Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) – A large part of the world seems to be leaving its moorings and going elsewhere and the reasons for this exodus are as varied as they are sometimes bizarre. Jews in Europe see increasing attacks against them and their symbols as evidence of rising anti-Semitism, and so they heed the numerous calls out of Jerusalem to have them relocate to Israel where they will presumably be safer.
Young Africans from all over the continent are willing to pay their life savings to people traffickers who pile them onto rickety dinghies that play hide and seek with sharks in waters across the Mediterranean, trying to get to Europe where they will probably be richer.
Chinese women carry their ripe pregnancies to America to deliver their babies there so as to beat the one-child policy of their government, but also so their children can have the possibility of becoming Americans also, improving their choices as to where and how to live.
Safer there than here, richer there than here, better there than here… The centrifugal push is informed by a lived experience that sees life where one is as unbearable, coupled with certain pull factors that hold up the prospect of a better life where one is headed. It could be illusory, even totally hopeless, but it all too often appears as a gamble well worth taking.
Gambles don’t have the luxury of relying on cool logic, and neither do they allow gamblers to contemplate the possibility of failure or loss. Once the heart has bought into the dream or illusion, the die is cast, caution is entrusted to the wind and the gambler is on a roll.
It does not really matter that the migrant Jew is likely to be one of those who will be swelling the numbers of the illegal construction of settlements on the West Bank, which in themselves represent a huge bone of contention in the Middle East conflict.
There is no serious disagreement over the view that one of the central issues that has poisoned international relations over the Middle East is the 1948 occupation of Palestine and the planting of the state of Israel on that soil. The subsequent conquests that followed a string of military flare-ups in the region have simply added onto that original sin, and the illegal settlements are simply the salt that is being rubbed into that wound.
So, if people around the world hold (wrongly no doubt) all Jews responsible for the plight of Palestine and use this to justify anti-Semitic attacks, how does the accelerated immigration into occupied Palestine by more Jews (who will be taking over more Palestinian lands) help matters?
I say what I do because I’m cognisant of the fact that not all Jews are dyed in the wool Zionists, and not all support the state of Israel in what it does against the Palestinians and the Arab people in that troubled region. But Binyamin Netanyahu wants the world to believe that recognising the right of Israel to exist must be twinned with refusing the same right to the Palestinians.
The most hardened supporters of Israel need to realise that what Israel needs is not more immigration, which could make a bad situation worse. The path to lasting peace will lie through a give and take approach, a modus vivendi that adopts a live and let live philosophy.
For young Africans, maybe what we need is to quit looking for greener pastures abroad; these simply do not exist anywhere. All the countries our youths covet have their own youths, and these are just as unemployed as our youths, and they resent seeing foreigners coming to take even the few jobs available. They will make life unliveable for any African, be he a physician or a scavenger.
A better path would be for the young men and women in Africa to engage with their peoples and help them to put pressure on their rulers to either make sense or give way for proper leaders. At least this is our continent; it’s the only place we can call ours, so we can claim it.
*Jenerali Ulimwengu is chairman of the board of the Raia Mwema newspaper and an advocate of the High Court in Dar es Salaam.