Introduction: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Where It All Started
The conflict between the Arab and the Israeli population for the lands of Palestine has truly become notorious over the past few decades. What seemed to be a minor misunderstanding has quickly grown into a more serious problem and undergone a fast transformation from re-allotment of land to a large-scale religious and political conflict. Even though the conflict has been taking place for too long to be solved easily now, it still can be assumed that a look back at the causes of the conflict will help define the further avenues to be taken.
A Historical View: The Original Residents and the Current Settlers
There are several ways to consider the problem of the Arab-Israeli conflict from a historical standpoint. The situation can be viewed either through the lens of the nation, which has been deprived of its land unfairly, or the nation who settled in the land of Palestine long ago and, therefore, has the rights to claim for growing impressive cultural tie to the land and, thus, owning it. Both opinions are very reasonable and deserve taking a closer look at.
On the one hand, the position of the Israeli people is very legitimate. They were ripped off their land, their freedom and their national identity. Winning the two later in the course of history, the nation had been roaming for years in search for their Promised Land and finally succeeded in finding the one, yet still missed their native land. Therefore, it is clear that the Israeli people have the rights to claim for their piece of Palestine as much as the Arabs do.
On the other hand, the claim of the Arabs is very reasonable as well. Historically, the idea of claiming the land that has had another nation for the past two thousand years is practically insane. Historically, it is very easy to understand the claims of both sides of the conflict; as Isacoff puts it, “the answer to the question ‘what caused the conflict?’ Depends upon whom you ask as well as when you ask it” (Isacoff, 2006, 49).
One might argue that the Arab people had more rights for the land after having lived there for two thousand years; however, after reconsidering the results of the 1948 war, which left the Israeli crushed completely, the entire world considered the triumph of the latter a “desperate fight for survival and an almost miraculous victory” (Isacoff, 2006, 50).
A Political Standpoint: Through the Lens of the Opponents
While the problem specified above does seem incredibly complicated, with a diplomatic approach and with reasonable compromises from both sides of the argument, a consensus could be reached relatively painlessly. Indeed, it seems that a peaceful way of solving the problems seems the most reasonable in the given situation.
Even if both sides happened to be in equal rights for the territory, it would be much more efficient to work on the way to coexist within the Palestinian territory instead of fighting for scraps of land. However, politically, the situation is much more complicated than merely a conflict over the land. Politically, the two nations have always been at daggers with each other (Podeh, Kaufman, & Ma’oz, 2006).
Also, not only home policies but also foreign politics must be taken into account when handling the Arab-Israeli conflict. Given the fact that the reconciliation with the Arabs would have shaped the structure of the relationships between the Israeli and the rest of the world, it was quite understandable that Israel never gave up its positions (Gilbert, 2005).
Some researchers, however, tend to think that the roots for the Palestine-Israel conflict should be searched for in more recent events. For instance, some authors tend to consider the procrastination of the Israeli authorities as the key cause of the conflict not only to have been started but also to have been going on for so long.
Partially, the vacillation of the Israeli forces is associated with the tendency of the latter to draw third parties to support them in the conflict. Although the given strategy can be justified by the fact that Israel has very little chances to win the battle, claiming the territories where the Arabs have been living for the last two thousand years. On the other hand, it is clear that the given problem concerns solely Israel and Palestine, i.e., no third parties can be allowed to facilitate each of the opponents. As Shoher put it,
Israeli Jews, with all their political analysis, historians, and psychologists, still do not recognize their behavioral incompatibility. Why are the British and, to a lesser extent, the French welcomed in the countries they colonized recently, where they committed atrocities far worse than Israeli’s persecution of Arabs? The reason is simple: people forgive power when respect accompanies it. Arabs see Israel as a powerless American proxy. (Shoher, 2006, 148)
Therefore, it can be assumed that the key political reason behind the Palestine-Israel conflict is the political implications of Israel’s actions and the aftermath of possible Israel’s victory.
A Religious Point of View: When Two Religions Collide
There is no need to stress that the Arabs and the Hebrew population have slightly different concepts of faith and God. Therefore, it seems that faith remains the stumbling block for both parties on their way to reconciliation. Fearing that the opponent will start reinforcing the influence of their system of religious beliefs immediately, the two sides of the argument abstain from shaking hands (Kapitan, 1997).
In addition to the obvious incompatibility of the religious ideas of the two nations, in the XX century, the Arabian population of Palestine provided religious grounds for their nation to remain within the state. The given argument made the negotiation process and the process of conflict solution even more complicated. As a result, the Arabian-Israeli conflict has been going on for decades by now and does not seem to come to an end any day soon.
Conclusion: Tracking the History for the Pivoting Point
That being said, one must admit that the Arab-Israeli conflict will not dissolve easily and vanish without a trace even if a reasonable solution is provided eventually. It seems that years after the problem started, it has grown from a terrestrial conflict into a matter of principle, and, thus, the opponents will not give up easily.
In the light of the fact that the religious and cultural aspects of the dilemma in question, though doubtlessly adding new dimensions to the problem, only make the matters more complicated, it will be reasonable to adopt a neutral approach that recognizes the rights of both sides, therefore, granting the opponents with equal opportunities: “It is assumed that both Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs have legitimate and inalienable rights. These rights are rooted in the historical experience of each people” (Tessler, 1994, xi).
Hence, it can be considered that the true origin of the Arabian-Israeli conflict is solely terrestrial. While the cultural, religious and social aspects are also of huge significance, seeing how they have shaped the course of the conflict, they still were recognized in the XXI century, and, therefore, cannot be regarded as the initial reason for the conflict to break out.
Essential as they are, these issues had become of major importance only in the XXI century, when the globalization process raised the concern for national identity and the preservation of national culture. In the XX century, when the world was recovering from the shock of the WWII and the leaders of the major states were preoccupied with the re-division of the world, and the world influence, the concern over the Palestine territories suddenly became understandably topical, which led to the notorious conflict.
As Abu-Nimer, Khoury, and Welty put it, “the Israeli-Palestine conflict is complex, deep-rooted, and involves a clash of multiple individual and collective identities; its sources and causes cannot be defined by one single set of economic, social, political, or religious factors” (Abu-Nimer, Khoury, & Welty, 2007, 43).
Even though the situation seems desperate at present, it can be assumed that, with the help of a reasonable compromise from both of the sides, the problem can be solved. While it is necessary to admit that in the XXI century, the problem has gone too far, with religious and cultural issues being added to the political ones, the conflict can still be tackled once both opponents can compromise.
Even though at present, none of the participants of the conflict considers the idea of reconciliation and peaceful coexistence as an option, it can be assumed that as time passes, the opponents will be able to consider the situation more critically and find the ways to compromise.
Abu-Nimer, M., Khoury, A. I., & Welty, E. (2007). Unity in diversity: Interfaith dialogue in the Middle East. Washington, DC: Institute of Peace Press.
Gilbert, M. (2005). The Routledge atlas of the Arab-Israeli conflict. New York, NY: Routledge.
Isacoff, J. B. (2006). Writing the Arab-Israeli conflict: Pragmatism and historical inquiry. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.
Kapitan, T. (1997). Philosophical perspectives on the Israeli-Palestine conflict. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.
Podeh, E., Kaufman, A., & Ma’oz, M. (2006). Arab-Jewish relations: From conflict to resolution? Essays in honor of Professor Moshe Ma’oz. Portland, OR: Sussex Academic Press.
Shoher, O. (2006). Samson blinded: A Machiavellian perspective of the Middle East conflict. New York, NY: Lulu.com.
Tessler, M. A. (1994). A history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.