poly: residual effects of colonialism

From: d.brin <brin@cts.com>
Date: Fri Apr 24 1998 - 12:56:49 PDT

Strange as it seems, I agree with Perry re: Israel. In 1945 the population
of Palestine was roughly evenly divided among jews and arabs, but the key
point is that the total population was less than a tenth what it is now.
In other words, there was absolutely no reason not to welcome the refugees
from the concentration camps of Europe, who were willing to both work and
pay top dollar for the land they would live on.

The attitude of arab leaders? The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem summed it up.
Death to all jews, immigrants and native alike. He explicitly, repeatedly
included women and children in vows of total anihilation. Threats were
hardly any less from the Egyptian Khedive, or the leaders of Syria and

Here is the fundamental moral question of the Middle East: Arabs and Jews
are both sons of Abraham, fellow Semites and children of the desert. So
why were the desperate survivors of the worst crime in all of history not
simply welcomed home? They offered huge aid (donated by American Jews)
development skills, and joint efforts to develop local resources. No offer
was accepted, even as a basis for negotiation. No counter offer was made,
except for every Jew simply to die.

The tragedy was that things almost went differently. Back in 1919, Prince
Faisel (Alec Guiness played him in Laurence of Arabia) suggested inviting
the Jews of Europe to Palestine to help form a new country... a
principality within his overall kingdom, combining their expertise and
capital with local labor and resources. The result, he hoped, would be a
synergy that would benefit both peoples immensely. Had it been carried
out, Hitler would have had fewer victims, and all the Middle East might now
be in glorious condition.

The fault lies with Clemenceau and Lloyd George, the French and British
prime ministers at the post WWI Versailles Conference, who overruled
President Wilson, deposed Faisel, and established colonial 'protectorates'
throughout the Middle East. Then the Saudis kicked Faisel's Hashemites out
of Arabia. We can compare this might-have-been to the present situation,
in which all synergies were swept away in tides of blood, and capital
wasted on armaments. There is no doubt that Israelis played some part in
the mistakes of the last 50 years. But the fundamental question remains.
If the survivors of Hitler's ovens could not go home, to a mostly empty
land where their skills were needed, where on Earth were they supposed to

It would be one thing if they had been received with charity and then
betrayed their neighbors. But they came willing and eager to negotiate...
and were met with promises of nothing but death. It's not hard to see how
some of them hardened their hearts and behaved as conquerors. (Who
nevertheless gave full citizenship to Israeli Arabs, something that never
happened to Jews in Arab lands.) Again, the simple moral question. Why
were the victims of the Holocaust not simply welcomed home?

Life is complex. We don't live in the best of all worlds, but one in which
there are some chances to learn from past mistakes, if we foresake hatred
in favor of fresh ideas.
Received on Fri Apr 24 19:55:14 1998

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