What do Arabs and Jews have in Common?
We like to think of Arabs and Jews as being very different. But according to religious scripture, their common lineage started with Abraham, who had two sons: Isaac and Ishmael. The Jews believe that Isaac would be the Son of Promise and the Arabs believe Ishmael would be the Son of Promise. Both the Bible and the Koran have similar stories about Abraham almost sacrificing his sons to God to prove his faith in God. However, the difference in the stories is that the Jews believe God said it would be Isaac that would create a great nation called Israel and Arabs believe it would be Ishmael who would lead a great nation called Islam.
Diaspora is a term used to describe a group of people who have been displaced and live outside the area in which they had lived for long periods of time or in which their ancestors lived. Throughout history, the Jewish people had been displaced from what they believe is their homeland of Israel. The reasons for this are many including persecution, wars and the holocaust. The following is a time line listing the major events of the Jewish Diaspora during ancient times:
722 B.C. - Assyrian King Shalmanesar V conquers Northern Israel- The Ten Lost Tribes are scattered all over the Middle East.
588 B.C. - Chaldeans invade Judea - thousands of Jews deported to the Euphrates Valley (modern day Iraq)
37 B.C. - Judea becomes a protectorate of Rome under King Herod
70 A.D. - Rome crushes Jewish uprising, destroys temple at Jerusalem
There are far too many instances of countries and societies persecuting Jews during modern history to mention the details. Suffice it to say that history includes, Christians, Muslims, the Holocaust, Russia, and the Soviet Union all played a part in some form of anti-semitisim that caused the Jewish population to be scattered and displaced throughout different countries.
The Zionist Movement and the Horse Chestnut
The Zionist Movement started in the 1600's and was about getting the Jewish people to consolidate into one area, preferably Palestine. During World War I, the British and French were fighting the Ottoman Empire.
Theodore Herzel was in charge of the Zionist movement at the same time. The British were in need of acetone to process cordite for their explosives. However, the acetone was made by distilling it from timbers, which were in short supply in Britain. As a result they were importing timbers from America.
At that time, there was a Jewish biochemist, Chaim Weizmann, that was part of the British Ministry and also a Zionist.. He was given the task of developing a cheap way of extracting acetone from other materials. He found that he could distill acetone from horse chestnuts by using a bacteria fermentation process. As a result, the British were able to produce mass quantities of acetone to process cordite for their explosives. Cordite is a propellant that makes artillery shells smokeless so they can't be traced when fired..
This innovation helped them win WWI. As a result, Weizmann became highly recognized by Theodore Herzel, the leader of the Zionist movement, Lord Balfour, the Foreign Secretary of Britain, and Baron Rothschild, a Zionist sympathizer with a lot of money..
It should be noted that later Chaim Weizmann was to become the first President of Israel.
The Balfour Declaration
The common interests of Herzel, Wiezmann, Rothschild, and Balfour resulted in the Balfour Declaration of 1917. The motivation for the declaration was three fold.
- President Wilson was uncertain about being an ally to Britain, but two of his closest advisors were Zionist
- Russia was in a revolution and they wanted to keep them in their war by being sympathetic to the Jewish population.
- Britain wanted to attract Jewish financial resources.