The land of milk and honey - desired by many factions, fought for by a swelling army and the heart of perhaps the worldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s greatest colonial conflict.
Ownership of Palestine proper, and for the most part, the Occupied Territories in general, have aroused much debate since the secretive Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 eventually granted Israel Ã¢â‚¬ËœitsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ land and forty years later, the Jewish refugees a haven after suffering what was later determined to be genocide during World War II.
What most of the Western world have failed to realize and admittedly so, the remainder of the members of the United Nations (UN), save for a growing, but hesitant, number of pariah states Ã¢â‚¬" mostly comprised of the Middle East countries, is that the Occupied Territories are Ã¢â‚¬ËœoccupiedÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Ã¢â‚¬" by Israel, and have been for the better part of four decades.
A recent multiple choice survey conducted by a professor specializing in propaganda issues within the foreign policy framework at an American educational institution supplied four answers to this question: In the current Middle East crisis, which country or territory are violating numerous international treaties and UN resolutions? Jordan, Israel, Palestine or none of the above. Remember for a moment that those polled were individuals in the echelons of higher learning, American citizens (or naturalized) and had some background in international relations. The results to the poll should be both surprising and revealing. Eliminating from the equation both Jordan and the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœnone of the aboveÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ selections Ã¢â‚¬" in which both answers received less than five per cent from the surveyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s respondents, Palestine was the overwhelming choice at more than 70 per cent, with Israel lagging overwhelmingly behind at around 13 per cent.
The reason the survey is eye-opening is conclusively two-fold. One, students, from different educational and ethnic backgrounds chose outright the incorrect answer, which can either mean their studies had somewhat failed them up to that point in their life Ã¢â‚¬" or, a more likely scenario, they honestly had been led to believe through a careful decision-making process based on empirical evidence through the mass media of news on the Internet, TV and in print that the Palestinian Territories were encroaching upon Israel and its neighbours.
The truth, and what will never come from the other side of the Atlantic, is that powerful people in powerful positions (for example, within shouting distance or more so the chequebook and ear of the U.S. administration and its offshoots) have drawn up a masterful, and what may seem almost epic, strategic plan that brainwashes all those willing to listen Ã¢â‚¬" and there are many, that Israel can do no wrong, the Muslim world is the evil Satan (to borrow the late AyatollahÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s words), Jews are the victims and Muslims are the aggressors in places like Gaza, Jerusalem and Ramallah.
The second revealing point derived from the survey is that it is Israel that has been the culprit in ignoring many of the UN mandates and resolutions. A brief history lesson that reveals the current geopolitical map of the Middle East basically states that Israel captured a great deal of land, land that was of a great deal of importance to Syria, Jordan and Egypt. Israel has refused to give up this land, and over the past 40 years the three countries and victims of the Nakba, or Catastrophe, labelled by many as the exile of Palestinian refugees, have been unable to successfully, both militarily and diplomatically win it back.
The foremost in importance of the resolutions passed is UN Resolution 242, and according to which country one would pose a question regarding its interpretation literally translates into a number of ideas. Nevertheless, 242 states that the Middle East, including the three countries in question, must recognize Israel as its own country and in return be rewarded with the return of their lands prior to the territories (the Golan Heights, West Bank, Gaza, the Sinai Peninsula) captured in the 1967 war. In the past Israel has repeatedly ignored 242 and the U.S. has done little with its permanent chair on the UN Security Council to alter current scholarship.
So where is Palestine introduced into this equation? Perhaps within the next year, as hoped for by the recent peace summit in Annapolis, Maryland, Mahmoud Abbas and his countrymen will be granted their own Ã¢â‚¬Ëœterra firmaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Ã¢â‚¬" something their previous father, Yassir Arafat had always dreamt about but perhaps may have detrimentally done more harm to the idea than good.
The concession of the Golan Heights to Syria and parts of northern Lebanon is a start, and Jordan has repeatedly dismissed the idea of taking back parts of the West Bank with all the extra baggage it would contain. However, the Palestinians are in a situation where their settlements, trampled upon by a Jewish Diaspora, is contained within two plots of lands, prisons for the most part separated by a wide gulf within the Israeli state.
Many Middle East experts have said that the Palestinian question is simple, one that would be easy to solve and more so to negotiate a settlement. Why then has it elicited this much hatred, bloodshed, political run-a-round and propaganda war tacticians in Washington ensuring that anything farther from the rightful return of Palestinians to their homeland occurs? The answer may be right in front of many of the heads of state, then again they may not excel at answering multiple choice questions, and one of the most important one of all: Who has been the central victim of numerous violations of international treaties and UN resolutions? Hint: ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not Israel.