It has been 69 years since the founding of Israel was declared at a theater hall in Tel Aviv on May 14, 1948. The period that led to the displacement of approximately 750,000 Palestinians and the destruction of more than 500 villages and towns with the war that erupted the following day, is remembered by Arabs as “Nakba,” or the “Great Catastrophe.” The current estimated number of Palestinian refugees around the world is about 7 million.
Palestinians, who have been marking May 15 as “Nakba Day” since 1998, are chanting the slogan, “We are going to return to our homeland one day,” holding symbolic keys in their hands. Although the hope to return is a lovely wish, everybody is aware that this is impossible under the current circumstances. The increasingly reduced participation in recent years in Nakba Day, which has started to resemble school shows, is also indicative of this. As time passes, the present conditions force themselves as the “reality.” And even though the Palestinian people voice their ideals through slogans, they are becoming accustomed to living with the painful reality of occupation. It is now clear that they are facing total oppression that cannot be eliminated through scattered reactions or disorderly opposition. What's more is that the problem is not the result solely of Israel's occupation, it is, on the contrary, the obligation to face a multi-dimensional heap of problems.
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The Muslim world has yet to clear its mind about Palestine. Keeping aside Turkey, which approaches the matter in the purest form and far from political gains, the Palestine issue is the subject of internal politics and demagogies. There are leaders and governments in many countries that do not hesitate to exploit the Palestine and Jerusalem cause to comfort their own people. “Palestine” is a very useful item – in every aspect. There are also countries that use Palestine to curtain their desires for regional national hegemony.
Palestine is, for the Muslim world, almost like a baby found in the mosque courtyard. It can't be abandoned completely, but it also can't be taken home and taken care of like one's own child. Palestine is a subject that is constantly discussed at certain times, frequently mentioned among heroic speeches, but just cannot get out of being wasted for competition and enmities.
The series of tragedies the people of Palestine have been subject to for nearly a century, are the direct result of the Muslim world's indecisiveness concerning Palestine. The never-ending tensions between Arabs especially has done nothing but increase the grief of Palestinians. What harms Palestine today more than Israel's occupation is this dividedness and disorder. And Israel is well aware of this.
It is not possible today to ensure any progress unless the Muslim world tackles the Palestine cause in a pure and concrete manner, far from all kinds of political plans and cunningness. You can't get anywhere with romantic ceremonies, heroism or slogans.
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The people of Palestine are one of the more well-raised people of the Muslim world. Speaking English and/or French in addition to native-level Arabic and Hebrew, is quite impressive. They are a people that continue to maintain their energy and ambition to exist despite the oppression that has been ongoing for decades.
What concerns numerous leaders and administrations in the Muslim world and has them thinking is how this energy can be taken under control. This is the reason underlying the continued confusion regarding Palestine: An independent Palestine that cannot be restrained or controlled is the nightmare of Arab administrations in particular. This is also why they are trying to make do with certain puppets in front of the curtain.
But history, will, as always, make humankind bow down to its own rules. A time will come when the occupation will end. A time will come when Palestinians' hidden ability will surface. A time will come when all the scores that are postponed today will be settled one by one. Then, it will be the Palestinians' turn in the test of being just and governing with justice.
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Mount Scopus, called Jabal al-Masharif by the Arabs and Har HaTzofim by the Jews, is an elevation of 834 meters and is located in northeast Jerusalem. The mountain, currently home to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Hadassa Medical Center, two important institutes belonging to the Jews, has always been in the limelight throughout history because of its strategic location. Sieges aimed Jerusalem were always controlled from this mountain and forces intending to take over the city, first made a point of taking Mount Scopus under control. Roman commander Titus, who razed the second Sanctuary and Jerusalem, the Crusaders and Gen. Allenby all camped here.
There is an interesting story behind Jews calling this mountain Har HaTzofim (Lookout Point): At the time when Romans and later, Christian judges prohibited Jews from entering Jerusalem, Jews were allowed to watch Jerusalem from this hill alone. What Israel is doing today to distance Palestinians from Jerusalem and Masjid al-Aqsa is no different to this.
Palestine territory is a geography where history repeats itself nonstop. Hundreds of incidents similar to the example I gave are being experienced today. It is possible to reach logical and reasonable perspectives regarding the future by reading history and the present time carefully. On the 69th anniversary of Nakba, it is worth looking at the Palestinian cause from this aspect as well.