Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Chungus Maximus, May 18, 2019.
Would there still be conflicts with the local Arabs, or no, since there were very few people there?
There are few people there because water and arable land are too limited to support many. Sinai isn't a great place for a state with over a million residents. And there would still likely be conflicts because even if Egypt didn't demand Sinai for itself, it wouldn't like a nonarab state so close to the Suez canal.
It would be suicide.
For all its vastness, Sinai was smaller than the territories Israel got in 1948, plus it was entirely desert with very limited resources that even today houses fewer than a few hundred thousand people. Trying to make it the Israeli heartland would be impossible, as no amount of fixing can make this desert bloom.
At least Palestine ranged from 'excellent arable land' to 'decent land' with some patches of arid or semi-arid territory.
How do you envisage this coming about?
Being created by the British with no regards to the Egyptians?
By the Jews themselves during some form of uprising/military operation in the late 40s?
The two fundamental problems are that a) the various Zionist groups were pretty set on Palestine being the site of a new Israeli state and b) Sinai has a much lower carrying capacity than even the territory granted to Israel under the 1948 plan.
[ how come in OTL there aren't Jewish temples at Mt. Sinai? It's where God literally showed up in person to hand Moses the Ten Commandments... ]
So the main reason is that the Biblical Mount Sinai hasn't been identified. Even though some prophets like Elijah are said to have been there, while Josephus said that its location was between Egypt and Arabia. But the main reason is we just don't know where exactly.
Now, there are some contenders.
There's Jebel Musa, also called Mount Horeb, which is actually in the Sinai and is called, in English, Mount Sinai; but this identification as Mount Sinai only began in the Byzantine era. There's Har Karkom in the Negev, which actually had an archaeological dig by Emmanuel Anati in 1980, and he discovered something like 40,000 rock engravings and some shrines and a bunch of other findings. But his theory that Har Karkom is the Biblical Mount Sinai is disputed because it significantly messes with the location of the Midianites, Amalekites, and a bunch of other ancient peoples. Some scholars believe that Mount Sinai is actually Jabal al-Lawz (near the Saudi-Jordan border, above the Gulf of Aqaba), but this is also disputed. Then there's Jabal Maqla, in Tabuk (Saudi Arabia), also above the Gulf of Aqaba.
But really? We just don't know where it is.
But to get back on topic. It's pretty much this. The leadership of the Zionist movement were dead-set on Palestine as a Jewish state and rejected anything else. Sinai wouldn't support the waves of Jewish immigration that were coming in, plus Sinai was never seen as part of the Land of Israel.
There was an offer of Uganda or some other spot in Africa as an alternative. It was seen at first as a possible solution, but it was eventually rejected in favor of the historic Israeli territory of Palestine.
But basically, said territory would have at least had the basics to support an expanding population of European-based immigrants. Sinai doesn't have zip, and almost half its population is squeezed up against the Suez Canal, closer to the Egyptian heartland and focused along the port cities of Port Said and Suez.
This is really really ASB but . . . an acquaintance of mine had a proposal which he said would be to the advantage of all parties. The Western Wall, being the holiest place in Jerusalem, should be moved to New Mexico, and the Jewish population of Israel relocated there. That way, he said, that would bring the U.S. an intake of trained, educated, skilled people while satisfying the needs of the indigenous people.
The depth of ignorance in this proposal staggered me. To take the first example, the Western Wall is not holy in and of itself but because it is a remnant of the Temple.
And the influence such a move would have on secular Jews would range from nil to negative.
Yet this sounds almost plausible compared to some other proposals I have seen.
There is also the fact that while Palestine was under British administration by League of Nations mandate, Sinai was part of Egypt - a sovereign nation, which would not consent to mass immigration of Jews.
The Sinai peninsula is ~60,000 sq km; pre-1967 Israel was about 20,000 sq km.
I mean if there is one thing you could do to easily make the left's view of Israel worse is putting in Africa, especially a part of the continent where in no reasonable interpretation do the Jews have a historical connection to (or at least one strong enough to justify establishing a Jewish homeland).
Yeah. The only way I can see Palestine being given up is if it is not an option at all - and even then I think there would be a strong view in this alt-Israel that this is just a stepping stone to the real thing.
Ah, my bad. Still, it's not like it can support as many people as Palestine could.
I think there's one crucial difference between Sinai and the Uganda situation mentioned above- that the Sinai is adjacent to Israel/Palestine. So I think it's more likely that the Zionist movement might see Jewish settlement in Sinai as a base from which to support Jewish national aspirations in Israel too.
So I'm guessing a timeline could look like this:
1) Sinai is somehow split from the rest of Egypt by the UK at some point a few decades prior to WW1; Sinai as well as the Suez Canal region become directly administered as a British colony rather than by Egypt. Zionist movement approves of settlement in Sinai, considering that it might become a part of a future Israeli state
2) the British government allows a lot of Jewish migration to the Sinai
3) WW1 happens, much the same as in OTL, but as in OTL it restricts Jewish migration to Palestine. Sinai, on the other hand, is allowed to continue to have unlimited Jewish migration to (as the very small population as well as the lack of religious importance of the Sinai means that opposition to this from Arabs is much less)
By the time there's the war of independence, I think Israel would end up consisting of both Sinai and Palestine, but Sinai would have a much bigger role than in OTL.
Except Sinai today has a million people, half of which are spread out sparsely in the south, and the rest huddled up against the Suez border, near the Egyptian heartland. Sinai can't handle unlimited Jewish migration; at least the original plan allowed the Israelis to take the Jaffa and Haifa regions, which have water, good ports, and plenty of good agriculture.
Not to mention that while Egypt probably wouldn't have had as big a loss comparatively as the Palestinians, they're still stuck with 'foreigners' occupying their lands, and even closer to the Egyptian heartland than last time. They're not going to sign any peace treaties, and the biggest gain Israel had from OTL Camp David was it no longer had to worry about Egypt's threat.
Sinai today has 1.4 million people, which is significant but not much.
I expect that back around 1900 it would probably have only had about 100,000 people at most, and I expect you could get a few hundred thousand Jewish settlers to add to that.
Though... yes, you're right, it wouldn't really be able to support unlimited numbers of settlers. I was thinking more along the lines of "the UK government _allows_ unlimited Jewish settlers to go there"... but that's not to say that the land would be able to support them (it wouldn't).
As for the Egyptian perception of it as a "foreign occupation"- I was thinking that if Sinai was split off early enough (pre-1900), the Egyptians might not end up seeing it that way (in a similar way that Egypt no longer has a claim over Sudan, etc)
Sinai has been historically Egyptian territory for millennia. And even Egypt could afford or somehow ignore the loss of Sinai, it'll cause problems with the Suez Canal. Any fight between the two would result in the Canal being closed for months, if not years (which is what admittedly happened in the 1967-1978 period when Israel held Sinai).
This was actually proposed OTL. Per Wikipedia...
If the Egyptian government had opted to okay the diversion of Nile waters, then I could see a viable Zionist polity being established.
Meanwhile the Egyptian-Ottoman boundary was only defined in 1906. You could feasibly have the British push for a more generous border with the Ottomans, perhaps setting the boundary in the Judean Hills and getting the British and Zionists Aqaba (as the British did attempt OTL).
The big issue is, if you have a Zionist Proto-State set up and ready to go when WWI starts, what's to stop it from marching up and conquering Palestine for the British? There were ~100k Jews in Palestine when WWI broke out OTL. I can imagine many more than that being in the Sinai polity TTL.
OTL Border Changes
Ya, moving the Wall ect... sounds messed up. Still, it sounds somehow plausible that a combination of US policy and motivated Jewish leaders could somehow turn the Pheonix/Tuscon region into a defacto Jewish homeland. I'm trying to imagine the sort of culture and other changes that would emerge from this US version of the getto & shetel.
I am dubious of this. The modern pro-Jewish pro-Zionist thread in US culture is VERY new. And the Evangelicals who back Israel because the Jews returning to their homeland is prophesied to happen before the return of the Messiah would be opponents of an Israel-in-Arizona.
Which rather raises the question, whose calculations were correct on the water requirements? The Egyptian government or Stephens?
Either way, this Israel will be VERY dependant on Egypt. OTL, dependence on Egypt for water is one of the reasons why Israel felt it unreasonable to retain Sinai. And how far can Israel develop with complete dependence on the Nile (for which they'd be 3rd in priority for after the Egyptian people and the Suez canal)?
In practical terms, Israel would have a smaller population and would either be effectively a vassal of Egypt or Egypt would effectively be a vassal of Israel.
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