Tag Archives: Holocaust

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Part 1

This is my attempt to try and understand the problems of the Middle East.

Judaism and Islam

Judaism and Islam are the world’s two oldest, and largest monotheistic religions and they share a city they both consider holy– Jerusalem. The two religions share a variety of beliefs, customs, and practices. At the same time, there are enough differences, both cultural and in practice, that make the two religions clash. The conflict is so bad that even the similarities between the two ancient religions have been the source of conflict. This contention goes back thousands of years. Judea is the Biblical Hebrew and Israelite home of Jewish ancestry. Arab states considered Israel as their own land since they conquered Palestine in 638 C.E., but according to written history and oral tradition, it was the promised land of the Jews. Judea was captured by the Romans and renamed Palestine. Palestine was later conquered and inhabited by the Arabs for over a thousand years. In 1881, Jewish settlers started migrating to Palestine in large numbers. Their goal was to consolidate and live together in their own culture and in their ancient homeland, they believed, promised to by God. These migrations came in greater and greater waves, especially after World War I and the Holocaust of World War II.

 

Israel and Palestine-Two Worlds Clashing

The Zionist Movement

The Zionist movement arose to restore the Jews to Israel, their believed Promise Land. Towards the end of World War I, the British government decided to endorse a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The British decision to help the Jews was made public in a letter from Lord Arthur Balfour to lead British Zionist Lord Rothschild on November 2, 1917, just before the end of World War I. The contents of the message became known as the “Balfour Declaration.” The Balfour Declaration was drafted with the assistance of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. Wilson was a strong supporter of Zionism.  Britain wanted to protect her sea route to India. Britain’s economy relied heavily on trade from India. Supporting Zionism was the most straightforward way of securing lasting British influence in the Egyptian region of the Suez Canal. The Arabs resented the Jews coming in and taking over their land. Under the leadership of Grand Mufti Haj Amin El-Husseini, the Arabs rioted for days until later revolting. This riot was the first step of creating a history of hostility between the Jews and Arabs in Palestine. Next, Britain put a stop to Jewish immigration into Palestine. It wasn’t till after the Holocaust when Britain allowed mass immigration into Palestine. The horrors of the Holocaust left the Jew survivors with no other choice than to return to their ancestral homeland. The tremendous growth Jewish immigrants over the years into a land they had lived for over a thousand years made Palestinians angry and protective.  Not even the White Paper of 1939, which curtailed the migration of the Jews to only 75,000 and did not allow them to purchase land, satisfied the Arabs. The time of pre-independence history of Israel before 1948 created a stable base for various political parties and a specific cultural and economic development of a Jewish State. In 1947, the United Nations (U.N.) partitioned the land of Palestine into two states– one Arab and the other Jewish. The Arabs did not accept the new partition of Palestine, which led to a war. The Jews won an astounding victory against overwhelming odds, giving birth to the modern day state of Israel.

A Map of Israel and Palestinian Territories

Israel on the World Stage

“Israel was not created in order to disappear- Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope and the home of the brave. It can neither be broken by adversity nor demoralized by success. It carries the shield of democracy and it honors the sword of freedom.”

– President John F. Kennedy

Known as the Holy Land, Israel is home to many sites holy to Muslims, Christians, and Jews like the Western Wall, Church of the Holy Sepulcher and Al-Aqsa Mosque. These are sacred places of world’s three greatest religions. Israel is the home of modern Jews, where old and new meet in cities like Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Blessed art thou, oh Lord– in Hebrew.

Our father, which art in heaven– in Latin.

God is great. There is no God but God– in Arabic.

To the world’s three principal monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Israel is hallowed ground. Yet, the state of Israel is equally and very much a part of the material, modern world. A world of high technology, of robust parliamentary democracy. The spiritual, the material, the physical are all a part of the modern Israel, and it accommodates them all.

The honey-colored stones of Jerusalem, Israel’s political and spiritual capital breathes the long checkered history of the Holy Land. Jerusalem is a city besieged, captured, laid to waste and rebuilt, over and over again down through the centuries.

Jerusalem was first declared Israel’s capital over 3,000 years ago by the legendary King David, but became so again only after the state of Israel was reborn in 1948. The rebirth of the nation of Israel was the crowning achievement of political Zionism. Zionism was a movement launched by a visionary Viennese journalist named Theodor Herzl (1860-1904). Herzl dreamed of a land where Jews would not be an alien and often despised minority, but a home in their own promised and ancestral land.

The dream of Israel may have remained a dream, but for two World Wars.

World War I destroyed the Turkish or Ottoman Empire, of which Palestine was apart. The end of World War I, brought a declaration from the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Balfour, that after the Allied victory, that the Jews would be allowed to establish a homeland in Palestine.

The inter-war years saw the rise of Nazi Germany, whose leader, Adolf Hitler, had an obsessive hatred of the Jews. Hitler plunged the globe into World War II, after his invasion of Poland in 1939. World War II ended with the destruction of Hitler’s thousand-year Reich. Nazi Germany ended, but not before the slaughter six million European Jews in the Holocaust.

The Holocaust drove the survivors of Jewry, under the leadership of the charismatic David Ben Gurion (1886-1973), into the enormous effort needed in the rebirth of a Jewish State. But there were other claims on the Holy Land, both spiritual and material.

There the world’s Christians, whose Redeemer lived, taught and died there 2,000 years before. And there were Muslims who believed their founding Prophet, Mohammad, ascended from Jerusalem to heaven. Most loudly, there were the Arabs, both Muslim and Christian, whose people had lived in Palestine during the almost twenty centuries of Jewish exile from their homeland. Back by their fellow Arabs across the Middle East, the Palestinians claimed the Holy Land was theirs by right.

The issue of statehood was resolved in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. The struggling, infant Jewish state defeated the combined armies of its Arab neighbors. Later, with generous assistance from America, consolidated its place in the world in the next few years. Now, despite five more wars and decades of terrorist attacks, the Jewish state is clearly a permanent fixture on the world stage.

The Holy Land