English Honors I
April 13, 2012
Israel, Palestine, and the Middle East
Tension and violence between Israel and Palestine dates as far back as 61 B.C.E when Roman troops invaded Judah and drove out the Jewish people, renaming the land “Palaestina”. (Strauss 42) Thousands of years later the two sides still question whom the land belongs to, and how to evenly distribute the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Sinai Peninsula. There have been numerous peace talks, UN Resolutions, treaties, accords, and campaign summits to help form a consensus between both sides but all have failed. The failure of these campaigns resulted in two different Intifadas, bloodshed events which transformed the Palestinian society and politics.
History of Conflict
In 61 B.C.E., the Jewish people were driven out of Jerusalem by Roman troops. The Romans renamed their conquered land “Palaestina”, or Palestine. Most of the Jews who practiced Judaism fled or were forcibly exiled from Palestine. Muslims moved from Arabia around 600 C.E. and conquered most of the Middle East, including Palestine. (Strauss 43) By the late 1800s, the emigration of Jews to Palestine dramatically increased due to Zionism. Zionism was a movement which called for the return of the Jewish people and Jewish sovereignty into the land of Israel. At the end of World War I, Britain issued the Balfour Declaration of 1917. This proclaimed Britain’s support for the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. In 1920, Britain received a mandate over Palestine from the League of Nations (precursor of the United Nations) to help the Jews build a country. The Arabs were strongly against the creation of a Jewish homeland because they considered Palestine to be theirs. “Their history and their past prove that it is impossible to live with them. In all countries where they are at present, they are not wanted … because they always arrive to suck the blood of everybody …” (Strauss 50) said Ami Isseroff during an interview in 2001. The United Nations Special Commission on Palestine then recommended that Palestine be divided into an Arab state and a Jewish state, and Jerusalem be put under International control. The Jews accepted the decision, but the Arabs rejected it. On May 14, 1948, the Jews proclaimed the independent state of Israel and Britain withdrew from Palestine. The next day neighboring Arab nations attacked Israel, causing 700,000 Arabs to flee or be driven out of Israel. The United Nations called for a cease-fire and the implementation of UN Resolution 194, which called for an ending to hostilities and a return of refugees who wanted to live in peace. (Security Council)
After experiencing a devastating loss in the Suez Canal, Egypt, along with other Arab nations, would not negotiate a peace with Israel or a settlement for the Palestinian refugees. “The danger of Israel lies in the very existence of Israel as it is in the present and in what she represents.” (Gamel Nasser, Egyptian President, March 26, 1964) (Strauss 52) In essence, the Arabs adopted a “kill two birds with one stone” policy where they thought if they could rid the world of Israel, the Palestinian refugee problem would also be resolved in the process. In 1964, the Palestinian Liberation Organization was formed in order to “destroy Israel and allow Palestinians back into historical Palestine”. In 1967, a battle between Egypt and Israel erupted again when Nasser closed the Straits of Tiran to Israel, and moved the UN Peacekeepers out. On June 5, 1967, Israel attacked the Egyptians, in response, Syrians and Jordanians attacked Israel. After six days, the war was over, with Israel as the victor. The Israelis had pummeled their enemies and took control over the Gaza Strip, the west Bank, the Sinai Peninsula, and the Golan Heights. This put roughly 1 million Palestinians under Israeli rule as a result of Israel taking over the West Bank and the…