Sunday, July 20, 2014

Why are Israelis and Palestinians fighting against each other?


The latest conflict erupting in the Middle East between Hamaz guerillas in Gaza (Palestine) and Israeli forces is nothing new to us. Both historical and biblical accounts claimed about a feud between closely-related races of people coming from a partly the same lineage yet cannot seal a peace deal with each other once and for all.

The main reason for the conflict was land. Palestinians accused Israelis to have illegally taken and occupied their country. But it may have also been for a much deep-seated reason: Battle for dominance or rivalry.

Coming from the same Abrahamic bloodline
Israelis and Arabs are, in fact, cousins coming from the same Abrahamic bloodline. Abraham’s first born was Ismael through Hagar, an Egyptian maid servant. It was Abraham’s wife Sarah who instructed him to produce a child for her through the Egyptian maid servant as she was barren and, at that time, already old. And so Ismael, the father of the Arab nations, was born. But as the boy grew up, Sarah felt jealous of Hagar and hers son and so she sent the two away.

The birth of two nations
When Sarah was 90 years old, a miracle happened to her and she conceived in her womb a child. She gave birth to a son they named Isaac. Isaac had twin sons named Jacob and Esau. But they are twins who are very different from each other. Esau was a ruddy, hairy, energetic hunter while his twin brother Jacob, on the other hand, grew up to be a soft-spoken, rather conservative sheep herder.

Isaac favored Esau over Jacob because he would always have something to bring home from his hunting activity. But Sarah liked Jacob over Esau. When the two grew up to become young adults, Esau sold his birthright to his twin brother Jacob in exchange of a bowl of red bean stew that he cooked. And not only that, Jacob had stolen, with the help of his mother Rebekah, Esau’s blessing from their father Isaac.

Esau was away hunting when Isaac called on his favorite son so he could bless him. Isaac was already very old and couldn’t see anymore. Rebekah took up Esau’s coat then and instructed Jacob to wear them. When Esau returned from the fields and upon learning that his brother deceived him, he was very angry and vowed to take his twin brother’s life. 

The anointment of Israel
Rebekah sent Jacob away to his relatives in Haran. And while Jacob was on his way on a long journey to his mother’s place of origin, he reached a certain place by which he decided to spend the night for. He took up a slab of rock to serve as a pillow. But as the night went deeper, he was dreaming. He dreamed about a stairway to heaven with angels going up and down.

And just before the break of dawn when he woke up from sleep only to find out that he was already wrestling with a heavenly being. Jacob suffered a broken limb as a result of that but continued to fight yet until he prevailed. The heavenly being he has come to wrestle with pleaded to release him before sunrise. But Jacob demanded the heavenly being that he would bless him in exchange of his release. So he blessed Jacob and even changed his name to Israel.

Israel’s 12 tribes
In Haran, Jacob married his two cousins Leah and Rachel by whom he bore many children with. He also bore children with his wives’ handmaidens Bilhah and Zilpah. Jacob had a total of 12 children who became the twelve tribes of Israel namely: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Gad, Asher, Joseph, Benjamin, Dan, and Naphtali.

The term Israel only came to exist after Jacob. His father Isaac should not be called Israelite nor of his grandfather Abraham who came from the land of Ur in Mesopotamia area either. The term Jews should refer to the descendants of Judah, one of Israel’s sons.

10 lost tribes of Israel
Descendants of the 10 of Israel’s sons (also called the House of Israel occupying the northern kingdom) had been lost in the mists of history. They are called the 10 lost tribes of Israel. Bible scholars thought that these 10 lost tribes of Israel were mixed up in the nations emerging in what is now the modern Europe.

Israel then has only two tribes left: The tribes of Judah and Benjamin who were also called as the House of Judah occupying the southern kingdom with Jerusalem as the capital city. Esau’s descendants, on the other hand, occupied the southeastern most portion of Israel with some parts now belonging to present day Jordan. Most bible scholars would refer to Esau, whose name was later on changed to Edom, as the progenitor of the Turks.

Israeli diaspora
The Israeli diaspora began when the kingdom of Babylon conquered the kingdom of Judah in 6th century B.C.E. King Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian ruler, ordered the destruction of the First Temple and took with him as many Israeli prisoners of war as he could take and as well as in the series of conquests by another powerful kingdoms after Babylon. This was how the Israeli population was scattered throughout the many parts of the world. Right after World War II, Israelis from the many parts of the globe decided to return to their homeland to rebuild it.

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