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Israel and Palestine: War, History, and Questions of the Future

Megan Hayes | News Editor


Sameh Rahmi/NurPhoto via Getty Images


Preface:

In response to the ongoing and increasingly brutal conflict between Israel and Palestine, when covering this issue we must be careful of the media we consume; ensuring it is truthful, respectful, and sourced intelligently. With such complex and multifaceted issue such as this, details of such information is vital to the understanding of the history between these two groups.


The majority of this information is sourced from Dr. Caitlin Carenen's public war teach-in, titled "What Just Happened and Why it Matters". Carenen, a historian who teaches History at Eastern, is an expert in the Arab-Israeli Conflict and was gracious enough to share her expertise in the area, giving those who attended a more in-depth view into this conflict. This talk was given in Room 104 of the Science Building on Wednesday, October 18th at 3pm. This article, based on this information shared by Carenen, was written by students. Anything provided within this article is not meant to display any personal values or include motivation for how others should think -- this is purely a presentation on information given and the goal is to be unbiased and nonpartisan.


Additionally, sources of other information (websites, scientific journals, first hand accounts) are sourced below and parenthetically referenced within this article. If there are any corrections, updates, comments, or suggestions that you see necessary to the factual information regarded in this article, please email our editors at lantern@my.easternct.edu.


History:

Dr. Caitlin Carenen's teach-in started with a point we should all consider: we must have somethign called "intellectual humility" when trying to understand a situation such as this. Intellectual humility, as defined by psychologists, is one's ability to understand their "fallibility": the tendency and/or possibility of being wrong. Within this practice of intellectual humility, we must view this issue, as well as our views of it, broadly with regard to other underlying layers of the issue that we may not understand. For those who are primarily not affected by this conflict, it may be difficult to grasp this concept and not take sides, or favor one group over the other. However, this article should stand as a reminder that although we are in the United States, this does not stop the influence of this issue of those who share the same ethnic backgrounds. This is too large of an issue to gloss over when considering the impact on those who are in the area, and have family and friends who live in the areas that are affected by war.


Often it is forgotten that the people experiencing these horrors are human when the issue is simplified so largely by the media into black and white. It is first important to understand the history behind this issue. This will highlight some historical events with high importance to the situation.


There has been an ongoing dispute over territory between Israel and Palestine for a large portion of time in history. We can see the beginning of this start in 1917 with the Balfour Declaration, (proposed by Lionel Walter Rothschild), which expressed need to the leaders of Great Britain for "a home for the Jewish people" in Palestine (Tahhan, 2017). This went along with several other post war mandates following World War I (1914-1918), but was a main catalyst of the upheaval that started.


After the change was mandated, the British started to move European Jewish immigrants into Palestine (1922-1935) -- effectively making the Jewish population rise to what was about 10% prior to 27%. This document, although not meant to cause harm, eventually did. Conflict arose immediately as a European power was making laws over a non-European territory, completely pushing aside the intentions of each group. This then gave the British power over Palestine through imperialism -- extending power of a nation over another through "diplomacy or military force" (Oxford Dictionary).


Under these mandates, well-funded immigrants came in to build a state for the Jewish population, causing the number of immigrants in Palestine to increase drastically, along with tensions. This came from good intentions that would allow the Jewish population in Palestine to be self sufficient as well as have the resources necessary to protect themselves, but ended up taking from the native land of Palestinians. Many riots were caused by this movement, pushing the British in the middle of the two groups. These would fit in our timeline as the 1929 Palestine Riots, or the Buraq Uprising.


This conflict enacted violence between the Arabic and Jewish populations with Palestine, primarily around access to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, and who had access to it. This has a large amount of significance to both groups, as all three of the Abrahamic religions - Judaism, Islam, and Christianity - all have a root of significance within Jerusalem. The Western Wall, which receives over 2.5 million visitors a year, and is the last remaining retaining wall of the Second Temple of Jerusalem. This location is mentioned heavily in both the Torah and the Bible, and although not directly stated to appear in the Qur'an, appears years later in Islamic literature for the location of 'Muhammad's Night Journey', an important fixture in Islamic religion.


The British, in response to these riots killing both Arabs and Jews and destroying property, called for reports, commissions, and policies to hopefully relieve these tensions and work towards a healthier, more balanced dynamic. Unfortunately, this did not do much as the tensions continued to grow.


The time period after the Palestine Riots was the eve of World War II, where large numbers of Jewish people were being persecuted and killed in Germany and Poland as well as other countries. This, understandably so, caused a large migration of the Jewish population of these countries into Palestine -- over 100,000. This then caused the Arab Revolt from 1936-1939, with the intention of stopping Jewish immigration as well as a strike for nonpayment of taxes and pushing back against British rule, which formed the creation of the Arab Higher Committee. Arab rebels then joined the cause, taking the conflict further and attacking Jewish and British settlements and groups. British troops were sent to remedy and calm the situation, effectively ending the revolt in 1939.


In 1947 the situation was pushed forward with the United Nations Partition Plan, which was not effective into dividing Jewish and Arab states. The borders were highly uneven, disproportionate, and at this time around 2/3 of the Jewish population had been murdered, leaving them homeless and stateless -- they needed a place to go. In response of the prior conflict and violence, however, Palestinians stood their ground on their country and rejected the partition plan, causing a civil war within Palestine. More than 600,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes by Jewish military forces, and villages were mowed down. As a result of this, there were crusades, and many died. This event was called the "Nakba" ("catastrophe" in Arabic), and served to displace more people out of Palestine -- and once they left, they were not allowed back.

However, in 1948, Israelis pushed for the creation of the state of Israel within Palestinian territory. David Ben-Gurion, who was the head the Jewish Agency proclaimed this establishment, and it was later recognized by US President Harry S. Truman and later by the United Nations in 1949, establishing it as a fully democratic country up until today. This, although again was created with good intentions in mind, caused conflicts continued to swell between this time and June 1967, which was the start of the Six-Day War. The basis of the war was that Palestine, although the original land where Israel was placed and where land was taken, was not seen as important enough to declare as its own state. Land was continuously being taken from Palestine and turned over into Israeli land. Israel, along with this continuation of land expansion, attacked Egyptian and Syrian in response to strikes of Abdel Gamal Nasser, the Egyptian President. Nasser's moved involved mobilizing troops to create a shipping blockade, and "people-replacement", or the replacement of Palestinians by Jewish people, continued on (Svorai, 2017).


In October of 1973, Egyptian and Syrian forces launched an attack back on Israeli territory in an attempt to gain back land that had been taken from them, which had pushed them out, homeless. This is called the Yom Kippur War, as it happened on one of the holiest days of the Jewish calendar. Immediately, Israeli forces gained the upper hand paired with arming from the United States, and the war continued until November. Israel agreed to a cease-fire resolution enacted by the United Nations Security Council. This was partly enacted by U.N. Resolution 242, which aimed to fix the territorial disputes and pull Israeli forces out of territories that they were in -- which claimed for "sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence," (United Nations Peacemaker). Although no major successes were gained on either side, Egypt paved a way for negotiations for land that was lost in the prior conflicts, bringing attention to the base of the conflicts. The leaders of Egypt and Israel both agreed to create a sense of peace through the Camp David Accords, which also opened up a pathway for self-governance of Palestinian territories in Gaza and the West Bank, which helped to relieve some of the tension.


The First and Second Intifadas were two uprisings against Israel where Palestinians rose up against the Israeli government's oppressive tactics towards the group, as well as outburst for unarmed Palestinian civilians being killed. This happened relatively spontaneous, and lasted 5 years. the first Intifada (uprising, or "shaking off" in Arabic) was concluded through the Oslo Accords, a secret negotiation that was reached between the Palestinian Liberation Organization under Yasser Arafat and the Israeli Government under Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. This would prove to be very unsuccessful and not consider any arguments from the Israeli and Palestinian populations within the area. The leaders behind the first Intifada was led by women, and the Oslo Accords managed to completely push them aside as no women were present at the talks (Speri, 2018). The Second Intifada was far more violent, with over 4,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis being killed. This was caused by a controversial visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque by (Beauchamp, 2018).


This brings us to one of the most current events, the election of the Hamas in 2006. Hamas, (Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya) is the acronym of the Islamic Resistance Movement, which is a very powerful militant group from Palestine and Palestinian territories. It was founded in 1987 and has been labeled a terrorist organization even though it was democratically elected. They reject all moves towards peace that have been enacted between between the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel. Hamas originates and resides in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank within the state of Palestine. When Hamas was first elected, it changed the structure of leadership completely, and surpassed leadership of the Fatah, the other party within Palestine lead by President Mahmoud Abbas. Since the creation and uprise of Hamas, which has been a notoriously violent group, responsible for fighting for their purpose by killing innocent civilians, suicide bombing, destroying religious property, and more.


Current Status of War

Another turning point of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict happened roughly two weeks ago, igniting the conflict once again. On October 7th, 2023, Hamas enacted a sneak attack, gunning down Israeli civilians in a terrorist attack after tearing down a security fence in Gaza. Thousands of rockets were fired into Israel. Hamas rampaged the city, burning, shooting, looting, and assaulting or killing any civilians they saw. This is something that has never been seen to happen in Israel, leaving those who survived extremely underprepared, scared, and emotional. Hamas struck with full force, and many were taken hostage. Gaza, which is relatively small, is very densely populated, and heavily relies on funds from the United Nations, and with certain blockades being set into place, this is evolving into an even larger issue.


Israel ordered an evacuation for North Gaza, sending over 1 million Palestinians elsewhere. This has become a humanitarian crisis, with no easy solution and a complexity so deep that many of us may struggle to understand the true magnitude of the situation. In addition to this, Egypt has closed its borders to those both going in and out, rendering it unusable to those fleeing. Gaza is very quickly running out of necessities such as electricity, water, and food, and is in desperate need for medical supplies. Blockades have been set up by Israel, and has said that there will be no change to this stance until Hamas releases hostages. Concerns have been voiced by world health agencies, stating that there are concerns about rapid death of civilians and military alike with the lack of water, and the proneness to waterborne diseases that reside in what is available.


Hospitals as well as many other important facilities are being bombed and burned, further cutting off contact to any sort of civilian aid that could be effective towards those suffering. Bombs are being dropped day to day, and this is a very serious issue for Gaza, as there is a possibility of more escalation from other nations, giving this a possibility of becoming a multi-nation war.


President Joe Biden of the United States is offering unwavering support to Israel in this time, despite conflict arising between other heads of power within the united states. He was scheduled to visit this past Wednesday to hopefully calm some tensions, but after yet another deadly airstrike hit and killed 471 people, the meeting was cancelled.


This brings us to current day, where the conflict is ever-growing and brutalizing. There are no easy solutions to this problem, and as many leaders, sources and groups have said - there is likely not an end in sight any time soon. What we can hope, both here within the United States and within territories under attack, is that nations such as Iran do not get involved, which could escalate this into a worldwide deadly conflict. The approach right now is for leaders to try to talk Israel out of a land invasion, as a move to protect vulnerable locations that are being attacked, such as schools, mosques, and hospitals, which are being bombed to elicit a response from Israel. The societies under both Palestine and Israel are torn apart and left defenseless, and this is a lose-lose situation for both groups, and has escalated to the point of senselessness.


Once more, to reiterate, this is not an issue that can be viewed with only a black and white lens. This issue is extremely multifaceted and deep rooted with hundreds of years of pain, where history must be on the forefront to even be able to understand the complexity of the conflict.. What we can do is to educate ourselves, and avoid misinformation on social media -- the aim of which is to cover certain issues wildly, with gruesome and disturbing scenes meant to evoke mass emotion. This is a war for both sides, and the conflict is deeply rooted in history, which we must attempt to understand in order to synthesize what this truly means. These attacks have been compared to another "9/11", a repetition of history that will forever change the way these countries interact and operate, and even though we are here in the United States, this is not at all to suggest that Israeli and Palestinian people are not affected daily here -- these locations are the root of one's culture, childhood, family, and more -- making this fear reach deeper than the news can cover.


Please educate yourselves on this issue, and if there are any edits, requests, comments, or concerns, please reach out to the Campus Lantern staff at lantern@my.easternct.edu.



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