy Palestine.
Refugees ended up in an open-air prison (Gaza) or on the West Bank of the Jordan River — or all over the Earth.
The beautiful Mediterranean Coast out of sight but not out of mind after 1948. So they were shoved away in 1948, but at least they were not occupied. 1967 changed even that. There began a war of swift occupation with tanks, planes, assault rifles, white phosphorous, etc. Decades go by. An endless list of IDF “Operations” routinely bomb the open-air prison: GAZA.
Birthright (aliyah) tours available if your mother is related to Isaac. Youth are sold on something called a once in a lifetime $10,000 Birthright Tour. The trip itinerary does not include a visit to the West Bank or Gaza. Who wants to visit a prison while on vacation?
There are also opportunities called Hasbara Fellowships: something to sell the brand.
“There were Arabs selling rosaries and holy water. Why are they doing that? I don’t know. I just don’t trust them, you know.”
It’s getting a little crowded in the old promised land. I mean, who can afford to live with rents so high. And all that land on the West Bank is wasted on the Arabs. I mean, it’s all G-d gave us and it’s already too small.
Demolish homes upon whim, build gated communities and connect them with modern highways, all fenced along each shoulder to keep things nice and safe. .
West Bank settlers spray graffiti on the outside walls of Palestinian homes they destroy. “Kill them All” is another.
Ironically 700,000 Palestinians were exiled in 1948. 70 years later 700,000 settlers live in the West Bank.
Ethnic cleansing is not a family value.
Thanks for reading.