Tabia AhmedMs. ConnEnglish 108 January 2017 It is a miracle that we know anything at all about the land of Canaan.
For centuries, the very land that feathered the feet of prophets, priests, and messiahs, has found itself enveloping into a shield of controversy, gilded with historical power. The profound history that cultivated generations of resilience, birthed a people who are a true testament to the tooth and nail fighting spirit of resistance. Nevertheless, with great historical meaning, comes a great deal of competing interpretations in regards to historical and religious claims to the land.
The modern day Israeli-Palestinian conflict is known to all as a never ending battle for such claims. This argument is highly fraught not least because of its proximity but because there is too much history in too little land. Although such arguments lack the ability to draw a conclusion, it is still crucial to understand the imbalance of power between the Palestinians and the State of Israel. After facing decades of brutal colonialism and displacement, it is without a doubt Palestinians have and continue to be a subject of oppression and suffering. Many argue that to truly sympathize and help the conditions between Israel and the Palestinians alleviate, a two state solution is necessary.
However, calling on to the Palestinians to “compromise further” for “peace” has proven to be a useless rhetoric. After giving up 80% of land, allowing Israeli control of borders and bases, and defending themselves without an established armed force such as the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) or allies such as the United States, we must ask ourselves, what is left to compromise on? Heartache has plagued the Palestinian community for decades. Since the creation of Israel in 1948, thousands of Palestinians have been murdered, and millions made refugees. The history of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict is an endless debate. However, occupation and apartheid are two concepts that aren’t hard to grasp.
First and foremost, the Palestinian/Israeli conflict is a matter, far outside the realm of just religion. Rather an issue that stems from the concept of nationalism. In the late 19th century, the Ottoman Empire ruled the majority of Middle East, including modern day Syria-Palestine-Lebanon. One thing to note is that the population of Jerusalem, the holy city the land was most known for, was divided equally into three groups.
It was roughly ? Muslim, ? Jewish, and ? Christian. To put things into such context, Wasif Jawhariyyeh was a Palestinian Christian living in Jerusalem under Ottoman rule. A famous author, Wasif learned Quran in school, and celebrated Passover and Ramadan with his Jewish and Muslim neighbors. All in all, Ottoman Palestine was a place in which people of different religions backgrounds lived rather peacefully together. On the other hand, the late 19th century was arguably the “Golden Age” of European nationalism. One of the most notable leading empire in Europe was Austro-Hungarian Empire, where at least ten different nations demanded their own statehood. Within that hyper nationalistic empire lived a Jewish journalist under the name of Theodor Herzl.
Herzl believed that his fellow Jews could assimilate into those European nations. However, he was also convinced that the Jewish population needed to leave Europe as well. And thus, the idea of Zionism had begun. Herzl believed that Jews deserved their own nation – just like the nations in Europe. Zionism, in other words, meant Jewish nationalism. Most Zionists were Secular Jews that believed in Israel as a state for Jews, as opposed to just a “Jewish state”. Following World War I, am approximate of 65,000 Jewish immigrants migrated to Palestine, which after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, was under British rule. Hoping to gain Jewish support, Britain began showcasing it’s support for Zionism.
Hence, the “Balfour Declaration” was written. The “Balfour Declaration” was a Declaration that promised a Jewish homeland. With the support of Britain, the European Jewish community realized it was time to leave Europe. The declaration offered them a bold promise considering that in 1917, Palestine was still under Ottoman rule since they hadn’t lost World War 1 yet. The fall of the Ottoman Empire eventually lead to Britain occupying Palestine. In fact, a year before, Britain had also promised to divide up the Levant nation’s between themselves and France. Syria and Lebanon were to be given to the French, whereas Britain would take over all of Palestine, Egypt and Sudan.
Subsequently, in 1915, Britain had promised to give Palestine to the ruler of Mecca — Sharif Hussein. He promised Palestine to Sharif only if he lead a revolution against the Ottomans which would further weaken the Ottoman Empire. The British had promised Palestine to the Meccans and the Zionists, all for their own benefit.
After World War 1, Britain established a colony in Palestine with the idea that they would govern the land until the Palestinians were capable of governing themselves. As time increases, and as British occupation furthers, Palestinians begin to question whether or not they’d receive their own self governing State. Using their notorious tactic to “divide and conquer”, the British began dividing the land into different institutions for Christians, Muslims, and Jews.
All whilst honoring the Balfour Development and allowing an influx of Zionist Europeans enter Palestine. By 1938, right before World War II, the Jewish population in Palestine made a rapid increase from 3% to 30%. The European Jews focused on purchasing land from non-Arab owners, and then evicting the Palestinian community from said land. By controlling both the land, and the labor, they began establishing their community’s.
Meanwhile, as tensions between the Palestinians and the Jewish nationalists grew, the Palestinians responded with their own nationalism. They began thinking of themselves as a nation, as opposed to just a people. That is when tensions erupted in 1936 between the Palestinians and the Jews.
The Palestinians could evidently not defend themselves, therefore, it was already a lost battle. Britain and the Jews successfully suppressed Palestinians but realized there were too many tensions, so they limited Jewish immigration. After seeing this tension, Britain begins to call for a joint Arab-Jewish state in Palestine, which defied what the Jews had originally intended; a strict Jewish nation.
After World War II had ended, tensions remained the same. After occupying Palestine for over 25 years, Britain hands all claims to the land over to the United Nations. Everything changed after the Holocaust, since international efforts to establish a Jewish homeland increased. By 1947, the United Nations proposes a plan to have Palestine divided into two states. The plan gave Palestinians 43% of land, which was unfair considering the Palestinians made up ? of the population. Whereas Jews were to be given 56% of the land, despite the fact that they were ? of the population. Following such announcements, Jewish generals began occupying Palestinian cities, driving out over 300,000 and displacing them of their homes.
This happened before Israel had even been declared a State. Therefore, this lead to horrible clashes with neighboring countries. Counties like Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon invaded the land that was given to the Palestinians, all whilst fighting against Israeli forced as well. This lead to the Arab-Israel war. Unfortunately, the Arabs were no match against Israel’s military power. Israel had continued to seize land as the Palestinians continued to resist. By 1948, Israel had taken over 80% of Palestine and although a ceasefire had been declared, “Peace” was everything far from the goal.
This eventually carried out the Palestinians from their own home. 800,000 Palestinians were forced to leave, leading to the largest refugee movement in History. 19 years later, a second war known as the 6 Day War began. As a result, 325,000 Palestinians fled their villages, while Israel continued to seize the historic cities within Palestine.
The UN and Arab nations began to voice their disapproval for the military tactics Israel had been using against the Palestinians. However, no solution was offered. In 1987, the first Intifada took place, a rebellion lead by the Palestinians. Thousands were imprisoned, and thousands were killed. In 1993, the Oslo Accords had begun. It was the first of many peace talks between Palestine and Israel.
The Oslo Accords laid the basics on how to maintain the apartheid system today. In other words, they were a failure, and any rights the Palestinians had now were diminished. Then in 2010, Prime Minister candidate Ariel Sharon led an army of troops into the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The Temple Mount is known for being the holiest place in Jerusalem, and it sits right next to the Dome of the Rock, which happens to be the 3rd holiest State in Islam. Marching there with thousands of armed troops was a spit in the face to the Palestinians. This, the second Intifada began.
This time, more than 5,000 Palestinians were killed. This was evidence enough that the Oslo Accords had failed its initial purpose. In 2006, Hamas became a democratically elected party of Palestine. In the West, Hamas is considered to be a terrorist group, even finding its way onto the state department list of terrorists