Okay so this whole Israel Palestine thing has been alllll over the news lately.
The news is great for keeping you updated on day to things and developments but they never really go in depth into how everything got all mixed up in the first place. Why is there all this beef between the Palestinians and the Israelis? What is Hamas? Why doesn't Hamas like Israel? Why is Hamas in Gaza? I will attempt to answer those very questions ladies and gentlemen.
I'm in a pretty unique spot where I'm neither Arab, Israeli or Jewish so I can give a very unbiased recap of events. I don't have a degree in this stuff (yet) and I'm no expert. I'm not going to be able to make anyone else an expert either but you will be an engaged citizen of the world with this background information that I have gathered from my high school honors World Cultures class (shout out to Mr.Ellis) and the lovely internet (only legit sources though, don't worry).
So the Arab-Israeli conflict...
It's pretty complex and there's tons of blame to go around. Yeah there are some different religions but the problems stem more from landownership and power. There is no ultimate good guy or bad guy, which is why things probably seem so fuzzy. There's just a group of people who feel like they don't have a place in the world so they lash out and bad things happen (it's like teen angst times a bazillion on a much larger scale and the feelings are actually real).
Palestinian- ethnic Arab who lives in Israel but thinks it should be Palestine and should be theirs
Someone's got to give first in this situation but no one will. Here’s the basic debate:
Israelis: Stop blowing things up and we'll give you (Palestinians) land
Palestinians: Give us land and we'll stop blowing things up
There's somewhat of an impasse as you can see...
How is the U.S. involved: Israel gets weapons from the U.S. so we get lumped into this situation. We also support them economically and played a big part in Israel's creation sooo... yeah.
A smidge of background information:
Diaspora --> Jews were kicked out of Israel in 70AD
Covenant (a big part of the Jewish faith) --> if they're good, they will get returned to Israel some day
The Zionist Movement --> European Jews working toward the creation of Israel, they're wealthy, educated, and have connections but no ability to get this done
**There are Jews who are anti-Zionist (anti the creation of Israel), just because someone is Jewish doesn't mean they automatically support Israel
1878- Palestine was controlled by Turks, who are not Arab, obviously, they're Turkish. The Palestinians, who are Arab, did not like being ruled by Turks.
There were small Zionist colonies in Palestine but they were just small groups of Jews. 98% of the people who lived there were Palestinian, 2% were Jews.
1915- WWI the Arabs had an alliance with the British (the Turks fought with Germany so were fighting the British by proxy, the British exploited this for their own benefit)
The Brits convinced the Arabs to fight against the Turks with the understanding being; "You help us fight the Turks, when this war is over, you get a whole lot of land"
Plot twist: 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement (a secret agreement between the French and British)
Right in the middle of WWI they decided what's going to happen after the war, they split up the land. The Brits got modern Palestine and lied to the Arabs, they got nothing.
Meanwhile: European Jews in England were still pushing for the creation of Israel
1917 Balfour Declaration- (Excerpt) His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
Basically, its pledges in principle the creation of an Israeli state, in Palestine, as long as the Palestinians are not mistreated. If they follow those guidelines then hey, they're all for it!
The Palestinians are not jazzed about this declaration; they see the writing on the wall. This was not going to happen how they wanted it to. Desperate times, desperate measures; they begin to take up arms against small Jewish communities.
1918- WWI is over, the Brits now control modern day Palestine and there's a lot of Palestinians and a small amount of Jews and rising tension. The Brits don't want to be involved (it's a no win situation for them) they just want to wash their hands of it.
1930's- More and more Jews start moving to Palestine (WWII is on the horizon so this makes sense)
The White Paper of 1939- A policy issued by the British that stopped Jewish immigration into Palestine
End of WWII- okay let the Jews come to Palestine
British didn't want to deal with this anymore so they go to the United Nations and they come up with this:
1947 Partition Plan of Palestine-
Jewish State = orange
Arab State= yellow
Jerusalem was a free zone/U.N. zone, no one controls it, it's religiously important to numerous religions so it's too sensitive.
Plot Twist (yet again): the Arab State is not created right away; it would be created when the U.N. deemed the Palestinians were able to govern themselves.
"You'll get your land one day lil' buddy!" Because that's not patronizing or anything.
1948- Israel created, and eventually there will be a Palestinian State
The Brits finally leave ("Good luck guys because you all get along so well! Peace out!")
Israel exists for a day and 5 countries simultaneously invade them:
-The Syrian Army
-The Lebanese Army
-The Iraqi Army
-The Jordanian Army
-The Egyptian Army
They wanted to "drive the Jews into the sea", they wanted to get rid of them. Here was this Jewish state created right in the faces of Islamic countries without their agreement they were pissed.
Israel beat the crap out of all of them (that's pretty badass). The Israelis were ready; they knew if they lost, they were done.
Things get a little fuzzy here.
The Palestinians say: They were driven out by Israeli security forces and now they're not allowed back.
The Israelis say: The Palestinians left voluntarily because they thought Israel would be destroyed by the invasions and now they can't come back in because they're a security threat.
Palestinian Diaspora? A weird role reversal.
It's been 65 years and they're still in refugee camps, they're seriously not allowed back into Israel. None of the surrounding countries have offered citizenship to them; they don't want them in their country, they want them to go back to their own country but they can't. They were never absorbed by anyone they were just treated like crap.
Obviously there's a lot of frustration and eventually the Palestinians organize.
1964- the PLO is created led by Yasser Arafat
The PLO stands for the Palestinian Liberation Organization.
Main goal: destroy Israel and create a Palestinian State. Terrorists.
Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia support the PLO with weapons and other things to give Israel a hard time (it kills two birds with one stone for them, gets the Palestinians out of their country and gets rid of Israel).
Everybody picks on the Palestinians; they're the martyrs of the Arab world.
*3 years later*
Israeli intelligence caught wind that surrounding countries were going to attack again.
So, instead of waiting for an attack to come, they flip the script.
1967- 6 Days War (Israel simultaneously attacks all 5 of their neighbors) (again, this is badass) Israel beats the crap out of everyone.
Consequences: Israel gets the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria.
They double the size of the country. In 6 days. That's insane.
Fast forward to 1973- Yom Kippur War
I'm not going to get into that too much but it caused an oil crisis in the U.S., and Egypt lost by a lot. Israel wins and creates motivation for Egypt to stop fighting Israel. It's a lot of weapons, loss of life, and it's just not worth it. Egypt begins to rethink its policy with Israel...
1978- Camp David Accords
Jimmy Carter mediated an agreement between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to stop beating the crap out of each other.
Terms: Egypt acknowledges the right Israel has to exist, and Israel gives Egypt back the Sinai Peninsula.
Side Note: Anwar Sadat gets assassinated for this (making peace with the Israel) by his own soldiers... the Peace Makers always get killed by people on their own side. It's absolutely nutty.
Back in Israel...
The majority of the population (the Palestinians) has no power. The minority (the Israelis) is calling all the shots.
1980's- Intifada (Arabic for "shaking off" *uprising*) is a rebellion of Palestinians against Israeli Security forces (mostly young Palestinians)
It started because an Israeli truck ran over some Palestinians (Palestinians say it's on purpose, Israelis say it's an accident) it was just the straw that broke the camels back. They were segregated and living like animals and the Palestinians had had enough. It caused riots for weeks.
Palestinians would throw rocks, shoes, anything, but it led to the Israelis coming out with rubber bullets and tanks. It got really real really fast.
It was average Palestinians fighting there were children fighting. It got the global communities attention; how bad must it be there if it's coming to this?
A lot of words have been thrown around trying to describe the situation, one of them being Apartheid.
Just putting it out there, not all Jews or Israelis support Palestinians being treated badly.
1994- Oslo Accords PLO (terrorist organization) leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime ministry Yitzhak Rabin met and came to this agreement:
1. PLO gives recognition to Israel (acknowledges their right to exist) and the PLO stops existing; it becomes the PNA (Palestinian National Authority) (no longer a terrorist group).
2. PNA gets some Palestinians back into Israel (including Yassir himself), and is able to set up a government.
3. Israel agrees they will plan and discuss creating a Palestinian state BUT the violence has to stop.
Palestinians: get the Gaza Strip and the West Bank (called the world's largest open air prisons).
The only problem is... Yasser Arafat speaks for all Palestinians, but not all Palestinians agree with him.
Enter Hamas, the "Islamic Resistance Movement". Hamas was created to liberate Palestine from Israeli occupation and to establish an Islamic State. It's a terrorist organization; they think Arafat is a sellout.
Side note: a 17-year-old Jewish boy assassinates Yitzhak Rabin because he made peace with the enemy (Palestinians)
The Gaza Strip:
The living conditions kind of suck.
A million and a half people, 75% in poverty, 50% are younger than 15, 46% unemployment. Israel has somewhat "grounded" them.
There's no work in there so they have to go to Israel to work, but there's a huge wall around them. The Palestinians have to go through checkpoints everyday to get out. They check bags, make sure no one has weapons, and make sure nobody brings anything in, everyday. That's like airport security EVERYDAY.
There seems to be some mistrust.
(Armed) Israelis started building Jewish settlements in Gaza when that was supposed to be for Palestinians.
2006- Ariel Sharon (Prime Minister of Israel) agreed to take out all Israeli settlements in Gaza. This was surprising because Sharon himself was not exactly pro-Palestinian.
A lot of the Israelis did not want to leave the Gaza Strip. They had to send in Israeli security forces to physically pull them out. That's intense.
They believe God gave the Jewish people that land; it's the principle of it. They're not sharing it's ALL theirs.
Palestinians burned the Jewish settlers houses on the first night they left.
Most of the settles ended up just relocating to the West Bank where they made more Jewish Settlements.
In principle the Palestinians have complete control over the Gaza Strip from now on.
2007- The Palestinians have an election
Fatah's (the dominant political party, was previously the Palestinian National Liberation Movement) main opposition was Hamas (which ran as a political party to gain control of the PNA)
Hamas won. They control the PNA (the Palestinian government).
Mahmoud Abbas is the president of the PNA and a member of Fatah. He has to figure out how to work with Hamas (the election was to control the body of the PNA itself, Presidential elections are separate).
Israel was not too jazzed about this; they won't talk to the PNA with Hamas in power.
Tensions rise and Fatah and Hamas actually fought each other, they had a little war in Gaza.
But while Fatah and Hamas beat each other up, Israel beat them both up, and now Hamas controls Gaza and Fatah controls the West Bank.
Recently there's been a whole lot of violence, which you can read about here:
It's just an overall sucky situation :-(