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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