The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a contemporary conflict that deserves to be included in a series of historical works entitled ‘Contesting the Past’. Although, amidst disputes, this war has been considered the single most bitterly contentious communal struggle on earth today. Any attempt to recount its main events in chronological order is bound to be contested by someone. This is despite the fact that the account may be neutral in intent, purged of any editorializing, and without passing judgment on motives, causes, or effects. There exists a wide range of ways of understanding and representing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
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These efforts, whether in the realms of politics, lobbying, media, academic, or the general public, are often reflections of the highly contentious conflict itself, including its bitterness and complexity. A familiar pattern is the presentation of one side’s ‘true’ account as against the other party’s lies, myths, or propaganda (Salinas 86). This essay documents the chronology of the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict through an overview of the major events that led to the feud. The scope of the essay also examines the justification of the rationales for violence cited by Israelis and Palestinians. The essay will also look at the validation of the deployment of violence by either side.
The modern conflict is usually linked to a number of events that took place in the mid twentieth century. It began on 29 November 1947, after the passing of a resolution to divide Palestine into two self-governing states-one Jewish, the other Arab (Milton-Edwards 144). Jerusalem was to be held under an international rule, with its inhabitants given the right to citizenships in either of the two formed states. Thirty three members of the UN agreed with the resolution while thirteen voted against, and ten abstained. Among those who abstained included Great Britain, which had ruled Palestine since the early 1920s.
To the Jews, this was the accomplishment of a longtime desire for national renaissance in the familial land of their birth. For Arabs, it was an absolute calamity, an act of disloyalty by the international community that gave up a vital part of the Arabs to invaders. Israelis celebrated in their cities’ streets. Contrary to this, violence broke in the Arab capitals. The latter marked the beginning of the Palestine war. This war is considered the most significant Middle Eastern armed conflict since the demolition of the Ottoman Empire. The war was divided into two stages (Gunderson 32).
The first phase commenced at the close of November 1947. This was exactly a day following the implementation of the Partition Resolution. The first phase of the war ended on mid May 1948. This was after the end of the British Mandate. The war was basically civilian in nature. It was conducted under surveillance and irregular involvement of the British Mandatory authorities. The second phase started on the night of 14 May 1948 (Milton-Edwards 150). This was shortly after the declaration of the state of Israel. It entailed a determined assault by the armed forces of a number of Arab countries such as Syria, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia, on the budding Jewish state. This phase came to completion towards the end of July 1949. This was after the signing of the last agreements between Israel and its Arab neighbors (Ashdown).
At the close of the war, Israel had lost a great number of its population. However, it suppressed the Arab effort to demolish it at its birth. In addition, it managed to affirm its power over greater jurisdictions than those initially allocated by the UN. On the other hand, the Palestinians were greatly affected. This is because a large number of their population became refugees. The political cost of this war is evident throughout the Middle East. Before the war calmed, a number of political figures were overthrown or assassinated. These include the president of Syria, King Abdallah of Jordan, and the Prime Ministers of Egypt and Lebanon. Up to date, inter-Arab politics are dominated by the problem of Palestine as the Arab states and the Palestinians seek to undo the consequences of the Palestine War and bring Israel’s downfall by military, political and economic means.
The Israel-Palestine feud is both a war of arms and words. Both parties have branded each other titles. The Palestinians refer to Israel as a ‘tyrant’ and ‘an occupier’. On the other hand, the Israelis usually brand Palestinians as ‘terrorists’. As such, stereotypes, prejudices, and hatred are widespread phenomena among Israelis and Palestinians. This has become a major barrier to peace. In my view, such labels are only harbored by extremists, who although much fewer in number, can carry the day because of their willingness to sacrifice life and plant terror (White 83). Although it is easy to brush the ‘name-calling’ aspect of the Israel-Palestine feud aside, the reality is that it does not exist in a vacuum. It is the result of a combination of socio-cultural influences with individual characteristics that become the fertile ground for extremists to emerge (Salinas 112).
These extremists have rejected the mainstream values and adopted willingness for personal sacrifice. This, coupled with the ability to cause great amounts of pain and misery to the out-group, has had a great influence on the course of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. One of the main factors affecting the emergence of extremism and radicalism in any society is related to the socio-cultural context of the particular country. A society in which bloodshed is seen as acceptable because of social circumstances or because of cultural values is much more likely to be fertile ground for radical, violent organizations. Unfortunately, this has been the case with Israelis and Palestinians. This does not imply that the use of violence by both sides is justified. It happens because the cultural values of both parties view such deeds as heroic and even adore those who sacrifice themselves in the course of the war (Wilkinson 23).
In conclusion, as the Israeli-Palestine conflict raged on, the international community did not remain numb on the feud. A number of interventions meant to bring peace in the two war-torn countries were initiated. Key among this was the Oslo Declaration of Principles of September 1993 (Gunderson 47).
This initiative came under severe terrorist attacks from the Palestine extremists. Israel responded by threatening to suspend implementation of the peace accords. Israel also went ahead to expand housing projects in east Jerusalem. This meant that Israel did not honor its promise of withdrawing her forces from the West Bank territory. Simply put, Israel was initiating a peace process in the daytime, and planning for agitation at nightfall. Such a hide-and-seek policy cannot work for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In order to solve the feud, there is a need for round-table discussions where both parties stick to their promises.
Gunderson, Cory Gideon. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict. New York: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003. Web.
Milton-Edwards, Beverley. Contemporary politics in the Middle East. London: Polity, 2006. Web.
Salinas, Moises. Planting seeds of hatred: the psychology of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. New York: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007. Web.
The battle of the Holy Land. Dir. Paddy Ashdown. 2007. Web.
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Wilkinson, Paul. Terrorism versus democrasy: the liberal state response. London: Taylor & Francis, 2006. Web.
White, Jonathan. Terrorism and Homeland Security. New York, MA: Cengage Learning, 2011. Web.