Hey guys, so we’re talking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict today but before we jump in, I want to be clear about a few things: 1. This is a controversial issue, but for what it’s worth, I really don’t have a side that I’m on when it comes to this conflict. Frankly, I understand where both sides are coming from, but I also personally believe that both sides have done some things that are pretty messed up. 2. This is a short video and we won’t be able to cover every event that factors into this messy web of conflict. This issue will necessarily be way oversimplified, so check out the resources in the YouTube description to fill in some of the blanks. Let’s jump in.
While there has been at least a small Jewish presence in the Palestine region since ancient times, over the centuries many Jews were scattered into other regions of the world. But in the decades preceding World War I, a movement began among Jews known as “Zionism.” Zionism was all about Jews returning to their ancestral homeland, Israel, and establishing an independent Jewish state. Remember, the last time the Jews had been an independent nation was after the Maccabean revolt in 167 BC. By World War I, tens of thousands of Jews had immigrated to the Palestine region. Before World War I, the Palestine region was part of the Ottoman Empire until the British took control in 1917 during the war.
That same year, the British published something that Jews were quite excited about: The Balfour Declaration, which supported “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” But, remember that Jews were not immigrating to empty land. Under the Ottomans, Palestine had been inhabited largely by Muslim Arabs for a few hundred years. The Jews viewed this as a return to their ancestral homeland. But from the Arab perspective, the Jewish people were sweeping in and taking control of their Arab homeland. So, opposed to an independent Jewish state, Arab leaders vied for an independent Arab state.
After the war, the League of Nations mandated that the British should remain in control of Palestine until the people could govern themselves, and the League further supported the goal of creating a national home for Jews within Palestine.
Jewish immigration to Palestine continued and was heightened by WWII as Jews fled Nazism in Europe. Tensions between Jews and Arabs continued to escalate, resulting in various clashes over the years. The British tried to satisfy the Arabs by limiting Jewish immigration, but that only made the Jews mad at the British and led to a whole lot of illegal immigration.
The British mandate would end in 1948, but after the British would pull out of the region, what would happen to Palestine? The British left that decision up to the newly-founded United Nations. Towards the end of 1947, the UN decided to split up the land in Palestine, giving some land to an independent Jewish state, and some land to an independent Arab state, with Jerusalem as an international zone. It was a “two-state solution”. Jewish leaders accepted the plan. Arab leaders did not, feeling that giving up any amount of land to the colonizing Jews was unfair. Nonetheless, UN Resolution 181, passed. It immediately sparked a civil war between Jews and Arabs, while the British largely stood back and let the factions fight it out.
Just as the British mandate over Palestine expired in mid-May, 1948, Jewish leaders declared Israel to be an independent state, tentatively composed of the land allotted to them by the UN. As a result, the civil war expanded into an international war, as surrounding Arab nations declared war on Israel. Israel won, and ended up in possession of the land allotted to them by the UN, plus West Jerusalem and more than half of the land that had been allotted for the Arab state. The nation of Jordan came into power over the land known as the West Bank, and Egypt gained control of the Gaza Strip. Then, in 1967, the extremely short Six-Day War broke out between Israel and the surrounding Arab nations. Israel won again and gained control of the Sinai peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and East Jerusalem.
In 1979, Israel and Egypt agreed to a peace treaty. Egypt became the first Arab nation to officially recognize the state of Israel, and Israel gave them back the Sinai Peninsula but continued to control the Gaza Strip. In 2005, Israel pulled all of its citizens and military out of the Gaza Strip but retained control of the Strip’s borders and airspace. The Strip came under the control of a Palestinian political party known as Hamas. Various nations recognize Hamas as a terrorist organization while some others do not.
Meanwhile, after the Six-Day War, tensions continued to grow between Jews and Arabs as Israeli settlements began to increasingly pop up in the Israeli-occupied, but Arab-inhabited West Bank. Some nations and organizations believe these settlements are illegal under international law. Israel disagrees. In 1995 the Olso Accords divided the West Bank into Areas A, B, & C. The Palestinian Authority, currently controlled by Hamas’ rival political party, Fatah, governs A, the PA and Israel share control of B, and Israel controls C. It’s a very busy map.
And in the middle of all of this is the highly significant city, Jerusalem. In the UN’s original plan, Jerusalem was to belong to no one. But then Israel captured and effectively annexed West Jerusalem in 1948, and then later occupied East Jerusalem after the Six-Day War. Israel claims the entire city of Jerusalem as its capital city. This is, of course, contested by Palestinians.
Long story short: There are about a million different influencing factors that are all playing a part in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There have been wars and countless clashes, hundreds of thousands of refugees, Palestinian uprisings or Intifadas, and heavy-handed Israeli oversight. When you dive into both sides you’ll find an almost endless cycle of “Well, we did this because you did that.” “But we did that because you did this,” etc. There’s a lot of history and nuance embedded in almost every aspect of this topic. And please note that not all Israelis are Jews, and not all Palestinians are Muslim. While religion is one of many influencing factors in this conflict, generally speaking, it’s more about “who has the right to control what”. And there are both good and bad people on both sides. If you want to learn more, check out the resources in the YouTube description, and talk with your Israeli and Palestinian friends. Have a great day!
If you want to dive deeper into this subject, you’ll want to gain a rudimentary understanding of the following subjects and organizations (all of these articles come from the Encyclopedia Britannica, which, from what I’ve seen, seems to be a decently unbiased source):
- “History of Israel” : https://bit.ly/3HGKUbN
- “Palestine – World War I and after” : https://bit.ly/3qRRyp1
- “Arab-Israeli wars” : https://bit.ly/3EVoSQT
- “West Bank” : https://bit.ly/3mZlXkd
- “Gaza Strip” : https://bit.ly/3tfMeyL
- “Intifada” : https://bit.ly/3FXY2sB
- “Palestine Liberation Organization” : https://bit.ly/3pYNoN0
- “Palestinian Authority” : https://bit.ly/3G0q9rp
- “World Zionist Organization” : https://bit.ly/337SOMn
- “Fatah” : https://bit.ly/3FXFtVF
- “Hamas” : https://bit.ly/34qGCHp
- “Israel Defense Forces” : https://bit.ly/3q6i7rz
- “Haganah” : https://bit.ly/335DD6m
- “Irgun” : https://bit.ly/3ERZT0Y
- “The Oslo Accords” : https://bit.ly/3eQuUrD
~~“Can Israelis and Palestinians See Eye to Eye?” via Jubilee (Middle Ground series on YouTube): https://bit.ly/32VJn2F I really appreciated this video that sought to put real Israelis and real Palestinians in a room together to have a civil conversation about the issues.
~~“Israel’s Borders Explained in Maps” via BBC: https://bbc.in/3JGB3EK
~~“What are Area A, Area B, and Area C in the West Bank?” via Anera (refugee aid org.): https://bit.ly/3EZyvhF