The Israeli- Palestinian Conflict
October 9th, 2012
Conquered land. Homeland. Fighting for land. Defending land. Different perspectives and different views are the root causes of the problem in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During the 19th century, a Zionist movement took steps to regain their homeland. Jews started to move to Palestine and settle there. (Weir, Alison). In 1947, after World War II, there were thousands of Jewish refugees who survived the holocaust and had no home. The British, who were in control of the Mandate of Palestine, left the fate of the land to the UN. The UN proposed a Partition Plan for the state of Palestine. The Partition Plan created two states, an Arab State and a Jewish State. The Zionist leaders approved the proposal, but the Palestinian Arabs rejected the plan along with the surrounding Arab countries. Days after the plan was introduced, fighting broke out between the Jews and Arabs. However, the Arab’s military was chaotic and disorganized compared to the Zionist army who were effective and prevailed. In May, 1948, the Jews secured most of the land that was supposed to be the state of Israel, through military power. By May 15th, the British evacuated the rest of the Palestinians in Israel. During this time, Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq began to invade Israel and fighting became intense. The first Arab-Israeli war was underway. The most important conflict between Israelites and the Arabs was the Six-Day War. During the war Israel gained the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank, and Golan Heights. Israel continues to control this land; however they returned the Sinai Peninsula in 1979 to Egypt, gaining Egypt as their ally. To this day, conflict and strife blankets Israel/ Palestine. With all the violence that has engulfed the country, security is a valuable resource. Security is supposed to make people feel safe. However, neither Israelites nor Palestinians can say that they feel safe in everyday life. Israel has set up check points throughout the West Bank, searching and usually denying access to any Arab that travels between cities. They have also begun building a wall surrounding the Palestinian land. Oppressed Palestinians have their rights taken away; however Israel feels threatened by the surrounding Arab countries and thinks it is the only way to be safe.
Surrounded by armed guards, knowing that they could shoot, and not lose any sleep over it. Knowing that no one will hear your cry. Living in a constant state of fear. These are the daily feelings of a Palestinian living in the West Bank or Gaza Strip. When the Jews started little communities in Palestine during the 19th century, they were backed by the British military, which was a huge advantage because the British were occupying Palestine at the time. As more Jewish settlers flowed in after World War Two, Arab Muslims, who inhabited Palestine for more than 1,200 years, were pushed out of their land. The UN Partition Plan gave half of the land to the Jews, and left the rest to the Arab Muslims. However, the Jewish population only made up 10% of the total population in the land. Furthermore, many Jewish politicians were not happy with the land division, and wanted more. The Palestinians were too weak to fight back as their land grew smaller and smaller. They called for Arab military assistance but the military was “ill- equipped and lacked any central command to coordinate their efforts” (Weir). As violence escalated, the Israeli’s stopped trusting the Palestinians. When the Israeli’s seized the West Bank during the Six Day War, they began restricting the Palestinians freedom, and these restrictions have continued ever since. In 2008, there were over 699 obstacles that restrict Palestinians (Checkpoints). The obstacles include trenches, road blocks, earth mounds and checkpoints. 74% of the main routes in the West Bank have check points or are blocked entirely. It is impossible to go into Israel legally without passing checkpoints. In the film Promises a car with an Israeli license plate passed easily through the checkpoints. However, when cars with a Palestinian license plate passed, they were heavily searched, needed to have the right documentation, and were often denied access. These checkpoints are humiliating for the Palestinians. A former Palestinian said in a presentation that troops would often search the women inappropriately. The checkpoints make Palestinians feel dehumanized. In 2002, the Israeli government began to build a wall surrounding the West Bank. The wall goes into to the Palestinian land, making the Israeli land bigger. This wall blocks any transportation and contact between Palestine and Israel. This wall also doesn’t allow aid to go into the West Bank. An already desperate nation has slipped farther into the struggle with poverty. All the injustices Israel has caused make angry Palestinians to revolt. Palestinians often throw rocks at troops as forms of protesting. In Promises a boy’s friend had thrown a rock, and received a bullet in the chest. Guns against stones. Voices against the Voiceless. The oppressors against the oppressed. This how the Palestinians feel.
The Jews have a different viewpoint. Anti-Semitism has been has been around since before Christ. Jews were able to lend money, whereas in the Christian faith it went against the Bible’s teaching. Christians have been persecuting Jews ever since. Then the Holocaust happened, which was the biggest genocide in history. Over 6 million Jews were murdered. Since then, Jewish people have never felt safe. Out of rightful guilt of what happened, the UN created a state of Israel, in the former Palestine, where the Jews believed it is was their homeland. However, the surrounding Arab countries did not, and have not accepted Israel. The Arab motto is “We will push the Zionists into the sea…” (Arab Revolt (in Palestine)). Terrorist organizations, such as Hamas, have emerged. Hamas was founded in 1987, and is a group that “preaches and engages in violence and terror in order to destroy the state of Israel”(Hamas Fact Sheet). They started using suicide bombers and rockets in 1994 to fulfill this mission. Over the span of 6 years, the Hamas organization has killed 300 Israeli civilians and wounded over 2,000 (Hamas Fact Sheet). Israeli children fear riding the bus to school, as many of the bombers have blown up buses. Taking measures for the safety and well-being of its population, the Israeli government has begun to build a wall surrounding the West Bank. As the wall has gone up, the mortality rate has decreased drastically. There was a 30% drop in terrorist attacks when the wall went up. In 2002 there 457 Israelis murdered, however in 2009 only 8 were killed. Having a wall for security is not an unknown strategy. 2,000 years ago the Great Wall of China was built by Qing Shi Huang, China’s first emperor. The wall prevented invading tribes to reach China, and for many centuries it kept the tribes away. Israel is using the wall for protection from the surrounding Arab countries. Israeli citizens live in constant fear of terrorist attacks and invasions from the surrounding Arab countries. Iran’s President “routinely threatens the existence of Israel and engages in racist anti- Semitic rhetoric and indictment to genocide” (Austen). With the new Islamic Egyptian president, Israel’s leaders are becoming increasingly worried about their relations with the only country in the region that recognizes them as a country (Rudoren). After so many years of persecution, Jewish people finally have a homeland, but with all the threats from surrounding nations they have to take major steps in security for them to be safe.
Propaganda. Propaganda goes hand in hand with the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict. Different views and perspectives are the fuel to the fire. Whose homeland is it? The world will probably never know, but Israel thinks it’s theirs and Palestine thinks it’s theirs. In the Torah, it does state that the Jews lived in Israel. However, after Romans conquered Israel, the Palestinians began to live in the land of Israel; they have lived there for over 1,200 years. The Israeli’s only will think about the Torah, and the Palestinians will only think about their former occupation of the land. There is also the problem of how the Palestinians view the Israelis and how the Israelis view the Palestinians. The Palestinians think that every Israeli is a soldier, happily ready to kick a Palestinians door down and arrest everyone that lives there. The Israelis think that every Palestinian is already planning his or her suicide mission to blow up a bus. Different views and perspectives keep the two nations apart, preventing peace.
Evan where there is extraordinary conflict there can be hope. A major path to peace in Israel/ Palestine is to break down the barriers and make Israel/Palestine one unit. The physical barriers, the propaganda barriers, and the stereo-typical barriers. If Israel and Palestine do not have any contact, especially civilian contact, then no one can get to know one another. They can’t fully understand the problem. Palestinians and Israeli’s have stated that they want to get to know the other side, they just don’t know how. The wall must come down. It is oppressing the Palestinians, making them even more angry and upset. It is making the Israelites fear the Palestinians even more because now they have no idea what is going on in Palestine. A former Palestinian said in a statement that she knows that Palestinians can’t go back to their old homes, but if Israel takes down the wall and checkpoints and gives them back their freedom, then she believes peace will emerge. The struggle is no longer for Palestine to get its land back, or for Israel to have the Palestine settlements. The struggle is for peace.
The United States is a key player in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. In military aid, the United States gives more that 8.5 million dollars each day (Weir). Supporting Israel goes against America’s moral value of justice. However, Israel depends on the United States, and the United States relies on Israel to be a friendly nation in the Middle East. No longer supporting Israel at all would have devastating results on both sides. The United States, instead, should strongly encourage communications between Israel and Palestine. This will hopefully make the two sides see each other’s point of view. The conflict in Israel/ Palestine is a problem that has been going on for hundreds of years. Hopefully it does not take hundred years to accomplish a peaceful end to the conflict.
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