The Middle East conflict between Israel and the Arab state has been in the forefront of international news for years. However, despite the recent focus on the Middle East, statistics show that conflict has been gradually subsiding since the 1970’s. Throughout this essay I endeavor to clearly analyze the factors contributing the Arab-Israeli conflict and how they might be resolved. The holy city of Jerusalem, is often caught in the middle of this conflict. Considered a city with deep historical and religious significance to many cultures and religions, the question remains, who should claim Jerusalem as their own?
The Arab nations are represented by twenty one different countries, with only one Jewish nation of Israel (" Israel Science and Technology Directory.") The combined territories of Arab countries are vastly greater than Israel in both size and population. However Israel has a greater average GDP, despite the Arab’s oil resources (" Israel Science and Technology Directory.").
The conflicts between these two states have been plentiful. However, the four most prominent conflicts includes: the1948 War of Independence, the 1956 Sinai War, the1967 Six Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War (" Israel Science and Technology Directory."). Israel was forced to defend itself in each conflict. Even though they succeeded in protecting their affairs, they withdrew from areas it captured. Israel has been determined to reach a peace agreement, yet the conflicts persist. An anonymous person summarized the conflict by saying, “If the Arabs (Moslems) put down their weapons today there would be no more violence. If the Israelis put down their weapons today there would be no more Israel.” (" Israel Science and Technology Directory.")
Regional Factors Affecting Jerusalem
The Arab states eventually gained a stronger sense of individual interests in this city. Pan-Arab nationalism proved dangerous with radical Islamic movements (Ruben ). Dissention between Iran and Iraq, as well as the seizure of Kuwait, provided new means of challenges to Arab rulers for control (Strong, 2008). Regional stability in Jerusalem was threatened and preserving their independence, power, and economy became more immediate concerns. Arab countries were encouraged to care for their poor population instead of spending their resources on warfare and the development of terrorist groups (Strong, 2008). Violence has increased around Gaza, causing in increase of its job creating mass unemployment (Aldag ). Entire regions are sealed off for security purposes and fear of terrorism.
Cultural Differences in Jerusalem
The concept of the Promised Land is an issue of contention between Israel and Arab states. According to Muslims, the Quran accords them the right to own the Promised Land, while the Israelites claim that the Bible promised them the land of Canaan. The Arab states have become more aware of the intention of the Zionists. Therefore, there is a great resistance to migration of Jews and the continued intention to buy land. The main intention of the opposition is the essence that the immigration possess imminent and real danger to the Arab community.
In addition, the Arab-Israel war has decreased the move to seek for legitimacy and room to maneuver in the entire world. The insecurity that is caused by the war has made these nations unable to build its relations with their neighbors, especially on issues of trade, and foreign policy. The effects of the Arab-Israel war are far much reaching since it has affected various nations in the globe. These nations include Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Syria, as well as the United States. In the Palestine, the West bank has been affected by the conflict (Segal). In general perspective, the Arab-Israel conflicts have affected this nation politically, economically, and socially. It is evident that, if this conflict is not solved the Arab-Israel war can take decades to end. The Palestinians (PLO) depended on the Arab’s diplomatic, financial, and military support to survive the fight against Israel. With their determination to destroy Israel, the PLO Charter's claimed that it had a right to demand the Arab states' help. This expectation was often unfounded.
Israel became a nation about two thousand years before the rise of Islam. Modern day Israel shares the same language and culture based on Jewish tradition (" Israel Science and Technology Directory.") Jews have had an important presence for well over three thousand years (Segal). However after the Romans overtook Jerusalem about two thousand years ago, those of Jewish faith were exiled to Diaspora (" Israel Science and Technology Directory."). A group called the haganah was formed as an underground military organization of the yishuv in Eretz Yisrael from 1920 to 1948.
Religious strife continues to be the driving factor between the states of the Arabs and Palestine. Jews desperately wished to return to Israel (Galloay). The mass immigration of Jews back to Israel from the Arab countries began to slowly take place, with Jews finally re-establishing their place within their homeland of Israel (" Israel Science and Technology Directory."). In 1948, Jews reestablished their sovereignty over their ancient homeland with the establishment of the modern State of Israel (" Israel Science and Technology Directory.").
Rumors persisted that Jews came from Judea not Palestine (Bishara). There is nothing that makes Palestinian culture distinct from that of the Arabs in the area. Palestinians are Arabs indistinguishable from Arabs throughout the Middle East (" Israel Science and Technology Directory."). Palestine includes Israel and Jordan. Before World War I, the Middle East had been under the control of the Ottoman Empire for close to five hundred years. In 1923 an agreement transferred claims of Palestine to Britain who in turn transferred claims to Transjordan (" Israel Science and Technology Directory.").
The Balfour agreement established Palestine as the national home for the Jewish people. In 1947 the remaining land was into two states, a second Arab state, Palestine, and Israel until 1967 when it was combined into the modern State of Israel. Jerusalem has always remained the Jewish capital (Bishara).
The cultural differences served to create a perfect situation for radical motives. Many citizens decide to take matters in their own hands with radical action. Inequality of religion, from the Arab Israeli conflict, helped shape the Zionist movement (" Israel Science and Technology Directory.") When the Zionist and Jewish set goals of making an exclusively Jewish state, differences were exploited and created inequality to beget conflict and war (Ruben ). Islamic radical groups in Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon, have a growing sponsorship from Syria and Iran. Islamic Jihad has several independent actions with links to Libya, Syria, Sudan, and Iran (Strong, 2008). Arafat has been held responsible for locating Hamas leaders, who initiate suicide bombings and kidnappings, leading to increased political pressure on Palestine to control civilian actions while trying to instigate the process towards an independent Palestinian state (Ruben ).
Literature about the Arab-Israeli Conflict
With such a long history of strife, there have been books from many points of view over the years. Perhaps one of the most enlightening is Nahum Sokolow's “History of Zionism, 1600-1918”. His work was a classic illustration of how Zionism evolved from a historical perspective. I was interested to learn that Zionism predated the conflict in Jerusalem (Stein 1450-1465). He relates the necessity for the Jewish to fulfill their dream to return to their exiled ancestral land (Sokolow ).
Possible Solutions to this Question
In my opinion, both sides need to re-evaluate their negotiation demands. It is unlikely that either will meet overly aggressive demands. More realistic options are needed so that both can benefit from the peace process. Radical groups also need to be eliminated and proper governmental infrastructures need to be firmly in place (Strong). Had a better system existed from the beginning perhaps these conflicts would not have gotten so out of hand. The verbal criticizing and condemning of policy while trying to persuade the United States and Europe to coerce Israel into making concessions needs to end (Ruben ). Both sides want to force the other into peace instead of backing down themselves. Until peace is achieved the freeze of states can’t safely be lifted inhibiting economic trade. The collapsed economic boycott against Israel cannot be reinstated without hurting the investment climate in the Arab world as well. This view reflects historic lessons Mubarak mentioned in his speech to the 1985 Arab summit: "God has granted us a mind with which to think. We fought for many years, but where did we get? I am therefore not ready to take more risksWars have generally not solved any problem." (Ruben ).
In conclusion, it is crucial for all the responsible stakeholders to solve the causes of the conflict. The conflicts to be addressed include hallowed land, Zionism, Jewish land Acquisition, the rejection of Israel, as well as Palestinian exodus. Some of the cause dates back to the creation story in the Bible and Quran, making the conflict one of the controversies in the world.
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