Origins of Conflict: Zionism and The Israeli-Palestinian War
According to British foreign secretary, Sir Arthur James Balfour, in his Balfour Declaration, “His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of the object” (Balfour). Starting with the Balfour Declaration in the early 1900’s and up until the establishment of the Israeli nation, a hatred between the Israeli and Palestinian people formed and ignited the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, which is still being struggled with today.
Throughout history, Anti-Semitism has been prevalent. Anti-Semitism dates as far back as biblical times (Gablinger). According to “Zionism: A Perspective on the Jewish-Israeli Experience in the Arab-Israeli Conflict,” Jews settled in present-day Israel and Jordan thousands of years ago. In 722 BCE, the Jewish tribes of Israel were expelled from the land and Jordan was conquered (Gablinger). Jewish tribes in Jordan were often abused under their conquerors (Gablinger). In Israel, Jews had become a minority by the sixth century as had they moved to Egypt and Babylon (Gablinger).
Anti-Semitic laws were passed under the Byzantine rule that said that Jews could not own land and restricted their occupations to money lending and trading (Gablinger). In the Enlightenment period, Jewish prejudice was alleviated slightly with new ideas and laws (Gablinger). Separation between church and state allowed for the integration of Jews into society, and Jews suffered less from religious and economic oppression (Gablinger). According to Tamar Gablinger, The Haskala, Hebrew for enlightenment, was extremely influential on Jewish society. It supported Jews becoming members of the “general European society” (Gablinger). The idea of nationalism was in conflict with the Haskala and brought more persecution to the Jewish people (Gablinger).
Nationalism cast Jews and Roma aside as outsiders, as they did not share a common religion, history, language, culture or values with the rest of society (Gablinger). These groups were also seen as a threat to Germany so they were kept isolated from German citizens and segregated in residential areas (Gablinger). In 1871, German Jews were given more freedom (Gablinger). Still they were resented because of racism (Gablinger). “Social Darwinism” was a strongly accepted theory during that time period (Gablinger).
The theories posed that different races were at different stages of evolution. The “Aryan” race was superior, and Jews were inferior (Gablinger). This theory was used to justify social and political persecution. Another example of Anti-Semitism is the Holocaust (Gablinger). The Holocaust killed and relocated millions of Jews. Many Jews who survived the Holocaust, fled to Palestine in search of a safe haven (ABC-CLIO).
Following the Holocaust, sympathy for Jews and the Zionist movement were at a high point (“Zionism” ABC-CLIO). Sir Arthur James Balfour’s, Balfour Declaration brought attention to the need for a Jewish national home. The declaration was in the form of a letter he sent to Lord Rothschild, the leader of the British Jewish community, to explain Britain’s position on the Zionist movement. The letter expressed the British government’s clear sympathy for Jews and their favoring a national home in Palestine for Jewish peoples (Balfour). In addition, the government promised to ensure that the national state would not disrupt or change the rights of those already living in Palestine. The Balfour Declaration stated: “Nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious’ rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
” Although the British government made their opinions very clear in the Balfour Declaration, the correspondence has been disputed (“Balfour Declaration”). The Sykes-Picot Agreement, a secret convention between Britain and France, and the Husayn-McMahon correspondence, an exchange of letters between Britain, Sir Henry McMahon and the emir of Mecca, ?usayn ibn ?Al?, included statements contradictory to the Balfour Declaration (“Balfour Declaration”). Although the Balfour Declaration was the catalyst for the Zionist movement and the creation of Israel, the expectations of Zionists were not met (“Balfour Declaration”). They wanted the “reconstitution of Palestine as “the” Jewish national home” and were unhappy as there was no mention of political or national rights that would establish that home. Although the declaration did not meet expectations, Zionists still had enthusiastic hopes.
In May 1939, the British altered the Balfour Declaration and its policy in the form of a “White Paper” (“Balfour Declaration”). The “White Paper” recommended a 75,000 immigrant limit and ended immigration in 1944. The limit would be enforced unless Zionists had the consent of Palestine. The Zionists condemned the new policy and accused Britain of siding with the Arabs. Zionism is defined as the “political support for the creation and development of a Jewish homeland in Israel” (“Zionism”). Theodor Herzl is considered the founder and father of Zionism (“Theodor Herzl”).
As a correspondent for a Vienna newspaper, he witnessed a display of anti-Semitism in a trial he was covering that changed his opinion that “Jews could eliminate anti-Semitism by assimilating into their chosen countries” (“Theodor Herzl”). He thought that the only possible solution was for them to emigrate to a country entirely their own (“Theodor Herzl”). Herzl wrote a brochure called The Jewish State calling for the establishment of a new land for Jews (“Theodor Herzl”). Herzl furthered his goal by creating a series of worldwide Zionist congresses (“Theodor Herzl”). These congresses first met in Switzerland in 1897 (“Theodor Herzl”).
The Zionist Congresses addressed two major issues: that Jews were victims of “large-scale” persecution and also that highly educated Jews were assimilating into non-Jewish society with the promise of equality (Hertzberg). Losing these Jewish intelligentsia was not an option when it came time for the formation of a national home (Hertzberg). They had the ideas and skills needed to form a well-balanced nation (Hertzberg). If they assimilated further, these educated leaders might not want to leave their settled, non-Jewish communities to help with the Zionist movement (Hertzberg). The primary goal of the Zionist movement was to create a Jewish national home (Hertzberg). Proposals for the new homeland were suggested to form in Palestine, Argentina, Uganda, and Russia (“Zionism” ABC-CLIO).
Palestine was picked as the “chosen land” at the Seventh Zionist Congress in 1905 to put an end to the increasing hostility towards Jews in Eastern Europe (“Zionism” ABC-CLIO). As Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany, Jewish refugees fled to Palestine in order to save themselves (“Zionism” ABC-CLIO). As the numbers of Jewish refugees rose, in 1936 the Palestinian population began to object. After the events of the Holocaust, thousands of Jewish refugees emigrated to Palestine and other places outside of Europe. After the Holocaust, worldwide sympathy for the Zionist movement grew, causing the United Nations and U.S.
president Harry Truman to help establish a place for displaced Jews to live (“Zionism” ABC-CLIO). The United Nations’ answer was the “UN Partition Plan” (“A Synopsis of the Israel/Palestine Conflict”). Instead of following the principle of “self-determination of peoples,” where the people themselves create their own state and government, the plan divided up the Palestinian land (“A Synopsis of the Israel/Palestine Conflict”). Under pressure from the Zionists, the UN gave away about 55 percent of Palestinian land to the Jewish state, even though Jews only made up 30 percent of the total population and owned about seven percent of the land previous to this plan (“A Synopsis of the Israel/Palestine Conflict”). The “UN Partition Plan” caused unrest between Israel and Palestine and eventually fueled the 1947-1949 War (“A Synopsis of the Israel/Palestine Conflict”).
In the war, Arab armies did not invade Israel, as all battles were fought on land that was to have been Palestine (“A Synopsis of the Israel/Palestine Conflict”). Arab armies only entered the war after Zionists committed sixteen massacres (“A Synopsis of the Israel/Palestine Conflict”). One massacre included over one hundred men, women and children at Deir Yassin (“A Synopsis of the Israel/Palestine Conflict”). The future prime minister of Israel, Menachem Begin, described this event as “splendid” (“A Synopsis of the Israel/Palestine Conflict”). There were a total of thirty-three massacres committed by Zionists by the end of the conflict (“A Synopsis of the Israel/Palestine Conflict”).
By the end of the war, Israel had conquered 78 percent of Palestine, made three-quarters of Palestinians refugees, and destroyed over 500 villages (“A Synopsis of the Israel/Palestine Conflict”). From this new maps were drawn of the conquered land (“A Synopsis of the Israel/Palestine Conflict”). Each city, river and hill was given a new Hebrew name (“A Synopsis of the Israel/Palestine Conflict”). All pre-existing Palestinian culture was erased (“A Synopsis of the Israel/Palestine Conflict”). Even the former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir said “There is no such thing as a Palestinian.” Later, the Six Day War between Israel and the Arab states was a continuation of fighting over land disputes (“Zionism” ABC-CLIO).
Israeli forces launched a surprise attack on Egypt in order to occupy the final 22 percent of Palestine, including the West Bank and Gaza Strip (“A Synopsis of the Israel/Palestine Conflict”). These territories do not belong to Israel as, according to international law, it is “inadmissible” to gain land by war (“A Synopsis of the Israel/Palestine Conflict”). As one might imagine, the Palestinians hated the formation of Israel. The primary reason for the discontent of the Palestinian people was that foreign invaders were taking the land, that was once their home (“A Synopsis of the Israel/Palestine Conflict”). Refugees were not allowed to return to their homes or were otherwise subjected to discrimination.
Palestinians claimed in 2001 at an international conference that Zionism is a form of racism and that they are victims of “gross crimes against humanity at the hands of the Israelis” (Gablinger). These claims may seem ironic because the Jews formed Israel to escape being the victims of anti-Semitic crimes such as the Holocaust. Palestinians became victims of racism in Israel’s War of Independence in 1948 when many Palestinians became refugees. These conflicts created a need for peace between Palestine and Israel. There were many attempts at peace but to date none have succeeded. The first of these plans was the The UN Security Council Resolution 242 (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”).
Resolution 242 was passed on November 22, 1967 and guided peace plans that said land would be exchanged for peace (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”). It called for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from territories gained in the recent conflict (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”). There was controversy in the resolution because it asked the forces to leave “territories” (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”). Israel thought that this did not necessarily mean all territories (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”). Arabs argued that it should mean withdrawal from all recently occupied territories (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”). Next came the Camp David Accords in 1978 (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”).
Striving for peace, United States’ President Jimmy Carter invited President Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to begin talks at the presidential retreat at Camp David (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”). Camp David negotiations lasted for twelve days and resulted in two agreements (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”). The first agreement was called “A Framework for Peace in the Middle East” (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”). This agreement expanded on Resolution 242 and set out to resolve the “Palestinian problem” (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”). The “Palestinian problem” was the weakest section in the accord (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”).
The plan aimed to set up “self-governing authority” in the West Bank and Gaza (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”). Palestinians did not like the agreement (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”). Carter, Sadat, and Begin agreed that there should be a treaty between Israel and its neighbors (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”). The second accord was “The Camp David framework for the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel” (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”). The agreement was made only after Israel withdrew from Sinai and was the first recognition of Israel as a major nation (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”). The treaty has lasted and has strengthened Israel’s position (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”).
Following the Camp David Accords was The Madrid Conference of 1991 (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”). It was co-sponsored by the US and Soviet Union, and was designed to follow-up the Egypt-Israel treaty (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”). The conference encouraged Arab countries to also sign their own agreements with Israel (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”). Palestine was represented at the conference, but Yasser Arafat, a leading figure in the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization), was not there because the Israelis objected his presence (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”). Accord to “History of Mid-East Peace Talks,” a peace treaty between Israel and Jordan in 1994 was made possible because of this conference. There were no treaties made between Palestine and Israel (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”).
Secret talks between Palestinians created the need for the Oslo agreement (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”). The Oslo Agreement had an element that was missing in all those previous: a direct agreement between Israelis and Palestinians (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”). The talks took place in secret and an agreement was signed on the White House lawn on September 13, 1993, as witnessed by President Bill Clinton (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”). The Oslo Agreement said that “Israeli troops would withdraw in stages from the West Bank and Gaza” and that a “Palestinian Interim Self-Governing Authority” would be set up for a five-year period, allowing them to transition to the new system (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”). Permanent settlement was supposed to be based on Resolution 242. The agreement spoke of ending “decades of confrontation and conflict” and with Israel and Palestine recognizing “their mutual legitimate and political rights” (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”).
Palestinian rejectionist groups did not accept the Oslo agreement and instead resorted to suicide bombs and other terrorist tactics, showing the obvious need for another attempt at peace (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”). In 2000, President Bill Clinton tried to address the “final status issues” which included borders, refugees, and Jerusalem with another conference at Camp David (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”). There was no agreement between Israel and Palestine. That being said, negotiations were more detailed than ever before (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”). The most generous offer by the Israelis was less than Palestine would accept (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”). This offer included the Gaza Strip and extra land from the Negev desert (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”).
Palestinians claimed that they would only accept border lines if they were reversed to the lines of 1967 and the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees (“History of Mid-East Peace Talks”). Failure at Camp David led to the Palestinian “intifada,” or an armed uprising against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip (“Intifada”). There are two major issues at the core of the conflict: trying to maintain an ethnically stable state when most of it is of foreign origin and that Israel has an extremely oppressive military occupation. The original population of present-day Israel was 96 percent Muslim and Christian. These refugees are not allowed to return to their homes or are subjected to discrimination. Palestinians have almost no control over their lives due to Israel’s military operations.
Over 10,000 Palestinian men, women and children are held Israeli prisons, few with legitimate trials. Physical abuse are frequent in prisons. Borders, even internal ones, are controlled by Israeli forces. Often men, women, and children are strip searched and beaten; food and medicine are blocked from entering Gaza; Israeli forces invade almost daily, kidnapping and sometimes killing Palestinians. Due to their horrible treatment, Palestinians rebelled. According to the Oslo peace accords, the territories of West Bank and the Gaza Strip were supposed to become part of the Palestinian state.
After Israel’s numerous attempts to conquer land and worsening conditions, Palestinians rebelled with an intifada at the end of September 2000 (“A Synopsis of the Israel/Palestine Conflict”). Bill Clinton, at the conclusion of his term, made one last effort to end the conflict by presenting a “bridging proposal” known as the Taba Agreement. This proposal set up talks in Washington and Cairo, and then in Taba, Egypt. The talks did not produce the desired outcomes, but differences between nations were narrowed. Israeli negotiators accepted the concept of East Jerusalem being the capital of Palestine.
But, according to “History of Mid-East Peace Talks,” the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, ended negotiations with his statement saying that “nothing is agreed upon until everything is agreed upon.” With the Taba Agreement failing, the Saudi’s presented a new plan, The Arab Peace Initiative. This peace initiative said that Israel would withdraw to the lines of June 1967 and a Palestinian state would be set up in the West Bank and Gaza. This was a “just solution” to the refugee issue. In return, Arab countries would recognize Israel was a country. In an attempt to finalize all conflicts, the Roadmap was created.
.The Roadmap was drawn up by the United States, Russia, European Union, and the United Nations. George W. Bush was the first United States’ president to call for a Palestinian state. The plan was a three step initiative to end all conflicts that included: “Phase 1: Both sides would issue statements supporting the two-state solution, the Palestinians would end violence, act against “all those engaged in terror”, draw up a constitution, hold elections and the Israelis would stop settlement activities and act with military restraint. Phase 2: Would see the creation, at an international conference, of a Palestinian state with “provisional borders.
” Phase 3: Final agreement talks” The Roadmap has still not been implemented. In fact, yet another peace plan, The Geneva Accord reverses the concepts laid out in the Roadmap. Palestinians effectively gave up their “right to return” in the Geneva Accord in exchange for almost all of the West Bank. In return, Israel gave up some major settlements, such as Ariel. United States President George W.
Bush, in his second term, hosted a conference in Annapolis in 2007 aimed at relaunching the peace process. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas took part in the talks. The Palestinian group Hamas, which won parliamentary elections and controlled the Gaza Strip, was not represented, and would not be bound by anything decided. A “joint understanding” was issued by Israel and Palestine with the goal of a full peace deal by the end of 2008. They agreed that the Roadmap concept must happen first.
Regular meetings took place and their (Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas) teams exchanged maps of possible borders. They failed to reach an agreement. United States’ President Barack Obama, soon after being elected, tried to restart the peace process once again. Contact between Palestine and Israel resumed in May 2009, after a 19 month break. In November 2009, Mr.
Obama persuaded Mr. Netanyahu to agree with a ten month “partial freeze” on settlement construction in the West Bank, which the leader said was “the first meaningful step towards peace.” Mr. Abbas said it did not cover East Jerusalem and wanted a guarantee of a Palestinian state based on 1967 lines. Hillary Clinton, United States Secretary of State, announced that “Mr.
Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas had agreed to “re-launch direct negotiations to resolve all final status issues”” and that they should be completed in one year. Talks began after this point in Washington on September 2, 2010. Expectations for the talks were low. The leaders met just once more, before Israel’s “settlement construction freeze” expired and talks were suspended (“History of Mid-East peace talks”). Throughout the history of Zionism and creation of the Israeli nation, a deep hatred between Palestinians and the Israelis has surfaced, causing the current Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
Anti-Semitism throughout history created the need for a place where Jews could live in harmony. The Balfour Declaration and World Zionist Organization began the push for founding Israel, which created a national home for Jews. This home took land away from Palestine, causing a series of conflicts all adding to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Although there have been numerous attempts to solve this conflict, the hatred between the Israeli and Palestinian nations is preventing this from happening. Works Cited Balfour, Arthur James. “Balfour Declaration.
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