Israelis And The Palestinians Essay, Research Paper
Israelis and Palestinians: The Middle-East Horror
The Israelis and the Palestinians, both in the past and in the present, have caused one another great suffering because their religious beliefs have impelled them to violence over the issue of control of the city of Jerusalem. Both sides believe themselves to be divinely entitled to exclusive control of the city; both sides have lived under the shadow of violence as a result. These religious convictions and intolerance have had tragic consequences. Recently, many horrific acts of violence in the region have been perpetrated as a result of these beliefs, and many people have died in the struggle. Despite many efforts to resolve this conflict, there is presently no clear path to peace in sight. It is tragic that two of the world’s great religions, Judaism and Islam, have taken the path of violence over control of this real estate, merely because they consider it to be of religious importance.
This conflict has long-standing historical and religious roots. For many centuries, Jerusalem has been of great religious significance to Judaism, Islam, and Christianity (although Christians are not deeply involved in the struggle for control of the city). In biblical the city was controlled by Jews and the Romans. In later years, the Muslims took control of the city, and European Christians went on crusades to try to take control away from them. In the twentieth century, the Jews regained control (Jerusalem: A History of Bloodshed, Peace”). The state of Israel was founded in 1948, and the Israelis gained control of the city after winning the six-day war in 1967. The Israelis currently have control of the city; however they have allowed the Palestinians access and limited rule of some areas (”Jerusalem Bloodshed”). Palestinians want more area and control. The Israelis do not want to give it up. All throughout this history of shifting control and conflict over the city, many people have tried to make peace. In fact, peace negotiations have been a part of this area for centuries (”Jerusalem Bloodshed”).
Both the Israelis and the Palestinians have valid claims on the land. This brings up the question of who has the most valid claim. The Israelis’s basic claim is that it is the home of the very most holy object in their religion, the Arc of the Covenant, and the land has always been considered the home of Judaism. The Palestinians also have a legitimate claim to the land. One of their most holy figures, Mohammed, came from Jerusalem, thus beginning his journey in life (”Jerusalem Bloodshed”). And also the Christians have a claim as well. Although they do not actually control the land adjacent to Jerusalem, their religion was founded in Jerusalem by the most pious figure in Christianity, that of Christ (”Jerusalem Bloodshed”). Within 500 yards of each other in the city is a huge Jewish temple, the landmark of where Mohammed began his “journey,” and the tomb of Jesus (”Jerusalem Bloodshed”). Obviously, all of these grounds for wanting the land are quite sound, and it is difficult to decide who should have sole possession of this most sacred and hollowed turf.
The Judaic people of Israel’s claim is generally viewed as the most legitimate and convincing. They have had control of the land for almost all of its history. The Jews see this land as that given to them by the Lord, and that no one has the right to take it from them (”Jerusalem Bloodshed”). A perfect quote, given by Rabbi Efry, one of the first men to enter the city after the Six-Day War, addresses this issue. It states, “If you are talking about sovereignty of Jerusalem, that is our only place. We have no Mecca, we have no Medina, we have no Rome. We have no other place in the world. The Jews never prayed for or to any place else but Jerusalem” (”Jerusalem Bloodshed”). These words shine a clear light on the Judaic approach to the ownership of Jerusalem. The Jews feel that Jerusalem is all they have in the world, all that God has given them, and that they deserve it above all others for this reason (”Jerusalem Bloodshed”).
The Islamic people of Palestine feel that they should have possession of the city, or at least the parts they see as most holy. The Islamic people, although they hold many interfaith marches and hold rallies, they still remain quite intolerant of all those who want to “share” the land they see as theirs (”Jerusalem Bloodshed”). As discussed above, the Muslims feel that they should possess the land because Mohammed began his journey here. They claim that the Jews only want the land for political reasons and to fulfill their greedy nature (”Jerusalem Bloodshed”). Begg, an Indian-American Muslim, states that his people truly love the land, and its religious power. He also claims to be impressed with its diversity. He brings this to life through this quote, “It really belongs to everyone. I’d like to see it as an international city” (”Jerusalem Bloodshed”). This expresses what the Muslims claim is their feeling on the land, and what that want with it.
The Christians feel that they, too have a reasonable claim to Jerusalem. It is the area in which Jesus preached, was condemned, and was crucified (”Jerusalem Bloodshed”). The Christians are not as eager for physical control of the land as the other two parties involved seem to be. They seem to be quite happy with access to the land. In the mid 1980’s, it was estimated by Bernard Sabella that about ten percent of the population was Christian; now it is down to only about two percent (”Jerusalem Bloodshed”). Jerusalem is viewed by people of the Christian faith as the “ideal” or the “perfect” place, particularly those from foreign countries. Christians seem to have the view that Jerusalem should be truly shared. Rev. John Reush, of the Cross of Christ Lutheran Church says, “It is just nice to enter places where Christ walked, and all the heroes of the Scriptures” (”Jerusalem Bloodshed”). The Christians have a peaceful, almost passive view of how the land should be divided. They are happy enough to be granted access and to enjoy the land for its true religious beauty.
Obviously, these claims to the land are quite different. It is this difference that has led to some horrific violence both in the past and present. This entire ordeal is one of horrible bloodshed and terror. Many issues have come up in the past few days. Peace negotiations are constantly going on, as well as petrifying violence in the background. In the news just earlier this month bloodshed has been shown. Israel’s navy, on the 7th of May, 2001, seized a large shipment of extremely dangerous weapons such as grenade launchers and rocket-propelled explosives (”Palestinian Missiles”). The Israelis immediately suspect that the Palestinians have done this and claim that the Palestinians have made the fishing boat where the weapons were found do this. Palestinians deny this (”Palestinian Missiles”). This is an example of their suspicion, and more broadly, their hate and intolerance. Also, in a related incident, a Jewish settler was shot to death on May 7, 2001, on the West Bank of Jerusalem. The Israelis then struck back with an invasion on an area of the Gaza Strip. A battle ensued, and a four-month old girl was brutally killed. She was hit by a shrapnel in her side. She was killed, and 24 others were left wounded, some fatally (”Palestinian Missiles”). It was a very gruesome encounter indeed.
Incidents such as this are commonplace in this. For example, from late September through October 2000 there was a very dark and violent time in Jerusalem (”Israelis, Palestinians mark one month of clashes”). Just in this short span of time, 140 people were killed. Threats and violence were very evident throughout the month. This is an example of their intolerance in a physical sense. The Israelis opened fire on Palestinian targets in the West Bank Arab town. A horrific scene of hand-to-hand machine gun fire developed. This fighting resulted in 150 Palestinians being severely wounded (”Israelis one month”). This fighting came about as a group of Palestinians were leaving a church (”Israelis One Month”). This goes to show how both sides have put religion aside, favoring rather war and hate. Conflicts continued on holy grounds, and both sides continue to claim innocence, claiming it something they had to do based on their religious beliefs (”Israelis One Month”).
Both of these problems are reflections on the conflict as a whole. Both sides have been extremely violent, and injury and death has occurred rampantly. Since September, 2000, 514 people have been killed. Of these people, 426 have been Palestinian (”Palestinian missiles”). The Israelis have been militant in their protection of the city, and have killed some Palestinian civilians in the process. The Palestinians have done more guerrilla type warfare such as the incidents within the last week or so when two Jewish boys were taken away and murdered by some Palestinians. Both sides have gotten so caught up in the issue that any and every type of tactic seems justified.
It seems that everybody has a different view on who should control this land. Some feel that it should go all to the Israelis, some all to the Palestinians, and some feel it should be divided up. Obviously among the Jewish population more feel that the Israelis should rule, and the Palestinians get support from the Muslims. Surprisingly, almost half of the people in my survey felt that the Christians should rule Jerusalem (Personal Survey). This shows some of the obvious bias found in this region, partly because a high percentage of our population is Christian. By contrast, Rachel Sack’s opinion, being an adult in the Jewish community, felt that the land should be returned to her people (Sacks Interview). Opinions on this subject seem to be vastly influenced by the region in which the people live.
In the world around, it seems that most people feel that Jerusalem should be divided. People seem to see this as the compromise to solve all the issues. But will this really be the solution? Or do the two groups hate each other too much to reach any common ground. How can we possibly end this conflict? Opinions on this are as widely varied as opinions on who should rules the land. Right now, people are negotiating on what to do in regards to solving this (”A Divided Jerusalem?”). Long lists of terms of peace are constantly presented to each side of the conflict, but neither seems to be willing to give in (”A Divided Jerusalem?”). For now, we must accept both side’s views, and try to work to reach a common point of justice.
This is a huge issue, with implications far beyond what we can currently see. For now, we have nothing more than a horrible conflict based deep in historical roots. In the future, we must hope and strive to resolve these issues, and help everyone to find common ground, and accept each other’s feelings. What the future holds is up to the people on earth today: we must stay strong and fight for peace in this war-flooded region.