Middle East Impasse: Jews And Arabs Should Talk Directly – OpEd


By Dr. Sudhanshu Tripathi*

Militancy and terror, unfortunately, have a close connection with Middle East or West Asia ever since Arab Muslims began exerting their hegemonic control over Palestine — a British mandate then — in their bid to uproot Jews who were then gradually consolidating themselves as a Zionist movement to secure their homeland, particularly after the British announcement of the Balfour Declaration in 1917.

This declaration over Palestine — which is the confluence of three different religions viz. Christianity, Judaism and Islam and abode to their equally distinct followers Christians, Jews and Muslims, respectively — paved the way for a new non-Arab and non-Muslim community, gradually taking hold over the Palestinian land to claim the right for not only a Jewish National Home but for a Zionist state.

Obviously the predominantly backward Muslim community, while not being agreeable with the presence of Christians, was hell bent against the rising Jew population in Palestine, considering them as a socio-religious threat and also a potent cause to create with the passage of time an identity crisis for them and their culture.

As these Muslims, united under the religious bonds of Islam, never lost their enormously powerful links of a common language and a common faith which always served to revive and give substance to their arrogant and offensive visions of a renewed unity, they soon took recourse to militancy and terror characterised by routine and heinous violence, killing opponents against the backdrop of the rising Jew population who, in reaction to this violence, also became equally gruesome and savage in using terror tactics against the Arab Muslims.

As the British, who were providing occasional support to the then struggling Jews against these Muslims, had become the sole surviving target of expanding Arab nationalism which had consolidated in the aftermath of the Balfour Declaration, they, therefore, wanted to divert the so-arisen Muslim wrath over others.

Indeed, the British were afraid of their violent and retaliatory zeal inflicting heavy damage upon their enemies as is clearly visible in their retrograde and offensive life styles. Indeed, the backward and uneducated Muslims practice an old mind-set, hardliner and insistent approach about their religion and still hold closed and narrow vision towards the world at large. They consider their corporal life as having a noble mission to found an ‘Ummah’ or the Caliphate system — a utopian society of Muslims sans ‘kafirs’ (non-faithful).

This is what the notorious head of terror outfit ISIS, Abu-bakr Baghdadi, wishes to form in and around the vast area of Syria and Iraq and towards that end he is carrying on unbelievingly horrible and ghastly inhuman and blood-curdling massacre of innocent people.

Obviously, the cruel and savage psychology of militancy and so-evolved terrorism today may be found rooted in the backward and uneducated sections of the restless Muslims and also among the Jews in the form of a reaction, which has already acquired the much hyped title of religious fundamentalism and that is getting more and more macabre with the passage of time as a religious war called jihad as they project that Islam is in danger all across the world, particularly in West Asia.

While caring about one’s homeland by a particular community is quite right but not letting another community, which is an equally legitimate native of the same homeland, live there is absolutely wrong and that needs to be stopped by all means. As Middle East is birth place of three religions viz. Christianity, Judaism and Islam, the followers of all these religions, obviously, have their legitimate stake there. Hence, none has the right to uproot another on grounds of being a different community having different socio-cultural and religious identity.

Against such an aggressive and violent attitude of Muslims towards other communities, a similar reaction or more is bound to arise in the so-victimised community and that way the Jews, after suffering the Muslim terror for long, resorted to equally macabre terror-violence in West Asia which is going on there in ever violent form and has already resulted in three bitter Arab-Israel wars.

Here a question naturally arises as to why there is so bitter and macabre violence just for a share on the same land where all of them can survive and prosper as the land in question is the common ancestral abode of the three distinct religions which well proves their simultaneous coexistence here since ages.

In fact, the phenomenon of militancy and terrorism is very complex and has multiple reasons behind its origin and growth. While rooted in the psychology of deprivation, frustration and helplessness, it results as a reaction into uncontrolled violence with a view to arouse fear and awe not only in the target but among all, even ultimately including the very might of a state.

In West Asia too, both the Muslims and the Jews took to arms and resorted to militancy and terror when they found that their respective legitimate claims over Palestine would not materialise under normal course of law and administration. Initially the Muslims, being in majority, began to dominate to the extent that they persecuted the minority Jews to oust them from their abode over the same land, the Jews gradually consolidated themselves to react by resorting to violence and terror.

Thus the terror and counter-terror became more and more macabre as reflected in several ghastly events of violence and terror like the 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre, the three Arab-Israel wars, assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat etc.. With the passage of time, their so evolved mutual animosity became even worse due to interference of super and major powers who, in their bid to capture a lion’s share over the abundant petroleum resources of the region, deliberately pushed the dispute into becoming more complex and remaining unresolved with a view to maintaining their hegemony.

Though the Jews have established their independent and sovereign state by forcibly capturing the Palestinian land, there looks no end to the continuing violence and terror between them. In this scenario, though many attempts for establishing peace in the region have been made including by the United Nations, all have failed because of several complexities involved therein.

Hence, instead of continuing with external power-interference in the disputed regional rivalry, the Jews and the Arabs should be encouraged to resume direct talks on this complex issue with an open mind for its final resolution so that terror may come to an end forever in West Asia.

Such direct mutual dialogues will, indeed, help remove the persisting misunderstanding and differences between them being perpetuated by the external powers, by assuaging their hurt sentiments and helping arouse the kinship feelings as they have the same ancestral origin.

*Dr. Sudhanshu Tripathi is Associate Professor of Political Science at M.D.P.G. College, Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh. Comments and suggestions on this article can be sent on: [email protected]

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