By: Ashley Rose
The Israel-Palestine conflict has been a crisis for several decades now. From Israel declaring independence in 1948, to the Suez crisis of 1956 and on, there is a long line of history between Israelis and Palestinians that have inhabited the land. As new developments emerge, it is easy for misinformation or misrepresentations of ethnic groups to slip into the media, creating confusion and false information. This article is here to provide facts about Israel and Palestine and help you make sense of different news coverage you might see.
Who are the ethnic groups involved?
The ethnic groups involved in this conflict include the Israelis and the Palestinians. The Israeli community is predominantly Jewish, while the Palestinians are predominantly Arab people, with the majority tied to the Muslim faith tradition and a small portion tied to the Christian faith tradition.
What is a basic understanding of this conflict?
Much of the conflict revolves around the historical and religious value that the communities involved place on the land in question. For the Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities, Israel is considered sacredly religious land that is highlighted in religious texts. The Torah, Bible and Quran all reference Israel in different ways.
Israel was established as a country in 1948 and was intended as a Jewish settlement and refuge. However, the land it was established on was Historic Palestine, which had been inhabited by the Palestinian ethnic group (including various religions) for years. Before 1948, some Jewish people had settled in areas of the land, but in 1948, the establishment of Israel designated over half of the land, including the city of Jerusalem, for Israel. The Gaza strip and another portion of land remained Palestine, but the amount of land owned or occupied by Israel has increased over time.
In short, the Israeli government views all of Jerusalem and more of the territory as an ancestral homeland for Jewish people, while the Palestinian government views the land as their longstanding settlement which they first inhabited.
Much of the conflict arising between the primary ethnic groups is actually at the hands of the governments and political entities, and less between the entire Israeli or Palestinian communities. This notion is very important, as it reminds us that individual civilians are not responsible for the actions of the Israeli or Palestinian governments.
What is Hamas?
Hamas, whose full name is Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya, is Palestinian political and militant organization. While the Hamas are Palestinian entity, they do not have widespread support from the Palestinian community.
Hamas is dedicated to resisting the Israeli occupation within territories that they believe belong to the Palestinian people, specifically the Gaza strip and the West Bank. Instead of supporting the two-state solution that would allow both Israelis and Palestinians to occupy Israel in their own territories, Hamas is dedicated to fully encompassing the land under Islamic law. This dedication has ultimately led the organization to using forceful actions in hopes of gaining Israel land, including rocket attacks, suicide bombings and other acts of violence.
Hamas have also served as a social service for the Palestinian community as they’ve worked to boost the welfare of their community. This involves providing resources to benefit healthcare and education for Palestinians.
What is jihad?
Jihad is an Arabic word that can be used in two separate contexts. These different contexts have led to misrepresentation of the term.
In a religious context, “jihad” is often translated as “struggle” or “striving.” It specifically refers to many of the spiritual, moral and ethical struggles that Msulims engage in to live a life that is righteous in accordance with their Islamic faith. This can include resisting temptation, performing good deeds and more.
The second form of jihad refers to a military context, which is where much of the controversy for the term has developed. In this context, “jihad” is used as a justification for military-initiated violence and terrorism. This usage of jihad is very different from the original context within the religion of Islam, as the Quran does not call for military force to result in violence and terrorism.
What is Zionism?
The term Zionism is derived from Zion, which is a Biblical reference to Jerusalem. Jerusalem holds a central place in Jewish history and tradition. Zionism is considered to be a political and nationalist movement which originally emerged in the late 19th century. Zionism is based on the idea that Jewish individuals constitute a distinct national group with a shared history, culture and identity.
Individuals affiliated with Zionism believe in the historical and religious ties of the Jewish people to the land of Israel, which has played a central role in the movement’s ideology, increasing the conflict between Israelis and Palestinian people. The role of Zionists includes advocating for the return of Jewish people to the land of Israel.
Zionism has very minimal religious affiliation, as most of their ideology is secular and based around political entities. While it is in close association with the Jewish identity, it does not encompass the entirety of the Jewish religion.
How is Zionism different from Judaism?
Well there are limited overlaps between Zionism and Judaism, they are recognized as two fundamentally different organizations. Judaism is a religious faith and cultural identity, while Zionism is a political and nationalist movement specifically aimed at establishing the Jewish homeland in Israel.
While some Zionists practice Judaism, not all Zionists are religiously observant or consider themselves to be practicing Jews. Many religious or cultural Jews do not support the Zionist movement, which creates heavy controversy and differences between the two affiliations.
In any instance of international conflict, it is best to be educated on all aspects and considerations before formulating an individual opinion and publicizing this opinion to the public. Because of historical context, it can be very difficult to understand every layer to an international conflict, especially one as deep-rooted as the Israel Palestine conflict.
If you are interested in accessing more resources to enhance your educational understanding of this conflict you can refer to some of the sources below.
Council on foreign relations (cfr.org) provides a global conflict tracker to provide more historical context this article does not touch on.
Boston University (bu.edu) has many accessible education resources that range from academic articles to documentary style films to explain the historical context of this conflict.