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Why Israel and Palestine are in Constant Conflict
What do Arabs and Jews have in Common?
We like to think of Arabs and Jews as being very different. But according to religious scripture, their common lineage started with Abraham, who had two sons: Isaac and Ishmael. The Jews believe that Isaac would be the Son of Promise and the Arabs believe Ishmael would be the Son of Promise. Both the Bible and the Koran have similar stories about Abraham almost sacrificing his sons to God to prove his faith in God. However, the difference in the stories is that the Jews believe God said it would be Isaac that would create a great nation called Israel and Arabs believe it would be Ishmael who would lead a great nation called Islam.
Diaspora is a term used to describe a group of people who have been displaced and live outside the area in which they had lived for long periods of time or in which their ancestors lived. Throughout history, the Jewish people had been displaced from what they believe is their homeland of Israel. The reasons for this are many including persecution, wars and the holocaust. The following is a time line listing the major events of the Jewish Diaspora during ancient times:
722 B.C. - Assyrian King Shalmanesar V conquers Northern Israel- The Ten Lost Tribes are scattered all over the Middle East.
588 B.C. - Chaldeans invade Judea - thousands of Jews deported to the Euphrates Valley (modern day Iraq)
37 B.C. - Judea becomes a protectorate of Rome under King Herod
70 A.D. - Rome crushes Jewish uprising, destroys temple at Jerusalem
There are far too many instances of countries and societies persecuting Jews during modern history to mention the details. Suffice it to say that history includes, Christians, Muslims, the Holocaust, Russia, and the Soviet Union all played a part in some form of anti-semitisim that caused the Jewish population to be scattered and displaced throughout different countries.
The Zionist Movement and the Horse Chestnut
The Zionist Movement started in the 1600's and was about getting the Jewish people to consolidate into one area, preferably Palestine. During World War I, the British and French were fighting the Ottoman Empire.
Theodore Herzel was in charge of the Zionist movement at the same time. The British were in need of acetone to process cordite for their explosives. However, the acetone was made by distilling it from timbers, which were in short supply in Britain. As a result they were importing timbers from America.
At that time, there was a Jewish biochemist, Chaim Weizmann, that was part of the British Ministry and also a Zionist.. He was given the task of developing a cheap way of extracting acetone from other materials. He found that he could distill acetone from horse chestnuts by using a bacteria fermentation process. As a result, the British were able to produce mass quantities of acetone to process cordite for their explosives. Cordite is a propellant that makes artillery shells smokeless so they can't be traced when fired..
This innovation helped them win WWI. As a result, Weizmann became highly recognized by Theodore Herzel, the leader of the Zionist movement, Lord Balfour, the Foreign Secretary of Britain, and Baron Rothschild, a Zionist sympathizer with a lot of money..
It should be noted that later Chaim Weizmann was to become the first President of Israel.
The Balfour Declaration
The common interests of Herzel, Wiezmann, Rothschild, and Balfour resulted in the Balfour Declaration of 1917. The motivation for the declaration was three fold.
- President Wilson was uncertain about being an ally to Britain, but two of his closest advisors were Zionist
- Russia was in a revolution and they wanted to keep them in their war by being sympathetic to the Jewish population.
- Britain wanted to attract Jewish financial resources.
The following is the text of the Balfour Declaration.
"His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."
Notice it states a "national home" for the Jewish people, not a state or nation. Also in the last sentence it states that, "nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine."
The Basel Program of 1897
The First Zionist Congress was held in Basel Switzerland in 1897. Theodore Herzel presented the following mission statement for Zionism.
"Zionism aims at establishing for the Jewish people a publicly and legally assured home in Palestine. For the attainment of this purpose, the Congress considers the following means serviceable:
- The promotion of the settlement of Jewish agriculturists, artisans, and tradesmen in Palestine.
- The federation of all Jews into local or general groups, according to the laws of the various countries.
- The strengthening of the Jewish feeling and consciousness.
- Preparatory steps for the attainment of those governmental grants which are necessary to the achievement of the Zionist purpose.
It is item four that is pure genius. It can be decoded to mean the Zionist and Israel will have endorsement by other countries in order to become a legitimate country. The Palestinians did not do that. The Balfour Declaration does not call for Palestine to be a legitimate country.
The British Mandate 1920 - 1947
An agreement was made during WWI between the British and the French to divide up the Middle East, after the war. France would have control of Syria and Lebanon and the British would have control over Iraq, Jordan, and Palestine. This agreement was made in secret and was called the Sykes-Picot Pact, named after the creators of the agreement.
The Sykes-Picot Pact was actually implemented after the war. The British were granted possession of Palestine by the League of Nations. With this system, colonial territories were to be administered by a foreign power until the local population was deemed ready for self-rule.
The 1920s and 1930s saw an increased immigration of European Jews into the Palestinian Territory. This was because of a rise of Zionism and ever worsening political conditions for Jews, especially in Germany.
From 1920 to 1947, there were increasing conflicts between the Jewish immigration and the Palestinians, resulting in many battles for land. The British were caught in the middle and in 1948, they gave up control of the Palestinian Territory and gave it to the newly formed United Nations.
in 1947, the United Nations proposed partitioning Palestine into two separate states. But that never happened.
In 1948, the Arab Armies invaded the land. The map shown below is in French, but it gets the point across.
The Israeli Army counter attacks in 1948
The Israeli forces won the 1948 war, but they pushed well beyond the UN-designated borders to claim land that was to have been part of Palestine, including the western half of Jerusalem. They also uprooted and expelled entire Palestinian communities, creating about 700,000 refugees, whose descendants now number 7 million and are still considered refugees.
The 1948 war ended with Israel roughly controlling the territory that you will see marked on today's maps as "Israel"; everything except for the West Bank and Gaza, which is where most Palestinian fled to (many also ended up in refugee camps in neighboring countries) which are today considered the Palestinian territories. The borders between Israel and Palestine have been disputed and fought over ever since. So has the status of those Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem.
As a child, I remember watching T.V. and seeing bulldozers pushing down Palestinian houses and making refugees out of the people living on their own land.
The Israeli Land Grab in 1948
1948 - Gaza controlled by Egypt and the West Bank controlled by Jordan
1967 - The Six Day War Israel occupies Gaza, the West Bank, and Syria's Golan Heights which are beyond the borders of the UN partition plan of 1947.
1981 - Israel annex's the Golan Heights and Egypt's Sinai Peninsula
1982 - Israel returns the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt
2005 - Israel Withdraws occupying troops and settlers from Gaza, but maintains full blockade of the territory. pushing Palestinian unemployment up to 40%.
Fatah, Hamas, Hezbollah
We have all heard of the resistance groups that are against Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territory. Here are the major differences:
- Fatah - Associated with Palestinian politics - based out of the West Bank - predominantly Sunni Muslim
- Hamas - Associated with Palestinian politics - based out of Gaza - predominantly Sunni Muslim
- Hezbollah - Based in Lebanon and supported by Iran - predominantly Shia
What they do have in common is they are recognized as terrorists groups by the west and they do not recognize Israel as a nation.
American Support for Israel
The U.S. support for Israel actually started with the Zionist movement. However, it picked up real momentum during the cold war with the Soviet Union. At that time Israel was instrumental in providing intelligence about the Soviets and the Mid-East. The support today takes many forms, including financial, religious and political.
Financial - The U.S. gives Israel 3 billion per year. Seventy four percent of that must be spent on U.S. goods and service including military arms.
Religious - Some Christians believe the second coming of Christ is supposed to happen when all the Jews return to their homeland. Therefore, it is in their best interest to support Israel.
Political - American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is one of the most influential and powerful lobby groups in the U.S. They have the power to influence congress and presidents by donating money to those who believe in their cause Therefore, influencing the policies that benefit Israel, in their quest to secure their homeland from the Palestinians.
After doing the research and analysis on this subject, I realized that one could write a book or a hub on each of these sub-topics. It became a challenge to encapsulate the essence of the history so that I could put all the pieces of the puzzle together in one coherent article. My analysis follows:
The Two State Solution
I don't believe there will ever be a two state solution. The Palestinians want their country back and the Israelis want as much of the Palestinian territory as they can acquire by colonizing, settlements and building blockades, and walls. This will continue on in a give and take basis forever or until one side defeats the other side. The chances of Israel being defeated by any of the so called terrorist groups is none. Israel can protect themselves with a superior military including the "Iron Dome." Here is a link to video of the Iron Dome in action.
The Palestinians have been dehumanized by the Israeli blockades and walls that restrict their economy and quality of life. In the West Bank there are bypass roads for the settlers, but the Palestinians are burdened with a matrix of check points under military control.
Prior to the mass immigration of the Jews into Palestine, the Palestinian people were mainly farmers that toiled in their own land. When the Zionist movement started the Jewish people that settled in the country were much better educated than the Palestinians. Until this day, the Israelis have made a point of keeping Palestinians from improving their education. Palestinians are not allowed to attend Israeli schools.
The Population Density of Gaza
The resistance/terrorist groups don't help matters much as they are hell-bent on destroying Israel. The question is, do they really represent the will of the people? Gaza has a population of 1.8 million people living in an area 5 miles wide and 25 miles long who are refugees in their own country. That density population is twice that of New York City. The West Bank is also populated with scattered settlers among the Palestinian refugees.
After doing the research to write this piece, it has become clear to me, that the government of Israel is intent on disposing of the Palestinian people by whatever means they can exploit so that they can expand their Jewish state as far as possible. They have made life miserable for the Palestinian people. They provoke war so they have an excuse to destroy Palestinian civilians, their homes villages and buildings. Yes, Hamas has tunnel systems into Israel, but what do people do when they are held captive in their own country. This is all done under the guise of 2,000 years ago, God told the Jews they should return to their promised land.
Do you believe there will ever be a two state solution?
Do you believe the Israelis are justified at expanding their country into the Palestinian territory?
Should the U.S. stop funding Israel?
Do you think the Israeli government would be happy if all of sudden the Palestinian people disappeared?
Sources: Wikipedia Vox, If Americans Knew, BBC News, Huffington Post, New York Times, Jewish Virtual Library, Washington Post, Forbes.com, Passia Center