Israel: an analysis of conflict

A continuation of The Quagmire of Current Global Conflicts

Israel/Palestine (Capitals – Both claim Jerusalem, though Palestine’s Administrative Centre is Ramallah):

Current Israeli President: Reuven Rivlin, Israeli Prime Minister: Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President: Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah

Israel/Palestine is located along the South Eastern Mediterranean coast, and borders Jordan, Syria, Egypt and Lebanon, with its southern tip touching the Gulf of Aqqaba (an estuary from the Red Sea). The state of Israel was formed in 1948 in the aftermath of World War II and the Jewish Holocaust. The state was designed as a United Nations plan which was at least in part a response to the Jewish refugee crisis in Europe and the British extrication from Palestine. The UN plan was to partition Palestine into two states – Israel and Palestine – to be created side by side. The plan was supported by Jewish leaders and rejected by Arab leadership, leading to the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The territory is of historical, cultural and religious significance to the Jewish people as well as the Arab and Muslim populations. The Palestinian population consists mainly of Arab Muslims, and is recognized as a State by the United Nations. Prior to the State of Israel’s creation, Jewish people made up approximately 30 percent of the population. Following 1948, that percentage sky-rocketed at times close to 90 percent and currently represents about three-quarters of the population. The Palestinian dominated territories include East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip bordering the Mediterranean and Egypt, and the Eastern parts of the country bordering Jordan and the Dead Sea known as the West Bank. Immediately following the 1948 declaration, armies from Arab states throughout the region and as far away as Sudan invaded, with a ceasefire/armistice established in 1949. Since the State of Israel was created, many sects of Islam (including Shi’a and Sunni), and countries in the region have opposed Israel’s legitimacy, some to the point of calling for its dissolution or destruction. The Israeli population as of 2014 is approximately 8 million (of which just over 6 million are Jewish), compared to 4.7 million Palestinians. Aside from ethnic/religious opposition, grievances from the Palestinian population include mobility rights, relations between the Israeli security/military and the civilian population, economic disparity, access to essential goods and services, rights to observe religious services in buildings historical to both Jewish and Muslim populations, and the expansion of Israeli settlements as a form of gentrification or occupation. From the other perspective, the Israeli Government cites security concerns for its citizens to justify the proliferation of security forces, with its supporting evidence being previous military actions/invasions against Israel, threats against its citizens by states, non-governmental organizations and terrorist groups, as well as the history of rocket attacks and bombings (e.g. car and suicide). International coalitions involved with brokering peace include the Quartet on the Middle East (U.S., E.U., Russia and U.N.) and the Arab League.

Israeli west bank barrier; Photo Courtesy of:US NEWS

Israeli west bank barrier;
Photo Courtesy of:US NEWS

Israeli Government:

The Israeli military (IDF) is one of the most advanced modern military forces in the world relative to its size. Israel has mandatory military service for its citizens, and a sophisticated missile/rocket defence system known as the Iron Dome. Its operations are almost entirely internal in defence of Israeli territory, though their intelligence organizations such as the Mossad, Aman and Shin Bet gather intelligence and conduct special and/or covert operations, similar in nature to the American CIA. The Mossad was responsible for tracking down Nazis that had fled Germany post-WWII, such as smuggling Adolf Eichmann out of Argentina in 1960. The Israeli government and military are greatly aided by American and Western powers. Relative to the Palestinians, the IDF has a very significant tactical advantage on land, air and sea. Typical present-day incursions include Palestinians throwing rocks at IDF soldiers, at times escalate to armed violence.

Israeli Government; Photo courtesy of: NewYorker

Israeli Government;
Photo courtesy of: NewYorker

Zionism Movements: Zionism is a very fluid term with a spectrum of interpretations when it comes to real life policy in Israel. Zionism sees the Jewish people as a national or ethnic identity, beyond a religious affiliation. The general tenats include support for a Jewish homeland (not necessarily in the form of its own state) and the patriating of Jewish people to that homeland. The original founders of the Zionist movement (late 19th Century) were secular, though many religious Jews support forms of Zionism. A significant portion but not a majority of Israelis identify as secular in general, and national laws are not religious laws. As you move toward the hard-line end of the spectrum, Zionists support the expansion of Jewish settlements and state borders. More moderate Zionists would say this would be done by the purchasing of property for the purpose of further settlement and living alongside non-Jews, whereas hard-liners would support a more exclusionary, expulsive and forceful settlement agenda. Just where Israeli borders would end is also a point of contention, with some supporting the existing borders/divisions with Palestine, some seeking to “reclaim” areas such as Gaza and the West Bank, and the most imperialist seeking to expand Israel from Eastern Egypt, Northern Saudi Arabia to the Euphrates river in Syria and Iraq. Many religious Jews such as the Haredi which represent a small percentage of Jews that identify as religious) oppose Zionism’s secular nature, believing that it would replace religious observance. There are a very small number of religious Jews such as the Neturei Karta, who oppose the existence of the State of Israel, claiming that Jews are not allowed their own state until the coming of the Jewish Messiah. Their view disassociates the religion of Judaism from a Israeli national or ethnic identity.

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