Sunday, February 03, 2013

Following the Haj ... and the sacredness of The Land.

My cold lingers, so I will continue listening to the recording of Richard Burton's story of the Haj.  It has been an exhausting journey as the various groups join together for a boat ride and then for security on the way to al Madina, but they come from different nations, people groups and Islamic sects for which the mutual hatred combined with the need to take offense at the slightest perceived insult must be taken into account.  Then we have the fact that everyone is armed.  It is a wonder that anyone survived the Haj

Perhaps I should step back a bit and note that Burton is a teller of stories and not just an observer and chronicler.  In the few days that he is actually in Arabia, there are a few chances to purchase milk, water or a sheep from the local Bedouin, and some additional quality time being shot at from the hills as the Bedouin attempted to get some free camel meat and goodies.  This expands into a long written discourse from which the Librivox readers produce nearly two hours of recorded material for this one section of Burton's narrative.  Needless to say, the bulk of the material is not the result of first hand observations, although in some cases he has given some reference to his sources.

The importance of land is something that I may not have sufficiently appreciated. A story I am fond of from my childhood is that of Daniel Boone who doggedly defended his little patch of Kentucky from the Indians.  After defeating the Indians, however, he was in turn defeated by ravenous lawyers and driven to resettle in Missouri.  Expropriating land followed by packing up and moving are just parts of American life.

But the Bedouin see things a bit differently:

"Akhawat, or “brotherhood,” denotes the tie between the stranger and the Badawi, who asserts an immemorial and inalienable right to the soil upon which his forefathers fed their flocks. Trespass by a neighbour instantly causes war. Territorial increase is rarely attempted, for if of a whole clan but a single boy escape he will one day assert his claim to the land, and be assisted by all the Ashab, or allies of the slain." - A Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah & Meccah, by Sir Richard Francis Burton

Evidently a few American lawyers are need to teach them civility.  This had me pondering the intractability of the Israel - Palestinian conflict.  After the various conflicts of the 20th century, great waves of millions migrated from one place to another due to the conflicts.   The Israel- Palestinian one only has presented a massive insoluble problem. As the Islamic world sees it, this land was once occupied, hence, the only acceptable solution is to re-occupy it.  Zionism likewise has its entire identity in The Land, that is, in a land that the Jews can call their own.  Thus, one of their premier newspapers is called Haaretz, "The Land".  There is no solution to this.

13 comments:

Rummuser said...

I rarely comment on this subject as my views are rather controversial but I will here knowing that you will look at it with a certain amount of detachment.

It is not the Arabs who are the problem. Stretch a point and the jews are originally Arabs. It is the tribal value system so deeply embedded in Islam that makes for this conundrum.

Take India for instance. The Muslims who emigrated to Pakistan from India keep their hopes burning that they will return to India and Muslim rule in India. Classic modern examples of this mind set are Musharaff and Hafiz Sayeed.

In any case, it is in the interest of Capitalism, particularly the armament/defence businesses and therefore politicians, that such conflicts do not get resolved. If lives are lost, so be it.

Max Coutinho said...

Hi Looney,

I knew it, from the moment I began reading your post, that you would lead us into the Palestinian-Israeli feud.
Well, I know the importance of land (the two families, on my father's side [two marvellous B'nei Anusim families], united in marriage because of a land dispute lol).

There is an interesting book called "The case for Israel" by Moshe Aumann (whose appendix 2 titled "Land Ownership in Palestine, 1880-1948" contains reports written by the British (when they arrived there after the Ottoman empire fell), describing how poorly the Arabs kept that land; how it was filled with disease and malaria (and how it only became fruitful and prosperous when the first Aliyot occurred); how the Arabs lived in precarious conditions, mainly because they were cheated by Arab landowners [living in Syria and elsewhere, except in Palestine]) etc...it is very interesting; I think you would like it.

Haaretz...and to think that Haaretz today, as a newspaper, does nothing but smearing Israel at every chance they get. I even wrote to them accusing them of having a perfidious behaviour...lol yeah, I did.

I hope you get well soon, Looney.

Cheers

Max Coutinho said...

Rummy and Looney,

There is a certain amount of truth behind Rummy's words. But I would go farther into saying that the problem is not Islam per se (because there were good Islamic Arabs living in peace with Jews - who are Semitic, but not Arab [although Arabs descend from the Semitic people as well]), the problem is political Islam and its ambition for a Pan-Arabic region - a Jewish Israel stands in the way of that goal.

Excellent discussion.

Cheers

Rummuser said...

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_30-8-2004_pg3_4

Rummuser said...

Rather strange things are happening in Pakistan. There seems to be some kind of waking up process going on there.

http://dawn.com/2013/02/05/coexistence-with-india/

Max Coutinho said...

Rummy,

Thank you for these two fabulous links.

They both corroborate my assessment that the problem is not Islam per se, but political Islam (mixing religion with politics is never a good idea. Mainly when religious texts are misinterpreted to underpin political ambitions - and the Quran is highly misinterpreted).

Cheers

Looney said...

@Rummuser,

The "At The Crossroads" article had me reading along excitedly and then I came across "To Be Continued". Can't wait for the next two installments!

Both articles provide some perspective that we will never see here in the US.

Looney said...

@Max, the work of Theodore Herzl ... "A Jewish State", was something I read and commented on a few days ago. Just before I picked up the current work I had listened to "With The Turks in Palestine", by Aaronsohn, which gives the perspective of a Jewish farmer up until WWI. Both of them are available on Librivox.org. Looks like you got one more for me to add!

I haven't followed the politics of Haaretz, but had started taking a glance at their Hebrew web edition to see if I could make any sense out of it. It was a great humbling experience!

Max Coutinho said...

Looney,

I never read any work of T Herzl's (will read your post on it).
That book by Aaronsohn sounds extremely interesting. Yes, add it.

You can also take a glance at the Hebrew web edition of Israel Hayom (a delightful right wing newspaper):

http://www.israelhayom.co.il/

I do the same from times to times: taking a glance at the Hebrew version. It is a very humbling experience indeed (I miss the nikudot).

Max Coutinho said...

Looney,

Whenever you have the chance, could you please send me the link of your article where you discuss Herzl's book? I couldn't find it in Reader.

Have a great weekend.

Looney said...

@Max,

It is here:

http://looneyfundamentalist.blogspot.com/2013/01/a-jewish-state-by-theodore-herzl-1860.html

Looney said...

Oh, and thanks for reminding me that I get to rest for two days!

Max Coutinho said...

Looney,

Thank you for the link.
lol Don't mention it.

Cheers