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HistoryMiddle East

Understanding the Century-Long Struggle of Palestinians

We need to first understand that whatever is happening in the “Palestine-Israel conflict” is not “unprecedented”, a “surprise attack”, or “random”. There is history and it goes way back.

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We need to first understand that whatever is happening in the “Palestine-Israel conflict” is not “unprecedented”, a “surprise attack”, or “random”. There is history and it goes way back.

We may have heard of the many ‘breaking news’ every now and then through the course of our lives about the ‘Israel-Palestine Conflict’, as most channels call it.

Unfortunately, watching this conflict unfold year after year without any resolution may have normalized us to the utter abomination the people of Palestine have suffered. However, recently with the ongoing attacks, it appears to be that the people have risen for Palestinians like never before.

In this article, I would like to provide a crucial and in-depth explanation of how this conflict began and some possible resolutions that have been proposed. Looking into such issues is of utmost importance today with the ongoing conflicts, so we are also able to decipher what factors in history open doors to the atrocities we are witnessing today.

The ultimate purpose of this is to be able to observe our duty as humans to stand against the oppressors of today, needless to say, with straight facts. 

Overview: How it all Started?

What many of us may not realize is that the issue of Palestine being usurped by Israelis did not start in 1948, as most say. The act of invasion of this land dates way back to the late 1700s.

At the end of the French Revolution in 1799, in the effort to invade the Arab world, Napoleon proclaimed Palestine as a homeland for the Jews (Damen, 2013). This was also a way for the French to maintain their control and presence in Palestine. This idea was not adopted at the time but it was the beginning of many conflicts regarding who would live there, the Arabs or the Jews. Keep in mind that for generations before, it was the only home for Arabs originating from that land.

Then, in the early 1900s, after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I, the Palestinian mandate was established. However, the British decided to overturn the mandate by implementing the idea the French had proposed before and create a Jewish space on Palestinian land (Damen, 2013).

With the support of the French and British, a Zionist group was established. Zionism is the term for the establishment of a state for the Jews in the Palestinian land by force and aggression as a way of staying ‘patriotic’ to the land, not tolerating Palestinians and their presence. This group created lobbying campaigns that encouraged more Western powers to support the migration of Jews to the land of Palestine (Damen, 2013). 

In 1917, the Balfour Declaration, named after the Foreign Secretary of Britain, was issued under which the British government expressed its support for a ‘national home for the Jews’ in Palestine. At the time, the head of the Zionist movement in Britain was Baron Rothschild. This declaration was also validated by the Prime Minister of Britain, David Lloyd George, who became a firm supporter of the Zionist movement in 1915. Some words used in this letter were ‘the British would use their best endeavor to facilitate the achievement of this object..’ (Damen, 2013). 

This clearly points out the complete disregard of any human entity living there and their rights over their native land. It was as if the invasive and colonial powers of the time assumed they were entitled to get whatever land they wanted control over, allowing the establishment of extreme movements like Zionism.

If the basis of establishing a home or land for a group of people originates from such corrupt ideas, it is unfair to assume the outcome will be positive, ever. It is not just the wrong idea of colonizing land that belonged to someone else but also how much unwavering support the Zionists got which made them unstoppable. 

I would like to shed some light on what this green light from the world leaders did for Zionism in the following days, weeks, and years for the Palestinians. As expected, the Palestinians did not approve of this unfair movement and resisted. The constant protests and the resistance that broke out by the Arabs of Palestine is called the ‘Intifada’.

However, this did not stop the Zionists from flooding into Palestine, buying homes and lands, and displacing millions of Palestinians. Thus, what once was a land of freedom for Arabs, had become invaded. This whole process was backed up and facilitated by Britain (Damen, 2013). In 1922, Izza Al Din Qassam, a Syrian living in Haifa (a city in Palestine) rose against the British and Zionists. Qassam was very quickly killed by the British forces, but his uprising inspired many Arabs to revolt against the settlers, by 1936, continuing the intifada (Damen, 2013). 

After many revolts that left many innocents dead, British forces tried to slow down the mass migration of Jews to Palestine, in an effort to put an end to the unrest. This caused more anger from the Zionists and they drove the British forces out of Palestine. Due to the major influx of Jews immigrants and Zionist settlers, the Palestinians had become outnumbered and it was clear that there was a more fierce and aggressive group, not to mention, fully supported by the major powers of the time (Dame, 2013). 

Once the Zionists started settling into Palestine, they arranged meetings from March 1947 till March 1948, planning the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians within the land. During this time, the attack on Arabs and British by the Zionists increased and thus, Britain decided to hand over the responsibility of Palestine to the United Nations (UN) (Damen, 2013).

The UN tried approaching the resolution by attempting to create two states, Palestine and Israel. It is important to note that in the years before, Zionists had lived in only 5.5% of Palestine. During this meeting, however, the UN decided to assign them an unfair 55% of the entire land. The Palestinians rejected this proposal and as a result, the Zionists continued to fight for more land and did not agree with assigning borders to each state, ultimately wanting control over the entire region. This caused a lot more displacement, killing, and kidnapping of many Palestinians. Their objective was pretty straightforward; either Palestinians should leave or they will be killed (Damen, 2013). 

In May of 1948, when the Zionists took over Haifa, a large city of Arabs in Palestine, the Palestinians became stateless. The response of the major powers like the US and the Soviet Union was to accept a new state called: Israel (Damen, 2013). 

As more and more conflicts broke out between the Zionists and Palestinians, a Swedish diplomat, Folke Bernadotte, was appointed by the UN to bring ease and halt to the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. However, his efforts to give Palestinians their rights back resulted in his assassination by the Zionists.

By the year, 1949, more than 700,000 Palestinians had been displaced and 13,000 killed by the Zionist regime (Damen, 2013). After the death of Bernadotte, an American deputy was appointed to try to negotiate peace and land space to both states but this resulted in Israel gaining 78% of the land while Palestine was left with the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, only 22% of the entire region they used to once own. (Damen, 2013)

This displacement, ethnic cleansing, and dehumanizing of the Palestinians is known as the ‘Nakba’. Many generations of those Palestinians are still living today in refugee camps and fighting for their rights as they get bombarded heavily every day, in other words, the Nakba event is repeating itself (Damen, 2013). 

Palestinian Ethnic Cleansing and How Such Atrocities Begin

The extreme severity of the pain inflicted by one human on another is something that many human civilizations have seen. Much to one’s dismay, it’s nothing to be normalized, and yet here we are witnessing an innumerable amount of children dying every day. 

Many genocides in the past that should never have taken place but still did due to a couple of factors, laid the foundation for the dictators in power today to repeat the violent actions of the previous tyrants, for their own interest. When one’s focus lies solely on the benefit and prosperity of their own country without being able to see the whole world as a place of collective peace where everyone is worthy of human rights; an absolute abomination occurs.

This is the ideology that the Nazis had adopted. The idea of a ‘superior race’ due to which they saw the Jews as ‘animals’. We can connect such concepts to what we see today easily. In today’s world, someone like Netanyahu (PM of Israel) does not see Palestinians as people who deserve to live in their land peacefully. Many Israeli agents have described explicitly that their objective is to deprive the Arabs of basic necessities, like water, food, and medicine.

People like such who are able to get into power and then impose any and all decisions they deem necessary for the interest of ‘their people’, build a wall around their heart that makes them immune to the loss of any human life other than their own people. In some cases, even the lives of their own people don’t matter because their ulterior motive is to have power and land. 

The main reason for such treatment towards humans goes back to when it all started in the late 1700s. The constant resistance of Zionists and their idea that Palestine belonged to them has been engraved in their hearts and minds to the extent that assaulting and killing hundreds of children for them is a sign of ‘patriotism’ or ‘self-defense’ for their country that they carry with pride.

Years of this ideology has caused such ‘leaders’ to become completely immune to the pain and suffering of the Palestinians. This lack of empathy for the Palestinians has built up over many years and today, we are witnessing one of the largest genocides that has ever occurred. 

Another facet of the reason behind such conflicts is holding hatred or prejudice towards a group of people. This prejudice develops when you live in a society that brainwashes a false sense of superiority among individuals of their race. The imprinted ‘facts’ that you are higher in rank and thus, certain groups will always be your subjects comes naturally with this sort of thinking. As much as people point out in social media today that it is not a religious issue, which at its foundation is not. The main issue is the unjust usurpation of land. Period.

However, there are reasons why usurpation happens and it is because of prejudice for certain ethnic groups. The fact that Britain and France felt entitled to proclaim Palestine as a Jewish land, clearly shows that they did not consider the Arabs of Palestine worthy enough to be consulted regarding their own ancestral land. Unfortunately, this goes to show how detrimental it can be to endorse extreme ideologies that create inevitable bigotry and lead to what we are seeing today in Gaza. 

Jews and Muslims are both people of the book and hold many similar beliefs. Both are respectable religious groups. Even today, many Jews support the idea of Palestine being returned to the Arabs and stand firmly on their belief. However, those who don’t agree with it and believe that Israel belongs to Jews only and Palestinians should move to either neighbouring countries or are to be blamed for the genocide have been manipulated into thinking such maximalist ideas.

The fact that today so many children have died in Palestine and yet, there are people still defending Israel demonstrates the power of propaganda created solely for the purpose of deceiving people with fake narratives. Fake news, fake claims, and wanting fake sympathies. This is what dehumanization leads to.

The major powers today like the US have played an absolute negative role in blinding people of the real facts, victimizing Israel, and blaming everything on the military group in Palestine when those educated on this issue know that this began long before any military group was even found. 

Propaganda of the Western Mainstream Media and Its Consequences

Dehumanization has happened in the past and continues to happen today. However, as it becomes more and more common in today’s world, it has created hatred and prejudice in the hearts of those who believe everything they see online.

An example of this is the landlord from Chicago who did not seem to have much knowledge of the ongoing conflict and based on watching the biased news, decided it would be fair to assault and stab a six-year-old boy who he once was friends with. This was motivated because of terms like ‘terrorists’ used against Muslims today which creates prejudice and therefore, such horrific actions take place.

The mainstream media channels are equally blameworthy of the growing hatred for Muslims in North America. The power of spreading the word that these channels have, and yet the way they utilize it shows that there is a false narrative they try to promote rather than speaking up for humanity and what’s morally right. They have played a very unfair and depraved role in justifying Israel’s role in the conflict.

Therefore, the ignorant 71-year-old man from Chicago decided as he expressed his rage “You Muslims must die!” to claim the life of an innocent child only because of his religion and background. Such heinous crimes will continue against any group of people as long as the propaganda and the spread of false news continues. This is the power of mainstream media today, although sadly, it’s not put to good use.

Imagine these channels using their voices as humanitarian aid for the victims of injustice around the world without any bias; the world around us would be quite different.

The Power of Social Media

Despite the extremely biased coverage by Western channels, the horrific situation in Palestine has not remained hidden. The journalists in Palestine who cover everything they see, despite knowing they are not safe, do it for the sake of awareness and humanity.

The circulation of the compoundly injured babies, the helplessness of those who’ve lost all their families, the city completely reduced to rubble, the scarceness of basic necessities like food and medicine, shows the nature of people who commit crimes and believe themselves to be entitled to doing whatever they please. This clearly is a way of making the group feel weaker and worthless, in an attempt to maintain control over the land.

But there has and always will be hope. The journalists working day and night to cover every aspect of the siege in the city of Gaza have shown us what it means to be a true hero amidst many of those so-called leaders whose conscience is clearly dead.

By far, the change we see in society today in terms of many people rising for Palestine is due to the power of social media. If it weren’t for Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, and similar apps the world would be very much oblivious to the atrocities taking place today. The growing awareness we see today is credited to the honest, hardworking, selfless journalists putting their lives on the line to show the world what is being slid behind the curtains by the mainstream media. 

Possible Solutions Proposed Today

Knowing what has happened in the previous years regarding constant oppression and siege of the natives (Palestinians) forced out of their own land, a long-lasting solution relies on a fair decision or a truce that has both sides satisfied and happy, an idea most people propose. This idea of ‘both’ sides getting what they want is usually supported by those who don’t truly understand the history of Zionism. Any sensible human sees that a maximalist concept was the initiator of such constant wars and struggles that have resulted in the loss of many human lives.

Therefore, because Zionists are culpable of initiating the constant injustice on Palestinians by usurpation of their land, in any way disregarding that they had rights over their homeland, shows that this was a complete violation of humanitarian laws. Today, restoring the entire region as a state of Palestine should be the focus of discussion. This does not necessarily mean that the Jews can not live alongside Palestinians, as we recall, there was a time in history when a minority of Jews were already living in Palestine peacefully.

However, it is the extreme idea of Zionism that has been the source of non-stop killings and oppression that needs to be condemned. There have been many attempts in the past by the United Nations to split the land into an Israel and a Palestinian state. But again, the corruptive nature of Zionism has been the cause of the growing fury in Israel regarding gaining control over the entire land. This idea isn’t only absurd but also completely refutes the concept of a just system. 

It is also crucial to note that the countries that have constantly aided, encouraged, and supported Israel in its oppression are just as much to be blamed as Israel. These nations are most of the Western powers. The weapons, tanks, and arms provided to the Israeli forces have caused constant bloodshed and blinded people into thinking that such actions are only taking place because Israel is defending itself.

The ongoing genocide being supported by Western powers needs to be condemned. No human ever deserves to be treated as though they are not worthy of peace and freedom. 

As an endnote, I would like to remind us all to continue to remember the people of Palestine in our prayers, and as God has promised, He is not unaware and those who spread tyranny will face the consequences.


 References

Damen, R. (2013). Al-Nakba: The History of Palestine since 1799-Palestine Remix. Al-Jazeera. Retrieved from https://remix.aljazeera.com/aje/PalestineRemix/al-nakba.html#/17 (October 20, 2023).

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