Monday, December 29, 2008

Israel and Gaza at War

Alright, so here we go. Unless you’ve been living in a hole lately you should be aware that Israel and Palestine have resumed fighting in Gaza. Now, before I get fully into this post I feel that’s it’s necessary to post several warnings to anyone who chooses to read this.
1. I have friends on both sides of this conflict, Jewish and Arab alike, I love you all but I’m sure that some of what I may say will piss you off. Sorry. I’m going to say it anyway. For those who know me, I would hope that you would feel free to express your views on this matter knowing that I fully respect your thoughts and opinions. That does not mean that my views will change. It does mean that I am willing to hear what you have to say. For anyone else who wishes to comment please know this; your opinions will be equally respected, acknowledged, and considered providing they are given with dignity and tact, and are free from bigoted, slanderous, or hateful remarks.
2. My primary interest in this conflict is humanitarian, not political, but I intend to cover diverse subject matter. This means that this post will be VERY long. I will be subdividing it into the following topics: The history of the conflict; The terrorist perspective; The political perspective; The humanitarian perspective
3. Lastly, some of the discussion and many of the pictures may be difficult for some people to deal with. Please know that my only intent is to draw attention to the serious nature of this conflict in hopes that we may soon see an end to a most horrific situation.

The History of the Conflict:

Prior to WWI the Middle East was under Ottoman rule. At the onset of the war Turkey sided with Germany. The British government persuaded the other Arab nations to fight against Turkey by promising them independent rule after the war. With the aid of the Arab nations Palestine was conquered.

Unbeknownst to the Arab nations, however, Britain had also made two other agreements which were contradictory to the agreement made with the Arab nations. First was the Sykes-Picot Agreement made with France. This agreement stated that Lebanon and Syria would fall to France as a zone of influence, while Jordan and Iraq would be dominated by British influence. Palestine was to become internationalized. The second agreement was made between Britain and the Zionist congress. In the Balfour Declaration of 1917 Britain gave Palestine to the Zionists as a Jewish national home. Despite the fact that there were over half a million Palestinians living in Palestine at the time, a slogan stating “A land without people for a people without land” was widely circulated as a means of drawing in a new Jewish population to Palestine. After WWI a large population of Jewish people began migrating to Palestine under the blessings of Britain and the League of Nations in accordance to the Balfour Declaration.

In 1919 the Palestinian people made an official objection to the Balfour Agreement during their first national conference. But by 1920 Britain had been given “official” rule over Palestine according to a mandate declared at the San Remo Conference. By 1922 attacks on the Jewish population in Palestine were increasing. The Palestinians feared the next step beyond the migration, which was declaring Palestine a Jewish state.

In 1936 Palestinians organized a strike to protest the confiscation of land that was taking place. Palestinians were being removed from their homes, some of which had been in their families for generations, and the land was given to Jewish settlers. In 1937 the Peel Commission recognized the conflict as irresolvable and recommended the division of Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states with neutral sacred sites. In accordance to this recommendation Britain declared that there would be an independent Palestinian state within ten years. The Zionists rejected this declaration in 1939 and formed two terrorist sects which began a new war between both Palestine and Britain, but Britain remained in control until 1947. By the end of WWII (1945) Palestine’s land ownerships had been divided between Palestinian and Jewish occupants.

By 1947, though, Britain was struggling more and more to maintain control and decided to withdraw from Palestine, leaving the newly formed UN with the decision of what to do. The UN opted to divide Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states. The Palestinians revolted declaring their desire for retribution for the Israeli terrorist attacks and massacres that had taken place, as well as the land that had been confiscated.

On May 15th, 1948 Britain withdraws from Palestine leaving an official recognition of the existence of a Jewish state. This day brought with it a full out attack on Israel from the surrounding Arab nations who, in conjunction with Palestine, declared war on Israel. This was the first Arab-Israeli war. Palestine, Egypt, Transjordan (now Jordan), Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq joined together in an attempt to prevent the Jewish state from coming to be. The Arab nations were defeated and treaties were made which placed the Gaza strip under Egyptian control and the West Bank under Jordan’s control. The remaining area fell to Israel and of the 800,000 people living in the now Israeli occupied land, only 170,000 remained. The others became refugees in the surrounding Arab nations.

Over the next two decades conflicts, between Israel and the Arab nations, occurred over the Suez Canal and the formation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. In 1967 Egypt insisted that the UN forces which had been in place there, since the Suez Canal incident, leave. Upon the withdraw of UN forces Israel launched an attack against Egypt, Jordan, and Syria on the 5th of June, known as the Six Day War. When the war concluded Israel had captured and occupied the Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula, Arab East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Golan Heights. Soon after, terrorist attacks by members of the PLO began, claiming the redemption of Palestine as their objective.

In 1973 Egypt and Syria attacked Israel in an attempt to gain back the territory lost in 1967. The United States intervened and stopped the Arab forces. In retaliation to the US intervention the Arab nations banded together and halted the sale of oil to the US and other western nations, creating the oil shortage of the 70s. In 1974 Kissinger arranged a truce that gave Sinai back to Egypt and Golan Heights back to Syria. Israel maintained control of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. That same year the Arab Summit recognized the PLO as the only legitimate voice of the Palestinian people.

In 1982 Israel invaded Lebanon in order to wipe out the PLO presence there. By 1987 the “Intifadas” had begun. These were uprisings that took place within the refugee camps of Gaza and the West Bank which included demonstrations, protests, and rock throwing. In 1990 Yasser Arafat went to the UN Security Council requesting protection for the Palestinian people within the Gaza and West Bank areas. In 1991 peace talks began. In 1993 Israeli PM Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat agree to allow the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to become self-ruled, but in 1995 PM Rabin is assassinated by a right-wing extremist. The Israeli right wing leader, Benjamin Netanyahu becomes the new Prime Minister in 1996.

In the years following we have seen too many treaties/agreements come and go. Today, the West Bank is governed by the Fatah led Palestinian Authority while the Gaza Strip falls under the mandates of Hamas. The Fatah party is recognized as a legitimate organization by Israel but the Hamas organization is seen as a group of terrorists. A recent breakdown of a treaty between Israel and Hamas is what has caused the current conflict. Israel claims Hamas broke the treay, Hamas claims Israel did. Who knows? But I do know this: Many Arab nations still wish to see Israel disbanded and declared a non-nation; while many Israelites believe that the Palestinians are incapable of governing themselves. Both of these claims, I believe are completely ludicrous. But here you have the basis for the current situation. I warned you this was going to be a Looooong post. It looks like I’ll be posting the other portions tomorrow. Of course, if I get on a roll this could span out over a few days; we’ll have to see. At any rate, now you know where all of the conflict is stemming from. It seems to me that both sides have made mistakes but well, let’s face it, Britain - this is really your fault. Now, I have to say that the US is also partially responsible since we were the ones who put together the League of Nations and the UN, and lets face it they played a pretty big role in all of this too. Unfortunately, the past is the past and nothing will ever change that, so let’s start looking at each other as human beings instead of ancestral monsters and stop this craziness now. Alright, I won’t make you read anymore today. Tomorrow; the Terrorist Perspective.


Talia said...

That's quite a post.

maeve63 said...

Yes well, it's quite a history


What can I say?