History and Resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Much of humanity is sharply divided and in conflict, but the worst divisions and conflicts are, ironically, over religion, and some of the most offensive people claim that God is on their side.
That is a big problem in America too, but it’s bigger in the Mid-East because even though most people there are humble and gentle and want mutual respect and peaceful coexistence, some people are very proud and militant and are driven by the belief that they must fight and win a “holy war.”
They have their reasons, of course, but now we need to assess the situation reasonably because lasting peace will not be "won" by waging war. Peace must be made by confessing offenses, reconciling differences, and making amends.
Putting It In a Historical Perspective
We should consider that the history of the region is marked by various sporadic foreign invasions and occupations at various times, perhaps most notably by the ancient Romans, the Ottoman Turks, and then the British from 1917 to 1948 when the new state of Israel was established.
That’s when the stage was set for the conflict ever since, because the British, in concert with the U.S. and other influential members of the United Nations, decided to dismantle and divide Palestine, with big sections given to Jordan, Egypt, and the new state of Israel (see maps). And that triggered a flood of immigration of European and American Jews to the region, which displaced many Palestinians and made them refugees.
Now most people in the world can see how and why a seed of inevitable resentment and discord was planted in 1948. But the reason the U.N. did that was because most people in Europe and America thought it was a good idea. After all, there was tremendous sympathy for the Jewish people after the world found out about the horrible Nazi concentration camps and death camps in Germany.
However, the real driving cause was because the European Jewish Zionist movement had grown large and influential, and its leaders had suggested that a new State of Israel could be a Western pillar of strategic defense against Soviet incursion into the Mid-East. And the American government liked that idea.
Now, however, we need to consider the full history of Palestine and Israel, because the Zionist cause has proven problematic, to say the least. That's why we need to examine its merits as well as its flaws in logic. And we need to recognize that the actual intent and will of God is in the interests and for the benefit of all nations in the world.
We will not have peace as long as proud and militant Zionist hardliners in Israel and America refuse to acknowledge that the Palestinians and other Muslims and Arabs have legitimate grievances, nor will we have peace as long as terribly misguided radical Muslims wage a false Jihad by committing offensive, indiscriminate mass murder.
We must deal with both problems. If the world community and the United Nations continues to simply stand by and watch, there will be a never-ending cycle of retaliation after retaliation, with much more violence, death and destruction.
Above all, we must realize the true purpose of religion, because the worst troublemakers use religion to justify themselves. And they are "fundamentalist" Jews, Christians and Muslims who simply do not understand that the God of Abraham, Jesus and Muhammad is the same God. Instead, they have been led to believe that "their" God is on their side, that it is "God’s will" and the fulfillment of prophecy that they fight their "holy war," and that their religion will reign supreme over the world.
That is not true. It is false doctrine based on misunderstanding of divine intent, created and maintained by patriarchs who want to rule in the name of God and religion.
Therefore it is time to understand that God does not cause war and killing, and even though there have been justifiable wars against tyrannical regimes, most wars have been caused by Man’s vain folly and desire to rule over others of different race, religion, or nationality.
Furthermore, even under secular laws of Man, killing could be deemed justifiable only in self-defense, as a last resort, only when all other means of stopping a deadly attack are exhausted, and only when it is in actually to protect people’s lives from those who are killing. Therefore, any deadly "preemptive" attack, offensive attack, indiscriminate attack, or false "Jihad," perpetrated while claiming that it is in "self-defense," is self-serving, false justification and rationalization.
The Prophets Foresaw It
The prophets of many religions foresaw and foretold that there would be all the conflict, division, war, and tribulation. And sure enough, particularly between 1914 and 2011 as the end of this age has been drawing ever nearer, we’ve had many wars. However, what the prophets foresaw and foretold has essentially been fulfilled.
What we need now is to make peace, because peace will not be "won." Peace must be made, by addressing the grievances of all concerned, confessing our offenses, reconciling our differences, and making amends.
That goes for all sides — Israelis, Americans, British, Muslims from various countries, and all others who wage war and kill their fellow man.
Therefore it is time to understand that the prophets not only foresaw the wars. They also foresaw that the time would come when judgment would be delivered, which guides you to the real truth and shows you things to come.
But this judgment cannot be lukewarm. It does not appease the rich and powerful, nor does it favor one religion or one nation or one people over others. And when this judgment is finally recognized and accepted by enough people, it will put an end to the wars by shattering the image of those who claim to be religious even though they are driven by malice, hate, bigotry, and lust for worldly power and domain.
The Roots of the Present Conflict
A great deal of American financial, material, military, and moral support has been provided to the Israelis ever since 1948 when the modern State of Israel was established. In fact, it could be said that without the billions of dollars per year that America has been giving and still gives to Israel, there may not have been, or may not still be, a State of Israel.
That is why Americans now need to know exactly what that support has meant, and what its impact and consequences have been to the Palestinians and other Arabs. In fact, Americans need to be more aware of the Palestinian side of the story. Then Americans will finally understand why so many Palestinians and Arabs have grown to hate or resent both America and Israel, because they have valid reasons and grievances.
The Israeli side of the story is, of course, very different, and there are very good reasons for that as well. Israeli suffering at the hands of Palestinian terrorists is obviously the biggest part of it, but most Americans know about that. From the coverage of the war in 1967, to the Palestinian terrorist killing of 11 Israeli athletes during the 1972 Olympics in Munich, to the Yom Kippur War in 1973, all the way to the latest Palestinian attacks against Israel, Americans have been very informed.
However, even though the American media is occasionally a little better at telling both sides of the story, Americans are generally still not very informed about the grievances or the motivation of the Palestinians.
America has been and is pro-Israel for many good reasons. The Jewish people are very much a part of Western civilization. After all, Jewish Americans originally immigrated from Western Europe to America, and then many immigrated from Europe and America to modern Israel. Besides that, the Jewish people have contributed a great deal to Western civilization, especially in science, medicine, entertainment, comedy, music, business, banking and merchandising. Many Jews are renowned and greatly respected and appreciated all over the world. In fact, the world is in certain respects a better place because of the greatness of the Jewish people.
However, some Jews, like some of the people in other races and religions, are not great, and the Israeli government has at times been terrible. In fact, it is often terrible in terms of its use of deadly military force and abuse of power, and that’s been true since 1948 when the modern State of Israel was officially authorized by the United Nations.
In May 1948, The Declaration of the Establishment of Israel stated: "On the day of the termination of the British mandate and on the strength of the United Nations General Assembly declare The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel. It will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion. It will guarantee freedom of religion [and] conscience and will be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations."
However, the government of Israel has violated U.N. Charter and Resolutions, ignored the vision of the prophets, and ignored social and political rights of inhabitants because of race and religion.
It is very telling that David Ben-Gurion, modern Israel’s first Prime Minister, is quoted as having said: "Why should the Arabs make peace? If I were an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, it's true, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been antisemitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that? They may perhaps forget in one or two generations' time, but for the moment there is no chance. So, it's simple: we have to stay strong and maintain a powerful army. Our whole policy is there. Otherwise the Arabs will wipe us out."
Ben-Gurion admitted that the Palestinians had their land taken from them. But he was ignorant of the fact that the God of Islam is also the God of Israel. In fact, the Qur'an commands Muslims to speak with great courtesy to Jews and Christians, because they "all believe in the same God." (Qur’an 29:46.)
Of course, radical Muslim extremists seem to be ignorant of that fact as well, but we must understand why they have become radicalized.
Ben-Gurion set the tone for the Israeli Zionist cause, being ignorant of Islam and simply ignoring Palestinian human rights. He also used inflammatory rhetoric, as have many right-wing Israeli hardliners ever since, insisting that they have a "divine right of return," that military force and an iron fist was the only thing Palestinians would respect.
However, by their "Zionist" logic, Americans would have to give all the land back to the Native American Indians, as their prophets foretold.
Granted, Jews have a right to live where they wish, but, like anyone else in the world, they must follow accepted procedures to do that and buy land that is for sale. Israeli Jews have not done that, which is why the U.S. and Israel have erred ever since 1948, and Israel’s iniquity has only gotten worse and worse, clinging to erroneous, flawed logic based on a false interpretation of prophecies.
Some More Specific History
Today Palestinians are called Palestinians because their homeland had been known as Palestine prior to 1948. The use of the name "Palestine" in English became common after the European Renaissance, and the name was officially revived and used again prior to and after World War One.
In 1914, when the British military was planning to try to defeat and remove the Muslim Ottoman Empire’s forces from Palestine, two Russian Jewish Zionists initiated the idea of forming a European Jewish military unit that would be part of the effort. By 1915 the unit grew as Jews from Egypt joined in that effort. And Jewish Zionists around the world saw it as an opportunity to promote the idea of a modern Jewish State.
Ironically, Arab Palestinians were instrumental in the war against the Ottomans, though unaware of the Zionist plan. The Arab Palestinian forces were organized by a British Army officer, T. E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, renowned for his role during the Arab Revolt against Ottoman rule. And by the time World War One ended in 1918, the Ottoman Turks were out of Palestine, in large part due to Arab efforts. In fact, commanding British General Allenby praised the chief Arab leader for his role in the victory. He wrote: "I send your Highness congratulations upon the great achievement of your gallant troops... Thanks to our combined efforts, the Ottoman army is everywhere in full retreat."
The British then occupied Palestine, until 1948. That, again, was when the new State of Israel was established with approval of the United Nations, and more than a million Palestinians (according to their account) were displaced and made refugees.
Ever since then the dislocated Palestinian refugees have suffered in various ways, and many of the Palestinians who managed to keep their homes in Israel by becoming Israeli citizens say they don't have it too much better. They say they have been treated as second-class citizens in their own home land, and do not have rights equal to the Jewish Israelis.
There has been a long history of dislocation, discrimination, oppression and persecution against Palestinians which goes back all the way to 1917. It expanded and got worse in 1948, and it has continued ever since.
For many decades Palestinian land, communities and neighborhoods have been occupied and ruled by occupying Israeli military forces. Palestinians have been incarcerated, tortured, killed and assassinated. Israelis have destroyed Palestinian homes, orchards, and other property. Palestinians have had practically no say about it, no rights, and no legal recourse, which has inevitably provoked outrage. But Americans haven't heard much about why, until the atrocities became so blatant that they couldn't be ignored.
This has astounded many people in the world, considering that the history of the Jews is one of being the victims of persecution themselves, especially at the hands of the Nazis in Germany before and during World War II. Even Jews in America suffered persecution by Nazi sympathizers in America while Hitler was rising to power, and white American racists went to the extent of putting signs in their store fronts that said: "Niggers and Jews Not Allowed." Many American Jews found they had to change their last names to English-American-sounding names to avoid being discriminated against, and they did everything they could to be assimilated into American society.
However, even though most Israeli Jews are good people, it shouldn't surprise us that some people who have been persecuted become persecutors. Many people who were persecuted become persecutors, and many do it justifying themselves with religion.
Remember, one of America's greatest founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, commented on that in an essay on "Toleration" in which he pointed out persecution of and by Christians. He wrote: "If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The original Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practiced it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England blamed persecution in the Roman church, but practiced it upon the Puritans. [The Puritans] found it wrong in the Bishops of the Church of England, but fell into the same practice themselves in New England [in America]."
Since 1948, hard-line Zionist Israeli Jews have also become persecutors. But, they feel that any and all use of armed force, violence, death, destruction and even illegal covert operations and assassinations are justified and necessary to control Palestinians and exact revenge on those who may have attacked, or may attack, Israelis.
As Palestinians see it, the Israelis created the problem in the first place. And while Israelis claim to act only in "self-defense," that is not true. They have often over-reacted and gone way beyond "an eye for an eye" retaliation when attacked by those they have offended. They have resorted to offensive invasions and occupation, not only of Palestinian lands in Gaza and the West Bank, but also of their neighbor Lebanon, and they have destroyed much of Lebanon's infrastructure more than once.
To the Israelis, a legitimate target is any location and any dwelling or any vehicle in any country that may contain a suspected terrorist. The Israeli government has acted as if any collateral damage or death of innocent men, women and children, and any destruction of homes and buildings and infrastructure, is a legitimate consequence of the "war on terrorism." But to Palestinians, Israelis are the terrorists.
The Israelis feel it is their "God-given right," and they feel it is a fight that they must win at any cost. But, they misunderstand and distort prophecy to suit their own purposes.
The idea of Jewish "return" (called Zionism) stems from a story about many of their distant Jewish ancestors being forced to leave their ancient homeland (Palestine) almost two thousand years ago in the great "Diaspora" (dispersion) beginning not long after the death of Jesus and following a crushing Roman response to a series of Jewish uprisings against Roman imperialism and occupation.
That, so the story goes, was when many Jews were forced to leave Palestine and scattered to various European countries. However, most people do not know the full story, because the Jewish revolt never would have happened, and the Diaspora never would have happened, if the Jewish people had followed the teachings of the "House of Hillel" rather than of the "House of Shammai." The teachings of Hillel the Elder preceded those of Jesus but were similar in that they were based on peaceful coexistence and non-violence, while Shammai was a militant zealot and unfortunately appealed to Jewish pride, prejudice and emotions and caused the violence, Jewish defeat, and the Diaspora.
Even so, some Israeli scholars have recently submitted that most Jews actually remained in the area, even though they were reduced to the status of a subject people in Palestine, which would be fought over and ruled in turn by the Romans, Byzantines, Persians, Arabs, Christian Crusaders, Ottoman Turks, and British.
Historians tell us that the modern Zionist movement was initiated by German and Austrian Jews, some of whom were bankers, back in the 1800s. Some European Jews then immigrated to Palestine, and it increased in 1917 near the end of World War I. That's when it really began to negatively affect the Palestinians. In fact, that's when certain things happened that have bothered Palestinians ever since.
The events leading up to it were portrayed in the great classic movie, Lawrence of Arabia. It showed how the Palestinians, under Lawrence's leadership, ended the Turkish occupation and rule. But while the the Palestinians thought they were fighting for their homeland, the British then established their own rule over Palestine, ignoring Lawrence's alliance with the Palestinians. Not only that, the British then began to lend support to a very small population of Jews, most of whom had immigrated to Palestine from Europe. And in 1920 the British Government mandated specific borders for Palestine.
That was a crucial turn of events, because it opened the door wide to more Jewish immigration from Europe and America, and it naturally caused the Palestinians to feel deeply betrayed.
It added further insult to injury when the British then gave official recognition to the Jewish Zionist cause. That was in the Balfour Declaration, which served to legitimize the idea of creating a new Jewish State and officially allowed increased Jewish immigration.
That further betrayed the Palestinians and the betrayal didn't stop there, because that declaration contained provisions that were then not honored by the British or the Israelis. In fact, that has been a continuing betrayal, because those provisions were supposed to protect Palestinian rights, stipulating that "nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil or religious rights of non-Jewish communities in Palestine."
Considering that, the Palestinians have felt betrayed, and they feel that the modern State of Israel is built upon a foundation that was undermined and damaged by the Israelis themselves, because the Israelis have not honored that declaration, or subsequent declarations and resolutions by the United Nations.
As the Palestinians see it, the British takeover of Palestine was unfair. The Palestinians feel that the Balfour Declaration was unfair, and that the Israeli treatment of Palestinians was and has been in defiance and non-compliance with the one part of that declaration intended to protect Palestinian civil rights. And they feel that the ultimate unfairness has been the continual Jewish takeover and occupation of Palestinian homes and land, which had increased since 1917, was greatly expanded in 1948 when the modern State of Israel was established, and has continued ever since.
The Palestinians also feel they’ve been betrayed by the Americans, who have funded, supported, and armed the Israelis ever since 1948. That is a significant part of the reason for Palestinian resentment, discontent, and anger toward Israel, England, and the United States.
That resentment is very understandable, especially when you consider the long range impact that British-Israeli-American actions have had on Palestinians. Their natural and justifiable claims to their homeland have been denied, and their plight has increased commensurate to the ever-increasing number of arriving Jewish immigrants ever since 1917.
Hundreds of thousands of Jews immigrated from Europe and America to Palestine following the Balfour Declaration of 1917. In 1937 the European Jewish Zionists organized further immigration of Jews. Another 12,000 arrived before World War II, and the tide increased until 1939, when Britain finally tried to limit the Jewish immigration and stated officially that it was not England's aim, after all, to turn Palestine into a Jewish state. But immigration continued anyway, illegally, and the consequence was that gradually, as more and more Jews moved in, more and more Palestinians were dislocated, removed from their homes, and forced to become refugees.
Not too much later, at the end of the World War II, Jewish survivors of the Holocaust in Germany caused pressure on Britain to allow even more Jewish immigration to Palestine. Then, to add to the pressure, the United States stepped in and strongly backed that campaign. The British tried to prevent more immigration, so Jewish Zionists launched a terror campaign in Palestine against occupying British troops. The situation became so bad that in 1947 the United Nations recommended partitioning Palestine into two separate states. That, however, triggered a civil war between the Palestinians and the Jews, and when the British finally withdrew in 1948 when the new State of Israel was established, the dispute was still unresolved and still raging.
That war has been raging sporadically ever since 1948 when the new State of Israel was established. But all the battles have been won militarily by the Israelis, since they have been backed and supported by American wealth and armed with modern American weapons, including jet fighter planes, helicopter gun ships, and tanks. In fact, it is because of that American support and military capability that Israelis have been able to capture a lot more land and gain military control over the whole area during the last 64 years.
Many Americans have approved this all along, but there’s not much attention paid to why. In 1948 the justification was partly sympathy toward the Jews, but it was mainly to “contain the spread of Communism by the Soviet Union.” However, that’s long since been irrelevant. And that was an ostensible reason anyway. The real reason is that the establishment of the state of Israel is based on biblical grounds agreed upon by Christian Zionists, and that violates the spirit if not the exact letter of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
That decision has been extremely problematic, to say the least, and its consequences have been much conflict, violence, death, and destruction.
For example, in 1967 a "six day war" broke out between Israel and Egypt, and soon Jordan, Syria, and Iraq were also involved. However, the Israelis were so heavily armed by that point that they were able to take advantage of the opportunity and capture all of the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank in a matter of days. Then Israel turned to the Syrian front, stormed the Golan Heights, and then declared all of Jerusalem united under Israel.
Following the War of 1967, Israel gained increased U.S. foreign aid (financial and military gifts), because the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and other pro-Israeli lobby agencies and political action committees began their ascent to power in shaping U.S. foreign policy. AIPAC furthered the idea that Israel was the "western pillar of strategic defense against Soviet incursion" into the Middle East — even more justification for arming Israel to the teeth.
That caused enormous frustration for all Muslims and other Arabs, especially Palestinians, and that frustration and outrage manifested in some horrible ways. In 1972 during the Munich Olympic Games, a Palestinian guerrilla group killed two Israelis and took nine hostages. This was one of the earliest signs of coming terrorist activity by those who felt they had no choice but to resort to guerilla operations in the face of Israeli (American) military might. And this feeling only increased in 1973, because after Egypt and Syria launched a military offensive to try to take back some of the Israeli land grabs, Israeli forces quickly inflicted crushing defeats to both Egyptian and Syrian forces in what is now known as the Yom Kippur War.
Palestinians have fought back whenever and however they could. But they couldn't possibly fight conventionally against such overwhelming odds. That's why they have been so frustrated and indignant, and why some of them have resorted to (and stooped to) terrorist tactics. That is certainly not to excuse or condone it, because there is absolutely no excuse for indiscriminately killing and mass murder of innocent civilians and women and children. That is inexcusable and utterly despicable.
On the other hand, it is a little more understandable if you understand the history and put yourself in the shoes of Palestinians. As one thwarted and captured Palestinian who had intended to be a suicide bomber has said, "After my whole family was killed by the Israelis, I only wanted to die and take as many Israelis as possible with me." While we cannot and must not condone what he intended to do, we can at least understand how people are reduced to such a miserable, hopeless, and furious state of mind.
We should remember that in 1977, U.S. President Carter stated: "The Palestinians deserve a right to their homeland." But, unfortunately, the American Zionist Christian Right and the Israeli Zionist lobby countered and responded with full page ads stating: "The time has come for evangelical Christians to affirm their belief in biblical prophecy and Israel’s divine right to the land...and affirm our belief in the Promised Land to the Jewish people."
To compound the problem, the Reagan Administration hosted a series of seminars for the Israeli Zionist lobby and Zionist Christian Right. This was when Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Hal Lindsay and their so-called "Moral Majority" leaders infiltrated the office of the U.S. President, in violation of the intent of the Founding Fathers. And Falwell even received a Lear Jet from the Israeli government for his personal travel. Since then, other leaders of the America Christian Right, like Franklin Graham and James Hagee, have not merely defended the Israelis, but also demonized Muslims, calling Islam a "wicked religion" and adding fuel to the fire.
That is how politicized the "religious" issues have become, so it's time to examine them.
(Continued at The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Part 2, which discussed the rationale for the idea of the "Jewish right of return," why things have kept getting worse, and when and how things will change.)