Connect with us

Middle East

Balfour Declaration: Christian Zionism of 19th Century

Published

on

November this year marks the completion of 100 years of the most audacious act of British Imperialism in flagrant violation of international norms and devoid of any human decency. It is the anniversary of the letter dated 2nd November 1917 written by the then British foreign secretary Arthur Balfour to Walter Rothschild delivered by hand to his London home at 148 Piccadilly later came to be known as the Balfour Declaration.

This 67-word document bears not only the stamp of Machiavellian British cunning “robbing Peter to pay Paul” but also their nineteen-century hubristic mindset of being in control of the destiny of entire humankind. Most bizarre fact surrounding this declaration is; at the time of writing this letter Palestine was part of Ottoman empire Britain had no legal authority to make this promise, and Walter Rothschild was just a wealthy Jewish British citizen who had no formal locus standi in the matters of state and international relations. Besides the concept of a “national home” does not exist in the annals of international law. The only common bond and crucial one was that both Balfour & Rothschild presented two faces of Zionism; Christian and Jewish Zionism.

This becomes abundantly clear if we read the following extract of the Balfour’s 1919 letter to his successor George Nathaniel Curzon (by then Britain had mandate over Palestine)

Quote

“In Palestine, we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country……… The great powers are committed to Zionism and Zionism be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long tradition, in present needs in future hopes of profounder import than the desire and prejudices of 700,000 Arabs who inhabit that ancient land.”

Unquote

The Christian Zionism dates back to Luther’s reformation that the second advent of Messiah depended on the conversion of all Jews to Christianity which meant the return of the Jews to the Holy Land, and the establishment of the State of Israel in accordance with Biblical prophecy. Thus, restoring Jews to the Holy Land acquired tacit acceptance as a tenet of Protestant evangelism in early nineteenth century Britain where the Bible was the most extensively read book of the time. Thus appropriation of biblical past became the joint strategy of both Zionist camps Christian and Jews.

Dr Lorenzo Kamel Research fellow from History Department of Bologna University and a Visiting Fellow at Harvard University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies calls this phenomenon as Biblical Orientalism.
In his book “Imperial Perceptions of Palestine”, he writes,

Quote

“nearly 1000 books have been written on the subject of Holy Land between the period of 1830 and beginning of 20th Century. But in most cases, the local Arab and non-Arab population has been mentioned in passing as a mere appendix. Through these kinds of attitudes, the idea of a ‘meta-Palestine’, an imaginary place devoid of any history except that of Biblical magnificence, was introduced”

Unquote

Dr Lorenzo Kamel further notices in his book that institution that played an essential role in planting and propagating ideas of Christian Zionism was “Palestine Exploration Fund” (PEF). It was established in London in 1865 following a visit to Palestine by the Prince of Wales.

The major purpose as laid out in the statute was not to pursue theology but to conduct inductive enquiry applying rules of science. Despite what was in the statute, the during the opening of PEF by the Archbishop of York, he  boldly announced;

 “This country of Palestine belongs to you and me. It is essentially ours. It was given to the Father of Israel……………. It is a land to which we may look with a true Patriotism as we do to this dear old England.”

What PEF set into motion was a research-based heady mixture of Imperialism and evangelical Christian fundamentalism. Their archaeological missions were the early precursor of the 20th century Biblical Archeology which in the United States, got generous funding to conduct archaeological excavations in Palestine to historicize biblical myths.

In a book of one of the PEF funded archaeological expeditions “Surveys of West Palestine” the author Charles Tyrwhitt-Drake has made utterly despicable comments on the local inhabitants the fellahin (farmers) he saw; “the fellahin are all in all the worst type of humanity that I have come across in East. Fellah is totally destitute of all moral sense”. Such abhorrent comments only show the depth to which the nineteen-century tone deaf imperial mind can sink while thinking of those beyond white world!

Through their consistent groundwork, the PEF and their Zionist cohorts could build imaginary Palestine based on the Bible. These efforts paid rich dividends by way of mind shaping of average British protestant. An entrepreneur was not far off to see profiteering opportunity. Thomas Cook, the inventor of modern travel agencies, inaugurated religious tourism with the first batch of just 50 passengers to the Jerusalem, the number which later jumped to 20,000 in three decades. This first-hand contact with holy land went a long way in making popular perception better disposed to Zionism. In Cook’s own words; the educational and social results of these eastern travel have been most encouraging. A new incentive to scriptural investigation has been created and fostered…..(due to the) general influence of sacred scenes and repeated visits to sites of biblical events, the inquiring and believing spirits have held sweet counsel with each other”

The Zionist project for the creation of the state of Israel is a multinational project of colossal magnitude, enormous complexity, unimaginable deceit, inhuman cruelty at the same time it is a masterpiece of international non-state diplomacy and well-coordinated lobbying venture.

The only way to understand at least partly the truth is to follow Mark Twain and what he said regarding his stay in the Holy Land in his book “The Innocents Abroad”,

If I wish to profit by this tour (to Palestine), and come to a correct understanding of the matters of interest connected to it, I must studiously and faithfully unlearn a great many things I have somehow absorbed concerning Palestine.”

Continue Reading
Comments

Middle East

Saudi Arabia and Iran want to be friends again

Published

on

Eventually the ice-cold relationship between Iran and Saudi Arabia began to melt. The two countries sat at the negotiating table shortly after Biden came to power. The results of that discussion are finally being seen. Trade relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia have already begun to move. Although there has been no diplomatic relationship between the two countries since 2016, trade relations have been tense. But trade between Iran and the two countries was zero from last fiscal year until March 20 this year. Iran recently released a report on trade with neighboring countries over the past six months. The report also mentions the name of Saudi Arabia. This means that the rivalry between the two countries is slowly normalizing.

Historically, Shia-dominated Iran was opposed to the Ottoman Empire. The Safavids of Persia have been at war with the Ottomans for a long time, However, after the fall of the Ottomans, when the Middle East was divided like monkey bread, the newly created Saudi Arabia did not have much of a problem with Iran. Business trade between the two countries was normal. This is because the rulers of Saudi Arabia and Iran at the time were Western-backed. That is why there was not much of a problem between them. But when a revolution was organized in Iran in 1979 and the Islamic Republic of Iran was established by overthrowing the Shah, Iran’s relations with the West as well as with Saudi Arabia deteriorated. During the revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini called for the ouster of Western-backed rulers from the Middle East. After this announcement, naturally the Arab rulers went against Iran.

Saddam Hussein later invaded Iran with US support and Saudi financial support. After that, as long as Khomeini was alive, Saudi Arabia’s relations with Iran were bad. After Khomeini’s death, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatemi tried to mend fences again. But they didn’t get much of an advantage.

When the Bush administration launched its invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iran’s influence in Shiite-majority Iraq continued to grow. Since the start of the Arab Spring in 2011, Iran’s influence in the region has grown. Saudi Arabia has been embroiled in a series of shadow wars to reduce its influence. It can be said that Iran and Saudi Arabia are involved in the Cold War just like the United States and the Soviet Union. Behind that war was a conflict of religious ideology and political interests. Diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran came to a complete standstill in 2016. Iranians attack the Saudi embassy in Tehran after executing Saudi Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimar al-Nimar.  Since then, the two countries have not had diplomatic relations.

Finally, in April this year, representatives of the two countries met behind closed doors in Baghdad. And through this, the two countries started the process of normalizing diplomatic relations again. The last direct meeting between the two countries was held on September 21.

Now why are these two countries interested in normalizing relations? At one point, Mohammed bin Salman said they had no chance of negotiating with Iran. And Khomeini, the current Supreme Leader of Iran, called Mohammed bin Salman the new Hitler. But there is no such thing as a permanent enemy ally in politics or foreign policy. That is why it has brought Saudi Arabia and Iran back to the negotiating table. Prince Salman once refused to negotiate with Iran, but now he says Iran is our neighbor, we all want good and special relations with Iran.

Saudi Arabia has realized that its Western allies are short-lived. But Iran is their permanent neighbor. They have to live with Iran. The United States will not return to fight against Iran on behalf of Saudi Arabia. That is why it is logical for Iran and Saudi Arabia to have their ideological differences and different interests at the negotiating table. Saudi Arabia has been at the negotiating table with Iran for a number of reasons. The first reason is that Saudi Arabia wants to reduce its oil dependence. Prince Salman has announced Vision 2030. In order to implement Vision 2030 and get out of the oil dependent economy, we need to have good relations with our neighbors. It is not possible to achieve such goals without regional stability, He said.

Saudi Arabia also wants to emerge from the ongoing shadow war with Iran in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon to achieve regional stability. The war in Yemen in particular is now a thorn in the side of Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are unable to get out of this war, nor are they able to achieve the desired goal. Saudi Arabia must normalize relations with Iran if it is to emerge from the war in Yemen. Without a mutual understanding with Iran, Yemen will not be able to end the war. That is why Saudi Arabia wants to end the war through a peace deal with the Houthis by improving relations with Iran.

Drone strikes could also have an impact on the Saudi Aramco oil field to bring Saudi Arabia to the negotiating table. Because after the drone attack, the oil supply was cut in half. The Saudis do not want Aramco to be attacked again. Also, since the Biden administration has no eye on the Middle East, it would be wise to improve relations with Iran in its own interests.

Iran will benefit the most if relations with Saudi Arabia improve. Their economy has been shaken by long-standing US sanctions on Iran. As Saudi Arabia is the largest and most powerful country in the Middle East, Iran has the potential to benefit politically as well as economically if relations with them are normal.

While Saudi Arabia will normalize relations with Iran, its allies will also improve relations with Iran. As a result, Iran’s political and trade relations with all the countries of the Saudi alliance will be better. This will give them a chance to turn their economy around again. The development of Iran’s relations with Saudi Arabia will also send a positive message to the Biden administration. It could lead to a renewed nuclear deal and lift sanctions on Iran.

Another reason is that when Saudi Arabia normalizes relations with Iran, it will receive formal recognition of Iran’s power in the Middle East. The message will be conveyed that it is not possible to turn the stick in the Middle East by bypassing Iran. Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran need to be normalized for peace and stability in the Middle East.

But in this case, the United Arab Emirates and Israel may be an obstacle. The closeness that Saudi Arabia had with the UAE will no longer exist. The UAE now relies much more on Israel. There will also be some conflict of interest between Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Prince Salman wants to turn Saudi into a full-fledged tourism and business hub that could pose a major threat to the UAE’s economy and make the two countries compete.

Furthermore, in order to sell arms to the Middle East, Iran must show something special. Why would Middle Eastern countries buy weapons if the Iranian offensive was stopped? During the Cold War, arms dealers forced NATO allies to buy large quantities of weapons out of fear of the Soviet Union. So it is in the Middle East. But if the relationship between Iran and Saudi Arabia is normal, it will be positive for the Muslim world, but it will lead to a recession in the arms market.

Continue Reading

Middle East

Turkey and Iran find soft power more difficult than hard power

Published

on

The times they are a changin’. Iranian leaders may not be Bob Dylan fans, but his words are likely to resonate as they contemplate their next steps in Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan, Lebanon, and Azerbaijan.

The same is true for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The president’s shine as a fierce defender of Muslim causes, except for when there is an economic price tag attached as is the case of China’s brutal crackdown on Turkic Muslims, has been dented by allegations of lax defences against money laundering and economic mismanagement.

The setbacks come at a time that Mr. Erdogan’s popularity is diving in opinion polls.

Turkey this weekend expelled the ambassadors of the US, Canada, France, Finland, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and Sweden for calling for the release of philanthropist and civil rights activist Osman Kavala in line with a European Court of Human Rights decision.

Neither Turkey nor Iran can afford the setbacks that often are the result of hubris. Both have bigger geopolitical, diplomatic, and economic fish to fry and are competing with Saudi Arabia and the UAE as well as Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama for religious soft power, if not leadership of the Muslim world.

That competition takes on added significance in a world in which Middle Eastern rivals seek to manage rather than resolve their differences by focusing on economics and trade and soft, rather than hard power and proxy battles.

In one recent incident Hidayat Nur Wahid, deputy speaker of the Indonesian parliament, opposed naming a street in Jakarta after Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the general-turned-statemen who carved modern Turkey out of the ruins of the Ottoman empire. Mr. Wahid suggested that it would be more appropriate to commemorate Ottoman sultans Mehmet the Conqueror or Suleiman the Magnificent or 14th-century Islamic scholar, Sufi mystic, and poet Jalaludin Rumi.

Mr. Wahid is a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and a board member of the Saudi-run Muslim World League, one of the kingdom’s main promoters of religious soft power.

More importantly, Turkey’s integrity as a country that forcefully combats funding of political violence and money laundering has been called into question by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international watchdog, and a potential court case in the United States that could further tarnish Mr. Erdogan’s image.

A US appeals court ruled on Friday that state-owned Turkish lender Halkbank can be prosecuted over accusations it helped Iran evade American sanctions.

Prosecutors have accused Halkbank of converting oil revenue into gold and then cash to benefit Iranian interests and documenting fake food shipments to justify transfers of oil proceeds. They also said Halkbank helped Iran secretly transfer US$20 billion of restricted funds, with at least $1 billion laundered through the US financial system.

Halkbank has pleaded not guilty and argued that it is immune from prosecution under the federal Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act because it was “synonymous” with Turkey, which has immunity under that law. The case has complicated US-Turkish relations, with Mr.  Erdogan backing Halkbank’s innocence in a 2018 memo to then US President Donald Trump.

FATF placed Turkey on its grey list last week. It joins countries like Pakistan, Syria, South Sudan, and Yemen that have failed to comply with the group’s standards. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned earlier this year that greylisting would affect a country’s ability to borrow on international markets,  and cost it an equivalent of up to 3 per cent of gross domestic product as well as a drop in foreign direct investment.

Mr. Erdogan’s management of the economy has been troubled by the recent firing of three central bank policymakers, a bigger-than-expected interest rate cut that sent the Turkish lira tumbling, soaring prices, and an annual inflation rate that last month ran just shy of 20 per cent. Mr. Erdogan has regularly blamed high-interest rates for inflation.

A public opinion survey concluded in May that 56.9% of respondents would not vote for Mr. Erdogan and that the president would lose in a run-off against two of his rivals, Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavas and his Istanbul counterpart Ekrem Imamoglu.

In further bad news for the president, polling company Metropoll said its September survey showed that 69 per cent of respondents saw secularism as a necessity while 85.1 per cent objected to religion being used in election campaigning.

In Iran’s case, a combination of factors is changing the dynamics of Iran’s relations with some of its allied Arab militias, calling into question the domestic positioning of some of those militias, fueling concern in Tehran that its detractors are encircling it, and putting a dent in the way Iran would like to project itself.

A just-published report by the Combatting Terrorism Center at the US Military Academy West Point concluded that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) faced “growing difficulties in controlling local militant cells. Hardline anti-US militias struggle with the contending needs to de-escalate US-Iran tensions, meet the demands of their base for anti-US operations, and simultaneously evolve non-kinetic political and social wings.”

Iranian de-escalation of tensions with the United States is a function of efforts to revive the defunct 2015 international agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program and talks aimed at improving relations with Saudi Arabia even if they have yet to produce concrete results.

In addition, like in Lebanon, Iranian soft power in Iraq has been challenged by growing Iraqi public opposition to sectarianism and Iranian-backed Shiite militias that are at best only nominally controlled by the state.

Even worse, militias, including Hezbollah, the Arab world’s foremost Iranian-supported armed group, have been identified with corrupt elites in Lebanon and Iraq. Many in Lebanon oppose Hezbollah as part of an elite that has allowed the Lebanese state to collapse to protect its vested interests.

Hezbollah did little to counter those perceptions when the group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, threatened Lebanese Christians after fighting erupted this month between the militia and the Lebanese Forces, a Maronite party, along the Green Line that separated Christian East and Muslim West Beirut during the 1975-1990 civil war.

The two groups battled each other for hours as Hezbollah staged a demonstration to pressure the government to stymie an investigation into last year’s devastating explosion in the port of Beirut. Hezbollah fears that the inquiry could lay bare pursuit of the group’s interests at the expense of public safety.

“The biggest threat for the Christian presence in Lebanon is the Lebanese Forces party and its head,” Mr. Nasrallah warned, fuelling fears of a return to sectarian violence.

It’s a warning that puts a blot on Iran’s assertion that its Islam respects minority rights, witness the reserved seats in the country’s parliament for religious minorities. These include Jews, Armenians, Assyrians and Zoroastrians.

Similarly, an alliance of Iranian-backed Shiite militias emerged as the biggest loser in this month’s Iraqi elections. The Fateh (Conquest) Alliance, previously the second-largest bloc in parliament, saw its number of seats drop from 48 to 17.

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi brought forward the vote from 2022 to appease a youth-led protest movement that erupted two years ago against corruption, unemployment, crumbling public services, sectarianism, and Iranian influence in politics.

One bright light from Iran’s perspective is the fact that an attempt in September by activists in the United States to engineer support for Iraqi recognition of Israel backfired.

Iran last month targeted facilities in northern Iraq operated by Iranian opposition Kurdish groups. Teheran believes they are part of a tightening US-Israeli noose around the Islamic republic that involves proxies and covert operations on its Iraqi and Azerbaijani borders.

Efforts to reduce tension with Azerbaijan have failed. An end to a war of words that duelling military manoeuvres on both sides of the border proved short-lived. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, emboldened by Israeli and Turkish support in last year’s war against Armenia, appeared unwilling to dial down the rhetoric.

With a revival of the nuclear program in doubt, Iran fears that Azerbaijan could become a staging pad for US and Israeli covert operations. Those doubts were reinforced by calls for US backing of Azerbaijan by scholars in conservative Washington think tanks, including the Hudson Institute and the Heritage Foundation.

Eldar Mamedov, a political adviser for the social-democrats in the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, warned that “the US government should resist calls from hawks to get embroiled in a conflict where it has no vital interest at stake, and much less on behalf of a regime that is so antithetical to US values and interests.”

He noted that Mr. Aliyev has forced major US NGOs to leave Azerbaijan, has trampled on human and political rights, and been anything but tolerant of the country’s Armenian heritage.

Continue Reading

Middle East

Process to draft Syria constitution begins this week

Published

on

The process of drafting a new constitution for Syria will begin this week, the UN Special Envoy for the country, Geir Pedersen, said on Sunday at a press conference in Geneva.

Mr. Pedersen was speaking following a meeting with the government and opposition co-chairs of the Syrian Constitutional Committee, who have agreed to start the process for constitutional reform.

The members of its so-called “small body”, tasked with preparing and drafting the Constitution, are in the Swiss city for their sixth round of talks in two years, which begin on Monday. 

Their last meeting, held in January, ended without progress, and the UN envoy has been negotiating between the parties on a way forward.

“The two Co-Chairs now agree that we will not only prepare for constitutional reform, but we will prepare and start drafting for constitutional reform,” Mr. Pedersen told journalists.

“So, the new thing this week is that we will actually be starting a drafting process for constitutional reform in Syria.”

The UN continues to support efforts towards a Syrian-owned and led political solution to end more than a decade of war that has killed upwards of 350,000 people and left 13 million in need of humanitarian aid.

An important contribution

The Syrian Constitutional Committee was formed in 2019, comprising 150 men and women, with the Government, the opposition and civil society each nominating 50 people.

This larger group established the 45-member small body, which consists of 15 representatives from each of the three sectors.

For the first time ever, committee co-chairs Ahmad Kuzbari, the Syrian government representative, and Hadi al-Bahra, from the opposition side, met together with Mr. Pedersen on Sunday morning. 

He described it as “a substantial and frank discussion on how we are to proceed with the constitutional reform and indeed in detail how we are planning for the week ahead of us.”

Mr. Pedersen told journalists that while the Syrian Constitutional Committee is an important contribution to the political process, “the committee in itself will not be able to solve the Syrian crisis, so we need to come together, with serious work, on the Constitutional Committee, but also address the other aspects of the Syrian crisis.”

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

Urban Development2 hours ago

New Principles Provide Roadmap for Net-Zero Buildings

Collective action must be taken to accelerate the decarbonization of buildings, which contribute 38% of all energy-related greenhouse gas emissions....

Tech News5 hours ago

Millions of Moscow residents manage their everyday lives through their smartphones

The creators of My Moscow, a mobile application of the Russian capital’s urban services, have analysed how and why Muscovites...

Africa Today7 hours ago

Nigeria becomes the first country in Africa to roll out Digital Currency

The Central Bank of Nigeria joined a growing list of emerging markets betting on digital money to cut transaction costs...

Defense10 hours ago

US Targets Militants in Turkish-Held Area in Syria

Central Command spokesman Army Major John Rigsbee announced on Friday, October 23, the killing of senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid...

Development12 hours ago

Multilateralism ‘struggling’ to solve world challenges

While multilateralism remains “committed to solving global challenges”, the deputy UN chief said on Sunday, United Nations Day, it is...

Tech News14 hours ago

Do You Really Need Name-Brand Cartridges?

Cartridges from printer manufacturers like Hewlett-Packard are notoriously expensive.  Considering the price of their basic equipment, ink may cost almost...

Americas14 hours ago

General Colin Powell: A Decent Man in Indecent Society

Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr’s (1892-1932) famous treatise Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932) needs significant revisitation through a personal case: former...

Trending