Saturday, April 4, 2009

Handala - The 10-year-old child

Resistance and rebellion usually occurs because someone somewhere is resisting something. People who resist simply do not want to be exploited and do not want their human rights and freedoms violated. It is when this resistance grows and festers that organization of individuals is possible.

In Palestine/Israel people are resisting because they feel that their human rights and freedoms are being violated and thus have began forming several personal organization. The majority of the peace organizations that stem out of Palestine and throughout the world put forth the value that people should stand united to defend human rights and freedoms. These organizations have grown so large that now thousands of people throughout the world try to stand in unity for those people living in Palestine/Israel who suffer every single day.

One organization in specific which has gained a lot of momentum and popularity within the past couple of years is the Palestinian cartoon character, Handala.

Naji Al-Ali started off by drawing cartoon comics that appeared in the daily newspaper in Palestine which depicted the complexities of the plight of the Palestinian refugees. At the end of every comic strip he left his signigature, which was the picture of a little-barefooted-boy giving his back to the world. What started off as something as simple as a hobbie for illustrations has turned into the world's symbol of hoping that one day there will peace between Israelis and Palestinians. These old cartoons are still very much relevant today and Handala, the refugee child who is present in every cartoon strip, remains a powerful symbol of the struggle of the Palestinian people for justice and self-determination.

“His name is Handala and he has promised the people that he will remain true to himself. I drew him as a child who is not beautiful; his hair is like the hair of a hedgehog who uses his thorns as a weapon. Handala is not a fat, happy, relaxed, or pampered child. He is barefooted like the refugee camp children, and he is an icon that protects me from making mistakes. Even though he is rough, he smells of amber. His hands are clasped behind his back as a sign of rejection at a time when solutions are presented to us the American way."

Handala was born as a ten year old child and he will always remain ten. This is because Handala left his homeland at age ten and when he returns he will still be ten. It is only when he returns to his homeland that he will start growing up again. The laws of nature do not apply to him because he is unique. Things will only become normal again when the homeland returns back to peace and the Palestinian and Israeli people are no longer fighting.

Al-Ali presented him to the poor and named him Handala as a symbol of bitterness. At first, he was only a Palestinian child but his consciousness developed enough to have a national and then a global and human horizon. He is a simple yet tough child. This is why people adopted him.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The British Mandate PRT 4 - Britain's Failure

Some Zionists objected to the idea that the biblical Land of Israel had included the East Bank of Jordan, moreover, there were many Palestinian Arabs who were against the separation of Transjordan from Palestine. However, this separation was approved by the League of Nations in 1922 and began the development of two separate territories: Transjordan and what is known today as Palestine.

Within Palestine, the British Mandate was trying to establish two things:
  1. Building a Jewish national homeland
  2. To prepare the population for a self-government

Due to the fact that many Palestinian Arabs were against the idea of creating a Jewish national homeland within Palestine, these two tasks became very difficult for the British. Even though the British were genuinely trying to find a common ground between both peoples, it seemed that in the end the British will have gained enemies instead of being allies with the Jews and the Arabs.

Under the first stage of building a Jewish national homeland, Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill issued a White Paper which stated that a “national home” did not mean making all of Palestine into a Jewish nation and that Jewish immigration would be regulated and limited through “absorptive capacity” of the country.

Immigration was both the fears and dreams of both peoples and became the core issue of this conflict. “For Jews, only be achieving majority status could they fulfill the 2,000-year-old-dream; any limit on Jewish immigration was too much. For the Arabs, the ultimate nightmare was losing majority status in their own land; any Jewish immigration was too much” (Alan Dowty).

Thus, this was ultimately a zero-sum battle because no compromise would satisfy either side. Every new wave of Jewish immigration (also known as an "aliya") resulted in Arab demonstrations and riots and each outbreak of violence resulted in the British response of an investigation by the Royal Commission to try and figure out what went wrong.

A total of five Royal Commissionoccurred during the time of the Mandate and each of them pointed out that the guidelines that the British had set up were all contradictory with one another. Every time the British would try to create a new compromise, both sides would reject it because it was either too little or too much for one party or the other. This only resulted in more violent outbreaks which made the state more unstable.

As a result of the chaos and as a result of the British failing at trying to establish national institutions that would bring together both the Jews and the Arabs, Britain ended up stepping out and left these two people to fight amongst themselves and to figure it out on their own. The end result was that each community developed its own institutions, and the separation between them intensified over time.


Dowty, Alan . Israel/Palestine. 2nd. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2008.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The British Mandate PRT 3—The Palestine Mandate

From the Balfour Declaration, which declared that within Palestine there will be a national home for Jews, came the Palestine Mandate which split up the territories accordingly under British rule.

The new map of the Middle-East was drawn up by Britain and France:

  • The powerful Ottoman Empire was replaced by a small ethnic Turkish state known as Anatolia.

  • Syria and Lebanon became mandates under the rule of France

  • Iraq became a League of Nations Mandate under British rule

  • Palestine became a British Mandate instead of an international Mandate

At first present day Jordan was included under the British Mandate, however, Britain was still trying to fix and settle out their previous commitments. Thus, Britain decided to organize the territory east of the Jordan River (77% of the area) as a semi-autonomous territory known as “Transjordan” under the rule of Abdullah ibn Husayn, a son of Sharif Husayn; Faysal ibn Husayn was given a new created throne in Iraq.

The remanding 23% of the original territory, which is located west of the Jordan River, between international borders of Egypt on the south and Lebanon and Syria on the north, became the final Palestine Mandate.


Dowty, Alan . Israel/Palestine. 2nd. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2008.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

British Mandate PRT 2 – The Balfour Declaration

Britain has made three secretive promises thatcontradicted with one another: First they divided the Arab nations amongst themselves, France and Russia. Then they promised those same exact lands to the Sharif of Mecca, Husayn ibn Ali, under Hashemite rule. After promising the Sharif of Mecca that he will have direct rule over all current and forming Arab states (including Palestine), the British went and promised the Jews a national homeland in Palestine. The last promise was made so that the British could gain the United States friendship and keep the Russian’s.

Despite all of these promises that the British made within the Middle-East, the most crucial of them all was the last promise; the promise of a national homeland for the Jews within Palestine, which is known today as being part of the Balfour Declaration. This final promise was what initially created the monster on both sides which lead to the major fighting between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.

On November 2nd, 1917, British Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur Balfour released the following policy statement in the form of a letter to Lord Lionel Rothschild, who is head of the British Zionist Federation:

Foreign Office
2nd November 1917
Dear Lord Rothschild:

I have much pleasure in conveying to you on behalf of His Majesty's Government the following declaration of our sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet.

"His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a National Home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

Yours sincerely,
Arthur James Balfour

This is the famous Balfour Declaration. Even though it was at first only a written statement, it soon became a legal document that was written into the British Mandate for Palestine by the League of Nations.

This statement was highly debated before it actually went into print by the British. “It spoke of a "national home," not a state; it was to be "in Palestine," not "of Palestine"; and the rights of the non-Jewish population were to be respected (in the Jewish and British readings, this meant the individual rights of Arabs and not Arab national rights).” (Alan Dowty)

Despite all of these conditions, Zionists welcomed this statement as a major victory for Jews. For Jews this meant that the Zionist movement was becoming internationally recognized as a legitimate enterprise which was the result of the establishment of the Palestine Mandate from the Balfour Declaration which included guidelines of building a Jewish national home in Palestine.

This lead to the creation of a monster on both sides because the British has promised the Sharif of Mecca direct rule over all Arab states, including Palestine, and at the same time had promised a national homeland to the Jews. Moreover, it was very controversial because the Jews saw the Balfour Declaration statement as giving Jews ALL of Palestine as opposed to only receiving a national homeland WITHIN Palestine. Major outbreaks occurred after the release of this documentation because both the Palestinians and the Jews were unclear as to what they were each getting. Massive fighting outbreaks occurred to the point that Britain was no longer capable of controlling what they just did, and the monster that they just created, that they just picked up and left the two peoples to deal with it and sort out the miscommunication on their own. Thus, when looking at it from an objective point of view it is clear that the British are to blame for the Arab-Israeli conflict and that the British must and should take full responsibility of trying to fix what they did.


Dowty, Alan . Israel/Palestine. 2nd. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2008.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The British Mandate - Prt 1

[The Ottoman Empire]
The Ottoman Empire was one of the strongest and largest empires during its time. It spanned through three continents and controlled Southeastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. and was feared by practically the rest of the world because of its hostile laws and regulations; espeically by the Jews.

After the Great War, the Ottoman Empire made a very bad decision; they decided to side with the Central Powers in World War I. It was thought that the Turks really had no choice in this. If the Allied Powers won the war then Britain, France and Russia would take hold of the straits at Turkish expense. And when the Ottoman Empire aligned themselves with Germany (one of the Central Powers) instead of the Allied Powers, they allowed for just that to happen.

The three powers (Britain, France, and Russia) within the Allied Powers began to break-up the Ottoman territory amongst themselves in secret agreements that gave Russia control of the straits, gave Syria and Lebanon to France and promised most of present-day Iraq and Jordan to Britain, and projecting an international power in Palestine.

Great Britain also started what was known as the “Arab Revolt” within the Ottoman Empire in order to try and speed-up the end of Ottoman Empire. They did this by going after Ottoman-appointed governor of the holy cities, the Sharif of Mecca, Husayn ibn Ali, head of the Hashemite dynasty and thirty-seventh in direct descent from the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.a.w). In secret negotiations, the British promised to Husayn their support of an Arab state or states under Hashemite rule in the Arabian peninsula, Syria, Iraq and in the Hashemite interpretations, Palestine (great debate with what the English word “district” referred to.

Clearly the British have now put themselves in a lot of trouble seeing that most of this land has already been promised in another secret negotiation to France.

Moreover, this was not the last promise that the British had made in the Middle-East. Britain was involved in an catastrophic World War and thus the Brits were trying to win over the Zionist movement. They thought that if they were to win over the Zionist movement than they would be winning over the Jewish support in Russia and in the United States and possibly gaining an ally in the future grounds of the Middle East. So Britain went forward and promised in secret that Palestine will be the national homeland for Jews. This was known as the Balfour Declaration.

So that’s three secret promises to three different countries, Britain is really stirring up the fire!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Objective vs. Subjective

Objective: a source of conflicts which its characteristics are of which that stress rational behavior and focus on “interests” in the analysis of politics, domestic, or international. When different interests by different people can not be met, then the pursuit of one’s own interest does not seem irrational.

This conflict is seen as an objective conflict because it surrounds the idea of conquering an object (territory). In other words, it is seen as “givens” that exists independently from our thoughts and feelings. Anything that deals with land, wealth, and power are all “objective” ideas. They are not only seen as objective because they exist independently from our feelings but because these objects create conflicts between people because it is impossible to meet all of the demands unless there is a political process to decide who gets what.

Due to the fact that both Israeli’s and Palestinian’s are acting on behalf of their own interests rather than on behalf of emotions, then there is a higher possibility that both will be able to cooperate with one another in order to come up with a compromise that will suit both peoples. Especially since in the read world it is very rare that most conflicts are a “zero-sum” conflict.

Subjective: the source of the conflict is produced by the mind, feelings, or temperaments of the subject. This includes ideas and ideologies, perceptions and misperceptions, cultural and societal biases, and emotions and passions; in other words, anything that is derived from our mental activity.

In theory, conflicts that are subjective should be solvable because they are not considered to be a “real” conflict. In a way, it is all artificial because they are created within our minds and just as easily as the mind can create them, the mind can easily erase them.

However, our minds may be less responsive to erasing these emotions when the self is interested in the bargaining process. Even though our emotional senses are seen as “irrational”, it can still be argued that it is “rational” especially when our ideas and emotions are aggressive enough to drive us. These aggressive emotions can drive people into combats that will lead to a “lose-lose” outcome.

Therefore, the Arab-Israeli conflict is both objective and subjective!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Zero-Sum Game

Eretz Yisrael and Filastin, by most definitions, are the same exact piece of land by borders that were created by the British Mandate of Palestine after World War I. Thus, Jews and Arabs are fighting for the same piece of territorial land to make their own state.

The winner will claim ALL of the land and the loser faces the threat of being left stateless. "Just as two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time, so two sovereign states cannot govern the same territory at the same time" (Dowty). Game theorists refer to this as the zero-sum game: whatever one side gains comes at the expense of the other (gains and losses total at a zero).

Without territorial compromise there will never be a win-win outcome where both sides will benefit. Due to the fact that this is a situation of total conflict where co-operations and negotiation between these two people is very difficult, it will result in a zero-sum outcome.

Unfortunately, there is still no winner nor a loser for this conflict that has been going on for years. If anything, the winner and loser sways back and fourth. There is yet to be a concrete winner.


Dowty, Alan . Israel/Palestine. 2nd. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2008.