By Karthik Govil
Many times, people refer to Israel as a British-created country. They claim that the people there are of foreign origin and not native to the land. They also claim that they had no uniting culture.
But are the Israelis alone in this sort of construct? Have the British also created other ethnic nations from the lands they once ruled? What lessons can Indians, especially Indian Muslims, take from this?
The term “Palestine” is of Roman Pagan origin. When the British defeated the Ottoman Empire and took over the land for themselves, they chose to rename it after their great Roman “ancestors” – the same way they do in other parts of the world. In the same way the name “India” came to be associated with British rule. It was an ancient name which took modern life when the imperial life of the British began.
We can already see the parallels. While the Indian Subcontinent was united by a spiritual identity, geographical borders with a Greco-Roman name were given by the British – from Sapta-Sindhu to Hindu to Indo – which gave us “India”. We can call this pan-Bharatism.
Similarly, there was an Egypt, a Jordan and a “transition” population in this pan-Arab region where some Jews used to live. The geographical boundaries of this state were given by the British – who named it after its Roman name – and hence created “Palestine”; a region with a mix of Lebanese, Jordanian, Egyptian Syrian and Jewish people.
Between the World Wars
Between World War 1 and World War 2, a similar story of governance follows both the Palestinian and the Indian nations.
In India, the Indian Councils Act 1909 created two separate electorates – one for Muslims and one for Others. After this, in 1919, the Government of India Act 1919 was passed through the Montagu–Chelmsford Reforms, which crystallized the colonial creation of a fixed boundary for the British’s “India”.
In Palestine, a similar chain of events happened. Inspired by the two electorate system, the British used that as a basis for the Balfour Declaration 1917, which both created a “Palestine” as well as promised a return of the Jews to a “safe home” in light of the rising anti-Semitism in Europe. The Palestine Arab Congress (which, unlike the Indian National Congress, was not recognised by the British) opposed the Balfour declaration, much like the INC opposed separate electorates.
The result in both cases was a compromise – an aspiration for coexistence and a willingness to understand the other. As we will see later, this wish was not exactly respected.
The period between the World Wars saw a rise of two movements –
- The Rise of the Zionist Movement in the Mediterranean Civilizational Region
- The rise of a pan-Islamic Indian Subcontinent movement with the Khilafat Movement
As we know, the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire led to the creation of Palestine, and that dismantling (and hence the creation of Palestine) also led to the Khilafat Movement within British India.
Meanwhile, the rise of Christian Fascism across Europe led to the rapid marginalization of Europe and many reform movements which allowed Christians to do business without fear of the Church.
The Zionist and the Pakistani movements ran in tandem with each other, like two halves of the same coin. A fear of persecution, whether real or fake (as even anti-Semitism is contested as exaggerated in Europe and Germany), drove people out of their country of residence and forced them to congregate in a single “homeland” they called their own.
Despite the diversity of the population, a common language was decided. Whereas Israel revived Hebrew (a formidable and respectable task), Pakistan used the already existing Urdu (a lazy choice).
While Jewish people from all over the “Western sphere” migrated to Israel, Muslim people from all over the “Indic sphere” migrated to Pakistan.
This led to the creation of two stolen lands – Israel and Pakistan.
There is a commonly held belief that Pakistan was signed upon by all communities of the subcontinent. Yet, this allegation is slightly weak.
For starters, the INC never claimed to represent Hindu interests – rather, it was a party meant to represent all Indians, Hindu Muslim Sikh Isai.
Meanwhile, the Muslim League (ML) was a party for Muslim Interests alone. For every Round Table Conference, for every Cabinet Mission Plan, every important discussion – it was assumed by the British and the Musalman that the INC represented all Hindus. Yet, the
Indian National Congress never claimed to represent Hindu interests anywhere. They were always, and rightfully so, all about “every” Indian’s interests.
So the question again becomes – who represented the Hindus? When partition happened, were the Hindus of Sindh or Balochistan asked if they would like to separate from the Hingala Mata Mandir? Did the Sikhi Panth agree to have themselves separated from Guru Nanak’s birthplace? Could Punjabi Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhis come together and reach a common consensus without any “all-India” considerations, and then debate THEM with the Muslim League; the same way the Muslim League came to common consensuses without any “all-India” considerations to debate the INC?
The answer is “no”. The Natives of this land were denied the privileges of the British, but the previous colonizer got those privileges handed on a plate.
To conclude I am going with this or what I am saying with this article: Pakistan, in its 1947 rendition, is a piece of stolen land, that is stolen from Hindus.
Those who are in Bharat in 2023 supporting Palestine should think about the Israelis at home. Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is as good as the Gaza Strip, and the Kashmiri exodus of the 90s is the same as what is happening today in Palestine.
This perspective may help develop some compassion for Israelis in Indian Muslims, or Palestinians in extreme Israeli supporters both. Yet, it is a much-needed perspective to have today, before we go fight someone else’s war just like how we fought for the British in WW2.
Divergence from this parallel
While it may sound good on paper to say “Israel is Pakistan, Palestine is India” there are some state morals that diverge with the two countries.
For example, the population of Jews in Palestine and the surrounding Arab countries has exponentially declined. Meanwhile, the Muslim population within India has rapidly increased and even overtaken Pakistan today.
The same goes for Israel. 18% of Israel is Muslim, a demographic that has gone up in Israel since its creation. Meanwhile, the genocide of Hindus is well documented but rarely reported, by many outlets such as the “Hindu Organization of Sindh” (https://www.instagram.com/hindusorganizationofsindh/) in Pakistan.
There is also a variance in the brutality of response. While Israel has always been hard-handed, then given goodwill, Bharat has had a variance of response, with some going for a soft response while others go for a hard response.
While Bharat’s soft approach has been a criticizing point for Sanatani history since the time of Ghaznavi, the question of achieving a more peaceful world does come into question – one that must be answered before a nuclear war breaks out.
It is also a fact that Islam is an Abrahamic faith and hence has core roots in Judaism. It is not a stretch to call every Muslim a “Jew”, as from an Indic perspective, those religions are as similar as Shaktism is to Sikhism, or Buddhism is to Vedicism. May the reader take this as they may please.
Many famous thinkers of the WW2 era, like George Orwell, talked about how Monotheims was used to narrow the scope of thought of the average human to strengthen the King’s control. This sort of Monotheism is outdated in the age of the internet, where a person can download a hundred perspectives in a second.
Pluralist thought is only facilitated by the internet, and changing our faith and OET systems towards a pluralist orientation can only help us rapidly move towards peace and unity globally while still celebrating the global diversity of all cultures.
With that in mind: The ancient religion of the Jewish and the “Palestinian” people is the “Canaanite” religion. The Canaanite religion is unlike both Judaism and Islam and is a polytheistic religion which incorporates many people with different views and belief systems.
While the Zionist movement gave birth to several types of movements and ideals, one often forgotten is the Hebrew Youth Movement which promulgated Canaanism as the religion of Israel. The rebellious group was more influential in the arts, but the philosophy and morality of the Canaanite people should be studied at the height of this conflict as a means to achieve unity.
May the Levantese people be surprised, their Latter Day Faiths may have a lot of things in common with this ancient religion, to which both their religions owe their origin point to.