Palestine & Israel: The Holy Land Dilemma
Talking about the conflict between Palestinians and Israeli's is a no-win game. No matter what you say, someone is not going to agree with it. However, that shouldn't take away from the fact that it should be spoken about with truths, reality and pragmatism.
It is a complex issue that is almost impossible to explain from all aspects. But many events dating back centuries has led us to the present day, where Israeli's and Palestinians continue to fight over some of the holiest lands on Earth.
This article will try to highlight some of the history that has led us to the present day. It'll present to you some facts and opinions for you to make a decision or at least try to see the conflict from a different perspective.
What is Zionism?
Zionism is a belief and movement that Jews across the world should recreate a presence in what is today, modern day Israel. Prior to 1948, the area was called Palestine. The modern day belief of Zionism started in the late 1800's as anti-Semitism was on the rise in Europe.
In 1897, Theodor Herzl, established the first political organization centered around Zionism in Austria. His core belief was that the Jewish population wouldn't survive if they didn't have their own homeland. He wrote the "Der Judenstaat" (The Jewish State), which advocated for a Jewish Homeland in Palestine, (today known as Israel).
Jews were predominantly in Europe at the time and felt the rise of hate attacks against them rising. The Zionist movement grew in popularity and tens of thousands of Jews moved to Palestine. This number grew exponentially as World War II raged.
It is important to make this clear. ZIONISM IS DIFFERENT FROM JUDAISM, THE RELIGION. Zionism is more of a nationalistic and political movement. Criticizing Zionism does not mean you're an anti-Semitic.
Quick history of Palestine
In 930 B.C. (yes, that was a long time ago), King Solomon, split the area into two kingdoms. Israel was in the north and Judah was in the south. After that, the area had constantly been conquered by various groups throughout history, including the Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Egyptians and more. The area became known as Palestine some time in the 5th century B.C.
From 1517 to 1917, the Middle East, including Palestine, was under the Ottoman Empire. After World War I, the Ottoman Empire fell apart and the British took over Palestine and other parts of the Middle East.
The Balfour Declaration was a statement made by the British government in 1917 that supported the Zionist movement. The British were in the midst of World War I and believed if they supported the movement, it would help them win wider support of the war from the public and Jewish communities around the world. It was the first time a major country had recognized the Zionist movement.
Arthur James Balfour, the British Foreign Secretary at the time, submitted a letter that was published on behalf of the British government that supported a Jewish homeland in Palestine, where Jews were a minority at the time.
Palestinian Arabs and Arabs across the region opposed this Declaration because there was nothing in there that protected the Palestinian Arabs that were already living there for centuries.
The Palestinians tried to revolt against the British in the 1930's because they knew they were going to be displaced by the Zionist movement that was supported by the British government, That revolt was crushed emphatically by the British who had killed at least 10% of the Palestinian male population during the revolt.
In what can be described as one of the worst atrocities in history, 6 million Jews were killed across Europe in some of the most inhumane ways possible during World War II. The fear many Jews had of anhelation came true when Adolph Hitler and the Nazi regime swept across Europe, systematically killing Jews.
The Jews who were lucky to escape, fled to wherever they could, thousands of whom who fled to Palestine.
The birth of Israel
The British handed Palestine over to the The United Nations to figure out. In 1947, the UN decided to divide Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state. Jews in Palestine went from 3% of the population prior to the Zionist movement to 33%. They only owned 6% of the land in Palestine in 1947.
However, under the new plan, they received 55% of the land (which was also the best agricultural land) of Palestine and the coastline from Haifa to Jaffa, which housed the most important seaports
The Arabs in the region rejected the plan. In 1948, Israel was declared an independent country and the start of the modern day conflicts began.
What happened to the Palestinian Arabs who lived in the newly declared Jewish state of Israel?
War broke out between the Arabs and the Jews and nearly 750,000 Palestinians were forced out of their homes or had to flee.
The Arabs had no chance against the Israeli army which was trained by the British forces and had weapons from them as well.
When the war between the Arabs and Israeli's ended, the Palestinians that were displaced were not allowed to return back to their homes. They had become refugees and were forced to relocate to other parts of the Middle East.
Israel had taken over 78% of the land.
The on-going wars
Since Israel was declared a country, the Arabs from neighboring countries in the region and Israel have gone to war several times. And in most instances, Israel won with their superior training and weapons from the West. In addition, more land was obtained by the Israeli's such as the Golan Heights.
It's split into two distinct regions, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Each territory is actually governed differently. The portion of the West Bank that is controlled by Palestine is governed by the Palestinian Liberation Government and the Gaza Strip is controlled by Hamas.
Both governments actually hate each other and have very different tactics. The PLO is the more traditional type of government that's recognized throughout the world, whereas Hamas has been declared a terrorist organization and whose charter states Israel should be wiped off the map.
Hamas continuously launches rockets into resident neighborhoods in Israel and has conducted suicide bombings in Israel, killing innocent civilians.
Life in these territories is not good, especially the Gaza Strip.
The Gaza Strip is the size of New Jersey and has 2 million people living inside of it. It's pretty much an open air prison.
40% of the residents live in poverty and 80% receive some type of assistance. 44% of the the people there are unemployed and there is a youth unemployment rate of 60%. 40% of the population is under 15 years old.
The people in Gaza are not allowed to farm on an area of land on their own side of the border, known as the buffer zone. This has caused a loss of 75,000 tons of produce and has resulted in a massive food shortage.
The people in the Gaza Strip only get 3-6 hours of electricity per day
There is an air, sea and land blockade. Residents of the Gaza Strip cannot cross the border, they can't fly out and they can't sail out more than 6 miles or they'll get shot down by the Israeli Navy.
It should also be noted, the Israeli Government is not the only government responsible for the blockade. Egypt also contributes to the blockade by restricting movement of goods and people on its border with the Gaza Strip
And then the world wonders how a terrorist group like Hamas comes into power. and stays in power.
The Current Israeli Government
The current government in Israel is led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. an MIT and Harvard graduate. His right wing and pro-military policies have contributed to the instability in the region. Senator Bernie Sanders, who is Jewish, has accused Netanyahu and his government of being racist and violators of humans rights.
One of the most controversial acts Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government have continued to do is build Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories. The International Court of Justice found the settlements to be illegal. The settlements expand Israeli control and displace Palestinians that are already living there. Even the United States has declared these settlements to be illegal by both Democrats and Republicans.
The constant building of these illegal settlements continues to add fuel to the fire.
One of the main reasons fighting has erupted recently is that 6 Palestinian families in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, in East Jerusalem, which is in the West Bank, were evicted by an Israeli court. The courts claim the land was sold to Jewish settlers in the late 1800's and that the Palestinians living there since the 1950's are not right the rightful owners.
Any land that could be proven to be owned by Jewish owners priors to 1948 is allowed to be shown as evidence in Israeli courts, whereas Palestinians do not have that right even if they do have evidence.
In addition, Israeli police entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam, on the first night of Ramadan and cut off the speakers of their prayers so that the sound wouldn't bother the speech of the Israeli President, who was giving remarks close by.
Since fighting broke out earlier this month, 212 people in Gaza have died, including 61 children and 36 women. Nearly 30% of those killed have been children. Nearly 46% of all those killed have been women and children. Israeli bombs have targeted residential buildings, schools and media towers, including where the Associated Press was.
Hamas has launched more than 2,000 rockets into Israel, killing at least 10 Israeli's. The Israeli's living in towns close to Gaza, such as Ashdod, have lived in fear of rockets and are constantly evacuating to shelters.
Israel's defense systems are some of the best in the world and has what they call, The Iron Dome. It's a missile defense system that intercepts rockets in the air before they can land. They destroy most rockets but some do land, which is what caused the approximately 10 deaths in Israel.
So what are your unbiased opinions on the Israeli and Palestinian conflict?
As what was mentioned in the beginning, this conflict is complex and contains many moving parts. But the following are opinions. Some will agree with them, some will hate them and some will say the full story was not told. And that could be true. There are so many moving parts, it's impossible to explain thoroughly in a 10 minute article.
The people of Israel deserve to live in peace. It's been 73 years since the formation of Israel. Several generations have been born after the nation was founded. What is supposed to happen to the millions of people living in Israel? Those who say Israel should not exist and those currently living there should leave, do not live in reality. That will never happen.
As long as Hamas is in power in Gaza, there will never be peace. If their charter continues to say Israel should be wiped off the map, nothing will change.
Hate crimes and violent rhetoric against Jews must be condemned in the highest forms. There is no place for that. If you are spewing anti-Semitic hate or committing crimes, you are the scum of the Earth.
As long as the right wing, pro-military, expanding settlements and racist regime of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is in power, there will never be peace. I should also mention the Prime Minister is under investigation for corruption.
The Israeli government is currently committing war crimes on a massive scale. When 30% of the casualties have been children, how can anyone justify that? The excuse of "Hamas hides behind the doors of women and children" is an easy cop out . What's happening is inhumane and are war crimes. Children and teens who see this indiscriminate violence will grow up vengeful and continue the horrendous cycle of violence.
The Palestinian people living in the West Bank and especially Gaza are living in an apartheid state. The people of Gaza are not allowed to leave. They are under occupation. They have no jobs. There is a food shortage. The electrical grid does not work. They have terrible medical care. The air they breathe is polluted. They are living on top of each other. People living in conditions like this breeds terrorism and is the reason why Hamas is currently in power.
The Palestinian people deserve to live freely and with dignity and with respect. They currently have none of this.
Number 1 says Israeli's deserve to live in peace and they truly do. On the flip side, I have no idea how to make things right to the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who were displaced in 1948. They were wronged. Anyone who can't see that, is not reading the facts. But now, 73 years later, what do you do, kick out the Israeli's? That's not plausible nor is it a solution that's right. I have no solution to this and I type this article on a piece of land that I now own but was stolen from Native Americans many years ago. If the Algonquins or Iroquois wanted this back, what would I do?
The only solution is a two state solution, where Palestine exists and the people living there are free and living with dignity. And Israeli's are living without the fear of rockets falling on their communities.
There is no 2 sides to this current conflict in May 2021. The Israeli government is committing war crimes and attacking the Gaza Strip disproportionally. The amount of children dying is incomprehensible.
Criticizing Israel and their government doesn't make someone anti-Semitic. Criticizing the actions of Hamas or other Palestinian authorities does not make someone Islamophobic. Stop throwing those words around so freely.
At the end of day, those of us who don't live in the region have no idea what it's truly like to be in the shoes of those who wake up there everyday. Not all Israeli's are bad people and not all Palestinians are bad people. Everyone has taken such extreme positions throughout the course of this conflict that it just causes more and more division.
But we can all agree, children dying indiscriminately is wrong.
Americans lost their shit when they were told they had to wear masks during the worst pandemic in a century. How do you think they'd react if there was a Gaza like blockade in the states?
It hasn't happened yet and doesn't look like it'll happen soon but hopefully peace will come to the region.