Discuss how Zionism was fuelled by the history of the Jewish people in the Middle East and Europe.
The conflict between Arabs and Zionist Jews is a modern phenomenon, dating back to the end of the nineteenth century. Although the two groups have different religious views, they are not the cause of the conflict. The conflict began as a struggle over land. From the end of World War 1 until 1948, the area that both groups were claiming was internationally known as Palestine. Following the war of 1948-1949 this land was divided into three parts, the state of Israel, the West Bank of the Jordon River and the Gaza Strip.
The conflict originated over a small area of land approximately 10,000 square miles. The competing claims to the territory were not reconcilable if one group exercises exclusive political control over all of the land. The Jewish community claims to the land was based on the biblical promise of Abraham and his descendants. They claim that the land was the historical site of the ancient Jewish kingdoms of Israel. As a result of the self determination of the Jewish people the Zionism movement was formed. The core of the Zionist idea appears in the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel (14 May 1948), which states, inter alia, that:
"The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books. After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people kept faith with it throughout their dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom."
The Palestinian Arabs claim to the land is based on their continuous residence in the country for hundreds of years and the fact that they represented the demographic majority until 1948. They rejected the notion that a biblical era constitutes the basis for a valid modern day claim. If Arabs engaged the biblical argument, they maintain that since Abraham’s son Ishmael is the forefather of the Arabs, then God’s promise of the land to the descendants of Abraham includes Arabs as well. They also did not believe that they should forfeit their land to compensate Jews for Europe’s crimes against the Jewish community.
The struggle over the Land of Israel grew more intense throughout the years between 1936-1947. Arab opposition became more extreme with the increased growth and development of the Jewish community. At the same time, the Zionist movement felt it was necessary to increase immigration and develop the country’s economic infrastructure in order to save as many Jews as possible from the Nazi Germans in Europe. On the 29th November 1947 the UN recommended the establishment of two separate states in the area west of the Jordan River after an unavoidable clash between the Jews and Arabs. The two states would be split between the Jews and the Arabs. The Jews accepted the resolution while the Arabs rejected it. As a result the UN Resolution 181 was adopted and passed. There were 1,237,332 Arabs and 608,225 Jews in Palestine at the time. Though the Jewish people only made up 33 percent of the population and only owned 6.59 percent of the land – the UN Resolution recommended giving the Jewish state 54 percent of the territory. The Palestinian Arabs had already rejected the UN’s right to partition their land, now rejected the Resolution as being unjust. They now demanded instead the independence that the British and French had promised them after World War One. Zionist leaders were also unsatisfied with the partition, though they accepted the Resolution as justification for declaring the Jewish state.
Immediately after the UN Resolution 181 was announced a civil war between Zionist Jews and Palestinian Arabs broke out. One of the first major…