THE ARAB/ISRAELI CONFLICTThe root of the Arab/Israeli conflict goes back to the events leading to the creation of Israel in 1948.Palestine, as the land that is now Israel, has historically changed hands. Until 1947, the British were incontrol of Palestine.
Persecuted Jews had been returning totheir religious homeland since the late19th century, and this greatlyaccelerated following World War IIand the holocaust.Britain reluctantly allowed Jewishimmigration to Palestine from thedecimated Jewish populations ofEurope.
The Jews want a safe and secure Jewish statefollowing the atrocities, and world opinion issupportive.As Jews flood into Palestine, problems developbetween them and the Arabs (Palestinians).The British, exhausted and financially drainedfollowing WWII, are caught in the middle ofthe conflict.The British decide to turn the crisis inPalestine over to the newly-created UnitedNations In 1947.
The issue for the United Nations is, WHO HAS THE RIGHT TO PALESTINE?”The UN decides to divide Palestine into Jewish and Arab areas. Notice that the division is not “neat.” Why do you think the UN divided Palestine in this manner?
In May, 1948, Jewish leaders proclaim the state of Israel comprising their area.Palestinians, backed by other Arabs, attack the Jews.
The Jews defeat the Arabs and the state of Israel is recognized by U.S. President Harry Truman.
Results:1. Jews have their “safe” Jewish state2. Israel’s Arab neighbors vow to destroy it3. The dilemma for Israel: What to do with displaced Palestinians?
In 1967 Israel’s Arab neighbors make threatening moves – the Arabs want to destroy theJewish state.
Israel gains territory from 3 hostile Arab neighbors and it triples in size.Results of the war:1. Israel proves military might and gains respect.2. More Palestinians under Israeli control3. Israel annexes the Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights.4. The Arabs seek revenge and will attack Israel in 1973.
Since the creation of Israel in 1948, the fate of Palestinian Arabs left without their own nation hasbeen a key element in the long-running conflict between Arabs and Israelis. In recent times threeproposals have been offered by Israelis or Arabs to solve the “Palestinian Question.” The first proposal entailed establishing a separate Palestinian state from the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Another proposal included sending Palestinians living under Israeli control to Jordan.
The third proposal consisted of integrating the Palestinians living in Israel intoneighboring Arab countries.Until 1993, none of these ideas was acceptable to all of the sides.
After decades of stalemate in negotiating a solution to the “Palestinian Question,” the PLO began abloody uprising (intifada) in 1987 to secure a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank. Yasir Arafat
It lasted for 6 years and was a huge burden on Israel (human and financial).
In 1993, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin agrees with PLO leader Yasir Arafat on a controversialconcept of “Land for Peace.”
Under the agreement, Israel would grant the PLOtemporaryautonomy in Gaza and selected cities in theWest Bank.Israel did not make any official guarantees of eventualstatehood to the PLO, although it was understood thatthis would eventually be the outcome if both sidescooperated, and it vowed to maintain control ofJerusalem.THE AGREEMENT WAS CONTINGENT ON THE PLOCONTROLLING ITS TERRORIST FACTIONS. Andthe PLO has had problems governing its territory andproviding security (Palestinians are split).
The beginning of a second intifada in Sept. 2000 derailed and eventually killed the ’93 peace initiative. Both sides havebeen mired in a destructive cycle of violence to the present.The Arab community is putting tremendous pressure on theU.S. to mediate a Palestinian state.
Initially, President Bush had refused to become directly involved in theIsraeli/Palestinian conflict. He was especially critical of PLO leader Yasir Arafat andhis inability or refusal to halt the suicide bombings (9/11 was a big variable).Since the 9/11 attack in the U.S., President Bush was generally more sympathetic towardIsrael, but he has become directly involved in the conflict as a mediator since the IraqiWar and a Palestinian leadership change.
Bush was critical of his predecessor, Bill Clinton, for including Arafat in the “partnershipfor peace,” so he demanded as a pre-condition for U.S. engagement a Palestinianleadership change, which resulted in the naming of Mahmoud Abbas as the new Palestinianprime minister. Prime Minister Sharon President Bush
A major breakthrough occurred in June2003, when Prime Minister Sharon and thenew U.S.-backed prime minister, MahmoudAbbas, agreed to accept the framework ofthe latest “Roadmap to Peace” initiative,collectively endorsed by the EU, Russia,and the U.S.
The cornerstone of the “Roadmap” was theestablishment of a Palestinian state by2005.Key issues for the Israelis are security forIsraeli settlers in the West Bank and Gaza,and the cessation of the deadly suicidebombings.For the Palestinians, the key issues are thepace of establishing a Palestinian state andthe “right of return” for Palestiniansdisplaced in 1948.
For both sides, the fate ofJerusalem is non-negotiable.
The ultimate deal-breakers for bothsides are the bitter divisions dividingboth Israelis and Palestinians overdifficult concessions.Prime Minister Sharon clashed withIsraeli settlers in the West Bank & Gazaand contended with deep mistrustamongst Israelis concerning Palestinianpromises. The three main Palestinian militantgroups (Hamas; Islamic Jihad; al AqsaMartyrs Brigade) had declared atemporary cease-fire in June of 2003 aslong as tangible progress was rapidlymade.
By Aug. 2003 the cease-fire abruptly ends and the peace process is on the verge ofcollapse as suicide bombings occur, and the Israeli govt. retaliates with targetedassassinations of Palestinian militant leaders.
As Israel failed to fulfill its obligations of theU.S.-sponsored Road Map Agreement,Palestinians increasingly vented their angerwith renewed suicide bombings.In response to the deadly Palestinian suicideattacks, the Israeli govt. is constructing abarrier to separate Israel from the WestBank.Israeli officials contend that 75% ofPalestinian suicide bombers who have struckinside Israel came across the northern borderof the West Bank.The Israeli govt. threatened to disengagefrom the peace process by making the barrierboundary the political boundary betweenIsrael and a Palestinian state.
If completed as planned (at an estimated cost of $1.3 billion), the barrier would extend about 400 milesaround the heart of the West Bank, swinging miles into Palestinian territory. The 60- to 100-yard-widebarrier consists of a combination of barbed wire and fences, ….
…. ditches and 25-foot-high concrete walls, including watchtowers, cameras, and electronic sensors.
For the ordinary Palestinian citizens caught in the middle of the violence, they suffersevere economic hardships from being denied access to their jobs in Israel, and theysuffer daily humiliations at Israeli checkpoints.And although they support the Palestinian cause, the tactics used by the militant groupsappear to hurt them as much as the Israelis.
Palestinians complain that Israel’s securityproject is simply an attempt to unilaterallyre-draw the political boundary betweenIsrael and the WestBank, and by extension, any Palestinian state.The U.S. did not initially object to thebarrier on or near the West Bank boundary,but as the barrier runs more deeply into theWest Bank, the U.S. govt. has called theroute a problem.And, the Israelis have imposed a strangle-hold blockade of Gaza, which causes hardshipfor the residents.The controversy and anger surrounding thebarrier and blockade have increased thepopularity and prestige of Hamas.
The former Palestinian Prime Minister, Ahmed Qurei,countered Sharon’s stated “disengagement plan” byadvocating Israeli citizenship for all Palestinians, thuscreating a single Jewish-Arab state.With citizenship, Palestinians would wield the powerof the vote, which would be a grave political threat toJewish supremacy in Israel.There are approx. 5.5 million Jews living in Israel.Approx. 3.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bankand Gaza Strip, and 1.2 live inside Israel.Higher Arab birthrates would eventually make Arabsthe majority in a single state.
In a flurry of goodwill gestures in response toAbbas’ initiative, Prime Minister Sharonreleased hundreds of Palestinian prisoners,has proposed re-routing the controversialbarrier more closely along the “green line,”and …
… he ordered the removal of Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip and parts of the WestBank. This may be the most volatile gesture for the Israeli govt. because …
… many of the settlers are well-armed and vowing to fight their removal.
The 2007 “breakthrough” was the Annapolis Conference hosted by President Bush andSecretary of State Rice, which was to “jumpstart” the “Roadmap” peace initiative. Thegoal was to achieve a Palestinian state by the end of ’08. Many viewed this breakthroughas a last opportunity to resolve this long-running conflict.
Prime Minister Olmert Both Olmert and Abbas profess the will to achieve peace, but both have oppositionPresident Abbas factions. For Olmert, hard-line conservatives oppose concessions to the Palestinians. For Abbas, his daunting obstacles include …
Ismail Haniyeh … Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, and which is in a power struggle with Abbas, who heads the secular Fatah faction in the West Bank. Hamas is determined to destroy the Jewish state and is willing to fight Abbas’ goal to negotiate with Israel.
Since the Annapolis Conference, Hamas hasderailed the ongoing talks by firing rocketsfrom Gaza into Israel, thus sparkingretaliatory air strikes from Israel.Prospects for peace are not promising withrival Palestinian groups vying for supremacy.
To further complicate the peace process, a new Israelicoalition govt. assumed power, led by Prime MinisterBenjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister AvigdorLieberman.Both men head conservative political parties that arefundamentally opposed to the “Land for Peace” initiative.
President Barak Obama faces the daunting challenge of picking up the pieces and attempting to mediatethe hardening positions of all sides involved.
RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISMReligious fundamentalism is a literal interpretation and a strict and intense adherence tobasic principles of a religion or a religious sect. Religious leaders and many of theirfollowers are seeking to return to the basics of their faith.Religious fundamentalism has many driving forces, including a perceived breakdown ofsociety’s mores and folkways, loss of religious authority, and economic problems.
People in one society often fear fundamentalism in other societies without recognizing itin their own. Fundamentalism is a facet of all major religions, but the one generating themost high-profile exposure is Islamic fundamentalism.