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a strange prophecy

For centuries the Ottoman Turks ruled many cities in the middle east. Their government of Jerusalem was particularly hated by the local inhabitants owing to high taxes, corruption and no rebuilding of infrastructure. In the eighteenth century an arab saying gained currency, "When the Nile flows into Palestine, then shall the prophet from the West drive the Turk from Jerusalem." The saying was meant to indicate the impossibility of the situation: obviously the Nile could not change course and obviously there could be no prophet from the west since Mohamed was the last prophet.

However, 200 or so years later, in 1917 the British army, starting from Cairo began to advance on Jerusalem. To water the troops a massive pipeline was constructed that drew water from Kantara on the Nile and delivered it north of Gaza- in Palestine. That Nile water was then carried by camel and taken up the line to troops fighting to relieve Jerusalem. Finally the Turks were driven out and the British leader, General Allenby, accepted the surrender of Jerusalam. His name, Allenby, sounded to Palestinians like 'Al Nebi', which means, strangely, in arabic, 'prophet'.

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