When it comes to the Western world, there is no more influential issue of international concern than Israel. To understand the issue, one needs to understand where Israel came from.
The greatest fallacy concerning Israel is the belief that fighting in the region is perennial. Often one hears that they’ve “been going at it for 2000 years, they’re not going to quit now.”
This is a lie perpetuated by Israeli sympathizers. Palestinians would point out they were peaceful for centuries before the British gained control after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.
Those of the Judeo-Christian tradition are the only people who view the region as having been in turmoil for millennia. Palestine was a stable place under Muslim rule, which allowed Jews and Christians to live and visit on pilgrimage as early as the end of the last Crusades in the 13th century.
However, as with most places, the “outsiders” were viewed, and sometimes treated, with hostility. Jews were allowed to visit the Wailing Wall, but various ordinances at times forbade loud prayer or displaying holy books. Christians were allowed to visit various sites attributed to Jesus, but they faced similar restrictions.
By the 19th century, a movement calling itself Zionism arose in Europe. Its primary goal was to re-establish a Jewish nation, ostensibly in Israel (though other locations were discussed, including Madagascar).
The reason for Zionism was that there was rising hostility towards Jews not in Palestine, but in Europe. Jews were persecuted in all sorts of ways in every corner of Europe, from England to Austria. Hitler’s rise to power was not some fluke; it was the culmination of centuries worth of scapegoating.
The area of what is today Israel is about 10,000 square miles, about 12% larger than New Jersey. Control of Palestine (as it was then known) was given to Britain in a deal approved by the League of Nations. To my knowledge, no one consulted the people there, though to be fair it was thought of as a spoil of war from WWI.
After WWII, Zionism was no longer just an issue of Jewish interest. Europe quickly rallied around the cause. It’s not hard to see why: those who sympathize with the Jews saw no problem in forming a Jewish nation in their ancestral home… because they had no idea other people were already living there and there was no plan for them. People who hated Jews thought the idea was even better, because this might mean a Jew-free Europe.
Israel was a win-win for everyone… except Palestinians. Even after the bulk of the population was moved by force to designated areas outside the new borders, Israel fought wars of expansion. Most notably in 1967, Israel annexed the Sinai Pennisula, East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and the much disputed West Bank and Gaza Strip.
I wish I could say it would be best to get rid of Israel. I wish I could say that the people living there should have to find a new place, like their ancestors made the Palestinians do. But the truth is, Israel is sort of like a child of rape, and you can’t have the abortion in the 183rd trimester when the person is 61 years old.
Entire generations of blameless Israelis have been born in Israel, so it’s hard to justify their removal. However, continued policies of aggression make it easier. Israel repeatedly denies any wrong-doing during their disastrous wars. Israel is cutting off water to Palestinians and “settlers” are demolishing the homes of Palestinians in order to expand Israel’s borders.
The worst part is, if you’re an American, you’re paying for this. Israel gets billions per year in aid from the US, mostly to bolster the Israeli military and nuclear arsenal (shh, don’t tell anyone they have nukes, it’s a secret!).
Personally, I’m kind of rooting for the Palestinians. Why? I have no ulterior motive in all of this. The Palestinians have every right to bombard Israel with all the rockets they please; there’s no international laws against attacking your own land. The Israelis just keep getting in the way! Besides, I think what America did to the native tribes was atrocious, and this is no different. This is a chance for us to do the right thing... or not.
In all seriousness, one of the more pathetic reasons for the formation (and upkeep) of Israel is the strange phenomenon of Christian Zionism. To understand why Christians want Jews in control of Israel, you have to know your Bible.
Christians believe Jesus will not come until the Great Temple in Jerusalem is rebuilt. While this was not a major influence during the formation of Israel, it is a major factor in America’s continued involvement.
Likewise, Jews would like nothing more than to rebuild their most sacred temple. The problem is, the site for the temple is currently occupied by al Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, both very holy sites to Muslims.
America’s unwavering support of Israel is the prime reason for hostility towards America in the Middle East. America’s support for Israel is the cause which rallies terrorists against us. We were targeted on 9/11, not because terrorists “hate our freedoms,” but because America funds Israel’s continued aggression.
There’s no easy solution. Israel could be dissolved, but it would mean a tragedy on a scale even greater than their initial intrusion. Where would they go? Will a nation, where every citizen is required to perform military service, simply walk out without a fight?
Then there are the two nation or joint nation propositions. The problem with the first option is that Israel encroached the sovereignty of other nations before, they continue to, and there’s no evidence they will stop. Forming the “Nation of Palestine” will just mean that tomorrow, Israel and Palestine will be formally at war as Israel continues expanding.
The joint nation option is the most intriguing to me. I think Palestinians and Israelis could live side by side peacefully, under one stipulation: they all become atheists. Yep, that would just about solve everything. Who knew it was so simple?