Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Rant about How to Solve the Mother of All Basket Cases

Wherever there is a conflict or corruption or the like, there might not always be immediately available solutions, but there are inevitably immediately available culprits.  There is always someone to blame.  Preferably that someone has money, so that they can be guilted into parting with it in order to right the wrong they’ve done.  In rural Kenya, for example, where corruption, small scale scamming and thievery were all rampant, many people seemed to have internalised the message that this was all the fault of the English, having been the colonial masters and royally screwed the country.  (That last part is true, of course – it’s just the causal link to the current woes that I sometimes failed to see.)  A few individuals seemed to take it one step further, and imply not too subtly that I was in fact at fault.  That seemed to have something to do with the colour of my skin, I presume.  Or maybe something had led them to understand that Finland and England were the same thing, I’m not sure.

Sometimes you do not have to go that far into the past to find the culprit.  In the case of Iraq it is the United States in more ways than one.  In the case of Russia it is not Putin-the-dictator-in-the-making, but evil capitalism.  Or so they say.

However, there is one current international basket case that doesn’t fit this pattern: it is the mother of all basket cases, the Israel-Palestine conflict.  We may be more inclined to sympathise with the Israeli or the Palestine point of view, but we’re likely to give little thought to how on earth the whole mess came about.  So let me remind everyone whose fault it is: Great Britain’s.

Not only did you not immediately think of that, but there is a chance you didn’t even know that.  It’s true, though.  Take it from the International Court of Justice:

“Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire.  At the end of the First World War, a class ‘A’ Mandate for Palestine was entrusted to Great Britain by the League of Nations ...  The territorial boundaries of the Mandate for Palestine were laid down by various instruments, in particular on the eastern border by a British memorandum ...  In 1947 the United Kingdom announced its intention to complete evacuation of the mandated territory by 1 August 1948 ... In the meantime, the General Assembly had on 29 November 1947 adopted resolution 181(II) on the future government of Palestine, which ‘Recommends to the United Kingdom ... and to all other Members of the United Nations the adoption and implementation ... of the Plan of Partition’ of the territory, as set forth in the resolution, between two independent States, one Arab, the other Jewish, as well as the creation of a special international regime for the City of Jerusalem.”*

There you have it.  The Arabs didn’t like the plan, the Jews used it as a basis to declare independence and it went downhill from there.  But it was all started by the United Kingdom (supported by the UN), who ruled the territory for a few decades and then got the great idea to settle the terrorised, holocaust-survived Jews on the promised land, as if it was some abandoned territory, as opposed to an area populated by Arabs.  Ingenious.  Who could have possibly guessed that that might lead to trouble?

So while I don’t have any answers to how to solve the Israeli-Palestine conflict, I don’t need to, since England and Finland are in fact two different countries and I hail from the latter.  What I would like to know is what is England (and the UN) doing about it?  I expect all Brits reading this to populate the comments section with ideas ...

*Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (Advisory Opinion), 9 July 2004, ICJ Reports 2004, paras 70-71. 

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