By PaanLuel Wel, Washington DC, USA
“We have the discretion to deal with any nation we want to deal with; we will establish good relations with Israel and open an Israeli embassy in South Sudan."—Anya-Anya One Leader General Joseph Lagu.
July 21, 2011 (SSNA) -- The present of an Israeli flag on Juy 9th, 2011, as South Sudanese were marking the birth of their new nation, raised many eyebrows from certain quarters both within and outside the Sudan. That some South Sudanese would celebrate their independence by waving Israeli flag alongside theirs seemed to have stunned many South Sudan observers as well as angering the Northern Islamists who are long used to the racial dehumanization and political caricaturing of the state of Israel.
And nowhere is that propaganda of lies, hatred and racism more pronounced and registered than within the pages of the country national passport: this document is valid to all countries except Israel. For the millions of South Sudanese Christian communities who considered the Jewish state of Israel as their spiritual homeland—the cradle of their faith, being issued with and using the old Sudanese passport was not only a humiliating smack in their face but it would essentially tantamount to, for instance, the newly independent state of South Sudan issuing her Muslims population a national passport that read: to all countries except the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia—the birthplace of Islam.
The Islamist age-old seething against the Jewish state is often publicly projected as a solidarity posture towards the Palestinian Arabs whose land is said to have been occupied by the Jews. Yet, it is the very Jews, now internationally paraded as settlers and occupiers of their own ancestral land, who gave birth to both Christianity and Islam (Islam might have been born in Saudi Arabia but three-quarter of the Quran is from the Bible) in the presently contested land of the state of Israel, Judea and Samaria or West Bank as it was renamed by the British.
There would be neither Christianity nor Islam without Judaism, and that Judaism was born in the current Holy Land of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Galili, and Jericho etc till the Romans destroyed the temple and exiled the Jewish. Afterward, Islam conquered the land around 638 A.D and installed their mosque on the very spot where the famed Biblical Temple of Solomon once stood, after its destruction by the Romans.
Understandably, South Sudanese have no sympathy for the Palestinians’ cause because their judgment and stance is informed by the fact that they view Palestinians Arabs, just like the so-called Sudanese Arabs, as occupiers of the Jewish ancestral land rather than being victims as South Sudanese are at the hand of the northern Arabs. Thus, South Sudanese Christians could not bring themselves to comprehend how Muslims could, on the one hand, bar everybody else from their Holy Land of Mecca and Medina and yet, on the other hand, have the audacity to lie claim to Jerusalem and Bethlehem as theirs, let alone branding the Jews—their own Semitic kinsmen—as occupiers and settlers of their own Biblically land.
That the Bible and the Quran recorded that the Jews and the Arabs descended from Abraham in the present day Middle East does appear to be beside the point in the conflict. Even the veracity that the Quran and the Bible are full of Jewish references, not to mention the fact that the Holy Quran (just like the Bible) specifically prophesied the return of the Jews to their ancestral homeland, could not save the Jews from being cast and portray as an invading alien race from Europe.
That narrative, however, has not been fully monopolized by the Arab and Islamic world; it has a considerable following in Europe and America too among the left-wing academic circles where anti-Semitism still rears its ugly head. To both camps, Israel is the single causative of all world problems and her delegitimization is deemed as a lifelong noble cause to pursue or/and a quick gate-path to Paradise.
Although the old state of the Sudan has been technically at war with the Jewish state of Israel, South Sudanese, nonetheless, have been long-time friends to and of the state of Israel since her founding in 1948. That friendship, besides its religious roots, can be traced back to the time of Anya-Anya One Movement under General Joseph Lagu. For many years during that first South Sudanese struggle of 1955-1972, the Jewish state of Israel was the main moral supporter of the Southern rebels and the chief supplier of physical materials such as arms and international maneuverings.
Consequently, it didn’t come as a big surprise when General Joseph Lagu was among the first world leaders to send a letter of congratulations to Israeli Prime Minister, Levi Eshkol, after the outbreak of the 1967 Six Day War, in which Israel launched successful, pre-emptive attacks on a combined forces of Egypt, Syria and Jordan who had threateningly amassed their respective armies at the Israeli border ready to strike. To the Southern rebels led by General Lagu, Israel was fighting the very enemy that they have taken up arms against for discriminating against and oppressing them. As old adage demonstrate: your enemy’s enemy is automatically your friend.
But that cordial relationship between the Jewish states of Israel is not only consigned to the past: it was very much alive during the SPLM/A war of liberation and even today among current officials and leaders of South Sudan government as their statements attest. SPLM/A leaders, under the command of Dr. John Garang, were reported to have received some training in, and military backing from, Israel. As for today, the current vice president of the Republic of South Sudan, Dr. Machar, just before independence, announced that the future state of South Sudan would have formal relationship with the state of Israel.
It was the same sentiment reinforced by Hon. Deng Alor, the current acting foreign minister of the Republic of South Sudan, when he officially invited other countries to open embassies and diplomatic missions in Juba, the seat of the new state. Alor emphasized that the new Republic of South Sudan will have full diplomatic relationships with all countries of the world, a subtle message to Khartoum as regarding Israel relationship to South Sudan.
But it was Dr. Marial Benjamin, the current caretaker minister of Information in the Government of the Republic of South Sudan, who put it bluntly: “We will establish relations with any state that recognizes us.”
As a long time friend of the people of South Sudanese, the state of Israel was among the first nations that publicly recognized and welcomed the new-born state of the Republic of South Sudan, just a day after South Sudan officially declared her independence.
There are many potential benefits that South Sudan will accrue by associating herself with and cementing her long friendship with the Jewish state. For one, Israel is among the most economically advanced OECD member states—the richest and the most technologically advanced countries in the entire world. With our own naturally endowed abundance of resources, befriending such a country will open many doors of opportunities for the mining and exploitation of our own resources using our own domestically grown technologies and the economical know-how.
Unlike China which is hungry for African resources or the West that is known for economical exploitations and the breeding of the culture of dependency—be it on aids or on the technological know-how, Israel has no history of neo-colonialism that the West is known for nor the 21st century economic imperialism champions by China across Africa in collusion with some corrupt, dictatorial African leaders.
And with the ever-looming military threat from the North on the horizon, if not already on the ground in the occupied region of Abyei, South Sudan would be better secured if and only if it has close military relationship with such military superb nation as Israel. In term of military technology, Israel is only second to the USA—forget China, it is only muscle in numbers with no brain. (And did I mention that both the Atomic bomb and the Hydrogen Bomb were both invented by the Jews, though be they from the USA?). Who knows that Iran may be exporting her Atomic Bomb program to the Sudan and what kind of a nation would South Sudan be if it were to live in the dark shadows of a nuclear armed North Sudan?
Of course, South Sudan has no intention, whatsoever, to create an arm race in Africa akin to the one that evolved between India and Pakistan after their bitter separation. South Sudanese just need to be secured, be confident and capable of safeguarding their own national security and territorial integrity. Our close friendship to the state of Israel is one surest way to wean ourselves from the perpetual danger of being invaded or even re-occupied by the better armed, much bigger, merciless northern army.
And if it is not about Israeli’s enviable economy, advanced technology or the superb military, then it is about their excellent system and level of education—the very fabric that underlie their economic, technological and military successes. Owing to deliberate oppressive policies from successive regimes in Khartoum and decades of war, South Sudan system of education is in a pathetic condition that is crying out for refurbishment. What is needed is a technologically-based system of education, one that befit the 21st century we are in. The state of Israel has it and, as our long time friend, it is willing to help us getting on our own feet, after decades of painfully crawling on the rough edges of illiteracy, poverty, desolation, and disillusionment. To paraphrased the Christian’ hymn, there is no better friend than in Israel when it come to the renovation of our educational system.
With good education in place, our economy would prosper and flourish just like the Israelis’ because, owing to their system of learning, Israel has effectively turn the desert of the Middle East into the real Promised Land that flow with milk and honey. Instead of experiencing resources curse as it is the case in many African countries like DRC Congo where the present of resources engender more wars and death than peace and economic prosperity, South Sudan would thrive long enough to demand a seat at the high table of well-to-do emerging economies.
Such emerging countries, or the newly industries nations or the Asian Tigers as they are also known—China, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and Japan—were once socially and economically destitute and politically unstable as South Sudan is today. But because of their nationally well-planned-out and focused economic policies, stable political environment, and technologically-oriented system of education, they were able to surpass most pundits’ forecasts and propelled themselves out of social decadence, economic impoverishment and political oblivion into world economic and political powerhouses.
Though our friendship with Israel would come with a price in terms of rhetoric or real actions from the north, the benefits awaiting us are much more indispensable compare to the short-term setbacks such threats might embody. After all, South Sudanese are not entirely oppose to the roadmap of two states solution as outlined by President Bush provided that the security of Israel is guaranteed and there is willingness among the Palestinians to abide by the final agreement rather than using the future state of Palestine as a launching ground to attack the state of Israel in the proverbial quest to drive the Jews into the Mediterranean Sea as Hamas professes. Therefore, our friendships with Israel will not circumvent any international law.
However, with constant harassments and an ever-present threat of deligitimization from some Western elements and the Arab-Islamic world over the millennia-old Arab-Israeli conflict, Israel would need us politically and diplomatically to shield itself from the weapon of political isolation and deligitimization being wielded by its enemies who have the numbers on their sides.
It would be a win-win situation among two allies that made it through the wars. If anything, the memories of our mutual sufferings would bind us together. We suffered under the Arab oppression for over 190 years. The Jews too were persecuted in Europe for millennia till it culminated in the holocaust that was masterminded by the Nazis under Adolf Hitler.
Like no any other race on planet earth, the Jews were considered foreigners and wanderers, and hence, persecuted in Europe and told to go home, only to be branded as settlers and occupiers (by the world) in the same home they were told to go to. Yet none of their tormentors is prepared to declare them as an alien race that came from another planet and are therefore not entitled to any piece of land on this planet to be called their homeland. Can anything be more absurd than that?
As evidently clear, maintaining and promoting our mutual friendship with the Jewish state of Israel is vital to the success of our young state. Israel is our old friend and we are their friends too. We should never allow the north to dictate our international associations, lest there is no independence per se, for to be independence is to have the freedom to chart your own destiny in whichever way or direction you see fit and with whoever you feel like associating with.
South Sudan has a good friend in the USA whose pressure and constant support and vigilance led to the materialization of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement under President George W. Bush. The next dear friend is the Jewish state of Israel! In the words of our Anya-Anya One war veteran and leader, General Joseph Lagu, Israel must have an embassy in Juba city.