Will there ever be peace between India & Pakistan?

Pakistan Zindabad! Hindustan Zindabad! Azad Kashmir!
(Pakistan Live Long! India Live Long! Free Kashmir!) 

Today marks the 70th anniversary of Pakistan’s Independence from India. And tomorrow, will be the 70th Anniversary of India’s Independence from Britain. Strangely, we cannot celebrate the two events together. Just ask bollywood playback singer, Mika Singh. Poor guy had the purest intentions to have Pakistanis and Indians come out to his concerts in Chicago and Houston. I wanted to go to the concert in Houston, but I couldn’t because I had an important meeting to attend in San Antonio that day. 

Nevertheless, this isn’t the first time India has become disgruntled by other Indians attempting to work together with Pakistanis. The recently released movie, Raees, with Shahrukh Khan starred a lovely Pakistani woman, Mahira Khan, as his character’s spouse. The movie ended up being banned in Pakistan, due to religious symbols and practices being exploited.Which is sad because Bollywood films tend to be almost objectively enjoyed in Pakistan, especially Shahrukh Khan films! However, Because Bollywood films tend to exclude Pakistani actors,  having Mahira Khan in this film was a big deal. Too bad the film wasn’t all that though.

Anyways, the fact of the matter is there are scarce differences between Pakistanis and Indians; in terms of language, the foods we eat, even the way we look is similar. The main difference is religion and once the British were finally willing to leave India, tensions were transparent between Hindus and Muslims. Combined with poverty, hunger, and violent retaliations on both sides, an Islamic state became appealing for Muslims. And thus, Pakistan (translated as: “land of the pure” ) seceded from Hindustan (translated as: “land of the Hindus” or “India” in Hindi)  But again, this is the only notable difference and to this day, I can’t tell the difference between a Pakistani and an Indian. And I’m Half and Half! I should mention however, there are Muslims that still live in India, despite it being a minority, I would be remiss were I to not mention their existence. India has the upper-hand when it comes to religious diversity in that sense. 

Growing up in the states, and with the mentality that Indo-Pak culture was not cool (because let’s face it, Bollywood movies are cheesy as they come) I distanced myself from it. But then as I got older, I was categorized as Arabs by ignorant racists because I was Muslim and wished people would consider me Indian. Now, I’m in a strange position because I have one of the most common Muslim first names in the world, and one of the most common Hindu surnames. Suffice it to say, I’m back into Bollywood films and attempting to learn more of my roots but the deeper I go, the darker things get.

For example, the fact that I am half Pakistani, may hinder me from going into India. I may be able to enter due to my last name being of the Brahmin caste, as well as my natural citizenship as an American. However, I am strongly passionate that Kashmir, the occupied area in India, which is predominantly Muslim, be granted its own Independence so that may cause a problem for me. Arguably, it’s that, Kashmir, which is the main reason why India and Pakistan have been at war for all these decades.

India had a number of small princely ruled states, including Jammu and Kashmir, which though the population was majority Muslim, their ruler was Hindu and despite the citizens’ protests to be part of Pakistan in 1947, remained part of India. The United Nations failed in attempting to resolve these incendiary feelings between the two neighboring states, and the separation of East Pakistan as Bangladesh in 1971 is further exacerbation of India interfering with Pakistan.

But there are some that don’t care about all that, they just are desperate for unity or to reconnect with old friends they lost during partition. There was one story on Al Jazeera about an elderly Pakistani man who was lucky enough to return to India albeit with some difficulty.

By no means however, is this to indicate that Pakistan is free from condemnation but neither is India. First off, Pakistan failed to envelop itself as an Islamic state for a number of reasons including falling into bureaucratic traps and having multiple coups in their leadership. India on the other hand, seems to have forgotten where they came from. Their first prime minister, Jawaharlal Neru, was a secularist and abhorred organized religion; while he is admired in Indian history, it is perplexing why India would treat Muslims with such malice.

There is hope however, in 2014, there were peaceful attempts made on both sides but nothing lasted. It’s safe to say that there is still, and perhaps always be slight sentiments of distrust between the two countries. And this could be because the countries are still having to fix themselves, respectively. Moreover, there are little things that still happen that can blossom into something beautiful. Be that something little, like an Indian playback singer welcoming Pakistanis to his concerts, an Indian Band honoring Pakistan on their day of Independence. We can learn from the past mistakes and strive for a better future. We can start by having ordinary Pakistanis making friends with other Indians and casting aside their differences. Pakistanis won’t eat Pork and Indians won’t eat beef. We can still enjoy Chicken and Lamb together over a nice cup of chai! 🙂

-Mr. Writer (and Ahmed H. Sharma)

Written on August 14, 2017 at 7:30 PM 

 

Loyalty and Slavery, Is there a Difference?

This is such a broad question to ask, of whether or not loyalty to something signifies that one is subservient in the ideological sense. If I am going to swear my allegiance to my country, does this mean I am forbidden from criticizing it? If I were to do so, does that mean my status as a “loyal citizen” is tarnished?

I am strangely reminded of what it means to be a “good child”. If your parents have taught you never to speak rudely to others, but then someone disrespects them, do you not have the right to raise your voice at the offender? Or does that make you an ill-mannered child. I’m going to quit asking questions now and try to provide some answers. 

If the reader may recall, I wrote an essay on what it means to be a “true” (whatever it is you believe in) and scoffed at the incredulousness of how one must adhere to certain stereotypes that another may have impressed upon them. For example, am I an American if I am born and raised in this country? I sure am! Now, am I a “real” American if I am a different skin color? I better be. However, that’s not the case at least from the outsider’s perspective.

Like any non-anglo individual, I get asked where I am from. And my first answer, Houston, TX, is not sufficient enough, despite it being the correct answer. Before, the follow-up question would be: “Where are you really from?” or “What is your nationality?” Finally (and thankfully) it became, “where are your PARENTS from?” when the latter was asked, I’d gladly oblige: Father is from Guyana and Mother is from Pakistan.

It’s not unusual for me anymore to be asked where I get my “exotic” skin color from. When you’ve been asked by numerous people as much as I have, even by people who coincidentally are the same race as I am, you become immune to it. I will admit, I’ll meet another brown or black person and I’ll wonder where they’re from originally as well. The ones who share my experience of being born in America tend to laugh with me when we can’t help but ask the stupid question of where we’re “really from”.

My issue is not with that however, instead, my argument is that despite me being the son of two immigrants (who are now U.S. Citizens) does it mean that I am not granted the same rights as individuals who don’t appear to be immigrants? Even my fiancé’s parents were born in this country, but one would have just assumed they were born and raised in Mexico. To which I argue, is there any problem with that?

As a Historian (in-the-making) I’ve noticed in my studies that immigrants tend to be a huge problem for individuals in most countries during their developments. Everyone seems to hate foreigners coming into their land, but no one seemed to have an issue with colonists evangelizing and/or taking away traditional values from the lands they go to. For example, not many people are aware of what Guyana is or where it’s located. To put it simply, a majority of the population are of East-Indian descent but are unable to speak Hindi, (save a few words) due to British threats of speaking any other language aside from English. But people in the United States, are afraid of people speaking any other country aside from English because they feel threatened that their language will no longer be the majority spoken?

I know I just jumped from one country to the next, but the United States inherited a lot of their behavior from the British despite the United States wanting to do things their own way.

I’ve digressed more than I’d have liked to so I will go back to my original point: If I am loyal to my country, does that mean I must abandon my roots? Personally, I’ve felt a great desire to learn more about my roots and the history of that country regardless of never having visited once. I enjoy living in the country I do and have a great deal of respect for the law in this land. That being said, I do not feel the need to express that by getting annoyed every time someone wonders where I am from. Let’s face it, at some point in the conversation, I’ll have to explain where I get my dark, brown-ness from.

But that opens another can of worms for me. On my father’s side, my grandparents are originally Indian. And Pakistan was once a part of India. Therefore, could I just save face and say I’m Indian? I refuse to for political reasons. I won’t elaborate on that either. Do I say, I’m Caribbean? I do. And the reaction from people who find out Guyanese people speak with a Jamaican-esque accent is MARVELOUS! As for Pakistani, the roots for that gets more complex because Pakistan saw a plethora of foreigners in their country.

More to the point, by having these roots and choosing to immerse myself in the cultures of those countries, I can see how one would perceive that I was not proud to be American. But to that I ask, what is cultural to America? America has always been a melting pot of different cultures. In fact, when I think of how one might imagine how a Texan looks, they would probably picture a cowboy. Cowboys are not native to America at all though, they are Mexican. Which is why it’s surprising how Mexicans in those old western movies were portrayed as lazy or inept. Even the hamburger is German. America gets credit for creating the Cheeseburger but, is that really something worth celebrating? Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love Cheese. But sooner or later, someone was gonna try to put cheese on a burger. Do Indians get credit for putting Cheese in Spinach? If not, they should. Palak paneer is AMAZING! 

At the end of the day, if you check my Birth Certificate, it says I’m born in Houston, Texas. Therefore, I classify myself as Houstonian. I’m currently living in San Antonio, and it’s okay here so far. It’s not “my” city. But, that’s just it. My city isn’t perfect either. No city is perfect. It’s insane for one to say which city or even country, is better than the other. And by me saying that, it doesn’t mean I’m not a loyal Houstonian. Moreover, I don’t need to prove how Houstonian I am. Such a sentiment should be echoed by others who feel afraid to say how they truly feel. I know how I am as a person, i.e., I know my flaws, it doesn’t mean I hate who I am.

Therefore, I feel like Loyalty towards an ideology or a belief, is almost interconnected with slavery. Even as a Muslim, I’m inclined to adhere to the principles of my religion. This doesn’t mean that Islam is not open to interpretation in how I read or follow those principles. Islam means Submission; to which, I take to mean Submission to a higher power because we need guidance, therefore, I believe in the basic tenants of Islam, without having to feel pressure of being a “good Muslim”.

This is not to say that I condemn those who are loyal to their ideologies, I actually applaud them. I do however, condemn those who blindly show loyalty to their ideologies and reject criticism. In a “perfect world”, if we weren’t meant to accept criticism, why would we strive for better things? More importantly, if we were indeed perfect, why would we have rebellions?

-Mr. Writer

Written on the 8th of August, 2017 at 12:05 A.M. 

 

 

Why I Am a Muslim

My sincere apologies for the delay in writing this. I was supposed to publish this after the end of Ramadan, but I got caught up with other things. Please excuse me and Eid Mubarak!

The fact that I have to explain why I believe what I believe is really annoying. This is an issue that plagues Muslims worldwide, where we constantly have to be spokesmen for Islam but contrary to popular belief, not all Muslims think the same. And for some reason, everyone (including other Muslims) love to judge us based on how we practice or don’t practice. It’s like that scene in the movie Selena:

Image result for we gotta prove to the mexicans how mexican we are, and we gotta prove to the americans how

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a situation where non-Muslims have judged me personally for something and exclaimed, “that’s not what Muslims do” and such a statement will be echoed by other Muslims and say “you’re not a ‘true’ Muslim.” But how do we define what a Muslim is? Because I am trying to make this essay as simple as possible (and because I’m no scholar of Islamic Studies) for the remainder of the essay, Muslim will be defined as simply: a follower of Islam.

Now, let’s try to break that down. How does one follow Islam?

There are several Muslims in the world, and naturally, their way of practice can be arbitrary. Sure, they may share in common certain pillars of Islam i.e., the belief that there is one God, but major (or even trivial) differences based on historical as well as scriptural interpretation hinder any chance of unanimity. The two major sects of Islam: Sunni and Shi’a contain schools of thought within themselves that only exacerbate the disagreements among Muslims. So what I’m trying to say is, there’s no answer that justifiably defines, respectively, what a Muslim is or what they believe.  Moreover, Islam is a religion that welcomes diversity, therefore it is challenging to even determine what features a Muslim must adhere too i.e., not many Muslim women wear their hijab or scarves and not all Arabs or South Asians are Muslim.

Prior to the events of 9/11, indifference was the watchword for people in the United States. There was no reason to be afraid or even worry about Muslims and if one thought about Muslim, they probably thought of Malcolm X or Muhammad Ali, who converted due to the teachings from the Nation of Islam, which some will consider more of a political movement as opposed to a religious school of thought. A similar sentiment is felt towards Ahmadiyya Muslims, like Mahershala Ali, whose beliefs I personally am scarcely familiar with. After the horrific attacks on the World Trade Center, it was said that the attackers were followers of Islam, and people wanted to know: What is Islam? And why do its followers hate us?

With Islamophobia on the rise, many Muslims rushed to put out this metaphorical fire on the effigy of Islam as a religion of Terror. Ordinary Muslims, meaning not Scholars of Islam, had to serve as spokesmen for why Islam didn’t promote terrorism and reassure them, we were not the enemy. Furthermore, some even tried to learn about Islam  As a young child, I experienced threats from classmates myself until I was 15 and was surrounded by intellectuals at a high school who, although they were ignorant of Islam, they didn’t seem to care much and that indifference carried out until my sophomore year.

It was March 2010 that I started to read basic teachings of religion and started teaching myself how to pray and accepted Islam. I stopped eating pork and prayed five times a day but wasn’t reading the Qur’an nor any other books. Essentially, I was just going by faith but still maintained respect for everyone who didn’t share my beliefs and when having to serve as a spokesman for my religion, I became an apologist because that’s all I knew.

When I started my first semester at University, I started drinking and stopped praying because I refused to be a “hypocritical” Muslim, who tried to hide his party-lifestyle and still go to the Mosque on Fridays. I ended up also just walking away from Islam because there were so many things I started reading on philosophy, ethics, and Islamophobia on the rise combined with terroristic attacks made me frustrated with having to constantly apologize for things I wasn’t even responsible for. I lived this way for a few years and oddly, I would get criticisms from Non-Muslims for walking away from my religion because they felt I was a traitor. I tried to keep my apostasy a secret because I was told that the punishment for leaving Islam was death.

Having come back to Islam now, I condemn such critique of Islam by individuals, whose aim is to destroy the religion of Islam off the face of the earth. During my time away from Islam, I didn’t condemn Islam or my lack of faith for profit or to seek sympathy from people simply because I had a bad experience with how the religion was brought up to me. In fact, religion was not forced on me at all. Another reason for me leaving had to do, not with Islam, but with Muslims actually. I will elaborate more on this soon but I don’t want to digress more than I already have. My overall point is that certain writers and critics of Islam, usually do not have a deep understanding on Islam; some will even argue that they’ve only read segments of the Qur’an or have never read it at all. My focus however, is on the critics, who are generally apostates, that tend to attack Islam from an emotional point of view; i.e., their upbringing towards Islam was one that was forced upon them and that is not the religion’s fault, it’s the environment and the ones who forced him who are to blame. Islam, like any religion, is a set of language and symbols that people identify with in order to feel at peace with the world and who they are; to have answers to broad questions and find peace within themselves so that life does not seem meaningless. It’s just a belief. However again, like any religion, there are extremists and people who will try to bastardize scripture because they are looking for political and/or selfish gain. And it is up to ordinary Muslims, such as myself, to speak out against THOSE kind of Muslims.

Critics like Ibn Warraq, Why I Am Not A Muslim, models itself after Bertrand Russell’s Why I Am Not A Christian, in its style of explaining why they have the beliefs they have but both authors admittedly, are not scholars of Religion. Ibn Warraq makes this confession in his Acknowledgements and in his Preface, talks about how he was brought up learning Islam by learning how to read the Qur’an in Arabic, with no clear understanding or explanation of the words in the Qur’an. Such an upbringing is not uncommon for young children brought up by their Muslim parents. Nevertheless, this author decides in his adult life to abandon his teachings of religious dogma, which is fine. He is an adult and therefore he can do what he wants. Warraq then goes on to explain his incendiary feeling towards liberal apologists who claim to be speaking on behalf of “all muslims”. Given that Warraq has already revealed to have Islam “forced upon him”, it’s as if he’s assuming the role of being a representative for all Muslims. Perhaps I’m mistaken? Then why, pray tell, did he write an entire book talking about how Muslims are brought up and on the origins of Islam. Warraq does do justice to the reader by explicitly saying he is not a scholar and shamelessly admits utilizing only secondary sources in his work. Therefore, I dismiss any sort of “praise” for this book being “well-researched”.

A similar sentiment is placed on Ali Sina, who wrote Understanding Muhammad, he describes Islam as a violent religion and the Prophet Muhammad is (among other things) a Psychopath. And its quite clear within the first few pages of his book, that his aim is to eradicate Islam as a religion. I’m not sure what kind of fucked up experience this guy had with Islam, but it must have been graphic considering he’s made it his career to talk shit about it and more so, he claims to be a Christian but nowhere in Sina’s biography does it claim that he’s a licensed Psychologists or Scholar of Psychopaths. Therefore, I can make a similar claims about Sina but that doesn’t mean it’s true. And on the other hand, I have a platform to say them so why couldn’t I? Because, I am not one to stoop to people’s low level.  In addition to Sina, there is Nabeel Qureshi, a convert of Islam to Christianity whose popular book: Seeking Allah Finding Jesus, Qureshi discusses his approach to Christianity after being “such a devout Muslim”. I won’t tear too much into Qureshi because I heard he has stomach cancer, we will be praying for him that he makes a healthy and speedy recovery.

Where he and Ali Sina correlate, is that they both essentially say Islam is bad, Christianity is good; Bible is Peace and Qur’an is Violent. Here’s the thing: everyone has this belief that in Islam, the punishment for leaving the religion is death. My personal opinion: I don’t think so. I really doubt that people automatically find out if you’ve left the religion, they will kill you. Now, if you make a big fuss about it, they won’t be happy. And that’s not an unnatural feeling. How many Christian families do you see jumping for joy when they hear their kid is an atheist? That’s what I thought.

Oh Timothy, you no longer believe in God? Well, that’s okay. We will still keep following the word of Jesus Christ, our lord and savior because that’s what he would want us to.

Get the fuck outta here.

I’m not saying we should condemn people for walking away from their religion. Nor am I advocating for people TO leave their religion. My whole point is, beliefs are personal, they don’t need to be shared with the world. If my brother-in-law divorces my sister, then fine, whatever. But if he then proceeds to harass the family, write books and articles talking ill about her, I’m gonna want to kill him. Does that make me a radical sibling or just someone who really cares about their big sister? Therefore, why is this any different than a religious individual who has murderous thoughts about killing someone who is being a dick. Again, I’m not condoning, I’m empathizing. In the words of Chris Rock talking about the O.J. Simpson Trial, “I’m not saying he should’ve killed her, but I understand.”

It was the judgement from so many people left and right by Muslims and Non-Muslims one can potentially receive either if they change religions, or walk away from religions that made me just walk away from it all at the age of 18. I got tired of being an apologist, I got tired of people judging me for not eating pork, and I got tired of Muslims being hypocrites in how they practiced (or didn’t practice) but were still judging me for how I practiced. Finally, at the age of 21, I was brought to a mosque by a girl, who eventually became my beloved fiancé, for a lecture she wanted to attend before the first night of Ramadan. I felt so out of place at the mosque, having not stepped foot in one for 3 years. I sat outside, alone, thinking to myself about everything going on in my life. I wasn’t in a good place financially or emotionally. I decided to go inside and perform wudu, the purifying ritual a muslim does before prayer and I felt clean, and immediately, I was transported back into my 18 year old mindset; before all the bullshit, before I left home and went off to University to fuck up my first and second year of my undergrad career, before I started questioning things, and before I started just hating everyone and everything. Later, I came across a gentleman who was my former Sunday school teacher. He liked me a lot and I really liked him because he wasn’t judgmental and he taught me how to pray and his genuine positive attitude, made me look up to him. He came up to me and said, “Asalamualaikum! You’re back in town? How have you been? Will you be volunteering to teach at the Sunday School now that you’re back?” I’ll admit, I was afraid when my mom found out I left Islam about what she would say, but I was ashamed, at what he might think of how everything he taught me, I just discarded.

Since then, I slowly began the transition into coming back into Islam. I am reading the Qur’an (in English) and the more I read it, the more it makes sense to me. I have read the bible a bit and I have a copy of the Bhagvad Gita, but honestly, Islam just seems like the right religion for me. Not because it’s more true or anything, it just makes me happy. And its something I identify with. It’s a personal belief that is inexplicable and moreover, I don’t need to explain it because it’s not anyone’s business why I am a Muslim. Moreover, I’m Non-Denominational Muslim, in that, I claim no loyalty to any particular sect of Islam, because I feel that people tend to have arguments as a result of these differences in how they practice.

I honestly cannot fathom why other Muslims are fighting one another simply because they do not share the same interpretation. And that is another thing, when people say Islam is a violent religion and they try to cherry pick quotes from the Qur’an. All scripture is a matter of interpretation; “we come as human beings with our pre-conceptions, prejudices, experiences, and ‘pre understandings.’ Our minds and hearts are already full of concepts and ideas…that we bring to the text before we even open its pages and pronounce its words.” (Dr. Scott Siraj Al-Haqq Kugle, Progressive Muslims, P.203)

Also, I consider myself a Progressive Muslim, as opposed to a Moderate Muslim, because I feel that Progressive Muslims show respect to the classical Muslim thought but leave room for contemporary interpretation. Furthermore, I believe that Islam is in no need of reformation, if anything its Muslims and Shari’ah Law (created by Muslims after the death of the prophet) that need to be put in check. According to Amina Wadud in her essay on American Muslim Identity in the book: Progressive Muslims, she states that Malcolm X, and subsequently other black Muslims that turned to Sunni Islam, did so with the mindset that Islam and Muslims were colorblind. I have my reservations about the latter statement. Surely, I get a lot of compliments from elder Muslim ladies that my fiancé is fair-skinned and resembles a Pashtun (an ethnic group in Pakistan that is generally fair-skinned and well-respected, arguably because they are fair-skinned). Never mind that she is actually Mexican (and a Tejana/Chicana orgullosa!)  but also, the kind of condemnation against other dark-skinned South Asians in general, make me reluctant to say Muslims are colorblind. Muslims are still human beings with flaws nonetheless, so I digress.

There are also Muslims that pray differently or don’t practice at all but still identify as Muslim or will protest when people will proclaim Islam to be a violent religion. The honesty that stems from these individuals is respectable. I do however, have a problem with Muslims that will not practice Islam but judge other Muslims on how they p\actice or try to serve as a representative of Islam, when they clearly don’t believe in it. I don’t have an issue with anyone else worshipping a different way.

“O disbelievers, I do not worship what you worship. Nor are you worshippers of what I worship. Nor will I be a worshipper of what you worship. Nor will you be worshippers of what I worship. For you is your religion, and for me is my religion.” (Qur’an: 109; Surat Al-Kafirun)

-Mr. Writer

Written on the 5th of July, 2017 at 1:07 A.M.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silent History: A Review/Explanation of An Inspiring & Impacting Book

The following essay was written for a scholarship that I applied to. The prompt was to write on a book that inspired and/or has impacted my interest in studying History. This was not a difficult question because, though there have been many books, essays, and lectures from professors that have been positively influential to me, the foundation of what inspired me to be the Historian-In-The-Making that I declare myself to be, began with this book. Anyone who knows me well, is well aware that all my books are plagued with sticky notes and this book arguably has the most (next to Russell Brand’s autobiography: My Booky Wook) Currently, this book is with a very good friend of mine and I hope he is enjoying it as much as I am. I share this essay with my readers to encourage critical thinking as well as showcase once again my passion, that some will say resembles obsession more than fascination, for History. And is written in bold style to illustrate that it is being written from my actual self and not from my persona. Also, the essay was meant to be 300 words or less and I am proud to say I successfully met that mark so, yeah. I rock! I hope you all enjoy. Please like and subscribe to the blog. And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Like Us on Facebook!

As I’ve gotten older, it’s gotten more and more difficult to remember certain things. Even the most trivial such as, what I had for lunch yesterday, become a challenge when I look back into my mind. However, the book that inspired my passion for history, I will never forget. I can recall it so vividly; where I was, why I was reading it and how much I enjoyed it. The book was entitled: Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce by Stanley Weintraub. The title essentially already gives the plot away already, but I will reiterate nonetheless, that the book is about the ceasefire during World War I on the Western front and in honor of a special holiday, enemy soldiers exchanged gifts instead of bullets.

              I was not an avid reader my first semester of College and to be quite honest, I would skim through books more than actually reading them but there was something about the writing Weintraub utilized that made what some critics would describe as the words just “leaping off the page.” And here it began, my first semester as an Undergraduate Student, assigned to read this book for my Western Civilization class. Before I knew it, I had reached halfway through the book and was in joyful tears by reading how for one brief shining moment, during a time of war and carnage, “there was general handshaking: the dead were buried; cigars, cigarettes, and newspapers were exchanged and a general celebration ensued.” (Weintraub, 68). Though there were some who denounced the Christmas truce such as one familiar name, Adolf Hitler, criticized the Germans for fraternizing with the British enemy by saying, “such a thing should not happen in wartime…Have you no German sense of honor left at all?” (Weintraub, 71)

              Honor and or patriotism was the last thing on the minds of these soldiers however, as one British soldier, Corporal John Ferguson, quoted by Weintraub, about the ceasefire with the Germans, “Here we were laughing and chatting to men whom only a few hours before we were trying to kill.” (Weintraub, 79-80) Eventually the Christmas celebrations as well as “all fraternization with the enemy [was] to cease immediately.” Reading the words of these soldiers, post the ceasefire, gaining these epiphanies of their groundless bloodshed and carrying on with the charade (because they have no other choice) in their own way by feigning the discharges towards their targets or even purposefully “shoot [in]to the air’” (Weintraub, 140) was in a word, thought-provoking. The idea that these soldiers were sent to fight against “the enemy” and were now re-defining who exactly the enemy was. “Both sides were misled by half-truths…Beneath the artificial hatred, each respected the other. Victory, if it came at all, would be long delayed, costly and worthless.” (Weintraub, 119) Reading this made me realize that these soldiers demanded answers to questions they finally began to ask themselves, “why am I really here?” It made me think of what other lies we have been fed in our youth that remain truths that we would potentially “die for” in our adult life.

Avi Shlaim has said that “History is the propaganda of the victors” and his statement is agreeable because when we are children and we learn about history, we are told things in a positive light only to find out later that they are actually horrific. And only when we get older do we learn the actual truth that is the awful side of history. We learn about World War I beginning with a series of mishaps that all could be responsible for the start of the war and the countless casualties that resulted as well as the incendiary feelings that remain, resulting in World War II. All the while, wondering how and why things in our own history, got so bad; and if there was a chance for reconciliation even. And it is here, in this story, that we have a pocket of positivity that not everyone is aware although should be. Here these soldiers are learning that the differences amongst them are scarce; therefore, they have no reason to fight one another. Why are they fighting? When instead, “perhaps a football match, after which both sides went home, might be a better solution.” (Weintraub, 119)

-Ahmed H. Sharma (Mr. Writer)

Originally written on the 15th of February, 2017 at 1:19 P.M.

Book Cited:

Weintraub, Stanley. Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce. New York: Plume, 2002. Print.

 

 

 

“True” Identity: An Essay on Self-Awareness & Sensitivity

Who are we? We seem to be asked this question a lot and no one knows how to properly answer and no response seems satisfactory. In the past, people would identify themselves through their last names.  “My name is So and So, son of Whatshisface” And with that form of identification, people gained an impression of you, despite their interaction and properly getting to know you is a priori. It seems unorthodox, however simultaneously, it is understandable.

Arranged marriages function in the same way; this person’s father knows this girl or boy’s father and they thought “hey, you probably don’t have a shitty kid, let’s make them get married!” And the other said, “Yeah!” Then they have kids and they live happily ever after.

However, you don’t need to be a scholar in Anthropology to know that every human being is different. Moreover, no law is universally adhered to by individuals and that’s arguably, why we have problems in society. We can place the blame on religion or humans being savage by nature, but either way the only thing we can essentially agree on is that we cannot find anything to agree on.

Immanuel Kant argued how we can ascertain objective validity but because I’m no scholar of Philosophy; plus, Kant uses a special kind of vocabulary that scholars to this day are trying to figure out what the hell he was talking about. Instead, I will attempt to break the words down as if we were speaking actual English. First, the word: Objective, meaning universally accepted. This is a challenge because everything is arbitrary. Translating the work of philosophers like Kant, for example, is never universally accepted. And the word Valid, put simply just means true. That being said, it will make the following essay more comprehensible.

When we try to attempt and identify ourselves, in terms of contemporary standards, there is a lot to consider. And our need for personal identity is unavoidable. However, the crux of this essay is that we often have to prove our identity because some people are unconvinced of what we identify with because we do not contain 100% of the traits to adhere to that identity. To better clarify, let’s use the example of a father and son. Let’s say the father was a star athlete in his youth, when introduced to his son, if he is not a star athlete as well, but rather, a “nerd”, eyebrows would be raised as to how that was possible? If you don’t believe this, you’re not a superficial person and you should be very proud of yourself. But I’m not referring to you. Not everything is about you, okay? With that, readers hopefully can empathize where I’m going with this and will agree with me when I say, that just because the “nerdy son” of the athletic father does not mean that he is not legitimately his kid. In other words, you can’t identify yourself as something without someone telling you that’s not who you really are.

Which sounds like b.s. because who knows you better than yourself? Your parents? Sure. But, only you know your inner most thoughts. However, there’s people that love to say, “Oh but you’re not a real so and so because you have, do, or believe such and such.” I’ll use myself as an example of identification. Cause none of my friends would allow me to use them as examples. Just kidding! I have no friends.

Just kidding. I didn’t ask them. Because I’m lazy. And that’s why I have no friends.

So, how do I define myself? And this will not be in any particular order. The fact that I have to explain it, will be addressed in subsequent sentences. First, I’m a man. But am I a “real man” How does one define that? What kind of things define a man? Do I like Sports? That’s pretty masculine, right? No, I don’t like sports, so I guess that makes me less of a man? I don’t drive a truck, no; I drive a Hybrid. Guess that’s also a no for me to be a “real man”.  But nonetheless, I am a man. This is who I am. By the way, this is not supposed to be a critique on Trans-Genders because ultimately, what I’m saying is if you are who you say you are, it shouldn’t matter what other people think.

Another way I identify myself as, I’m Muslim. And I’m not sure if you’re aware of all the Islamophobia going around but I sure have noticed it. I’m blessed to say that I haven’t experienced any discrimination first hand (as an adult) but I have constantly had to serve as a spokesman for Islam, which I graciously accept. And as a spokesman, I  I will be posting another article where I expand on this because it is necessary, but in the meantime, I will conclude by stating, I don’t act as an apologist for terrorism caused by psychopaths claiming to do it in the name of Islam. Because of my progressive beliefs, a lot of people will regard me as “not a true Muslim” and that’s because I do not adhere to what they regard as what Muslims truly believe.

It’s like when some people regard African Americans as not “black enough” if they do things or talk a certain way that doesn’t coincide with the stereotypes people have of them. And that’s a shame because who the hell are they to determine what is something and what is not. Simultaneously however, I will sympathize how powerful words are in this day and age, where we should be careful with the words we pick.

A perfect example of this is: Stand-up comic, Jim Norton, notorious for his raunchy style of jokes about him being a shameless albeit honest, womanizer, would self-describe himself as a “pervert”. But in his most recent, 2016 special, Mouthful of Shame,  Norton admits he was wrong to describe himself as such because the type of adultery he would commit would always be consensual, therefore to categorize himself as such would assume that he sleeps with underage girls or is a rapist.

Back to my point, there are people who truly identify with things but they don’t make sense to people. Here’s the thing: they don’t need to make sense to you; they are not YOUR beliefs. It’s not until you empathize and listen to the concerns of theirs, where you understand why the individual believes the way they do. Take Muhammad Ali for instance, when he changed his name from Cassius Clay to Ali, a lot of people refused to acknowledge him by his new name. Claiming things like, “that’s the name he was born with, so I’m gonna call him THAT!” But his reason for changing his name was because it was at this time that he embraced Islam and was essentially born-again. African Americans acquired their surnames from their slave-owners, thereby explaining the phrase “that’s my slave name.” And even if you still don’t agree with it in the end, that’s okay too. But at least your grievances are not in ignorance. However, it’d be simple enough just to accept it and let people be happy.

In the end, all I’m trying to say is that there is an inexplicable desire for us to strive for something greater than ourselves and discover who we are and what our purpose in life is. Some turn to religion, careers, or drugs. Don’t do drugs though. And when we discover ourselves, often times we may believe we are something and people have a right to guide us if we are mistaken, like in the case of Jim Norton, but that’s okay because we are humans and we are going to make mistakes. In the end, we’re all just trying to make sense of ourselves and the battle will be less intense if we’re not having to defend ourselves against people who don’t understand and berate us as a result of it. Live and let live, and live and let die.

 

-Mr. Writer

Written on the 13th of June, 2017 at 7:00 P.M.

 

Should Muslims Support LGTBQ?

This essay is dedicated to my friends: Dr. Andrew J. Pegoda, Trevor Boffone, and Josh Inocencio and to all the comrades in the LGTBQ Community. I also dedicate this essay to my Brothers and Sisters in Islam. Also it should go without saying, that this dedication extends as well as to those in the Muslim community who identify as Queer/Trans those who have come out and those who are too afraid to come out.  Assalaamu ‘Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh.

Should Muslims support Gays/Lesbians/Transgenders? Let’s get right into it; to answer this question in a few words, of course! This may come as a shock to some people but Gay/Lesbian/Trans people, like Muslims, are normal people. I should know cause I am Muslim. I’m not Gay, but I am Pro-LGTBQ rights. Most people freak out when they meet someone gay, lesbian, or trans, but there’s not really anything foreign about them except the obvious. In fact, I met a gay couple that had been together for more than 20 years and it blew my mind; but not for the reason why you’d think that. Considering that most marriages among heterosexual couples keep falling apart, it was surprising to hear a couple that actually valued their relationship. When I asked them for advice on marriage or relationships, they gave the exact same advice you’d get from any other straight couple: communication, trust, remember why you fell in love in the first place, and don’t have kids, cause they ruin everything (just kidding!) (I’m not kidding)  But based on that, it brings me to the point that, how are you gonna say that marriage is supposed to be only for a man and woman when men and women can’t even get their shit together? But moreover, why can’t Gay people just have rights?! Like basic Human rights. I have only had one bad experience with a gay person, and that was cause he was an asshole, not cause he was gay. He doesn’t deserve rights. (okay that one, I’m kidding) 

There’s a misconception among individuals who don’t understand, nor wish to, the struggles that Muslims share with the Gays. As a matter of fact, there are even Muslims that identify within the LGTBQ community, and I had no idea. I know that’s naive to say but it’s just one of those things you don’t think about but as soon as I heard it, I was like, “Oh, well, of course. Why wouldn’t there be?”

Since the origin of Islam, Muslims were a class of people that were outcast from society and the fact that members of the LGTBQ community would identify with Islam, is not very surprising. Despite the verses in the Qur’an that state Homosexuality is wrong or an abomination, as well as Conservative Muslims have been very vocal against same-sex marriage (as have Conservative Christians; especially Conservative Christians) there are still Muslims out there that are Queer and or Muslims. And while you have all those things, luckily there are Muslims out there that are extremely tolerant of this because it doesn’t matter.

And that’s where my take comes from; a friend of mine, Josh Inocencio, is currently writing an article for OutSmart Magazine, a Houston as well as LGTBQ Based magazine, about Gays and Lesbians supporting Muslims. I’ll be sure to include the link once it’s been published and everything. He asked to interview me as a Muslim born and raised in the United States, and someone who pretty much stopped practicing for 2-3 years but has been again since 2015 (but more on that another blog). Not to mention that I’m a fellow Writer/Student-Activist/Philosopher and Historian-in-the-Making 😉  Members of the LGTBQ community in support of Muslims is in my view, heartwarming. In fact, even before the implementation of the epic Muslim Ban, the hashtag #illwalkwithyou was especially being vocalized by members of the LGTBQ community.

Now fast-forward to a few months later, the Trump administration pushes through a Muslim ban, something “no one” (sarcastic quotes) saw coming that affected members of the LGTBQ community as well that identify as Muslim.  Now, if you’re Queer, you’re already putting yourself in a vulnerable position and then to accept a religious belief; and Islam, at such an epoch of heightened Islamophobia, you’re just asking for trouble. But in my eyes, they’re a Brother and/or Sister in Islam and Asalamualaikum.

The crux here is that beliefs are personal: we don’t need to be able to fully comprehend what the other’s beliefs are. I take the cultural relativist approach here and contend that you can think something is strange, sure but that’s all. The thing is, concepts that are foreign to people tend to be believed to be wrong. It’s juvenile when you really get down to it, the idea that: “I don’t understand it, so it must be wrong!” Who are we to tell others that because they are that Gay, they are an abomination because they follow Islam, Christianity, things they just hold dear; simple beliefs, are wrong! When we humans are imperfect ourselves.

That’s why we need to quit trying to focus on these little details and focus on the big issue. We are struggling together and we need to overcome, together. Still however, many communities of faith: there is a serious question of homophobia that needs to be confronted. And of course, the Muslim community, like most communities, have a gay community and some are hidden some are not. But we hope that one day, all faith will be able to move past that.

Perhaps it’s the utilitarian in me but it’s just that those that approach religion and their beliefs usually distinguish their beliefs from the sect they follow or their upbringing, they are happy with what they regard as the truth even though all religion is based on faith and not necessarily fact. By saying that, I may get in trouble because I’m implying that all religion is capable of being wrong but there’s certain things that religion cannot prove, they’re miracles. I’m not going to say I don’t believe in miracles, it’s just that there’s no way to prove it that cannot be true. Historically and scientifically, the stories don’t make sense.

Again, I identify as a Muslim. Non-Denominational. A practicing Muslim as well. The ring I wear on my index finger is not just words in Arabic, these words are the pledge one takes when they declare themselves a Muslim. I don’t believe in tattoos, so this is the next best thing for me. My beliefs are very personal and dear to me, and as a result, I don’t see the need to impose them on others, but this does not change Islam from becoming one of the fastest growing religions in the country; the only reason for that, I imagine is because it’s the only religion that tends to make sense (or at least it does for me).

The five basic pillars in Islam are set in stone: Pledge your belief that there is only one God, perform pilgrimage, fast on the days of Ramadan, five daily prayers, and give a very small portion of your paycheck to charity. I follow all five of the pillars in Islam (but I haven’t gone on Pilgrimage yet) The rest of the teachings in Islam, I cherry-pick here and there what works for me; I do consult Imams and whatnot to make sure I’m not doing anything that is too taboo. That being said I don’t drink, eat pork, smoke cigarettes, do drugs, etc. But it is because I won’t follow EVERYTHING that certain sects will acknowledge, that I won’t say I’m a very religious person. I most definitely and unhesitatingly, will take the side of my Muslim brothers and sisters in distress over in Syria, Aleppo, Palestine, and Kashmir.

When asked why I say non-denominational, it’s because in my experience, different sects have argued about religion for centuries and even condemned one another (like the most recent sect, Ahmadiyya) by stating “they’re not real Muslims.” One of my favorite things an Imam has stated during the Friday prayer khutbas (sermons) was how he abhorred how other Muslims will disrespectfully attempt to correct the behavior in how certain Muslims pray or stand or kneel (because they’re not doing it “correctly”) and the Imam encouraged us to, when faced with such a dilemma: “Our brothers and sisters in Islam are dying in Syria and Aleppo, and you’re worried about me?!”

I digress and conclude that there have been a long tradition of Muslims and Gays working together on progressive issues (that have to do with minorities and ensuring that we don’t get any infringement on our rights) when there was a Muslim ban, the LGTBQ community got involved,  so when there is an assault against LGTBQ the Muslims should be aware and educated so they can support them. Progressive Muslims need to be more vocal and active in their participation and I am not trying to impose my progressive beliefs, but I do implore conservative Muslims or Muslims in general, to open their hearts and their minds to understanding the struggles of our Queer brothers and sisters. The saying goes, the enemy of my enemy is my friend; please acknowledge that the LGTBQ community is far from our enemy, and it’s time we realize it. Our time seems limited with each day that passes and rather than bicker or find fault with one another based on who people love or what religion they practice, we need to find common ground. The main common feature we share, is that we are civilized human beings; so let’s act like it.

-Mr. Writer

Written on the 22nd of March, 2017 at 1:45 P.M. 

Click here for more information on organizations that support LGTBQ & Muslim

The Question of Hypocrisy: British Involvement in the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Dedicated to all the people in and from Palestine; things will get better, inshAllah. Also I dedicate this essay to the scholars of Middle Eastern Studies like my professor, Abdel Razzaq Takriti, who have and continue to work tirelessly to put the pieces of history together, with the hopes of bringing about a better tomorrow. Your work is not going unnoticed and I strive to be in a position such as yours, very soon.

For more information on Palestine, please visit this website:  http://learnpalestine.politics.ox.ac.uk/

The following essay is a research paper I submitted for a class I took this semester entitled: Palestine and the Making of the ArabIsraeli Conflict. I really enjoyed this class and the research I did in writing this essay while extensive, was enticing in every way. Though the words I write are controversial as they are condemning the ignored actions of certain nations and people have taken to colonize another group of people, the words unabashedly had to be said and with that, I believe in the work I’ve produced and my empirical vigor will undoubtedly enable me in my scholarly endeavors.

 

It can be argued that it is human nature to seek approval from others and even attempt to make everyone happy although inarguably, it is impossible to do so. In the simplest of reasons, the impracticality is because one cannot make someone else happy without taking away someone else’s happiness.[1] In 1917, Lord Arthur James Balfour attempts to do just that with the Balfour Declaration, promising British assistance in establishing a national homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine, after a series of discussions and debates, in order to appease the interests of the Zionists. In doing so however, Balfour has established the first of what will become many strands, that together make up a metaphorical spider web of neglected pleas of the present Arab population. Therefore, the intent of this essay is to contend that the British, alongside the Zionists, sought to strategically and purposefully, exploit the Arab Natives of Palestine in order to produce the Jewish State of Israel, despite Balfour professing in his Declaration to not infringe upon the rights of the Native Arab Population. This is proven largely in part due to the incessant neglect of Arab concerns, vagueness in promises made to address Arab concerns, and unheeded cautions by non-Arab notables to bandage broken promises.

As soon as the Balfour Declaration was passed, along with the destruction of the Ottoman Empire, the land was divided amongst the French and British, as agreed in the Sykes-Picot Agreement. Naturally, there was opposition from the Arab natives (Christian and Muslim) but most significantly, there was pressure from the at the time, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson who was reluctant with the idea of European nations being in control of a non-European population. To reiterate, the feeling amongst the native Arabs was mutual as described in the King Crane Commission that:

 

with the best possible intentions, it may be doubted whether the Jews could possibly seem to either Christians or [Muslims] proper guardians of the holy places, or custodians of the Holy Land as a whole. The reason is this: The places which are most sacred to Christians-those having to do with Jesus-and which are also sacred to [Muslims], are not only not sacred to Jews, but abhorrent to them. It is simply impossible, under those circumstances, for [Muslims] and Christians to feel satisfied to have these places in Jewish hands, or under the custody of Jews. [2]

 

Still, the British Government and members of the Peace Conference (members of the Triple Alliance after WWI) remained unmoved by this concern from the Arabs, and the establishment of a national homeland for the Jews, was to remain implemented. Despite the urging in the document to the notables forewarning that “The Peace Conference should not shut its eyes to the fact that the anti-Zionist feeling in Palestine and Syria is intense and not lightly to be flouted. No British officer, consulted by the Commissioners, believed that the Zionist program could be carried out except by force of arms.”[3]

 

In order to fully grasp the gravity of the situation and why these concerns of the Arabs are treated as trivial, one must go back into the depths of history and see how it all started. During the Ottoman Empire, which at the time surrounded Palestine and what would later be known as the State of Israel, possessed a religiously diverse population; albeit despite an immense Muslim population, historians agree that citizens lived in relative harmony. Due to “the majority of the culture of Christians and Jews was like that of Muslims: determined not just by religious affiliation, but by geographical and social location.”[4] Meaning, that the idea of what dogma was practiced was irrelevant; especially if the social status of the individual was considered prosperous. However, this was not the case for Jews in Europe, where anti-Semitism was rampant and Jews, as Theodor Herzl described:

 

Wherever [the Jews] live in perceptible numbers, they are more or less persecuted…The forms of persecutions vary according to the countries and social circles in which they occur. In Russia, imposts are levied on Jewish Villages; in Rumania, a few persons are put to death; in Algeria, there are travelling agitators; In Germany, they get a good beating occasionally; in Austria, anti-Semites exercise terrorism over all public life; in Paris, the Jews are shut out of the so-called best social circles and excluded from clubs.[5]

 

Therefore, a solution was needed and quickly; the solution being, a safe-haven for the Jewish people. And the location of this sanctuary, was to be Palestine, a land they believed, from biblical times was owned by the Jews, and therefore, the time came for them to return and reclaim what rightfully belonged to them.

 

However, in doing so, the position of the Jewish question of Palestine [was] at the opening of the new era in which practical efforts took the place of dreams and theological disputations and the province hitherto monopolized by divines and philosophers was invaded by statesmen and other men of affairs.”[6] This was mainly due to the attitude Herzl developed towards the native Arab population, which was a “thoroughly repugnant image of Palestine, describing its towns and villages as no better than animal quarters.”[7]

 

It would be irremissible however, to not mention that Herzl was subsequently willing to be flexible in regards to the location of the Jewish state. Although, Palestine was the first choice, Herzl knew that the only way the Jewish people would be successful in acquiring a state of their own would require help from one of the major European powers. Therefore, as Herzl stated, “should the Powers declare themselves willing to admit our sovereignty over a neutral piece of land, then the Society will enter into negotiations for the possession of this land. Here two territories come under consideration, Palestine and Argentine.”[8]

One could make the assumption that Herzl, in his eagerness for European support, was willing to compromise with whatever that was handed to him. For instance, “in 1902, seeking the Al-Arish area in the Sinai Peninsula because it was adjacent to Palestine and could serve as an opening for future demands for expanded migration to the area. Joseph Chamberlain then British Colonial secretary, replied by suggesting land in British-Controlled East Africa, now part of Kenya. Though initially hostile to this idea, Herzl later saw it as granting a temporary haven that might give the Zionists leverage in their demands for Palestine.” [9] However, the idea of anything save Palestine was out of the question to other Zionists and for even the suggestion of this by Herzl, led other Zionists to suspect Herzl of being willing to abandon Zionism.  

Some Jewish notables such as essayist, Ahad Ha’am believed that in theory, the establishment of a Jewish state worked but was impractical as a result of many conflicting factors such as: “In the West it is the problem of the Jews, in the East the problem of Judaism. The one weighs on the individual, the other on the nation. The one is felt by Jews who have had a European education, the other by Jews whose education has been Jewish.”[10] Meaning that there was a strong disconnect amongst the people of Judaism and that their beliefs and ethics were on completely different wavelengths.  Ha’am argues, that Zionists were:

so spiritually far removed from Judaism, and have no true conception of its ­­­­­­nature and its value. Such men, however loyal to their State and devoted to its interests, will necessarily regard those interests as bound up with the foreign culture which they themselves have imbibed and they will endeavor, by moral persuasion or even by force, to implant that culture in the Jewish State, so that in the end the Jewish State will be a State of Germans or Frenchmen of the Jewish race.[11]

Future scholars such as Muhammad Ali Khalidi, will attest to this and ask the paradoxical question: “Why did Herzl, while explicitly disavowing utopianism, write of a utopia advocating ideas at variance with his own ideological principles, especially when the society described does not seem distinctively Jewish?”[12]

Unsurprisingly, the Muslim inhabitants were not pleased with the idea of Zionists taking the land they felt belonged to them. “As might be expected, the same thing is true of the resident Christians. Interestingly enough, the Palestinian Jews are also as much opposed…”[13] Not only were the citizens that were predominantly Muslim feeling even more hostility towards the foreigners but were also feeling a strong disdain for the Jewish population in particular; a group of people they once gave the Dhimmi status (a protected status for non-Muslims). Ottomans also were trying their best to prevent any sort of growing nationalism similar to the Balkans. Moreover, Ottoman Policy towards the Zionists remained consistent: “Jewish Immigrants will be able to settle as scattered groups throughout the Ottoman Empire, excluding Palestine. They must submit to the laws of the empire and become Ottoman subjects.”[14] But this policy was not effectively carried out, as “Jewish immigrants entered the area as tourists or pilgrims; but once there, would acquire the protection of foreign consuls since European powers were eager to protect their own rights.”[15]

Nevertheless, immigration as well as native’s concern for its advancement, escalated. Some ways Arab-Natives addressed these concerns were newspapers that were published to essentially inform others of how negative consequences would result from establishing a Homeland in Palestine. Among these published newspapers) were al-Karmil in 1908 (whose editors were also Greek Orthodox Christians and Filastin (Palestine) founded in 1911. The intentions of these articles were not to inspire animosity towards the Jewish people but rather to seek empathy with the Arab-Inhabitants and this proved successful even on an international scale. Even “Rashid Rida, a Muslim reformer born in the Beirut vilayet but living in Cairo, published an article in 1902 in his journal al-Manar, stating that in his belief, “[Zionists] sought national sovereignty, not simply a haven from persecution.”[16]

All this was happening during a crucial point in time, the first World War. There were rising uncertainties of the turnout for Britain during World War I and with the Ottoman Empire just so happening to be on the side of the Central Powers, “call[ing] into question the future of their own empire, which meant the future of Palestine as well”[17], essentially placed both nations in a quagmire. For Zionists, this was the perfect opportunity to appeal to the British of their concerns. Chaim Weizmann, in particular was at making exceptional strides in persuading the British by establishing conversations with the right people at the most convenient time:

Weizmann had two long sessions with Dorothy [Rothschild] in lieu of meeting with her husband…[and] wrote to [Weizmann] less than two weeks later: ‘I have spoken to Mr. Charles Rothschild, not in any sort of way officially, but in the course of conversation he thoroughly approved of the idea [a Jewish Palestine] and in fact thought it would be the only possible future.’ Charles was…the younger brother of Walter Lionel Rothschild, who would become the Lord Rothschild to whom the Balfour Declaration would be addressed.[18]

The British were reluctant at first, but Weizmann’s connections, along with presentiment that the Russians were going to withdraw from the war, and perhaps even one’s assumption that Britain as a superpower, caused them to make whatever deals with anyone they felt would be behoove them in the end. Realistically, the British were aware they would have to do their best to make sure they could make good on the promises they delivered. In this case however, the British made sure their fingers crossed behind their backs, remained concealed when shaking hands with the Arabs. Unaware of the British’s plan to deceive them, Arabs had begun a revolt against their Ottoman Government, in hopes of acquiring an “[independent] Arab nation…and grasp the reins of their administration… and whereas they have found and felt that it [was] in the interest of the Government of Great Britain to support them and aid them in the attainment of their firm and lawful intentions.”[19]

Letters were sent back and forth between Sharif Husayn and Sir Henry McMahon attempting to show congruity between the British and the Arabs however, statements from McMahon such as: “We take note of your remarks concerning the vilayet of Baghdad a and will take the question into careful consideration when the enemy has been defeated and the time for peaceful settlement arrives”, transparently shows the British metaphorically dragging their feet when asked to address Arab concerns. Suspicion grew subsequently but the Arabs remained oblivious to any double-crossing because McMahon, in his clever wording, maintained to the rebels: “rest assured that Great Britain has no intention of concluding any peace in terms of which the freedom of the Arab peoples from German and Turkish domination does not form an essential condition.”[20] Unbeknownst to Husayn however, McMahon has told others,

I do not for one minute go to the length of imagining what the present negotiations will go far to shape the future form of Arabia…What we have to arrive at now is to tempt the Arab peoples into the right path, detach them from the enemy and bring them over to our side.[21]

 

Ultimately, the Balfour Declaration was published in 1917. In its writing, the Balfour Declaration made sure to include that “Palestine [as] a national homeland for the Jewish people…clearly understood that nothing [would] be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”[22] However, careful reading of the Palestinian Mandate seems to contradict this notion of clemency. Instead, what is seen is undeniably, paternalistic colonialism. This sentiment was shared among most who viewed the Arabs; that even though the treatment of the Arabs were “indeed paternalistic, but paternalism seems to be necessary in dealing with backward countries”[23]. And as a result the British had to take control and make sure that the implementation of a Jewish Homeland ran smoothly. For example, article 16 of the Mandate states that: “The Mandatory shall be responsible for exercising such supervision over religious or eleemosynary bodies of all faiths in Palestine as may be required for the maintenance of public order and good government.”[24]

Unlike the Syrian or Iraqi mandate, which established a state and recognition of political rights of the people living within the boundaries of the state and once they reach the appropriate level of civilization (as determined by the mandate) then Syria would be ruled by Syrians, and Iraq would be ruled by Iraqis.[25] Although most people were well aware that “the Caliph, or head of the [Muslim] world, [had] a strong influence with [Muslims] in all countries. Formerly If the [Muslim] world [was] to be kept contented it appear[ed] necessary that there should be a Caliph whose authority is widely accepted.”[26]

The British mandate of Palestine, on the other hand, had only one party that was meant to be recognized, the Jewish Agency. The main pursuit of this agency was to implement and fulfill the obligations as stated in the Balfour Declaration by the British Government and install a Jewish homeland. Therefore, they could not recognize a politically local state (like Iraq or Syria) out of fear that the local population would reject power of the national homeland. In other words, any form of representative government, would undermine any British objectives as written in the Balfour Declaration.[27]

It is inarguable then, to say that British felt no reason to bring Palestine to independence as there was not going to be a British exit anytime soon. The crux was, to put it in simple words, stay until the job was done. “Of all this group of advocates of the restoration of the Jews to Palestine with British assistance, the most important was Colonel George Gawler, who had been governor of South Australia and…devoted the greater part of his activity to the Jewish cause.”[28] Gawler is important to note because “He proposed the gradual colonization of Palestine by Jews, small experimental colonies being established in the first instance. It was, however, essential to his scheme that Britain should undertake the protection of the colonies.”[29]

Subsequently, this caused some disorder for the British. During this early period, where Palestine was under military rule, the British military finally gained some insight of the wrong they had done to the Arabs. “In the case of Palestine these sympathies [of the British troops] are rather obviously with the Arabs, who have hitherto appeared to the disinterested observer to have been the victims of an unjust policy, forced upon them by the British Government.”[30] Simultaneously, there were many British doubts of the Balfour Declaration. Even “the British press, initially favorable to the Jewish national home policy, had by the early 1920s become increasingly skeptical if not hostile, and a movement opposed to the Balfour Declaration was gaining ground within parliament”[31]   Some considerable issues were raised; most of them essentially feeling a sense of remorse and pondering why a policy that could possibly result in retribution, should be implemented.

 

Looking back on the issue, this should not arouse a feeling of bewilderment. The threat of retaliation from the Arabs had been forewarned by many, yet resented. Pro-Zionists and British officials such as Herbert Samuel, believed “what we have got to face is the fact that as long as we persist in our Zionist policy we have got to maintain all our present forces in Palestine to enforce a policy hateful to the great majority”[32] With that, one can repudiate any statement that displays a feeling of remorse felt by the British; in that the British were well aware of what they were doing and even meant to colonize Palestine.

However, Britain is not the only one to be condemned; Zionists such as Jabotinsky, were well aware that “there was no misunderstanding…Zionists want…the one thing that Arabs do not want…[that] the Jews would gradually become the majority…and the future of the Arab minority would depend on the goodwill of the Jews…so there is no ‘misunderstanding’.”[33] Again, one mustn’t ignore that a number of Jews were critical of Zionism. For these Jewish people, they had worked relentlessly to assimilate in the country they lived in and the rise of Zionism would become problematic as to how loyal a Jewish citizen was to their nation. It is for that reason why Zionists must be allocated in their own category as “it stands today in its preliminary propaganda is not without considerable danger to the security and happiness of the Jews throughout the world.”[34]

Unapologetically, “Zionism’s responsibility for the Palestinian exodus and diaspora is an integral part of the genesis of the State of Israel. In their heart of hearts, most Israelis know this, which at least in part accounts for their pervasive sense of insecurity.”[35] Without a doubt, there has been an incessant struggle for Jews and perhaps the trials of the Arabs being overlooked has, and always shall be the norm; on the other hand,

fear of speaking out about one of the greatest injustices in modern history has hobbled, blinkered, muzzled many who know the truth and are in a position to serve it. For despite the abuse and vilification that any outspoken supporter of Palestinian rights and self-determination earns for him or herself, the truth deserves to be spoken, represented by an unafraid and compassionate intellectual.[36]

By retaining a fait accompli approach to the whole issue on Palestine, it only corroborates the idea of duplicity and hypocrisy, that Arabs were indeed exploited. And because the British were well aware of the consequences that were to come about, they purposefully allowed the Zionists to essentially, “get away with it.” Winston Churchill has compared the issue of Palestine to a dog in a manger claiming that, “I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time.”[37] For the sake of argument, one can compromise that even if the dog who has always lain in the manger, can deal with not ultimately being given back what it once called its home. Yet. if nothing has been done to shelter the dog, there is no “final right.”

-Ahmed H. Sharma

Originally Written on the 27th of November, 2016

 

Bibliography:

 

British Mandate of Palestine. Rep. N.p.: n.p., 1922. Jewish Virtual Library. Web. 22 Nov. 2016. <http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Palestine_Mandate.html&gt;.

 

Churchill, Winston. “”Dog in Manger” Quote.” A-Z Quotes. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2016. <http://www.azquotes.com/quote/1448775I%20do%20not%20agree%20that%20the%20dog%20in%20a%20manger%20has%20the%20final%20right%20to%20the%20manger%20even%20though%20he%20may%20have%20lain%20there%20for%20a%20very%20long%20time.%20I%20do%20not%20admit%20that%20right.%20I%20do%20not%20admit%20for%20instance,%20that%20a%20great%20wrong%20has%20been%20done%20to%20the%20Red%20Indians%20of%20America%20or%20the%20black%20people%20of%20Australia.&gt;.

 

Ha’am, Ahad. “The Jewish State and Jewish Problem” N.d. MS, Jewish Virtual Library. Jewish Virtual Library. Web. 21 Nov. 2016. <http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Zionism/haam2.html&gt;.

 

Herzl, Theodor. “The Jewish State” 1896. MS. Jewish Virtual Library. Web. 21 Nov. 2016. <http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Zionism/herzl2.html&gt;.

 

Huneidi, Sahar. “Was Balfour Policy Reversible? The Colonial Office and Palestine, 1921-23.” Journal of Palestine Studies 27.2 (1998): 23-41. JSTOR. Web. 10 Oct. 2016.

 

Huntington, Ellsworth. “The Future of Palestine.” Geographical Review 7.1 (1919): 24-35. JSTOR [JSTOR]. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.

 

Husayn, Sharif, and Henry McMahon. “The Hussein-McMahon Correspondence.” Letter. N.d. The Hussein-McMahon Correspondence (July 1915-August 1916) | Jewish Virtual Library. Jewish Virtual Library, n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2016. <http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/hussmac1.html&gt;.

Hyamson, Albert M. “British Projects for Restoration of the Jews to Palestine.” Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society NO. 26 (1918): 127-64. JSTOR [JSTOR]. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.

 

Jabotisnky, Vladimir Ze’ev. “The Iron Wall” 1923. MS. “The Iron Wall” | Jewish Virtual Library. Jewish Virtual Library. Web. 25 Nov. 2016. <http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Zionism/ironwall.html&gt;.

 

Khalidi, Muhammad Ali. “Utopian Zionism or Zionist Proselytism? A Reading of Herzl’s Altneuland.” Journal of Palestine Studies 30.4 (2001): 55-67. JSTOR [JSTOR]. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.

 

Khalidi, Walid. “Plan Dalet: Master Plan for the Conquest of Palestine.” Journal of Palestine Studies 18.1 (1988): 4-33. JSTOR [JSTOR]. Web. 16 Nov. 2016.

 

King, Henry Churchill, and Charles R. Crane. Rep. N.p.: n.p., 1919. The King-Crane Report – World War I Document Archive. Jewish Virtual Library. Web. 20 Nov. 2016. <https://wwi.lib.byu.edu/index.php/The_King-Crane_Report&gt;.

 

Letters from General Congreve and Air Vice Marshal Salmond, through A. M.  Trenchard, “Situation in Palestine,” 28 June 1921, PRO CO 733/17. (Source originally found in Sahar Huneidi’s Notes)

 

Mill, John Stuart. “Ch. 2 What Utilitarianism Is.” On Liberty, Utilitarianism, and Other Essays. Ed. Tom Griffith. N.p.: Wordsworth Classics of World Literature, 2016. 374-94. Print.

 

Palestine for the Palestinians?” Advocate of Peace through Justice 84.7 (1922): 245-46. JSTOR [JSTOR]. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.

 

Pappe, Ilan. History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2006. JSTOR, June 2012. Web. Sept. 2016.

 

Said, Edward W. Representations of the Intellectual: The 1993 Reith Lectures. New York: Pantheon, 1994. 74. Print.

 

Schneer, Jonathan. The Balfour Declaration: The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. New York: Random House, 2010. Print.

 

Smith, Charles D. Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict. New York: St. Martin’s, 1988. Print.

 

Takriti, Abdel Razzaq. “Palestine Mandate.” University of Houston. 18 Oct. 2016. Lecture.

 

Takriti, Abdel Razzaq. “Palestinian Mandate Pt. 2.” University of Houston. 25 Oct. 2016. Lecture.

 

Wolf, Lucien. “The Zionist Peril.” The Jewish Quarterly Review 17.1 (1904): 1. JSTOR [JSTOR]. Web. 19 Nov. 2016.

[1]Mill’s Utilitarianism and Other Essays

[2] King Crane Commission (JVL)

[3] King Crane Commission (JVL)

[4] Pappe, History of Modern Palestine

[5] Theodore Herzl, Der Judenstaat (JVL)

[6] Albert M. Hyamson, British Projects for Restoration

[7] Mohammed Khalidi, Utopian Zionism

[8] Theodore Herzl

[9] Charles Smith, Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict

[10]Ahad Ha’am Jewish Question (JVL)

[11] Ha’am

[12] Muhammad Khalidi

[13] Future of Palestine

[14] Ottoman Document (Source: Charles Smith)

[15] Charles Smith

[16] Charles Smith

[17] Charles Smith

[18] Jonathan Schneer, Balfour Declaration

[19] Husayn – McMahon Correspondence (JVL)

[20] Husayn – McMahon Correspondence (JVL)

[21] Charles Smith

[22] Balfour Declaration (JVL)

[23] Ellsworth Huntington, Future of Palestine

[24] British Mandate of Palestine (JVL)

[25] Abdel Takriti Palestinian Mandate (Notes)

[26] Ellsworth Huntington

[27] Abdel Takriti, Palestinian Mandate Pt. 2 (Notes)

[28] Albert M. Hyamson

[29] Albert M. Hyamson

[30] Huneidi, Reversal of the Balfour Declaration

[31] Huneidi

[32] Herbert Samuel (Find Source)

[33] Jabotinsky’s The Iron Wall (JVL)

[34]  Lucien Wolf, Zionist Peril

[35] Walid Khalidi, Plan Dalet

[36] Edward Said, Representations of the Intellectual

[37] Winston Churchill, Response to Peel Commission

 

It can be argued that it is human nature to seek approval from others and even attempt to make everyone happy although inarguably, it is impossible to do so. In the simplest of reasons, the impracticality is because one cannot make someone else happy without taking away someone else’s happiness.[1] In 1917, Lord Arthur James Balfour attempts to do just that with the Balfour Declaration, promising British assistance in establishing a national homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine, after a series of discussions and debates, in order to appease the interests of the Zionists. In doing so however, Balfour has established the first of what will become many strands, that together make up a metaphorical spider web of neglected pleas of the present Arab population. Therefore, the intent of this essay is to contend that the British, alongside the Zionists, sought to strategically and purposefully, exploit the Arab Natives of Palestine in order to produce the Jewish State of Israel, despite Balfour professing in his Declaration to not infringe upon the rights of the Native Arab Population. This is proven largely in part due to the incessant neglect of Arab concerns, vagueness in promises made to address Arab concerns, and unheeded cautions by non-Arab notables to bandage broken promises.

As soon as the Balfour Declaration was passed, along with the destruction of the Ottoman Empire, the land was divided amongst the French and British, as agreed in the Sykes-Picot Agreement. Naturally, there was opposition from the Arab natives (Christian and Muslim) but most significantly, there was pressure from the at the time, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson who was reluctant with the idea of European nations being in control of a non-European population. To reiterate, the feeling amongst the native Arabs was mutual as described in the King Crane Commission that:

 

with the best possible intentions, it may be doubted whether the Jews could possibly seem to either Christians or [Muslims] proper guardians of the holy places, or custodians of the Holy Land as a whole. The reason is this: The places which are most sacred to Christians-those having to do with Jesus-and which are also sacred to [Muslims], are not only not sacred to Jews, but abhorrent to them. It is simply impossible, under those circumstances, for [Muslims] and Christians to feel satisfied to have these places in Jewish hands, or under the custody of Jews. [2]

 

Still, the British Government and members of the Peace Conference (members of the Triple Alliance after WWI) remained unmoved by this concern from the Arabs, and the establishment of a national homeland for the Jews, was to remain implemented. Despite the urging in the document to the notables forewarning that “The Peace Conference should not shut its eyes to the fact that the anti-Zionist feeling in Palestine and Syria is intense and not lightly to be flouted. No British officer, consulted by the Commissioners, believed that the Zionist program could be carried out except by force of arms.”[3]

 

In order to fully grasp the gravity of the situation and why these concerns of the Arabs are treated as trivial, one must go back into the depths of history and see how it all started. During the Ottoman Empire, which at the time surrounded Palestine and what would later be known as the State of Israel, possessed a religiously diverse population; albeit despite an immense Muslim population, historians agree that citizens lived in relative harmony. Due to “the majority of the culture of Christians and Jews was like that of Muslims: determined not just by religious affiliation, but by geographical and social location.”[4] Meaning, that the idea of what dogma was practiced was irrelevant; especially if the social status of the individual was considered prosperous. However, this was not the case for Jews in Europe, where anti-Semitism was rampant and Jews, as Theodor Herzl described:

 

Wherever [the Jews] live in perceptible numbers, they are more or less persecuted…The forms of persecutions vary according to the countries and social circles in which they occur. In Russia, imposts are levied on Jewish Villages; in Rumania, a few persons are put to death; in Algeria, there are travelling agitators; In Germany, they get a good beating occasionally; in Austria, anti-Semites exercise terrorism over all public life; in Paris, the Jews are shut out of the so-called best social circles and excluded from clubs.[5]

 

Therefore, a solution was needed and quickly; the solution being, a safe-haven for the Jewish people. And the location of this sanctuary, was to be Palestine, a land they believed, from biblical times was owned by the Jews, and therefore, the time came for them to return and reclaim what rightfully belonged to them.

 

However, in doing so, the position of the Jewish question of Palestine [was] at the opening of the new era in which practical efforts took the place of dreams and theological disputations and the province hitherto monopolized by divines and philosophers was invaded by statesmen and other men of affairs.”[6] This was mainly due to the attitude Herzl developed towards the native Arab population, which was a “thoroughly repugnant image of Palestine, describing its towns and villages as no better than animal quarters.”[7]

 

It would be irremissible however, to not mention that Herzl was subsequently willing to be flexible in regards to the location of the Jewish state. Although, Palestine was the first choice, Herzl knew that the only way the Jewish people would be successful in acquiring a state of their own would require help from one of the major European powers. Therefore, as Herzl stated, “should the Powers declare themselves willing to admit our sovereignty over a neutral piece of land, then the Society will enter into negotiations for the possession of this land. Here two territories come under consideration, Palestine and Argentine.”[8]

One could make the assumption that Herzl, in his eagerness for European support, was willing to compromise with whatever that was handed to him. For instance, “in 1902, seeking the Al-Arish area in the Sinai Peninsula because it was adjacent to Palestine and could serve as an opening for future demands for expanded migration to the area. Joseph Chamberlain then British Colonial secretary, replied by suggesting land in British-Controlled East Africa, now part of Kenya. Though initially hostile to this idea, Herzl later saw it as granting a temporary haven that might give the Zionists leverage in their demands for Palestine.” [9] However, the idea of anything save Palestine was out of the question to other Zionists and for even the suggestion of this by Herzl, led other Zionists to suspect Herzl of being willing to abandon Zionism.  

Some Jewish notables such as essayist, Ahad Ha’am believed that in theory, the establishment of a Jewish state worked but was impractical as a result of many conflicting factors such as: “In the West it is the problem of the Jews, in the East the problem of Judaism. The one weighs on the individual, the other on the nation. The one is felt by Jews who have had a European education, the other by Jews whose education has been Jewish.”[10] Meaning that there was a strong disconnect amongst the people of Judaism and that their beliefs and ethics were on completely different wavelengths.  Ha’am argues, that Zionists were:

so spiritually far removed from Judaism, and have no true conception of its ­­­­­­nature and its value. Such men, however loyal to their State and devoted to its interests, will necessarily regard those interests as bound up with the foreign culture which they themselves have imbibed and they will endeavor, by moral persuasion or even by force, to implant that culture in the Jewish State, so that in the end the Jewish State will be a State of Germans or Frenchmen of the Jewish race.[11]

Future scholars such as Muhammad Ali Khalidi, will attest to this and ask the paradoxical question: “Why did Herzl, while explicitly disavowing utopianism, write of a utopia advocating ideas at variance with his own ideological principles, especially when the society described does not seem distinctively Jewish?”[12]

Unsurprisingly, the Muslim inhabitants were not pleased with the idea of Zionists taking the land they felt belonged to them. “As might be expected, the same thing is true of the resident Christians. Interestingly enough, the Palestinian Jews are also as much opposed…”[13] Not only were the citizens that were predominantly Muslim feeling even more hostility towards the foreigners but were also feeling a strong disdain for the Jewish population in particular; a group of people they once gave the Dhimmi status (a protected status for non-Muslims). Ottomans also were trying their best to prevent any sort of growing nationalism similar to the Balkans. Moreover, Ottoman Policy towards the Zionists remained consistent: “Jewish Immigrants will be able to settle as scattered groups throughout the Ottoman Empire, excluding Palestine. They must submit to the laws of the empire and become Ottoman subjects.”[14] But this policy was not effectively carried out, as “Jewish immigrants entered the area as tourists or pilgrims; but once there, would acquire the protection of foreign consuls since European powers were eager to protect their own rights.”[15]

Nevertheless, immigration as well as native’s concern for its advancement, escalated. Some ways Arab-Natives addressed these concerns were newspapers that were published to essentially inform others of how negative consequences would result from establishing a Homeland in Palestine. Among these published newspapers) were al-Karmil in 1908 (whose editors were also Greek Orthodox Christians and Filastin (Palestine) founded in 1911. The intentions of these articles were not to inspire animosity towards the Jewish people but rather to seek empathy with the Arab-Inhabitants and this proved successful even on an international scale. Even “Rashid Rida, a Muslim reformer born in the Beirut vilayet but living in Cairo, published an article in 1902 in his journal al-Manar, stating that in his belief, “[Zionists] sought national sovereignty, not simply a haven from persecution.”[16]

All this was happening during a crucial point in time, the first World War. There were rising uncertainties of the turnout for Britain during World War I and with the Ottoman Empire just so happening to be on the side of the Central Powers, “call[ing] into question the future of their own empire, which meant the future of Palestine as well”[17], essentially placed both nations in a quagmire. For Zionists, this was the perfect opportunity to appeal to the British of their concerns. Chaim Weizmann, in particular was at making exceptional strides in persuading the British by establishing conversations with the right people at the most convenient time:

Weizmann had two long sessions with Dorothy [Rothschild] in lieu of meeting with her husband…[and] wrote to [Weizmann] less than two weeks later: ‘I have spoken to Mr. Charles Rothschild, not in any sort of way officially, but in the course of conversation he thoroughly approved of the idea [a Jewish Palestine] and in fact thought it would be the only possible future.’ Charles was…the younger brother of Walter Lionel Rothschild, who would become the Lord Rothschild to whom the Balfour Declaration would be addressed.[18]

The British were reluctant at first, but Weizmann’s connections, along with presentiment that the Russians were going to withdraw from the war, and perhaps even one’s assumption that Britain as a superpower, caused them to make whatever deals with anyone they felt would be behoove them in the end. Realistically, the British were aware they would have to do their best to make sure they could make good on the promises they delivered. In this case however, the British made sure their fingers crossed behind their backs, remained concealed when shaking hands with the Arabs. Unaware of the British’s plan to deceive them, Arabs had begun a revolt against their Ottoman Government, in hopes of acquiring an “[independent] Arab nation…and grasp the reins of their administration… and whereas they have found and felt that it [was] in the interest of the Government of Great Britain to support them and aid them in the attainment of their firm and lawful intentions.”[19]

Letters were sent back and forth between Sharif Husayn and Sir Henry McMahon attempting to show congruity between the British and the Arabs however, statements from McMahon such as: “We take note of your remarks concerning the vilayet of Baghdad a and will take the question into careful consideration when the enemy has been defeated and the time for peaceful settlement arrives”, transparently shows the British metaphorically dragging their feet when asked to address Arab concerns. Suspicion grew subsequently but the Arabs remained oblivious to any double-crossing because McMahon, in his clever wording, maintained to the rebels: “rest assured that Great Britain has no intention of concluding any peace in terms of which the freedom of the Arab peoples from German and Turkish domination does not form an essential condition.”[20] Unbeknownst to Husayn however, McMahon has told others,

I do not for one minute go to the length of imagining what the present negotiations will go far to shape the future form of Arabia…What we have to arrive at now is to tempt the Arab peoples into the right path, detach them from the enemy and bring them over to our side.[21]

 

Ultimately, the Balfour Declaration was published in 1917. In its writing, the Balfour Declaration made sure to include that “Palestine [as] a national homeland for the Jewish people…clearly understood that nothing [would] be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”[22] However, careful reading of the Palestinian Mandate seems to contradict this notion of clemency. Instead, what is seen is undeniably, paternalistic colonialism. This sentiment was shared among most who viewed the Arabs; that even though the treatment of the Arabs were “indeed paternalistic, but paternalism seems to be necessary in dealing with backward countries”[23]. And as a result the British had to take control and make sure that the implementation of a Jewish Homeland ran smoothly. For example, article 16 of the Mandate states that: “The Mandatory shall be responsible for exercising such supervision over religious or eleemosynary bodies of all faiths in Palestine as may be required for the maintenance of public order and good government.”[24]

Unlike the Syrian or Iraqi mandate, which established a state and recognition of political rights of the people living within the boundaries of the state and once they reach the appropriate level of civilization (as determined by the mandate) then Syria would be ruled by Syrians, and Iraq would be ruled by Iraqis.[25] Although most people were well aware that “the Caliph, or head of the [Muslim] world, [had] a strong influence with [Muslims] in all countries. Formerly If the [Muslim] world [was] to be kept contented it appear[ed] necessary that there should be a Caliph whose authority is widely accepted.”[26]

The British mandate of Palestine, on the other hand, had only one party that was meant to be recognized, the Jewish Agency. The main pursuit of this agency was to implement and fulfill the obligations as stated in the Balfour Declaration by the British Government and install a Jewish homeland. Therefore, they could not recognize a politically local state (like Iraq or Syria) out of fear that the local population would reject power of the national homeland. In other words, any form of representative government, would undermine any British objectives as written in the Balfour Declaration.[27]

It is inarguable then, to say that British felt no reason to bring Palestine to independence as there was not going to be a British exit anytime soon. The crux was, to put it in simple words, stay until the job was done. “Of all this group of advocates of the restoration of the Jews to Palestine with British assistance, the most important was Colonel George Gawler, who had been governor of South Australia and…devoted the greater part of his activity to the Jewish cause.”[28] Gawler is important to note because “He proposed the gradual colonization of Palestine by Jews, small experimental colonies being established in the first instance. It was, however, essential to his scheme that Britain should undertake the protection of the colonies.”[29]

Subsequently, this caused some disorder for the British. During this early period, where Palestine was under military rule, the British military finally gained some insight of the wrong they had done to the Arabs. “In the case of Palestine these sympathies [of the British troops] are rather obviously with the Arabs, who have hitherto appeared to the disinterested observer to have been the victims of an unjust policy, forced upon them by the British Government.”[30] Simultaneously, there were many British doubts of the Balfour Declaration. Even “the British press, initially favorable to the Jewish national home policy, had by the early 1920s become increasingly skeptical if not hostile, and a movement opposed to the Balfour Declaration was gaining ground within parliament”[31]   Some considerable issues were raised; most of them essentially feeling a sense of remorse and pondering why a policy that could possibly result in retribution, should be implemented.

 

Looking back on the issue, this should not arouse a feeling of bewilderment. The threat of retaliation from the Arabs had been forewarned by many, yet resented. Pro-Zionists and British officials such as Herbert Samuel, believed “what we have got to face is the fact that as long as we persist in our Zionist policy we have got to maintain all our present forces in Palestine to enforce a policy hateful to the great majority”[32] With that, one can repudiate any statement that displays a feeling of remorse felt by the British; in that the British were well aware of what they were doing and even meant to colonize Palestine.

However, Britain is not the only one to be condemned; Zionists such as Jabotinsky, were well aware that “there was no misunderstanding…Zionists want…the one thing that Arabs do not want…[that] the Jews would gradually become the majority…and the future of the Arab minority would depend on the goodwill of the Jews…so there is no ‘misunderstanding’.”[33] Again, one mustn’t ignore that a number of Jews were critical of Zionism. For these Jewish people, they had worked relentlessly to assimilate in the country they lived in and the rise of Zionism would become problematic as to how loyal a Jewish citizen was to their nation. It is for that reason why Zionists must be allocated in their own category as “it stands today in its preliminary propaganda is not without considerable danger to the security and happiness of the Jews throughout the world.”[34]

Unapologetically, “Zionism’s responsibility for the Palestinian exodus and diaspora is an integral part of the genesis of the State of Israel. In their heart of hearts, most Israelis know this, which at least in part accounts for their pervasive sense of insecurity.”[35] Without a doubt, there has been an incessant struggle for Jews and perhaps the trials of the Arabs being overlooked has, and always shall be the norm; on the other hand,

fear of speaking out about one of the greatest injustices in modern history has hobbled, blinkered, muzzled many who know the truth and are in a position to serve it. For despite the abuse and vilification that any outspoken supporter of Palestinian rights and self-determination earns for him or herself, the truth deserves to be spoken, represented by an unafraid and compassionate intellectual.[36]

By retaining a fait accompli approach to the whole issue on Palestine, it only corroborates the idea of duplicity and hypocrisy, that Arabs were indeed exploited. And because the British were well aware of the consequences that were to come about, they purposefully allowed the Zionists to essentially, “get away with it.” Winston Churchill has compared the issue of Palestine to a dog in a manger claiming that, “I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time.”[37] For the sake of argument, one can compromise that even if the dog who has always lain in the manger, can deal with not ultimately being given back what it once called its home. Yet. if nothing has been done to shelter the dog, there is no “final right.”

 

 

 

Bibliography:

 

British Mandate of Palestine. Rep. N.p.: n.p., 1922. Jewish Virtual Library. Web. 22 Nov. 2016. <http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Palestine_Mandate.html&gt;.

 

Churchill, Winston. “”Dog in Manger” Quote.” A-Z Quotes. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2016. <http://www.azquotes.com/quote/1448775I%20do%20not%20agree%20that%20the%20dog%20in%20a%20manger%20has%20the%20final%20right%20to%20the%20manger%20even%20though%20he%20may%20have%20lain%20there%20for%20a%20very%20long%20time.%20I%20do%20not%20admit%20that%20right.%20I%20do%20not%20admit%20for%20instance,%20that%20a%20great%20wrong%20has%20been%20done%20to%20the%20Red%20Indians%20of%20America%20or%20the%20black%20people%20of%20Australia.&gt;.

 

Ha’am, Ahad. “The Jewish State and Jewish Problem” N.d. MS, Jewish Virtual Library. Jewish Virtual Library. Web. 21 Nov. 2016. <http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Zionism/haam2.html&gt;.

 

Herzl, Theodor. “The Jewish State” 1896. MS. Jewish Virtual Library. Web. 21 Nov. 2016. <http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Zionism/herzl2.html&gt;.

 

Huneidi, Sahar. “Was Balfour Policy Reversible? The Colonial Office and Palestine, 1921-23.” Journal of Palestine Studies 27.2 (1998): 23-41. JSTOR. Web. 10 Oct. 2016.

 

Huntington, Ellsworth. “The Future of Palestine.” Geographical Review 7.1 (1919): 24-35. JSTOR [JSTOR]. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.

 

Husayn, Sharif, and Henry McMahon. “The Hussein-McMahon Correspondence.” Letter. N.d. The Hussein-McMahon Correspondence (July 1915-August 1916) | Jewish Virtual Library. Jewish Virtual Library, n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2016. <http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/hussmac1.html&gt;.

Hyamson, Albert M. “British Projects for Restoration of the Jews to Palestine.” Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society NO. 26 (1918): 127-64. JSTOR [JSTOR]. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.

 

Jabotisnky, Vladimir Ze’ev. “The Iron Wall” 1923. MS. “The Iron Wall” | Jewish Virtual Library. Jewish Virtual Library. Web. 25 Nov. 2016. <http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Zionism/ironwall.html&gt;.

 

Khalidi, Muhammad Ali. “Utopian Zionism or Zionist Proselytism? A Reading of Herzl’s Altneuland.” Journal of Palestine Studies 30.4 (2001): 55-67. JSTOR [JSTOR]. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.

 

Khalidi, Walid. “Plan Dalet: Master Plan for the Conquest of Palestine.” Journal of Palestine Studies 18.1 (1988): 4-33. JSTOR [JSTOR]. Web. 16 Nov. 2016.

 

King, Henry Churchill, and Charles R. Crane. Rep. N.p.: n.p., 1919. The King-Crane Report – World War I Document Archive. Jewish Virtual Library. Web. 20 Nov. 2016. <https://wwi.lib.byu.edu/index.php/The_King-Crane_Report&gt;.

 

Letters from General Congreve and Air Vice Marshal Salmond, through A. M.  Trenchard, “Situation in Palestine,” 28 June 1921, PRO CO 733/17. (Source originally found in Sahar Huneidi’s Notes)

 

Mill, John Stuart. “Ch. 2 What Utilitarianism Is.” On Liberty, Utilitarianism, and Other Essays. Ed. Tom Griffith. N.p.: Wordsworth Classics of World Literature, 2016. 374-94. Print.

 

Palestine for the Palestinians?” Advocate of Peace through Justice 84.7 (1922): 245-46. JSTOR [JSTOR]. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.

 

Pappe, Ilan. History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2006. JSTOR, June 2012. Web. Sept. 2016.

 

Said, Edward W. Representations of the Intellectual: The 1993 Reith Lectures. New York: Pantheon, 1994. 74. Print.

 

Schneer, Jonathan. The Balfour Declaration: The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. New York: Random House, 2010. Print.

 

Smith, Charles D. Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict. New York: St. Martin’s, 1988. Print.

 

Takriti, Abdel Razzaq. “Palestine Mandate.” University of Houston. 18 Oct. 2016. Lecture.

 

Takriti, Abdel Razzaq. “Palestinian Mandate Pt. 2.” University of Houston. 25 Oct. 2016. Lecture.

 

Wolf, Lucien. “The Zionist Peril.” The Jewish Quarterly Review 17.1 (1904): 1. JSTOR [JSTOR]. Web. 19 Nov. 2016.

[1]Mill’s Utilitarianism and Other Essays

[2] King Crane Commission (JVL)

[3] King Crane Commission (JVL)

[4] Pappe, History of Modern Palestine

[5] Theodore Herzl, Der Judenstaat (JVL)

[6] Albert M. Hyamson, British Projects for Restoration

[7] Mohammed Khalidi, Utopian Zionism

[8] Theodore Herzl

[9] Charles Smith, Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict

[10]Ahad Ha’am Jewish Question (JVL)

[11] Ha’am

[12] Muhammad Khalidi

[13] Future of Palestine

[14] Ottoman Document (Source: Charles Smith)

[15] Charles Smith

[16] Charles Smith

[17] Charles Smith

[18] Jonathan Schneer, Balfour Declaration

[19] Husayn – McMahon Correspondence (JVL)

[20] Husayn – McMahon Correspondence (JVL)

[21] Charles Smith

[22] Balfour Declaration (JVL)

[23] Ellsworth Huntington, Future of Palestine

[24] British Mandate of Palestine (JVL)

[25] Abdel Takriti Palestinian Mandate (Notes)

[26] Ellsworth Huntington

[27] Abdel Takriti, Palestinian Mandate Pt. 2 (Notes)

[28] Albert M. Hyamson

[29] Albert M. Hyamson

[30] Huneidi, Reversal of the Balfour Declaration

[31] Huneidi

[32] Herbert Samuel (Find Source)

[33] Jabotinsky’s The Iron Wall (JVL)

[34]  Lucien Wolf, Zionist Peril

[35] Walid Khalidi, Plan Dalet

[36] Edward Said, Representations of the Intellectual

[37] Winston Churchill, Response to Peel Commission