I’m so excited to finally introduce my dear friend, Aria Morton. A brilliant woman currently pursuing a masters degree in Communication with an emphasis in Nonprofit and Civic Leadership, Aria does it all from content writing for start-ups to marketing for a local recording studio. She has lived in Sudan, Egypt, and Kenya, worked with hundreds of international students, and traveled extensively so I can think of no one more knowledgable than she in terms of cross-cultural communications. Because Aria is such a talented writer, I, of course, had to utilize her skills for myself. You can find out more about her and read more of her work on her website.
For years, I have heard family, friends, and politicians advocating the necessity of supporting Israel. Recently, however, I have been made aware of many pro-Palestine groups whose existence have caused me to question my knowledge on the subject (hint: my knowledge on the subject is non-existent). This piece lays the groundwork for understanding the complex historical context that plays such a huge role in the current conflict. I gained valuable information from this piece and I hope you will too.
“Oh past, do not change us… the further away we move from you! Oh future: do not ask us: who are you? And what do you want from me? We too have no clue. Oh present, bear with us a little, we are no more than dreary passers by! Identity is our legacy and not our inheritance; our invention and not our memory.”
–Mohammed Darwish, Palestinian poet
There’s no easy to way to talk about it.
There’s not even a neutral way to talk about it, this conflict between Israel and Palestine.
What one person remembers as insurrection another will speak of as self-defense. What one group recounts as a catastrophe, another claims as a victory.
Needless to say, the emotions are deep and heated on any and all sides.
And what reason do I have to write about such a complex issue? What right? I have no ties to either group, in heritage or culture. So I probably have no right, and because of that, I write cautiously. Any additional insight or information is welcome in the conversation.
My reason for writing, though, is to issue an invitation–an invitation to suspend quick judgments and consider some additional information to what you may have heard in discussions or broadcasts pertaining to the Israel-Palestine conflict. An invitation to learn, draw your own conclusions, and then—whatever that conclusion—to love anyway. How and when you are able.
I’ll describe how this conflict began, some of the key terms and players, and what it means today. I’ve tried to be as neutral as possible in retelling both sides of the pivotal moments in this history, but one can never be completely objective. Allow the doubt about my objectivity that may arise in your mind to serve as motivation to conduct your own search
- Mahmoud Abbas – Current Palestinian President
- Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) – Organization focused on creating an independent Palestinian state
- Palestinian Authority – Autonomous interim governing body of Palestine
- Oslo Peace Accords – Peace talks between Israel and Palestine that began in 1993
- Palestine – Currently West Bank and Gaza regions
- Hamas – Islamist political group that opposes Israel and peace negotiations from Oslo (Islamic Resistance Movement)
- Binyamin Netanyahu – Current Israeli Prime Minister
And now the history…
The lands of Palestine and Israel were once part of the Ottoman Empire, prior to the First World War. Christians, Muslims, and Jews called the region home and were predominantly Arab in ethnicity. As persecution of Jews increased across Europe in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s, Jews began immigrating to the Ottoman Empire in response to the Zionist Movement, which advocated for an entirely Jewish state. Zionism was said to be the minority among Jews, but the movement gained momentum and the backing of Western powers throughout World Wars I and II. The British Empire won the ability to divide up the Ottoman Empire following the first war and took control of Palestine from 1918-1948, giving the land east of the Jordan River to form the current nation of Jordan. Jewish settlers from Europe continued immigrating to Palestine.
PROPOSING A TWO-STATE SOLUTION
In 1947, the United Nations first recommended a two-state solution to bring peace and autonomy to both Israeli and Palestinian populations in the Palestinian region. Zionists accepted the proposition but Palestinians rejected it, as they claimed it did not represent the current populations of Palestinians living among Israelis. However, in 1948, Israel was first recognized as an autonomous state, bringing about the exit of British forces and the displacement of 700,000 Palestinians to surrounding nations. Israelis began settling in the land. The Six Days War began in 1967, beginning as an Israeli effort to conquer surrounding land such as the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, the Palestinian Gaza strip and West Bank. Palestinians declared the effort a violation of international law but eventually, negotiations brought about their surrender of some of that land.
The Oslo Peace Accords of 1993 were significant in that both Palestine and Israel recognized the existence of the other for the first time. Israel granted Palestine some autonomy and Palestine gave up some of its territory. The peace process stalled afterwards, but in 1997, Prime Minister Netanyahu returned 80% of the region of Hebron to Palestine and agreed to further withdrawals in the Wye River Memorandum of 1998. The next Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, resumed peace talks with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 2000, but the nations have yet to reach an agreement. Palestinians want 100% of the West Bank and Gaza returned to them (as it comprises only 22% of their original land), but Israel is willing to give up on 95%. In October of 200, U.S. President Bill Clinton presided over a summit during which attendees called for a cease-fire; the cease-fire did not last.
THE PEACE PROCESS TODAY
Following the summit, the conflict between the states continued to increase in direct violence from both sides, and an agreement has yet to be formed. Some of the critical disagreements are on the division of Jerusalem, the housing of refugees, and the division of land. The EU, UN, US, and Russia proposed the Road Map to Peace in 2003, which articulated stipulations and conditions for a two-state agreement. Both the PA and Israel accepted the Road Map, but each included conditions that have yet to be agreed upon.
Now you know a TINY bit more about the conflict and how it originated. There is much, much more history to this issue than could be included in one post, but I hope that this gave you at least a bit more context as to why Palestine and Israel show up in the news periodically. Automatically presuming innocence for either side is faulty, so taking time to understand the history as told by both sides can assist in developing an accurate picture of the conflict. And an accurate understanding can provide more meaningful insight in to the path to peace.
Whatever your view on this issue, as Preemptive Love Coalition courageously charges,
“Yes, we all have our own politics. Yes, we have our own religion. Love anyway. Step out across enemy lines and embrace conflict rather than run. Your love has the ability to transcend guilt, shame, and indifference. Wrap your arms around those you fear, and invite others to do the same.”
- Quartet Roadmap to Israeli-Palestinian Peace
- PBS Point of View Document