There are two children: Isaac and Patrick. They are acquaintances, but nowhere near best friends. One day, Isaac gets beat up by the school bully—Hector. Obviously hurt, Isaac seeks comfort and Hector is obligated to try and make up for his acts. Hector sees a collection of toys in the corner of the classroom, and disregarding the fact that they already have an owner, gives most of them to Isaac. Those toys were Patrick’s, and when Patrick goes to claim them back from Isaac, Isaac refuses to hand them over, stating that they’re his now—the young boys break into a fight. How many toys should each boy get? Welcome to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This infamous, violent conflict spans over 100 years, and still continues today due to lack of successful peace negotiations. Despite its intimidating longevity, this crisis can be solved if a sovereign Palestinian nation is created in the Middle East, instilling a “two-state solution.”
In order for a full understanding of the massiveness of this conflict, the tangled history of the Palestinian/Israeli area must be comprehended. The common misconception is this “bloody feud” has lasted thousands of years; however, back in ancient history, a multitude of people inhabited the land of Palestine, not just Arab and Jews, and they lived, intermixed, intermarried, merged and grew apart (Ferry 3). It is important to know that at this time Palestine included modern day Israel, West Bank and Gaza (Shah). To sum up the entire ancient history of this conflict: modern Arab Palestinians and the Jewish population are descendants of the same people, and each has viable claims to the land (Ferry 21-22). The past also proves that peace is a plausible possibility for the two groups, since it was clearly accomplished years ago. The seeds of conflict can be found around the 1800s, where the impulse of Jewish desire for a national homeland stemmed from anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe, mostly in Russia (Ferry 51). Note that the Jews were spread throughout all of Europe after being expelled by the Romans in 200 B.C.E, known as “Jewish Diaspora” (BBC). An example of the horrible acts committed by Russians is the military conscription edict that ordered Jewish children, even as young as eight years old, to be taken from their parents and forced into 25 years of military service, in essence a death sentence (Ferry 49). It was crimes such as this that birthed Zionism, the Jewish desire for a safe haven state. A large wave of immigration, the First Aliyah, occurred in 1882-1903 when 25,000 Jews entered Palestine— most simply because they were fleeing Russia and Eastern Europe, and Zionism was just now getting off the ground (Ferry 53).
It was not until 1896 that Zionism took flight as a political organization, when Theodor Herzl created a pamphlet entitled “The Jewish State.” Herzl put a face to the Jewish cause and was the catalyst for the foundation of a Zionist organization in Basel, Switzerland, 1897 (Ferry 55). It was there the World Zionist Organization (WZO) was formed, and a definitive plan was created for the Jewish people, including “a home [for the Jewish people] in Palestine secured by public law” (Ferry 55). The plan was a declaration of principles deemed the Basel Declaration. Next, the Second Aliyah took place from 1904-1914, when 30,000 Jews immigrated to Palestine, although this time with a larger sense of political purpose (Ferry 62). Alas, the seeds of conflict begin to sprout… Zionist forefathers chose Palestine mostly due to religious significance, yet neglected to acknowledge the presence of an already fully developed indigenous population (mostly Muslims) (Ferry 63).
The next milestone in the volatile situation was the outcome of World War I, which left the region under British mandate by order of the new League of Nations in 1920 (BBC). It was during this period that three vital, incompatible “promises” were made: the British commissioner in Egypt promised Arab leadership for former Ottoman Arab provinces in 1916 (Hussein-McMahon Correspondence), yet war-victors Britain and France were secretly divvying up the region between themselves and in 1917, British foreign minister Arthur Balfour created the “Balfour Declaration,” committing Britain to work towards “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” (BBC).
Jewish immigration to Palestine continues, and the fifth and highest wave occurs during 1933-1935— when Hitler achieves power in Germany, and the Nuremburg Laws makes discrimination against Jews official (Milton-Edwards 206). During this time period there is already rising tension between the Palestinians (Arabs) and the Jews in Palestine due to increasing Jewish immigration and the partition proposal in the British White Paper of 1937 (Milton-Edwards 207). The Palestinians organize a general strike which turns into a three year revolt in 1936-1939 but Britain crushes the rebellion and expels or executes its leaders, all the while Jewish persecution obviously increasing in Germany (Milton-Edwards 207). Finally in 1939-1945, World War II erupts in Europe, meanwhile the WZO demands the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, and six million Jews are killed due to the Holocaust. In 1945, World War II ends, plus the United Nations is formed. In 1947, Britain turns over Palestine to the UN, while over 100,000 European Jews are in camps for “displaced persons” (Milton-Edwards 207). The UN recommended a partition of Palestine into two states, giving the Jewish community, who composed only 30 percent of Palestine’s foreign population, 56.47 percent of the land, and giving the remaining 43.53 percent to the Arabs, who consisted of 1.3 million people compared to only 600,000 Jews. The UN had 33 nations in favor (the United States one of these nations), 13 against and 10 abstentions, thus passing UN Resolution 181 (Ferry 91). From that point on until May 14th 1948, war broke out.
The Arabs were outraged at the UN’s vote and would not abide by these new partitions, causing a civil war between Jews and Palestinian Arabs. The Zionist were far better trained and organized due to their fairly developed political organization, while the Arabs remained leaderless, corrupt, self-serving and ineffective (Ferry 93). In April 1948, the “most atrocious and notorious” Zionist attack occurred at Deir Yassin, lying five miles west of Jerusalem. 100 to 200 men, women and children were killed, bodies thrown down wells, and survivors of the village were put in the back of trucks and paraded down streets as showpieces (Ferry 94). Arab fights also carried out appalling acts; however, the point of examining this particular Zionist onslaught is because it was the major catalyst for the Arab panic. By the end of 1948, 300,000 terrorized Arabs fled their homes to surrounding Arab states, starting the Palestinian refugee problem that changed the course of Palestinian-Israeli history (Ferry 94).
On May 14th 1948, with Palestinian war-efforts in shambles, Jewish leadership declared the “establishment of the Jewish State in Palestine,” known as Israel (BBC). The United States was the first country to acknowledge Israel, followed by the Russians (Ferry 95). The very next day, five surrounding Arab countries invaded Israel on the pretense of fighting for Palestine’s honor, yet Israel came out victorious, expanding their previous 56 percent of allotted land to 78 percent, leaving Palestinians with 22 percent (BBC). This defeat marked several occurrences: the abandonment of the UN partition plan, the nation of Israel an irremovable reality, Palestinian sovereignty a distant dream, 700,000 Palestinian refugees displaced from their homes and a state of no war- no peace enveloping the entirety of the Middle East (Ferry 99).
For the next approximately 20 years, fierce competition between neighboring Arab states to lead an Arab response against the creation of Israel left Palestinians in the dust (BBC). In January 1964, Arab governments wished to create a Palestinian organization that would remain under their control, thus creating the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) (BBC). The next, huge conflict occurred in 1967 when a war known as the “Six Day War” changed the face of the Middle East conflict (BBC). Israel simultaneously attacked Egypt, Syria and Jordan in a “pre-emptive” strike against Arab troops along its borders (Shah). Israel more than doubled its size, acquiring West Bank, Gaza Strip, Egyptian Sinai and Syrian Golan Heights (Milton-Edwards 207). This war deeply wounds the Arab psyche and weakens the pan-Arab dream (Council of Foreign Relations). Despite the UN passing resolution 242, calling for a return of Arab lands in exchange for a “lasting peace,” Israel holds onto the lands and begins major Jewish settlement expansions (Council of Foreign Relations). This conflict also displaced another 500,000 Palestinians into Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan (BBC).
Since then, there have obviously been other conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as multiple attempts for peace in the Middle East, involving Egypt, the United States, the UN, etc. Recently, in 2011, Palestine attempted to run for statehood but was vetoed by the United States of America, a permanent member of the Security Council. Furthermore, as of September 2012, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas brought the conflict back to the limelight, explaining to the UN how he will seek an upgrade in Palestine’s international status, and reminding the global community how this pressing conflict remains a source of instability and resentment among Arab countries and the Muslim world (LaFranchi, 2012).
The complex history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict illustrates just how controversial it is, and how much the area requires worldwide attention and action. If a sovereign Palestinian nation was declared in the Middle East, global terrorism would be reduced. These acts of terror are occurring between Arabs and the Jewish population, but are affecting citizens in the United States. These acts can be lessened or stopped if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was resolved, because the terrorism is stemming from the conflict itself due to political objectives of the terrorists. For example, On March 11 1978, PLO terrorists landed on Israel's coast and murdered an American photographer walking along the beach (Bard). The terrorists then commandeered a bus along the coastal road, shooting and lobbing grenades from the bus window at passersby, and by the time Israeli troops stopped their deadly ride, 34 civilians were dead and another 82 wounded (Bard). Yet another instance occurred in June of 2012, when a group of Israeli settlers in the West Bank defaced and burned a mosque in the small West Bank village of Jabaa (Byman). The torching of the mosque was the fourth such attack in 18 months and part of a wider trend of routine violence committed by radical settlers against innocent Palestinians, Israeli security personnel, and mainstream settler leaders— all aimed at intimidating perceived enemies of the settlement project (Byman).
Opponents of a two-state solution may claim that these acts of terrorism are not truly affecting the entire globe; however, with globalization increasing with no signs of stopping, each country is becoming more and more intertwined, thus their peace becomes everyone’s peace. Furthermore, since the creation of the UN after World War II, a lot of countries, especially those in the Security Council (United States, Russia, China, France and United Kingdom) are involved with the well-being of the world, and as stated in the history of this conflict, have been involved in the decision making process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict already.
Another reason to instill a two-state solution is to fix the instability occurring throughout the entire Middle East. Arab refugees are located in surrounding countries, therefore the conflict is affecting the entire area; plus, border issues with Israel and its surrounding countries cause even more violence to occur. The instability is a direct effect from the Isreali-Palestinian conflict, seeing as over 750,000 refugees currently occupy other nations such as Syria, Lebanon and Egypt (Shah). By declaring an official Palestinian state, these refugees will have an actual home to return to, lessening stress in those other nations. More over, if Israel and Palestine borders are clearly chartered and enforced, border issues and wars with surrounding countries will decrease drastically. How the entire Middle East is affected can be seen in the example of Israel invading South Lebanon in 1982. It began with a civil war in Lebanon against the Maronite Christians and the Lebanese National Movement (a patchwork of different political and ethnic groups) (Ferry 132). The LNM was largely Muslim, and sympathized with the PLO, so Palestinians joined the fight against the Palestinians (Ferry 133). Israel, who receives more military aid than any other country from the United States, backed the Maronites and focused on obliterating the PLO (Ferry 133). The civil war was vicious—tens of thousands, most of whom where civilians including women, children and the elderly, died (Ferry 133).
Those against creating a sovereign Palestinian nation sate that its creation will only further infuriate other Middle Eastern countries, causing more havoc than there already is; however, most surrounding nations and countries in the UN, as discussed in the history of this conflict, seek peace in the Middle East, and have been attempting to work towards the two-state solution. The main problem with the solution is the unproportional borders previously chalked up by the UN. If new boundaries are utilized, then the thousands of Palestinian refugees can leave other countries, and Israel can quit fighting with other countries about its borders. Obviously there will be some discontent, but there is already such unrest in the area, improvement is necessary. Plus, in 2011 65% of Palestinians and 61% of Israelis preferred a nonviolent form of negotiation, proving that this diplomatic solution is warranted (Gallup).
Finally, a new nation must be created to instill peace because the actual Israel area is a wreck and in dire need of assistance. Innocent civilians are suffering on both sides of the conflict, and the violence spurs from the bigger Israeli-Palestinian conflict itself. If Palestinians and Israelis had clear, enforced borders to follow, then security could be heightened and civilians would have a peace of mind. The violence that occurs can be seen everyday; for example, on the morning of April 2 2012, a 65-year-old Jewish man was attacked by a young Arab man wielding an axe (Right Side News). At least 6,617 Palestinians and 1,097 Israelis have been killed since September 29, 2000 (If Americans Knew). Israeli forces have continued to invade the Palestinian Territories, both Gaza and the West Bank, almost daily, injuring, kidnapping, and sometimes killing inhabitants (The Council for the National Interest). In recent years, approximately ten Palestinians have been abducted by Israeli forces everyday (The Council for the National Interest). Over 5,000 Palestinian men, women, and children are currently held in Israeli prisons (approximately 40 % of all Palestinian males have reportedly been imprisoned by Israel at some point in their lives) (The Council for the National Interest). An actual wall has even been constructed by Israel since June 2002, starting at the north end of the West Bank and continuing 449 miles, claiming large portions of Palestinian land (Ferry 174). Palestinians fear the long-term political ramifications and resent the day-to-day consequences of being separated from schools, hospitals and farms (Ferry 174). Despite hard condemnation from human rights organizations and the UN, Israel maintains this “Security Fence,” consisting of chain-link and sometimes razor wire fencing (Ferry 174).
Clearly, the Jewish and Arab population alike are both suffering, and opponents recognize this fact, yet claim that this is not an international affair, but a domestic one and that it should be treated as such and left to Israel and the PLO to figure out. However, since Israel was declared a nation in 1948, Israelis and Palestinians have not been able to create a peaceful solution, thus proving how they require international aid. Furthermore, it is the globe’s civil duty to adhere to a moral code and protect human rights—rights that are openly being violated in Israel.
All in all, the United States of America, as a permanent member for the Security Council and a leader the world, needs to take a stand and push for a peaceful two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has been the catalyst for too much violence for over 100 years. If all nations work together to help part of the world, there is a slim chance of failure. If an independent, sovereign Palestinian nation is founded, global terrorism will be reduced, instability in the Middle East will be greatly lessened and the Jewish and Arab populations will stop suffering so immensely. Hopefully, the world will come to its senses sooner rather than later, and this ancient conflict will finally become a thing of the past.