If you’re reading this article, you have access to internet, and if you have access to internet, you’ve surely seen thousands of posts on social media, and some might have been your own. But beyond the cacophony of trends and pseudo-morality, do you really know what the conflict is all about?
Saying one side is the bad guy is one of three things; at best, lazy or ignorant, and worst, malicious and politically motivated. And don’t worry, I won’t be so arrogant as to assume that I am somehow an expert in Isreali-Palestinian relations, but an attempt to give a brief objective summary might be of service to some.
1. Ottoman Empire defeated, Britain takes control of land
Following WWI, Britain took control of an area of land in the middle east, nowadays known as Palestine. In that area resided a community, which was majority Arab, with a Jewish minority.
2. The Mandate for Palestine
This is where trouble started brewing at an accelerated pace. At the end of the first world war, the League of Nations, which one can say was the equivalent of the United Nations of today, decided to give a mandate to Britain, so that it may administer the territories of Palestine, and create a “national home for the Jewish people”.
They were also given mandate to administer the territories of Transjordan, which would eventually become the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, aka Jordan.
How can a Jewish people which is in very significant minority, be given the entire land as their national home, by some foreign kingdom who took over a largely Arab community? Well, that’s what the Arab community thought. Not unlike most migration trends, over the next 20 years, more and more Jews came to Palestine, some because of the proclamation of what they long considered their ancestral home, and many more because of the persecution they faced in the European continent.
The more the general population grew, the more friction increased between the Palestinian Jews and the Palestinian Arabs, with violence frequently taking place, and British rule becoming less and less effective.
4. UN – “ezpz, split Palestine” (might not be an exact quote)
In 1947, the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine was taken to vote. It was a plan that proposed the creation of independent Arab and Jewish states, and a special regime for the city of Jerusalem. 33 countries voted in favour of the plan, with 13 against.
The plan would never be carried out. It was written up in close cooperation with Jewish organisations, so the Jewish Agency for Palestine approved of the plan, but Arab leaders and governments rejected it. Arabs argued that the plan violated the principles of national self determination in the UN Charter.
5. Though the plan was ‘easy’, its consequences would certainly not be breezy
Immediately following the adoption of the Partition Plan by the UN General Assembly, civil war broke out. Jewish and Arab forces clashed openly, as the British planned their withdrawal.
6. Jewish leaders create Israel, declare independence
And everyone lived happily ever after.
Not quite. As you can imagine, several Palestinians objected, and surrounding Arab countries now plunged into a war on the newly created Israel. So now, you had the armies of Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Syria all engaging Israeli troops – inside the area that up till then was known as ‘mandatory Palestine’.
7. War ends, winner takes all?
Well, as far as Israel was concerned, yes. By the time an armistice agreement was signed in 1949, Israel had not only retained its independence, but now occupied a territory almost 50% larger compared to that partition plan we mentioned earlier.
Remember when we said the Arabs didn’t agree with that partition plan? Imagine how they felt about having 50% less than that. But, maybe they’ll sleep on it and forget the whole ordeal right?
8. Haven’t mentioned the International Community in like 8 sentences, did they leave?
Of course not. In the third week of May, 1948, the Soviet Union, the United States, and several other countries officially recognised the State of Israel. A year later, Israel was admitted in the United Nations.
With their newly born state, almost a million Jews immigrated to Israel in the three years following 1948, where the majority of Arabs used to be. Many of these were Jews that were now expelled from their homes in Arab countries.
But of course, many hundreds of thousands of Arab Palestinians were also expelled from or ended up fleeing Israel (this is what you usually see in socially media referred to as ‘the ethnic displacement’, there is huge disagreement as to if this term is accurate or correct, so we won’t get into that, at least in this article).
lool, sit back down. Ok so, lets fast forward a bit, for the sake of keeping this article from becoming a newer testament – specifically to 1967.
Another war rages, Israel continues to expand its territories and now adds East Jerusalem, the infamous West Bank, and a significant part of the Syrian Golan Heights, Gaza and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula to its books.
Now, most of the Palestinian refugees we mentioned earlier, who were forced to flee Israel, happened to live in said Gaza, the West bank, and the territories of Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. It then pulled out of Gaza.
Israel claims it is entirely its capital, Palestinians claim East Jerusalem is the capital of a future Palestinian state. The United States, seldom one to stray from issues like these, backs Israel’s claim to the whole of Jerusalem.
In the past half a century in fact, Israel has proceeded to build thousands of settlements in these areas. Palestinians say they’re illegal, but the people keep coming.
11. And that kids, is how I met your… perpetual war
Lets see what we have now. Israel on one side. Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank on the other. Gaza is ruled by the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Israel and Egypt control Gaza’s borders, aiming to block weapons from getting to Hamas.
Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank are suffering because of the barrage of actions and restrictions being showered on them.
Israel says that this is only because doing otherwise is sitting back in the face of continued attacks on its lands – it is simply protecting itself.
Israel recently escalated threats to evict Palestinian families in East Jerusalem and acted that out – which was a major catalyst in recent conflicts.
So clearly, both sides, have their history and their hardships, so what on earth are we left with now?
12. Some get barraged with shells, we get barraged with questions
When will Palestinian refugees be allowed to settle in a land they can call their own? Will the pushed Jewish settlements on the West bank remain? Will there be any consequences for that? Should a Palestinian state be created? When? Where? How?
I hope that gives some food for thought, and remind you that this article is not meant to be an authoritative document, but simply a bitesize means of expanding your knowledge beyond fancy Instagram stories.
Written by: Anonymous