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Israel’s history, Equity and the Nigerian Jews

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The book Israel a History by Anita Shapira got me reflecting on the linkages with the Igbo’s or in an expanded view, the minorities of the Nigerian State. There have been myth of the Igbo’s being Jews and I am sure the belief still drives the likes of Nnamdi Kanu of IPOB.In the book, Shapira detailed the journey from the eighteenth century but mainly focussed on the ninetieth century. From the time of the first Aliya 1881 to 1904 and the eve of the second which was from 1904 to 1914 it was interesting to note the few number of Jews in the land of Palestine to the tune of about 55000 at the beginning of the second Aliya. By then they were all dispersed around the world in Russia, Spain, Germany, Morocco, Ethiopia, Tunisia, America and so many other countries. The historian just left out Nigeria for reasons best known to her! The Turks were ruling the land of Palestine as part of the Ottoman Empire until the British took over per the British Mandate. Prior to the migration to Palestine and following the first Zionist congress of 1897, Ugandan plan in the present day Kenya, and Argentina had been on the cards as possible places for the Jew to have a homeland of their own. But in what the writer termed a class of ideology and myth with practicality, the Jews opted to migrate to Palestine, a land they had read and prayed everyday their whole lives. In that migration, there were several instances about the definition of who a Jew was. They came from all over the world and most did not speak the native language. At somepoint you only needed to show up in Palestine, declare yourself a Jew and that was it! I guess that was where the Igbo’s and Nigerian minorities missed the boat! Not sure how the myth about Igbo’s being Jews started but I will not be surprised it had to do with those Aliya’s, the enterprising spirit and the alleged marginalization that happened prior the Biafra civil war. I even think Ojukwu may have been hoping he could replicate the 1948 war of Independence of the Jews over the Arabs of the Middle East or even the June 1967 war that saw Israel beat the Egyptians and Arabs a second time, taking over the Sinai, Straits of Tiran and Seuz canals. Those became the bargaining chips to Egyptian signing of a peace agreement. After the 1948 war during which the Arabs vacated their homes in anticipation of the support of the other Arab nations to flush out the occupiers, they longed for a second round when they hoped they will recover the lands taken by the Jews. That aspiration has not been realized till this day and the Arab nations vowed never to recognise Israel’s right to existence; hence the outrage at the recent signing of a peace agreement between Israel and the UAE last week as at my writing. The June 1967 war started on 5thJune and lasted only six days. It is termed the shortest and most exceptional of all Israel’s wars in terms of scope, victor, casualty figures and area occupied.According to Obasanjo in his book My command by 5am on 6thJuly 1967 the troops of Area command crossed the start line and by sunrise contact had been established and fire exchanged on all front in the Biafra war just a month after the Israeli six day war in the Middle East. The Biafra war was about Igbo’s sort for a homeland they could be proud of and have full sense of belonging just like the Jews had established about 20 years earlier in 1948 and reaffirmed just a month earlier in June 1967. Prior the 1967 Biafra war, Obasanjo had recorded some interesting dates in the Nigerian journey to nationhood. Remarkable from the opening pages were 1900, 1906, 1914, 1922, 1946, 1951 and 1953. By 1900 we had the Northern and Southern protectorates and Lagos colony. The Lagos colony was merged with the Southern colony in 1906. By 1914 both the Northern and Southern protectorates were amalgamated with an administration based in Lagos. This amounted to two Nigeria with different social, political, economic and cultural backgrounds until 1922 when a constitution provided for a Nigerian Legislative council which was not empowered to make laws for the North. By 1940 during the Second World War Nigeria was divided into four administrative units, colony of Lagos and the Northern, Eastern and Western Provinces. By 1946 a new Sir Arthur Richard’s constitution replaced that of 1922 entrenching regionalism while integrating the North and South at the legislative level. By 1951 the Macpherson’s constitution replaced that of 1946 with greater measure of non-interference guaranteed within the regions by increased regional autonomy and stronger regional legislature with only residual powers at the centre. By 1953 with the weak centre the North was already primed to exit the union than endure what they saw as humiliation and ill-treatment.So the point here is that Nigeria was initially primed for a multi state solution with the regions being effective means of administration. This is significantly different from the one state solution we currently have. The multi state solution was what Ojukwu opted for more than a decade later in 1967, years after independence, while the North which had earlier in 1953 opted to same was now comfortable with a one state solution. That multi-state solution unfortunately was what the Arabs rejected in the build up to the establishment of the Israeli nation by the Jews of Palestine, rejecting Israel’s claim to the Palestine land. They ended up with no state at all as they had no organized body championing their course at the time as the more sophisticated Israelis had.The dilemma with the national constructs linger till this day. For Nigeria it is about ensuring equity to all Nigerians and right to the topmost job as per the Presidency of the country. With the rejection of secession and integration of the Igbo’s and by extension the wider Southern part of the country there is no way of denying them the right to the Presidency even if the demographics suggest the North has a higher population to drive the votes in a democracy. Fairness and equity suggests a balance and sharing of power between the regions and Nigeria cannot run or shy away from it. That same dilemma is what the Israeli Jews face with the advocacy for a one state solution. In this case however they fear they will be the minority in a one state solution sooner than later and hence loose out the Jewish colour to their nation in a democracy. On the other hand, a multi-state solution means a Palestinian state nation with a capital probably in Jerusalem as the Palestinians insist. This unfortunately touches on one of the myths that drives the Jew; their emotional attachment to Jerusalem.As my friend will say “we are here now” and the question on every ones lips is what is in Nigeria for the Nigerian Jews especially as we approach the 2023 elections. Agitations like Nnamdi kanu’s IPOB are like the Zionist agitations in the build up to the Israeli nationhood and unfortunately the recent Palestinian organizations agitation for nationhood, as they see the Israelis as occupiers of their ancestral land. Like during the Zionist movement, a lot of the Israeli intelligentsia opted for the Jews to integrate in all the several countries they found themselves and fight for equal rights as part of their emancipation. Some others differed and sort a home they could call their own as the Bible had predicted. The same thing is playing out in the Southern part of the country as the intelligentsia are comfortable and would rather pursue equal rights and equity via the instrument of constitutionalism and rule of law while the likes of IPOB see no future in such a strategy. The same thing played out when Arafat continued the fight for Palestine nationhood while Fatah and Hezbollah sort to drive the same goal by guerrilla warfare.Indeed a lot of minority people around the world are under stranglehold by majority populations and cannot breathe. In rare cases some minorities have lauded things over the majority like during colonization and most recently Israel over Palestinian Arabs. A more sustainable solution for world peace will be acceptance of shared responsibility and equity in any one nation or acceptable multi state solutions to enable the separate entities develop at their own pace. The one state solution had always been the desire of the British as they anticipated the calf will suck. But as is evident in Palestine and very much in Nigeria, it has refused to suck. French had supported a multi state solution for Nigerian and clandestinely supported Ojukwu but only because they wanted a weaker Nigeria because they feared a large, strong Nigeria will dominate their own colonies.For this marriage to work, 2023 is yet another opportunity for the Nigerian state to integrate the Nigerian Jews and ensure equity for all Nigerians.Good news; Aladinma my first self published work got released 23rdJuly. Find it on Amazon, Barnesandnobles and other webstores. If you are in Nigeria You can also contact me via email or phone to order a copy on your behalf and have it Autographed.

Obidike Peter wrote from www.peterobidike.com and p_obidike@yahoo.com

Friday 21st August 2020

Praise for Aladinma by my very busy friend Godian Ndukauba

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Dr Piro! I’m so excited to let everyone know that Aladinna is one of the most interesting book judging by the few chapters I’ve read. Naturally I’m a slow reader unless it’s work related or a book that will bring in money, however I’ve already done five chapters in just 24hrs even with my tight work schedule. No doubt I will soon place a couple of orders for close friends and relatives. I’m awed on how you were able to put this together considering your petroleum engineering background. Congrats bro and looking forward to more publications from you in the near future.

Praise for Aladinma by Nonso Agharanya 1

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I read Chapter2 (Ginika goes to school) aloud with me children. They did not allow me drop it until the last full stop. Why? They want to know what happened to Ugo And Ebi the lagos boys who came back to Owerri to have their primary education just to imbibe Igbo cultural values? Infact my son after the story begged me to sent him to Adventist Techical school Owerrenta. And am considering that.

Praise for Aladinma by Nonso Agharanya 2

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I de do like *Ginika*. @ Chapter 2 of *Aladinma* That Odaginma son is something else. Am enjoying the piece *Aladinma na sure bet* Peter well done for that master piece of a book.

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