Did you know that east of the Mediterranean Sea there’s only a narrow strip of fertile land before the mountains rise up? No?
Well, quite likely you have heard a lot about this area in the media, without realizing it is just a narrow strip of land with lots of people living there.
Here are the present-day names: Palestine, Israel, Lebanon and Syria. And you may say: ‘Hey, it’s that area where rage and suffering never ends. The people have fought one another since biblical times and it still goes on.’
That’s right. The violence is structural and old.
See, the fertile strip of land was part of the Fertile Crescent, where humans took to the cultivation of food grains 12,000 years ago and populations grew rapidly.
But in the narrow corridor they had much less space for expansion than in other parts of the Crescent, such as in Egypt or Iraq. So, in the Corridor the population grew beyond what the fertile land could provide for. People resorted to life in the mountains which brings small communities existing fairly isolated from each other or fighting each other.
Second, while communities in and near the Corridor remained weak by their small size and mutual fights, other societies in the Crescent expanded and built large armies. They moved over long distances and often came through the Corridor.
Next to scarcity and mutual fighting, the Corridor communities faced a long series of terrorizing occupations, oppressions, exploitations and deportations by the empires of Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans and, in the end, also West Europeans.
So it came that the formation of stable political structures in and around the Corridor remained disrupted. Fragmentation reigned and mutual fighting between small communities went on. This became so deeply ingrained in the unconscious of people that we see the pattern still continued.
Corridor king David killed 22,000 Syrians after they had surrendered and been taken captive. That immense cruelty happened around 1,000 BC. The Israelite Old Testament tells us about it in Chronicles.
Around three hundred years later, this Corridor kingdom found its demise in confrontations with big empires of the time. An Assyrian army marched up, defeated the Israelite army and carried away thousands of Israelites. They resettled them in other parts of the Fertile Crescent as forced laborers in large projects such as irrigation systems, temples, palaces, massive fortifications and roads.
Once upon a time, there was a people living in the Corridor, between River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea that I’ll tell you about. They were called Palestinians, after their land Palestine.
Then, in 1947-1949 more than 700,000 of them, around 80% of the population, were forced from their homes and lands by a penetrating Israeli army. Recognize the pattern? This period is called Nakba. You can find the ruins of villages just by searching for old trees planted for their shadow by the erstwhile villagers.
When the perplexed and defenseless Palestinians finally came to organize resistance they were called terrorists. But the real terror was inflicted by the Israeli army during the Nakba. The terror has been going on since then. Violent liberation actions are pinpricks compared to the mass murder and cruel oppression by the occupying forces.