A labourer stands on an apartment building under construction in a Jewish settlement known to Israelis as Har Homa and to Palestinians as Jabal Abu Ghneim, in an area of the West Bank that Israel captured in a 1967 war and annexed to the city of Jerusalem, October 28, 2014. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Part I: Origins of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

A labourer stands on an apartment building under construction in a Jewish settlement known to Israelis as Har Homa and to Palestinians as Jabal Abu Ghneim, in an area of the West Bank that Israel captured in a 1967 war and annexed to the city of Jerusalem, October 28, 2014. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

In popular media, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems to play out on a daily basis. Strife and struggle in the West Bank and the Gaza strip play out in the papers we read every morning. We learn that x amount of people have lost their lives, families are ripped apart and hospitals are being bombed. Leaders of powerful nations attempt to implement a peace treaty that both parties will uphold and foster the two-state solution that both Israelis and Palestinians have expressed they favour.

But, how much do we really know about the origins of the conflict?

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the continuous struggle between the populations that has its roots in as early as the 1800s. Zionists – radical minority of the Jewish population – in the late 1800s decided that they would colonise this land in order to create a Jewish homeland. The Zionists considered other locations before deciding to settle on Palestine such as Africa and the Americas however, none had more religious significance than Palestine. The Jewish immigrated in large numbers which did not have any immediate problems, however, as land purchases started to be controlled more heavily by the Turkish and many came to the state with an express desire of taking over the land to make a Jewish state. This was obviously concerning for the Palestinians and with the escalating tensions, fighting broke out.

The rise of Hitler, in addition to the Zionist efforts to destruct efforts to place Jewish refugees in western countries, meant that Jewish immigration to Palestine grew alongside the conflict. Despite tensions over sectarian conflicts in Palestine reaching a boiling point, it was not until 1947 that the United Nations agreed to intervene. However, they did not adhere to the principle of self-determination and instead made a two-state plan in which they would give away 55% of Palestine to a Jewish state although, they were clearly still a minority in the Palestinian state. The Jewish only represented 30% of the total population and owned less than 7% of the land.

Between 1947 and 1949 the region engaged in civil war and while it is argued which sect had the strongest army and the most combatants, it is known that virtually all battles unfolded on Palestinian territory. Also, that the Arab armies only engaged in conflict with the Zionist forces once they had assassinated 16 men, women and children and another 100 at Deir Yassin. By 1949, Israeli forces had managed to attack and successfully conquer 80% of Palestine, scattering 750,000 Palestinians as refugees and in the process obliterated 500+ towns and villages. Further, a new map was drawn up in which every city, river and hillock was renamed in Hebrew in an effort to erase all vestiges of Palestinian culture. Former Israeli Prime Minister, Golda Meir even went as far to say that ‘there were no such thing as Palestinians.’

In 1967, Israel set out to conquer more land. Israeli forces launched a surprising but advantageous attack on Egypt and Syria and then moved to conquer the remaining 20% that remained Palestine in 1949, namely the West Bank and Gaza Strip. According to international law however, it is inadmissible to acquire territory by war meaning that the territories occupied by Israel, do not belong to Israel. At present, the conflict mainly revolves around the remaining 20% of Palestine that Israeli forces attempted to seize in 1967 – the West Bank and Gaza strip – which will be analysed in more detail in Part II.

2 Comments

  1. Devora Khafi says:

    I am shocked at how bias this article is. Firstly, you can’t colonise something you are part of. There has been a continuous presence of indigenous Jews in the land of Israel for thousands of years. The movement of Jews back to their homeland was a return to their people, not a colonial movement. “The Jewish immigrated in large numbers”- check your grammar, its the Jewish people, or you could says ‘the Jews’, but this phrasing is atrocious.

    Secondly, the land bought and used was dead, unused, teeming with disease and infestations. The Jews built farms and cultivated the land so that it would benefit everyone living there. To assume they ‘colonised’ the land in the late 1800s is as if to say they came and took over the tiny population of Arabs already living there. On the contrary, they moved next door and side by side these Arabs. Things were never peaceful between both communities naturally because Jews in Arab majority states never do so great. There were attacks on Jewish villages long before thousands immigrated in, there were also massive attacks on Jews before settlements were built.

    Thirdly, it is interesting how you raise the issue of Hitler, seeing as it was the Grand Mufti of Palestine who met him and they enjoyed much in common. Makes sense why you left out the part the Mufti plays in seeking to aid Hitler in solving the “problem of the Jews”.

    Fourthly, STOP SAYING ‘THE JEWISH’ AS IF THAT MAKES ANY SENSE.

    Fifthly, you speak about the UN partition plan in a way that is so vague and misguided it hurts. Land given to the Jews was land they were mainly living around, and the same was given to the Arabs. Even more so, Jews were given the dead rotting part of land, whilst Arabs received the workable easier land to cultivate. It is also interesting how you quote the Jews as only owning 7% of the land, yet before you persistently go on about a colonial project.

    Sixthly, the independence war began when Israel declared independence within the borders granted to them by the United Nations, and the next day- Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, with the help of more Muslim majority states, attacked this tiny new born state. The massacre at Deir Yassin is a disgusting part of the history of Israel, but it is not what started the war at all. No historian will ever attribute that as a causation. As a side note, the massacre was conducted by an extremist rebel group, not by Israel’s official army, and thus it does not represent true Zionism or the State as it stands. Condemnations of it have been vast and it is not something to be proud of, but something to remember what humans are capable of. On the flip side, no Arabs have ever condemned the repeated massacres of Jews either in Israel or in their home countries of Iraq, Syria and so on. I think you should have spoken about this double standard which you have missed out on.

    Seventhly, displacement of Palestinians. Since you are writing an article for a school magazine, I think accuracy is vital. Back in the 40s, they were called Arabs not Palestinians. Additionally, they associated themselves as being Southern Lebanese if we are going to take accuracy seriously. Many Palestinians were displaced but the reason for this is important. Very few villages were physically uprooted by Israelis, in comparison to hundreds of Arabs that fled from their own accord- either they were scared, or the village leaders told them to go, or because there was a war they thought it would be better to be somewhere else. Historical archives do not have a decent answer on excatly how many Arabs were displaced because of force by Israelis and this number always changes. Overall it is important to know that this was small and uncertain. Therefore, to make a generalisation and present a narrative that “Zionists” came in and “conquer” Palestine is a unbelievably bias narrative to have.

    Eighthly, you mention a quote by Golda Meir in saying that Palestinians do not exist. And rightly so. As I mentioned before, the Palestinians you speak of, and their leadership within Palestine and the greater Arab world never called them Palestinian. You have many Arab historians like Philip Hitti who said “There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not.” They were Arabs. Palestinians only started calling themselves that after the war of 1948, and subsequently pushed more for it after 1967. However, it is a term widely used now and it would be wrong to ignore it, regardless of the discrepancies within history.

    Ninthly, omg. “In 1967, Israel set out to conquer more land”. What so thy just attacked Egypt because they wanted more land? If you look at history and the facts, Egypt was planning on attacking Israel. They were mobilising their army and drawing up their tanks. The only way Israel was going to survive another war was to attack Egypt’s airspace first. Thus they won the war in a miraculous 6 days. In this war, Israel did occupy land after the green line that was reserved for a 2 state solution. Like in any war, land acquired must be negotiated for it to be handed back. Unfortunately, none have succeeded so far as we know.

    I really could go on, but I have so much coursework to do. My point here is that I am shocked so many facts and truth have been ignored. It is irresponsible to write about a conflict you don’t know anything about, and this does not help us advance towards a peaceful solution if myths and legends are being used.

  2. The_Chosen_Wong says:

    The purpose of the article was to educate readers the history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The author completed her objective effectively in my opinion.

    Devora Khafi, you have a right to your own opinion in the comments section, but your purpose was to not educate the readers, but rather be a troll to the author.

    Your comments make you come off as a bully and an uneducated troll.

    Be more objective in your arguments and just don’t conduct a rant attacking the journalist on a personal level. I think a lot of people sympathize with Israel’s plight (including myself), however, when you attack the author attempting to be objective on a personal level, it only hurts your cause and makes you sound like an uneducated troll.

    Kudos to the author for putting together an objective history lesson. I enjoyed the article.

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