One of the most grievous issues of our times is the Israel-Palestine conflict. It has already been more than a hundred years and the solution is still nowhere in sight. Which gives us an idea how complex this problem is. So, let’s take a step back and see how we got here.
First, let’s take a look at Israel’s claims. Jerusalem used to be the ancient homeland of Jews. But they were expelled, and not only once. The First Temple was destructed by Babylonians and the Second Temple by the Romans. Coincidentally, both these calamities (and in fact many more) occurred on the same dates in Jewish calendar.
Now, let’s move a little towards the Palestinian side of the story. Although, Jerusalem was the ancient homeland of Jews, they had not lived here for most part of the recent history. It was mostly the Ottoman empire, except a brief rule by Egypt. Also, since the Arab Muslims were in majority after the fall of the Ottoman empire in 1920, they believed it was going to be their nation. By the way, until the 19th century, life was quite peaceful in Palestine. Arab Muslims (87%) lived peacefully with Jews (3%) in Palestine.
But, then happened something very interesting. In fact, it had started happening towards the end of the 19th century. Theodor Herzl, an Austro-Hungarian journalist who is also known as the father of the modern political Zionism, started to write about the need of a separate Jewish state (which is exactly what Zionism is). Soon, it became a powerful movement, and in 1882, the first Zionist settlement was established in Palestine which was still under the Ottoman empire then.
In 1917, something extraordinary happened. Britain declared its support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine, which meant that Israel’s formation was almost certain by that point.
Arabs on the other hand had hoped to see a new nation called Palestine, which of course happened in 1922, but it was only the beginning of fresh troubles. If there’s one thing you must remember about British colonial history, it is that British rule is bad but its exit is catastrophic. As expected, the first major conflict between Jews and Arabs took place in 1929.
Soon, more Jews would come in from Europe to Palestine. This movement was further intensified during and after the second world-war. Because, during that time, in some other part of the world, something horrific was going on. The Nazi concentration camps.
Soon, after the second world-war, the United Nations was formed. In 1947, the UN decided to divide Palestine into Israel and Palestine. As you can see in the picture below, there was a strange but well-defined Israel-Palestine border at that time. However that would change over the next few decades. As the Israel-Palestine conflict would go on, Israel would keep dominating and expanding itself. This happened despite the Arab support to Palestine, because Israel had been receiving huge sums of money and weapons from the USA.
There have been a number of cease-fire attempts, and there were a few occasions when it seemed that the two nations would finally come to some kind of agreement – but nothing concrete happened. The troubles worsened when Hamas, an Islamic fundamental organisation, took over Gaza strip in 2007, and as of today, the war goes on.
Each side has its own position. Israel believes it’s their homeland and they have had a painful struggle fighting against the Arab nations. Palestine wants a separate state as per the UN vote. But, it has been quite the contrary: the Israeli settlements still growing and the dream of an independent Palestine shrinking.