Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Jordan to Palestinians?

Tribes of Israel
image: wikimedia
How can a believing Jew suggest that a large portion of the Promised Land should be allocated as a country to non-Jewish people - the Palestinian Arabs?

From time to time I have noticed politicians from Ariel Sharon to lesser figures suggesting that the Palestinian population should be encouraged to move to Jordan and that it should be taken away from the Hashemites and given to the Palestinians.

After all it was Sir Winston Churchill from the winner side of First World War who divided the Filastin pashalik of the Ottoman Empire into Palestine and Trans-Jordan. Graciously the British agreed to rule the Palestinian Mandate and to allow some Jewish people to settle there according to the principles of the Balfour declaration.

Equally graciously Churchill -  with a puff of cigar smoke on the face of King Abdallah during a meeting in Augusta Victoria on Mount of Olives as it is told - moved the Hashemite family from Mecca to Amman. For reasons not so clear to me Churchill gave the entire Arabian peninsula to the family of Ibn Saud.

In order to solve the hundred year conflict between Palestinian Arabs and the Jewish State some Israeli politicians and activists have been suggesting - much to the dismay of King Hussein and his son King Abdallah II - to enforce now the First World War cut of the cake. The idea is to use Jordan as a racial as well as national boundary: Arabs to the East and Jews to the left of Jordan.


Biblical boundaries
The boundaries of the Promised Land in the Tanakh quite clearly suggest Brook of Egypt (Wadi el-Arish, not Nile) as the Southern boundary and places the Northern boundary somewhere from the region of Lebanon to the vicinity of Euphrates depending on the text. There is no Eastern border as the deadly Syro-Arabian desert that begins where the rains end is a natural boundary. Only modern technology has allowed the straight lines be drawn in the sand that we see today between Jordan and its Eastern neighbours Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Biblical history describes how half-tribe of Manasseh, and families from the Gad and Ruben tribes settled the fertile regions East of Jordan North of Moab to Ammon, Gilead and to the borders of the Aramean kings south of Bashan (Golan). Perhaps Yarmuk was seen as a natural border already then.

We do not know much about the eastern tribes after the period of Judges. The King of Moab, the Ammonites, Esau in Edom were eventually destroyed in the Assyrian invasion 723 BC and deported. That horrible military attack from the region of modern Iraq devastated ten of the twelve tribes of Jacob and the Northern Kingdom with its capital in Samaria was no more.

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So I ask again, how can a believing Jewish person suggest that such a significant part of the Promised Land should be given as a state to non-Jewish people, the Palestinian Arabs?

As a temporary solution, perhaps?


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