Are the promised land really promised?

Are the promised land really promised?

Already dealing with some problems in your neighborhood, a new neighbor moves in, and for 75 years, you find yourself having to endure the troubles caused by this neighbor. In such bad and problematic neighborly relations, you would normally submit a petition to the municipality or the police, and they would take care of it, most likely. But if this neighbor is placed in your neighborhood by the tough guys from the neighboring neighborhood and is supported, no matter what you do, you find yourself unable to cope. Even the slightest criticism is thrown back at you with an attitude of “I’ll tell my big brother,” and you end up entering your 76th year with such a neighbor.

Let’s make this neighborhood story concrete so that our analysis doesn’t remain in the air: Our neighborhood is what we call West Asia, but Westerners prefer to name it the “Middle East”. The neighbor forcibly attached to your neighborhood 75 years ago is the state of Israel. How a neighbor settled in this piece of real estate, surrounded by deserts, with no water, no forests, and no charm, is a bit difficult to understand. Yes, there is a narrative of “promised lands” in their belief systems, but since it is a bit confusing who promised what to whom, it does not seem like a sufficient reason to explain their settlement in this neighborhood.

Moreover, this was not the only piece of real estate offered to the world’s Jews in history. So, because there were other places to go, they settled in the land of Canaan, called Palestine, in 1948 due to the compulsion of fate. Let’s take a brief look at the alternative lands proposed and seriously discussed for the establishment of a Jewish state in the last 100 years before 1948. While looking at these lands, let’s also consider that geographically, strategically, politically, and economically, all these alternatives might have been more advantageous for the Jews than the state of Israel established in the current Palestinian territories. Then maybe we can search for the answer to the question, “… but why was an Israeli state established specifically in Palestine?”

Jewish state in the US: Ararat (Ağrı) City

In 1820, a journalist and utopian named Mordechai Noah purchased a large part of Grand Island on the Niagara River to establish a city named Ararat, or Ağrı in our language. Just five years earlier, in 1915, this island had been purchased by the state of New York from the Iroquois Native American tribe for $1000. Noah named the city after Mount Ararat, the place where Noah’s Ark is shown in the Bible. He had the inscription “Ararat, a refuge for Jews” placed at the entrance of the city, inviting all Jews to come and establish their homeland here. When there was little demand for the city established in 1825, fifty years after the independence of the American colonies from British rule, the project was abandoned. Although the Seneca tribe tried to reclaim their lands, the US government rejected it, and this attempt to establish a Jewish homeland disappeared into history. Noah’s stories related to the Bible served as a source for Joseph Smith, who founded the Mormon religion in the same region just three years later.

British idea of a Jewish state in Kenya

In 1903, the British proposed the establishment of a Jewish state in Kenya, one of their colonies in East Africa, to Theodore Herzl’s Zionists. They intended to settle those who wanted to escape the Jewish pogroms in the Russian Empire there. The proposal was taken seriously and extensively discussed at the 1903 World Zionist Congress in Basel. However, Zionist leaders, fearing that the establishment of a Jewish state in Kenya would undermine Jewish rights in the Holy Land, rejected it. Moreover, the local Masai people did not welcome this idea. Thus, this project of a Jewish homeland came to an end before it was born.

Attempt for an autonomous Jewish state by Stalin

Under Stalin’s rule, the Soviet Union decided in 1930 to establish a Jewish autonomous region called Birobidzhan on the shores of the Amur River in the Far East of the Soviet Union. According to Stalin’s nationalities policy, each minority was settled in an autonomous region where they could live according to their culture and traditions within a socialist framework. At the same time, there was a plan for a Jewish autonomous region in Crimea, but it was abandoned due to potential problems with Muslim minorities in the region. Eventually, as the purges within the party began in the mid-1930s, and with the impending World War II, the plan for the Birobidzhan Jewish region remained a mere attempt. Although the idea resurfaced after the war, when the proposal for Israel by the UK and the US came forward, and with Stalin’s death, it came to an end before being realized.

Japanese plan for poisonous fish (Fugu)

Reminiscent of Hollywood movies and still a debated reality today, the plan was made in 1934, before the alliance between the Japanese and the Nazis, to relocate European Jews to a designated area in Japan. The proponents of this plan argued that Jews could contribute and be useful to Japan. The plan was given a name relevant to the situation, and it was named after a Japanese fish. The fish chosen was Fugu, a species that could be deadly if improperly prepared but very tasty when prepared correctly. However, the idea of a Jewish autonomous region in Japan was abandoned when Japan allied with Hitler’s Germany in 1941, before it could even take shape.

A Jewish state in Madagascar

The idea of mass transfer of European Jews to the island of Madagascar was a common proposal among European states. British, French, and Polish governments were already seeking solutions in this regard. However, Nazi Germany embraced the idea and even made plans for its implementation. Heinrich Himmler, one of the Nazi leaders, stated in his essay “Thoughts on the Treatment of Peoples of Eastern Origins” that he hoped the Jewish problem in Europe would be resolved by sending them all to a colony in Africa or elsewhere. With Hitler’s approval, Adolf Eichman announced in August 1940 that, starting from the following year, one million Jews would be sent to Madagascar annually for four years, and the island would be governed as a police state under the SS. However, with the failure of the Germans to defeat Britain, the plan for the Madagascar exile was replaced in 1942 by the “Final Solution to the Jewish Problem,” leading to mass murders. Thus, a Jewish state project planned by an imperialist state ended before it was born.

Another plan from fascist Mussolini

Fascist Italy under Mussolini also made plans regarding European Jews. They considered settling Italian Jews within the existing Beta Israel communities of black Jews in the Gojjam and Begemder regions of Ethiopia in the Italian Empire. According to the racist policies of the fascists, white European Jews settled there would not be allowed to marry local black Jews. When Mussolini was hanged upside down and lost his life, the African plan for Italian Jews also ended before it could be implemented.

Land search from Australia to Alaska

The search for a location for a modern Jewish state was not limited to the plans mentioned above. In 1902, a settlement of Jews on the lands taken by the Russian Empire from Poland was considered. The idea of ​​establishing a Jewish state in Cyprus or in the El Arish region of the Sinai Peninsula, which belonged to Egypt, was proposed by Theodore Herzl in the early 20th century. The idea of ​​Jewish settlement envisaged by the Faisal-Weizmann agreement remained on the agenda for a long time. There were also considerations for creating a Jewish country in Australia’s Kimberley region or around Port Davey in Tasmania. In 1939, US President Franklin Roosevelt proposed an autonomous Jewish region in Alaska’s Sitka Peninsula.

The frequently exploding bomb in our lap

As can be seen, the whole world has been working on establishing a country or autonomous region for Jews since the 1820s. However, when World War II ended, the victorious imperialist powers agreed to establish an Israeli state on the so-called ‘promised lands’ in the heart of West Asia, and in doing so, they placed a ready-to-explode bomb in our lap that occasionally explodes. If things continue like today, it seems that we will be carrying this bomb in our lap for many more years. After all, was the aim of the architects of this plan in 1948 not such a future for our region? As a result, they could have their finger in West Asia forever, and indeed it is, as we see these days.

Latif Bolat

He was born in Mersin-Türkiye. Studied at the Ankara State Conservatory, Gazi University Music Department and Ankara University-School of Political Sciences. Did his graduate degree at San Francisco State University in International Business and Marketing. Worked as a Theater Music Director and newspaper reporter, as well as a computer engineer. Finally, he decided to stay as a music scholar. He traveled for his concert and lectures in 40 countries including the USA, India, UK, Italy, Iran, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Sweden, Greece, and many other locations. He produced 5 Turkish Mystic Sufi music CDs and a Turkish Mystic Sufi poetry Anthology in English, titled “Quarreling with God”, published in Oregon, USA. www.LatifBolat.com Lbolat@aol.com

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April 2024