Yesterday I updated my google Reader by adding a subscription to the blog Atlas Obscura, “a collaborative project with the goal of cataloging all of the singular, eccentric, bizarre, fantastical, and strange out-of-the-way places that get left out of traditional travel guidebooks and are ignored by the average tourist. If you’re looking for miniature cities, glass flowers, books bound in human skin, gigantic flaming holes in the ground, phallological museums, bone churches, balancing pagodas, or homes built entirely out of paper, the Atlas Obscura is where you’ll find them.”
Already the few keyclicks it took to subscribe to the blog has paid off with information about the Principality of Sealand, a tower called a Maunsell sea fort built by England during WWII in international waters:
In 1967 Major Paddy Roy Bates occupied the island and declared it a sovereign principality, appropriately named “Sealand.” For the past four decades Bates and his family, with rotating visitors, have occupied the island, named themselves Royalty, and gone about their business much like heads of state.
In 1978 a German citizen claiming to be the “Prime Minister of Sealand” attempted to take over the island while Bates was away. Bates retook the island by helicopter attack and held the German captive. First Germany attempted to negotiate with Britain, who said Sealand wasn’t their country. The Germans then negotiated directly with Bates, and after a few weeks their countryman was returned. This encounter bolsters Bates’ claim that Sealand is a nation, as Germany recognized them in negotiation.
Since this time Sealand has fired at the British Navy, issued passports, minted coins, and participated in international sporting events….
Now, if Mr. Bates can declare himself a nation, and get away with it, “WHY CAN’T PALESTINE DECLARE ITSELF A NATION? This is just so obvious to me; whatever is taking them so long?
But wait, there is another revelation in store. The Principality of Sealand is not alone; in fact, there is a name for this phenomenon–“micro-nations”–and Atlas Obscura has a whole separate tag for micro-nations. So far, they have written about no fewer than eleven micro-nations. Count ’em, eleven. And get this, one of them is INSIDE THE CITY OF JERUSALEM!!!1!
Are you listening, Palestinians? Are you listening, Dr. Fayad (author of “The Salam Fayad Document: A Palestinian Initiative to Bear Responsibility”)?
Forget “settlements”. So what, settlements. They’re the only places it ‘s safe enough to put a bank ATM machine. They’re the only places it’s safe enough for Arab women to walk without being harassed by Arab men. Leave them alone. There must be plenty of “empty” land still left that can be reclaimed; there’s even a precedent for that move. I hear the West Bank is absolutely sitting on an underground lake.
Build your own Palestinian nano-nations, but forget all that dreary intifada stuff. Make a sweet little Arab country without shebabs–you know the guys I’m talking about, the ones who don’t want to keep their hands to themselves. You know who they are. Send those jerks to Gaza to live out their lives with kefeeyas wrapped around everything but their eyes.
Then build a principality with the best felafel, the best mahmoul, and that bear-claw-shaped, date-filled Palestinian bread that’s to die for. Plant a few palm trees to sit and eat them under. Don’t forget a mosque where the women can worship on the same floor side-by-side with men, and don’t have to hide in the mosque basement for fear the men will stare at their butts while they’re praying. And then issue passports–and visas–for it.
The Micro-Nation of Palestine.
Build it and they will come.