BBC News – Sudan-Egypt border
‘I’m standing near the southern Egyptian border with Sudan. As far as the eye can see they keep coming – cars, pickup trucks, buses, tractors ... The vehicles are piled high with household belongings, children clinging precariously to the tops of many. A biblical exodus appears to be well under way.
‘In the wake of the recent war in the Middle East, and the over-whelming victory of Israel in that war, millions upon millions of the Nigerian Igbo people are heading ‘home’ – as they see it – to their promised land. Israel has just recently given them permission to come, as they have also to the Pashtuns, Kashmiris and Menashe from Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
‘The Jewish prophet, Jeremiah, referred to a highway stretching all the way from Egypt to ancient Assyria – roughly the area of modern-day Afghanistan – and that that highway will pass through Israel. It seems that this prediction may now be coming to pass.
‘One convoy begins in Nigeria, west Africa, travelling east into Cameroon, Central African Republic and South Sudan, then north into Sudan and Egypt. Another convoy, of the Lemba tribe, in Zimbabwe and South Africa, is travelling north through Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia, to join up with the western convoy from Sudan into Egypt. It seems likely that many of the Tutsi tribe, from Rwanda and Burundi, are also ready to join this exodus.
‘Just a few weeks ago, Karen, it would have been impossible for these people to travel through Sudan or Egypt to Israel, but those countries joined forces with Iran and other Middle East nations in the recent failed attempt to wipe out Israel – and now they are a defeated and subdued enemy, currently dependent upon Israel.
‘Amazingly, the great Nile River seems conveniently to have dried up to a fraction of its normal size, enabling this huge convoy to bypass the congested bridges on new crossings engineered by the Israeli Army.
‘These people travelling across Africa seem to be exuberantly happy. They sing hymns and cheer as they travel. If a vehicle breaks down – as many of them do – there is always plenty of help to get them going again.
‘Israeli military vehicles are patrolling along the column of refugees, while helicopters pass over the vehicles periodically. The Israelis are not taking any chances on this massive exodus being attacked en route – especially with members of the extreme Islamist group, Boko Haram, still in the area. Transit camps are being set up all along the route, with Israeli field kitchens and medical teams ready to deal with heat exhaustion, child-birth, or any other emergency.
‘Israel has put a call out worldwide for volunteer engineers and mechanics to help repair vehicles and roads. Earlier today we watched as huge Caterpillar bulldozers were airlifted to help build those extra Nile crossings. The same thing, I believe, is happening all along the convoy routes.
‘This is an absolutely incredible scene! Some experts reckon that there are perhaps thirty million people on the move here from western Africa alone – with more from the south, plus some Tutsi from Rwanda and Burundi, joining them. Karen, this must be the largest people movement the modern world has ever seen.
‘This is David Hawthorne, BBC news, on the Sudan-Egypt border.’
* * *
‘That was David Hawthorne reporting from Africa. I’m Karen Wignall and, in case you missed our headlines, the story of the day is of the continuing massive people movement of the huge Igbo tribe, from Nigeria, and other African tribes who regard themselves as of Israelite origin, heading for the newly expanded State of Israel.
‘On their way these travellers will actually be covering more or less the same ground as the many millions who recently fled from the Middle East in the other direction during the recent ‘Six Hour War’.
‘Another similar mass movement is taking place in Asia, also travelling towards Israel. We’re going to go now to our correspondent in southern Iraq, Susan Reilly …’
* * *
Basra, near the Iran-Iraq border
‘Thank you, Karen. I’m standing by the main road east of Basra, near the border between what used to be Iran and Iraq. Both those countries have been totally devastated by the recent war and are now almost completely empty of their original inhabitants. Their populations fled originally in fear of Israeli retaliation for Iran and Syria’s failed nuclear attack, just a few weeks ago – and then later because of the missile and land attack from Saudi Arabia. Apart from Israeli soldiers and relief organisations, Basra is deserted.
‘That attack on Israel was accompanied by massive rocket and mortar attacks across the borders from Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Unbelievably, instead of Israel being wiped out, as everyone fully expected, their attackers fled in advance of the unexpected Israeli counter-attack.
‘In that short time the Middle East has changed forever. All of Iran’s military facilities and most of their cities, too, are now a smoking ruin. It seems that Iran – together with Saudi Arabia and Egypt – badly miscalculated the affect of their attempt to wipe out Israel and the result is the total destruction of a former major power in the Middle East.
‘This convoy of immigrants stretches as far as I can see. There must be many millions of Pashtuns, from eastern Afghanistan, and the Swat and North West Frontier Provinces of Pakistan. Karen, many of these people were linked to the Taliban that US and UK coalition forces have been fighting against for many years.
‘Former members of the Taliban – an extreme Islamist force before the war – are apparently now willing to join with the State of Israel! The forces of militant Islam have indeed been dealt a great blow and many have lost their faith in the Islamic religion.
‘What is happening here is something quite unbelievable. I wouldn’t believe it myself if I wasn’t witnessing it with my own eyes. Even at the end of the Second World War when the Indian subcontinent was partitioned into modern India and Pakistan, there were nowhere near as many people involved.
‘These people are not Jews, but they regard themselves as belonging to the ‘people of Israel’ – just as the Jews do. And this convoy doesn’t just come from Afghanistan and Pakistan – I am told that there are potentially six million Kashmiri’s also on the move from northern India and another four million of the Menashe tribe from eastern India. All of these tribes apparently regard themselves as ‘Israelite’, also.
‘In the past, Israel had permitted several thousand of the Menashe – regarded as part of the biblical tribe of Manasseh – to emigrate, or ‘make aliyah’ to Israel, though many more thousands had applied to emigrate. Until Israel recently dramatically changed their immigration policy, it would have taken a couple of hundred years at the previous rate to allow in those who had applied. Now, even those who are professedly Christian – the majority of the Menashe – want to make ‘aliyah’, and Israel have said, ‘Yes, they can come!’
‘There are Israeli military vehicles in evidence everywhere here, with helicopters flying overhead periodically and a pair of Israeli jets every now and then, also. The convoy is accompanied by well armed Israeli patrols, aided by transport planes who set them down all along the route of this migration. You can see that the mighty Euphrates River – normally full at this time of year – is now almost completely dried up, enabling Israeli engineers to create several new vehicle crossings here quite easily.
‘Israel are keeping a watchful eye on this transfer of humanity, but they are going to have their work cut out for them when they reach their destination – rehousing of so many millions of new immigrants will be an almost superhuman task.
‘This is Susan Reilly, BBC news, on the former Iran-Iraq border.’
* * *
‘Well, recent events in the Middle East have caused a great deal of response around the globe. Russia and China have both condemned Israel for their sharp response to an all-out attack from all the surrounding Arab countries, along with Iran.
‘The United States, who in recent years have distanced themselves more and more from their former ally, Israel, have also spoken out strongly against the Israeli occupation of the former territories of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and parts of Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Egypt.
‘We go now to our Jerusalem correspondent, Michael Farr, who is currently in south Lebanon. Michael, how are the Israelis coping with such a massive influx of refugees?’
* * *
‘Well, first of all, Karen, these are not really what we would normally refer to as refugees. They are not fleeing from any threat such as famine, or war. This is a massive ideological people movement of totally biblical proportions. These people have simply decided that, after two thousand seven hundred years of separation, now is the right time to return to their original homeland.
‘And by the way, it was pointed out to me just recently that where I’m standing now – just outside the town of Sour, or Tyre, in former south Lebanon – was originally part of the British Mandate territory of Palestine in 1920, originally destined by the League of Nations to become part of the Jewish State. That was until Britain and France began a bit of wheeler-dealing, which resulted in Britain gaining control of the oilfields in what we now call the Kurdish area of Iraq, while the French added this area south of the Litani River to their newly created country, named after Mount Lebanon.’
‘Michael, how are the Israelis coping with the situation?’
‘Well, it is unbelievable that a nation that two weeks ago we believed was about to disappear from the map is now taking on an influx of people that will increase its population by around ten times! This has never been done before – unless you count the original biblical Exodus of two and a half million people from Egypt all those centuries ago!
‘Don’t forget, I’m standing here in what used to be Lebanon – where the vast majority of the population has fled from what they obviously believed would become a holocaust in retaliation for their attempt to wipe out Israel.
‘As much as possible the new immigrants are being organised on the basis of their town or village of origin, with empty towns and villages here being matched with those now being emptied in Asia and Africa.
‘Back in those towns and villages, Israeli officials are carefully co-ordinating the exodus so that the new immigrants know in advance where they are going. Other Israeli officials, along with the military, are organising the clearing of streets and repairing and securing empty homes for their new tenants – here in Lebanon, and in Syria, Jordan, the Sinai and north-eastern Saudi Arabia.
‘An interesting development, overshadowed by this absolutely huge people movement, is that many of the Palestinian refugees, who for decades have lived in Lebanon refugee camps, by and large have NOT fled along with their Lebanese countrymen. The same is true of many of the Palestinians in the west bank and Gaza Strip. They at least appear to have learned a lesson from their previous flights, which have only resulted in their own misery. Their former leaders in Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, of course, have either fled or been destroyed by Israeli forces, after their attempt to destroy Israel. and, of course, their former supporters in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc. are no longer in any position to help them.
‘It has been voiced in recent years that many, perhaps even the majority, of those we refer to as ‘Palestinians’ actually have Jewish roots – just like those who are now coming from Afghanistan and other countries. DNA and historical evidence has tended to confirm this. So, in the changed regional situation, the Israelis have extended an open welcome to those Palestinians who sincerely want to remain as part of the new Israel. They are welcome to stay and become full Israeli citizens. No-one yet knows just how that might work out in practice, but some potential new leaders among them have cautiously welcomed the Israeli government’s offer.
‘Certainly, there can be no conceivable going back to the pre-war days of conflict, with outside backing in terms of missiles and monetary support – those backers have gone! And so a separate Palestinian State is no longer a realistic option! The Israeli government have officially dissolved the Palestinian authority – although in practice it had mostly dissolved itself! Their own terrorist leaders have either fled or been annihilated and the Arab world’s exploitation of the Palestinians for their own ends has seemingly come to an end – especially with Iran, Syria, Qatar and Hezbollah now out of the picture.
‘It remains to be seen, Karen, just how big a task Israel has taken on in allowing so many millions to return. The population of the new Israel could become seventy, eighty – even a hundred million – probably greater than that of former Iran! This truly is a biblical exodus. And it will completely transform the make-up of the new Israel.
‘No-one knows yet how this will affect the political climate in Israel – most of these immigrants are not even Jewish in terms of religion. The majority are either Christian or some variety of Muslim – the Pashtuns have their own Pashtunwali code – so at least they might feel at home in former Muslim, or Christian, towns and villages here in Lebanon, or Syria.
‘How the Israelis will house and find employment for all these people is anybody’s guess. Not to mention that they will presumably need to learn Hebrew to integrate fully into Israeli society. How will the present day Israelis cope with such an influx of immigrants? Could Israel even be reduced to a third world country by accepting so many poverty-stricken people?
‘The current Israeli government is really an interim government. When things settle down a bit there will have to be new elections representing the changed political reality. There will probably be new political parties – a Pashtun party, perhaps? an Igbo party? No-one can really imagine how these new realities will affect the post-war Israel – but affect it they certainly will!
‘Zionism has certainly been given a whole new lease of life. Israel no longer needs to apologise or bend to any outside powers. The UN have been remarkably silent in the wake of the attempt to completely destroy Israel by several of their former members.
‘But the new Israel will no longer be an exclusively Jewish state. It remains to be seen how that will be received by the present population of Israel. The new immigrants will possibly outnumber the indigenous population by a factor of ten to one.
‘On the other hand, Israel almost ceased to exist forever – and the collective thankfulness for what is being received as miraculous divine intervention on their behalf, has led the Israeli leadership to take this unprecedented step. One cannot conceive of another nation making such a bold move.
‘From Israel’s point of view it also solves the question of occupation of these former Arab lands, by immediately peopling them with outside immigrants. Those new immigrants will be a security buffer in the future. Even the Kurds are happy – as Israel have agreed to support them in setting up their own government in the parts of Syria north east of the Euphrates River. That, combined with their present autonomous area of former northern Iraq, and the surviving Iranian Kurds, would give them their longed for new state of Kurdistan. Turkey, of course, will not be at all happy with that development!
‘This is Michael Farr, BBC News, Tyre, in former south Lebanon.’
* * *
‘Thank you, Michael.
‘Well, the recent developments in the Middle East and Africa have taken the world by storm. The unexpected survival of Israel after an all-out nuclear and conventional attack from all the surrounding nations has left the world community reeling. Stock markets still really don’t know how to gauge the current economic climate.
Oil prices have risen due to the expected reduction in supply – though Israel have assured the world that any damage to oil production equipment in the Persian Gulf will soon be repaired and back in operation as soon as possible.
‘Israel have announced that their own Leviathan oil and gas field in the eastern Mediterranean will soon be producing commercial quantities of oil. Leviathan gas is already supplying a large part of Europe and the Middle East with energy. The government have also confirmed that the newly discovered oilfield in the Golan Heights will also be producing oil in the very near future.
‘Israel are working with the fledgeling Kurdish State to provide oil supplies direct to the Mediterranean by creating a new pipeline through former Syria, connecting the existing oil terminal at Baniyas to the existing pipeline from Kirkuk. Obviously, it is in Israeli economic interest to get this pipeline up and running in record time and the Israeli company in charge of the project are currently recruiting expert engineers to facilitate this.
‘In other news ...’