Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Israel-Palestine: As brief of a history as it can be.

Graffiti stencil on the "Segregation Wall" of West Bank
(Courtesy of Banksy)


Most everyone knows that there is and has been conflict between Israel and Palestine, primarily over land and occupation. However, many times, the depth of that knowledge hardly punctures the surface.

Learning about its history will give us a better understanding of what is going on not only with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict now but will also give us insight into why Western and Middle Eastern relations are so poor. This will also keep us from assuming that all Arab people are inherently terrorists and are angry without foundation. By the U.S. constantly referring to Israel as "our closest ally", it is in essence condoning Israel's actions and reprimanding Palestine's. To make matters worse, the U.S. gives Israel a significant amount of foreign aid (one of the top recipients), most of which goes to military aid. Thus not only does the U.S. verbally align itself with Israel, it funds a great majority of Israel's activities.
With this in mind, here's a brief history, for my benefit and hopefully for yours:

The anti-Semitism in Russia and Europe in the late 19th century led to a rise in Zionism, the Jewish national movement. Zionists wanted to have Palestine as their own Jewish state because of the reference of Eretz Yisrael (Palestine) in the Hebrew Bible.

Post World War I and the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, many countries under the once Ottoman rule came under British rule,
only in the capacity of administrative assistance and advice. Palestine was the exception.

In 1917, Britain implemented the Belflour Declaration, which sought
to establish a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. Between the years of 1922-1947, the Jewish population increased significantly. Violence erupted on both sides, which led Britain to pawn off the country and conflict to the U.N.

Current map of Israel/Palestine
(Courtesy of wikipedia.org)

Thereafter, the U.N. proposed to divide Palestine into two states, one being Israel (Jewish state). In the proposal, Jerusalem was set out to be internationalized; however, after the 1948 war, Israel occupied a great portion of it. The 1948 war also resulted in the expansion of Israel to 77% of Palestine.

Palestinian Refugees after the 1948 war
(Courtesy www.ccun.org)

Another war occurred in 1967, which ended in Israel occupying the remaining territories, including the land that was once controlled under Jordan and Egypt- The West Bank and Gaza Strip. The rest of Jerusalem came under the control of Israel as well. Due to this, 1/2 million Palestinians emigrated.

Refugee Post 1967 War
(Courtesy of kinghussein.gov)

In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon with the intention to dismantle the Palestinian Liberation Organization, PLO, which was a group that wanted to give voice to and fight for the Palestinians in refugee camps in Lebanon. A ceasefire was agreed upon when Israel guaranteed the safety of Palestinians in the refugee camps. In return, Palestinians withdrew from Beirut, Lebanon. Compromising the promise made, Israelis committed a large-scaled massacre of Palestinians in two refugee camps.

A snapshot of the massacre.
(Courtesy of ccun.org)

A mass uprising (intifada) against the Israel occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (West Bank & Gaza) occurred five years later (1987). Due to the methods of force used by the Israelis, an estimated 1,100 Palestinians were killed by Israelis while 160 Israelis were killed by Palestinians.

1st intifada: Palestinian child throwing stones at Israeli tank.
(Courtesy indymedia)

Various peace talks and negotiations took place between 1991 and 2001; however, the talks for the most part were inconclusive.

A second intifada occurred when Ariel Sharon, Israel's Prime Minister, visited Temple Mount, which is regarded as holy in both Islam and Judaism. Chaos and destruction ensued.

Palestinian vs. Israeli Casualties after 2nd intifada
(Courtesy of wikipedia.org)

Israel built a separation wall in West Bank located in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in 2002, which was considered illegal by the International Court of Justice. When the wall is completely built it will span 420 mi, which compared to the Berlin Wall, 96 mi, is mammoth. Palestinians are now forced to go through hundreds of Israeli-controlled checkpoints to not only get into Israel, but also to get into their own territories- West Bank and Gaza.

A line of Palestinian's in the morning that are trying to cross onto the other side.
(Courtesy of MIT)

In 2005, Israel withdrew its troops from the Gaza Strip; however, it
has kept complete control over its "borders, seashores and airspace."

Currently there are more than 4 million Palestinian refugees out of the total 8 million Palestinian population.

Majority of info from: http://www.un.org/Depts/dpa/ngo/history.html

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