2 days after I got back from Israel, a war broke out. I got out just in time. For the people who already have a strong opinion of this conflict, my words will not change your mind but for the ones who are unsure, perhaps I can offer bit of perspective.
On October 7th 2023 The elected government of Gaza (Hamas) invaded Israel, intentionally targeting, killing & even kidnapping hundreds (maybe thousands by now) of innocent civilians. As I look at social media and comments I see a pattern of the same arguments and I’d like to go over some of them now.
The first claim being that throughout history Israel has killed thousands of innocent Palestinians (including children) in the past in either their ongoing ‘occupation’ or when they bombed Gaza / West Bank during previous conflicts and the disproportionality of deaths. Before I get into this, I’d like to say that my heart goes out to anyone on any side who’s had any innocent friends/family stolen from them. I’d love to live in a world where nobody dies from conflicts because every human life is sacred. (Not all sides believe this statement)
The main difference in civilian casualties is that one side (Hamas) intentionally uses its own brothers and sisters as human shields, hiding weapons and military bases in hospitals, mosques and school makes those locations legitimate targets in war. Sadly with that there come MANY civilian casualties but it’s important to remember that Israel never intentionally goes after civilians. If lets say a person believe Israel is an occupying country and think war is legitimate, then the proper way to do this would be to attack Israeli Military targets but the reality is that they always target innocent civilians and celebrate it.
The other side (Israel) on the other hand uses resources to protect its own population. We see this for example with the Iron Dome, the Israeli systems that shoot the incoming missiles out of the sky and it comes at a giant cost. About $40,000 to shoot down one rocket, but Israel values LIFE whereas Hamas (and a lot Palestinians who support and elected them them, value death (as long as it’s at a “just cause”)
One side mourns when innocent lives are lost, and others celebrate it. I’ve even seen video of Canadians who sympathize with Palestinians indiscriminate killing of Israelis, celebrating the current events.
You’ve probably seen this map of ‘Palestine’ getting smaller and smaller over the years with settlements continuing to be being built despite it being “illegal” in international law.
This argument probably garners a lot of sympathy from the world/reasonable people. The way I see it is that if over and over again terrorists try to seize land by force and killing innocents people (intentionally), a rational nation would retaliate and capture extra land just as the allied forces post WW2 in Nazi Germany. Germany lost about 20% of its territory after the war and rightfully so because they were the aggressor.
There have been many big peace negotiations in the past including the Camp David Accords, of 78, Madrid Conference of 91, Oslo Accords of 93 and MANY MANY more. The Arabs (Palestinians) have had the famous three No’s resolutions of 1967 (The 1967 Khartoum Arab Summit) where they stated:
No peace with Israel.
No recognition of Israel.
No negotiations with Israel.
This Summit was held from August 29 to September 1 and was attended by eight Arab states. These countries were:
Egypt (known as the United Arab Republic at the time)
Sudan (the host country)
The sad reality is that SO FAR Palestinians have never wanted peace, even in their songs they chant “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”
The history of this conflict is vast, there was never actually a formal country called Palestine. It was a geographic location referred to as Palestine where Arabs, Jews and Christians lived. Pre 1917 ‘Palestine’ was part of the Ottoman Empire which includes the modern day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Greece, Bosnia, Serbia and many more. That being said, Jews have had presence in ‘Palestine’ since almost all were exiled by the Roman Empire nearly 2000 years ago.
Jews were scattered all over the world but in their songs and prayers throughout the millennia they would always say/sing/pray “one day in Jerusalem” (The holiest site to Jews, and the third holiest for Muslims)
In WW1 AND in WW2 the Jews sided with the allied powers, helping achieve victory and in 1917 and on November 2 of that year, a letter was sent from Arthur James Balfour, the British Foreign Secretary, to Lord Walter Rothschild, a prominent British Zionist. The language of the Balfour Declaration concerning the establishment of a "national home for the Jewish people" in Palestine is as follows:
“His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors 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.”
The Ottoman Empire was on the side of Germany and after their dissolution, the Brits controlled “Palestine” which currently includes modern day Jordan which was promised to the Hashemite Kingdom for their help in the war. When you see that famous map of Palestine getting smaller and smaller, keep in mind that Jordan was also “Palestine” if you look at ‘The British Mandate for Palestine’ (Transjordan) is conveniently left out of this map.
This conflict really is complicated and I’ll leave you to do your own research if you’d like (get ready for a headache) but overall, Israel has offered peace MANY times and every single time the Palestinians rejected it. At one point Israel came very close. in the 1990s Yitzhak Rabin (PM of Israel) offered as much as 94% of the land that the Palestinians wanted. He was later assassinated by a radical jewish extremist who believed that ‘Judea and Samaria’ belonged to the Jews and the Jews alone.
I don’t know what the right solution is. When in 1948 Israel was established, the ‘Palestinians’ that chose to stay, were granted equal rights under the law and today enjoy the same rights as Israelis. Perhaps a one state solution may actually offer some sort of peace, I’m not sure.
In 2014 I interviewed Palestinians in a mixed area (Jaffa) asking them about their treatment in Israel and the last question I asked was “If a Palestinian state was established tomorrow, would you move there or stay here” - You’re welcome to check out their answers here:
Here’s another video I recommend:
THE ISRAELI PALESTINIAN CONFLICT: 10 MYTHS PREVENTING PEACE