The Occupier and the Occupied

Sunday, September 04, 2016 |  David Marc Silon

Consider the following scenario: Violent settlers clash with the indigenous people. They take away their property and drive them off their land. Murders and kidnappings occur daily. There is no judicial recourse. The indigenous people are often relegated to the lower strata of society and the government makes sure they are kept there. 

This is the tragic state of affairs, when those people who lived peacefully on their land before the settlers came, are now being dispossessed of their land on the one hand, and being treated no better than slaves by these colonialist occupiers on the other.  

Now most people, especially Jews, or UN officials or members of other such organizations, would automatically assume that the above description is about Israel and the “occupied West Bank”. But in point of fact, it is not about Israel. Rather, it is about Egypt, and the Arab majority’s persecution of the indigenous non-Arab Coptic community, descendants of the ancient Egyptians. 

Since the 7th century when Egypt (along with most of the rest of the Middle East) came under Arab occupation and colonization, the Copts and the other indigenous peoples in the region have suffered bitter persecution.  

It is a common mistake for people who are not of Middle Eastern ancestry to think in terms of only ‘Jews and Arabs’. Only racists among those who are of Middle Eastern ancestry have this mindset – if you are not Jewish, you’re Arab. Copts, Maronites, Assyrians, Kurds, Berbers, etc. are all Arabs, the indigenous people of the area. 

But the above-mentioned peoples are not Arab and do not like being identified as such. In fact, they are presently living under Arab occupation.

Hypothetically, let’s imagine that these indigenous peoples of the Middle East have liberated their homelands from their Arab overlords. One can be certain of one thing – none of them would consider their ancestral lands to be occupied territory and they would openly acknowledge their deep histories in those lands. 

Now, suppose in an independent Coptic Egypt, for example, the Copts find that they have a substantial Arab population in their country, with the majority not having Egyptian citizenship. Would they be granted citizenship? If so, the Arab vote could conceivably outnumber the Coptic vote, and in short order vote Coptic Egypt out of existence leading to a resumption of severe persecution of Copts by the Arabs. 

Considering this, one would think that the question of partition would come up. But probably not. (Mentally normal people just don’t give up their ancestral homelands.) A more likely scenario would be that only the peaceful Arabs would be given citizenship, or other residential arrangements, and the others would be encouraged to leave and go back to Arabia, their land of origin.   

This Coptic/Arab experience could have also happened to the other Arab-occupied peoples in any Arab-occupied country in the Arab-occupied Middle East. 

In Lebanon during the 70s, Arabs massacred an estimated 100,000 Maronites, descendants of the ancient Phoenicians. Today, the Maronites suffer from violence at the hands of Arab supporters of Hezbollah, causing their population to decrease dramatically. 

In Iraq and Syria, especially since the American invasion and certainly since the rise of ISIS (a largely Arab organization), at least 46 churches (and that’s a conservative figure) and other Christian holy sites have been bombed and thousands of Assyrians/Chaldeans – not to mention Yazidis – have either been forced to flee their homes or sold as sex slaves. 

While the Kurds have suffered from Turkish atrocities for decades, they and the Berbers of North Africa have also endured forced Arabization. In fact, North Africa is often referred to as the “Arab Maghreb”, a not too subtle racist dig against the Berber people. 

Black Africans are continuing to be enslaved by Arabs in Sudan and Mauritania, while Nubians have been forced from their homes either from southern Egypt to northern Sudan, or vice-versa. Arab atrocities in Darfur and South Sudan are well documented. 

The Jews – the truly indigenous Palestinians – have suffered from Arab persecution and violence for centuries, even today, but especially before 1948 and certainly before Zionism. 

These, and the other indigenous peoples in the region have not only the Arab occupation and violence in common, but also varying degrees of collective punishment, and in many cases, even genocide – all to force them to accept that they live in “Arab Muslim” countries and they better not forget it.

But the fact is that not every country in the Middle East was meant to be Arab. Certainly, if the indigenous peoples in the region (including the Israelis, if they were smart) established a united front, then perhaps there would be an “Indigenous Spring” – resulting this time in a positive outcome for everyone concerned. Then peace would most certainly break out, at least in the Middle East.

The author, David Marc Silon, is a resident of the Los Angeles area and is a pro-Israel advocate, writer and free-thinker. He is the author of the booklet “The Occupied Territories”. Parts of this article was taken from the booklet’s introduction.

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